Are you new to welding and interested in purchasing a welder? If so, there are a number of factors that you need to take into consideration in order to choose a machine that’s right for you. If you’re like most people, the first thing that you’ll consider is the price. While price is a significant factor, there are others that are just as important, if not more. By taking the time to evaluate all the choices based upon what best suits your requirements, you’ll get much more satisfaction, enjoyment, and use from a welding machine that’s right for you.
The first thing to consider is what you plan to do with it. Define the size and type of metal that you’ll primarily be welding. The machine power requirements for welding thick aluminum are much different than for welding thin sheet metal. Keep in mind that when it comes to prices, more amperage means more money.
It’s also a good idea to factor in the cost of consumables. If you’re considering a gas shielded type of welding – metal inert gas, (MIG), or tungsten inert gas, (TIG), – you’ll need to know what type of gas is required for the type of metal you’ll be welding. Recently the prices of gases, especially shielding gases containing helium, have skyrocketed. Conversely, a stick or arc welder doesn’t require shielding gas and can be cheaper in the long run. Along with gases, you’ll need to pay attention to the prices of electrodes/welding wire, tips, nozzles, and other related related accessories that are specific to the type of welder that you purchase. Over the course of time, these can have a significant impact on the operating costs associated with your welder.
The power that you have available to run your welder is a very important factor that shouldn’t be overlooked. Welding machines are power hungry, and often require more power than what you have available at the point of use. If you don’t have enough power to adequately supply one, you’ll need to upgrade your service which will add to the overall expense. An alternative to this is an engine driven welder. With the rising prices of fuel though, this may not be the most cost effective solution.
One of the best pieces of advice is to seriously consider a used welder. You’ll often find many older welders for sale and there is a good reason for this – old welders were built to last. A properly maintained welder can easily last you for as long as you want. These welders can often be purchased for a fraction of the cost of a new one too.
These are just a few of the many questions you need to ask before choosing a welder. As you can see, it’s a lot more complex than driving down to a big box store and buying what’s on the shelf. If you educate yourself before you make your purchase, you’ll save money, and end with a welder that will be much more useful in the long run.
By: John R Thompson
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