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How Many Amps Does A Tig Welder Need?—Ultimate Guide

TIG welding is a versatile welding technique that can be used to weld a wide range of metals and has tons of applications.

One of the most common questions that beginners ask is how many amps a TIG welder needs.

Well, the answer is not a simple or straightforward one. The exact amperage of a TIG welder depends on the type of metal, type of project, and thickness of the material you are working on.

Understanding the relationship between the amperage and functionality of TIG welding is of significant importance. If you get the amperage right, you can get welding results of the desired quality.

Let’s dive into the details of TIG welding amperage and discuss everything you need to know.



Importance of Amperage in TIG Welding

Amperage refers to the current or electricity that flows through the welding circuit. In the process of TIG welding, amperage holds crucial importance as it is responsible for determining the input heat as well as the quality of the weld.

With the correct amperage, you will be able to properly fuse the base material and add filler material. It will help you create the perfect weld pool and get high-quality welding results.

So, with accurate amperage settings, you can get strong and clean welds.

On the other hand, incorrect or insufficient amperage can lead to poor fusion of the base material and filler material, which will result in weak welds.

Also, if you set the amperage too high, it will cause the base material to burn out, warp, or even the tungsten electrode to degrade.

Now you can understand the significance of selecting the right amperage. It ensures proper penetration, and fusion and creates high-quality beads.

When you have got the amperage right, you will minimize the risks of defects that might include cracking, porosity, or warping.

Related: What Gas Does TIG Welder Use? A Guide

Factors Affecting Amperage

Determining the correct amperage depends on various factors. Let’s discuss them one by one:

  • Type of Metal

First of all, the amperage is directly affected by the type of metal you are working on. Each metal comes with its own thermal conductivity and melting point.

Hence, the metal will determine the amperage settings and you will need to adjust the settings accordingly.

  • Material Thickness

It should be obvious that thicker materials require more power and heat to penetrate.

So, when you are working on thicker metal plates, you will need to set the amperage high for proper fusion and penetration.

The thickness should not be misunderstood here. With TIG welding, you are mostly working with thin sheets of metals, but when it comes to amperage even 1/1000th of thickness matters.

  • Type of Project/Joint Type

The complexity of the project also holds significant importance in determining the amperage required to make the joint.

Each type of joint configuration has its own amperage requirements, and you must learn them before applying.

Some joints might demand high amperage for perfect welding while others may provide optimum quality on low amperage.

This is where TIG welding gets tough. It has a bit of a learning curve and beginners need to understand these technicalities before they are able to TIG weld efficiently.

  • Welding Positions

It might come as a surprise, but the position in which you are welding also significantly impacts the amperage required.

Here the amperage is required to maintain a stable arc in the position and allow you to weld the joint without letting the electrode touch it.

Overhead and vertical positions are much easier to deal with as they require lower amperage.

However, when you are working in flat or horizontal positions, the amperage required will be much higher.

  • Electrode Type

The type of electrode, its size, and its material also impact the current requirement. You will need to adjust the amperage according to the size of the tungsten electrode you have selected.

  • Personal Preferences

You can find unique and specific current settings that work best with your personal technique. Several professional welders do not stick to the strict amperage instructions and find out their own amperage based on their technique and comfort level.

So, as you gain experience, you can experiment with different settings and techniques to find out what works best for you.

Related: How Much Does A TIG Welder Cost? Ultimate Guide

Different Metals and Their Amperage Requirements

As I have mentioned above, when working with different metals, you will need different current settings. Let’s discuss this aspect in a bit more detail.

  • Steel and Stainless Steel

The most common types of metals you will be welding in a TIG welding process are steel and stainless steel.

As a general rule of thumb, you can remember to use 1 amp for every 0.001 inch of material thickness. That is equivalent to 0.025mm.

So, based on this rule, if you are welding a 1/8-inch-thick steel plate, you will need the current settings of 125 amps approximately.

That is not just specific to mild steel but also stainless steel. So, what’s the difference?

Well, you should keep in mind that stainless steel has higher thermal conductivity which means it might require higher heat input at some level.

So, you will need to increase the amperage when working with stainless steel to get the desired level of penetration.

  • Aluminum and Aluminum Alloys

The amperage requirement for aluminum is higher than for steel because of various reasons. Aluminum has higher thermal conductivity, and lower melting point and also forms an oxide layer on the surface.

As a rule of thumb, you can increase 1.5 amps in settings for every 0.001 inch of aluminum thickness.

So, when you are welding a 1/8-inch-thick aluminum sheet or plate, you will require 187.5 amps. You can see the amperage difference compared to the above metal.

However, when you are working with aluminum alloys, these settings differ. The aluminum alloy might have different melting points and thermal conductivity and you will need to set the amperage accordingly.

  • Copper and Copper Alloys

Copper and its alloys have even higher thermal conductivity and may require a much higher amperage compared to the above two metals.

Keeping with the tradition, for every 0.001 inches of copper thickness, you must increase 2 amps in the settings.

So, when working with a 1/8-inch-thick metal copper plate, you will require approximately 250 amps.

Similar to aluminum alloys, copper alloys also come with varying thermal properties, and you will need to adjust the current levels accordingly.

  • Titanium and Exotic Metals

Titanium and other exotic metals also have a higher melting point, but they come with a much lower thermal conductivity as compared to the common materials.

The amperage requirement for these materials is not necessarily high but rather varies significantly depending on their specific properties.

You can easily find a technical data sheet of each material online to determine the exact amperage setting required for a specific material.

You can also get help from a professional TIG welder to find out the tricks that will help you determine the amperage for these specific materials.

Impact of Material Thickness on Amperage

As I have mentioned above, the thickness of the material has a significant impact on the amperage. You can consider it directly proportional to the amperage. As the thickness of the material increases, so do the current level settings.

Let’s discuss this in a bit more detail:

Thin Materials

TIG welding is mostly used for welding the thinnest and most delicate materials, where precision and control are of utmost importance.

Here the tiniest of mistakes can lead to warping or burnout. So, you will need to set low amperage settings.

When welding thin sheets, you hardly need 30 to 50 amps. Not only this, but you will also need to use a small-diameter electrode to minimize the heat input.

You can also use the filler material for better control and further reduce the heat requirement.

Average Thickness Materials

For the medium-level thickness of metal sheets or plates such as 1/8 to 1/4 inch (3.175 to 6.35 mm), you will need an amperage setting of 125 to 250 amps.

The exact amperage will depend on the material type, as we have discussed above, but the thickness is also of crucial importance.

Keep in mind that you will need a larger electrode and proper amperage to achieve the required penetration.

Thick Materials

When it comes to thicker materials that are bigger than 1/4-inch, metal plates, you will need higher amperage settings.

The higher amperage will ensure high heat input which in turn will get you the required penetration and fusion. The current level in this case can even exceed 300 amps.

Higher amperage might produce a difficult-to-control arc and is used in most complex projects where you don’t have other options. When welding thicker materials, welders often opt for other welding options instead of TIG welding.

General Amperage Recommendation for Common Material Thicknesses

While there cannot be any general or universal amperage settings based on just the thickness, we can devise a range based on the specifics we have discussed in this article.

So, you can keep the following thicknesses and amperages in mind to get a general idea.

Material Thickness Amperage
1/16 inch (1.59 mm) 50-60 amps
1/8 inch (3.175 mm) 125-150 amps
3/16 inch (4.76 mm) 190-225 amps
1/4 inch (6.35 mm) 250-300 amps

You should keep in mind that these values are not universal and are just approximate. The exact current levels will depend on the type of material you are welding and specific welding conditions.

Related: How Hot Does a TIG Welder Get? TIG Welding Temperature Guide

Importance of Amperage Control in TIG Welding

Controlling the amperage is crucial in TIG welding for achieving the desired quality results. When it comes to TIG welding, it is not necessary to adjust a single amperage setting and stick to it throughout the welding process.

Rather, this method comes with a variable amperage control that you can adjust continuously to achieve desired results and minimize defects.

Pulse Welding

Pulse welding is an important technique in TIG welding which allows you to alternate between high and low current levels.

This is one of the most efficient methods that allows for better heat control, reduces warping, and improves penetration.

However, not all TIG welders come with a pulse control feature.

So, you will only be able to use this function if your TIG welder comes with this functionality.

The welding machines with pulse control allow you to adjust the peak amperage, min amperage, and pulse frequency, ensuring perfect control during the welding process.

Remote Amperage Control

For the welding machines that don’t have a pulse function, you can still efficiently control the amperage using a remote option.

The TIG welder might have a variable amperage control on the torch as a dial or fingertip control, or it might come with a foot pedal.

Hence, you will be able to easily adjust the amperage based on the specific requirement of the moment without having to adjust it on the machine again and again.

It will take a bit of practice to get good at it, but once you are through the learning curve, you will be able to control it efficiently.

Expert Tips for Determining the Right Amperage

Here are some of the professional tips from expert TIG welders that can help you determine the right amperage for the job.

Testing and Fine Tuning

Before beginning your welding project, it is crucial that you test the amperage settings on a piece of scrap metal that is of a similar nature as your workpiece.

This will help you in fine-tuning the amperage and get you the optimal weld quality.

Testing in this way will allow you to make adjustments where necessary without ruining your base metal.

Charts and Guides

Detailed amperage charts and guides are available online or provided by TIG welders and manufacturers.

These charts and guides help as a perfect starting point for determining the appropriate amperage settings.

One thing you must keep in mind is that these charts are not absolute and may require adjustments based on specific welding conditions. That’s where the testing and fine-tuning comes in.

Online Welding Amperage Calculator

You can also use online TIG welding amperage calculators to determine the exact amperage required for a specific TIG welding application.

You will have to input the information required and the online tool will automatically determine the approximate amperage you need.

Again, this figure won’t be absolute or universal and adjustments might be required based on your specific welding conditions.

Expert Advice and Resources

If you are a beginner, then it would never hurt to seek advice from professional welders and welding engineers. Their advice is invaluable for deterring the right amperage settings and also learning how you can determine it yourself.

You should also use every resource at your disposal if you are aiming to become a successful welder. Access online forums, social media groups, and welding publications to get knowledge and insights from professionals around the world.

Frequently Asked Questions

How many amps does a 240v TIG welder use?

A 240-volt TIG welder can provide you with amperage from 20 to 225 amps. You can also get a 120 volts TIG welder that has the ability to provide amperage between 20 and 140 amperes.

How thick can a 200 amps TIG welder weld?

Well, you cannot determine the thickness based on just the amps. You will need to find out what type of material this thickness is referring to. You can weld steel up to 1/4 inch (6.35 mm), aluminum up to 1/4 inch (6.35 mm), and copper up to 1/8 inch (3.18 mm).

How thick can 160 amps weld?

Similar to the above condition, amps will depend on the type of material along with thickness. You can weld steel up to 3/16 inches (4.76 mm), aluminum up to 1/8 inch (3.18 mm), and copper up to 3/32 inch (2.38 mm).

Wrapping Up!

Getting the amperage right is crucial to achieving high-quality welds. After reading the above article, you will be able to understand and select the right amperage, regardless of material and thickness.

Now you know that material type, thickness, and joint design are of crucial importance when it comes to determining the right current levels.

By following the guidelines above, you will be able to gain a deeper understanding of the relationship between TIG welding and amperage settings.

If you have any questions, you can drop them in the comments section below and I will get back to you as soon as I can. Good Luck!

Sheila James

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