The 5 Best TIG Welders For Aluminum – Expert Reviews in 2020
“What are the best Tig welders for aluminum?” I hear you ask. It’s something that whether you are a seasoned professional, or are just getting into the world of welding, you need to know so that you can choose the best one for your needs and budget.
From the more basic to the higher end models I have taken a look to see what they can and can’t do so that you don’t have to.
So, get yourself a coffee, relax and take a look at what I believe are the best, their benefits and why.
Table Of Contents
- 5 Best TIG Welder for Aluminum 2020 Reviews
- TIG Welders For Aluminum Buying Guide
- TIG Welding Of Aluminum – AC or DC
- TIG Welding Aluminum Settings
- Final Thought
5 Best TIG Welder for Aluminum 2020 Reviews
1. AHP 200-Amp AC DC Tig/Stick Welder with Pulse 110V and 200V
This unit allows for a quality finish on stainless steel, aluminum and a more precise weld on thinner materials and is more suitable for repairs in the home, a smaller scale business or just for practicing and perfecting your welding skills.
A foot pedal is included with this welder to make your job so much easier. Gone are the days of welding with one hand while controlling with the other. Now you can use both hands to be as precise as you need to be while using your foot to control the weld.
As one of the cheaper models in my review it is also one of the lightest, despite its chunky and heavy looks it weighs only 38 pounds making moving it around a piece of cake.
2. LOTOS 200A AC/DC Aluminum Tig/Stick Welder
The square wave inverter of this unit makes accurate welding of even the thinnest aluminum a breeze, helping you to get industrial quality in a compact and more affordable way. This welder is aimed at both the professionals and the ‘at home’ welding enthusiasts.
With a foot pedal to control your welding heat and boasting dual voltage, you are able to weld up to a capacity of 9.5 mm on steel and aluminum all from a compact, albeit heavier unit that the AHP.
The controls are simply set out allowing you to set the welder accurately for whichever project you decide to take on next, making it versatile and capable as well as being the lowest priced in the review. One of the best TIG welders for aluminum on the market compare to price and uses.
3. Hobart 500551 EZ-TIG 165i AC/DC TIG Welder 230V
This American designed and built machine is simplicity itself. With a solitary knob to control the thickness of the material you are welding, as well as a switch each for ac/dc and for powering on and off.
It has dual handles and a small 50lb weight making maneuvering it from one job to another no hassle at all. It also features an on-demand fan to avoid excess dust and waste being pulled into the fan and an automatic cut out if it does overheat.
The foot pedal included makes controlling the temperature simple, while you keep your eyes on the important business of your weld. This unit is a high-quality ‘plug in and go’ welder, ideal for businesses and home usage.
4. 2017 Everlast PowerTIG 250EX AC DC TIG STICK Pulse welder 220 Volt Inverter
This latest model from Everlast carries on the good name that its predecessors started for both professional and hobby welding users. It has a pulse that is fully adjustable, balance control for AC and numerous other features.
One great little feature is a timer for spot welding to make those welds on sheet metal simple and perfectly timed. It has a low amp start for those welding the thinnest sheets of metal in both AC and DC currents.
Although heavier than the units we have already looked at, this model is still light enough to maneuver easily and comes with a 12ft TIG torch, work clamp and foot pedal to name a few of its features. It is an excellent choice with a professional finish.
5. Lincoln Electric TIG Welder, Precision TIG 225,208/230VAC
Lastly, we have the most expensive but most professional unit in the review, although not the easiest to maneuver at 215 lbs, from Lincoln Electric. Whatever metal you are looking to weld and whatever thickness, this is the machine to do it.
Capable of both stick and TIG welding it comes with a PTA17 torch and a sturdy and fully controllable foot pedal. It is a transformer based unit, giving longer life and higher quality than those that use the lighter square wave.
The easy to use and well-built controls make this unit one for the professionals rather than the amateur, although it is a model that if you are serious about your welding and want to upgrade you should have a long look at it. It will last a long time and if used correctly will give consistent, great quality finishes.
TIG Welders For Aluminum Buying Guide
When you are looking for a new unit for welding you need to look at how you will use it the most. For those of you needing it to be lightweight and portable then the Lincoln Electric would not work for you but if you are in a workshop or garage then for me it is the ideal machine to have.
For a quality beading from your weld, for me nothing can beat a TIG weld. Although for speed an MIG weld will be faster, for the all-important finish and aesthetics the TIG is in a class of its own. Getting a sturdy and quality foot pedal is beneficial as well, as is the ability to consistently control the heat and power.
If you are mainly working with thinner metals, then using a stick or even MIG weld will put too much heat in, therefore giving you an ugly and rough finish, whereas the TIG weld is ideal. If you are working with the heavier thicker metals, then a TIG welder would not be the right choice so take this into consideration.
Do you need a welder that uses DC for steel and AC for the thinner aluminum? If so then a dual output welder is the one for you, giving you the ability to stick and TIG weld from the same unit. If you only work with steel for example, then you are best to get a single power sourced unit.
As I mentioned earlier if you have a mobile welding or mechanic business then a lighter weight, portable welder will be of more benefit to you and will be able to broaden your approach to where and when you work. If people come to you or you have a workshop where you deal with bigger and longer projects, then weight and movability is not such an important factor and increases your choice.
There are capable units whatever your price bracket and the more expensive is not always necessarily the best option. Looking for one that encompasses high quality while being affordable is key.
Look at reviews like mine, to see what is in your price range and take it from there. Also, if you are just starting welding and are only practicing there is no point in buying the top of the range model. Get a cheaper machine to hone your skills. Remember no one learns to drive in a Ferrari!
Much like when you buy most things, make sure to check out what comes with the box. Buying the unit and finding out it comes without torch or foot pedal is not going to make you very happy.
Again, quantity is not always quality, but making sure you have usable and capable parts is a given and will save you money in buying them as added extras. Also make sure any smaller parts or consumables are readily available for the product you are buying. You don’t want to spend hundreds on a machine and then find out you can’t use it properly.
TIG Welding Of Aluminum – AC or DC
By its very nature as an alloy, aluminum tends to form a highly dense oxide film on the surface of the metal. This is, of course, a barrier to effective welding of the metal and even when it is sanded or cleaned with solvents; it can remain undetected on the surface. When you add the low melting point of aluminum to the mix it becomes blatantly clear that a fine balance needs to be struck between the heat required to penetrate the oxidisation and the ability to weld it.
Gas shielding and oscillations
The solution to this dilemma has been cleverly overcome through the use of electric gas shielded welding using AC current. The oscillations of the current at fifty per second cause a switch between positive and negative. During the positive cycles, the current acts to remove the oxide film (cleans the surface). This is why all modern TIG aluminum welders operate on AC current as against DC.
Increasing the frequency of the AC current cycles beyond the fifty times per second limit will start to lead to overheating of the weld and this has proven to be a problem where thicker materials (and therefore increased current) are involved. This problem is overcome by using TIG welders that run higher cycles but automatically balance the intervals with the cleaning pulse effect.
TIG Welding Aluminum Settings
TIG welding has become the industry standard for welding aluminum of all thicknesses and each gauge will require its own specific settings if the desired results are to be obtained. Amperage is a key factor and each welding plant will have either an adjustable amperage dial or pulse setting gauge.
The first step in setting up to weld aluminum is to ensure that the polarity is set to AC and the process is set to TIG HF impulse. This ensures that the AC current acts to clean the oxide from the aluminum as it is welding.
Amps and wire speeds
A setting of RMT to standard for the output enables the foot pedal and a PPS setting on the pulsar ensures that it matches these settings. With amperage set at 4 pulses and the GAS/DIG set at pre-flow, the next step is to set gas/DIG for the post flow of the gas too. Waveshape should be set to AC frequency and the amperage control needs to be at the maximum for the session.
Using the foot pedal
Using the foot pedal gives you control over the amperage from zero up to the limit you pre-set it at. A rule of thumb guide is to set one amp for every .001 of the thickness of the material such as 0.125 for 1/8th of an inch of material thickness.
The importance of temperature control
With aluminum, control of the temperature at the weld is crucial to making clean and integral welds so these settings are highly important. It also goes almost without mention that there is likely to be some slight variations in these settings dependent upon the make and model of TIG welder being used and the mix of the aluminum too.
Now that I’ve looked at the best TIG welder for aluminum, I have to say that I am extremely impressed with the choice and price range available. All the units that I have looked at are extremely capable and quality machines.
My personal favorite is the Hobart 500551 EZ-TIG 165i AC/DC TIG Welder 230V which, for me, is ideal. It has the dual output, quality build with easy controls and is affordable and maneuverable at the same time.
That is my decision though and may not match yours, welders are a personal choice, you have to feel comfortable and at home with the product that you choose for your needs. Whichever way you turn I hope that your new welder will bring you hours of enjoyment and pleasure.