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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My son joined got onto his highschool's welding team, and I want to buy a stick/TIG welder for him at home to practice (plus it is an excuse to buy a TIG). Any thoughts on a combo machine on this. I was looking at these:

ET 186i AC/DC | Arc Welding Equipment | Products & Solutions | ESAB
https://www.millerwelds.com/equipment/welders/tig-gtaw/diversion-180-tig-welder-m00337

Or do I go bigger, and way more expensive with

ET 220i AC/DC | Arc Welding Equipment | Products & Solutions | ESAB
https://www.millerwelds.com/equipment/welders/tig-gtaw/dynasty-210-tig-welders-m30020
 

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The dynasty is a much better welder since it has way more adjustability to it but for a newb it may not be worth the extra cost since he will likely not use the extra features. Both are a inverter based welder which will be better for aluminum welding. If you don't need to weld aluminum then there are tig/mig/stick combo machines out there now that do a great job at a much lower cost. If you plan on doing a lot of tig you will also want to get a water cooled torch which adds a lot to the price when buying new set up. I was looking at the Dynasty set up with cooler for about $7k and ended up with a nice used Lincoln 175 with water cooled torch for $1500 since I was teaching myself to TIG and the used machine will hole its value if I ever want to upgrade to the Dynasty series. I bought this one last fall to replace my old miller 175 and it is a nice unit that takes up little space and the weld quality is great but will not TIG aluminum.
https://www.millerwelds.com/equipme...c-215-multiprocess-welder-with-tig-kit-951674
If you can find a good used Miller Syncrowave DX 250 I would look at it hard unless you don't have the space for the bigger unit.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I would hate to not be able to do aluminum. I already have a big Mig machine and don't need the multiprocess as well. I will look at old synchrowave units. Thanks for the tip on that.
 

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Aluminum is the main thing that will have you wishing for more amps and a water cooled torch. It isn't only the thickness, but the total size of the piece of aluminum. If you are wanting to weld 1/4" aluminum that is anything other than a small piece, you will probably want over 200 amps. At that amperage you will very quickly want water cooling. I don't weld much thick aluminum, so I haven't bothered getting a water cooled setup yet. I did once have my torch literally smoking after a few welds on 1/4" aluminum with my machine maxed at 210 amps. If you end up wanting to weld thicker aluminum than your machine can handle, getting a percentage of helium mixed with your argon will help (adding helium makes the arc hotter).

On steel or stainless (or thin aluminum) you can probably get away with an air cooled torch unless you are doing long welds on thick pieces. With steel you could pretty much weld any thickness 160-170 amps and multiple passes. Stainless typically takes a bit less amps than carbon steel at a given thickness because it doesn't transfer heat as well.

The syncrowave 250 is a good choice if you want to do a lot of aluminum since it has a max output of 300-ish amps. But keep in mind you will need around a 100 amp circuit to get full output out of the welder. And it weighs something like 350 lbs. Inverters are much lighter and more efficient (my Dynasty210 is about 47 lbs. and draws something like 25-30 amps at full power). Inverters also typically have a lot more complex electronics and don't have as proven a track record of longevity as transformer based machines. Just some things to consider.

Honestly, there are a ton of great options out there these days. We are spoiled for choice.
 

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By the way, for the price of that ESAB 220i, I woud get the Dynasty 210DX any day of the week (and twice on Sunday).

The 186i has a fairly low duty cycle, so if you are wanting to weld much aluminum you may be a bit limited by that. Common with cheaper machines though. If you lean towards the 186i, take a look also at the Lincoln Squarewave 200. Less adjustability, but cheaper, very slightly better duty cycle, and can run on 120V if ever needed (though with limited output vs. 240V). No experience with it, just something to consider in that price range.
 
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