Miller Diversion 180 AC DC TIG Welder Review

A few months ago we made the decision to upgrade the EDM shops’ welding system from an oxyacetylene torch to a TIG (Tungsten Inert Gas) welder.  For the past 6 years all necessary welding has been done with the oxyacetylene system. While OA is suitable for many situations, we feel it doesn’t offer the ease of use and kind of control a TIG system can provide and moving to the TIG unit would be a good idea. We made the right choice…

Most of the welding we are doing is on mild steel with a maximum thickness of 3/16 inch (4.7625 mm). Every once in a while we welding_torchhave the misfortune of having to weld on a steel gas tank with a thickness of about 2mm (0.078740 inch) to repair a leak or some other kind of damage. Tank welding is never fun because it requires a great deal of skill and a very delicate touch, something we repeatedly prove we lack. Welding tanks in the EDM shop often includes much cursing, hole burning, and very often tools wind up being thrown around. We’re motorcyclists, not welders!

With the decision made, we set out to find an AC DC TIG welder that could be used for joining thin and moderately thick pieces of steel and aluminum. It also needed to be relatively compact, we have a pretty small shop. In our search for the ideal unit we came upon the Miller Diversion series TIG welders. The size and power was right in the range we were seeking. Two Diversion series models are available, the Diversion 165 and the Diversion 180. The 165 model requires 230 volts to power the unit and has a max output of 165 Amps with a 10 Amp minimum. One of the key features we wanted in our welder was the ability to connect our unit to the power more readily available in the US household, 115 volts.  As we mentioned, we have a small shop. The 180 can run on 115 but it can also run on 230V by simply connecting the included 230V MVP (multi-voltage plug) adapter plug. We like options… We opted for the 180. The unit senses the voltage level and distributes power accordingly. When running the unit on 115V the max output is limited 125 Amps. When running on 230V, maximum output is 180 Amps. Output is adjusted via the power control dial on the unit, a large bright red, easy to read LED display with black background displays the Amp level and is hard to miss, even with the eye/ face shield on. Just below the power knob is a material guide that lets you know what amperage range to use for the thickness of the material you are working with. This is extremely helpful as takes the guess work out if it and really simplifies things.

detail_unit

Here is what the aforementioned numbers mean, when welding a gas tank we use a max output of 25 Amps and adjust it even lower via the power dial on the torch handle or foot pedal. When welding a set of foot peg wideners we used a max setting of 45 Amps. We made a carburetor holding jig for adjusting float levels out of 1/8 inch steel and our max output was 55 Amps.  This is less than half of the 180’s potential. We found that if we used too much power we burned holes in everything… Based on this we feel the Diversion 180 has ample power to handle any job we would throw at it. If you feel you need more power than the 115V will provide, plug into a 230V outlet and increase your max output by 55 Amps to 180 Amps.

As with any other TIG welder, the Miller Diversion has a “Duty Cycle” you need to adhere to. The 180 has a 35% Duty Cycle at 125 Amps.  The Duty Cycle is based on 10 minute intervals, which means at 35% you can weld continuously for 3 1/2 minutes at full power every ten minutes. You cannot just crank it up to 125 Amps and weld all afternoon. For 3 1/2 minutes of welding at full power, the machine has cool for 7 minutes before continuing. Since we were never welding at anything over 65 Amps we had roughly 7 minutes of continuous weld time before needing to set the torch down. Seven continuous minutes is more than enough time for any of the welding projects we are doing. Just in case you forget this and work the machine longer than you should, Miller has a built in auto shut off so you don’t toast the thing if you happen to overtax the unit. We never had the auto shut off kick in.

Included with the Diversion 180 kit is a foot pedal to control the power level which is also adjustable via a wheel on the torch handle, each option provides precision control over the power you are applying to your weld puddle. Working with the foot pedal control is amazing as it frees your torch holding hand to position the torch without  needing to fiddle with the power control wheel. This allows much better control of the puddle for more consistent welding beads. The standard collet is 2.3 mm but is available in three different sizes, 1.6mm and a smaller 1.0 mm. We opted to go a bit smaller and used the 1.6mm and found it gave us fantastic results and better control.

Welding is not as easy as it looks. It is a skill that requires dedication and perseverance to master. But it can be learned and we can’t think of a better unit than the Miller Diversion 180 to learn with. It is simple to set up, easy to handle, and not intimidating. The kit also includes the book, Welding for Dummies which is very useful and informative.

In addition to the welding unit/ kit you will need to purchase a tank for Argon gas and have it filled. The Argon gas creates an oxygen free environment that keeps the weld from being contaminated. We also added a cart/ cylinder rack so we could move the unit easily around the shop.

Miller Diversion 180 AC DC TIG Welder

Retail:
$2,225.00

Running Gear/Cylinder Rack
Retail:
$164.00

Get one from Miller Electric Mfg. Co. www.millerwelds.com

Our system included the Power source with primary cord, 50 A, 230 V plug or MVP™ plugs for 115 V power source, 12.5 ft (3.8 m) Weldcraft® LS17 TIG, torch with backcap, ceramic gas cup, 3/32 in (2.4 mm) collet and collet body, and 2% ceriated tungsten, RFCS-RJ45 remote foot control, 12 ft (3.7 m) work lead with clamp Smith® Argon regulator/flow gauge with hose, TIG Welding for Dummies book with content written by Miller, Set-up and operation DVD, Welding project blueprint for a machine cart/cylinder rack.

Key benefits:
Easy-to-understand operator interface.
1. Power-up
2. Select material type
3. Set material thickness range— then weld!
• It’s as easy as 1, 2, 3.
• Inverter-based, AC/DC power source provides a more consistent welding arc while using less power.
• Portable. Whether it’s in the shop, garage or at the race track, at 50 lb it can be taken anywhere.
• HF start for non-contact arc starting that eliminates tungsten and material contamination.
• Auto-Postflow protects the weld end zone and electrode by optimizing post flow time based on welding amperage.
• Fan-On-Demand™ reduces noise and maintenance by lessening the amount of airborne contaminants pulled through the machine, while sufficiently cooling thermally protected internal components.
• Advanced Squarewave AC provides a fast freezing weld puddle and deeper penetration.

Specifications:

Processes:
TIG (GTAW)
AC TIG (AC GTAW)
DC TIG (DC GTAW)

Material Types:

Aluminum
Min Thickness 0.030 in (.75mm)
Max Thickness 3/16 in (4.8mm)
Steel:
Min Thickness 0.025 in (.6mm)
Max Thickness 3/16 in (4.8mm)
General Specifications:
Input Power 115/230 Volts, 1- Phase, 50/60 HZ
Rated Output 150 Amps at 16 VDC, 20% duty cycle (230V input), 125 Amps at 12.4 VDC, 35% duty cycle (115V input)
Welding Amperage Range 10- 180 Amps (230V input), 10- 125 Amps (115V input)
Net Weight 50 lbs. (23 kg)
Max Open Circuit Voltage 80