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Engine-driven welding machines are used (typically) when electric power is not an option for arc welding in outdoor applications. There are industrial and commercial, diesel-fueled engine-driven and liquid propane gas (LPG) welding machines as well as commercial air-cooled gasoline engines. All are decent options and the selection should be made based on specifics of the job at hand.
If you have a construction job that could potentially last more than a few months then the choice of a welding machine that has an industrial diesel engine is the best choice. While these are higher priced they are considered to be a much more cost effective option over the long term on a big outdoor project. If you are looking for a lower priced option that is more compact for your job then you may want to consider a commercial diesel machine.
Commercial gasoline engines are typically better suited for quick repair jobs because of their portability but gas is obviously much higher than their diesel counterparts. Fuel cost savings should be a significant factor when choosing between the different engine options. Gasoline welding machines can easily be transported by pushing or pulling the unit on an undercarriage and can sometimes even be moved by only two people lifting the power source. For shorter-duration jobs gasoline-powered welding machines are the surefire way to go.
LPG machines are less common than diesel or gasoline welding machines but are required when operating in areas where gasoline and diesel engines are not permitted. This can be the result of a company policy limiting the type of engine that can be powered in a working environment for safety and health reasons. LPG machines are portable and ideal for small repairs.
If you welding job isn’t on any of the scales mentioned above and instead require simple repairs then stick welding may be your best option. Because of this, all engine-driven welding machines have shielded metal arc welding (SMAW) capabilities. For jobs that fit this profile then simply make sure you have a highly skilled operator in place and that your engine-driven machine has constant voltage (CV) wire capability.
Wire welding done from machines with CV are appropriate for large field repair jobs to minimize downtime, such as in the mining industry, where equipment cannot be easily taken to a maintenance shop. These welding machines will also have DC welding output and scratch-start DC gas tungsten arc welding (GTAW) can normally be done with a high variety of products.
A high-frequency DC start is possible with the addition of a high-frequency generator. This is a small, portable unit often mounted to the roof of an engine- driven welding machine. It can also be used at the work site with a control cable extension and longer lengths of welding cable connected between the welding machine and the high-frequency generator.