Many people new to welding may wonder, what is an inverter welder? This is understandable, when a group of welders gets together, they often debate the merits of an inverter vs transformer welder, leaving newbies a little confused. It would be hard to recommend one approach over the other and the true answer will usually depend on your specific requirements. In this article, we will take a closer look at the inverter welder machines to help you make informed choices.
So, what is an inverter welding machine? This is a relatively new type of welder that has certain advantages when compared to conventional welding machines. An inverter welder uses silicon-based technology as an alternative to copper and/or aluminum rectifiers and transformers used in traditional welders.
After their introduction, there were considerable challenges and teething problems to overcome. This is normal when new technology is adopted, and those early users do take a considerable risk. But, the technology has matured rapidly and the latest inverter welders are a reliable and cost effective solution for many welders.
How Do Inverter Welders Work?
An inverter welder converts the AC current to a lower voltage output which is more useful for many welding applications. A prime example would be taking a 240v AC power supply down to 20v DC power output without resorting to external transformers.
Many traditional appliances that use power transformers have a single large transformer to make the voltage changes. But the inverter welding machine will operate with primary power supply frequencies that can range from 50Hz all the way up to 100,000Hz.
The operation is controlled with electronic buttons that make alterations in one-millionth of a second. This ensures that the power supply is adjusted before it reaches the transformer which means that the transformer size can be lessened.
What Are The Advantages Of An Inverter Welder?
1. Size and Weight of Welder
When many people ask the question, “What is an inverter welder?” It’s often because they have seen them in person or online and it’s easy to notice that they are smaller and lighter. As an example: A inverter welder can weigh less than 5kg, it can be carried over a shoulder and it could fit into a suitcase. But, this same machine could have an output capacity on par with a conventional transformer-based welder that weighs 50 kg or more!
2. The DC Output of an Inverter Welder
Most convention MMA or Stick Welders don’t have an AC output at all. This means that you are limited in the electrode types that you can use for welding. An inverter-based welding machine has a current that is easy to rectify to DC to use a wider range of electrodes. Certain MMA inverter welders can even be used for TIG welding using DC which is impossible with an AC welder.
3. Welding Efficiency
A good inverter welder has an efficiency of 80-90% compared to a conventional model that will have an efficiency of around 50%. This disparity is related to the larger transformers that have greater resistance which leads to a loss of power due to heat dissipation.
4. Generator Power
The improved welding efficiency of an inverter welder makes it a more viable option when you need to work remotely with a generator. Smaller and more portable generator sets can be used with similar results which can reduce rental costs and risks.
5. The Duty Cycle
Inverter-based welding machines have higher duty cycles than conventional welders. This is due to the transformer size difference but there are some important things to bear in mind. An inverter welder has smaller components, they can heat up quickly and this may seem like a huge problem. But those same components cool quickly when compared to conventional transformer units that store heat and take longer to cool.
6. Inverter Welders Extra Functions
Inverter-welding machines have electronics that are more easily adapted to various other forms of welding. The most obvious example of this is the “TIG Mode” which can be found on many inverter welders. This makes an inverter welder more flexible, and those functions are more controllable than other options.
7. Performance of an Inverter Welder
The best inverter-based welding machines have performance that exceeds that of conventional welders. This is especially true with stick welding because the operator can be more accurate when they don’t need to struggle to control the arc. Inverter welders have higher open circuit voltages and useful features, including anti-stick, arc-force, hot start, and more.
The features allow the operator to weld thinner materials which can offer a serious challenge for even skilled stick welders. High-quality inverter welders have an extremely stable arc with an output that can be turned down to a very low level. This allows the operator to weld sections of tube and sheet metal down to a width of 1.6mm without losing control.
What Are The Disadvantages Of an Inverter Welder?
1. Repair Costs for the Welder
Inverter-based welders have electronic systems that are reliable, but if something does go wrong, they can be expensive to repair.
2. What is the Durability of This Welder
An inverter welder is less durable than a larger conventional transformer-welder.
Is It Easier To Weld With An Inverter Welder?
An inverter welder can operate on lower voltages due to the high-tech electronic components which can lead to misgivings due to the fragility and breakdowns. If an inverter welder does fail it will reduce the effectiveness and the cost per amp will rise.
A conventional welder is a simpler unit, it’s durable and likely to be more reliable over the long-term. An inverter welder is easier to use, but if size, weight, and appearance are not a huge consideration then a traditional welding machine may be the better investment.
FAQs about Inverter Welders
Can I run my inverter welder from a generator?
If the generator has a low THD rating of 6% or less then you have a pretty clean power output that’s adequate for an inverter welder. But, at higher THD ratings the generator is lower in quality and it’s not advisable to pair it with an inverter welding machine.
Does an inverter welder use AC or DC power?
All traditional inverter welding machines run on AC power.
Inverter Welders in Conclusion
The use of inverter welders is growing amongst both hobbyists and professionals alike. As you can see, the question” What is an Inverter Welder?” is easy to answer, but it may not be an ideal fit for your needs. There are advantages and disadvantages and ultimately your final choice will be determined by your requirements and budget.
An inverter welder will cost more to purchase, but it’s portable and it’s light on power consumption. A conventional welder may cost less, but it’s bulky, less flexible, and likely to last longer. If you keep these factors in mind when you make your choice, it will be easier to find the ideal welder to meet your needs.