Best TIG Welders of 2017 – Top Picks & Reviews

a TIG welder doing its magicTIG welding, or tungsten insulated gas welding, offers one the most precise and clean ways to join metal. If your constructs are all about beautiful finishes and unyielding structural integrity, then a TIG welder should be a part of your toolkit.

However, buying a TIG welder is no easy task. As soon as you begin your search you will be assaulted by a crazy amount of terms and specs. It can be quite overwhelming. But, I’ve done most of the hard work for you. This buying guide will help you find what is the best TIG welder on the market. So, let’s get right to the TIG welder reviews.

The Best TIG Welders of 2017

MODELPRICEPRODUCT DIMENSIONSITEM WEIGHTUSER RATING
AHP Alpha TIGG200
AHP Alpha TIGG200
$$$$
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19 x 23 x 12 inches
38 pounds
4.9/5
Our Top Pick
EVERLAST PowerARC 140
EVERLAST PowerARC 140
$$
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20 x 13 x 14 inches
25 pounds
4.5/5
Best For The Money
LOTOS TIG200
LOTOS TIG200
$$$
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28 x 13 x 17 inches
58 pounds
4.3/5
Lotos TIG140
Lotos TIG140
$
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20 x 14 x 13 inches
10 pounds
4.1/5
Hobart 500551 EZ TIG
Hobart 500551 EZ TIG
$$$$$
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28 x 23 x 16 inches
60 pounds
3.9/5


#1 AHP Alpha TIGG200 – Our Top Pick

AHP Alpha TIGG200The AHP Alpha TIGfG200X is the best TIG welder on the market in terms of features and price. This dual voltage TIG welder produces both AC and DC output. So, the machine is perfect for you if you work with steel and aluminum.

Output current on this machine ranges from 10 A to 150 A at 120 V. At 220 V, the machine produces an output current between 10 A and 200 A. You can control the output current using the controls on the panel or the foot pedal.

This machine operates at a duty cycle of 60% when producing an output of 200 A. At lower output currents, the duty cycle increases even more. The output current range and the duty cycle make this model ideal for welding steel and aluminum up to 3/16 inches thick. In terms of raw performance, this is the best TIG welder for home use.

The bestselling point of this product is the number of features it offers. Moderately priced, this model packs features of a high-end model. For instance, the AHP Alpha TIGG200X comes with foot pedal compatibility, pulse welding, AC balance control, 2T-4T operation, and HF start.

Unfortunately, there’s a big downside to this product. If you look at their website, you will see what I mean. When I saw the FAQ page filled with “lorem ipsum” dummy text, it created serious doubts about the product’s reputation. Also, the link to the most recent manual for this machine is dead.

In conclusion, buying this TIG welder is a high-risk and high-reward proposition. Even though this product comes with a 3-year warranty against manufacturing defects, there are more reliable products on the market. But, none of them comes close to matching the Alpha TIGG200X in terms of features to price ratio.

Pros

  • Loaded with features
  • High performance
  • Competitive price
  • 3-year warranty

Cons

  • Online presence is lacking


#2 EVERLAST PowerARC 140 – Best For The Money

EVERLAST PowerARC 140_smallEVERLAST PowerARC 140If you’re looking for a budget TIG welder, the Everlast PowerARC 140 ST merits your attention. It is the best TIG welder for the money. Unlike the Alpha TIGG200X, which produces both AC and DC output, the PowerARC 140ST produces only DC output. So, you can’t use it to weld aluminum.

On this machine, you can get an output current ranges from 10 A to 80 A on 110 V. At 120 V, the output current range lies between 10 A and 140 A. This model does not come with foot pedal control. You will have to control the current using the knob on the panel.

At 110 V and 50 A, this machine operates at a 100% duty cycle. At 110 V and 80 A, the duty cycle reduces to 35%. If you increase the voltage to 220 V, you can get 100% duty cycle for 85 A and 35% duty cycle at 140 A. The output current range and the duty cycle allows you to use the PowerARC 140ST to weld steel as thick as 1/8 inches comfortably.

Light and compact, this machine is built for portability. It also comes with a solid 5-year warranty. Everlast has been around for more than a decade and has secured a good reputation. However, this budget model has some negatives, that mught be irrelevant or dealbreakers depending on your needs, as you can see in the con list.

In summary, the Everlast PowerARC 140ST’s value lies in its portability and affordability. It performs well for thickness under 1/8 inches. But, if you frequently work with metal thicker than 1/8 inch, you should not buy this model.

Pros

  • Low-cost
  • Light and compact
  • 5-year warranty
  • Dual voltage
  • Performs well for thickness up to 1/8 inches

Cons

  • Does not have AC output
  • Can’t weld aluminum
  • No foot pedal control
  • Air regulator not included
  • Very short ground and torch cable (only 5 ft.)


#3 LOTOS TIG200 – Best TIG Welder For Aluminum

LOTOS TIG200The Lotos TIG200 and the Alpha TIGG200X, our top pick, come within the same price range. Like the Alpha, the Lotos TIG200 is a dual voltage welder that produces both AC and DC output. So, you can use this welder on aluminum and steel.

This machine has the capacity to produce an output current between 30 A and 200 A. At 110 V and 150 A, you can use the TIG200 at a 60% duty cycle. If you increase the voltage to 220 V, you can run the machine at 60% duty cycle for 190 A. The output current range and the duty cycle lets you use the TIG200 to weld steel and aluminum as thick as 3/16 inches comfortably. If you push it, you could weld 1/4 inch metal.

On the control panel, the TIG200 houses selectors for down slope, pre-flow, post-flow, voltage, and clearance effect. These selectors give you a lot of control over the weld quality. However, only experienced welders can use these features fully.

Comparable in size and weight to the heavy Alpha TIGG200X, this model is not built for portability, unless you consider 58 pounds portable. Another downside is the warranty; it’s just for one year.
In a nutshell, this product is similar to our top pick in terms of performance and cost. With a 1-year warranty, this is a medium-risk and medium-reward purchase.

Pros

  • Dual voltage
  • Both AC and DC output
  • Can weld aluminum and steel
  • Performs well for metal thinner than 1/4 inch.
  • Comes with foot pedal control
  • Advanced control functions on the panel
  • High frequency start hand torch

Cons

  • Not built for portability
  • 1-year warranty


#4 Lotos TIG140

Lotos TIG140The first thing you’ll notice about the TIG140 is its compact size. When you pick it up, its lightness will surprise you. Weighing just 9 pounds, this is one of the most portable TIG welders on the market.
But, don’t let its small size fool you. This machine packs quite a punch for its size. This dual voltage TIG welder produces a DC output current up to 80 A at 110 V and up to 140 A at 220 V.

At 110 V and 60% duty cycle, it gives 65 A, and at 220 V and 60% duty cycle, it gives 100 A. Given the duty cycle and output current, this machine is best suited to weld steel that is as thick as 1/8 inch.
Since it is a budget model, it doesn’t offer any control features other than output current control. It also doesn’t have advanced features such as foot pedal compatibility, pulse function, and high frequency start torch.

If you’re looking for a highly portable, yet moderately powerful, TIG welder, the TIG140 is a sound investment. I personally see this as a primary option for home use and secondary option for commercial use.

Pros

  • Low-cost
  • Very portable
  • Works well on steel thinner than 1/8 inch

Cons

  • No advanced features
  • Only DC output
  • Can’t weld aluminum
  • 1-year warranty


#5 Hobart 500551 EZ TIG

Hobart 500551 EZ TIGThe Hobart 500551 EZ TIG welder isn’t as compact and light as the TIG200 and the TIG140. Also, the 500551 is also not as powerful as the Alpha TIGG200X and the Everlast PowerARC 140ST. On top of all this, the Hobart welder is way more expensive than the other models.

With so many apparent negatives, you must be wondering why this product is even on the list. The reason is – the Hobart brand. Hobart has been making machines since 1917. That’s a century’s worth product building experience. Plus, the Hobart comes with an impressive 5/3/1 warranty scheme.
The warranty scheme covers the transformers, stabilizers, and generators for five years. The electronics get a three-year cover. The torch gets a one-year warranty. So, buying this model is a very safe investment.

Now, let’s look at the performance characteristics. This 220 V machine produces AC and DC output current between 10 A and 165 A. At 60% duty cycle, it provides 80 A. The combination of duty cycle and output current makes the 500551 ideal for welding steel and aluminum up to 1/8 inches thick.
This machine has a single-knob interface. It’s one of the easiest TIG welders to use. If you’re going to buy just one TIG welder in the next 10 years, make it this one. Although many machines can outperform the 500511, only a few products can match its durability.

Pros

  • Reputed brand name
  • Durable build
  • Easy to use
  • Both AC and DC output
  • Works well on aluminum and steel as thick as 1/8 inch
  • Amazing 5/3/1 warranty scheme

Cons

  • Very expensive
  • Not built for portability
  • No advanced features


Tips To Find The Best TIG Welder For Your Needs

When you look at a beautiful marble sculpture, it’s hard to imagine that it started from an unattractive and shapeless block of stone. The same way, every metal fabrication starts from plain and boring pieces of metal.

To bring the metal together and create structure that perform meaningful functions, you will need to glue pieces of metal together. That’s where welders come in. Using welders, you can join metal plates, channels, pipes, and sheets to fabricate just about anything your skill and imagination allows.

Metal welders commonly use two types of welders – the MIG welder and the TIG welders. The two welders may sound similar, but they’re very different. This brings us to one of the most common questions people have about welders.

Should I go for a MIG welder or a TIG welder?

To understand the difference, let’s look at the main parameters in which the two welders differ:

  • Operation: You can use a MIG welder with one hand. The wire in the gun fills the gap that the hot flame creates and joins the metals together. TIG welders, on the other hand, require two hands to operate. You’ll have to hold the torch in one hand and the filler material in the other hand. To join the metals, you’ll have to melt the metal at the joint and then use a filler to cover the gap.
  • Skill: MIG welders are easy to use. Even novice welders can get the hang of it within a short time. TIG welders, however, require a higher degree of skill to operate. You’ll need a lot more time to master TIG welding.
  • Speed: MIG welders let you weld metals at a high rate. If you’re looking for high production speed, MIG is the way to go. TIG welding takes time. For the same length of the weld, MIG welding can be up to 10 times faster than TIG welding.
  • Finishing: This is where the TIG beats the MIG hands down. TIG welding produces a beautiful beading and the post-weld clean up is minimal. The finish on MIG welds doesn’t look nearly as good as the finish on TIG welds. More importantly, you’ll have to do a lot of grinding and scraping to make a MIG weld look like a TIG weld.
  • Aluminum: Welding aluminum with a MIG welder is hard. You will need expensive equipment like a push-pull torch or a spool gun to weld aluminum with a MIG welder. TIG welders, on the contrary, have no problems welding aluminum.
  • Tack Welding: Since TIG welding is a two-hand operation, it’s very hard to tack weld metals using a TIG. Although it’s possible to tack weld with a TIG, tack welding with a MIG is much easier.

Considering these differences, you should go for a TIG welder to produce short and high-quality welds on steel or aluminum. If you work exclusively on steel and you do mostly long production welds, you should go for a MIG.

Do I really need an AC and DC output?

One of the main advantages of a TIG welder is its ability to weld aluminum. For that, you will need AC output. So, if you go for a DC only option, you are missing out on a prime offering.

However, DC output only machines are easy to use. You don’t have to worry about complicated controls such as pulse width, pre-flow time, post-flow time, and pulse amperage. With DC machines, you just need a voltage control knob to control the output current.

In the end, it just comes down to the materials with which you will work. If it’s just steel, go for a MIG welder or a DC only TIG. If aluminum is on the menu, then a TIG is a must.

Whoa, what does pulse width, pre-flow time, post-flow time, and pulse amperage mean?

If you’re not going to use a DC output TIG welder, the first three parameters don’t apply. However, advanced DC welders give you the option to use it in pulse mode. In the pulse mode, the output current fluctuates between a minimum and a maximum value. You can set these values according to your preferences. This helps better temperature control. Also, note that AC TIG welders can use the pulse function too.

Now, let’s discuss the parameters relevant to AC output TIG welders. Unlike DC supply, which remains fixed at one value and polarity, AC supply changes in value and polarity. So, if you plot the output vs time characteristics on a graph, DC supply shows a flat line and AC supply shows a wave.

The wave has a negative cycle and positive cycle. This is known as the DCEN and DCEP polarity. To control the quality of your weld, you can select how long the machine stays in DCEN mode relative to the DCEP mode. The knob to control this is known as the pulse width control.

The pre-flow control lets you select the gap between the start of shielding gas flow and arc initiation. The post-flow control lets you select the gap between arc termination and stop of shielding gas flow. Well, these are parameters that expert welders use. So, if you’re not into that level of welding, you don’t need these features.

I see that some models have HF start and others have lift start. What’s the difference?

The TIG welding process begins with arc initiation. The arc between the tungsten electrode and the metal is responsible for melting the metal at the joints. There are two major ways to start this arc. One involves contact with the metal, the other does not.

TIG welders that require you to lightly touch the tungsten electrode on the metal have a lift start. Welders that can start the arc without touching the metal have HF start. In addition to this, there’s another method called the scratch start. This method involves scratching the metal with the electrode. Just like striking a match.

Among the three methods, HF start gives the cleanest finish and scratch start gives the poorest finish. Lift start gives a much cleaner finish than scratch start. But, lift start doesn’t provide the 0% contamination result that HF start provides.

If you’re working on projects where there is little or no room for contamination, go for TIG welders with HF start.

Sounds good, what are my options?

Since there’s no one size that fits all, I’ve included the best product in the market corresponding to various customer profiles. You will most likely find a product that serves your needs in the product review section. However, if you want a better look at what’s out there, explore the TIG welders from Miller Electric, Lincoln Electric, Forney, and Longevity. Also remember to look at other TIG welders from Everlast, Hobart, and Lotos.


Conclusion

When TIG welders first came out, people didn’t think home users or hobbyists would have any use for it. Consequently, there weren’t many TIG welders for non-industrial use. Today, that’s no longer the case. There are plenty of options for people to use TIG welders in a non-industrial setup.

However, choosing the right TIG welder from the plethora of options available is no easy task. Unlike many products, where cost scales evenly with quality, the cost of a TIG welder doesn’t say much about that machine’s capability. Expensive doesn’t mean good and cheap doesn’t mean bad.

For example, the Lotos TIG200 performs better than the Hobart 500551. But, the Hobart costs almost twice as much. So, you can’t use money as the only parameter to judge a TIG welder. You need to look under the hood.

But, a peek under the hood can be confusing if you don’t know what you’re looking at. Fortunately, this article covers most of the things you need to know to make sense of it all.

TIG welders have developed a lot since its origin in the 1940s. Today, the product is of very high quality. You will find many products at various price points on the market. Hopefully, this article will help you find the perfect TIG welder for you. Also remember to use a helm when welding for protection!