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Welders - 120V vs 240V

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I'm looking to buy a new MIG welder so I can start attacking some rust issues in my car. Shopping around I see you can get them in either 120 or 240 volt. My old welder was 120V and was given to me so I had never actually shopped for one. I assume that the 240 ones have more "juice", but the only 240 outlet in the house is behind the dryer which if a good 40 or 50 feet from where I'll most likely be working. Can you run a 240V extension cord? Anybody have any experience with any of the Harbor Freight welders or recommend any other inexpensive (less than $500) brands?

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If you are looking for a good welder under $500 I'd try Craigslist for a better model used. I am really glad I bought a real good Lincoln 255C 240 volt. Even used, it wouldn't be in the $500 range. I'd be sure you get one that takes gas rather than flux only.

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buy a used mig welder. i found a millermatic 135, with tanks for $500,

its a 115V welder and did everything i asked it to on my son's car.

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For most stuff you'll be doing 120v is fine. 240v opens up the doors to much thicker metal though. just wire for 240v... it doesnt take long to run a line.

as far as extensions go, I have ran nearly 100 feet of 240v extension without issue, although it is far from ideal.

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I did a Lincoln 180 (240V) and I absolutely love it. I had a cheap harbor freight one for a while and didn't realize how shitty it was until I got the Lincoln.

Wiring a 240 outlet is very easy, if you're mechanically inclined...just don't kill yourself...;-) Seriously, though, I'm sure you have a friend that would come by on a weekend to help run some conduit from your main and hook up a sub in your garage...

Good Luck!

Stephen

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For automotive work, 120v is really ok. IF you find a nice one.

Pulling 240 around's a pain in the butt, and/or expensive and/or

time consuming to do safely. I've put off hooking up the tig for

a year for just that reason... gotta dig a trench, get some conduit...

I found a used Century 120v welder 15+ years ago, and it's done ALMOST

everything I've ever wanted to (it couldn't build the trailer).

It's still like- new, if a bit scuffed. Still works great.

The difficulty with used welders is, if you buy one from a hobbyist,

it'll be like new. And maybe set up wrong, or just so old it's hard to use.

But you know what you're doing, so you can assess that.

If you buy one that's been used commercially, it's likely worn out, or

at least needs a good overhaul. Which is expensive to have done.

Don't underlook the absolute goodness that .023 wire can do for your

sheet metal welding!

good luck,

t

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I've welded a LOT of stuff with 115v Millermatic 135's, I've also fixed a handful of them. I've been known to buy broken ones, fix em, then sell em. They're just awesome welders that can take one hell of a beating! We ran em a lot on high school and some stupid people welded with em and they just kept goin.

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I will only repeat what was said to confirm the general conscensus.

Buy a used welder of a known reputable brand, like Miller or Lincoln.

I will also add to the 120V opinion (you do not need 240V for automotive use) if you have the luxury of choice.

I bought a Lincoln Pro Mig 140 a couple of years ago for $500 off Craigslist including a large tank, some spools of wire, and a self-darkening helmet. The machine was hardly ever used. I suck at welding but I love the thing. I play and learn. I used it a lot on my E12.

One more thing. Harbor freight is good for some things. Not welders. And not welding wire either. But I did get a welding cart from there. And an angle grinder, and cut off wheels, and gloves, and welding blankets and wire brushes etc.

I get my welding supplies from http://www.weldingandcutting.com/Default.asp

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I will only repeat what was said to confirm the general conscensus.

Buy a used welder of a known reputable brand, like Miller or Lincoln.

I will also add to the 120V opinion (you do not need 240V for automotive use) if you have the luxury of choice.

I bought a Lincoln Pro Mig 140 a couple of years ago for $500 off Craigslist including a large tank, some spools of wire, and a self-darkening helmet. The machine was hardly ever used. I suck at welding but I love the thing. I play and learn. I used it a lot on my E12.

One more thing. Harbor freight is good for some things. Not welders. And not welding wire either. But I did get a welding cart from there. And an angle grinder, and cut off wheels, and gloves, and welding blankets and wire brushes etc.

I get my welding supplies from http://www.weldingandcutting.com/Default.asp

They make good welding helmets. But F* their welders.... I hate the one I used before I bought my miller...

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adequate for automotive welding. Unless you're restoring the armor on a WWII tank, that is.

I've used my MIG to weld rebar to old brake disks (project for wife, don't ask!) and it did just fine. Just check your circuit to see if you have a 15 or 20 amp breaker, and buy accordingly. My Century actually has a switch that changes it from a 15 to 20 amp draw, and even on the 15 amp settings it'll weld the heaviest sheet metal you'll find on an '02.

mike

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adequate for automotive welding. Unless you're restoring the armor on a WWII tank, that is.

I've used my MIG to weld rebar to old brake disks (project for wife, don't ask!) and it did just fine. Just check your circuit to see if you have a 15 or 20 amp breaker, and buy accordingly. My Century actually has a switch that changes it from a 15 to 20 amp draw, and even on the 15 amp settings it'll weld the heaviest sheet metal you'll find on an '02.

mike

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Guest Anonymous

If you can get a 240, definately get a 240. You will not regret it. Running a 240 outlet is easy. Nothing is more frustrating than trying to used a cheap under powered crackerjack welder.

Everyone says buy a Miller, and I have one and it's great if you can afford it, but they are expensive. I actually liked my 20 year old Century better than my new Miller 180 autoset.

Used welders are hard to find in my neck of the woods, except the NIB Lincoln ones that are clearly stolen from HD! And the prices for used are so much that going new just makes sense. If you can't find a decent one on Craigslist, go for a Holbart from Northen Tool. About $500 for a Handler 140, IIRC. Good quality unit. The welders from Eastwood get good reviews too, IIRC.

LOTS of good info on Garage Journal too.

And I concur to stay away from Horror Fright welders. Or anything from there, come to think of it.

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I second most of what has been said. It boils down to what you what you want to (or can) spend.

I would recommend you stay away from flux core machines or at least make sure you can convert it to gas shield. I did this with a small Lincoln 110v which I used and still keep for its portability. It works works quite well. While gas is one more variable, it is actually easier to make pretty welds with gas shielding. Welding with flux core means more swearing and more grinding.

I did buy an older Millermatic 180 off of Craigslist a while ago and love it. It was a great find at $500. Please note that the operating amperage of welders has become more and more exaggerated. For example, my Miller 180 has an almost continuous duty cycle at 180 amps. Many newer welders may advertise 180 amps, but have a much shorter duty cycle, which means you can only weld for a brief period of time before stopping and letting the machine cool. This may not be much of a problem considering what you are doing.

My old Miller, however, is a beast. It's heavy as hell and huge. The newer inverter based welders are reliable, small, and light. This allows them to be fairly portable. It's a a great plus to be able to bring your welder to the job instead of having to bring the job to your welder. I need my engine hoist and a pickup to bring my welder to another garage.

If you can swing it, do 220. Many 220 models will run either 110 or 220, giving you great flexibility. It is true that the 110 will satisfy for most automotive work, especially for sheet metal/unibody cares like the '02. However, once you start using it a lot, you will find more and more uses. You will start scrounging for scrap steel an finding new projects. I keep a pile of bed frame angle iron in may garage that was all from the dump or the side of the road. Once you can cut and weld steel, a world of fabrication possibilities opens up.

I would STRONGLY recommend you stick with the big name brands; Miller, Lincoln, Hobart, etc. . . I use Harbor Freight for a lot of stuff but would never buy a welder from them. If you do go used on an older machine do some quick research to make sure that parts and consumables are readily available. You will be replacing things like tips, nozzles, drive wheels and wire sleeves. If you are new to welding you will be going through quite a few tips and nozzles.

If you can find someone with experience to bring along to look at a used machine, all the better. (It's common knowledge that welders will do almost anything for a case of beer, so bribe accordingly).

Not to violate my 'big name rule' but you might want to check out Eastwood stuff. I cannot speak to their reliability at all of the price point looks to fit your bill. http://www.eastwood.com/welders.html

Finally, give some thought to a MIG that is spool gun compatible (which allows you to use aluminum wire) or a TIG machine. While a TIG machine is certainly a bit tougher to learn, I would argue that it is no harder to learn to make a strong and PRETTY weld with a TIG than a MIG. As a teen i learned to weld with a TIG on aluminum. It's not as hard as some would suggest. TIGs are far more versatile.

Basically, buy a small 110 gas MIG if it is only some occasional light metal work but look bigger if you might want to get into more and more fabrication.

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I have a 120V arc welder that doesn't quite get it done. It has 220V capability but I haven't yet made up that long extension cord from the kitchen.

I have a 220V at my dad's house .... THAT is the way to go !!

Cheers,

Carl

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The Eastwood Welders are excellent value. The 175 includes a spool gun, but their 135A does great for most autobody needs. I've been very happy with mine.

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