AMiataCalledSteve
AMiataCalledSteve Reader
12/8/22 4:34 p.m.

Hey all,

I've got a semester of welding class under my belt and I love it so much I think it's time to buy a welder of my own. I've been looking for multi-process machines because I expect to use MIG for the most part but I also really enjoy TIG. I'm looking for a machine that I won't outgrow, but it doesn't have to be pro grade since I'll just be using it in the garage mostly. Do you have any multi-process machines you recommend? Wants:

Mig/Tig capable - aluminum TIG isn't a huge priority as long the machine is spool gun compatible.

110/220v

Semi-portable: I'll probably take it over to my parents farm occasionally, so if I can pick it up and put it in my truck by myself that would be good

Soft budget cap of $1000, but closer to $500 would be nicer :)

I've seen some stuff from YesWelder, Hobart, and some other places that look like they might fit the bill, but I'm curious if anyone has any suggestions.

rustomatic
rustomatic HalfDork
12/8/22 4:43 p.m.

The Swiss Army knife is not a good knife, but it is sometimes a good bottle opener.  Generally, for best results, one job = one tool.

adam525i
adam525i GRM+ Memberand Dork
12/8/22 7:34 p.m.

The Primeweld MTS200 would probably be a good option for what you are looking for, it does MIG, DC Tig (with a good torch included) and Stick and runs on 120/240 Vac.

If it were me though I'd get their MIG180 which comes with a spool gun and also runs on 120/240 for $200 less and set that money aside to pick up a TIG225x down the road (I have the TIG and am really happy with it).

Pete. (l33t FS)
Pete. (l33t FS) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
12/8/22 7:39 p.m.

I am really happy with the Primeweld unit that Evan bought aside from its soft start, which makes it tricky to stitch up oh-too-thin material the way you can with a dumb welder.  Other than that it is really nice at twice the price.

Rodan
Rodan SuperDork
12/8/22 8:42 p.m.

I've been really happy with the AHP AlphaTig, but it looks like they're a few months out at the moment...

I bought mine in 2015, and don't use it often (MIG is my go-to most of the time), but it's worked great every time I have on both aluminum and steel.

 

AMiataCalledSteve
AMiataCalledSteve Reader
12/9/22 10:43 a.m.

Thanks for the suggestions! As for buying two separate welders I don't expect I'll be doing TIG often enough to justify buying a nice stand-alone machine, but I like the idea of having the capability if I decide I want it for the occasional project, which is why multi-process machines are appealing to me.

mjlogan
mjlogan Reader
12/9/22 12:09 p.m.

Just remember all the affordable multi process welders are DC only TIG without HF start.  So no welding aluminum and scratch start for steel/stainless.

My personal opinion:  To me that is a no-go for both of those reasons.  For your price range I'd pick up a nice dual voltage inverter MIG machine and pick up a dedicated TIG down the line.  Spool gun is not a good replacement for TIG with aluminum, especially on more intricate automotive projects.  

MiniDave
MiniDave Reader
12/9/22 12:43 p.m.

I'll be watching this thread as I want to replace my 40 year old 120V Mig (which still works just fine, BTW) with something a little more powerful and I was thinking one of these inverter Mig/Tig welders would be the ticket too.

I don't know that I'll be welding any aluminum stuff, but it would be nice to be able to do some finer Tig work.

I don't expect to find anything for less than $1000 that's worthwhile.

93gsxturbo
93gsxturbo UltraDork
12/9/22 1:33 p.m.

Miller Multimatic 220.  Buy once, cry once.

Barring that, the Esab Rebel 205ic is a bit cheaper, a bit more armored up, but lacks some of the nice features of the Multimatic 220.  

AMiataCalledSteve
AMiataCalledSteve Reader
12/9/22 2:04 p.m.

As much as I like a good tool, I don't think I can justify spending the equivalent of four Steves on a hobby welder.

93gsxturbo
93gsxturbo UltraDork
12/9/22 6:02 p.m.

I sold a really nice used Lincoln Square Wave TIG 175 and a Lincoln 180C for $1500 with a cart here this summer.  If a nice multiprocess machine isnt in the cards, may I suggest shopping used.  I just wanted a smaller inverter machine.  

AMiataCalledSteve
AMiataCalledSteve Reader
12/13/22 9:17 a.m.

Does anyone have any experience with Hf's Vulcan brand? For just under $1200, they have this, which has a pedal remote for TIG and some other features I usually see listed for higher end machines. Obviously the warranty is pretty meaningless, but beyond that is there anything about these machines I should look out for?

AMiataCalledSteve
AMiataCalledSteve Reader
12/13/22 9:42 a.m.

I also found this Everlast that seems to have similar features at a similar price point: https://www.everlastgenerators.com/product/mig/powermts-211si-tig-package

Wicked93gs
Wicked93gs Reader
12/13/22 10:57 a.m.
AMiataCalledSteve said:

Does anyone have any experience with Hf's Vulcan brand? For just under $1200, they have this, which has a pedal remote for TIG and some other features I usually see listed for higher end machines. Obviously the warranty is pretty meaningless, but beyond that is there anything about these machines I should look out for?

I have both a Vulcan MigMax and a Vulcan TIG. Now, I am not a welder snob...I have rarely used Miller welders and I learned to weld on some pretty cheap welders with few settings, I say this to sprinkle some grains of salt on my experience with the Vulcan welders. That being said, I love both my Vulcan welders. They are easy to use with plenty of settings for everything I do...the final weld quality is better than I can easily achieve with cheaper HF welders. They may not as drop-dead simple as some of the newer Miller models I have played with, but they certainly do the job.

vozproto
vozproto New Reader
12/13/22 11:28 a.m.
adam525i said:

The Primeweld MTS200 would probably be a good option for what you are looking for, it does MIG, DC Tig (with a good torch included) and Stick and runs on 120/240 Vac.

If it were me though I'd get their MIG180 which comes with a spool gun and also runs on 120/240 for $200 less and set that money aside to pick up a TIG225x down the road (I have the TIG and am really happy with it).

I've been eyeballing this 225X for a while. Pros/Cons over the big brands other than cost? 

adam525i
adam525i GRM+ Memberand Dork
12/13/22 12:11 p.m.

In reply to vozproto :

I don't have any experience with higher end brands (ESAB, Lincoln, Miller etc.) when it comes to TIG, I did however buy and learn TIG with the cheapest AC/DC welder on amazon at the time. It worked right until it didn't and then I was lucky to be able to return it for a full refund and that is when I got the 225X. 

What I like about the Primeweld is there is an actual support number and a quality manual with the welder. All of the accessories (other than the mask/helmet thing) are useful and decent quality (good pedal and ground, really nice CK torch). There are lots of videos online too using and reviewing this particular machine so that can help with the learning process. I don't love all of the knobs to set up the machine, they would be better if as you turned them their setting was displayed where the welding current is shown, that way you could dial in right to where you want without having to interpret the various scales etc on the knobs. The fancier machines also come with preprogrammed settings and ways to save settings, that would also be convenient.

One spot where it looks like the Harbour Freight offerings beat it is that they actually are UL/CSA listed (at least the Titanium ones are, couldn't see the Vulcan). There is a cost to that approval and it is good they have it, the Primeweld does not (and I doubt a Yeswelder etc. would either).

Having said all of that for the hobbiest it is a great machine.

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