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Why You Don't Need a Welder That Will Last 40 Years

Kevin says he often gets questions about which welder to buy - MIG, TIG, stick - that the inquirer will only have to buy once.

He keeps asking them why they would want to saddle themselves with today's welding technology, or even older technology, if they were going to buy a used welder. Why would you want to be stuck with an old machine and miss out on the benefits of newer technology?

Kevin is kneeling by two MIG welders. Both are 250 amp machines and run on 220 volts, single phase.

One is the Millermatic 251 he bought it in late 2003 or early 2004, or maybe even 2005. It's a solid machine. It still works and welds like a champ. "It's a monster," he says. He'll keep it as long as he can, but, he emphasizes, all it does is weld.

You can adjust voltage and wire speed. That's it, except for an option to add a spool gun to weld aluminum. Caron keeps the Miller at his studio for sentimental reasons and so two people can MIG weld at the same time.

The other welder is Longevity's MIGWeld 250MP - the "MP" stands for "multiple pulse." So right off the bat, you have a MIG welder that pulses. It has single pulse and double pulse.

It also is a stick welder for welding thicker metals with higher amperages that a MIG welder can't do, and it has pre-set settings for running CO2 instead of argon and CO2 gas.

It offers 2T and 4T, like a TIG welder, providing the option to have the welder run without having to hold down the trigger the whole time, which is great for welding long runs and avoiding hand cramps.

It also has 9 presets to allow you to pre-program whatever settings you may use repeatedly. It has a gas test function that allows you to test the pressure in your regulator and bleed the gun to avoid porosity on those first welds. It has settings for different wire thicknesses and types of metal.

The difference in size between the two machines is obvious, too. They're both 250 amp welders, but the Miller is an old transformer type, which is much larger than the newer inverter welders.

The inverter technology also uses less power. "How hungry are they?" asks Kevin. The wire on the Miller plug is about twice the size of the wire on the Longevity plug. The Miller draws about 50 amps maximum, while the Longevity draws 20, maybe 25 amps. You'll see the difference on your power bill the first month!

What about consumables and welding guns? The two guns look pretty similar. Kevin discusses different types of welding guns - the TWECO-compatible ProStar, the CEI, the Bernard - but the bottom line is that you can put an after-market welding gun on either welder, so you're not locked in on tips, etc. Wire is universal.

Oh yeah: price. The Millermatic 251 has been replaced by the Millermatic 252, which is $2350, but it's not always available. The Longevity lists for $2,000, but if you call the company, they are giving huge discounts, with prices as low as $1,400 - $1,500.

So why would you spend all that extra money to buy a welder that doesn't have anywhere near the functions as other available machines that use less power and take up less room? If you do, you have a machine that is really expensive and you're stuck with it for 20, 30, 40 years.

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