Before you go on and start working on welding projects on your own, it is important to know and learn the basics of welding. This includes both the dos and the don’ts. You should know the basics of how to handle equipment and what works with a certain kind of equipment and what doesn’t. Let’s take a look at what types of welders you can use with a generator.
Most of the welders can be used with a generator but not all of them. To my knowledge, if you own an inverter welder you definitely can. In other instances, it depends on your machine’s manufacturer’s requirements and the type of generator you have at hand. Before buying a generator get to know your machine anf the wattage requirement and add about 30% to it to be on the safe side.
WHY USE A GENERATOR FOR WELDING?
Before we talk about which generators to use with different machines, you should know why people use generators to power their welder. One of the most common reasons is the requirement of the job. What this means is that some welding jobs cannot be taken indoors or even near a stable power source, this is where portable generators come in. usually generators require fuel instead of electricity, so you don’t have to rely on a power outlet for powering your welder.
WHAT TYPE OF WELDERS CAN BE RUN ON A GENERATOR?
Generators usually come in two varieties, the standard generator and a welder generator that’s specifically designed to work with welders. The latter can also be used for most of the tasks which a standard generator does, the only difference is that a standard generator produces an inconsistent sine wave.
A welder generator can be used with almost any kind of welder including, MIG, TIG, Flux-cored, Stick, and plasma cutter. But there is a difference while using inverter welders as compared to transformer welders.
Inverter and Transformer Based Welders
Inverter welders require smaller transformers and less power, which means that they can usually be run off any kind of generator, but you should make sure if the inverter has a built-in voltage protection system. Older inverter welders couldn’t be used with generators because of the ‘dirty power’, usually, the excessive voltage and frequency fluctuations could fry up the internal electronics, but these days the inverter welders and generators can be used with one another with no problem.
On the other hand, a transformer welder might not work on a standard generator because of lack of a steady sine wave or enough amps, you might need a welder generator in that case. Transformer welders are not sensitive to dirty power; therefore, they can work very well with generators. To make sure, read your user manual or ask from a reseller of the machine you use. Manufacturers recommendations can vary depending on your machine’s model.
HOW MANY WATTS DOES A STICK WELDER USE?
The wattage requirements for every welder varies according to the amperage capacity of the welder. For example, for a welder with a maximum amperage output of 160, usually, the wattage consumption is around 3600 watts, while at the same time for a welder with an output between 180 to 200 amps, the wattage consumption is about 4900 watts. Similarly, for an amperage rating of 250, the wattage requirement can be up to 6000 watts.
If you are interested in stick welding, check out this section as well.
WHAT SIZE GENERATOR DO I NEED FOR MY STICK WELDER?
Even if you know the wattage requirements of all the machines around you, you should give an extra leeway of about 25-30% as a lot of machines and welders require a start-up surge to start. To know the wattage output of a generator where the power rating is expressed at kVA you can multiply the number by about 800 to get to know the wattage output.
For inverter welders with a max output of 160 amp the suggested minimum generator size is recommended around 7kVA, for output between 180-200, it’s 8Kva and up to 250 it is recommended to use 13kVA. These numbers are calculated while considering the additional equipment which will need to be powered along with the welder for which a lot of beginners don’t prepare for.
If you are ever unsure about your generator size requirements it is always better to go for a larger size to be on the safe side.
HOW TO CONNECT A GENERATOR TO A WELDER SAFELY
You should be able to plug in the welding machine to an outlet that is usually provided at the front side of a generator, by most of the companies at least. If by chance there is some problem in the plugging process, don’t worry. It is pretty common for people to make adjustments to the welder plug if necessary.
You can try cutting off the plug and try wiring the cable to some other plug that fits in the generator. It is not a recommended job for weekend warriors though unless you are a certified electrician. If you are not sure about how to go about this then I would recommend getting some professional help to be safe.
The best, and easiest option however would be to buy a suitable adapter from your local supplier or from Amazon.
WHICH GENERATORS ARE COMMONLY USED FOR WELDING?
A few years back, people were still using the normal generators to power their welders but that has changed over the years. Most people prefer the welder generators which are optimized for giving a higher output while maintaining a constant electric flow. The advantage of a welder generator is its versatility. If you have other uses for a generator, they can be used for most of the work that a normal generator can do.
With the advances in technology, there are 2 in 1, 3 in 1, and even 4 in one welder generators known as workstation generators which take care of a lot of problems that you might face like: a welder, compressor, and battery charger. If you are looking to buy a generator to start with, anything around 7kVA should take care of most things in the beginning, but I would recommend going for something a bit on the higher side to be safe.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS:
Buying a generator can be a big investment so you should be sure about which one to get, it is perfectly okay for you to have a lot of questions about which one you should get and whether you are making the right choice or not. I will try to address some of the most common queries related to this topic.
If you have a generator that can put out enough power, then it should be able to power a welder. There are a lot of workstation generators that have the capability of being used as a welder as well but those can be expensive.
A small welder with an output of 90 to 100 amp should be able to work on a 3000-watt generator, it should be able to generate 25 amps of current at about 120-volt output. Remember Amps = watts/volts.
Usually, a 110 V welding machine can output around 130 amps of current, which would require at least a 15 amp circuit breaker to run.
Before you go and buy yourself a generator, do your research about the power requirement you have before buying something. Always remember that it is better to get something with more power generation capability than less, it is better to be safe than sorry. Also, keep in mind that your generator requirement varies according to the amperage of the welder, but make sure to give a 25-30% leeway in the power. Do your own research ask the help of a professional if you get confused.