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Practical TIG Welding: Power Supply

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Power Supply


00:00 - Whether you're starting out and deciding between a MIG or a TIG machine to learn the techniques of motorsport welding, or you're upgrading your old machine to improve the scope of the work you can complete, there are a few key factors we need to consider inside your garage or workshop.
00:16 The first thing we need to look at is the power supply for our welder.
00:19 If you're looking to purchase a second hand welder, then it's particularly important to understand what the machine needs in terms of power input.
00:27 Older machines can be up to 4 times the size of newer inverter machines and will commonly run on 3 phase power.
00:35 It's not very common to have access to 3 phase power in normal household garages and it can also be very expensive to add.
00:43 Fortunately these days, 3 phase isn't common in the machines that we use for motorsport fabrication.
00:49 Instead, the majority of modern TIG welding machines will run on a single phase power supply that's designed for the country it's being sold in.
00:57 The larger machines have traditionally been powered internally by a transformer but in recent years, the transformer has been swapped for an inverter that can generate a very stable arc while having over twice the efficiency of the transformer type welder.
01:12 What this means is that the power we'll be using from our house or workshop will be halved in an inverter welder, compared with the same welder with a larger transformer.
01:22 This efficiency and physical size means that our household welder can now offer us the same weld penetration as large 3 phase machines, all while still being light and portable.
01:34 Single phase machines will still need to suit the power capabilities of your home garage or workshop space though.
01:40 Most of us won't have designed the power supply that's connected to our workshop so we need to make sure that our welder is compatible with what's available.
01:49 Here in New Zealand, our domestic single phase outlets are predominantly limited to 10 amp current draw, however many of the single phase TIG inverter machines around 200 amps have a 15 amp requirement.
02:01 This 15 amp plug on our TIG welder won't physically fit into a 10 amp socket on our wall as the earth pin on the 15 amp plug is larger.
02:10 Thankfully it's quite easy and cheap to get an electrician to fit a dedicated 15 amp socket into your workshop in preparation for your new welder.
02:19 This modification to your workshop or home garage's electrical system will be fairly straightforward.
02:25 All the electrician will be doing is setting up a dedicated circuit for the 15 amp plug to allow you trouble free welding without overloading the power circuit you're running on.
02:35 It should go without saying but the practice of grinding down the earth pin on a 15 amp socket so that it can fit in a conventional 10 amp outlet is not only illegal but also potentially dangerous.
02:47 You also risk your machine drawing more current than the outlet can provide which will most likely result in you tripping the circuit breaker when using the machine at its peak amperage settings.
02:56 In the US market, the domestic supply voltage is 120 volts, however 240 volts can still be an option for workshop use.
03:05 Many welders like the ESAB brand for example are designed to cope with both power supplies with adaptors that'll allow you to plug into either wall socket.
03:13 The welders available in Europe also mirror the US power supply characteristics with combined 120 volt and 240 volt capabilities.
03:22 That does seem to result in some limitations in relation to the input though.
03:27 Most of the performance specifications in relation to duty cycle are referenced off the 240 volt input.
03:33 It's often difficult to find the actual capabilities of the welder when it's plugged into a 120 volt supply instead but after a little digging it works out that a 200 amp welder plugged into a 120 volt socket may only be capable of producing around 150 amps peak.
03:50 So in summary, these power requirements are something you'd definitely want to discuss in detail with your supplier when you're deciding on a machine along with figuring out if you'll need to get an electrician to alter your home garage or workshop's power supply.
04:05 It's these recent advances in inverter technology that's allowed us to have incredible TIG welding abilities in our home garages.
04:13 Smaller machines are now packing in the features of large industrial machines that were once 10 times the price as well as 4 times the size.

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