A foot pedal, or foot control, can be used to control the amperage of your welder while you’re welding. Weld getting too hot? Ease off the pedal and lower the amps, which lets the weld cool. The foot pedal gives you complete control without having to stop in the middle of a weld and readjust.
They can only be used while TIG welding, as stick welding uses an electrode holder rather than a torch and MIG’s amperage is dictated by the wire feed speed. Considering TIG often requires more control over low amps on thin metals, it’s not a big deal.
Why do I need a foot pedal?
When you’re first starting out, TIG welding, in general, can seem pretty daunting. Especially if you’ve gotten yourself a TIG dedicated welding machine that has a hundred little lights and options and settings.
Okay, there aren’t that many, but that little pyramid of weld parameters on your TIG welder can be kind of overwhelming to start with.
If TIG is already a handful, why on earth would you want to add another variable into the mix with a foot pedal?
A foot control gives extra control over the amps (heat) of your weld, thanks to being adjustable mid-weld rather than being static throughout. The added control means a better weld. Plus, it can be more comfortable.
The welder’s comfort can make a world of difference to how a weld turns out. It’s a lot easier to hold a pedal down with your foot than it is to constantly hold a button down with your finger.
How is it set up?
The setup for a foot pedal is pretty simple, thanks to having just one cord and one settings knob.
1. Plug your cord into the front of the machine.
The actual connection is a pin plug setup, so make sure that the pin plug number on your foot pedal and the machine match up. You can get adapters to connect different pin plugs.
2. Set the peak amps on the machine.
All of your settings are set on the machine, the same way they’d be set if you were using a torch. The peak amps you select on the machine will translate to the pedal.
3. Switch to remote mode.
In order to use the foot pedal’s controls, the machine needs to be placed in Remote mode. To do this, just hold the pedal down for 5 seconds and until the Remote green light appears.
4. Make sure the machine is in 2T.
The foot pedal won’t work in 4T. Because you have to hold the pedal in to weld, having it in a mode where you let go of the trigger doesn’t work.
Now your pedal is set up and ready to use.
Pressing the pedal in will start the arc, the same way pressing the button on a High Frequency torch does. Once the foot pedal is pressed, the machine’s screen will read what amps you are currently at.
If the pedal is all the way down, it will read the peak amps you set the machine to. Anything less than fully pressed, and it’ll show you what the amps you are sitting at are. As you adjust your foot pressure, the screen will adjust its reading to reflect the new amperage amount.
It may take some time to get used to how it works and how far back you can release the pedal before you’re lowered too far. The pedal comes with an adjustable knob on the side, which allows you to control the max amps from the foot pedal – to a certain extent. With your pedal knob set at ‘max’, it will only go as high as what the peak amps are set to on the machine.
Say you set the peak amps on the machine to 150 and have the pedal knob set to max. Holding it pressed all the way down, it’ll weld at 150 amps.
If you were to adjust the knob to halfway, it would then only weld as high as 75 amps when pressed all the way down. However, you can’t exceed whatever amperage you have set on the machine with the foot pedal. It has to be increased the way all your other settings do, using the interface on the machine.
Pulse welding with a foot pedal
One of the best things about having a foot pedal and control over your amps is you can manually pulse weld. If you don’t have a TIG machine that comes with a pulse option, just do it yourself.
Press and release, press and release, at a steady pace, and you’re pulse welding. By flooring it, you reach the peak amps. Then, by backing off, you lower to the base amps.
It does take some practice to get the timing and pressure consistent, though. Being able to pulse is incredibly useful if you’re welding really thin metals, and you adjust your pulsing on the fly by doing it with a foot pedal.
Limitations of a foot pedal
You can’t use a foot pedal if you don’t have a machine that can support it. For example, UNIMIG multi-process machines like the VIPER 185 doesn’t support the use of a foot pedal.
Foot pedals are great for giving a welder that added bit of control over every weld. Just be sure that you have a machine that can support it.