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How to Use a Flowmeter Instead of a Regulator for Welding

The Voice: Hey, Kevin. What are you doing?

Kevin Caron: Hi! I was about to do some aluminum welding with my Longevity TIG Weld 250 AC/DC TIG welder. Man, that's a mouthful.

Yesterday I received an email from one of my YouTube video subscribers in New York City, saying, "Hey, wait a minute. You changed something on the bottle. Could you talk about that? I have no idea what that thing is."

So let's talk about what he saw. This is a pressure regulator. It has the bottle pressure on this gauge and the working pressure on this other gauge. Wherever you adjust this, that's what shows on this gauge and comes out here to go to the machine. I removed this and replaced it with something else.

The piece of equipment I put on is called a flowmeter. It has a set pressure regulator, preset by the factory - there's nothing you can do with it. It shows you what's in the bottle. This clear tube, on the other hand, has a little ball inside that goes up and down, clearly indicating the amount of gas that's coming out the end of the torch in liters per minute.

And it's adjustable, so, depending on what procedure you're doing (are you inside, are you outside, what kind of metal are you working on), it's all adjustable here. It indicates exactly how much gas you're using so you don't have to guess by your working pressure, or go by how much is left in the bottle.

Voice: How does that help, to know how much gas?

Kevin Caron: It's possible to have too much gas, especially if you're working in an enclosed area. You can have too much gas and too much pressure, ending up with a bad weld. It can create all kinds of problems for you.

If you read your book on your machine or on the process that you're doing, it gives recommendations for how much gas flow is needed.

With this device, you can clearly see if you're using too much, or too little. You can see how it shows up on the weld. It gives you a better idea how much gas you're actually using and takes away one gauge to monitor. Trust me; it's a better way to operate.

You can get these at the welding stores. I've actually found them on Amazon. You can also get them at that Harbor Freight place. There are lots of them available out there.

These are actually rated for different types of machines, whether it's a TIG welder or a MIG welder. They have different graduations on them for the bigger machines or the smaller machines. There are lots of out there, so do your research. Get the right one for what you're doing, and it will make your life a little bit easier.

Let me show you the ball going up and down. That's kind of fun.

As you can see, if you look right here in the bottom, you can see the ball at rest inside. See it in there? Now watch what happens when I pull the trigger on the torch.

Voice: And what does the knob regulate?

Kevin Caron: The knob regulates the amount of volume or air, or amount of gas, coming out of the bottle through the meter, then to the machine. You're not regulating pressure; you’re regulating volume, so you get the right volume coming out of the end of the torch. And it's that easy to set.

Normally I run this one between about 8 and 12 liters a minute - depending on whether I'm working on the floor, the bench, or if I'm working overhead. I'll tweak it a bit one way or another, just to clean up the weld. That's it.

Voice: What do they cost?

Kevin Caron: You can buy these anywhere from about $80 up to a couple hundred; 300, depending on the model.

They even have them with two outlets on them, so you can set it up for two different machines. You can have your TIG welder and your plasma cutter set up to run off the same bottle, and have two different flowmeters. Well, those are the more expensive ones.

Voice: What do the more traditional regulators cost?

Kevin Caron: They are a little bit cheaper than that, approximately 25 percent cheaper (the old regulator-style where they just show you the working pressure as opposed to the working volume).

Hope that answers your question. I'll see you next time.

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