AHP AlphaTIG 200X Review
Introducing the all-new 2017 AHP AlphaTIG 200X dual TIG and stick welder.
- Updated 2017 version
- Both TIG and stick ready
- Advanced inverter technology
- Unmatched arc stability
- AC balance control
- Increased duty cycle
- High-frequency start
- Foot pedal and torch button
- Dual voltage – 110/220
- AC pulse feature
- Lightweight/ portable
- Accessories aren’t great
- Poor customer support
- Complicated to setup
Updated 2017 version
AHP is a bit of an underdog in the world of welding, but where they lack name recognition they make up for by being on the cutting edge of technology. AHP introduces an upgraded model seemingly every year to the point where they’ve slowly crept up to become an industry leader, embracing the Japanese “Kaizen” method of continuous improvement. The 2017 AHP AlphaTIG 200X is the ideal combination of quality craftsmanship and advancing technology.
AC Pulse Control – This is most often used when welding thin metals like aluminum. Pulsing can be done using a foot pedal/ torch button or by a setting the welder itself. There are many reason why you’d want to use pulse control:
More control over heat – Using a pedal you can control precisely the amperage you’re putting out as you weld to ensure the exact amount is used.
Aesthetically pleasing – By using the pulse setting you can control the amount of filler metal you add creating visually stunning welds.
Minimal movement – If you are welding in a tight spot with not much room for maneuvering, pulsing is a way to help glide you along the bead.
Faster moving – With plenty of practice, TIG welders can weld at speeds of 150 pulses per second. This can save a ton of time at the end of the day.
Edge welding – When you need to make a nice clean weld on an edge, pulse is the way to go.
Torch – The new and improved TIG torch is made of better quality plastic and the liner is braided for added strength. While it’s still not the greatest quality, it works.
Both TIG and stick ready
This dual process welder is capable of welding both TIG and stick, making it one of the most versatile welders available today. The AHP AlphaTIG 200X is capable of welding a huge variety of materials ranging from wafer thin aluminum foil to 3/8″ steel plate. TIG and stick are vastly different processes but with this one unit you can weld almost anything.
TIG – Used mainly for thin gauge metals, TIG welding is one of the most difficult applications to learn. However once you know how to do it you’ll be able to produce visually beautiful welds that look like they belong in a museum. The AlphaTIG has an amperage range of 10 – 200.
Stick – If you’re welding heavy duty steel with little regard to how it looks, stick is the way to go. Using 7018 or 6013 you can weld up to 3/8″ mild steel on a single pass.
Advanced inverter technology with PWM + IGBT
This is where the AHP AlphaTIG 200X really shines. Ever wonder how they can fit so much power into such a small box? Using advanced inverter technology, this rig is able to output a steady 200 amps of power while remaining as lightweight and portable as ever. An inverter differs from a transformer not just in size and portability but also in efficiency and amount of power used. In the long run, inverter welders are much more dynamic .
The inverter itself has some fancy features that aren’t included in a transformer welder including: Pulse Width Modulation and IGBT Technology.
Pulse Width Modulation – Lets you to adjust the exact specifics of your pulse settings. This allows you to control the percentage of time the current stays on the high end of the pulse.
IGBT Technology – Short for Insulate Gate Bipolar Transistor. It’s a semi conductor device that stores energy from a utility (power outlet) and then uses software to disperse the current to wherever it needs to go in a controlled manner. This allows you to consume much less power while outputting the desired amount.
There are several different methods used to start the arc of a TIG welder, the most convenient being high-frequency. However, the arc can be struck on the AHP AlphaTIG 200X using all three methods making it extremely adaptable.
High-frequency – Depending on your environment the best way to start an arc is through a process called high-frequency starting. With this method you never touch your torch to work piece. It works by holding the tungsten slightly above your work piece. An arc is then formed, ionizing the air, bridging the gap between the torch and the metal. This method is completely touch less and creates almost no contaminants. When welding aluminum this is the only method possible.
Lift – This method involves touching the tip of the tungsten to the metal and then quickly lift up to draw the arc out. The machine is able to sense when the tip has made contact and reduces power until the tip is lifted again when the arc is formed. This method is not 100% clean and you’ll have to grind your tungsten much more often.
Scratch – The oldest and most primitive form of arc starting. Think of it like it were a box of matches. You flick the tungsten on the metal until it sparks and then you’re ready to weld. Because of the contact however, bits of tungsten are prone to break off and contaminate the weld.
Unmatched arc stability
Whether you’re TIG welding aluminum foil with 10 amps or blasting metal plates together with 200 amps the arc stability on the AHP AlphaTIG 200X is a thing of beauty. There are 2 main ways to measure arc stability on a TIG: starting performance and stability at low amps.
Starting/finishing performance – Most failures occur at the beginning and at the end of the weld. However, thanks to the high-frequency starting method the AlphaTIG is able to produce a stable arc for the entire duration the weld.
Low-amp stability – Another indicator of arc performance is stability during low-amp applications. While it’s not the best in the industry, the AlphaTIG is capable of going down to 10 amps while maintaining a steady arc, which is more than enough for most hobbyist needs.
With all that power and ability you’d think the AHP AlphaTIG 200X would weigh a ton.
But you’d be wrong.
Weighing a mere 38 lbs and equipped with an industrial strength handle, this rig is one of the lightest and most portable dual TIG/stick welders around.
AHP isn’t as well known as some of the other major brands in the industry but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. For less than $1000 you can get set up with a highly-capable 200 amp TIG and stick welder. Try doing that with a Miller or Lincoln.
Accessories aren’t great
The AHP AlphaTIG 200X comes with everything you need to get started TIG and stick welding. The only problem is, while the welder itself is a great piece of equipment, the consumable and accessories it comes with suck.
This may be a problem with their shipping process as a lot of others I’ve talked to haven’t experienced any issues. Fortunately they offer a respectable 3 year warranty.
Poor customer support
If something does happen to go wrong good luck getting it fixed. While their customer support is located in the USA, they make you wait weeks if not months for a response.
If I’m spending nearly $1000 on a piece of equipment I want to be able to talk to someone if it goes haywire.
Complicated to setup
One look at that control panel is enough to give any newbie a heart attack. Unless you’re an experienced TIG welder you may have to read up on how to set it up.
The Verdict – AHP AlphaTIG 200X
Powerful, affordable and portable. The AHP AlphaTIG 200X is the embodiment of all three, combing the aesthetics of a TIG welder with the raw power of a stick welder.
Capable of welding both ultra-thin aluminum and thick dirty steel the AlphaTIG is the only welder you’ll ever really need. Complete with the option for pulse TIG mode, the AHP AlphaTIG 200X gives you unparalleled control of the weld puddle. Taking advantage of inverter technology, this rig uses Pulse Width Modulation to control the length of the pulse. This allows for complete control of the weld in any position.
If you’re in the market for a great dual TIG/stick welder with plenty of power then check out the AHP AlphaTIG 200X.
Specs and Features
Weight: 38 lbs
Size: L19″ x W12″ x H23″
Power Input: 110V/ 220V
Power Output: 200A
Duty Cycle: 60% @ 150A
Material Thickness: Up to 3/8″ mild steel
Warranty: 3 year