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What is the Difference Between Welding With 110 and 220 Volts?



Someone who just bought an AHP AlphaTIG 200X asked about the difference between welding using 110 volts and 220 volts. The machine will do both, but what do you get on the end of the welding torch? If I only have 110 volts, what can I do with a welder?

Kevin has been playing with some 1/4" plate steel while working on the sculpture Knot Me, so he'll fire up his AHP AlphaTIG, run it on 220, then switch it to 110 without changing amperage or other settings, and see what happens to the welds.

He fires up the machine on 220 volts. Kevin knows that when he switches the machine to 110, he'll lose up to half his available working amperage - you're putting about half the power in, so you'll get about half the power out.

The TIG welder is set on 4T, no pulse, DC and 100 amps. He gets an arc going and dabs along.

Next he turns off the welder and attaches the adapter plug that comes in the welder's accessory box to convert the welder to use 110 volts.

Kevin knows the machine will run on 15 amps, but he recommends that, if you're using 110 volts, you use a 20 amp circuit so you have a little extra power.

He didn't change the amperage control knob, and the display is now showing 71, which means the amperage dropped almost 30 amps just because of switching from 220 volts to 110. He boosts the amperage back up to 100 amps. Then he puts his helmet on and welds another small section. The welder is welding a little more slowly than it did on 220.

Both welds look good. Kevin points out that he's only welding 1-4" steel plate with 100 amps and that's nowhere near enough amperage (figure about 1 amp per 1000s of thickness. That makes 1/4" metal .250 thick.) On the reverse side, the heat affected zone looks pretty similar.

So 100 amps at 110 and 100 amps at 220 - well, it's still 100 amps.

Next Kevin turns the amperage all the way up to see what how much he can get at 110 volts, and then will switch to 220 to see what he can get there to get an idea of what amperage you can expect. At 110 volts, the display says the welder will put out 136 amps.

Before he can switch back to 220, he gets challenged to show what the machine will do maxed out on 110 and then on 220. So he welds at 135 amps and then switches the machine to 220. The display indicates 191 amps.

Kevin welds more on the same piece of 1/4" steel. When he looks at the results, Kevin is surprised by the width of the two welds. On the reverse side, he shows that the heat affected zone was actually larger at 110 volts.

At 220 volts, you get more heat and it's more concentrated, giving you better penetration, as Kevin also shows.

Kevin is ready to get back to work, but before you go, you might enjoy seeing Caron miss his Wheaties but not lose his of humor ....


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