Compared to pipeline welding, conventional metal welding is a child’s play. For starters, pipes are of varying thicknesses. Moreover, pipes tend to be thicker than conventional welding materials. There is also the issue of the welding environment.
As a pipeline welder, you are effectively a welding nomad. You never know where the job may take you, from the deserts of Arizona to the Alaskan cold. On the plus side, pipeline welding gigs attract a handsome paycheck.
Due to pipeline welding being challenging and demanding, not every welding machine is suited for this. To get started on pipeline welding you will need the best welder For Pipeline. Ideally, you will require a welder that is more powerful than your ordinary welder.
Here are seven welding machines the offer power in plenty. Apart from being powerful, though these seven can also be used outside.
The best pipeline welding machine Reviews
Engine Driven Welder, Ranger
The Engine Driven Welder, Ranger from Lincoln Electric is a marvel of engineering. It is ranked the best engine-driven welder on the market and for good reasons. The technical aspects, as well as its build quality, are exceptional.
This unit can handle virtually anything you throw at it. Capable of both AC and DC welding, it is a versatile machine that excels when it comes to pipeline welding. But not only that, but it is also capable of stick, TIG and MIG welding. You can also use flux-cored electrodes with this machine.
In terms of amperage, it is one of the more powerful offerings from Lincoln. It puts out an amperage range of between 50 and 250 amps. This is more than sufficient to handle the welding of thick pipes.
A stainless steel casing houses the machines engine. Speaking of the engine, it is a 23 horsepower air-cooled powerhouse that powers the machine for a whole day.
why we like this model
This is by far the best engine driven welding machine on the market. It has all the features you would need from such a tool. Also, thanks to its stainless steel outer construction, it is one of the more rugged and durable machines out there.
Lotos LTPDC2000D Non-Touch Pilot Arc Plasma Cutter Tig Welder and Stick Welder
Primarily a TIG and stick welder, it can also be used as a plasma cutter. Thus you get more from this small package. Being a TIG and stick welder it can be used in a wide variety of projects both indoors and outdoors.
The TIG welder has an amperage range of 15 to 200 amps DC electric current. With this range, it can weld a wide array of metals. With it, you can weld stainless steel, steel and thin sheets of steel.
This welder is a three-in-one combo that is both compact and affordable. Thus it is easy to transport to different job sites.
why we like this model
If you are looking for an inexpensive machine that can handle pipeline welding, this is it. It handles really well and can weld thin as well as thick sheets of metal. And while it has some cons, it is still worth it considering its price. At its price point its arguably the best welder for pipeline welding.
Engine Driven Welder, Bobcat 250
Like most other engine drive welders, this one can do it all. It can be used for MIG, Stick, TIG and even flux-cored welding. Its versatility is one of its bestselling features. But apart from its versatility, it is also available in gasoline, diesel and propane models.
Powering it is a 23 Horsepower Kohler CH 730 engine with a 12-gallon fuel tank. Thanks to its powerful engine it is capable of putting out an incredible 250 amps. As such, you can easily weld thick pipes with this model.
One of the things I love about the Bobcat is how quiet it is. For such a powerful machine, I was expecting to be quite the noisemaker. But to my surprise, it is relatively quieter than most other engine-driven models I have used.
why we like this model
Lincoln and Miller Electric have always been competitors with each trying to outdo the other. With the Bobcat 250, Miller Electric has done a fantastic job of keeping up with the competition. The only reason it ranks lower than the Lincoln Engine drive version is that it is slightly pricier than its competitor.
Lincoln Electric Ranger 305 G Multiprocess DC Welder
Right of the box, this welding machine is designed to handle multiple welding processes. With it, you can perform stick, TIG, flux-cored and MIG welding. The machine excels when it comes to downhill pipe stick welding.
From its spec sheet, I found it’s not so different from the other engine drive welders. The same 23 Horsepower Kohler engine powers it. Additionally, it has a 12-gallon tank, similar to what you would find in the other machines. In terms of value for money, it is less pricey than some of its competitors.
why we like this model
An impressive welding machine is how best I can describe this Lincoln product. It is a versatile machine that is ideal for pipe welding. Thanks to its power output of up to 305 amps it can weld thick sheets of metal with ease.
Multiprocess Welder XMT 304 CC/CV
At first glance, everything about the XMT 304 screams high-end and so does its price. But does it deliver on its promises? Weighing at around 292 pounds, it is quite lightweight compared to what I am used in this segment.
Its weight is thanks to its aluminum housing that is both tough and lightweight. A look at its voltage demands and it’s clear this is not a welder for hobbyists. It can be plugged into either a 230v or a 460-volt power outlet.
This, of course, means it is as powerful as they come. And its max rated output of 300 amps is quite impressive. Not the most powerful machine I have used, but still, it ranks in the top ten, which is still remarkable.
why we like this model
This is an industrial-grade welding machine. It is not the kind of machine you buy for home use. Especially since its input voltage is quite high. Being an industrial-grade machine means it handle a variety of welding tasks. It is the best pipeline welding machine in its segment.
Miller Trailblazer 302 Air Pak Engine-Driven Welder
The machine has a generator, an air compressor, and a welder. The generator is capable of pumping out 13,000 watts of power. With this kind of power, you can power an 875 plasma cutter capable of cutting 5/8 inch mild steel.
As with any other engine-driven welder, it is capable of all the conventional welding processes. This includes TIG, MIG, flux-cored and stick welding. Also, you can use it with both AC and DC power outlets.
So how does it fare in the power output department? Compared to some of the other engine-driven welders I have used, this isn’t the most powerful. With an output of up to 350 amps, it is still among the most powerful.
One thing I loved is the lift arc technology that minimizes the chances of the tungsten rod coming into contact with the weld metal when TIG welding. This feature is found on some other engine-driven models and makes a whole lot of difference for TIG welders.
why we like this model
The trailblazer can do more than most conventional welding machines. Its power output both for the generator and welder are impressive. There is a lot to love about this welder, and it is ranked as one of the best engine-driven welder from Miller Electric.
2.48-7.87” Hand-push Pipe Welder PE PPR PB PVDF HDPE Fusion Welding Machine
The PE PPR PB PVDF HDPE Fusion Welding Machine is one of the best of its kind. This manually operated machine is ideal for PE and PP pipes. It can also be used for installing fittings.
Constructed from an aluminum alloy, the machine is both durable and tough. And given that it uses a 110v power input, it can be used at home as well. And with its working temperature of 300 degrees Celsius, it takes only 20 mins to get to soldering temperatures.
why we like this model
This is a hand-operated welding machine. However, when you consider it costs almost three times less than the price of some other models, it is worth a try. It can weld the most common types of pipes. Also, it is considerably more lightweight than its pricier and more sophisticated competitors.
What is pipe welding
Pipelines are to modern cities what veins are to your body. Pipes are used the world over to transport all kinds of things from water, oil, gas and much more. Like most other man-made things pipelines are vulnerable to damage.
Furthermore, the installation of pipes typically involves joining sections of pipes. And here is where pipe welding becomes essential. Pipe welding is the art of fusing two pipe sections using a welding machine.
While there are other ways of joining sections of pipes, welding is the easiest. It removes the need for special threading tools. Also, welding is cheaper and offers fewer flow restrictions.
How to Select the Best Pipeline Welder
Pipeline welding is recognized as a specialized profession. Therefore anyone looking to venture into this industry will need to acquire a pipe welder. Not every welding machine out there can earn the title of the Best welder For Pipeline.
When shopping for the best pipeline welding machine, there are several things you need to keep in mind.
Pipeline welding is unpredictable due to pipelines having varying thicknesses. As such, you will need a machine powerful enough for different tasks. A welder’s power is based on amps output. For domestic use and amps output of 120 to 140 amps will suffice.
However, for welding pipes, a higher amps output is needed. Ideally, go for machines that have an amp’s output of 180 amps and over.
Pipeline welders are nomads who move from Jobsite to Jobsite. However, the machines used are usually powerful, large and bulky. To counter this, it is wise to get a welding machine that is easy to carry either in a truck or has a cart.
Pipes are made from different metals. Thus, a MIG, stick or TIG only welder will not do. For professional pipeline welding, you will need a machine that can do it all. This is to ensure you are not restricted regarding the type of metals you can weld.
The power source is another thing that you cannot be sure of. The power source you have at your disposal will depend on the job site. However, most industrial job sites usually have a 230v or 240-volt power outlet.
Nonetheless, you can never be too sure. A welder than can use both a 110v and 230 v power source will be an ideal option. This way you can plug it in almost any power outlet.
Common mistakes to avoid in pipe welding
- Not preparing the weld surface which can lead to slag entrapment, lack of fusion which results in weaker welds and defects
- Misalignment of the weld surfaces where the pipes aren’t joint in the right alignment leading to a structurally weaker and poor looking weld finish
- Poor joint preparation especially in line with the welding process being used, since different welding processes have different joint preparation procedures
- Using too much shielding gas in the hopes of creating better welds.
Tools you need
To get started as a pipeline welder you will obviously need a pipeline welding machine. But that’s not the only thing you will need to get. There are a couple of things other than the welder that you need to have before embarking on a pipeline welding project. These are.
A welding mask
As you probably have already noticed pipeline welding machines have a higher heat output than your average home welder. As such, you need something to protect your face from flying sparks and the intense heat.
A welding mask will help protect your face and in particular eyes. The intense heat can damage your eyes, especially when welding in an overhead position. Thus, a welding mask is another tool you will need.
Your eyes aren’t the only body part that needs protection from the intense heat produced when welding pipes. Your hands also need protection, especially since they are in close proximity to the welding torch.
Heavy-duty welding gloves will protect your hands from intense heat as well as any hot splash from the weld pool. Again gloves are particularly important when welding in an overhead position.
Metallic brushes are used to clean a metal surface before welding commences. Cleaning is essential for removing rust, dirt and trapped air. These things can result in a structurally and unpleasing weld.
While it is not always necessary, cleaning a metal surface before welding is always recommended. Thus, you may need a metal brush to clean the pipe surfaces before welding.
A pair of welding goggles
Welding goggles have a special tint that protects our eyes from the extreme heat produced when welding. Given the high temperatures produced when pipeline welding having a pair of welding glasses will be helpful.
Frequently Asked Questions
Which is the best pipeline for beginners?
For a beginner I recommend the Multiprocess Welder XMT 304 CC/CV, it is relatively affordable and is also lightweight. With its included cart it’s also easy to transport from location to location. Lastly, it’s easier to use than some of the other options on the list.
Which welding process is used in pipeline welding?
There is no one particular welding process used and it all depends on the task at hand. You can use stick, MIG, flux-cored and TIG welding to weld pipes. And in fact, as is clear from the list most pipeline welders can handle all the above-stated welding techniques.
What do I need to get started as a pipeline welder?
Pipeline welders are technicians who are normally hired to perform pipe welding tasks. As such to get started as a pipeline welder you need training. In some cases, you will need a license and certification. You can join vocational training to get started.
Pipeline welding is not the same as other types of welding. Therefore, just because you can weld two sheets of metal doesn’t mean you can weld pipes. It is an art that requires practice. Also, you will need to have the Best welder For Pipeline.
Also, different welders are suited to various welding applications. As such, the Best welder for exhaust pipe will not necessarily be a good match for welding oil pipes.