The welding machine is the most indispensable device on the construction site and in the household. Most people mistakenly imagine the welding machine as a bulky elector mechanical unit, but today there are also compact devices of the inverter or transformer type.
How to choose a welding machine-read the review article from the Backit service.
How to choose a welding machine: welder’s tips
When we talk about welding machine for home use, we mean a welding inverter. Of course, you can also find relatively mobile transformer devices on sale.
But they are more suitable for professional purposes. A more detailed comparison of transformer and inverter devices will be disclosed below.
Choose a welding machine based on the tasks that it will solve:
► For household needs:
These are small mobile devices. They are often worn on the shoulder, like a bag. The maximum welding current is about 150-200A.
Such a device should be given time to cool down. The time interval between active welding is 5-10 minutes, and the rest time is 2-3 minutes.
► Construction welding machine:
A distinctive feature of these devices is a longer cycle of operation. Such welding is used to create metal bases for foundations, welding pipes of communications and other complex structures.
Devices of this class can not be called completely mobile. More often they look like large suitcases with a handle.
Working current: 200-300A. Such a device is hardly useful for the construction of an ordinary private house.
► Industrial-grade devices:
Stationary devices that work on large construction sites. They are used for laying large water or gas pipelines. The operating current reaches 500A.
In this article, we will consider the units of the first and second groups: they are suitable for both domestic needs and for solving problems on a small construction site.
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Which welding machine is better to buy: by type of network and device
Experienced welders say that when choosing, you need to consider two main parameters:
Type of electrical network:
When choosing a device, you need to pay attention to the type of power supply of the device: from a standard two-phase(220 V) or three-phase network (380 V).
In fact, this is the welding time without stopping. Household inverters usually work for up to 10 minutes, and this is enough to weld 2-3 elements together.
More professional devices are needed for welding bulk structures. For example, the binding of the foundation, or when laying water utilities. In these cases, they work with a transformer device.
In general, the devices are chosen based on household or construction needs. For small one-time work, a mobile inverter for two phases with a current of 150A is enough.
If a long-term construction project is planned, it is better to buy a two-or three-phase transformer unit from 200A.
Which welding machine is better for home: overview of varieties
For home needs, an inverter is better suited than a transformer device. In general, the two types of devices can be compared in several ways:
By the volume of current consumed. Transformer devices often “drain” the mains voltage. In particular, when working with an electrode of 3 mm, such a device will consume more than 6 kW.
At the same time, the inverter will require less than 4 kW. This is a load not only on consumption, but also on the network itself. Not every wire can withstand such power.
Duration of operation and operating conditions. The inverter needs to rest. He is afraid of dust and moisture. Transformer equipment can be used almost anywhere, without stopping.
Resistance to power surges: Inverter devices do not have built-in protection, unless it is present as an additional option. Transformer units operate stably even in case of voltage surges. This is due to the welding machine technology it self.
Quality of work: Transformer apparatuses work with less spatter. During cooking, the seam is smooth and not torn. The inverter is more capricious in terms of accuracy of work. You need to get used to it.
The price and portability: If you compare the cost of two devices with the same characteristics, the price of the inverter will be one and a half to two times higher. At the same time, the transformer unit will clearly lose in size and weight.
Both types of welding machines can be used both at home and in open areas. The main difference is that you need to get used to the inverter, as well as carefully select the electrodes.
This is a whimsical piece of equipment. The transformer unit is unpretentious, but also clumsy. With such equipment, most often, professional welders or experienced amateurs deal.
A few more subtleties of choosing a welding machine:
In this part of the article, I would like to reflect a few more important nuances of choosing a welding machine (inverter), which are dictated, first of all, by personal experience of using an inexpensive Vert welding machine.
First, some welding machines are very sensitive to the” quality ” of the electrical network. This means that the device can easily fail if the mains voltage drops, say, below 190 volts.
This is still more than common, especially in the private sector, garage cooperatives, and garden associations across the country. Therefore, keep an eye on devices that can work even at low voltage. It is important.
The second point is to carefully weigh the purchase. Often, manufacturers reduce the cost of the device and put very short (and thin) wires with “toy” terminals in the kit with it.
The general rule is that the longer and thicker the wire, the more reliable and convenient the welding machine will be.
In the case of my first welding, I experienced difficulties for six months due to the fact that the wires were very short – only one and a half meters. With such a ridiculous length, it is very difficult, for example, to weld the upper guide for the fence from the profiled sheet to the posts.
The wires just simply don’t reach. Hanging the device on your shoulder in the manner of a bag, attaching the ” mass” to the welded upper guide-so-so idea. At least for the reason that the “crocodile” – the clip of the ” mass” – pulls the crossbar, which worsens its fit to the post.
In short, try to choose a welding machine with long wires. The optimal length, in my opinion, is 3-3. 5 meters. It is suitable even for welding wide and high entrance swing gates.
The third point – when buying a welding machine, choose high-quality additional equipment. If you do not have a welder’s mask, buy a “chameleon” right away – a mask that automatically turns on the dimming at the moment of the electric arc and turns it off when the welding is no longer conducted.
It is very convenient to watch the quality of the weld, even without removing the mask from the head. Also pay attention to the electrodes. Depending on the thickness of the metal to be welded, choose electrodes with a thickness of 2 to 5 mm.
It would be good to study the types of electrodes, for example, rutin. Each type of electrode has its own nuances of application, which should be known even to a novice amateur welder.
Provide a mat for installing the welding machine. Most welding inverters are very sensitive to dust, and your task is to prevent dirt from entering the internal components and assemblies through the ventilation holes in the device body.
The best way is to put the device on a hill. For example, on a plastic garden chair or a folding fishing chair.
However, if you have very short wires (see point 1), then sooner or later you will definitely “swipe” the device to the ground, and it will clog. It is better to use a rubber or foam mat, or old linoleum, which, I am sure, is in every second household. Install the welding machine on it, and the probability of catching dust will be minimal.
Another useful tip – although every manufacturer today claims that the welding machine is equipped with an overheat protection system, in fact this is often not the case.
Therefore, if you cook the metal for 4-5 minutes with short breaks to beat off the slag and grout the seam with a metal brush, do not forget to look at the light bulb-an indicator of overheating.
Since most of the devices do not have an audible indication of overheating, a light bulb simply lights up on the case, which is more likely to be overlooked than noticed.
Just keep in mind the figure of 4 minutes – about as long as the average welding machine can work continuously without the threat of heating.
And, perhaps, the last piece of advice that I want to give to novice welders is to try to keep the heated end of the electrode away from the wires immediately after the welding is completed or during a break.
Believe me, the temperature at the end of the electrode is so high that it easily melts the insulation of the wires in just 1 second. This can lead to a short circuit and breakage of the entire device, or even the entire power system of a country house.
Additional options for welding machines
Modern welding machines are equipped with convenient additional options that simplify the work with the device. Among the most common and at the same time useful, we highlight the following:
► Hot start
► Arc forcing
► Ignition on the rise
Despite criticism from a number of welders who claim that all these options are implemented by default in the inverter-type welding machine, in fact, manufacturers have actually applied a number of innovations that have improved the metal welding process.
In particular, practically eliminated the sticking of the electrode during the first 40 seconds of operation of the device.
We also advise you to pay attention to the presence of an overload indicator and the presence of a wide range of adjustments, including a clear adjustment of the current strength.
The scale of divisions should be extremely clear and readable even in low light conditions.
Operating mode of the generator:
As to whether the welding machine needs the mode of operation from the generator, considerable disputes flare up.
Some claim that any device can work from a diesel or gasoline generator, but those who have tried to cook metal in the field using the cheapest inverter powered by a generator with an internal combustion engine are well aware of the instability of the device.
The electrode sticks to the metal more often, the arc quickly disappears, and much more slag is formed. So the presence of the generator operation option is an important parameter for choosing a welding machine.
Operation at subzero temperatures
According to the technical data sheet, almost every device (in accordance with GOST standards) operates in the temperature range from -40 to +40 °C). However, in fact, many (especially inverter) welding machines simply turn off, falling into a temperature below zero.
If someone from colleagues noted unstable work in conditions of low temperatures, and you plan to be engaged in welding in the winter, it is better to find another model.
Class of dust and moisture protection of the welding machine
How to choose a welding machine, relying on the classes of moisture protection (IP)? It should be remembered that it is pointless to look for a device with a degree of protection of IP65, because there is always a perforation on the body, which is necessary for cooling the internal components of the welder.
Most often in the store you will find devices with a protection class from ip21 to ip23.
The index ” 2 “means that objects with a diameter of more than 12 mm will not penetrate into the case, and the numbers” 1 ” means that vertical water drops (as from direct rain) will not cause damage to the device.
The index ” 3 ” means that the water will not harm the device even if it falls at an angle of 60°. However, it is worth remembering that according to safety regulations, welding in the rain is strictly prohibited.
Is the working time of the welding machine so important for an amateur?
Reading articles on the topic “how to choose a welding machine” on other sites, we have always seen a general recommendation to take machines with a long continuous operation time (from 10 minutes and above).
However, it is important to understand that this article is aimed at the beginner and not so professional (professional and knows how to choose a welding machine for work).
So a newcomer will make more pauses to assess the quality of the weld, hit check out system slag, clean the weld with a brush, change the electrode (if necessary, replace the electrode with a different diameter).
All this gives the welding machine the necessary time to “rest” – first of all, it allows the device to cool down. Therefore, for amateurs, we do not consider the indicator of the duration of the working time (PVR) to be critically important.