Does the unit require a certain rpm range from the host motor? I figure they might require at least 3000 rpm or so.
Yes -- though the exact speed required for welding varies from installation to installation -- depending on how the unit will be driven by the motor, and the motor's individual characteristics. The welding power generator itself needs to spin at least 6,000 rpm. More speed is OK, but not necessary for proper welder operation.
Most autos/truck engines need to run at about 1,700 to 2,400 rpm to weld. As long as the engine does not fall below the minimum speed required to produce full power, engine speed variations will have no effect on welding power output -- which will remain rock steady despite such variations
Many people purchase our automatic speed control which works with our welders electronic controls increasing engine speed only when welding power is on, reducing speed to an idle when welding is not taking place. (This speed control is included in our truck installation kits or it can be purchased separately.)
Stand alone air cooled gasoline or diesel engine installations are usually set up (by varying pulley sizes) so that the welder's power generator is driven to its proper operating speed when the engine is running at the operating speed designated by the manufacturer (usually about 3,000 - 3,500 rpm).
On water cooled gasoline diesel engine installations, including tractor engine installations, engine speed for welding is usually set to the point at which most efficient operation occurs (i.e., where the engine develops sufficient power for welder drive without "lugging" and/or the point where best fuel economy is attained). This is a very wide range of possible settings -- ranging from 1,200 - 3,500 rpm.
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