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Tungsten Inert Gas (TIG) Welders (sometimes called Gas Tungsten Arc Welding or GATAW) are the cornerstone of the manufacturing industry. Able to weld more material types than any other welder type, tig welding also offers more control for the operator.

The end result is a wide range of real-world applications.
In this article, we discuss the best TIG welders. Below our tig welder reviews is a buyer’s guide. If you are a first-time welder who is just getting his shop put together, you’ve come to the right place!

If you are working on a tighter budget, we also have an article on the best MIG welders as well as the basic arc welders.

Many of these will be multi-welders that can do both MIG and TIG. If you are confused about these differences, scroll down to the buying guide for a fast education.

Comparing the Top Tig Welding Machines

Everlast PowerTig 350

All of the welders (except this one) are going to be limited to about a quarter-inch thickness in the material that you can weld. The amperage is simply too low.

Now, that is ok, for most Tig work. After all, you are likely choosing a Tig machine so that you can work on aluminum and magnesium, and you expect the work to be thinner.
However, there are those rare jobs where having a bigger welder is a necessity. This is especially true if you do professional welding.

Most of the big, professional welders cost $12,000 or more. I’ve even seen them selling for more than $45,000 on different platforms. There are no two ways about it; it costs more money to weld thick aluminum.

This Everlast 350 is a healthy change. With its 35% duty cycle at 350 amps, this one is ready to tackle the jobs that no one else can do.

When you aren’t doing those big jobs, you can still enjoy all of the benefits of a bigger, badder machine. You get the sine wave shape control (for square waves, etc.) that only the Miller and a handful of other welding machines offer. You also get all of the pulse wave controls that enable you to deliver one-of-a-kind details on your weld.

As with most of the tools on this list, this one includes the tig torch and all of the parts you need to get going.

While this isn’t going to be the best fit for most of my readers (too much power!), it gives you a good idea of what the top-end range of the market has to offer.

Miller Electric Dynasty 210 DX

Be ready for some sticker shock. Miller makes some of the most robust tools on the market, and this is no home-hobbyist tool.

What you are looking at is a bonafide tool for commercial fabrication work.

This tool is ready to deliver excellence day after day without slowing down.

With Dynasty 210 DX, you can really dial in the power and get the arc the exact way you want it. For example, you can choose the waveforms of your AC electricity. The control helps ensure you get the exact bead that you want.

You can also adjust from 20Hz to 400Hz on the AC frequency.

This one has a similar duty cycle, with 60% at 210 amps or 100% at 175 amps. If you are doing longer weld beads, it has compatibility with the Coolmate 1.3 cooler.

At the same time, the Dynasty is fairly portable. You are only looking at 47 pounds of weight, so it is pretty easy to move it from job to job.

What you are getting with the Dynasty isn’t just all of these above specs. You are getting a heavy-duty model that is designed to withstand 8 hr working days for years on end. From mild steel to magnesium, this one has you covered.

Everlast PowerTIG 200DV

The Everlast PowerTig 200 DV doesn’t always get top reviews on the other blogs, and it makes me wonder if these guys have actually ever run a welder.

While it isn’t as recognizable of a brand as Lincoln or Miller, Everlast is a solid unit in its own right and provides an affordable piece of equipment that can run at production speed.

It uses an IGBT Inverter so that it has the best level of control over the arc type during all steps of welding and on all material types. The extra command over the arc helps ensure that each piece of work you do is going to be on par with the biggest shops.

You also get an Arc Ford Design (DIG) to provide more control over the electrode and to reduce splatter.
It is also highly upgradeable with the possibility of plugging in a water-cooled unit down the road.

But where this one really shines is in the 60% duty cycle at 200 amps and 100% duty cycle at 160 amps. This gives you the ability to handle the biggest jobs you can land without flinching.

With pulse control and HF start, you are getting a lot of great features that you normally have to pay much more for.

AHP AlphaTig 200X

The Alpha Tig is another unit that gives the Weldpro a run for its money. What I love about Weldpro is the company. You run across their tools and training videos all of the time. Their support for new welders is renowned.

The Alpha Tig seems to be a good unit, with a powerful amperage range and robust duty cycle. But they haven’t yet made the same name for themselves (although they are aggressively trying to do so!).

What I love about this model is that it gives you control on both AC frequency and pulse frequency. Until just a couple of years ago, it was difficult to get this level of functionality out of these mid-range models.

It’s exciting that these features are becoming so widely available. In my experience, this is one of the only ones in this industry that has pulse width modulation.

Where this welder beats out the Weldpro, in my opinion, is the solid quality of the welds. Even if you are trying to weld aluminum, this one sets up easy and goes right to work. Even a novice can manage the foot pedal with ease.

Weldpro 200GD

With the Weldpro 200GD, we begin dropping down to affordable models that are still of extremely high quality, but that is also getting down to a more approachable price range.

As with most of the machines on this list, there is an IGBT inverter in this Weldpro. Where the Weldpro shines is that it includes a lot of the features that you only see on bigger models.

You enjoy all of the same fine-tuning systems, such as the ability to choose your AC frequency and the shape of the arc.

An end result is a tool that welds smoothly and leaves a professional bead. It works well on 220v but can do some thinner welds on 120v at the lower amperage.

As with the other machines, you are looking at a 60% duty cycle at 200 amps, so you can enjoy plenty of power without stopping on those bigger jobs.

Where it struggles is in some of the consistency with all-day jobs. Even though it offers a dual voltage power source, blowing fuses is not uncommon when welding at 110v when you push the machine too hard.

Ideally, you’ll find a 220v circuit and unleash all the power this tool has to offer.

The foot pedal is included, and, unlike many pedals, this one doesn’t affect the intermediate power. So when you are doing pulse work, it is easier to be “on” or “off” and not accidentally screw up the power output by where your foot is.

Of course, that doesn’t offer as much control, either. But if you need that much control, you probably wouldn’t be on my site. This pedal is much more fun to use than the professional ones and a great way to get started.

At only 32 pounds, this unit may offer the best portability of any model on my list!

Lotos LTPDC2000D

This tool isn’t the best on the list, but I think that for most of my at-home makers, this one is going to be a top pick. If you are looking for something to use professionally, daily, skip this one. 

But if you are a “maker” at heart and are crafting your own ironman suit in the back of your garage, then this 3-in-1 tool should be a top consideration. 

The first thing you get with this tool is a 200 amp Tig welder. The tool will easily do .20″ thick metal and gives the ability to weld aluminum and steel alike. You also get features like HF start, so it is easy to use, and your finished work will look good. 

Then, you also get a plasma cutter in this. I’ll have my plasma cutter review article finished, but a plasma cutter is one of the best ways to cut intricate designs out of metal. It is a must-have for every fabrication shop with this tool. The plasma cutter is included. 

And then, like the Weldpro and the Alpha Tig below, you also get the ability to stick weld with this unit for when you need to work with thicker steel. 

The downside of this little tool is the 1-year warranty [https://www.uwelding.com/warranty-terms/ ], backed by a little-known company. But, for light-duty hobby work, this is a fun consideration.

Hobart 500551 EZ-TIG

This welder offers “auto-blow-your-nose.” Seriously, if you want a welder that does all of the thinking for you and lets you shine as a craftsman, this is the one.

Instead of leaving it up to the end-user to try to set all of the sine shapes and pulse width modulation, this tool does it all for you. All you have to do is select the material type, insert the correct type of rod, and dial the knob to the correct thickness for accurate amperage control.
Immediately, you are ready to weld.

The simplicity of this unit means that anyone can be a welder.

Where this unit struggles, is in pricing for a consumer market. This welder is an excellent choice for the automotive shop where you want you guys working, not fiddling with 50 knobs on their welder, and overthinking everything.

However, for most of my audience, simplicity is overrated, and they’re going to skip over this made-in-the-USA gem for something with a little more control.

Lincoln Electric 225

Lincoln is another one of those much-trusted brands and whose equipment has built much of America.

Their tools are rated for the industrial worker who has a lot of fabricating to do before the whistle blows at 5 o’clock. Even with these smaller 225 amp machines, you are getting the same, top-quality engineering that has made Lincoln famous.

As with the Hobart model, you get a super-easy startup. Just select three different knobs, and you are ready to go. This tool is all about getting the job done and avoiding distractions.

However, it has an extremely low duty cycle at 225 Amps. Sure, if you are doing most of your work at 80 amps, then it is a solid tool. But if your work is thicker than 3/16, you will be working at a higher amperage, and the shorter duty cycle means that you are going to have to work more slowly.

For the right production environment with thin metals, this is the correct tool. But for most of my audience, the added durability is not going to be worth it.

Your First Tig Welder Operation and Buying Guide H2
While The Tig is one of the most flexible welding designs, it isn’t always the best option. Where TIG shines, is that it provides the most operational control of any of the welding options. The extra command means that even a novice can create clean welds without spatter with a little bit of practice.

These Arc welders use tungsten rod. This rod is not used up in the welding process but requires argon gas to shield the rod and filler metal.

As a result, these welders can be a little more intimidating to first-time buyers. However, they are well worth the investment.

Where the Tig welder shines the brightest is in its ability to weld thin metals, stainless steel, and nonferrous metals like aluminum, magnesium, and copper.

You are going to have a learning curve with your TIG welder, but the flexibility and professional-quality of your finished weld are well-worth it.

How Hard Is It For A Beginner To Learn TIG Welding?

In some ways, it is easier to learn than ARC welding (which most of us start on). You are using both hands and a foot to control the welding equipment, so having a bench to work on makes it easier to stay focused and to learn more quickly. MIG welding is probably the easiest option for beginners.

MIG Welder Vs. TIG Welder

The Mig welder is the easiest to learn, offers better control on thinner metals, and is considered one of the fastest welders to use in a production environment on Steel, Stainless Steel, and Aluminum Alloys. Where TIG welding shines is that it can also weld Chromoly, Copper, Brass, and Magnesium. It also allows heat control, which protects the integrity of the metal and produces a more attractive bead.

There are four major types of welders on the market: The MIG, TIG, Flux-core welding, and Stick Welding.

Multi-Process Or Just Tig?

How Thick Can You Weld With TIG?

As discussed before, a TIG is going to perform better when welding thinner metals. You are going to need more power when welding thicker metal, for example, a 200-amp TIG welder can only do about 1/4″ steel. A 1/2″ weld would require a 400 amp welder and multiple passes.

You will likely want to look into Preheat [What is Preheat?] for some of those thicker pieces.

For speed, a Mig Welder is going to be faster on Thick Metals, and if you need to be fast and on a budget, look into a stick welder, as you can do thicker steel at a lower amperage.

As always, the advantage with a TIG is going to be those pretty beads!

Mig Welding

  • Fast, High-Quality Welds. 
  • Wire fed fills voids
  • Easier for a novice to use
  • Minimal Splatter
  • Welds Thick Material Quickly
  • Cannot be used in vertical or overhead positions
  • Cannot Weld all metal types

Tig Welding

  • Welds more metal types (including exotic metals) than any other processes
  • Creates clean, attractive, welds
  • Minimization of Flux and Slag removes the need to clean between weld passes
  • No Spark or Fumes
  • Welds in All Positions
  • Slower Welder

Defining Pulse Width, Pulse Amperage, Pre-Flow Time And, Post-Flow Time

Pulse welding is handy for a few scenarios. If you are welding upside down out of position, pulse welding can be handy. It also offers controlled penetration to keep you from burning through thin metals.

Not all machines have a pulse option. If you don’t have a pulse on your machine, you can get around that by using the foot pedal and simulating the pulse by clicking it on and off.

The pulse mode can also help you create a more narrow bead and speed up your travel speed.

Pulse Width

The pulse width is also referred to as “pulse time on” or marked with a “%” sign. This refers to how much time of the pulse is spent on “high.” For most scenarios, you want a minimum of 30-50% to make sure that you have enough heat to keep a good welding puddle going.

Pulse Amerpage

An old school rule of thumb is that it needs 1 amp for every .001″ of material thickness. If you are welding a quarter-inch thick of metal, you will likely need 250 amps. Also, see the discussion on “heat” a few sections further down in this article.

Basically, set your peak amperage where you normally would, but add 20 more amps to account for loss from the foot pedal.

If you set the peak amperage at 200 amps and the background amperage age 25% or 50 amps, it will fluctuate between the two.

At around 100 pulses per second, you begin noticing a much deeper and narrow bead.

Pre Flow Time

Tungsten welders need argon gas to shield the arc. You’ll want the argon to flow for a few seconds before you start to protect your weld.

A handy rule of thumb is 1 second for every 10 feet of hose to purge the line. Once the line is purged, you can begin working. Most people will need at least a .2 second preflow with fully purged lines; however, argon is cheap, and it makes sense to add another second or two in there to keep from screwing up your work. Once you get used to your machine, you can cut that back.

Post-Flow Time

Gas post-flow is essential for protecting the weld from atmospheric gasses and ensuring that the weld is properly terminated.

To calculate post flow, divide the number of amps you are using by 10. If you are using 200 amps, that means that you will need 20 seconds of post flow. Post flow should never be under 8 seconds.

Scratch Start Vs. Lift Start Vs. HF Start

Scratch Start

The scratch start is the method where the hot, molten, tungsten rod is flicked back and forth across the surface until the arc gets started. It’s an old school method of getting the arc going, and can make the biggest mess as bits of Tungsten gets flicked around. It also contaminates the rod.

However, it is also extremely reliable and considered a “must-know” skill by every old-school welder.

Lift Start

Another method is where the rod is quickly and briefly brought into contact with the metal to signal to the machine to ramp up the electricity. Then the rod is pulled away, creating a clear “arc.”

This method creates much less mess than the scratch method and works well on all metals except aluminum since aluminum tends to be “grabby” with the tungsten rod.

High-Frequency Start

The high-frequency start is the highest-quality bead as it relies on the machine ionizing the air and creating a “spontaneous” arc. This is the current preferred method for most users.

Using high-frequency start is required for welding aluminum, but it is a nice thing to have for the other metals.

Combination AC/DC

AC welding is required for working with aluminum and magnesium. The two halves of the sine wave work together to create a cleaner bead. The positive first have of the arc provides a “cleaning” action, while the negative second half comes in behind to create a deeper weld. The cleaning is a must for Aluminum work as you have to clear away the aluminum oxide byproducts as you work.

DC welding is great for steelwork. You’ll find yourself working in DC for most of your projects. DC negative (DC-) is good for thin sheet metals where you are worried about burning through. The DC positive (DC+) is more commonly used for low allow steels. (sometimes DC+ is called reverse DC.)

Heat Control

A Tig Weld is about 11,000 degrees Fahrenheit. Too much heat can cause excessive discoloration and ruin the integrity of the metal surrounding your bead.

Amperage isn’t the only thing that affects the heat that you are putting into the metal. The time you spend on a weld can also make a big impact. If you are running at too low of amperage, it can significantly add to the time that you have to heat the metal and can add to the heat damage.

The skill also comes into play. If you are running 200 amps, but your skill isn’t to that level, you’ll move too slowly and make a real mess. So learning the coordination to lay filler wire and work at your ideal speed takes a little bit of skill and plays into reducing heat damage.

Input Power

Most of America runs on 110 volts. However, welders — especially at higher amperages — will need a 220-volt input power supply. The higher voltage requirements might mean getting an electrician to rewire your place.

Some welders come in 110v/230v configurations that allow it to use either circuit. If you are operating off of a 110v circuit, you will likely be limited to about 100 amps of welding power. Getting access to a 220v circuit can let you unlock the full potential of the welder.

Duty Cycle

The duty cycle of a welder refers to how long a welder can run before it needs to cool. It is a handy measurement. For example, a 50% duty cycle means that the welder needs to rest as much as it runs. A 20% duty cycle means that for every 2 minutes of running, the welder needs 8 minutes of rest.

Most hobby welders get along fine with a 20% duty cycle. Hand helder welders in most shops are going to have a 40-60% duty cycle.

A commercial, automatic welder, would have a 100% duty cycle rating to support non-stop welding operations.

Weight and Size

Some welders are lightweight and can be carried on a shoulder strap. Others weigh over 200 pounds and are designed to stay in a limited range of positions on the shop flow.

Typically there is a little trade-off between weight and options. A heavier tool will likely offer more durability and options.

Digital Displays and Automation Controls

For me, the digital display doesn’t mean as much. However, automation controls are everything. You want the tool to do as much of the work for you as possible.

Spending a little more on automation means that you can work faster and make more money.

Air Cooling Vs. Water Cooling

Water cooling helps to protect the welder and the material. It can reduce the amount of argon gas that is needed, and supports longer bead lengths without stopping. 

However, water cooling adds weight and requires you to be near a water supply. It also requires you to buy an additional cooling unit.

Most operators are going to wok on an air-cooled unit and just adjust their bead runs accordingly. 

How To Use A Tig Welder

1. Choose The Electrode

There are many different types to choose from. You’ll want to do a little research and match the correct electrode to the work you are doing.

The blue lanthanated electrode is a pretty good all-around one. Red Lathanated electrodes are pretty common for the aluminum and magnesium work that TIG is so good at.

2. Grind the Electrode

You will need to adjust it for the type of welding you are doing, as well as for your welding ability.

After reading this guide, you should have a pretty good idea of where to start. For example, you would know that for steel, you want a DC current and HF mode and amperage around 200 amps with a preflow of .2 seconds and post flow of 20 seconds.

3. Choose the Settings

You will need to adjust it for the type of welding you are doing, as well as for your welding ability.

After reading this guide, you should have a pretty good idea of where to start. For example, you would know that for steel, you want a DC current and HF mode and amperage around 200 amps with a preflow of .2 seconds and post flow of 20 seconds.

4. Turn on the Gas

The gas needs to flow through the line, and the line needs to be purged of air bubbles.

5. Prepare the Metal and Welding Table

Tig welders work much better on clean metal. Use a wire brush to give yourself a clean, shiny edge to work with.