Pipelines are among the foundations of today’s society. They are key means of transporting critical fluids, including gas, oil, and water, among others, and cutting them off translates to an incredible effect on transport, business, and home comfort. Unquestionably, it would be impossible to drive to work, warm your home, or even cook.
One thing you might be curious about is the professionals responsible for the installation, repair, and maintenance of pipelines. These are pipeline welders, and their demand is ever-growing across the world.
Whereas you may be thinking that pipeline welding is a basic-skilled money making welding job, it actually requires intensive training and commendable skill set. Thus said, stick around as the article guides you through several aspects of pipeline welding as well as review some of the best pipeline welding machines professionals ought to consider.
|Metal||8 pounds||42.3 x 21.5 x 36.2 inches|
|Metal||499 pounds||41.5 x 23.5 x 32.9 inches|
|Metal||514 pounds||42.3 x 21.5 x 29.9 inches|
5 Best Pipeline Welding Machines Reviewed
Lincoln Electric Ranger 305G
Lincoln Electric has long maintained a top position in the list of the most respected players in the welding industry, and their Ranger 305 flagship is a true depiction of this fact. The Ranger 305 welding is an engine-driven powerhouse that will get your basic and heavy-duty welding projects done seamlessly.
This welder boasts excellent versatility that allows you to perform a range of welding techniques, including TIG, MIG, flux-cored, and stick welding. You can use to weld it steel, cast iron, and stainless steel pipelines. A sturdy case encloses the components of the Ranger 305, protecting them from harsh environmental elements.
Powering this machine is a 23Hp Kohler, air-cooled, 4-cycle, 2-cylinder, gasoline engine complemented by the 12-gallon fuel capacity that allows you to operate a whole day without hassles. It’s also equipped with an AC generator that supplies continuous power of 9.5kw and has 10.5kw surge power enough to run power equipment, grinders, lights, and other power tools in the project site.
Ranger 305 offers a 100% duty cycle at 305A. The single, full-range output control knob saves you from the hassles of confusing controls and taps while allowing you to input your desired power. Easing this process are the dual output meters that also display the actual output voltage and amperage.
- Versatile machine that can handle a range of welding technologies
- Digital meters ease the output power monitoring
- Higher power rating
- Compatible with DC and AC power outlets
- Quite heavier than most competitors
- Requires a separate wire feeder for flex-cored welding
Engine-driven Miller Bobcat 250
Landing the runner-up position in our list is the Miller Bobcat 250, a multi-purpose engine-driven welder available in diesel, propane, and gasoline models. You can use it for flux-cored, MIG, TIG, aluminum, and stick welding, as well as plasma cutting.
The lightweight design makes this machine easy to transport while creating extra room for accessories and other tools in constricted job sites.
A fuel-efficient 23Hp Kohler CH 730, twin-cylinder engine powers the Bobcat 250. It has a 12-gallon fuel tank to prolong your welding operations. The pipeline welder comes with an onboard single-phase generator that supplies a continuous power of 9.5 kilowatts and a maximum surge of 11 kilowatts.
Miller Bobcat 250 offers you an amperage range of 40 to 250 that enables you to work on both simple and demanding projects. Thanks to the top output of 250A that you can flawlessly weld thicker pipelines.
Something else you will love about Miller Bobcat 250 is its low noise level. This allows for effective on-site communication while providing a nice working environment for your staff or colleagues.
- Fuel capacity that can last up to 14 hours
- Lightweight design and quieter
- 250A output that suits heavy-duty projects
- Compatible with DC and AC outlets
- Relatively pricier than some of its competitors
Hobart 500562 Champion Elite Welder Generator
- 23 HP Kohler twin cylinder, 4-cycle OHV engine
- 9,500 continuous watts
- 4-cycle OHV engine
The Hobart 500562 Welder/ generator is sure to provide you with long, dependable services and stamina owing to its heavy-duty construction. It comes enclosed in a robust case, accompanied by circuit breaker protection, rugged electrical connections, and a large battery.
Hobart 500562 runs on a 23HP, Kohler, 4-cycle, 2-cylinder, OHV engine that efficiently conserves fuel. The 12-gallon tank facilitates extended operations before refueling. For engine protection, the machine is equipped with an automatic low oil pressure shutdown that’s augmented with automatic oil servicing scheduling (every 100 hours).
The 11kilowatt peak and 9.5-kilowatt continuous rating generator supplies strong single-phase power enough to run hand tools, lights, pumps, compressors, and other equipment required at the job site.
Its 40-225A range offers you the flexibility to handle a selection of tasks, with the high power enabling you to weld materials as thick as 1.5 cm in a single pass. The USA-manufactured machine comes with a three-year warranty and can weld stainless steel, specialty metals, and steel.
- Supports AC and DC welding
- High-quality construction
- Provides on-site auxiliary power for running other equipment
- Can be used to power an entire home with electric drier, hot tub, oil furnace, well pump, etc.
- Battery may not last long as the machine
- You have to buy welding leads separately
Miller PipePro 304
The Miller PipePro 304 is a powerful, multi-process welder with plasma, TIG, MIG, flux-core, and stick functions. The greatest highlight for this model is that it’s the world’s first engine-driven welder to run independently from the engine when connected to a single-phase 230V line or three-phase power using the dual power connection.
The maximum amperage output of 300 means that you can seamlessly handle heavy-duty operations with the PipePro 304. The dual digital ammeter and voltmeter help you take control of the machine’s output
Powering this Miller Electric’s flagship is a Kubota diesel engine. The dual power input featuring electric and engine input means that you can operate this machine anywhere, whether mains power is available or not. The 12kilowatt generator provides enough auxiliary power to run other tools on-site or during power outages.
Miller PipePro 304 is compactly sized, so you don’t have to worry about the hassles of loading it sideways on a standard pickup. Besides, the compact design is an excellent choice for gigs done in constricted places. Just like its Miller Electric counterpart, the Bobcat 250, PipePro 304 stands out for its low noise levels.
- Dual power option means you can use it anywhere even the remotest place
- Takes less space in project sites
- Low noise operation
- Can handle a variety of welding techniques
- Though compactly sized, it’s heavier
Lincoln Electric Ranger 225 Welder
- 10,500 Watts peak generator power; 9000 Watts continuous power
- 210 Amps/25V@100% duty cycle
- Powerful 23 HP Kohler 2-cylinder, 4-cycle engine
The Ranger 225 is another multi-process and multi-purpose welder from Lincoln Electric that will get a variety of welding processes done, including TIG, MIG, stick, and flux-core welding enabled by the 50-225 amperage range.
Running this pipeline welder is 23HP Kohler, 4-cycle, twin-cylinder, OHV (overhead valve), air-cooled engine with easy maintenance. It requires oil change per 100 hours, and oil filter change every 200 hours. The oil drain extension facilitates simple oil change while the 12-gallon tank enables you to operate over extended periods.
The 10.5kilowatts peak, 1-phase AC generator provides 9.5kilowatts of continuous power great for handling other equipment, including lights, grinders, and plasma cutter.
Lincoln Electric Ranger 225 is enclosed in a case, with the three doors facilitating easy access. Each side has a fuel level gauge from which you can easily tell the amount of fuel in the tank. This helps to avoid emergency fuel drain during critical projects.
- High amperage for handling thick pipelines
- Powerful engine and a large fuel tank that can run the welder for hours
- It’s versatile
- Enclosed design
- Quite heavier than its competitors
What is Pipeline Welding?
It’s quite tricky for most people to distinguish between pipeline welder and piping welder. A piping welder works on the piping systems contained in industrial environments such a chemical plants and oil refineries. Here, you will encounter differently-sized pipes made of different materials.
Pipeline welding primarily concentrates on distribution pipelines that may span hundreds of kilometers, transporting oil from oil rigs to refineries or gas and oil from refineries to terminals.
Pipeline welders deal with pipes whose content can cause adverse effects when handled carelessly. They have to adhere to stringent specifications to ensure projects are undertaken and completed successfully. Using the right materials and equipment and safety standards, while keeping in mind the employer’s needs, is paramount.
Pipeline welders undertake several responsibilities. They should be able to read and interpret pipeline construction blueprints as well as use the right amount and type of materials. Installing and repairing pipelines as per the schematics and testing the final system for airtightness and waterproofing is also critical in pipeline welding.
As a pipeline welder, you must be conversant with a range of tools used in this sector, including torches, filler rods, welding machines, grinders, straightedges, calipers, wrenches, drills, etc. Most of these tools are required for the preparation and execution of welding.
Assessment is also part of the pipeline welder’s responsibilities. They must ensure that workpieces conform to stipulated standards and are defect-free. When working as a pipeline welder, you must ensure that the welding machines and other tools are in optimal condition, even if it translates to servicing them regularly.
Pipeline Welding Working Places and Conditions
The petroleum industry is heavily reliant on pipeline welders. These professionals ensure that any pipeline installation in the industry is effective and safe, whether working in oil rigs, refineries, or oil terminals. The experts are also responsible for the laying, repair, and maintenance of the pipelines connecting these structures.
Other industries that may harbor opportunities for pipeline welders include;
- Automotive manufacturing
- Nuclear power generation
- Aerospace factories
- The military
- Construction sites
Any welding comes with a high risk of injury and illness. Your eyes can get damaged by the intense light produced by welding equipment. Also, keep in mind that some welding tools generate excess heat, while not forgetting the risk of inhaling fumes generated by welding. Wearing protective equipment and sticking safety standards is, therefore, imperative.
Nonetheless, pipeline welding takes the notch higher by providing tougher working conditions and environments. Conventionally, this gig requires you to work at uncomfortable angles, while holding your equipment in awkward positions. Sometimes you may have to undertake projects in areas with extreme temperatures, including deserts and polar regions.
Underwater pipeline welding takes the cake when it comes to the most challenging welding jobs. Here, welders work in an environment in which they cannot survive without special equipment.
Underwater welding requires the use of dry, pressurized cages, but dim light, water bubbles, and low temperature may make the task more difficult. However, this has to be the best paying welding gig. For more information on the best underwater welding schools [read our full guide]
Requirements for Pipeline Welders
You surely don’t want to try pipeline welding without thorough training and skill set. Working in tougher angles and environments require more-than-average welding skills that can only be obtained formal training.
Most pipeline welding learners start with a formal apprenticeship where successful completion requires 2000 or more hours of full-time work and at least 144 hours of classroom instructions. This may take 3 to 5 years.
Alternatively, you can enroll in classes at trade schools, where you will learn elemental welding techniques, including:
- Gas Tungsten Arc Welding (GTAW)
- Shielded Metal Arc Welding (SMAW)
- SMAW with Low Hydrogen Vertical Down electrodes
- Submerged Arc Welding (SAW)
- Flux Cored Arc Welding (FCAW)
You also will learn pipe system design, tool use, metallurgy, mechanical drawing, and safety.
Acquiring technical skills and knowledge may not be enough to get you licensed, and this necessitates the need for certification classes. The American Petroleum Institute, American Society of Mechanical Engineers, and American Welding Society are some of the key American institutions that offer various welding certifications. Note that requirements for pipeline welder licensing may vary from state to state.
Welders working offshore must attend and pass an offshore survival skills course and helicopter underwater escape training. This specialty is not fit for anyone with severe health issues as workers have to pass an offshore medical test. You might also be required to pass company-specific safety training.
Problem-solving skills will help you diagnose and solve pipeline system issues. Pipeline welders should also boast good communication skills to communicate ideas effectively, interact with colleagues and employers/employees seamlessly, and generate detailed and useful reports.
Physical stamina is a requirement to withstand the tough working conditions associated with this job. Besides, pipeline welders travel a lot, so this may not be your job if traveling is not your thing.
Pipeline Welding Salary
The trade-off for tough working conditions common in pipeline welding is that few people have a liking for it, and there are plenty of job opportunities for anyone willing to take on the challenge. This makes pipeline welding one of the most lucrative welding jobs in the world.
In 2018, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the mean average annual salary of pipeline welders working is natural gas distribution companies was $78,970, while those working in other pipeline transportation industry earned as high as $75,690. The hourly wage averages at $34, with the highest-earning workers fetching more than $60/hour.
Pipeline Welding Machines
Satisfactory skills, knowledge, and experience may not be of much importance in your pipe welding career if you lack the appropriate equipment. Note that you will be welding unconventionally thick pipelines, sometimes in harsh environments. Undeniably, not all welding equipment matches the demands and the challenges of pipeline welding.
One of the basic equipment for pipeline welding is a welding machine. You need a powerful welder that meets the amperage requirements for pipeline welding. Besides, most tasks are done outdoors, and therefore a machine with a portable power solution that can also power other gadgets becomes a necessity.
It’s not easy to find a pipeline welder that will effortlessly meet these demands while offering you optimal performance. Fortunately, we’ve compiled some of the best picks you should consider during your next purchase, whether you are just setting out or seeking a replacement for your old welder. First, let’s take you through the process of choosing a pipeline welder.
Things to Look for in a Pipeline Welding Machine
The output ampere value denotes the power of a pipeline welding machine. In consideration of the varying thickness of pipelines, you want to ensure that you purchase a welder whose power allows for a wide range of operations.
Whereas you can comfortably rely on a range of 120 to 140 amperes for domestic purposes, more demanding projects require higher output ranging between 200A and 300A. Opt for a machine with a wide range of outputs.
You will mostly operate with your machine outdoors, and this necessitates the need for a reliable power solution. Most pipeline welders are equipped with an inbuilt generator that can maintain the machine’s operations for a day.
In layman’s language, the duty cycle refers to the percentage of minutes within 10 minutes in which a welding machine can produce a particular current without overheating.
Let’s consider a welding machine rated 150A and a duty cycle of 70%. This means that you have to rest the machine for at least 3 minutes following 7 minutes of welding at 150A. Using a lower amperage translates to a higher duty cycle. So, if you opted for 100A, you could enjoy a duty cycle as high as 85%.
Pick a welder that offers a high duty cycle as possible for a particular power output you require for your projects. Most pro welding machines supply a 100% duty cycle for outputs as high as 250A.
The varying thickness and materials in pipelines demand the use of different welding technologies. The common techniques are the Metal Inert Gas(MIG) welding, stick, flux-cored, and Gas Tungsten Arc Welding(GTAW), commonly known as the TIG (Tungsten Inert Gas) welding.
MIG works well with larger, thicker pipelines while TIG is much suitable for thinner pieces or lighter projects. You don’t want to be restricted by the scale of the project and pipe thickness, so a welder that can do all the techniques becomes a must-pick.
As much as you are looking for a powerful machine, it’s important to inspect its safety features. An important safety feature to watch out for in pipeline welders is the surge protection. The recommended protection level lies between 20% and 25%.
Pipeline welding is a highly portable job with a lot of traveling and dragging along the welding equipment. This calls for you to buy an easy-to-move machine for your pipeline welding gigs.
A portable welder is lightweight and convenient but has to be robust to withstand the constant movements and tough environments.
Best Places to Purchase Pro Pipeline Welding Machines
There are several options when considering a pipe welding machine. For worry-free return policies, transparency in terms of product quality and customer service, and fast shipping, head over to Amazon.
When you browse on Amazon, you can see what previous buyers thought of the pipeline welder they bought, and find out everything about things like material quality, protective features, weight dimessions and design. You don’t need to go out to compare prices or features.
If you have any sort of problems with your pipe line welder in general, you can also quickly and easily return them hassle free.
The demands and risks associated with pipeline welding form the ground for the rigorous training you have to undergo before becoming a licensed welder. Nonetheless, pipeline welding is among the best paying gigs in the welding sector.
You need a lot of power when welding pipelines, and therefore, investing money in excellent equipment is no brainer for people looking to remain effective in this field.
When selecting a pipeline welder, check for the features outlined in this guide, as well as customer reviews on online platforms. With the best pipeline welding machines reviewed above, you can be sure to undertake a wide range of projects comfortably while getting the desired results.