Best TIG Welder In 2019 (Comparison and Reviews)

Tungsten Inert Gas (TIG) welding is one of the most difficult welding processes to learn. It requires the use of both of your hands, high level of dexterity and a lot of patience. However, the end result produces the cleanest and most beautiful welds. To ensure good results, it’s important to start by getting the best TIG welder for the money. Read through our TIG welder reviews and comparison to find the machine best suitable for your needs.

  • EVERLAST PowerARC 160STH
  • Process: TIG and Stick
  • Power supply: DC
  • Input power: 120 or 240 Volt
  • Output Range: 10-160A
  • Duty cycle: 35% at 160A
  • Start: high frequency + lift TIG arc
  • Weight: 36.9 lbs
  • Other: auto-regulated arc force control, adjustable post flow control, remote trigger switch
  • Hobart 500551 EZ-TIG 165i
  • Process: TIG
  • Power supply: AC/DC
  • Input power: 230 Volt
  • Output Range: 10-165A
  • Duty cycle: 20% at 150A
  • Start: high frequency
  • Weight: 50 lbs
  • Other: Fan-On-Demand, Auto-postflow, Remote Foot Control
  • Square Wave® TIG 200
  • Process: TIG and Stick
  • Power supply: AC/DC
  • Input power: 120 or 230 Volt
  • Output Range: 10-200A
  • Duty cycle: 25% at 200A
  • Start: high frequency
  • Weight: 46 lbs
  • Other: AC frequency, AC balance and pulse control
  • AHP AlphaTIG 200X
  • Process: TIG and Stick
  • Power supply: AC/DC
  • Input power: 110 or 220 Volt
  • Output Range: 10-200A
  • Duty cycle: 60% at 200A
  • Start: high frequency
  • Weight: 69 lbs
  • Other: AC frequency, AC balance, foot pedal control
  • Everlast PowerTIG 250EX
  • Process: TIG and Stick
  • Power supply: AC/DC
  • Input power: 240 Volts
  • Output Range: 5-250A
  • Duty cycle: 60% at 250A
  • Start: high frequency
  • Weight: 60 lbs
  • Other: adjustable pulse, AC frequency, AC balance control, stick function with arc force control, and 2T/4T remote control functions
  • Miller Maxstar 150 STL
  • Process: TIG and Stick
  • Power supply: DC
  • Input power: 115 or 230 Volt
  • Output Range: 5-150A
  • Duty cycle: 30% at 150A
  • Start: Lift Arc
  • Weight: 13.7 lbs
  • Other: Auto-Line circuitry

Top 6 TIG Welders Reviewed

Lincoln Electric Square Wave 200 – Best Overall TIG Welder

best tig welderIf you have a higher budget and looking for the best overall TIG welder, we recommend taking a look at the Lincoln Electric Square Wave 200 system. It offers AC/DC TIG and stick welding capabilities, unmatched power and convenient portability.

The Good

  • Multi-process. The machine allows the user to work on a variety of projects. You can use TIG welding when you need to weld aluminum or when your bead appearance needs to be on point and precise. You can also switch to stick welding when welding thicker materials for which aesthetics are not important.
  • AC/DC capability. So you can weld aluminum, steel, or other nonferrous metals.
  • AC balance 60%EN-90%EN and AC frequency 60-150Hz give you more control of the weld.
  • Ample power. It’s a dual voltage machine that comes 120V and 230V ready. The amperage range differs for the voltage chosen and type of welding. For stick welding, the range is 10-170 amps. And for TIG welding, it’s 10-200 amps.
  • Inverter-based. This design allows packing 200 amps of power into a box weighing under 50 pounds.
  • Even though it’s an advanced welder, it’s very user-friendly and offers simple controls.

The Bad

  • The minimum amperage on this welder is 10A, which might be too high for some.
  • High price. However, considering its insane capabilities and the quality you’re getting from a well reputable brand, it’s well worth it.

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Everlast PowerARC 160STH – Best Budget Option

tig welder reviewsIf you’re looking for the best TIG welder under $500, the next pick on our list of best rated products is the Everlast PowerARC 160STH. It’s also a combination of a stick and TIG welder, giving you more versatility in use. It offers adequate power and all the useful features to create perfect welds, making it a great buy due to its price-to-features ratio.

The Good

  • The dual voltage of 110V and 220V. More power is important for pro-level welding. Also, the amperage range is 10-160 amps.
  • The versatility of arc and TIG combination. So you can easily switch from working on an aluminum project to welding ¼” steel.
  • Includes both high frequency and lift start. So you can choose the one that you prefer or the one that is more suitable for the environment you’re working in.
  • Long duty cycle with 35% at 160 amps.
  • Inverter technology makes the machine more compact and more powerful.
  • Portable. Weighs just 37 pounds and also comes with an impact resistant carrying case and a shoulder strap.
  • 5-year warranty.

The Bad

  • DC only, so not suitable for aluminum welding.
  • Not the most powerful. But it’s a good budget TIG welder, so it will handle well most of the light duty tasks.

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Hobart 500551 EZ-TIG 165i – Best For the Money

top rated tig welderIf you want to buy the best TIG welder for the money, it’s best to choose a product from a well reputable brand. And Hobart is definitely one of them. The top rated product in their TIG welders line is the 500551 EZ-TIG 165i machine. It is one of the easiest and fastest TIG welders to operate. And aside from that, it also provides amazing power and weld performance.

The Good

  • AC and DC operation. With a single switch, you can jump from welding steel to working on aluminum.
  • It’s capable of welding 22 gauge thin materials and up to 3/16” thickness.
  • The system uses a high frequency start, which is a non-contact arc start that also works with tungsten protecting it against contamination.
  • Ample power. It’s a single voltage unit, requiring a 230V outlet to operate. Also, it offers infinite amperage control, providing you with a broader operating range.
  • Fan-on-demand feature works by turning on the fan only when it’s required, as in the case when dust and debris are sucked into the machine.
  • The inverter technology makes the unit lightweight, powerful and provides the weld with a consistent arc while using less power.

The Bad

  • Shorter duty cycle, compared to others: 20% at 150 amps.
  • The welder weighs 50 pounds, which is not a very easy to move around weight.

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AHP AlphaTIG 200X – Best Under $1000

top tig weldersAHP AlphaTIG 200X offers the combination of affordability and amazing functionality. This TIG system can be used for stick and TIG welding applications. Once you get started, you’ll be amazed how easy this welder is to use, creating a smooth, stable arc.

The Good

  • Suited for work with both 110V and 220V, so you can adjust it depending on the power source you have and the difficulty of the welding job at hand.
  • AC and DC capability, giving you options for welding both ¼” aluminum and ⅜” steel, as well as other thinner materials.
  • Advanced inverter technology, which also includes pulse width modulation. It automatically regulates the system’s uptime, resulting in less power loss and smoother power delivery. This gives you a consistent arc and a consistent weld.
  • Adjustable output frequency. Adjusting the output frequency you can narrow the focus of your arc if you need to get a thinner and cleaner bead.
  • Features a high frequency start.
  • Wide amperage range from 10 to 200 amps.
  • 3-year warranty.

The Bad

  • Some of the users have found the controls to be a bit complicated.
  • The machine is quite heavy, weigh 69 pounds.

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Everlast PowerTIG 250EX – Best 250 Amps System

good tig welderEverlast has another great quality TIG welder, the PowerTIG 250EX. It’s one of the best TIG welders for working on aluminum due to its extended AC cleaning range and arc force control. It offers plenty of power and versatility and is great for both professionals and hobbyists.

The Good

  • AC and DC modes for versatile use.
  • Impressive power. The machine puts out maximum 250 amps of power and operates on single phase and 3 phase 240V. This is enough to handle some pretty heavy duty tasks. And while operating using the maximum output, it has a 60% duty cycle, meaning you have more welding time before the machine needs to cool down.
  • Two start options: high frequency and lift start. Also, it has 5 amps TIG start for both AC and DC, making starting the weld easier than ever.
  • Extended AC cleaning range offers adjustable operation for lower oxidation when welding aluminum. Also, it gives a more controlled bead and better penetration on thicker materials.
  • Arc force control, giving automatic voltage and amperage control, for improved performance during short arc operations.
  • The system offers a lot of adjustabilities, including AC balance, AC frequency control, adjustable pulse and 2T/4T remote control options.
  • Pre and post flow gas control, providing efficient before and after shielding gas protection.
  • The machine works with a water cooled system, which improves the lifespan of the welder. However, it’s purchased separately.

The Bad

  • The minimum voltage requirement for this system is 208V, which might not be suitable for everyone.
  • The welder weighs 60 pounds, so it won’t be that easy to move it around a lot.

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Miller Electric Maxstar 150 STL

high quality tig welderIf you’re looking for DC only TIG welder, a really good system is Miller Electric Maxstar 150 STL. This system comes with all the features that will help you achieve precision welds at the most efficient pace. This TIG and stick welder combo is powerful and portable and can be used on a broad range of materials.

The Good

  • Features a multi-voltage plug for quick and easy switching between 115V to 230VAC.
  • Wide amperage range. For TIG it starts as low as 5 amps and is adjustable up to 150 amps. This allows to weld steel as thin as 0.02” and up to 3/16” thick mild steel. As a stick welder, it offers adjustability from 20 to 150 amps, and can weld up to ¼” steel.
  • The lift arc technology allows initiating the arc without worrying about the high frequency interfering with your nearby appliances.
  • Fan-on-demand feature, which prevents dust and other contaminants from getting pulled through the machine.
  • Remote fingertip control for amperage adjustments.
  • Thermal overload protection preventing internal damage due to overheating.
  • It’s a compact TIG welder, weighing just under 14 pounds.
  • User-friendly interface.

The Bad

  • DC only, so it welds only steel.
  • The foot pedal is sold separately.
  • Some prefer using the high frequency start, so keep in mind that this system has only the option of lift arc start.

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What Is TIG Welding or How Does a TIG Welder Work?

what is tig weldingTIG welding is technically called Gas Tungsten Arc Welding or GTAW. The process was developed at the beginning of the 1930s and was mainly then used for welding magnesium in the aircraft industry.

The TIG process fuses together metals by creating an electric arc between a non-consumable (meaning it doesn’t melt) tungsten electrode and the base metal. Additionally, the torch produces a stream of inert gas to shield the molten metal, the electrode and the weld pool from contamination in the air.

For TIG welding you can choose any welding position. The machine can be manual, semi-automatic or fully automatic, usually depending on the application.

The welding material reaches the melting state by the arc maintaining temperatures of about 4530 degrees Fahrenheit.

Gas

The inert gas that is used to shield from the atmosphere is normally argon or helium, the most common being argon. Argon is cheaper and also 10 times heavier than helium, which allows providing a smoother arc even at low flow rates. However, it can also be a mixture of both.

Electrode

The electrode can be either pure tungsten or a tungsten alloy. The advantage of tungsten is that it has the highest melting temperature among pure metals, so it’s not consumed during welding. The electrodes are also color coded. The pure one is green and the alloy ones are brown, blue, red or yellow in accordance with the alloying element.

Torch

Welding torches are equipped with cooling systems that usually use either air or water. The air-cooled machines are used for welding thin materials, while the water cooled ones are used for medium to thick metals.

Power Supply

In GTAW you can use both DC or AC, but it will depend on the application. AC is used for magnesium and aluminum materials. DC with a negative electrode is used for welding steel, stainless steel, nickel. DC with a positive electrode is used when more shallow penetration is needed.

What Is TIG Welding Used For?

what is tig welding used for

TIG welding can be used on almost any metal and metal alloys. It’s especially efficient at welding light gauge metals and nonferrous metals. This welding tool can also work on difficult to weld metals. The metals include the following:

  1. Aluminum and its alloys.
  2. Copper and its alloys.
  3. Magnesium and its alloys.
  4. Carbon steel.
  5. Nickel and its alloys.
  6. Low alloy steel.
  7. Reactive materials.

The process is primarily used in the aerospace industry. It’s also extensively used in the manufacturing of metal furniture, automotive body works and sheet metal fabrication.

TIG Welding Advantages and Disadvantages

Advantages

  • Can be used with a variety of metals.
  • High-quality, strong welds.
  • Suitable for working on very thin metals.
  • They can work with a variety of filler metal.
  • Free of spatter.
  • Gives more control over welding heat.
  • Can be used with or without filler wire.
  • Cleaner and more appealing welds.

Disadvantages

  • A time-consuming process.
  • Doesn’t work well on thicker metals.
  • Lower deposition rates compared to consumable electrodes.
  • Requires more dexterity and coordination from the user.
  • Problematic to work in drafty environments.

How to Choose the Best TIG Welder For The Money – Buying Guide

With so many products being sold on the market, buying a good TIG welder for a first-time buyer can be a bit overwhelming. Before looking into different products, start by asking yourself first if this is the best welding process for your job. It does offer more precision and control with a high quality finish, but it also requires more skill and time. If you’re still interested in getting a TIG welder, here are a few factors to consider before making a buying decision.

Amperage Range

amperageThe first thing to look out for when choosing your new TIG machine is the amperage range. Try to find the widest amperage range at the most affordable cost. This will provide with a bigger range of materials you can work with.

For example, a machine with a 5A-230A range will allow you welding a variety of materials from 24 gauge steel to ¼” aluminum. So consider the types of metals and their thickness that you’ll be working with. From this, you’ll be able to determine the amperage you need.

Keep in mind that aluminum requires higher amperage. So if you have a machine under 200 amps, it will be able to weld only ⅛” to 3/16”.

Low Amperage Performance

Low amperage is just as important as high amperage. Machine below 10 amps will provide better welding on thin materials. High amperage in such applications will create an arc that is too intense and which will risk torching the material. Also, it provides easier starting, better arc stability, and great crater fill capability at the end of the weld.

Stability at low amperage is also important to finish the weld. The amperage at the end is usually turned down in order to fill in the crater. Otherwise, if the filled concave crater is too large, it will start to crack during the cooling process.

Power Source – AC/DC

power sourceIdeally, if you’ll be working with more than just steel or stainless, we’d recommend getting a machine that offers both. AC current is suitable for welding self-oxidizing soft metals. These include aluminum and magnesium. DC, on the other hand, welds hard metals, among which are steel, stainless steel and copper. Think of the metals you most often work with. This will help you choose the best TIG welder for your needs.

The AC option has the current cycle alternating between positive and negative halves. The positive half cleans away oxides, while the negative one penetrates the base metal.

If you choose an AC welder, you’d also want to have AC balance control. This will allow you to control the level of cleaning vs penetration. Fixed AC balance welders don’t give you the option to adjust to more oxidized aluminum or the range of amperage you’re using. The control can either be manual or have the auto-balance technology.

Power Input

Most TIG welders on the market today work with both 110V and 240V. For smaller, weekend projects a machine with lower input power should be enough. But if your work involves bigger, heavy-duty projects, you’ll definitely benefit from having the versatility of dual voltage capability.

Heat Control

A welding process gets pretty hot, so having a heat control system built into your TIG welding machine is another critical attribute of a high quality TIG welder. Thinner and more delicate materials will just start to burn and warm under all that heat.

On the top rated welders, you’ll find an inbuilt pulser to minimize warpage. The feature alternates between high and low currents, giving a more stable arc and reduce the amount of heat applied to the weld.

Duty Cycle

The duty cycle shows the amount of uninterrupted time you can weld at the highest rated amperage in a 10-minute interval. So let’s say you have a 20% duty cycle. That will give you only 2 minutes of continuous welding before the machine will need to stop and cool down.

A 20% duty cycle is usually found on cheaper TIG welders due to lower power. If you’re just doing hobby weekend welding, that might be enough. Otherwise, if time is of the essence, you can find higher quality TIG systems with duty cycles up to 60%. However, expect to pay for this longer duty cycle.

Type of Arc Start

arcThere are three possible ways a TIG welder can be started.

  1. A start that uses high frequency to strike an arc between the electrode and the base material. It works with both AC and DC.
  2. A scratch start requires scratching the electrode against the metal, which strikes an arc. The downside is that some of the tungsten can be left behind on the weld and contaminate it.
  3. Lift start feature works by striking an arc when you touch the electrode to the workpiece and then lift it off.

Ease of Use

TIG is a welding process that requires quite a bit of skill, but that doesn’t mean that the machine’s controls should be incomprehensible. They should be user-friendly and well laid out in the instructions manual.

Look for accessories such as a foot pedal that allow hands-free amperage control. This will allow you to adjust the amperage output without taking your eyes off your weld. Using hand controls is also fine, but if you’re really serious about your welding, you’ll need both your hands-free for controlling the weld and torch. If the machine doesn’t come with a pedal, you can buy one separately.

Portability

If you plan on using your TIG welder in just one location, its portability might not be of great importance to you. However, most often TIG welding requires moving the machine to different sites. So many would want to invest in the best portable TIG welder.

If you want a lightweight TIG welder, look for an inverter design or an engine-driven welder. Inverter TIG welders can weigh as low as 10 pounds and usually need a 115V or 230V power supply. As for engine-driven welders, they are great for on-the-field projects, because they work without the need of a power supply.

TIG Welding Tips For Beginners

TIG welding requires far more practice than MIG or ARC welding. There’s a lot more you need to do to control the arc, the puddle and the final result. Here are 5 basic tips to get you started with learning the ropes of TIG welding.

  1. Cleanliness. TIG welding requires a very clean surface to work on. So before starting welding, thoroughly clean the surface of the metal. Whether you’re working on aluminum or stainless, choose a dedicated brush for the metal. Remember not to use the same wire brush that was used to clean away rust off your chassis. The more thorough your pre-weld cleaning will be, the better results you will get.
  2. Choosing the appropriate tungsten. There are different types of tungsten for particular metals. Generally, the green tungsten is used for welding aluminum and the red one for steel. Additionally, the thickness of the tungsten plays an important role. You don’t want it to be too thick or too thin. It can cause burning through the workpiece or be damaging the tungsten itself.
  3. One of the most frustrating parts for beginner TIG welders is learning to start the arc without the tungsten tip touching the weld puddle. If it touches even for a split second, the puddle is already contaminated, so you would have to regrind the tungsten.
  4. Proper tungsten grinding. It should be ground length-wise. Try to make it as even as possible. You can use a diamond grinding wheel for best results. When grinding, hold it in the directing that the wheel is turning. This will create grind marks along the length of the tungsten and will then assist with the flow of the electric current.

Bottom Line

Before choosing a particular TIG welder, consider the applications you’ll be using it for. This way you can cross out unnecessary functions and spend only on the unit that will be right for your needs. For example, if you won’t be welding aluminum, you don’t a system with AC capabilities. If you’ll be doing just light duty weekend projects, you don’t need the most powerful welder. However, do consider if you might need more power in the future. Spending a bit more now is better than having to spend again in the future.

The products that were chosen in our best TIG welder reviews, we picked for the quality, performance, power and how they stand out from the competition. These welders come from the most reputable brands in the industry and have proven to be reliable systems for many users. We hope that comparing these best rated TIG welders, will help you find the right unit for your needs.

You can also check out our articles on different safety gear for welding, such as welding helmets and welding boots.

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