Best TIG Welders for automotive and car restoration
People often ask us what kind of welders we use and recommend, since we use them so often. However, there are lots of factors that you need to think about when buying a welder to fit your needs. What kind of material will you be welding on? How often will you be using it? What thickness of materials will you be welding? The power supply in your shop/ garage? After that, of course, you want the best quality for your budget. We list below the features and review several welders below that are great options for most car restoration applications.
What is TIG welding?
What does TIG even stand for? Tungsten inert gas. TIG is a two-handed process with one hand holding the torch and the other feeding a wire. Therefore, you will need a foot pedal or finger trigger to operate the gas. What about MIG welders? This post will focus on TIG welders, we will be following up with a post on our top MIG welders.
Pros of TIG welding: TIG is generally used for more finish work, if your weld is going to be seen cosmetically, TIG will look better. TIG is a stronger weld than MIG. You have a lot better heat control with a TIG welder. The thinner the material the better chance you have of making a good weld with TIG because of the heat control. Cons: It can be argued that MIG is a faster process than TIG.
To simplify things: if you are going to be welding chassis only you can probably safely get a MIG welder and not miss the advantages of TIG. If you are going to be welding sheet metal, you should get a TIG and learn how to use it! Or if your workshop budget allows, get one of each.
One more note before we get into our list, the amps are more
complicated than just the max rating, but to just compare these welders’ power side
by side it’s a good starting point.
BEST TIG welders with universal/ dual power supply (120V or 230V)
(all of these listed below have stick aka arc welding capabilities unless noted):
Lincoln Electric Square Wave 200 TIG Welder, K5126-1
We feel that the two most well-known brands of welders are Lincoln and Miller, so we’ll start by looking at this Lincoln. The main features it has are:
universal power supply (plug into either 120v or 230v)
Material thickness: use for 24 gauge (0.024”) up to 3/16”
Max rated TIG amps: 120V – 125 amps and 230V – 200amps
AC/DC capability: AC (for aluminum and magnesium) DC (for steel alloys, stainless steel, nickel alloys, copper alloys, and titanium)
If you want pulse capabilities and Miller’s “Pro-Set” feature, you can upgrade for ~$600 more to the Miller Maxstar 161 STH, for actual price click here. The Pro-Set feature sets the weld parameters for you, so you can preset controls for your most used applications. This can certainly help if you are switching between different tasks quickly and you don’t want to make a mistake. However, if you need AC/DC capabilities for aluminum welding, then you will want to compare this next Miller welder to the Lincoln Square Wave.
Miller Diversion 180 TIG Welder
universal power supply (plug into either 120v or
Material thickness: use for steel 24 gauge (0.024”) up to 3/16”
and aluminum 0.030” to 3/16”
Max rated TIG amps: 120V – 125amps and 240V – 200amps
AC/DC capability: AC (for aluminum and magnesium) DC (for steel
alloys, stainless steel, nickel alloys, copper alloys, and titanium)
Everlast is a relatively new brand, started ~2004 and they don’t invest in setting up dealers, so they can save money on overheads. Also, Everlast has a good warranty and a 30-day return policy, so it could be worth giving them a try!
What about other brands? If you are interested in Hobart, they do not offer a dual power TIG welder at this time, the closest one they have is the EZ-TIG165, it needs 230V, has a max rated TIG amps of 165A, it does not have stick function or pulse, but if you don’t care about those, you can click here for more details.
ESAB: these guys make a lot of welders! After all, they make robotic welders and a lot of products for factory welding (to measure gases, all kinds of fillers, etc). Their lines for a small workshop include Tweco and Turbo Torch. The closest one in specs and prices to the welders above is the Fabricator 141i line, click here for the best price.
We have both Millers and Lincolns in our shop, they both get the job done and I would recommend them, you can’t really go wrong with these big brand names as long as the specs fit your application.
Thanks for reading and please let us know if there are other welders you want to be reviewed. Or an explanation of welder specs and how to interpret them. We could talk about welders all day long! Check out our list of the best MIG welders.