CAN AC/DC WELDERS BE USED TO WELD ALUMINUM?
Yes, both AC DC welders can be used to weld aluminum. The general misconception that only AC or DC welding machines can be used to weld aluminum is wrong. AC TIG welders with argon or helium mix are slower, clean and controllable which sort of makes it suitable for welding aluminum. DC welders can be used for welding aluminum but its thick arc makes it a bit tougher and more suitable for thicker metals like steel.
Here, we will take you through some of the best welders with AC DC capabilities and give more insights into how they function. Here is our top 10 AC/DC welders on the market today..
Understanding AC/ DC WELDERS
AC means alternating currents which are electrical currents that switch direction back and forth and this causes the voltage to reverse at periodic intervals due to the flow of currents changing direction. AC currents change polarity about 120 times in a second with 60Hz of electric current. Therefore, it is easy to see what AC welders are but for the sake of clarity, AC welders are welders that work with currents flowing back and forth many times per second. This back and forth movement allows AC welders to have deeper penetrations because of the changes in polarity. AC welders can be used to weld metals with magnetic properties without changing the magnetism.
This movement is between positive and negative currents sort off. In welding some metals with high affinity for oxygen, the positive removes the oxygen while the negative half does the actual work on the metal. This is so that the metal sticks and is done smoothly too.
DC currents, on the other hand, are direct currents. Electricity flow in a DC current is direct and goes in one route only. This means the polarity remains constant throughout its course of flow, unlike the AC current. Welding with DC welders provides fast deposition rates due to the fact that the electrodes melt a lot quicker because of the current intensity. The intensity gotten from the DC welders makes it not suitable for light metals but better for the heavy metals such as steel, titanium, carbon steel and so on.
So this means both AC and DC welders are very useful and it all just depends on the type of metal they are to be used on.
IS A TIG WELDER AC OR DC?
Tungsten Inert Gas (TIG) is a process whereby a non-consumable tungsten electrode is used to produce weld while the gas protects the area from external contamination. TIG welders can be either AC or DC or even both for greater flexibility. Usually, TIG welding can be used on different metals, such as aluminum, steel, carbon steel and so on.
Basically, the AC or DC welding really talks about the heat intensity of the welders. Some welders produce too much heat for some metals and others produce not enough heat. For TIG welding, DC welders are best for the heavier, low affinity for heat metals such as steel, carbon steel, titanium etc. but to use TIG DC welders for metals like aluminum would not be as effective and would leave a rough surface, thus for TIG welding or aluminum, the AC welders are better.
DIFFERENCES BETWEEN AC AND DC WELDERS
AC welders are for the more delicate metals such as aluminum.
- They have the ability to go back and forth from negative to a positive current which gives greater control to the user.
- They are better suited for welding metals with magnetic properties than the DC welders
DC welders are good for welding hard facing, overhead metals, carbon brazing, stainless steel and other heavy duty works.
- DC welder is superior as it can handle a lot more work and is used for a larger variety of metals.
- DC provides a faster deposition rate due to the fact that the electrodes melt off a lot more quickly, i.e. for the negative electrode, while the positive electrode in the DC welder helps in deepening the penetration.
- They are very suitable for welding stee,l iron and other heavy metals.
- The DC welders can weld thinner metals better than the AC welders.
- On a more general note, machines with DC welders cost less than those with AC welders
- They are more stable and smoother, thus, they are more reliable.
DISADVANTAGES OF AC AND DC WELDERS
AC Welders: Because the currents in the AC welder goes swiftly from positive to negative and vice versa, it leaves the metal on which work was done looking rough.
DC Welders: the DC welder has the following disadvantages,
- It is more expensive to use because it requires other sources of electricity.
- The chances of an arc blow are higher with the DC welder.
- It is not good for some metals e.g. aluminum because it cannot attain the required heat for welding it.
The longevity Innovator is a fully packed welder, weighing about 75lbs. It can perform TIG, stick welding and plasma cutting. This welder is one of the best and is the only one on our list that provides four different options all in one.
- Offers 4 in 1 functionality, i.e. TIG (AC/DC) and Stick welding capabilities, plasma cutting and Pulse welding.
- Has high frequency or high Arc start
- Accessories and torches are incorporated: TIG, stick, plasma, ground clamp, regulator, and power plug.
- Comes with a manual on how to operate which makes it easy to set up and use.
TIG torch may seem too bulky to work with
The Lincoln Electric AC/DC welder is a very good fit for advanced professionals in the welding business and those who are looking to take their welding game to the next level. The Aspect 375 is a 3-phased and 1-phase 235lbs machine. It works on 200/ 600V input with an output range on 3-Phase: 2-375A and 1-Phase: 2-250A
The welder is a bit pricey so it is best suitable for those who actually want to take the skills and profession to the next level.
- The inverter based machine has AC Auto-Balance
- Automatic HF start setting
- Customization: Balance, AC frequency, offset modify Arc profile, penetration, cleaning action, and more
- More memory settings and amps then comparable models
- Super stable arc and very silent
- Awesome for aluminum but not so much for steel.
- Durable wheels make it portable considering the size and weight.
Overall Rating: 4.0/5
This welder has a 220V power capacity and is one of the best in the welding business for both beginners and advanced or expert users. It is a 250Amp Single Phase AC DC TIG Welder. This Topwell TIG welder is amazing for welding aluminum and steel.
- Higher function processes for welding aluminum.
- Multiple Wave shapes: Standard Square wave and Sine wave
- MIX TIG: This TIG can get an amazing Arc Concentration, also can be used for working out the exceptional welding performance through thin to a thick surface.
- Independent amplitude/amperage control
This welder is one of the best for beginners and even experts and it has features that put it over the top and at the most affordable rate for a welder with its spec. It has a very responsive rotary and digital controls. The minimum amp for this welder is DC - 5 to 7 and AC - 12. The 44 lbs. machine has a duty cycle of 60% at 90 amps and a 9 ft. long welding cable to allow for easy movement around a workspace.
- Control PCB boards located on top separated from wind and lower inverter
- System detection for overheating, low-voltage and overvoltage
- Features a gas solenoid valve
- High-quality HF Arc start
- Fan doesn't work on demand and can be difficult to set up or switch power output for a novice
- Learning TIG welding with this machine may be difficult.
- It is delicate with Tungsten electrodes
The Thermal Arc is a professional level welder made easy for use by beginners. This welder weighs about 48.4lbs. Its duty cycle is 16% at 170A/26.6V, 25% at 150A /26V. Maximum output is 200A and it can be used for both heavy duty work such as on trailers and even easy duty such as aluminum fabricators. AC DC capabilities make it suitable for a variety of metals and it works well with 2.5mm and 3.2mm electrodes.
- Multi-process lift TIG, Stick and TIG welding machine.
- Has an overload protection feature.
- Adjustable wave balance for optimal penetration.
- Pre-flow and post-flow allow for independent control over shielding gas.
- Over time, the machine will require a reset and a restart after an arc is struck with a TIG torch in HF mode.
This welder has automatic dual voltage (110V/ 220V and dual frequency (50Hz/60Hz). Input Voltage is automatically detected and its power efficiency is at 80%. This welder encompasses both TIG, Stick and Plasma cutting welding processes. With these functions, it could be used to weld a lot of metals although it is best for the aluminum and uses argon gas for welding. The power of the Lotos TIG200 is great for beginners, and it is easily a Do It Yourself welder.
- Square-wave inverter for accurate aluminum welding.
- Both HF start hand torch control and precise foot pedal welding heat control
- Housing Protection Grade: IP21
- Hand torch control and foot pedal included
- TIG function doesn't work well and leaves a lot to be desired.
This is a 200A machine with AC DC feature which makes it usable for a wide range of metals and weighs about 37lbs only. This machine is built for the professional welders. The CK worldwide machine has knobs that make it easy to use. The CK worldwide with its compatible extensions can be used for really fine micro-welding of the heavier welding because of its adjustable CHF. It is a 115/280V TIG welder. The CK worldwide MT200 welder is incredibly easy to set up.
- Foot control pedals included
- Good balance control on both the AC and DC TIG welding.
- HF starts and easy arc ignition.
- Comes with its own gas hose.
- Contains a powerful torch.
Walter AC/DC 250 cell TIG welder has a 10-90% duty circle with a maximum output of 240A. The device has a very efficient precision control. It self-regulates at a certain high temperature which means your equipment will last longer and not go bad due to overheating of the systems. It has TIG torches which makes it TIG welder enabled. The 250 Cell also possesses a user interface with 128x64 LCD display. The maximum output current is 250A with a duty cycle of 40%/40°C, and 20%/50°C. Input voltage power is 230V +-15%. The Walter AC/DC welder weighs only 33pounds (15kg).
- Welds several metals including aluminum and stainless steel.
- High-Frequency arc ignition
- Possesses a foot pedal for stress-free control.
- Can be used with diesel generators
- Pre/post flow of the protective gas can be programmed.
- Efficient temperature regulator with exact temperature is displayed.
The Forney 322 welder is a great welder for light welding. This is an all-purpose welder and can be used for TIG, MIG and Stick welding with both AC and DC functionalities which makes it great for welding a variety of metals. Of course, to use the Forney 322 for TIG welding, it would require add-ons such as TIG torches and a foot pedal. The Forney 322 welder is very easy to use which makes it suitable for beginners as well as expert users. The Forney 322 has a duty cycle of 60% at 60A and works on 15A or 20A outlets (120V). Compatible with electrodes of diameter up to 3/32″ and some 1/8″. The welder weighs just about 38 Lbs.
- Cheap and affordable for a machine with its flexibility.
- TIG (with separate torch & pedal) capable, and MIG/Stick capable
- Has its own flow meter and gas hose.
The Miller Dialarc is a king in the AC/ DC category of welding machines. For all the functions and versatility it offers, it is relatively heavy for a 360 lbs without the power factor corrector and 365 lbs with it. The one phased machine operates on an input voltage of 200V /230V and 460V at 60 Hz. It has an output range of AC: Low: 35 - 165, High: 105-300 Amps and DC: Low: 35 - 155, High: 90-265 Amps. Rated duty cycle is AC: 225 A at 29 V, 30% while DC: 175 A at 27 V, 50%. It is very well suited for industrial fabrications and maintenance.
- Precision welding capabilities with its single dial infinite current control.
- Dual process Stick and Air Carbon Arc Cutting and Gouging (CAC-A) (3/16 in carbons)
- Forced draft cooling fan ensures the longevity of the device
- The featured control panels allow for easy customization
- Great welding arc with minimal spatter