You’re searching for an effective yet convenient stick welding machine that can handle the jobs you’re ready to throw at it. How do you choose? We put two popular portable models head-to-head to compare the features and tradeoffs for portability and power: the Miller Maxstar 161 and the Fronius TransPocket 180.
Miller Maxstar 161
Miller’s TIG/stick welder is a very portable 13.2 pounds with a simple feature set. Featuring PFC (Power Factor Correction) to reduce the chance of nuisance breaker tripping, it optimizes performance when powered on 120 volts, though both 120 and 240 are supported—and the machine automatically adjusts depending on the input. The Maxstar is noted for its superior stick arc performance, but lacks special modes dedicated to 6010 or 7018 electrodes. On a 15 amp breaker, for TIG 120v puts out 90 amps. For Stick, it puts out 60 amps. Convenience and safety features include TIG arc initiation without using high frequencies, hot starting, and stick-stuck and overload detection. When super portability and straightforward features are all that are required, the Maxstar is a well-regarded machine.
Fronius TransPocket 180
Fronius’ stick welder (TIG available) is a highly flexible unit that packs in more features while remaining portable at just under 20 pounds. The implementation of Power Factor Correction (PFC) in the TransPocket allows the user to power the device on longer extension cord runs without a change in output power (no power or voltage loss), so it’s even more convenient to use at a job site further from a power source (even in excess of 100 meters). Similar to the Maxstar, the Fronius HotStart function makes ignition easier with harder-to-ignite electrodes, but the TransPocket also features a SoftStart mode for low current welding conditions and Anti-Stick short circuit detection that shuts down the machine immediately to prevent burning out the electrode. Dedicated modes for 7018 and 6010 offer optimal performance for different electrode uses. Amazingly, the TransPocket 180 can put out 140 amps for TIG at 120v, and 85 amps for stick welding at 120v. That's incredible. A built-in air filter provides longer life while elevated feet help keep the unit safe from water damage. High energy efficiency adds up to reduced energy costs in the long term. The TransPocket packs in a larger feature set while still being a convenient-to-use and convenient-to-transport tool.
It can be tough to make a decision on what will be the best welding equipment for your workflow, so let this comparison help you choose the right stick welder for your needs. Based and all of the factors listed above, and the higher amp output, the TransPocket 180 is our choice!
You can even shop now for the Fronius TransPocket 180 and accessories.