A MIG welder is one of the most important equipment to have for a welder or hobbyist who loves the game of metal joining. This simple tool offers you the option to work with diverse metals with ease. In fact, it will add a whole new level to your metal joining experience.
There are hundreds of models on the market to choose from, and you’ll pretty sure get confused if you decide to get one. Apart from that, your welding needs determine the type of machine you should choose. You also have to consider its portability, affordability, durability, and user-friendliness.
Here, we’ll check out the top-of-the-line products from some of the leading brands. You could be a professional or an amateur in this field. Worry not, we’ve got your back. In fact, our research-backed reviews will scrupulously scrutinize each model and its features so that you get an upper hand when bargaining.
So, buckle up and let’s get started by checking out our top 10 best MIG welder models below.
Why you should trust us
You might be wondering about the credibility of the Drillly team for coming up with scores of reviews on different drilling and welding tools. Our team consists of a group of professional welders and woodworkers based in Nevada, US. We’ve been familiar with the evolving welding technology for the last couple of decades and had the luck to work with some of the most advanced welding machines on the market.
We are not alone though. We have a network of welding experts around the world who collaboratively researching on the improvement of this technology. Our team aims to create a stronger community network among the welding workers around the world. Most of our research works are directed towards that direction. More importantly, our product reviews and how-to blogs that you find on our website are for building an informed community of welders.
Furthermore, our research-based reviews delve deep into the features of each power tool to expose their potentials to our audience, so they could make the right choice for themselves.
How did we pick these products?
The Drillly team conducted thorough online market research on the top rated MIG welder models. After 20 hours of research, we could listed down 20 top models from brands that make the best MIG welders on the market. Our field testing session started right after that. Our team members participated in the painstaking hands-on testings of the initially listed products. Since we couldn’t test all the models ourselves, we engaged some community-based volunteers to assist us.
We compared the results of our findings with that of the volunteers to find out their reliability. Besides, we consulted with persons who’d several years of experience with these machines.
Finally, we collated the results from the tests, research, and consultations. We ranked the products by their features, price, usability, durability, and warranty. This helped us to prepare the list of final 10 models. Also, we searched other popular online shops like Amazon to see if the reviews and ratings from the users agree with our list.
From our results, we are confident that our recommendations are the top models you’ll find on the market.
Our top 10 Best Mig Welders Review
Here are our chosen MIG welder models for you. You’ll read our mig welder reviews to find out the model with the qualities you need.
01 Hobart 500559 Handler (Editor’s Choice)
From our test results and research, the Hobart Handler 140 is the top all-round welder available. It is good for starters and great value for money. It comes with kits that you’ll need to begin your welding with ease.
The Hobart Handler 140 is versatile making it suitable for auto body and household projects. Fortunately, it operates on 115V supply and an input current of 20Amps. This means you’ll not need to install an extra power outlet in your home.
It features a 5–setting voltage knob that allows you to set the right arc for the metal. Need to say that it’s built to last with an all-metal body to withstand the operations. It comes with a manual to make it easy to use even if your experience level is low.
The Hobart Handler 140 is a great portable model on sale. It weighs 65 pounds with dimensions of 19 x 11 x 13 inches. With such size and weight, the Hobart Handler is easy to transport from your home to the site. Besides its high-quality performance, this unit comes with a 5-year warranty. This warranty covers replacement parts and repair costs.
The Hobart Handler 140 has a duty cycle of 20 percent at 90 Amps. This implies you’ll use it for 2 minutes and leave it to cool for 8 minutes. It can handle 24-gauge mild steel to a thickness of ¼ inches. This wire feed model has a dual-groove with a quick change and releases a drive roll lever.
The only thing that we didn’t like about this unit was the difficulty in adjusting the wire spool. Ideally, you’ll need a wrench to turn the spool’s change knob. Also, it is only suitable for mini DIY projects.
- Weight: 65 pounds
- Dimensions: 19 x 11 x 13 inches
- Material: Steel
- Duty Cycle: 20%
- Voltage: 115V
- Amperage: 25 – 140A
- Power Source: Corded-Electric
- Installation Method: MIG Welding
- Warranty: 5 years
- It has a metal assembly making it sturdy and durable
- It comes with a voltage regulator
- It is very easy to set up
- It works on the standard home voltage
- It is ideal for beginners
- It can produce high-quality welds on mild steels
- The quality of the arc is good
- You’ll need a wrench to adjust the spool
- The power cord should’ve been longer
What is the best MIG welder for a beginner? We recommend Hobart Handler 140. We found this model to be an ideal tool for light welding projects at home. It has an all-metal body construction that produces high-quality joints with ease. Besides, it can work on diverse metals including mild steel. You can unbox it and put to use in a few minutes. If your budget is under 500 bucks, there should be no second-thoughts on this.
02 Forney Easy Weld 261 (Beginner’s Choice)
During the research, we discovered the Forney Easy FC-I MIG to be the top entry-level model on the market. So, if you’re the hobbyist or a beginner in the welding world, then this model is for you. Let’s consider some of the things we liked about this product.
The FC-I MIG is light and portable weighing only 19 pounds. So, you’ll carry it to any location of your choice with ease. It has a dimension of 16.7 x 12 x 8.1 inches making it compact for easy storage. It is capable of handling a flux-core wire of 0.3 to 0.35 inches.
Another feature that attracts us to this model is its metal body. The good thing with this feature is its ruggedness, reliability, and durability. Besides, it’s large enough to handle 2 to 10-pound wire roll. We were surprised at the high-quality welds that this model can deliver. Thanks to its infinite voltage and wire speed control knobs.
It is important to let you know that the FC-I MIG has up to 140A output. This means you can weld mild steel of ¼ inches thickness. As a top choice for beginners, it has a duty cycle of 30 percent. So, you’ll have more time to finish your project before leaving it cool.
It’s hard to say a negative thing about this model since it has so many positive reviews. Yet, we’re not comfortable with its warranty for 1-year. Also, like other models in this category, you’ll only use it for minor tasks in the home or workshop.
- Weight: 19 pounds
- Dimensions: 16.7 x 12 x 8.1 inches
- Material: Metal
- Duty Cycle: 30%
- Voltage: 120V
- Amperage: 140Amp
- Power Source: AC
- Cord Length: 6ft
- Warranty: 1-year
- It is lightweight, compact, and portable
- It is excellent for beginners
- It is very easy to use
- It has a voltage and wire speed control
- It can weld mild steel
- You can use it without a gas tank
- It has a warranty period for one year
As mentioned earlier, the FC-I MIG is perfect for entry level welders. It is lightweight and portable making it easy to move around. It operates on the standard household voltage of 110 – 120V making it easy to use. Moreover, it has many voltage adjustment levels. So, you can work on different metals by rotating the knob to the right voltage level. With its unique wire speed control system, it is a great value model for beginners.
03 Goplus MIG 130 Welder (Great for Home Projects)
This MIG 130 comes with everything you’ll need for your minor fabrication and repair projects. If you’re ready to do those light welding tasks yourself, the Goplus MIG 130 is for you. So, why do we prefer this product?
We’ll begin by saying that the Goplus MIG 130 is one of the most affordable models on the market. Also, it has a very convenient design with a handle that makes it easy to carry. Besides, it is lightweight and compact enough for storing in your room corners or shelves.
You can MIG weld without gas with this gasless machine since it uses a flux-core wire. It protects the job from contaminants by releasing inert gas as you weld. You can use it on iron, mild steel, and other metals.
Another thing we like about the Goplus MIG 130 is its heavy-duty stainless steel body. The manufacturers have coated the body with anticorrosive paint to enhance their lifespan.
Another compliment to this model is the 4 level current flow settings. This allows you to produce good quality welds with ease. Also, it features a 10-level wire speed adjustment knob which allows you to choose your ideal feed speed.
So, what makes it the best MIG welder for home use? This tool operates on the standard household voltage. It is very portable with vents to dissipate the heat. Besides, the welding gun has a complete on/off safety control. Also, it comes with an automatic thermal protection system that shuts the unit when the heat is much.
We recommend that you don’t use this machine for steels with the thickness that are more than ¼ inches. It has a very low duty cycle. Besides, it’s a cheap model, so, you may not expect it to handle most heavy tasks.
- Weight: 35 pounds
- Dimensions: 14 x 8 x 12 inches
- Color: yellow
- Material: Steel
- Voltage: 120V
- Duty Cycle: 15%
- It has a stainless steel body
- It is resistant to rust
- The handle on the top makes it convenient to carry
- It has a storage space near the handle
- It is portable, compact, and durable
- It is perfect for home tasks
- It features automatic thermal safety protection
- It is convenient for joining thin steel and iron
- It is not as powerful as some models
For the price, this is a great machine to work with at the home garage. It comes with attractive features that include the release of inert gas to prevent oxidation on the weld. It has vents to aid the process of cooling and heat dissipation. Besides, it features an automatic thermal safety protection system that prevents overheating.
This model has some of the most positive reviews on Amazon and it’s worth the price. So, if you’re looking for a convenient model to use at home, the Goplus MIG 130 is for you.
04 Super Deal PRO (Best Budget MIG Welder)
As the name suggests, Super Deal Pro is indeed a super deal in terms of price and quality ratio. Its outstanding high-tech features in no way matches the price you’re going to pay for it.
The Super Deal Pro is a great 110v model for home use. This is because you’ll not install an extra power outlet before putting it to use. It has a dual-duty cycle which is based on its output power. So, at 60A and 105A, the duty cycles are 35% and 105% respectively.
It comes with different temperatures and wire-speed controls. With this, you can work on stainless steel of diverse thicknesses. Another important feature of this model is the intuitive digital display. This display is easy to access and helps to reduce operator errors.
This budget model has a copper tip at the gun’s end. This metal tip helps to stop the buildup of slags while you weld. This model comes with extra copper tips for you to replace once it’s messed up. Also, you can adjust the current flow and feeding speeds using the control knobs.
Another positive thing we like about this product is the fan and thermal overload protection. These components help to prolong the life of the machine by regulating the heat. The compact design allows you to put it on your shelf or car trunk. Also, it is very portable with a handle at the top which makes it convenient to carry.
The only downside with this cheap model is that it does not have a metal body. So, you’ll be careful when moving it because it can break if it falls.
Yet, this machine comes with everything you’ll need to plug in and get going. These include a face mask, welding spool wire, extra copper tips, wire brush, and chipping hammer. Other items in the package are 2.5M torch and ground cord.
- Weight: 38.1 pounds
- Dimensions: 20.2 x 15 x 12.5 inches
- Voltage: 110V
- Duty Cycle: 10% and 35%
- Welding Current: 50 – 130A
- It is extremely easy to use
- It is perfect for beginners
- It is cheap
- It is portable and compact
- It comes with a handle to make it easy to carry
- It has a user-friendly interface
- It comes with variable speed control
- It is not suitable for industrial applications
- It has a plastic body
At such a price, the features that are in this model are surprising. It comes with a vent and automatic thermal protection that helps to prolong its life. It is extremely easy to use and likewise, a great choice for beginners.
So, if you’re looking for a model that costs under 200 dollars but offers some useful features, this model is for you.
05 Hobart 500554 Handler (Top Aluminum Choice)
We must take a note that Hobert is the manufacturer of some of the top-notch MIG welding machines in the world. The Hobart 500554 is another addition to their legacy of great tools production. This particular model is more powerful than the Hobart Handler 140 which tops our list.
This model operates on a 230V power supply and can handle many powerful projects. It comes with 7 voltage settings which allow you to control the arc depending on the thickness of the metal.
From our test results and research, this model turned out to be a champ aluminum welding machine. The spool gun is already set for welding aluminum. It is designed to help you stop the feeding problems that are common with aluminum joining. This you can do by directly plugging the optional spool runner 100.
The good thing is that the spool runner 100 does not need an adapter for its connection. You can switch between MIG or spool gun with the help of a selector switch.
The Hobart 500554 has an output amperage of 25A to 190A. It has a duty cycle of 30% at 130Amps. This shows how powerful it is in comparison with other models above. You can perform welding operation on aluminum, and 24-inch mild steel up to a thickness of 5/16 inches.
It is important to know that this model weighs a little above 77 pounds. It comes with a gas tank which adds to its weight. So, it’s not very portable and can be a bit difficult to carry. Besides, most homes don’t have the 230 power outlet, so you might need to install one.
Other items in the package include a built-in gas valve, gas hose, dual gauge regulator, and 10ft MIG gun. You’ll also find 0.30-inch contact tips, 10ft power cord, clamp, sample spool, and much more. Another important thing we like about this model is its 5-year warranty which covers repair and maintenance costs.
- Weight: 78 pounds
- Dimensions: 24 x 13.3 x 18.7 inches
- Installation Method: MIG welding
- Duty Cycle: 30%
- Voltage: 230V
- Output Amperage: 25 – 190A
- Power Source: Corded-Electric
- Warranty: 5 years
- It is ideal for aluminum welding
- It can switch between MIG or spool gun welding
- It can handle different types of metals and thicknesses
- It is very easy to set up
- It is powerful
- It can handle flux core
- It comes with an output voltage regulator
- Most users will have to modify their existing power outlets
The Hobart 500554 is built with high-quality materials to enhance its reliability. It comes with a spool gun that is perfect for aluminum welding. Also, it features a selector switch that allows you to switch between MIG and spool gun. The multiple voltage settings allow you to select the right voltage for the metal. It is one of the top 220V MIG models on the market. Its versatility and power for diverse welding projects made it one of our top 5 choices.
06 Hobart 500536001 IronMan (Advanced Choice)
If you’re looking for a heavy duty welder that will give you the real value for your money, then you can stop. We suggest you get the IronMan, another powerful single phase welding tool from the Hobart production line.
During our tests, we saw that this model delivers high-quality welds that do not need cleaning. This is another bang for the buck model because of the commitment of its manufacturers to please the buyer. We can say with confidence that it’s for heavy-duty tasks which other machines can’t handle.
It has the ability to weld aluminum to a thickness of a ½ inch. But, you’ll need to install a spool gun and be ready to go along with your inert gas tank. Like other products from Hobart company on this buying guide, you can get started by simply plugging it to the 230V outlet. This means that this model comes with all the gadgets that you might eventually need.
Since it has more power, it’s suitable for intermediate and professional users. It can penetrate 24-gauge steel up to a thickness of ½ inches. You can control the arc performance using the voltage control knob. Besides, the infinite wire speed control allows you to adjust the weld’s speed and penetration.
Another attractive feature of the IronMan is built-in overload protection. This feature shuts off the unit once it senses any overloading. This helps to enhance its lifespan and keep you from harm. Also, it features a reversible drive roll with separate grooves that helps to improve the change over time.
This high-end wire feed model comes with a spool hub that allows you to change 2, 10, 33, and 45-pound wires. Also, the tool-free tension knob helps you to align the wires with little effort. Yet, the aluminum wire drive system has the capacity to deliver a wire speed of 0 to 700IPM.
The one thing that we don’t like about this model is its huge weight of 250 pounds which is very difficult to carry. Yet, rolling it on the floor using the built-in tires will help ease the burden of carrying.
- Weight: 250 pounds
- Dimensions: 43 x 36 x 27 inches
- Installation Method: MIG Welding
- Voltage: 230V
- Power Source: Corded Electric
- Amperage: 30 – 250 Amps
- Warranty: 3 years
- It is very powerful
- It can handle heavy-duty tasks
- It can weld a ½ inch steel with one pass
- It features automatic overload protection
- It has vents that help to dissipate heat
- It can weld aluminum with ease
- It is very expensive
- It is very heavy
This is a great welder that allows you to enjoy more control over the output. Thanks to its 12-tap voltage control knob. It comes with an infinite wire feed speed control for penetration. It can produce clean welds on aluminum, mild steel, and stainless steel. Above all, this model might be expensive but it’s one of the few models on this review you’ll never regret buying.
07 Hobart 500536 Ironman 230
The Hobart 500536 is your choice if you’re interested in power and high duty cycle. It allows you to operate on stainless steel, mild steel, and aluminum.
So, how much power does the Hobart 500536 has? This unit delivers an output power of 30 to 250Amps for heavy-duty welds. The arc adjustment feature allows you to produce high-quality welds that are free of dirt. Thanks to the 12 tap voltage control knob.
Our field-tests assured that Hobart 500536 is more useful for commercial applications than the IronMan model. Also, while IronMan is powered by a 230V outlet, you’ll connect the Hobart 500536 to a 151V outlet. It’s worth mentioning that IronMan weighs a little more than the Hobart 500536.
You can use Hobart 500536 for rentals, construction, fabrication, and much more. This model comes with the Hobart DP-3545-20 spool gun for aluminum. It also helps to extend the reach with other wires.
This item weighs 224 pounds with dimensions 36.5 x 18.9 x 31.5 inches. This means you can’t feel at ease when conveying it from one location to another. Most experienced users of this model recommend putting it in a cart to make it’s transporting easier.
This all around tool comes with a duty cycle of 60% at 175 Amp. With this, you’ll have more time to work on heavy-duty projects that demand more power. This highly rated model comes with a 200 Amp gun, built-in running gear, gas cylinder, and gas rack. Besides, it comes with infinite wire speed control for adjusting the depth of the weld.
This is another model that is almost free of flaws except for its high price and weight. So, if you’re interested in a heavyweight and powerful weld that’ll last for a lifetime, search no more.
- Weight: 224 pounds
- Dimensions: 36.5 x 18.9 x 31.5 inches
- Voltage: 151V
- Duty Cycle: 60%
- Welds: Aluminum, Stainless steel, and mild steel.
- Power Source: Corded-Electric
- Amperage: 30 – 250Amps
- The duty cycle is high
- It comes with overload protection
- It is very versatile
- It is sturdy, durable, and reliable
- It is more suitable for commercial applications
- The hinged doors allow for easy access to the wire drive system
- It is easy to adjust the arc using voltage control
- It produces high-quality and neat welds
- It is very difficult to transport
This is a fitting model for commercial purposes. Offered at a price point well under 1500 dollars, this machine will supersede your every expectation. It can weld 18 gauge aluminum with ½ inch thickness and you can optimize the arc to obtain pure and flawless results. Its voltage control and duty cycles are rare to match. Moreover, it’s made from high-quality materials to last for a lifetime.
So, if you have a need for a heavier machine that will cater to your welding needs, you might consider buying this product.
08 Lincoln Electric K2185-1
If you want an affordable welder with power, the Lincoln Electric K2185 is for you. This portable model weighs 26 pounds with dimensions 18 x 10.3 x 16.75 inches. It has a compact design with a handle at the top that makes it easier to carry.
This user-friendly model is plugged into a 115V/20A power outlet. It comes with a voltage and wire feed speed adjustment control. This design allows you to weld mild steel of about 1/8 inches thick. It has an amperage output of 35 to 88A. Also, it comes with a duty cycle of 20% at 70A.
Another interesting feature of the Lincoln Electric K2185 is the built-in cold contactor protection. This helps the welding wire to stay cold electrically until you activate the gun trigger. It can handle a welding wire of size of 0.035 inches.
You can start working once you unbox this unit. This is because it comes with everything you’ll need for the operation. Some of the items you’ll find in the package are the gas nozzle, spool of solid wire, hand shield, gas regulator, work cable, etc. Besides, it comes with flux-cored wire and other relative accessories for flux-core welding.
From our tests, the only problem we have with this model is overheating. You’ll spend more minutes waiting for it to cool before continuing with the project. Besides, the absence of a gauge in the gas regulator makes it difficult to determine the output.
- Weight: 26 pounds
- Dimensions: 18 x 10.3 x 16.75 inches
- Voltage: 115V
- Input Power: 2300W
- Installation Method: MIG Welding
- Duty Cycle: 20%
- Warranty: 1 year.
- It is perfect for simple DIY projects
- It is compact, lightweight, and portable
- It is very easy to set up
- It comes with a cold contactor safety feature
- It features a continuous wire speed adjustment control
- It is relatively cheap
- It is suitable for welding mild steel
- It has issues with overheating
Considering its cutting-edge features, the Lincoln Electric K2185 is one of the best mig welders for the money. Its design allows you to adjust the voltage output and wire speed. Although it costs under 400 bucks, it covers with good performance. This is a compact, sturdy, and portable model for sale. It is superbly efficient for working on light welding projects, so, find out if your requirements match with this one.
09 Forney Easy Weld 299 125FC Flux
The Forney Easy Weld 125FC has everything you’ll need for the perfect flux core welding. This is probably the best MIG welder for beginners. This home model comes with a MIG gun and a ground clamp. It uses a 0.03inch flux core wire which produces the inert gas that protects the weld.
You’ll need a 120V power outlet to weld. It is very easy to use even for persons with low welding skills. This machine can weld steel of 24 gauge and 1/8inch thickness. It has a 20% duty cycle at max output. So, you may not weld for long at a time.
The Forney Easy125FC is portable and relatively easy to carry. It has a handle at the top. Its overall weight is 41.9 pounds. This model comes with a 6-months warranty. With such a warranty period, you’ll need to adhere to the instructions of the manufacturer on its care and maintenance to enjoy it for long.
Also, you’ll experience some spatter while welding because it’s a flux-core only welder. Since the power cords are short, you should stay close to your power source. You may experience some difficulties while trying to level the wire’s feed tension.
So, if you’re looking for a handy machine that can handle your medium or light tasks, this is the model to buy.
- Weight: 41.9 pounds
- Dimensions: 12 x 18 x 24 inches
- Color: Green
- Material: Metal
- Voltage: 120V
- Power Source: Corded-electric
- Amperage Capacity: 125A
- Cord Length: 6ft
- Warranty: 6 Months
- It is suitable for light and medium tasks
- It is perfect for beginners
- It is very reliable and easy to use
- It is compact and portable
- It is relatively lightweight
- It can accept 2 and 10-pound spool
- It is only suitable for light DIY projects
The Forney Easy Weld 125FC is among the top-rated models for beginners. It is efficient at handling light and medium tasks. It delivers clean, durable, and consistent welds. It is among the easiest to set up and use models we tested so far. All you’ll need is the power source and you’re set to go. It can handle mild steel of 24 gauge and thickness of ¼ inches. Under 300 dollars this could be a good model to choose for your home projects.
10 Hobart Handler 210 MVP
Following our research, we can say that the Hobart Handler 210 turns out as the most flexible MIG welders available. It allows you to use either the 115V or 230V power outlets. It’s amazing how it adjusts itself to the correct input power to provide you with the perfect arc.
The Hobart Handler 210 is rugged and compact with a weight of 87.5 pounds and dimensions 24 x 18.6 x 13.2 inches. It can deliver an output power of 210Amps. It is also a good model for aluminum. Thanks to the optional spool runner 100 spool gun.
This model can weld 24-gauge mild steel up to a thickness of 3/8 inches. It comes with a 7 voltage setting that allows you to select the perfect arc for the project. It produces an output amperage of 25A to 140Amps when operating on 115V. Also, at 240V the output amperage can go from 25 to 210Amps.
The Hobart Handler 210 operates on two duty cycles based on the input voltage. So, at 115V input, the duty cycle is 20% and 30% at 230V. Like other models in the Hobart production line, this model comes with a quick-change drive roll system. Also, it comes with a 3-year warranty.
In the box are a built-in gas valve, MIG welding gun, gas hose, power cord, and plugs. Other items in the package include a 0.03 flux-cored wire, contact tips, wire spool adapter, and instruction manual. The only thing that we don’t like about this machine is its low duty cycle at both voltages. This, in turn, limits its ability to handle heavy-duty jobs.
- Weight: 87.5 pounds
- Dimensions: 24 x 18.6 x 13.2 inches
- Installation Method: Gas Welding
- Amperage (A): 25-140 @ 115V & 25-210 @ 230V
- Duty Cycle: 20% @ 115V & 30% @230V
- Voltages: 115V & 230V
- Warranty: 3 years
- It delivers smooth welding
- It has dual voltages
- It is multi purpose
- It is long-lasting and dependable
- It comes with everything you’ll need to weld
- It can weld both aluminum and mild steel
- It is easy to install and use
- The duty cycle is relatively low
This is the perfect product for persons who do not like the burden of carrying a gas cylinder around. It comes with many functions which make up for its price. It might not be a cheap tool, but you’ll never regret buying. So, if your budget is under 1000 bucks, it should be in your shopping cart.
Other models we also tested
Here are some renowned MIG welder manufacturers and their popular models that you wouldn’t want to miss out: MIG, Razorweld (popular model-ViperMig 180amp), Total Tools, Eastwood, Miller Electric (popular model- 200, 210, 211, 212, 250,252, Millermatic 140 Autoset, Millermatic 210, 141, 250, 350P, 251, Cricket), Klutch (popular model-140SI), Longevity, SIP (popular model- Migmate), Vulcan, BOC, Clarke (popular model-WE6523 130EN), WIA, Everlast (popular model- Powermts 211SI), Century, Lotos, Wolf, Snap On (popular model- MM250SL), ESAB (popular model -EMP215IC), Craftsman, Lincoln (popular models: PRO MIG 140, Power MIG 216, EASY MIG 140, 3200HD K2190-1, 140 HD, 350MP, PRO MIG 140, PAK 100, Pro Core 100, SP 100), Campbell Hausfeld, Harbor Freight (popular model- MIG170), HTP USA, Deltaweld (popular model- 452), Farmhand (popular model-125), Thermal Arc, PowerMig (popular model: Astro Power 110), Cebora, Northern Industrial, Matco Tools (popular model- WFW12179),
What is a MIG welder?
MIG or Metal Inert Gas is a welding process that allows you to join two base metals using an electrode and a welding rod or wire. The electrode or MIG wire melts as heat is applied to form an adhesive. This liquid that flow is what joins the metals.
The welding gun produces an inert gas that shields the joint from contaminants in the atmosphere. Most of these wire feed models do not need welding rods making the metal joining process faster. The whole operation is simple enough for you to use despite your low skills.
A high-end MIG welder model allows you to work on metals like aluminum, stainless steel, and nickel irrespective of the thickness. It produces smooth joints at a faster rate. It can operate in both semi-auto and full-auto modes. For non-ferrous metals such as aluminum or nickel, pure argon is used for joining.
You’ll need a wire drive system, welding gun, inert gas tank, and power source for your MIG welding. The wire drive system draws the electrode out from the spool for it to pass through the gun. This process generates heat thus, the need for a cooling system. So, if you’re using a water-cooled gun, you’ll need a water source.
Whether you prefer a TIG or a MIG welder, choosing such a device may not be as easy as you think. Don’t worry, this buying guide has everything you need for a safe buy.
Things to Consider When Buying a Mig Welder
Now that you have a little idea about this machine, it is important to know how to make your choice. So, knowing the following features and aspects will help you make the right decision.
1. Welding processes
MIG welders can either come with flux-cored or multi-function welding.
- Flux-Cored Welding – This welding process allows you to perform the metal joining operation without an extra gas cylinder. The only disadvantage is the residue that you’ll remove with hand.
- Multi-function Welding – This multi process function allows you to switch between two welding processes at any time. It is very useful when you’re working on a project that involves different welding techniques. It also saves time and cost because the two processes are in one machine.
2. Input voltage
Each of the top models operates at an input voltage level which might be different from your power outlet. But, you can choose to get models with dual voltages. So, what are these voltage range? These include:
- 110 -120 Volt
This is the most fitting machine for home use since you can connect the plug to your power outlet. But, its output power is low which makes it only suitable for thin or soft metals. Thus, you’ll need to increase the power to join thicker metals.
- 220-230 Volt
The 220 Volt model is perfect for joining thicker metals. But, you’ll need to install a 220 Volt power outlet when using it in your home. It is ideal for outdoor projects, especially where you cannot access the 110 Volt outlet.
AC power source is most common for these tools. However, there are DC options for which the price is on the higher side.
3. Duty cycle
The efficiency of the machine is a product of its duty cycle. It determines the length of time you’ll use the machine per session of the weld. The duty cycle is given as a percentage. So, how do you calculate the duty cycle of a MIG welder?
A MIG welder with a duty cycle of 70 percent will operate for 7 minutes before it overheats. Then, it’ll take another 3 minutes for it to cool. And a 40 percent duty cycle will run for 4 minutes and then rest for the next 6 minutes.
If the output power of your machine is high, your duty cycle will be shorter. This means, the time it’ll take the machine to cool is proportional to the quantity of heat it generates. Yet, good models come with efficient fans and vents that help reduce its cooling time.
4. Thermal overload protection
Some models come with overheat or thermal overload protection. This feature stops the machine once you exceed the duty cycle. Thus, saving it from further damages or injuries to the user.
5. Material thickness
As our field-testing suggests, some of the high-end 110v models did not have the power to penetrate thicker metals. They could join thin sheet metals comfortably. So, you’ll need to invest in a more powerful machine if your metal piece is very thick.
Yet, the thickness of the material will determine the thickness of the wire that’ll be used for the weld. So, if the material is thin, then you’ll use a small wire. But if the material is thick, the wire will be large. Also, the wire and the metal should be of the same material. For example, to join a stainless steel material, the electrode will be of stainless steel.
6. Output power
The size and type of the material you’re to join will determine your output power. Most of the top models come with instructions that allow you to set the right output power for the weld.
Here is an example of the chart that shows the thickness of the metal and the output power.
|Gauge||Metal Thickness in mm||Output Power in Amps|
7. Size & transportability
Another important factor you’ll consider when choosing your machine is its size, weight, and ability to carry. If you’ll be using it only in the workshop, then the weight is not a problem. But, if you’ll be moving it to a different location, then you should buy a model that is small and lightweight with a suitcase design for portability.
You know that the heavier the welder, the harder it is to transport. The most portable tool weighs only about 20 pounds while the heavy models weigh from 200 pounds up. Most of these portable machines use an inverter which in turn, lowers their weight. Lighter models are easy to handle, so, vertical and horizontal both types of welding can be operated.
8. Spool gun
Most welders do not allow you to attach a spool gun which is very necessary when working aluminum materials. You need to look out for this feature before buying your machine. Also, try to buy a spool gun that comes with the quick release feature.
9. Shielding gas
The application of shielding gas, mostly CO2 (Carbon Dioxide), protects the liquid welded metal from contacting surrounding Hydrogen, Oxygen, Nitrogen and other hyperactive gases that would otherwise quickly react to the freshly applied metal and degrade its quality. For this reason, MIG gun consumables throw the shielding gas on the freshly molten metal to keep it corrosion free
10. Repair & maintenance
Make sure you buy from a reliable manufacturer who provides a set of complete papers with detailed user manual and maintenance tips. It’s not just this metal joiner, whenever someone is buying a gadget, the warranty policy must be understood beforehand. In case you face trouble with your machine within the warranty period, this will save some bucks. In the later section of this review, we’ll be giving you some maintenance tips, you’re advised not to miss it.
11. Brand & warranty
One of the things that will reduce the cost of maintenance is the warranty. If your welding machine has warranty coverage, then you’ll not spend much to fix it. Some brands offer at least 5 years’ warranty along with customer support services.
Ensure that you buy from a manufacturer with a warranty. Try to compare the ratings and reviews by other users before buying.
MIG welders could be as low as $200 to as high as $1400 (multi-process welders). Your budget will determine the quality of the unit you might use.
Mig welding safety tips
MIG Welding is an aspect of engineering that needs much safety and care. Failure to adhere to its safety rules may result in accidents, injuries, or death. To protect yourself and your machine, you’ll need to remember these safety tips.
- Always wear a welding helmet that comes with a shade. The lens quality should be either 10 or 11. This will help to protect your eyes from UV radiation which results in arc eye.
- Wear leather hand gloves to protect your hands from burns and electric shock. You can buy gloves with reflective coatings to limit the effect of heat from heavy metals.
- Weld in an area with good ventilation. This will reduce the volume of hazardous fumes that you’ll inhale when working. It’s also important to wear a mask if you’ll be welding for long hours.
- Protect your feet by wearing leather shoes or boot. Sometimes, a hot plate might fall and burns if your foot is bare. Avoid shoes with mesh on top or those of plastic body. The plastic parts can melt and stick to your feet.
- Remove saw dust, papers, and plastics from your work area. This is because molten hot materials that fly off during welding can cause a fire on dropping on these materials. Also, don’t keep any flammable liquid near your welding place.
- Don’t expose yourself to the vapor from galvanized steels. The zinc oxide coating on this metal is cancerous and can damage your organs.
Mig welder maintenance tips
No matter you own a TIG welder or a MIG welder, maintaining your machine will help prolong its life and save you from unnecessary spending. Below are some of the maintenance tips for this kind of welding.
- Try to cover your welder with a thick clothe when it’s not in use.
- Choose a perfect time for the cleaning of your welder and adhere to it. This will help to remove dirt that may cover the moving parts of the machine. Note that dust deposits could affect the overall functioning of the tool.
- Ensure that you connect the power cord to the standard outlet. Also, the fuse of the power outlet should match with the machine.
- Clean the drive rolls and set it correctly. Try to adjust the tension of the drive roll to balance it. Replace the drive rolls once they’re worn out.
- To prevent the buildup of pressure in the drive roll, clean the liner by blowing it with the air nozzle. This will clear the debris from both the feeder and torch’s ends.
- Clean the gun nozzle periodically. It receives the greatest heat during the weld making the tip to need replacement more often. Cleaning the spatter will prevent dirt from blocking the smooth flow of gas.
- Check the gas lines and remove any visible obstruction. Ensure that you plug in the gas nozzle rightly. This will prevent the gas from leaking.
- Check the feeder connection regularly. If the connection is loose, tighten it. If it’s too tight, loosen it.
- Always avoid undercutting by using the correct welding technique.
- Try to pay attention to the conditions of the handle and trigger. Clean the two to prevent the accumulation of dust.
- Be observant and respond on time when you sense a buildup of heat.
- Replace any worn-out cable on time.
- Check your ground to be sure of its connection. A bad ground can produce poor quality results. It can cause the malfunctioning of the feed wires or damage to the tip.
Before you order for a MIG welder, do a little research beforehand to know the features that’ll meet your needs. This buying guide contains every piece of information you’ll need to buy the right model. Since we have so many equally good models on this list, it’ll be tough to recommend one. So, if you’re on a low budget you can opt for the Super Deal Pro. It is inexpensive but can handle light welding projects.
Also, if you’re a beginner or hobbyist welder then we recommend the Forney Easy FC-I. It is light, portable and easy to handle. You can take it to almost anywhere with ease. Now, you can go ahead and buy any model from our list of best MIG welders.
You can also visit the following metalworking tools that we reviewed right here on Drillly:
Q: What metal Cannot Weld?
Ans: Here is a list of metal combinations that cannot be fusion welded together: stainless steel and aluminum, copper and aluminum, steel and carbon, steel and titanium. and titanium and steel. The metallurgical properties of these materials don’t allow them to be welded together under any circumstances.
Q: Is Arc Welding stronger than MIG?
Ans: The stick welder has a much better metal penetration rate than a MIG welder. You have probably noticed that just keeping the arc on will require additional amperage input for the welding machine.
Q: What’s the hardest metal to weld?
Ans: The hardest material would be stainless steel materials due to its high chromium density. That makes it behave differently than other types of steels.