how low an amperage shoudl I look for in a tig machine?
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  1. #1
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    how low an amperage shoudl I look for in a tig machine?

    I'm looking at different TIG welders and need a little wisdom from some more TIG experienced than me. This will be my first TIG welder. Up to this point, I've only used MIG.

    I'm looking at buying an AC TIG units since I will be using it mainly for aluminum projects. Probably some stainless work in the future as well.

    I've got a handle on the purpose of most of the settings, except I'm not quite understanding the low amperage start settings.

    On the AC setting, the two welders I'm comparing have a low amperage start spec of 5 (+/-3) amps and the other has a spec of 20 (+/-3) amps.

    I'll be welding both thicker cast pieces and thinner sheet/tube pieces. It's in automotive applications, so the cast will be things like intake manifolds and the sheet/tube with be things like brackets and air tubing/air tube bungs. No production/commercial work here, I'm just a guy in his personal garage working on his personal stuff.

    The 5 amp start is the Everlast 250 EX and the 20 Amp start is the Everlast 256SI. The 250 is a dedicated tig/stick and the 256 is a multiprocess tig/stick/plasma.

    To date, I haven't really needed a plasma cutter, but it would be nice to have that capability if I ever need it. The multiprocess unit is only a couple hundred more (on sale) than the dedicated TIG. But I don't want to give up flexibility in the TIG section for a plasma cutter that I'm not sure I will ever need.

    Of course, I've never had a plasma cutter, so maybe I would find it indispensable once I've used one? Hard to say at this point....

    So, how important is the 5 amp start vs the 20 amp start and what limitations would buying the higher start amperage unit have?

    Thanks for any replies.
    Last edited by gr8twhite; 10-08-2019 at 09:00 PM.

  2. #2
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    Re: how low an amperage shoudl I look for in a tig machine?

    Unless your trying to weld very thin aluminum foil you'll never weld aluminum at only 5 amps. I'd be much more concerned with the upper end as that will dictate your thickness limit.
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  3. #3
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    Re: how low an amperage shoudl I look for in a tig machine?

    I'm far from an expert, but it sure doesn't sound like 20 amps would be a problem for those sorts of tasks. My PowerTIG 210EXT also has the 5 amp low start and I don't think I've ever used it other than fooling around to see how it worked.
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  4. #4
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    Re: how low an amperage shoudl I look for in a tig machine?

    Quote Originally Posted by gr8twhite View Post
    I

    I'm looking at buying an AC TIG unit. Probably some stainless work in the future as well.



    So, how important is the 5 amp start vs the 20 amp start ?

    Thanks for any replies.
    How important?
    Thats up to you and what you are doing.

    I find the low/lowest start settings VERY handy... I've repaired some pretty tiny things on low setting.... Also, I occasionally use the torch to heat things... works great. (HTP221)
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  5. #5
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    Re: how low an amperage shoudl I look for in a tig machine?

    My Sync 250 supposedly goes down to 5A, but I've never even come close to that low and can't imagine why one would want to. Jewelry repair? YMMV.

  6. #6
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    Re: how low an amperage shoudl I look for in a tig machine?

    Quote Originally Posted by John T View Post
    Also, I occasionally use the torch to heat things... works great. (HTP221)
    Interesting idea. Do you think it would work on something like a bearing race that needs to be heated up for removal? There are lots of times when using an acetylene torch is risky on auto project with fuel lines, brake lines, rubber boots etc....a TIG arc might be a lot safer.
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  7. #7
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    Re: how low an amperage shoudl I look for in a tig machine?

    Quote Originally Posted by G-ManBart View Post
    Interesting idea. Do you think it would work on something like a bearing race that needs to be heated up for removal? .
    Absolutely,
    Of course you need to use caution

    Try playing around with some steel first... just feather the pedal and warm up the steel or even get it hot...

    You know,
    Right before it starts to puddle
    And you start cussing...

    LoL!



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  8. #8
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    Re: how low an amperage shoudl I look for in a tig machine?

    you'll need that 5 amp setting for all those razor blades that you want to weld.

  9. #9
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    Re: how low an amperage shoudl I look for in a tig machine?

    Quote Originally Posted by Kelvin View Post
    My Sync 250 supposedly goes down to 5A, but I've never even come close to that low and can't imagine why one would want to. Jewelry repair? YMMV.
    Medical instruments. Alum foil. I have found that I can weld beer cans with 15 amps. Problem is pop start tigs(capacitor discharge) arc start at 25 amps and drop to welding current. So I lay rod the start pop starting on the rod to let it flow to the thin metal then proceed when the amp drop to welding current. Same with razor blades or medical instruments.
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  10. #10
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    Re: how low an amperage shoudl I look for in a tig machine?

    Quote Originally Posted by John T View Post
    Absolutely,
    Of course you need to use caution

    Try playing around with some steel first... just feather the pedal and warm up the steel or even get it hot...

    You know,
    Right before it starts to puddle
    And you start cussing...

    LoL!
    Cool.....I'm going to give it a try!
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  11. #11
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    Re: how low an amperage shoudl I look for in a tig machine?

    Quote Originally Posted by G-ManBart View Post
    Interesting idea. Do you think it would work on something like a bearing race that needs to be heated up for removal? There are lots of times when using an acetylene torch is risky on auto project with fuel lines, brake lines, rubber boots etc....a TIG arc might be a lot safer.
    I don't see why it wouldn't work, as long as you lay a bead. I use my MIG to remove races that you can't get a puller or punch on. An example would be the races in a motorcycle frame steering head. I just run one or two short beads on the race and while it's cooling and shrinking, it will drop right out.

    I would think just a simple heating and not laying a bead wouldn't cause the race to contract enough as it cools to drop out. Don't quote me on that though.....

  12. #12
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    Re: how low an amperage shoudl I look for in a tig machine?

    Hmmm, I can't imagine ever welding razor blades, pop cans or medical equipment. I'm all automotive stuff like manifolds, bodywork sheetmetal, frames and tubing. I can see myself making use of a plasma cutter now and then though. Mostly thicker stuff, which is why I'm looking at 250 amp units.

    The thinnest I can see me going is some tubing, which is probably around 16-20 gauge aluminum. Maybe steel tubing if I needed to.

    Is a min amperage of 20 amps a bit too high for the thinner stuff i might be doing? Or, if it is too much, should I just accept it and back whatever I'm welding with something (IE: copper or aluminum plate) to help not blow a hole through it?
    Last edited by gr8twhite; 10-09-2019 at 02:03 PM.

  13. #13
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    Re: how low an amperage shoudl I look for in a tig machine?

    Quote Originally Posted by gr8twhite View Post
    Hmmm, I can't imagine ever welding razor blades, pop cans or medical equipment. I'm all automotive stuff like manifolds, bodywork sheetmetal, frames and tubing. I can see myself making use of a plasma cutter now and then though. Mostly thicker stuff, which is why I'm looking at 250 amp units.

    The thinnest I can see me going is some tubing, which is probably around 16-20 gauge aluminum. Maybe steel tubing if I needed to.

    Is a min amperage of 20 amps a bit too high for the thinner stuff i might be doing? Or, if it is too much, should I just accept it and back whatever I'm welding with something (IE: copper or aluminum plate) to help not blow a hole through it?
    For what you would be doing 20 amps min would fit your bill. Looking at 1 amp per one thousands inch, 20 amps should allow you to weld down to .020" in increments.
    Last edited by shovelon; 10-09-2019 at 03:15 PM.
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  14. #14
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    Re: how low an amperage shoudl I look for in a tig machine?

    Quote Originally Posted by gr8twhite View Post
    Is a min amperage of 20 amps a bit too high for the thinner stuff i might be doing? Or, if it is too much, should I just accept it and back whatever I'm welding with something (IE: copper or aluminum plate) to help not blow a hole through it?
    If you use a pedal and you set the amperage to 20A, won't you be able to back off the pedal and get less?

    Or is 20A going to be as low as you can pedal the current before it cuts off? Not sure I understand how the machine in question works...

  15. #15
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    Re: how low an amperage shoudl I look for in a tig machine?

    I had some tiny vent louvers from a 1957 Cessna airplane. The aluminum was very thin. The Dialarc was capable of welding it with care. I'd guess I was using 10 amps.

    Zap has demonstrated welding foil with a 900 LB antique Miller using copper heat sinks. He makes it look easy.
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  16. #16
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    Re: how low an amperage shoudl I look for in a tig machine?

    Quote Originally Posted by Kelvin View Post
    If you use a pedal and you set the amperage to 20A, won't you be able to back off the pedal and get less?

    Or is 20A going to be as low as you can pedal the current before it cuts off? Not sure I understand how the machine in question works...
    Not if the lower-bound is 20A. If you set it to 20A, and the machine can only go as low as 20, then "backing off" the pedal does nothing for it was already established that the lowest it can go is 20A, therefore a contradiction to the original premise that is true.
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  17. #17
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    Re: how low an amperage shoudl I look for in a tig machine?

    Quote Originally Posted by Oscar View Post
    Not if the lower-bound is 20A. If you set it to 20A, and the machine can only go as low as 20, then "backing off" the pedal does nothing for it was already established that the lowest it can go is 20A, therefore a contradiction to the original premise that is true.
    Same with any pulse mode. Amps will only drop to lowest capability of machine.
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  18. #18
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    Re: how low an amperage shoudl I look for in a tig machine?

    Quote Originally Posted by G-ManBart View Post
    Interesting idea. Do you think it would work on something like a bearing race that needs to be heated up for removal?
    I've removed a few bearings with TIGing a bead round the outer race, to let it drop out. Last night I actually did the same on a 1" inner race, it didn't work as well as it does on an outer race (shrinking forces as well as heat) but it worked well enough to knock it off with an awkwardly angled chisel.

  19. #19
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    Re: how low an amperage shoudl I look for in a tig machine?

    Quote Originally Posted by Munkul View Post
    I've removed a few bearings with TIGing a bead round the outer race, to let it drop out. Last night I actually did the same on a 1" inner race, it didn't work as well as it does on an outer race (shrinking forces as well as heat) but it worked well enough to knock it off with an awkwardly angled chisel.
    I'm sure it's one of those things that can be really different from one application to the next. A while back I was rebuilding the front axle on my backhoe and was struggling to remove two outer races from a blind bore. My neighbor (has a couple of semi-trucks) stopped by, grabbed my OA torch, heated them up to cherry red and the popped right out as soon as they cooled off a touch. He said the race cools faster than the large casting so there's a short period of time where they'll pop right out. I don't know about the mechanics, but it worked! Just one more trick in the book...
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  20. #20
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    Re: how low an amperage shoudl I look for in a tig machine?

    yeah, that sounds about right, especially since cast steel expands and contracts less than wrought steel.

    I never heat things enough because I'm chicken, so unless it's an outer race with a weld bead around it, I always need to give em some persuasion

  21. #21
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    Re: how low an amperage shoudl I look for in a tig machine?

    Quote Originally Posted by Munkul View Post
    I've removed a few bearings with TIGing a bead round the outer race, to let it drop out. Last night I actually did the same on a 1" inner race, it didn't work as well as it does on an outer race (shrinking forces as well as heat) but it worked well enough to knock it off with an awkwardly angled chisel.
    With inner races that I can’t get off, I cut a slot in the race (not all the way through, but close and then I can either hit it with a chisel to split the race or I’ve even run a bead and then the race splits at the slot as it cools and contracts.

    I avoid cutting all the way through to not damage the item the race is on.

    Works for me.


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    Re: how low an amperage shoudl I look for in a tig machine?

    Quote Originally Posted by gr8twhite View Post
    With inner races that I can’t get off, I cut a slot in the race (not all the way through, but close and then I can either hit it with a chisel to split the race or I’ve even run a bead and then the race splits at the slot as it cools and contracts.

    I avoid cutting all the way through to not damage the item the race is on.

    Works for me.

    yeah definitely the best way but sometime my bearings are hard up against a large shoulder so grinding isn't practical.

  23. #23
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    Re: how low an amperage shoudl I look for in a tig machine?

    If you cut a piece of flat or rod that is a little short of the diameter and weld that to the race it will really loosen it up. The gap allows more shrinking and the rod or flat gives you something to pull on or drive against.
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    Re: how low an amperage shoudl I look for in a tig machine?

    Quote Originally Posted by M J D View Post
    If you cut a piece of flat or rod that is a little short of the diameter and weld that to the race it will really loosen it up. The gap allows more shrinking and the rod or flat gives you something to pull on or drive against.
    I'll have to try this next time I have a stubborn one at first thought I just figured it would go oval but I guess even at that it would lose a lot of area not stuck.

  25. #25
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    Re: how low an amperage shoudl I look for in a tig machine?

    Tried the beer can thing, realized I really have no use for welded beer cans! If the machine only goes to 20amps, instead of pulse, use the pedal, or better, finger switch. Sort bursts will do it. If you find you are running short on welded razor blades and beer cans.

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