TOP 5 MIG WELDERS
- Forney 309 140-Amp
The Forney 309 is a versatile MIG welder packed with features, ideal for small worksites and individual welders. With a cast aluminium drive system and multi-step transformer based technology, it combines user-friendliness with a range of advanced features you might not expect from such a budget-friendly welder. The welder can be used with a wide variety of materials, including stainless steel, aluminium and even cast iron, up to a quarter of an inch thick.
At just 62 pounds (just over 28kg), the Forney 309 is one of the most portable welders out there, and it comes with a handy integrated cable wrap for maximum convenience. Users can also use the 10-foot Euro-connect MIG gun and torch without having to keep the entire welding unit by their side constantly – it’s features like this which have seen the Forney 309 become one of the most sought-after MIG welders at this particular price point.
The Forney 309 holds versatility at its core. It can hold two different spool sizes and it’s compatible with a huge range of other accessories and consumables outside of the Forney range. Though it’s not as powerful as some of the other welders on the market, it’s the ideal beginners option (and is also favoured by many advanced welders for its ease of use and practicality). The product even comes with a quick start guide to help novices get their welder up and running.
- Goplus MIG 130 Welder
The Goplus MIG 130 Welder is one of the top welders in its price bracket, offering a highly professional finish and a range of versatile features. It may not have the highly precise control over current and voltage, but with four unique settings and the ability to control how quickly the wire is fed through the torch, it’s the perfect welder for beginners.
Ideal for car bodywork and other small welding projects around the house, the Goplus MIG 130 is one of the best picks for those who want to get started welding without splashing out on expensive kit. The kit comes complete with everything a beginner would need to get started, including a hand-held mask for protection.
Weighing in at just 35 pounds (a lightweight 15kg), this flux core welding machine is very portable and convenient for those who may need to transport the tool around. The power cord is a generous 72.5 inches (almost 185cm) long, and the cord attached to the welding gun is 65 inches (165cm) long, giving users well over 3m in which to work without having to keep the unit on hand.
It’s also super-durable, with a stainless steel frame and a hardwearing plastic handle. There are also two air vents to provide excellent control over temperature. The safety features of the Goplus welder are excellent, with full on / off safety control on the torch, and automatic thermal safety protection on the unit itself.
- LONGEVITY Migweld 140
Ideal for beginners and professionals alike, the Longevity Migweld 140 combines power, portability and precision. The unit is incredibly user-friendly and easy to setup, with many users having it up and running within minutes of taking it out of the box. It’s also compatible with most common consumables, making it cheap and simple to run over time.
The Longevity Migweld 140 can weld up to 3/8 of an inch of mild steel, and is surprisingly precise when it comes to welding thinner metals as small as 1/8 of an inch thick. It can perform a number of jobs, from welding car or motorbike bodywork to performing simple repair tasks around the home. There’s also an optional spool gun available if you want to weld aluminium or any other exotic metals.
The Migweld 140 is consistently ranked among the top ten budget-friendly MIG welders, perfect for home workshops and small businesses. It offers gas and gasless welding, and comes with a selection of adjustment dials so you can play with the settings for the best result every time.
This welder also runs on 110v standard outlet power, which means you can simply plug in and weld away. It’s important to bear in mind that flux cored wire is sold separately – this pack comes with a 0.30 spool of solid wire to get users started.
- Hobart Handler 190 MIG
The combination of the Hobart Handler 190 MIG Welder with the fantastic SpoolRunner direct plug-in spool gun creates a powerful package that should suit most amateur and professional welders. The extremely versatile unit can handle a multitude of projects, from auto body and simple household repairs, to slightly more heavy-duty farm projects and applications.
The Hobart Handler 190 comes with a vast array of options, including seven voltage selections and infinite wire feed speed control. This contributes to improved performance, better bead appearance and significantly less cleanup in the aftermath of welding.
The accompanying SpoolRunner 100 is one of the clear selling points of this welding machine, allowing the user to weld aluminium, steel and stainless steel effortlessly. Weighing in at just five pounds, and able to handle 0.23 – 0.35 inch wires, the spool gun has been structured for precision work in small spaces like crowded workshops or home garages.
Despite its array of different features and options, the Hobart Handler is easy to use, even for those relatively new to welding. The controls have been developed to be intuitive and simple to use, and setup is straightforward – most users will have the unit up and running within thirty minutes of unpacking it.
The Hobart Handler has been described as one of the best welding combo units around, offering enough power for most welding jobs, as well as being straightforward and simple to use. The exceptional customer service from the manufacturers and the Hobart 5/3/1 industrial warranty protection plan are the icing on the cake.
- Lotos Pro MIG 140 Welder
The Lotos Pro MIG 140 Welder is one of the best MIG welders out there, and certainly among the top picks for those looking to move on from an entry-level tool. Combining commercial quality with exceptional performance, this efficient welder can tackle larger materials, and offers a range of more advanced features and options for the amateur or professional welder.
The Lotos welder is very versatile, and can work with materials including aluminium and stainless steel. It offers dual voltage settings and can connect to any regular 110v outlet for maximum convenience. It’s worth bearing in mind that this welder does require a connection to a gas bottle to function.
Special features of the Lotus Pro MIG 140 Welder include a thermal overload protection system, which can help prolong the life of the tool over the long-term by ensuring it never overheats. It’s also dual function – it can be used for flux cored welding as well as gas-shielding MIG welding.Weighing in at 54lbs (just under 25kg), it’s one of the lightest MIG welders on the market, and it’s certainly one of the easiest to use. The assembly is quick and simple, and it’s very portable, making it perfect for those taking their first few steps in the world of welding. Ultimately, this is an ideal welding tool for simple household repairs, basic bodywork and small workshop settings.
TOP 5 TIG WELDERS
- Everlast PowerTig 255EXT
If you’re looking for an AC/DC TIG welder which offers a combination of power, performance and precision, the Everlast PowerTIG 255EXT will tick all the right boxes.
The unit can be operated on both 120V and 240V, and it’s been specifically designed for durability and reliability over the long-term, making it a great investment if you’re looking to elevate your welding business or take the next step with your hobby. It has a unique self-diagnostic feature which automatically detects common faults, and the solid-state HF starting means lower risk of maintenance issues.
Compared with other TIG welders in this class and price point, the Everlast PowerTig 255EXT can weld much thicker metals – but it’s also great for working with thin metals like aluminium. It can also operate for much longer intervals than many of its competitors, making it a perfect welder for larger, industrial-sizes jobs.
This Everlast unit is slightly more expensive than many other TIG welders, and it’s also a little more sophisticated in terms of controls. It’s not ideal for a total welding beginner, but it’s a great choice for someone who is already familiar with welding and wants to upgrade their existing equipment to something more advanced. Once users get the unit up and running, they can use the nine programmable channels to save their favourite settings as defaults, rather than having to readjust every time – ideal for those running a small business where they’ll be working on similar items over and over again.
- AHP AlphaTig 200X
Regularly voted one of the best all-round welders on the market, the AHP AlphaTig 200X is certainly worth considering, for anyone looking to invest in a welding tool, or to upgrade an old one. With both 110v and 220v input power, IGBT technology, a range of dynamic features and a lightweight profile, this comprehensive welding solution can satisfy the needs of most amateurs and professionals.
Most welders in this price point are excellent when welding materials like stainless steel and aluminium – but the AHP AlphaTig 200X goes one better. It works effortlessly with thinner gauge materials, providing a highly accurate cut that’s sure to impress. It can handle aluminium as thin as ¼ of an inch, and steel as thin as 3/8 of an inch.
At just 38 pounds, this TIG welder is super-easy to carry around, so if you have a mobile business or you need to use it off-site, it won’t weigh you down too much. The sturdy handle is great for added convenience.
The AHP AlphaTig 200X also comes with a handy foot pedal for optimum control. This allows the users to weld with both hands, rather than keeping one hand on the controls. It’s ideal for those not-quite-beginners who are fairly new to welding but keen to enhance their skills and move up to the next level. Foot pedals are not rare these days, but there’s still a long way to go before they’re supplied as standard, which puts this TIG welder ahead of most of the pack.
- EVERLAST PowerARC 140
The EVERLAST PowerARC 140 TIG Welder is one of the easiest TIG welders for new users to operate. With a crystal-clear digital display, even beginners can set the controls with ease. The simple interface makes it even more straightforward; unlike many welders on the market, this model doesn’t have endless buttons and knobs – the EVERLAST PowerARC has just one knob and one switch for users to get to grips with.
Environmentally-friendly issues aren’t often a concern for welders, but for those who are starting to think about their carbon footprint, this welder is one of the most energy-efficient welders in its price bracket. With low power consumption, it saves on energy bills and doesn’t create as many emissions.
The PowerARC is also one of the lightest welders in its class, weighing less than 25 pounds (just over 11kg). This makes it incredibly portable and easy to move around larger premises. Even better – the lightweight structure doesn’t involve any kind of compromise on durability or performance. This is still a high-quality welder which will certainly last for many years.
This straightforward welder is perfect for both total novices and experienced welders. Its portability means it’s a great choice for mobile welders, and its range of intuitive features ensures it will prove a valuable addition to any home or small workshop.
- LOTOS Aluminum Tig/Stick
This ETL-approved, dual-voltage TIG welder is one of the best on the market in its price range. LOTOS is renowned for its excellent quality welding products, and this tool, with its square-wave inverter and automatic voltage detection, is no exception.
Ideal for everyone from welding beginners to experienced professionals, this hardworking, durable welder offers industrial-quality features without breaking the bank. It’s suitable for welding stainless steel, mild steel, aluminium and other metals, with a welding thickness of up to ¼ of an inch.
This particular welding machine is also incredibly easy to use. You don’t need to be a highly experienced welder to understand how it works and how to get started using it. But don’t mistake this welder’s simplicity for crudeness. This is no unsophisticated newbie welder – it’s packed with great features, but they’re highly intuitive and easy-to-use.
The LOTOS TIG200 comes with everything you’d need to begin welding right out of the box. Users will benefit from a face mask and a foot pedal, which offers high levels of heat control for precision and accuracy when welding all types of metals. It has an exceptional power efficiency rating of 80%, ideal for those who like to keep an eye on their carbon footprint.Portability is always a key factor in choosing a welder, and the LOTOS TIG200 weighs in at around 58 pounds (a little over 26kg). It’s portable enough to carry around in a van from one place to another, despite being one of the heavier welders at this price point. It also comes with a convenient carry handle to make lifting much easier.
- HOBART EZ-TIG 165i
The HOBART EZ-TIG 165i Welder is a comprehensive 230v welding package, perfect for a multitude of applications, from auto body shops and small workshops to home hobbyists and trainee welders. With simple knob control, it’s perhaps the most intuitive and straightforward TIG welder on the market, cementing its appeal to the beginners and novices out there.
The simplicity of this welder’s controls doesn’t mean it’s basic or primitive – in fact it offers exceptional welding performance of steel, stainless steel, chromoly and aluminium alike.
The fast set-up of this particular welder means it’s great for mobile use. All you need to do is plug it into an appropriate 230v power source, connect the shielding gas and choose the material and thickness. If you’re constantly moving your welder around a large site, or transporting it from location to location, the HOBART EZ-TIG 165i is a great choice. It weighs in around 60 pounds, so it’s smack bang in the middle of the range when it comes to portability, but it comes with two durable carrying handles for the user’s convenience.
Like all HOBART products, this TIG welder comes with the famous 5/3/1 Industrial Warranty, one of the best on the market. All units are also designed and manufactured in the USA, to guarantee exceptional quality control on all products shipped.
Welder Buyers Guide
If you’re looking to buy a new welder, there are many things to take in to consideration to make sure you’re buying what you need. What material or objects will you will be most commonly welding? Which welding process will you follow? How thick is the material you’re wanting to weld? Answering these types of questions will help you to arrive at the right decision on which welder to buy.
If you’re new to welding, it can be particularly daunting, and making a decision is hard work. However, help is at hand with our in-depth welder buying guide. Allow us to guide you through the main considerations and make things clearer in your own mind, allowing you to make a purchasing decision that is right for you.
What is welding?
Okay, let’s start things off simply. If you’ve been told you need to weld an object but you’re not entirely sure what welding is, this is a vital first question for us to answer. Once you understand the basic premise of welding, understanding the variety of welding processes will also be easier.
To weld is to bring together two separate pieces of metal to form one single piece. Welding as a technique has been used for many years, and today is used for everything from forming hulls of ships to producing fine art sculptures.
For welding to be possible, the metals need to be heated up to an incredibly high temperature, bringing them to a molten, or liquid, state. In the case of steel, for example, the metal needs to reach temperatures in excess of 2500oF in order for it to become molten and be welded. Different metals have different temperature requirements.
To bring the metal up to these incredibly high temperatures, we use a welding machine. Now, let’s explore some more specifics as to which welding machine you should buy.
What do you need a welder for?
While it may seem straight forward, fully understanding what it is exactly that you will be welding is vitally important when considering which welder to buy. As we have already alluded to, the material you are welding (e.g. copper, brass, bronze, etc) is a consideration, but there are other things in addition to this.
You need to consider just how big of an area you will be welding and how thick the metal is likely to be when welding for these purposes. Different welding processes are suitable for different types of welds, and machinery then plays a key part in this.
Additionally, if you’re welding a piece of artwork, then your weld may need to be a lot cleaner and aesthetically pleasing than if welding bodywork for the chassis of a car that is hidden away from site. Again, decisions on machinery and welding process is impacted by factors such as these.
Versatility of the welding machine is also worth considering. If you’re going to be welding in different scenarios and on varying types of metal, then you will need to find a machine that is versatile enough to deal with these demands on a regular basis.
Your environment and situation in your relation to welding
It is also vitally important to consider your work place, i.e. where you will be doing the welding. It could be in your back yard, a commercial warehouse, or in your garden shed. You need to have an idea of this when selecting your welding equipment.
Some welding machines produce a lot more smoke, sparks and slag than others, and so a large and safe area that is well-ventilated will be required. If you’re working outdoors, you need to know that the machine you use will be powerful to operate if it’s windy or there are other environmental factors at play. Finally, power supply is important.
Most machines will carry some sort of manufacturing warning or advice about minimal operating requirements, or conditions in which the machine should not be operated.
Tied in to your environmental considerations should be the portability of your machine. Do you envisage that you will be moving around a lot with your machine, or always operating in the one location? Size, weight and portability should all be factored in depending on your requirements. Purchasing a huge machine that is too heavy to move and too large to fit in to your vehicle is pointless if you’re looking to work on a mobile basis.
Power requirements for welding machines
We could have placed power requirements in to the previous point about your working environment, but paying attention of power specifications on welding machines is so important that it is deserving of its own section. Some machines will be capable of working from a typical household mains socket, while others have more specific requirements.
Here are some power-related specifications to be aware of when making your purchasing decision:
This will simply mean the power required to operate the welding machine. Some machines will be fine to run from a normal 240 volt mains supply, although many will have more detailed requirements. It is worth knowing what you have available in your work area, and also what additional costs may result from additional power requirements.
There is such a thing as a welding generator which is required to power some more heavy duty welding machines, and these generators themselves can cost many hundreds of pounds. Other machines may not require this, but will require more than your average mains supply, so do your homework in this area prior to buying.
As the name suggests, power output is the amount of power that your welding machine will generate itself during operation. This is very important to be aware of as it can impact the types of welding jobs you can do with the machine, such as the thickness of the metal it can weld. A weaker power output may not reach the heat required for certain metals, with 180-200 amps of output required for thick metals and perhaps only 100 amps needed for thinner metals. It’s vital to know this information ahead of buying.
The duty cycle relates to how much continuous operation that the welding machine is capable of during a 10-minute period. If you have a machine capable of running up to a maximum of 160 amps, and it can produce these 160 amps at a 60 per cent duty cycle, it means the machine can run at that level for six minutes of the ten. The other four minutes are required for cooling.
Which welding process will work best for you?
Now you have begun to get an idea for your own situation, requirements and what is worth considering on your next welding machine, it’s time to distinguish perhaps one of the most important factors – which welding process right for you?
It won’t surprise you to learn, that different machines are used for different types of welding processes, hence why being clear about your own requirements in line with what we have covered so far is very important.
The four main types of welding processes
Of the welding processes, these are the main four that you will likely come across:
If you’re a hobbyist welder, or you have been welding for many years, it’s likely that stick welding will be the process you are most familiar with. It’s more formally known as arc welding and involves a consumable electrode covered with a flux that lays the weld. An electric current flows from a gap between the metal and the welding stick itself, creating the arc-welding electrode.
It’s a really versatile form of welding and is particularly popular due to its ability to weld together rusty or dirty metals, in addition to being used on most alloys. Ideally, a wire cloth would be used to remove any dirt from the metal before welding begins. Stick welding is also the most economical form of welding, with machines available under $200.
There are some distinct disadvantages as well however, which is probably to be expected from such a cheap and versatile welding process. Firstly, the welding rods will need regularly changing, while the welds themselves will likely need cleaning or neatening up once completed. It’s also only able to be used on metals that are at least 1/16-inch or more.
Stick welding is also typically difficult to master, and the learning curve can be a frustrating one. However, with its portability, relative versatility and capabilities of operating both inside, outside and in slightly windy/breezy conditions, it’s certainly a process that can work for many people.
- Can be used indoor or outdoor
- Limited to metal at least 1/16-inch thick
- Untidy welds
- Regular rod replacement
- Tricky to learn
More popular with professionals, MIG welding is also commonly referred to as gas metal arc welding (GMAW). The concept is simple, as a wire welding electrode is emitted from the welding stick/spool at a constant pace which can be pre-selected on the unit prior to beginning. The arc is created by an electric current that runs between the metal that is being welded, and the wire itself. The wire melts, joining with the work piece metal and forming a strong join.
Welds performed by the MIG welding process are incredibly favourable, with a high-quality and neat finish that usually requires no post-welding clean-up. The welds are strong and have great structural integrity between the metals and can be used in many scenarios.
There are disadvantages to this form of welding as well though, not least the gas tanks themselves. Due to these tanks often being incredibly large and heavy, it is not a very portable form of welding and so will often be done in some sort of workshop or factory, rather than those who have a mobile working setup.
MIG welding is generally used on thin-to-medium thickness metals.
- Strong Welds
- Welds are neat and require minimal cleaning
- Versatile and able to be used on a variety of metals and alloys
- Bullet Point 2
- Not very portable
- Cannot be used on very thick metals
- Can be messier than Tungsten Inert Gas Welding
Flux-Cored Arc Welding
To use the acronym FCAW for short, flux-cored arc welding is a slight variation on MIG welding. It also uses a wire-fed process; however, no shielding gases are needed. This means that flux-cored welding is more portable than MIG welding due to there being no requirement for gas tanks.
It’s especially useful when welding outdoors, able to operate in adverse weather and still produce a neat and efficient weld. For this reason, it’s particularly popular in the construction industry.
- Able to operate indoors and out
- Fast, efficient and clean
- Works on a variety of metals
- Welds must be more precise than MIG welds
- Prone to irregular wire feed errors
- Can produce a lot of excess smoke during welding process
Another form of arc welding, TIG welding involves the use of a non-consumable tungsten electrode to form a weld. The heat produced by a TIG welder melts a filler rod on to the two pieces of metal that are to be joined, forming a weld. This process is also known as gas tungsten arc welding (GTAW).
TIG welding is especially useful for welds that are trickier than standard, such as on round items or s-curves, and is most commonly used for welding copper and titanium. It’s easily applied to thin metals and the welds produced through the TIG welding process are recognised as being very high-quality, and superior to those produced by most other types of welding.
Using the TIG welding process is also perhaps the cleanest and neatest, with no slag or splatter left behind, meaning the surrounding work area is left clear.
However, there are other things to keep in mind with TIG welding. It’s very much considered to be a process reserved for professionals, with it requiring a high skill level to perform successfully. It’s also more costly than other forms of welding, initially at least, due to the machinery costs, while the welding tasks themselves generally take longer than with MIG welding.
- Produces strong, superior welds
- No splatter or slag produced
- Good to use on trickier welds
- More complicated and highly skilled
- Takes Longer than other forms of welding
Other types of welding processes
While the four main types of welding processes have been set out above, a lot more exist. In fact, there are more than 30 welding processes recognised around the world. Some are simple, such as oxy-fuel welding that utilises live flames, through to high-tech and expensive processes such as laser beam welding.
Now that you’re fully equipped with the knowledge required to make an informed purchasing decision, you can move on and confidently make judgements about the type of welder that you will want to buy.
It’s always a good idea to make notes of your requirements in line with this guide, perhaps forming a checklist of what you need from your welding machine. This ensures that you do not loose site of what is going to work for you, nor be swayed by great offers for machines that are not going to suit your needs.
Make sure that the research you have done helps you to make the right decision, and always try to whittle down a list of potential welding machines in to a shortlist. Online product reviews and user reviews are integral to this, and it’s highly recommended you look for specific pros and cons of every machine you look at.