A new TIG welder asked, “What is the difference between high frequency and lift start?”

High frequency start is what most TIG welders use except when they are welding on a car, around computers or electronics. Then you want to use lift start. Around a car, for instance, if you want to fix a hole in the exhaust pipe by welding a patch on it, high frequency start can affect the computers vehicles have today. Around electronics or computers, you also should only use lift start, as high frequency start can affect them.

With high frequency start, you can just get close to your metal – 1/8″ to 1/4″ – click your trigger or step on your foot pedal, and the high frequency start in the machine will jump from the tungsten to the metal to start your arc so you can weld. Once your arc is started, the high frequency function is turned off until you are ready to start the arc again.

With lift start, you still use your trigger or foot pedal, but you don’t have an arc jump between the tip of the tungsten and the metal. Instead, you put your cup down on the metal, click your trigger or push down on your foot pedal. You then roll your torch upright so that the tungsten touches the metal as you lift up the torch in a smooth little move.

Kevin is showing this rolling away, but when he is welding, he rolls it toward himself.

Machines can offer high frequency or lift start or both, like the welder he is using, the Everlast PowerTIG 255EXT. “This one is actually kind of special,” Kevin explains. It has an electronic high frequency component, so there are no points. On most cheaper TIG welders with high frequency, you have to occasionally adjust those points.

There also definitely is a cost difference. A machine with high frequency is going to cost a little more than one that just has lift start.

And then there are even cheaper TIG welders that use scratch start. With TIG scratch start, the minute you turn on the machine, the tungsten is hot electrically. So you literally tap or scratch the tungsten to start it, like an arc welder (stick welder) or a match to get the arc started. To break the arc, you simply pull the torch away from the metal.

So which one should you get? If Kevin was going to buy a new machine, he’d look for a TIG welder with both high frequency and lift start. Preferably, like this TIG welder, he’d choose one with electronic high frequency so there are no points to adjust or wear out.

Kevin hopes this helps, and now you can help him by clicking on the “subscribe” button. You can also join him at Facebook by searching for “Kevin Caron, Artist”.

Although you might want to stick around to see Kevin speechless ….