Top critical review
693 people found this helpful
It was easy to start an arc and it appeared to work ...
on May 12, 2016
After reading the many positive reviews on here for AHP's welder I decided to take a chance and buy one. At first I was impressed. It was easy to start an arc and it appeared to work well. I didn't like the cheap torch and the control switch which is Ty-wrapped to the torch handle. The foot control is also flimsy and hard to use. The manual is also horrible. Given these negatives I still thought it a competent machine considering the price. Well, you get what you pay for. I started welding thicker stock and then switched to some thinner stock. I noticed that the unit did not go to the set current when I depressed the pedal in lower current ranges. The same thing happened with the control switch. At first I thought I could work around the problem but it didn't consistently go to any particular current, just somewhere below the setting. All of this happened around Christmas. I tried calling support for two weeks and never got an answer. In the first week of January I tried using email. The next day somebody named Jabin replied. I told him I worked in electronics and I would be happy to troubleshoot. He said he would send me a trouble shooting guide which showed up a couple of days later. I took the cover off and got my first look at the guts of the machine. I was amazed how flimsy everything was even by cheapo Chinese standards. But what did I expect from a sub $800 inverter welder? I did the troubleshooting which consisted of checking some power supplies and making sure that a snubber coil wasn't too close to the output terminals. There was also a sheet on proper grounding for HF welders that was lifted from a Miller manual. I sent in my results and awaited a reply from Jabin. After I sent a couple reminders Jabin wrote me and informed me I had a bad boost control board. I filled out a ridiculously long and tersely worded RMA where I had to prove I actually bought the machine or they wouldn't honor the warranty. I found that strange since they shipped it to me. A day later I got a bill for $16.50 that I had to pay before they would send out the part. The only payment option was PayPal. Reluctantly I paid and patiently waited for my PCB. Around a week later it showed up. When I unpacked it I noticed there were several pots on the board. I emailed Jabin on the 20th of January and asked him how to set up the board. He replied and promised me that he would send me a procedure. I waited a few more days without response. I tried to email Jabin but I kept getting bounce notices. Eventually I used a different address and it went through. Did they block my email address? Jabin finally replied that he didn't have the procedure done yet. Two weeks and several emails later I still didn't have any technical information. Exasperated I decided to set the pots on the new board to the same value on the old using an ohmmeter. When I powered up the unit it was stuck on 16 amps. Either the new part was defective or something else is wrong. I asked for schematics several times and I still haven't received an answer. Finally losing my patience I sent an email telling them that if they didn't help me I would post a negative review on Amazon. That got some action but not what I expected. Enter salesman Mike. I was told that I needed to send the welder to them and pay for shipping both ways. They also cut off my access to Jabin, a move I find laughable considering he has done absolutely nothing to resolve my problems in a two month period. They treat me like the whole thing is my fault. Our conversation has turned confrontational. At this point I don't want this welder anymore but I can't in good conscience sell it to someone else. They will not buy it back even though it has less than an hour on it.
I have worked on large scale electronic system for 40 years and currently make my living fixing multi-million dollar linear accelerators. I am more than qualified to make the following observations. The lack of technical information is unacceptable. To put that in perspective Miller includes a general schematics and a parts list in their well written manual. It is readily accessible on their web page. AHP has only been in business for couple of years. If they keep treating their customers the way they are treating me they won't be around much longer. Typical of low end Chinese electronics, the circuits are constructed with many unmarked components. Good luck fixing this thing without an accurate schematic if the company goes out business.
Customer service issues aside there are several other disturbing things about the design and construction of this Tig. The original boost control board in my machine was reworked. The boards are coated with a clear sealer which is a good thing in harsh environments. It appears as though the process is done before the leads were cut off which defeats the purpose. When they replaced the component they did not remove the coating. When they soldered in the new integrated circuit they used excessive heat and did not bother to clean flux off the board after repair. It is a recipe for erratic behavior. My question is did they rework the board in China or am I the second owner of this unit? One of the circuit boards in what I assume is the inverter, is cantilevered over the edge of a heat sink. The free hanging end is connected to some buss bars. They will expand and contract with temperature changes and flex the traces on the board. It is a point of eventual failure. My last critique is the design of the inverter. It is constructed with numerous small devices connected in parallel. Due to small differences in switching times and conductivity there is always more stress on one device than the others. Eventually the device will fail and over stress the remaining devices which is most likely the cause the cascading failure complete with fire and smoke described by a couple of reviewers here. This design approach goes back to the old days when individual devices were incapable of handling the power. Today it is used because the big IBGTs are expensive. The smaller devices trade off reliability for cost. Of course since none of these devices are marked I can only speculate on their capacity based on physical size and the shear number of them in the circuit. I don't even know if they use the newer more robust IGBT technology or if it is built with SCRs or large conventional transistors.
Given the number of satisfied reviewers here I conclude that if you get a good one, and don't have to endure what passes for customer service at AHP, it has the makings of a competent hobby class welder. In my opinion if you don't use it too hard, it may hold together for a few years of careful use before it meets it's end. If you buy one of these you will probably want to upgrade the torch and foot pedal. By the time you do that you could almost buy a Diversion. Granted it doesn't have the stated capacity and adjustment capabilities of the 200X, but chances are it won't blow up on you and it comes with better accessories. The simplified user interface is also a lot easier to use for most hobby applications. The red and blue guys have extensive dealer networks. If you have a problem you can drop it off at your local guy and it's their problem. There is no shipping at great expense to the customer and long repair times. Extensive dealer networks and the shiny semi-trucks full of welders at the state fair cost money. It's part of what you pay for when you buy from the big guys. But you also get years of experience gained from building the equipment used day in and day out in professional shops. Looking back I was a fool to believe that something so cheap wasn't just that, cheap. I should have been more skeptical, no matter how many good reviews are on Amazon.
I wrote review this several months ago. At the time I was sick and tired of the people at AHP and I just decided to move on. I pushed the AHP hulk into the corner and forgot about it. Even if they fixed it I wouldn't have any confidence in it. I purchased a Miller Dynasty DX and started welding. Yes, the machine is much more expensive but it is flawless.
I decided to post this because I value the reviews here. They have been very helpful to me in the past and I want to do my part and share my experiance. I'm also aware that AHP stalks people who post bad reviews and demand that they take them down so many folks might be unaware of how bad this company is. I'm fortunate enough to be able to make an $800 dollar mistake but there was a time when I couldn't. If you fall into that category the last thing you need to do is waste your money. Think long and hard before you spend your hard earned money with AHP