The benefits of using an engine-driven welder generator
When it is tough to bring the workpiece to a source of power, it is often necessary to bring the power source to the workpiece. By combining the capability of a welding power source with the functionality of a portable generator, the engine-driven welder generator often becomes one of the most versatile pieces of equipment on the jobsite.
Engine-driven welder generator rentals power all sorts of job sites. The “mobile welding rig”—a work truck outfitted with an “engine drive” welder— is a common sight alongside the spans of onshore pipelines, heavy equipment in need of repair, or structural and bridge construction sites. Of course, equipment trailers are a popular accessory for those who need to free up bed space.
A vast array of equipment power plants and feature sets ensure that both the home hobbyist and professional welding outfit can access the power and processes they need in the field. A home hobbyist unit may start out having a gasoline engine providing a 4.5 kW single-phase maximum output while some of the largest dual-operator units are diesel-powered and offer maximum three-phase outputs of approximately 25 kW.
Output is an important consideration when a lot of jobsite equipment must be powered. Lights, grinders and similar power tools, air compressors, hydraulic power units, and plasma cutters are common accessories powered by the auxiliary outlets of an engine-driven welding power source. Dedicated portable generators (powering standalone power sources) should be considered if the demand for power is especially high. Larger power sources (both engine driven and standalone) are capable of welding at higher deposition rates using larger diameter electrodes, which often helps tackle thicker materials and in less time.
Welder generators can perform a wide range of common arc welding and allied processes with the right accessories. Even the simplest power sources can perform stick welding (SMAW): supply an electrode holder, welding leads, and filler metal. However, with an investment into a shielding gas cylinder, flow meter, and an air-cooled torch with a manually-activated gas valve, many engine-driven power sources are capable of performing DC TIG (GTAW) welding.
Carbon arc gouging is used to remove defect base and weld metal during equipment repair. Like SMAW and GTAW, carbon arc gouging requires a constant current output, but gouging also requires the use of a specialized electrode and electrode holder that interfaces with a source of compressed air, typically supplied via an electric air compressor. Welders that expect to perform carbon arc gouging or plasma arc cutting/gouging frequently, may be interested in engine-driven power sources with onboard air compressors. These power sources have the ability to integrate one additional piece of equipment into a smaller footprint.
Welding Using Wire
Those interested in using wire-fed processes such as self-shielded flux-cored arc welding (FCAW-S) may want to consider equipment that can provide constant-voltage (CV) output. While it is technically possible to perform FCAW-S with CC equipment, CV output offers a much wider range of operations regarding welding parameters and technique and is often required by many fabrication codes (such as AWS D1.1).
In addition to CV output, the wire-fed processes require a portable wire feeder. Due to their shape and size, portable wire feeders are often referred to as “suitcase” feeders. Field welding using gas-shielded wire-fed processes such as FCAW-G and gas-metal arc welding (GMAW) is less common than the self-shielded processes. In addition to a gas cylinder, flow meter, and extra care to ensure that the shielding gas plume is undisturbed from the wind conditions in the working area, the gas-shielded processes require suitcase feeders that include an onboard shielding gas solenoid.
As versatile as engine-driven welder generators are, they do have some limitations. Whether gas or diesel engines are used, exhaust fumes and noise are inherent by-products. Always place this welding equipment in well-ventilated areas and ensure that appropriate PPE is used if ambient noise reaches hazardous levels. Fortunately, noise reduction is a priority for equipment manufacturers; features on upgraded equipment such as variable RPM engines and auto start/stop help to keep noise levels lower. Size is another drawback to welder generators; fitting a power source and engine into one space will naturally consume a larger footprint than a standalone power supply. Again, modern equipment has an edge, as inverter based power source design and more fuel-efficient engines help to minimize footprint and/or maximize capability.
Maintenance and overall equipment cost are something that should be considered when selecting welder generators. All engines require periodic attention to ensure proper operation; since welder generators have more moving parts than conventional power supplies, it is reasonable to expect increased maintenance costs. One should also expect to pay for the additional capability of the equipment compared to a standalone welding power supply. Welder rentals can be an easy and cost-effective way to get ahold of some of the latest equipment and/or or have portable welding capability for short-term projects.
Modern Equipment Rentals
Modern engine-driven equipment makes field welding easier than ever before. These new machines tout useful features that can help influence the economics of the welding operation. An example is technology such as Miller Electric’s ArcReach or Lincoln Electric’s CrossLinc, both of which allow welding parameter adjustment at the suitcase feeder or specialized remote that is close to the electrode holder. These technologies exist to help maximize the time spent with the arc initiated as opposed to traveling back and forth on the jobsite making parameter adjustments.
To learn more about what else is new in the world of engine-driven welder generators, contact us today to speak with our knowledgeable experts about how these new developments can help you improve your welding operation!