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Thread: What welder to buy (<$2k)

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    What welder to buy (<$2k)

    I am an occasional welder (probably once every month or two). Most of what I do is fairly small -- a few inches of welding. Bicycle parts. Legs for furniture. Etc. I'm pretty good at TiG, but have done a bit of MiG, stick, oxy, and brazing as well. Most of this was in shops with nice welders, but I'll be losing access there, and need to buy a welder at some point in the next few weeks. I have a $100 HF flux core unit at home, but it's never made even a passable weld (still, it's been surprisingly useful for things which don't need to be strong). I've never done aluminum, but I can increasingly see getting into it, so AC/DC would be nice.

    A rough upper bound is $2k, but less is better. For the next few years at least, I'll be on 120VAC.

    I think I can do everything I need with TiG and stick. TiG would probably good for most of what I do. I do sometimes do less precise work, where I want to hand-hold a piece approximately in position and just weld it in place. MiG is nicer for this, but I think stick ought to work.

    The units I've been looking at so far are:

    • Miller Multimatic 200
    • Everlast PowerTIG 200DV/210EXT/250EXT/255EXT
    • AlphaTig 200X
    • Longevity Tigweld 200SX
    • Lincoln Power MIG 210


    I've only done TiG on nice Lincoln/Miller welders. Honestly, I have no idea how much I'll be losing with scratch start on the Lincoln/Miller units, or with going to cheaper Chinese brands. I also don't know how the Chinese brands compare.

    Other thoughts:

    • Weight and size matters a lot. I live in a big city in a small place. A little bit of space in the apartment is very expensive, and will eat into any price differences quite quickly. Aside from that, for any bigger projects, I'll be lugging the thing outside. We have a little yard area where I could work.
    • I think it's also pretty likely that I'll want to do precision work with thin metals at some point.
    • If a welder doesn't quite do everything, I can always rent or go to a machine shop. This is expensive to do (even in terms of time for commute and transport distance -- again, big city).


    Any suggestions?
    Last edited by tiggertoo; 09-29-2015 at 06:39 AM.

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    Re: What welder to buy (<$2k)

    On a $2000 budget my recommendation would be to get a good used Miller or Lincoln MIG. This will allow you to expand into aluminum with a modular design i.e. spool gun when you are ready and have additional capital.

    If you would like to expand your budget to $2500 you can go with the HTP 221, I personally don't have experience with that particular machine but everybody on here seems to love them that has them. Although several people mentioned it doesn't stick weld very well but as a tig welder it's great.

    If you drop the aluminum from your wish list you could probably get a Miller Maxstar when it is on sale and that will stick weld and do the DC tig process well.

    As far as the Chinese machines go here is my take on Everlast (who I would focus on).
    1. The accessories they send you are complete junk including the flowmeter. So be prepared to spend an additional $400 on top of what the machine costs. This is not necessarily a downside since you get to pick the accessories you want and most people eventually end up doing that anyway regardless of manufacturer.
    2. Having said that, if you get a functioning machine they weld fairly well in my opinion once they are set up with the proper accessories and are one hell of a bargain.
    3. Since sometimes these machines have issues out-of-the-box I would suggest ordering on Amazon this way if there is an issue it is real easy to return the product and order another one to get a machine that functions properly.
    4. In terms of reliability it is tough to say do not have enough data to comment on that. If you want to see the internals of these machines compared to a Miller or Lincoln there are plenty of videos showing that on youtube.

    Hope this helps.

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    Re: What welder to buy (<$2k)

    Assuming you want to tig, understand that your requirement for 110v input power will be severely limiting, especially with alum. While many machines give all sorts of high output numbers on 110v power, if you read the fine print, most will only do so on an input supply of something like 30 amps. You aren't going to find a dedicated 30 amp 110v outlet "standard" anywhere. If you are going to go to the hassle of installing one, you might as well just install a 230v line and be done with it.

    Expect on average to get about 90 amps output on a standard 20 amp 110v line. You might get a bit more, but that won't be enough to make any significant difference. 90 amps will let you do something like 14 ga- 3/32" steel or 16 ga alum on average. You can learn to weld with tig at that level, but the thinner you get, the harder it is to learn. 14 ga is about the thinnest I recommend most use to learn steel, and for alum, you really need to be up closer to 1/8".

    Neither the Miller or Lincoln machines you list will let you tig alum. Both are DC only tig units. I can't help you with any of the other units as none of them are machines I'd even look at.
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    Re: What welder to buy (<$2k)

    Quote Originally Posted by DSW View Post
    Expect on average to get about 90 amps output on a standard 20 amp 110v line. You might get a bit more, but that won't be enough to make any significant difference.
    I would have to respectfully disagree with that statement based on the experience I have had with several 110 machines. I've seen plenty of welders including the Everlast models put out 120+ A (Everlast Usually tops at 125)

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    Re: What welder to buy (<$2k)

    I know you prefer TIG, however I doubt you will remain in budget for a decent 120V or especially a dual voltage TIG machine.

    Consider perhaps the Hobart 210MVP Mig with SpoolRunner spool gun, that is dual voltage. I absolutely LOVE mine. You can buy the whole rig for a little over 1K excluding gas bottles. For Mig process on steel a simple and cheap paintball CO2 bottle will work surpizingly well except on thin materials.

    Even if you add two 80ft gas bottles of C25 and Argon, you will remain well under 2K(about $1500) and be quite surprised how capable and flexible it is.

    You really only have two ways to go......either a TIG/Stick machine with AC for Alum...Or a MIG with spoolgun...each choice involves two completely different welding process, so the choice boils down to that-which process, TIG/Stick or MIG do you demand?....Your budget excludes all the TIG machines I know of that I'd consider buying.
    Last edited by wornoutoldwelder; 09-29-2015 at 09:01 AM.

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    Re: What welder to buy (<$2k)

    http://store.cyberweld.com/tharcfa21miw.html These are amazing machines and you get a $100. rebate to boot. You could get the spool gun and tig torch within your budget
    Thermal Arc 210 - Tweco 211I - Cutmaster 52

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    A few more thoughts

    I could pass on aluminum if necessary. I wouldn't be happy passing on TiG. I'm a pretty decent TiG welder at this point (although only having done it on higher-end equipment). On the other hand, I really can't do a lot of what I want with just MiG. I suspect most of what I would do would be thinner materials. 3/32 on steel seems a little limiting, but not very limiting. I'd rarely if ever above 1/8".

    Weld_: I could step my budget up to $2500, but not really to $3500, which is what the dual voltage version of the HTP221 sells for. I would be less happy with used equipment, mostly due to size and space. The rent where I live is high enough that the "savings" would be eaten up almost immediately.

    DSW: I rent. I cannot run a special line in my house, unfortunately. I may occasionally be able to take the welder somewhere else. For most of the work I do, I think thin metals might be fine. I'm curious -- why wouldn't you look at the other machines?

    wornoutoldwelder: Regarding the Hobart 210MVP, what's the advantage of that over a multiprocess machine like the Miller Multimatic or the Lincoln PowerMIG 210? Both of those will do MiG+basic TiG.

    So, aside from accessories, what are the issue with the Chinese off-brands? And how do those compare to the more basic multiprocess Miller/Lincoln units I used? I've never done scratch start or similar, which the Miller/Lincoln require at that price point. The Chinese units do HF, and have all sorts of nice controls and features. Where am I shooting myself in the foot more?

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    Re: What welder to buy (<$2k)

    Just cross longevity off your list. And any other Chinese machine.

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    Re: A few more thoughts

    Quote Originally Posted by tiggertoo View Post
    Weld_: I could step my budget up to $2500, but not really to $3500, which is what the dual voltage version of the HTP221 sells for. I would be less happy with used equipment, mostly due to size and space. The rent where I live is high enough that the "savings" would be eaten up almost immediately.

    So, aside from accessories, what are the issue with the Chinese off-brands? And how do those compare to the more basic multiprocess Miller/Lincoln units I used? I've never done scratch start or similar, which the Miller/Lincoln require at that price point. The Chinese units do HF, and have all sorts of nice controls and features. Where am I shooting myself in the foot more?
    Get yourself a Miller Maxstar and just work. You can always go to a shop that you have access to to do aluminum.

    As far as Chinese welders go. I think I gave you a good rundown of my experience with them. They work fairly well, when they work. As far as reliability they are not as robust internally as Miller or Lincoln. So if you are constantly moving them around you might run into issues.

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    Re: A few more thoughts

    Quote Originally Posted by tiggertoo View Post
    wornoutoldwelder: Regarding the Hobart 210MVP, what's the advantage of that over a multiprocess machine like the Miller Multimatic or the Lincoln PowerMIG 210? Both of those will do MiG+basic TiG.
    Ain't nothing wrong with either one of them EXCEPT I figured you wanted to TIG in both AC/DC, and didn't figure you wanted a very limited TIG machine when rigged TIG.

    In fact it might be the very best compromise for you, except forget Alum if ever you need to weld it.

    If in the future you want to continue to focus primarily on TIG, then consider the dual voltage HTP221 with EVERY possible feature you might ever crave except it will cost you 3K to get started with it. I've got the 220V version and it is a tig welder's dream machine, but by the time I got it rigged out with gas, consumables, and cups/collets, and stubby stuff plus tungten grinder it cost well over 3K....I consider that machine the absolute best bang for the buck in the TIG universe....And oh, it's does really good stick, too.
    Last edited by wornoutoldwelder; 09-29-2015 at 03:46 PM.

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    Re: What welder to buy (<$2k)

    wornoutwelder: I'd like to be able to do TiG in both AC and DC, but that might be impossible at my price and size requirements. The Multimatic and PowerMiG 210 will both do TiG. They'll also MiG aluminum. That seems like a fair compromise. I've never done aluminum before, but it seems like it'd be more forgiving with MiG. (1) I think it doesn't get a heat affected zone as much as steel (2) It machines easily. (3) My applications for aluminum would be a bit more forgiving.

    My concern is with the 'very limited TiG.' I've used two types of welders:
    • Very nice Lincoln/Miller units way out of my price range
    • Harbor Freight $100 POS welders


    I've never used anything in between. The Harbor Freight POS never got a good weld. It was just impossible to get one. The Lincoln/Miller units always did very well. I have no idea where in between a $1000 Chinese welder would be, or a basic TiG like the ones above. I've never scratch started or similar, and I just don't know how important all of the limitations of the Multimatic/PowerMiG are, or how that trades off against the limitations of the Chinese welders.

    If a welder cost $3k and did everything I needed, I'd probably bite the bullet, but the HTP 221 DV is $3500 for the base unit: http://www.usaweld.com/TIG-WELDER-In...221-12.5-3.htm. That really is out of my price range.

    How long it lasts isn't as important to me. I wouldn't be a heavy user. In addition, the Everlast welders carry a 3 year warranty.

    Weld_: It sounds like Chinese is the way to go then. If they work well, even with an extra $400, I'm pretty happy. Build quality is much less important to me. Weld quality is. Then the next question is how important the features are stepping between the 200DV/210EXT/250EXT/255EXT. I'm inclined to go for the lower-end, since it is lighter, power will be limited by 120VAC, and that will save money for nicer accessories+gas.
    Last edited by tiggertoo; 09-29-2015 at 05:34 PM.

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    Re: What welder to buy (<$2k)

    Quote Originally Posted by tiggertoo View Post
    wornoutwelder: I'd like to be able to do TiG in both AC and DC, but that might be impossible at my price and size requirements. The Multimatic and PowerMiG 210 will both do TiG. They'll also MiG aluminum. That seems like a fair compromise. I've never done aluminum before, but it seems like it'd be more forgiving with MiG. (1) I think it doesn't get a heat affected zone as much as steel (2) It machines easily. (3) My applications for aluminum would be a bit more forgiving.

    My concern is with the 'very limited TiG.' I've used two types of welders:
    • Very nice Lincoln/Miller units way out of my price range
    • Harbor Freight $100 POS welders


    I've never used anything in between. The Harbor Freight POS never got a good weld. It was just impossible to get one. The Lincoln/Miller units always did very well. I have no idea where in between a $1000 Chinese welder would be, or a basic TiG like the ones above. I've never scratch started or similar, and I just don't know how important all of the limitations of the Multimatic/PowerMiG are, or how that trades off against the limitations of the Chinese welders.

    If a welder cost $3k and did everything I needed, I'd probably bite the bullet, but the HTP 221 DV is $3500 for the base unit: http://www.usaweld.com/TIG-WELDER-In...221-12.5-3.htm. That really is out of my price range.

    How long it lasts isn't as important to me. I wouldn't be a heavy user. In addition, the Everlast welders carry a 3 year warranty.

    Weld_: It sounds like Chinese is the way to go then. If they work well, even with an extra $400, I'm pretty happy. Build quality is much less important to me. Weld quality is. Then the next question is how important the features are stepping between the 200DV/210EXT/250EXT/255EXT. I'm inclined to go for the lower-end, since it is lighter, power will be limited by 120VAC, and that will save money for nicer accessories+gas.
    You can get the HTP 221 for $3000 without the water cooler.

    Everlast is a five year warranty but remember with them it is going to take a long time to get warranty work done.

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    Re: What welder to buy (<$2k)

    Tigger, if you are sure you will want/need to weld aluminum, you will need 240 volts. No getting around it. The thought that you can get by without 240 volts is foolish at best. It takes a lot of power to weld aluminum because it is such a good heat sink, sorry to burst the bubble but that's the fact, power means 240 volts. Just my thoughts. Best regards Bob

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    Re: What welder to buy (<$2k)

    Quote Originally Posted by rhunt View Post
    Tigger, if you are sure you will want/need to weld aluminum, you will need 240 volts. No getting around it. The thought that you can get by without 240 volts is foolish at best. It takes a lot of power to weld aluminum because it is such a good heat sink, sorry to burst the bubble but that's the fact, power means 240 volts. Just my thoughts. Best regards Bob
    X2. Couldn't agree more.

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    Re: What welder to buy (<$2k)

    Regarding aluminium off of 120VAC, that's good to know, and unfortunate. Welding aluminum would be relatively rare. At those time, I guess I could lug the welder over to a 240V outlet somewhere, and run a long extension cord to somewhere where it was safe to weld. It'd be cumbersome and a long setup, but I think it would work. We have 240VAC near the washer/drier where I live. None of the shops I know of are all that close, and I'm less excited about lugging a piece I was welding on public transit around town.

    Southpaw: You have an Everlast PowerTig 185. How happy are you with it? What are the limitations?

    • 200DV $1250. 62lbs. 125A/200A. HF and lift TiG. Square wave. Goes to 5A
    • 210EXT $1800. 60lbs. Adds triangular wave. Wider frequency range. Longer preflow/postflow.
    • 250EXT $1500. 57lbs
    • 255EXT $2250. 60lbs. Goes down to 3A. Adds sine wave.
    • HTP221 $3000. 41lbs. Seems to have a much smaller feature set, but people say it's better. It is a more manageable size/weight.
    • Miller/Lincoln units. Around $2000. Have MiG. Lift start on TiG (and minimal control). 29lbs for the Miller. 40lbs for the Lincoln.

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    Re: What welder to buy (<$2k)

    I would look into the tweco 211i. Imported machine, but backed by a real company. Not some of the previously mentioned importers who may or may not warranty the product.

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    Re: What welder to buy (<$2k)

    We have two Multimatics at our work and they get used every day.

    The MIG function is excellent, being an inverter it gets a little more output than a transformer from a given input so it actually welds well on 120v.

    I've used it to run 1/8" 7018 on 230v and it ran it better than any machine I've ever used. Started like a champ and I never stuck a rod. It almost seemed like the puddle was more clearly defined. I'm sure it would run 1/8" 6010 or 3/32" 7018 on 120v just fine.

    I haven't used the TIG function but I imagine it is fairly similar to the Maxstar, which is an excellent little machine for pretty much anything you'd want to weld that isn't aluminum (although the Multimatic will accept a spoolgun that will allow you to weld aluminum). The lift arc works well (I learned on high frequency machines and I got used to it quickly) and you can use a torch mount amperage controller or get the foot pedal for it.

    The size and weight is very minimal, I can easily lift it over my head and the case itself is about the size of two briefcases stacked atop each other.

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    Re: What welder to buy (<$2k)

    Why dont you just get the tweco fabricator 252i? 300 amps, 30 volts, mig tig stick and its 1695 on cyberweld plus a 100 dollar rebate and you have money left over for tig stuff and safety equipment.

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    Re: What welder to buy (<$2k)

    Quote Originally Posted by sparky24 View Post
    Why dont you just get the tweco fabricator 252i? 300 amps, 30 volts, mig tig stick and its 1695 on cyberweld plus a 100 dollar rebate and you have money left over for tig stuff and safety equipment.
    The OP is looking for 115 volt input.

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    Re: What welder to buy (<$2k)

    The 211i is one of the best on 110v.
    Thermal Arc 210 - Tweco 211I - Cutmaster 52

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    Re: What welder to buy (<$2k)

    For more information on the alphatig, look at the discussion at http://weldingweb.com/vbb/showthread.php...e-used-own-one!


    I have the AHP alphatig, and have used the coln Precision TIG 275 . I found that they were pretty even when it comes to welding, other than the higher output of the 275. The Alphatig has more features.

    On a 20 amp 110v circuit, the AHP does pretty well. I don't recall taking it over 110 amps when using the 110v plug, and it welded with no problems. The manual say it will draw 37 amps on 110v at 150amp output.

    BTW, I have had my alphatig for a year with no problems.

    Dan
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    Measure twice. Weld once. Grind to size.

    MIG: Lincoln SP100
    TIG/STICK: AHP Alphatig 200X

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    Re: What welder to buy (&amp;lt;$2k)

    I'll try and answer your questions, prefaced that I'm doped up on 20mg of narcotic pain meds following tooth extraction this afternoon.
    I have both the Everlast powertig 185 and the AHP200x. For the money, both are fantastic machines. You are learning so buying either one is a great way to get into ALUMINUM TIG on a budget. What you really need to decide is what process you are really going to use most. If you can live without aluminum or at least aluminum under 1/8" (sort of the unofficial cutoff for spoolgun mig aluminum) then go with one of the other suggestions like the Thermal Arc 252I, Lincoln 210mp etc.
    However TIG is really addicting and a lot of fun. It's sort of like riding a motorcycle where the fun is the ride as much or more than the destination. You will see I did an extensive review of the AHP. It's loaded with features that allow you a good introduction to basic as well as some advanced features of TIG at a very low price. I like the KISS (keep it simple, stupid) approach. I can say that I honestly don't need the pulse or 4T features for the hobby level projects I weld. While it would be a tough call, I would take the Everlast over the AHP for simplicity, also the AC balance has a bit wider spread 10 to 90% vs 20 to 80 on the AHP. I like using the full penetration setting myself and usually run between 10-30,% cleaning. The other feature I like is the extra 50htz on balance which maxes at 250 instead of 200. You get about 10extra amps with the AHP, But since learning to weld a bit with helium blends I can get extra heat that way if I need it (I also own a gas mixer . The Everlast is almost 10lb lighter and 2/3 the size of the AHP making it super portable. Some folks love pulse.. But I personally didn't find much use for slow speed pulse. The Everlast torch has separate power and gas cables to the torch whereas the AHP, the gas runs through the power cable. Which was made with heavier gauge cable in the current model based on recommendations made by me and others to AHP.. You get a 2 year longer warranty with the Everlast. Plus if you get hooked, you can sell either of those machines for at least $500 via Craigslist and put towards a better machine, that now having experience with TIG you will have a much better idea what features you do and don't really need/want. Or keep the machine for the DV feature and buy the $500 less expensive HTP 220 only unit and then you have 2 machines for the price of one. This you are not hauling around your expensive machine for mobile jobs. The 110 is nice. For example, my dad needs me to fix a small section of metal railing in his yard when I visit over xmas and mom wants me to fix a gate at the horse rescue she volunteers at. I can do that 16ga easily on 110 and not have to drag 100 feet of 8/3 extension cord from NV to LA to do the job. You can also run off a small generator or power inverter if needed. Again better to do it with a $800 welder than a $3000 one.
    As for stick welding both machines do great with 7018 and 6013/11. The AHP has a high inductance(arc force) built into it and holds the arc better on 6010. It was designed this way to make it easier for new/hobby welders (those most likely to buy the AHP) to get going with stick welding with less "sticking" And thus frustration.
    This leads me to make the statement that IN YOUR BUDGET RANGE machines are primarily designed for one process but also do other processes. Both the AHP and Everlast are TIG welder that can stick weld also. The TA, Lincoln etc mentored at the start are MIG welders that can do stick welding and DC lift arc TIG. (BTW high frequency start is awesome... AHP/Everlast)
    To get a truly multi process machine that excels at all processes it does you get into something like the Miller XMT series, the Lincoln Invertecs, or the out of production Powcon SMT series (Made in USA) The Thermal Arc LM300 or similar like I just bought used off Craigslist. (Made in Japan) even those still don't do AC TIG.
    Drugs are working , typing this was a good distraction, thanks. So hopefully some of my rambling made sense. I'll just add that folks are welcome to come try my machines if they are every in my neck of the woods.

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    Re: What welder to buy (<$2k)

    Quote Originally Posted by tiggertoo View Post
    Regarding aluminium off of 120VAC, that's good to know, and unfortunate. Welding aluminum would be relatively rare. At those time, I guess I could lug the welder over to a 240V outlet somewhere, and run a long extension cord to somewhere where it was safe to weld. It'd be cumbersome and a long setup, but I think it would work. We have 240VAC near the washer/drier where I live. None of the shops I know of are all that close, and I'm less excited about lugging a piece I was welding on public transit around town.

    Southpaw: You have an Everlast PowerTig 185. How happy are you with it? What are the limitations?

    • 200DV $1250. 62lbs. 125A/200A. HF and lift TiG. Square wave. Goes to 5A
    • 210EXT $1800. 60lbs. Adds triangular wave. Wider frequency range. Longer preflow/postflow.
    • 250EXT $1500. 57lbs
    • 255EXT $2250. 60lbs. Goes down to 3A. Adds sine wave.
    • HTP221 $3000. 41lbs. Seems to have a much smaller feature set, but people say it's better. It is a more manageable size/weight.
    • Miller/Lincoln units. Around $2000. Have MiG. Lift start on TiG (and minimal control). 29lbs for the Miller. 40lbs for the Lincoln.
    Actually, the HTP221 has a LARGER 'feature set' than any in it's class/price range....pulse, balance, freq, pre-post gas, ramp up ramp down, HF/scratch/lift...what more is there? Well, except remote foot pedal?...Give it two years and there will be a different top dog that offers even more for less.

    Hey, I know all about your budget and limited space and public transit and walk up apartments and limited electrical stuff....At this point I'ma advise you to just stuff the whole welding issue away and work yerself out of that fencing into broader and greener pastures....Hell, in two years you will be amazed at what tech is available and you will be bettered postured to exploit it, yaknow?

    Look at what Miller just introduced on the market....their old 211 Millermatic dual voltage autoset 90LB mig that was extremely popular just got replaced by the new inverter dual voltage mig that will do alum too...at same price and weights just half the weight and is lots smaller AND has better duty cycle....Time is on your side.
    Last edited by wornoutoldwelder; 09-30-2015 at 02:28 AM.

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    Re: What welder to buy (<$2k)

    Quote Originally Posted by wornoutoldwelder View Post
    Actually, the HTP221 has a LARGER 'feature set' than any in it's class/price range....pulse, balance, freq, pre-post gas, ramp up ramp down, HF/scratch/lift...what more is there? Well, except remote foot pedal?...Give it two years and there will be a different top dog that offers even more for less.

    Hey, I know all about your budget and limited space and public transit and walk up apartments and limited electrical stuff....At this point I'ma advise you to just stuff the whole welding issue away and work yerself out of that fencing into broader and greener pastures....Hell, in two years you will be amazed at what tech is available and you will be bettered postured to exploit it, yaknow?
    Only feature on the HTP that is missing is High speed AC pulse. That's only on DC. I think A.C. Maxes out at 10 or 20pps

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  25. #25
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    Re: What welder to buy (<$2k)

    Quote Originally Posted by mxpapa View Post
    The 211i is one of the best on 110v.
    I think it's the best hands down.. On my 120 volt/ 20amp circuit I see 160 amps, 18.5-19 volts output on mig. I figure it's drawing over 20 amps, but it never pops a breaker here at home.. Runs .035 solid wire real nice.. Impressive to say the least..
    Esab/Lorch ET-220i
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    INE 1500
    Klutch 140i

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