Hot Air Welder Portable Generator Considerations

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Power supply plays a huge role in an automatic hot-air welder’s performance and life. Inconsistent power supply from a portable generator will cause the welder’s performance to suffer and can damage internal electrical components, rendering the tool useless.

In this post, we’ll take a look at what inconsistent power looks like, its effects and what to look for in a portable generator.

What Inconsistent Power Looks Like

Alternating Current, or AC, gets its name because the electricity flow alternates back and forth between positive and negative, creating a sine wave (as seen below). In ideal conditions, this sine wave is a smooth line that flows up and then down consistently over a specific time interval.

Source: Associated Power Technologies

However, many factors can cause inconsistencies, which appear as spikes or valleys on the sine curve. These inconsistencies are known as harmonic distortions.

Power supply consistency is measured in total harmonic distortion—the average percentage a portable generator’s AC flow differs from what it would be under ideal conditions.

The larger and more frequent the inconsistencies, the higher the total harmonic distortion percentage.

What Power Inconsistency Means to Hot-Air Welders

These electric current spikes and valleys can negatively impact your welder’s performance, and even damage internal electrical components.

  • Valleys represent a decrease in electricity flow, which limits the amount of electricity entering the welder. While sporadic, small valleys won’t result in any noticeable effects, large, sustained valleys will cause decreased temperature and airflow despite the welder’s setting, which can translate into a weak weld.
  • Spikes represent electrical surges that flow into your welder. Large surges, or small-to-medium surges over an extended period of time, begin to overheat and damage internal components, like a heating element or control panel. This can shorten the component’s life or, if the spikes are big enough, short out and melt these parts immediately.  

Automatic welders with digital displays and control interfaces, like the Seamrover DD, are often more prone to damage as a result of power inconsistencies because their internal electrical components are more advanced. However, less technical tools can also suffer from power inconsistencies.

What to Look For in a Portable Generator

If you use a portable generator and your hot-air welder regularly sustains damage to heating elements or internal electrical components, or you experience inconsistent weld quality, it may be time to consider a new portable generator.

NOTE: Please speak to an IHS techician before purchasing a portable generator, because inconsistent power may not be the actual cause of your welder’s issues.

Most manufacturers will publish their portable generator’s total harmonic distortion on sales collateral and/or its website. When shopping for a new generator, ask for this percentage for both when the generator is running idle and under full load (all power outlets in use).

The IEEE Standard 519 recommends that computer-controlled equipment, and any allied equipment, such as programmable controllers, use an AC power source with no more than 5% harmonic voltage distortion, with no single harmonic being more than 3%.

While portable generators with lower total harmonic distortions may cost more in the short term, replacing damaged welder components or ripping up and repairing poorly welded roofing systems, pond liners, landfill liners or large signage, can end up costing more in the long term.

If you have any questions regarding portable generators, contact IHS’ certified representatives at 844-862-7880 or info@ihshotair.com.

If you are in the market for a new portable generator, our sister company—Hy-Tech Products—offers its own line of portable generators. These generators were designed specifically to operate hot air welding equipment and tools. They operate at 5% total harmonic distortion while idling and 3% under a full load.

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