Best TIG Welders For Aluminum Reviewed
If you ever need to weld aluminum for a DIY project, for contracting purposes or even just for a hobby, then a Tungsten Inert Gas welder (or a TIG welder) is the perfect solution. A TIG welder gives you ample precision that is perfect for welding aluminum, but can be rather difficult to use if you’re not willing to put a bit of time into learning how to use it.
However, once you’ve grown accustomed to using a TIG welder, you’ll see that you can work much more efficiently especially if you purchase a model with all of the features that you’ll need. So without further ado, here are five of the best TIG welders available on the market today.
Types of Welding
Before you jump into buying new tools for your professional or amateur welding project, be sure that you know the fundamental differences between the different types of welding. You’ll need to purchase the right tools for the job, so this information may be critical when it comes to deciding which top-of-the-line model is right for you:
How TIG Welding Works
Used both in industrial settings and in motorbike fabrication, TIG welding is an intricate process that prospective users must understand before trying to work with TIG welding equipment. Many experienced welders consider TIG welding to be one of the most complicated to master, especially when it comes to finding a rhythm between adding filler metal and spreading it into the joint.
For a more in-depth guide into the process of TIG welding, check out this quick and helpful video guide:
TIG Welding for Aluminum – A Buyers Guide
Naturally, you’ll want to select a TIG welding unit that can create consistent welds when working with aluminum. Depending on your intended use for your welds, this factor may come into focus when your newly-created weld is needed to hold weight. A high-quality weld produced by a TIG welder should always be free of cracks after settling and should be able to bear as much weight as the welded metals combined.
Power Source & Output
Depending on the type of metal you intend to work with, you'll need to select a unit that is compatible with the appropriate power source type. For example, an AC output would be best suited to working with aluminum and magnesium, while a DC output would be most suitable for steel and stainless steelwork. Also, be sure to select a unit that provides a constant current, as it is necessary for proper TIG welding.
Welding Location & Portability
Modern TIG welding units come with options that make them ideal for certain welding locations. For example, you may choose to pick up a unit that is more compact and portable if your welding work will take you outdoors or on the road. Alternatively, those welding in a shop environment may choose a larger, more capable unit that does not require an inverter to operate.
Duty cycle is a key specification that anyone looking for a new TIG welder should take note of. This specification describes the number of minutes in a 10-minute period in which a welder can operate continuously. When paired with measurements of voltage, ambient temperature, and ventilation requirements, this specification gives users a great insight into the unit’s overall efficiency.
Thermal Overload Protection
On the same topic as duty cycle, thermal overload protection is an extremely useful feature that prevents a TIG welding unit from becoming damaged when the duty cycle is exceeded. In essence, these modules work by monitoring a welding unit’s internal temperature and cutting power when it exceeds safe thresholds. This feature can be particularly useful when operating in a warm ambient environment, such as outdoors on a sunny day.
This video provides more information on the relationship between duty cycle and thermal overload protection:
Wire Size & Material Thickness
Some TIG units come with listed ratings for the wire sizes and material thickness with which it functions most efficiently. Generally speaking, you should not go above a TIG welder's sizing thresholds, as doing so can be very inefficient at best and unsafe at worst. If your prospective unit does not include specifications for thickness, amp ratings can provide a similar type of productivity insight (with a higher amp rating providing a more efficient weld for thick materials).
Ease of Use
Whether you’re experienced or new to TIG welding, you should ideally identify the models that provide the most ease of use overall. This is particularly true when it comes to the unit’s controls, which should be easy enough to learn efficiently and interpret when you need to adjust settings on the fly. Current user reviews are a great source of information on this holistic topic, also.
Some newer TIG welding units make use of a digital display, which is a significant step forward from analog interfaces of the past. When possible, you should choose a model with a digital display to make it easier to keep track of your unit's various operational statistics without the need to squint through your welding visor.
Price & Warranty
Of course, you'll want to find a TIG welding unit that is priced to fit your budget. That being said, you should know that cheaper models tend to include fewer features and possess shorter lifespans overall. When accounting for the price, you should also keep in mind that a productive or long-lasting warranty acts as a value-added proposition.
8 Best TIG Welders for Aluminum Reviewed
1. AHP AlphaTIG 200X
Our Top Pick!
60% @ 200 amp
110v / 240v
Yes, 3 years
The AHP AlphaTIG 200X has recently seen a 2018 refresh which makes this a great time to invest in one should you need a slightly larger TIG welder. In the box, you’ll find a plethora of useful accessories that are standard when it comes to TIG welders, so this is a rather complete package that can be recommended to anyone regardless if they’re a hobbyist or a production company that is replacing an existing welder.
When compared to other TIG welders at this price, the AHP AlphaTIG 200X does a fantastic job and is considered on-par with alternatives. The machine does have a lower limit of 10 amps which can be tricky to work with if you’re trying to bind thin aluminum pieces.
For more delicate processes you may need to reconsider, but if you have the right technique and are careful and patient, then this welder is perfectly fine for more delicate jobs. Otherwise, the controls and output are responsive and there’s very little to complain about.
The AHP AlphaTIG 200X has a reputation of being one of the more dependable aluminum welders available. It’s obviously not the most expensive or most premium-quality welder around but if you’re in need of a TIG welder for an acceptable price then this is a fantastic choice.
It will provide you with many years of service which is fine for on and off work, but if you’re a power user that needs extreme reliability to use as part of your job, then a budget TIG welder such as the AHP AlphaTIG 200X is perhaps not the best choice.
Thankfully, AHP has excellent customer support which makes it very easy to get assistance and seek replacement parts. So despite the low cost, there is the bonus of having a surprisingly effective customer service that will take care of you.
2. Miller Electric Maxstar
Top of the Range
35% @ 100 amps, 30% @ 150 amps
Though it may not be the best overall TIG welder for aluminum, the Miller Electric Maxstar is still at the top of the range in today’s market. First off, this model has a pretty tight duty cycle rate at 35% for 100 amps and 30% for 150 amps, respectively.
That certainly speaks to this model’s overall efficiency, especially after factoring in its dual input voltage settings at 115 and 230 volts. These dual voltage settings are a credit to this model’s Multi-Voltage Plug, which is a proprietary technology not seen in other brand’s welders.
That’s not all the Miller Electric Maxstar has to offer in terms of technology, though. For starters, this model comes with a built-in gas solenoid that eliminates the need for a bulky TIG torch with a gas valve. This exclusion also has a beneficial side effect – this model’s weight. At only 13.7 lbs., the Miller Electric Maxstar is remarkably light. As a result, when you take this TIG welder on the go, you’ll hardly ever need to use its included carrying strap.
Current users of this TIG welder have complemented its superior arc starts and excellent weld puddle control. Though it uses an inverter-based power source, you can certainly count on this model to meet or exceed all of your aluminum welding needs.
3. Weldpro Digital TIG ACDC
Best Digital TIG Welder
40% @ 200 amp (AC), 60% @ 200 amp (DC)
Yes, 5 years on parts
Those in search of the best digital TIG welder will find it here in the Weldpro Digital TIG ACDC. As one of the flagship models from its manufacturer, it's no wonder why this model is so able to utilize both its DC and AC output options fully. For example, users will be able to use a respectable 40% at 200 amps duty cycle on AC power, while this model’s DC settings go above and beyond the industry average with a 60% at 200 amps duty cycle.
The Weldpro Digital TIG ACDC also has one remarkable innovation that advanced welders in particularly appreciate. This model includes all of its amperage control settings on the unit’s front-facing consol. As a result, users will no longer need to worry about inadvertently changing amperage settings while readjusting the unit’s foot pedal. If you’re extra picky about staying at a certain point in this model’s 5-200 amperage range, then this feature is for you!
Should you need it, the Weldpro Digital TIG ACDC comes with a practical 5-year warranty that will allow you to obtain replacement parts if the full unit underperforms in its first several years of use. Also, this model can be purchased with a CK Worldwide super flex cable for only a slightly higher price, which is a considerable bargain.
4. Lincoln Electric K5126-1
Best Small TIG Welder for Aluminum
25% @ 21 amps, 40% @ 17 amps, 60% @14 amps
Yes, 5 years (requires registration)
Lincoln is no stranger when it comes to offering excellent customer service and quality products. This clearly shows in the Lincoln Electric Square Wave TIG 200, one of the most popular TIG welders currently available on the market by Lincoln. With a number of advanced features and a wealth of included accessories, it’s one of the more complete packages available which makes it the perfect set for someone new to TIG welding.
It’s one of the more expensive TIG welders on this list, but it’s definitely no slouch when it comes to performance and features. While it is rather bulky (most TIG welders are) it’s an incredibly versatile machine that can handle both small and larger fabrication projects. If you’re coming from another aluminum welding solution such as a portable MIG welder then it may be strange needing to carry around a box, but it’s something that you’ll definitely be able to get used to thanks to the fairly light weight.
Setting up the Lincoln Electric Square Wave TIG 200 isn’t very tricky at all and the controls can easily be operated even if you’re wearing relatively thick gloves. It does come with a manual but it’s simple enough to know how to operate the welder.
Overall, this is a fantastic piece of machinery for anyone that needs a TIG welder for hobby or even production purposes. It’s extremely portable compared to some alternatives, it has a good amount of adjustability and for the price (again, despite being the most expensive on this list) you’re getting features that would be found on a TIG welder two or three times the price of this one.
5. Everlast PowerTIG 210EXT
Best TIG Welder for Thin Aluminum
40% @ 210 amps
You may not know it at first glance, but the Everlast PowerTIG 210EXT is absolutely the best TIG welder for thin aluminum.
Though all of its core specifications speak to its ability to perform in this specialized domain, prospective users should take note of this model’s broad amperage range between 5 and 210 amps. By utilizing the low end of this range, skilled welders will be able easily and efficiently fuse any type of thin aluminum, including wires and sheets.
Here's something else you wouldn't know by merely looking at the Everlast PowerTIG 210EXT – this model is powered by proprietary IGBT technology that utilizes a microprocessor for precise management of welding parameters. In other words, you’ll be able to jump between this model’s AC wave options - sine wave, advanced square wave, and soft square wave – without needing to pause your welding process.
In particular, current users of the Everlast PowerTIG 210EXT have indicated the utility of this model’s advanced pulse mode. When engaged, this setting enables a welder to oscillate between AC and DC output methods seamlessly. Among other uses, this type of oscillation makes fine fast freeze control on thin gauge aluminum a breeze while also providing greater penetration capabilities on thick plate aluminum.
6. Lotos TIG200ACDC
Good Value for Money
60% at 150 Amp; 100% at 110 Amp; 60% at 190 Amp; 100% at 150 Amp
110/120 volts, 220/240 volts
Yes, 30-day refund
As another budget TIG welder, the Lotos TIG200ACDC seems to have some very familiar features and accessories that you would typically find on other models around this price range. However, what you’ll find surprising about this relatively inexpensive welder is that it can hold up surprisingly well even if you’re putting several hours of use into it every day.
It’s a surprisingly great choice for anyone that wants to learn TIG welding on smaller projects and the controls are intuitive enough that you won’t need to struggle with a manual just to learn how the machine works. Regardless if you’re just a hobbyist or run a fabrication shop, this is a reliable TIG welder that will offer you many years of service. Even if you push it to its limits and use it exclusively with the highest power draw, it will continue to soldier on and be as reliable as the first day you purchased it.
A notable omission is the lack of pulse and variable frequency settings, but for most hobby and light uses, these are simply luxury features that aren’t enough to detract from the very enticing price of the Lotos TIG200ACDC and also the convenience of being able to swap between settings with a single knob. This hands-on and convenient functionality of the welder makes it the go-to choice for many hobbyists simply because it’s not confusing to use.
So if you’re simply just looking for a reliable no-thrills TIG welder, the Lotos TIG200ACDC is a fantastic choice at a very good price range. It’s packaged with everything you need, it’ll last you many years and it’s the perfect machine to start learning how to use a TIG welder.
7. Hobart 500551 EZ-TIG 165i
Cart Available for Portability
20% @ 150 Amp
Yes, 5-year on the transformer, 3-year on the generator, and 1-year on guns
The Hobart 500551 EZ-TIG is a TIG welder that knows its target audience. With a host of commonly-used accessories included in the box and a simple control dial that allows you to change the thickness, simply plug it in and you’re ready to weld. It supports both AC and DC welding so you can easily switch between the materials you’re working on, it’s very small and portable enough to take with you on specific jobs and it’s manufactured in the United States which is always a positive.
This is the type of welder you purchase if you know that you need a welder for simple projects, but don’t want to fuss with the many different features that welders have. It’s an affordable piece of kit that has enough functionality and customisation that you won’t ever feel like you’re missing out on a higher-end welder. It’s also surprisingly durable and Hobart have offered some excellent support in the past, making them a reputable and trustworthy company that is worth your hard-earned money.
In short, a shining recommendation for anyone that just needs a simpler. Yes, it will probably lack some of the more modern features that you see on welders that are two to three times the price of the Hobart 500551 EZ-TIG, but there’s no denying just how convenient this welder is and how simple the operation can be. It works fantastic, it can weld both steel and aluminum and it’s affordable.
8. Amico MTS-205
Cheapest TIG Welder
60% @ 170 amps, 100% @ 132 amps
Amico has a reputation for making some incredibly durable and effective welders, but their Amico MTS-205 TIG welder is often overlooked due to competing brands in this space. However, one look at this welder and you can immediately see that it’s targeted towards beginners and professionals alike.
With a massive set of accessories, plenty of adjustable settings and Amico’s reputation to back it up, this is arguably one of the most complete TIG welder packages available on the market today. One of the first things you’ll immediately notice upon unboxing the Amico MTS-205 is the high quality of the accessories.
While including accessories with a TIG welder is not a big deal, including high-quality accessories that you would typically need to pay a lot of extra money for is always a bonus and an attractive perk for beginners or those that don’t currently own a TIG welder and are considering investing in one. You may also notice that the size is a tad bit smaller than other TIG welders. This doesn’t hurt its performance and in fact, helps with its durability.
However, the manual is no good and the Amico MTS-205, despite having so many accessories and a great entry price, may require some experience to start using at its maximum potential. In short, while Amico is usually associated with the lower end of the welding spectrum, there’s no denying that this is a comprehensive package that will be perfect for anyone that is learning to TIG weld or needs a simple hobby welder that comes with a wealth of accessories.
Setting Up a Welding Workshop
Setting up a welding workshop is an essential step in the welding process, especially for beginners. Possessing and using a properly equipped welding workshop can not only ensure that your tools are duly organized, but also ensure that you and your environment remain safe while your welding unit is active.
There are several essentials when it comes to selecting a welding workshop location. Proper ventilation is an absolute must-have, as is a reliable electrical hookup for an industrial-grade tool such as a TIG welder. For more insights into setting up a welding workshop, check out this guide:
How to Weld / Setting Up a Welding Shop (weldingtypes.net)
How to Use a TIG Welder
While TIG welding is common in industrial settings, there's no question that it takes time and training to use a TIG welder properly. Those who are looking to learn this trade skill should do so under the supervision of a trained professional to reinforce proper techniques and safety procedures.Prior to taking the appropriate classes to learn how to use a TIG welder, you can check out this video to learn the basics:
Also, those looking for a step-by-step primer on TIG welding can check out this online guide:
How to Weld TIG (instructables.com)
Safety Tips While TIG Welding
As with all types of welding, TIG welding can be hazardous if proper precautions are ignored. This is particularly true for novice welders, who may not be fully acquainted with the risks posed by a TIG welding unit. At an absolute minimum, all MIG welder users should wear a proper welding visor, close-toed shoes, non-flammable clothing, welding gloves, and ear protection when spending any time in a welding shop.
More information on the hazards posed by a TIG welder can be found at this source:
Welding Cutting Hazards - TIG Welding (boc-gas.com.au)
Frequently Asked Questions
What is “arc-eye” in welding terms?
Also known as “welder’s flash,” this affliction consists of inflammation in the cornea as a result of ultraviolet radiation radiating from the welding process. This can result in the eyes becoming red, gritty feeling, and sensitive to sunlight. Special eye drops are typically used when symptoms set in, which usually occurs several hours after exposure.
What is the difference between TIG and MIG welding?
One of the largest differences between TIG and MIG welding is its practical implementation. MIG welding, for example, is more often used for heavy-duty welding jobs involving thicker materials, while TIG welding is reserved for welding together thinner material such as steel wire. If you are planning to complete welding jobs that match these parameters, you should choose a welding unit that uses the corresponding welding type.
What is a shielding gas for TIG welders? Why is it important?
Generally speaking, argon is used as the shielding gas for TIG welders. Argon is used in this process because it is "inert," meaning that it can successfully perform the job of replacing oxygen in the welding process without causing any other type of adverse effect.
What are some common problems encountered when TIG welding aluminum? How can you resolve these problems?
Imperfections in porosity are often cited as a common problem for TIG wielding, including when aluminum is used. While multiple steps can be taken to resolve this issue, adjusting the shielding gas flow rate and using a different filter rod can make a noticeable difference.
Undercutting is a similar problem that can occur when TIG welding aluminum. This is caused by the improper filling of a groove with the melted fill material, leading to joint weakness. To resolve this problem, recheck the angle at which you are holding the torch and ensure that you are evenly distributing fill material as you work.
All in all, TIG welders are fairly complex pieces of equipment that require the utmost attention, both while they are being selected and while they are being used in your welding workshop. While there are a great number of options available on the market today, our full recommendation still goes out to the AHP AlphaTIG 200X.
This powerful 200-amp AC/DC TIG welder’s implementation of Advanced Inverter Technology ensures that whether you are welding aluminum or stainless steel, you are always doing so with both efficiency and safety in mind.
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