Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
TR5tar

Welder ... inverter or transformer?

Recommended Posts

I know we have had several threads on welders before, so apologies if I'm covering old ground. 

I've never owned a welder before and to be honest I've nothing that actually needs welding at the moment, but I feel that it is one of those garage items that I should buy eventually, as there will come a day when it'll be handy. I'm in no desperate rush to buy one, so I've just been doing a bit of reading on the subject and trying to learn. From what I understand, MIG is the easiest to get the hang of and so that's what I'd go for. In terms of what I'd use it for, it would be DIY, hobby, use, perhaps light car restoration, if I ever get around to buying one that needs it. Again, from reading on the subject, I'm after one between 30A (or less) and about 160A, and I'd want it to run off a standard domestic power supply. I'd also probably want the option of gas/gasless. 

Where I'm not so clear is on the pros and cons of inverter Vs transformer. I've read that inverter welders are typically lighter, more adjustable, and consume less power than transformer welders, but are not so robust and reliable. Any thoughts on that?  Also, I'm not sure I understand "duty cycle". 

Two machines that look to fit my requirements are: 

https://www.weldequip.com/parweld-xte171c.htm

and

https://www.r-techwelding.co.uk/mig-welder-r-tech-i-mig180/

Which would you opt for, given the sort of applications I'd use it for?

Darren 

 

Edited by TR5tar

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi Darren,

           to get good welds I would suggest MMA (Arc welding) is the easiest - with the right rods.

You can join metal easily with MIG but it may look like 'chicken shit'

 

Whatever you go for will take some acquired skill.

The RTech people do a training day day if you buy one of theirs

I would go for a TRansformer unit - tried and trusted.  But a good inverter should do well.

They are lighter because they do not have a bloody great 50Hz transformer inside   They use a high frequency small transformer.

 

Roger

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I am thinking of a new welder too. Having spent some time repairing an old cebora pocket 130 (the first home migs I think?) which is actually pretty good now the wire feeds, and also run a clarke or 2 over the years (both good value) and my current machine, an old Butters 130. So none are "top" machines, the butters and cebora are both decent though.

However, I keep finding 130A isn't enough for some bits and bobs I do. So seriously thinking along the same lines as Darren.

My thoughts are that the old fashioned, proper transformer mig may be a better long-term bet. I expect the inverter to be slightly ahead on quality of weld and so on, but I worry about one being left sometimes for months unused in a garage that is cold and sometimes feels a bit damp (not especially, it is well ventilated). So I am mulling it all over...

Duty cycle means what % of the time you can weld. So typically at lower settings it may be 80%, wher as at full power 20% meaning you have to stop for a cuppa etc every now and again. In reality the time you spend actually welding is typically very low anyway unless doing long runs. EG shipbuilding, large fabrication etc. 

For most car stuff 130A is plenty, panel work 100A is more than enough. I restored 2 cars with my first, 90A clarke. Chassis work was slow though.

I like gasless, especially for "sub prime" welding where getting everything as clean as you really want is difficult. Also means you don't have to carry a gas bottle (Hobbyweld-I like them as a gas suppler) I recently used gasless to sort a friends Eriba caravan, less affected by wind when working outside. That was a job that started as a few small holes, 3-4m of new box section went in.

Edited by zetecspit

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

For the usage you say, ignore duty cycle. Essentially, this tell you how long you can continuously weld for before the machine overheats, usually given at full power. For light hobby use/bits of restore etc, I would be surprised if you use full power at all!

Personally, having used both now I prefer an Inverter. More control and better low power control. A good machine will also multi-task, mine does mig from 20 to 160 amps, and also will do MMA. It is nice having them in the same box!

On the other hand, transformer type is perfectly viable, many people have restored cars with them, and they do tend to be cheaper.

Can't provide a link to mine, as it appears to no longer be sold, however a read of the mig welding forum is a good idea.

Cheers,

Phil

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I’m afraid I’m going to have to respectfully disagree with Roger on this. IMO MIG welding is easier to learn and more versatile than “stick” welding, especially for welding thin sheet metal. MIG is considerably more expensive in initial kit of course.

As a “never welded before and not sure what I’m going to do with it” it’s tempting to suggest buying used kit from eBay. Trouble with that is without expert assessment and guidance, in the more or less inevitable difficulties in the early stages of the welding process, you’ll not know if it’s you or the welder.

Gasless MIG. No, don’t go there, it’s awful. Only possible benefit is when welding outdoors in windy conditions. You can use gas wire in any MIG should the need arise, but hope you are never that desperate!

Inverter vs transformer. Former are smaller, lighter, more controllable and probably easier to learn on. More expensive but also unlikely that any of them are crap, whereas some of the cheap transformer ones are crap! I’ve never used an inverter one but much looking forward to trying the R-Tech one a friend has bought recently.

Do buy one with a Euro torch.

You will need gas and a regulator. Many new welders will come with a regulator in the deal. Ignore the mini bottles. Very little gas for your money.

You can use CO2 or Argoshield (usually 5% CO2 for sheet steel work). Hobbygas, Adams or SGS do contract-less supply probably via a local motor-factor or welding supplies house. BOC and Air Liquide are bandits......

Hot metal glue gun very useful addition to the workshop but budget for a decent CO2 fire extinguisher as well!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Im another MiG fan, althougjh i had the opportunity to use TiG and am most impressed, but the kit is expensive.   So is gas welder kit, which I've done in training, and is very like TiG!

If you can, do a MiG course.   If only for the materials for  practice they should give you.     The route to adecentbweld is practice, practice, practice!     You can do it at home, but you will need to source metal to work on, and old rusty scrap is best left until you have to, on the car! Courses at colleges locally, ask or lookup on google.   Goodluck!

John

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Of course, it may be worth borrowing a mig and having a try, make sure you are happy to proceed.

Don't forget you will want a helmet (half decent auto darkening are not expensive, £20-40) plus an assortment of tools as you start to work. Clamps for holding metal, possibly a flanger (ideally one with a hole punch for doing "spot" welds, much easier than drilling) a grinder (or 2) and all sorts of gizmos.

I have just had a look at fleabay. A murex Tradesmig us fairly local, used but looks tidy like it has had a gentle life. Chap wants £400.... tempting if I can sell my collection.

Nick, honestly that caravan would have been a nightmare with conventional mig. Gasless can be pretty decent, but always looks untidy as it coats everything with brown flux. But that does brush off. It does have its place, and it is only recently I have changed to using gas when inside the garage.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Nick Jones said:

I’m afraid I’m going to have to respectfully disagree with Roger on this. IMO MIG welding is easier to learn and more versatile than “stick” welding, especially for welding thin sheet metal. MIG is considerably more expensive in initial kit of course.

 

Hi Nick,

             I suggested that MMA is easier to play with, with little skill, in that as one will be welding thicker material (not usually 1mm sheet) it is easier.

Once you are able to strike an arc, to play with the molten puddle and get a more even weld fillet.

Less controls to cause havoc etc etc.

For thin material you have to look at MIG and TIG.        MIG becomes the easier option then.

 

Also with MMA the gas shield from the stick works very well (usually)

But it is a personal choice.

Roger

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for all the replies and suggestions. 

Originally I was probably more inclined towards the Parweld transformer, but I'm swinging to the R-Tech I think. I'm keen on learning MIG welding, as I do anticipate working with thinner metal, but as the R-Tech also gives the option of MMA, that seems to be a bonus. I'm expecting there to be a learning process involved and that will be part of the enjoyment for me. Most things of value take a bit of time. Interesting to hear of the R-Tech training day Roger, where did you read that?

I have read of concerns about leaving an inverter welder in damp garage, as Clive mentions, but that shouldn't be a problem for me, as I can always store it in my office (which is attached to the garage) through the winter. Thanks for the explanation of "duty cycle" Clive and Phil. I have been reading on welding forums, too, Phil.

I had thought about possibly buying a second hand one off Ebay as you mention Nick, but decided against for the reasons you outline. Gas, does seem preferable, from what I've read, but I suppose it's useful to be able to use gasless in certain conditions. In most instances, I'd be using it in a garage, so would be working with gas. Thanks for the tips on where to buy gas. I have a fire a couple of fire extinguishers to hand in the garage already, so no problem there. But what is a hot metal glue gun? Not heard of that.

I'd like to do a course John, but so far I've found nothing local to me that fits the bill. I'll keep looking.

Darren

  

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hello Darren

                        I have one of these and it is built like an outside toilet!!! (2 man lift) 

I was told one of the most important bits is the wire feed motor (these are Swedish or something like that)

I still can not weld very well but at least I now  know its my fault(wrong settings or dirty work)

Plus I think a good one will hold its price if you want to sell it later

That site has a good form etc

https://www.weldequip.com/portamig-mig-welders.htm

Roger

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

That does look a sturdy piece of kit, Roger. Only thing is, it's a bit above my price range. I was hoping to find something for about £400 that would meet my requirements. Both the ones I mentioned above are around £470, so slightly more than I'd hoped, but I can stretch to it. Holding value is a good point that I'd not considered.

You mentioned the Euro Torch, Nick. I've seen a few welders that come with one, such as the Parweld, but I'm not sure if the R-Tech has it. Can you say why you recommend it, please?

Darren   

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

R-Tech 180 is a decent machine and their £478 price includes the regulator (£50 ish) and 3 year warranty.

Add gas bottle, auto dim helmet and gloves and you are good to go......

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

That one is a transformer based design rather than inverter and you would need to add on the gas kit.  Slightly lower power that the R-Tech and I'm not sure how they manage their smart control given that it is transformer based.

It has a Euro torch (standard plug-in design) as does the R-Tech 180.

Nick

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Another vite for R-Tech, I've got one of their MIGs and AC/DC TIGs and they're great pieces of kit for the money. They are also UK based (Gloucester) and when I have had problems they have sorted them out quickly and effectively on site.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  

×
×
  • Create New...