Lincoln Electric has been in the welder business since 1909, and their 100+ years of experience shows.
TIG welding can be a tricky business. But if you do it right, it can produce high-quality welds that not only resist breaking and corrosion, but end up being stronger and closer to the original composition of the metal.
If you’re working with aluminum, nonferrous metals, or your weld strength is crucial, you need a solid TIG welder to get the job down.
The Lincoln TIG 200 (also known as the Lincoln Square Wave TIG 200) is a small, relatively portable TIG welder that comes in at a reasonable price, especially when compared to most professional welders.
But does it stack up to the competition?
What’s in the Box?
A lot of welders don’t come with much, which is why the Lincoln TIG 200 stands out a bit.
Because it’s a dual-voltage welder, it comes with two power cables: a 120-volt cable and a 230-volt cable. You get a hefty foot pedal, which is great for freeing up your hands to stabilize and weld. A Harris regulator comes in the box, as does the gas hose. It also comes with a TIG torch on a flexible hose, as well as all of the expendables.
Your standard manuals and guides are included, as you’d expect. You also get a 10’ ground clamp, a stick electrode holder, and obviously the welder itself.
Considering all you need to start laying down welds will be some gas and a power socket, all of the included accessories make for a big plus for the Lincoln TIG 200.
The Features of the Lincoln TIG 200
The Lincoln Square Wave TIG 200 is an adaptable welder that’s a perfect all-in-one if you’re not doing anything too heavy. It may be a bit flippant to call it a hobby welder, but if you’re doing a lot of heavy industrial welding as part of your career you’re going to need something with a little more beef.
However, the TIG 200 can handle tons of situations. It can handle stick welding without a problem, in case you need to work with thick metal or work outside.
It comes with a pulse mode, which is really useful especially for improving your welding skills. Pulse mode can help you create a cleaner, neater weld, and once you’ve got a feel for moving the torch as it pulses you can drop a perfect weld that doesn’t puddle or use too much metal.
Heat can get away from you. And if it does, it can cause all kinds of problems. You can burn through your material, especially if it's thin. The pulse setting can save you from wasting filler metal you don’t need to use and save you from having to go back and grind your weld down.
The Lincoln TIG 200 can swap between AC or DC, depending on your needs. The AC setting is perfect for dropping clean welds on aluminum – that oxide just doesn’t have a chance to mess up the weld. Since the positive end is cleaning the area, it leaves the negative end free to melt the metal.
The DC setting, depending on positive or negative electrode, allows you to weld both super thin metal and thicker steel and other non-ferrous metals.
The duty cycle for the machine runs at 25% at 200a, and it’s rated for about ¼ mild steel, though you might be able to go up to 3/8 inch depending on your skills and your guts.
The TIG Torch
The torch that comes with the machine is solid, and its greatest feature might be the built-in flexhead. Being able to customize your angle of attack no matter the circumstances (without having to buy an additional torch) is a really thoughtful touch.
The torch itself, when TIG welding, has a pretty wide cleaning action, and creates solid lines with fine penetration. For the most important job, the torch and the machine deliver the goods.
The torch comes with a 12-foot ultra-flex cable that helps you with accuracy, saves your arm, and gives you a little more breathing room away from the machine.
Obviously, this is a personal preference, but the consumables that come with the torch are a little long. Shorter nozzles tend to offer a bit more control and accuracy, but that’s going to depend on your style. A long nozzle creates a lot of space for the argon to have to fill to protect the electrode, which might end up creating pinholes in your weld.
Though, it’s not like it’s difficult to grab the nozzle you want later on and screw it onto the torch.
The Lincoln 200 also comes with the titanium electrode, so you can sharpen that bad boy up and get to work right away, provided you have the argon.
The Harris Regulator
The Harris regulator that comes with the Square Wave is perfectly usable, a middle-of-the-road reg that will last a while if you’re not too rough on it. The thin plastic covers have a tendency to snap off when hit too hard, but if your welder stays relatively stationary in a calm environment, it won’t ever be a problem.
If you’re hauling this thing around with you, you may want to upgrade the regulator. But it does its job just fine and will work for most applications.
The User Interface
The user interface on the Lincoln Square Wave TIG 200 is clean and refreshingly simple to use.
You’ve got four basic sections to work with, and they’re all labelled clearly and have an intuitive design. One section covers the swap between AC, DC, and stick welding, with only one button that switches between all three options and very clearly labelled LED lights that tell you what mode you’re in.
Another section has a single button that allows you to turn pulse on or off, set your AC Balance for cleaning and penetration while welding, and adjust your AC frequency to make your bead bigger or smaller.
The large knob is used to change any of these settings once selected, and it’s large and hefty and feels good to use.
The machine is a fantastic little beast and has a relatively small footprint for being both a stick welder and a TIG welder. The inverter is basically a tiny computer that used small transformers to handle the power load without massive weight or footprint.
The inverter in the Lincoln TIG 200 does its job cleanly. The entire machine only weighs about 47 pounds and can be carried easily wherever you need to go, while still having the power you need.
Because the Lincoln Square Wave TIG 200 uses a high-frequency start, it’s pretty good at keeping contamination from ruining the beginning of your weld. When you’re welding aluminum, this is a fantastic feature.
The arc between tungsten and the material forms quickly without even having to touch the metal, and it allows you to lay your weld right away without risk of contamination.
At 47 pounds, it doesn’t weigh too much, and the dimensions aren’t much bigger than a breadbox. The machine is 14 inches high, 11 inches wide, and around 19 inches long, so maybe the size of a very large breadbox.
Still, if you just need a shop welder you can lug around without blowing your back out, or you have limited space, the Square Wave can fill that niche easily.
Depending on where you buy it, you can find the Lincoln Square Wave TIG 200 anywhere in varying prices.
But if you compare it to other small machines, it’s a pricey option. However, when you consider it as an excellent arc welder and a stick welder that can do the job of a much larger machine, that price looks better and better.
Ultimately, there are cheaper options if you’re just looking for a part-time machine and you don’t have a heavy load, and you might be better served by those options. But if you’re looking to upgrade to a hard-working, versatile machine, the price might not phase you too much.
And if you’re looking to improve your skills, it might be worth it too. It’s easy to handle, the pulse option helps you learn how to weld better, and the user interface is simple and easy to understand.
Who is it Best For?
If you’ve already been bitten by the welding bug, the Square Wave might be right for you.
Listen, if you’re welding armor plating onto aircraft carriers, no, the Square Wave won’t be enough. But anyone from hobbyists to craftsman to small shops can make real use of the Square Wave’s versatility, quality manufacture, and surprising power in a small frame.
If you’re welding in your garage or the basement on the regular, and you’re looking to step up from your beginner welder, it makes for a great long-term leap. This is a solid machine for farmers, handymen, artists, general mechanics, and anyone else who may not be a welding expert but knows what they’re doing.
And because the pulse feature helps time your welds, mitigate the heat, and steady your hand, the Square Wave will only make you a better welder, no matter what you need it for.
The Down Sides
No machine is perfect, and the Lincoln Square Wave TIG 200 isn’t an exception to the rule.
The pulse isn’t adjustable – you’re pretty much locked on 50% and 20 pulses per second. When it comes to welding extremely thin metal or fine work, this might make it a bit tough.
The machine is also strong. Like, shockingly strong. This is obviously a pro for many reasons, but it can be a con for beginners. The beginning arc is especially powerful and could scorch or cut through thin metal if you’re not being careful. This initial burst also tends to use a bit more gas than it really needs to. It’s a minor complaint, but something to be aware of.
The ground cable could also be longer, to be honest. Because the torch has such a long hose with a flexible cable and flexible head, it seems like an oversight that the ground cable would be so short.
The Square Wave comes with a three-year warranty – not bad, not great. From what I’ve seen, only a small chunk of people have had problems with their machine.
Lincoln is pretty reliable, and most of the failure problems appear to be related to the circuit board, which is always going to be the most fiddly part of the machine.
When you consider the high frequencies the welder can get up to, it’s no surprise that a circuit board may fail every now and again.
However, these reports seem to be extremely few and far between.
The Perfect Lincoln TIG 200 for Small Scale Operations
With the strength of a fabricator and the lightweight form factor of a smaller hobbyist welder, the Lincoln Square Wave TIG 200 fills a lot of niches. It’s got real power, can plug in anywhere, comes with all the accessories, and has a simple user interface with features that help you become an expert.
Sure, there are some minor quibbles – a middle of the road regulator, a short ground cable – but for the most part, this TIG welder is an easy recommendation.
If you’re a decent welder with a decent workload, the price is practically an investment.