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Welding is an excellent skillset. Not just because it can be a very lucrative and rewarding profession, but for everything from hobbies to odd jobs around your homestead. It’s valuable in a hundred different contexts, but there’s no denying that it can be confusing (and expensive) trying to get everything you need to get started.
This list is designed to hopefully alleviate some of that confusion and give you the tools you need to pick the right MIG welder to start you off.
Below is a list of products, with a buying guide after that which give you some context on what kinds of things I look at to grade these products.
Our Favorite MIG Welders on the Market
The 10 Best MIG Welders Reviews 2020
1. Hobart Handler 140 MIG Welder- Top Overall Pick
Hobart is a brand with a range of high quality products, and this one is no exception. This 115 volt MIG welder can weld everything from 24 ga on up to ¼ inches in mild steel, and can be used in its MIG mode for cast iron, copper, brass, titanium, and magnesium.
On top of that, it also works as a flux core welder, which means it can do aluminum as well.
In both forms it has a smooth, easy to use 5 level voltage control. In all ways the Hobart 140 is easy to use (it sets up in just a few minutes) and great for beginners, but is also perfect for experienced DIYers, all at a solid price. You get your choice of speeds between 40 and 700 inches per minute, and 25 to 140 amp settings. Unfortunately the duty cycle is horrendous (20%) holding back this otherwise great welder.
Just keep in mind its relative bulk compared to similar portable machines (57 lbs is difficult to lug around all day without a cart), and you’ll find this the perfect companion for almost any project.
2. Miller Electric 120/240VAC - Top Choice for 120v MIG Welder
While expensive, this Miller Electric welder is more than worth it for professionals.
It welds between 24 ga. and 3/8” in mild steel and aluminum, and up to ¼” in stainless steel. A 40% duty cycle is quite good for a machine of this type, and keeps you up and running twice as long as many other models.
As you would expect, it does both MIG and flux cored welding, with a wide range of options for both spool speed and energy options to use for various projects. It’s made for everything from farm work to auto body repair and works perfectly for all of it.
On top of that. It’s surprisingly lightweight for a machine of this caliber, weighing in at only 50 lbs.
Coupled with its wide array of quality of life and safety features (Fan On Demand, Thermal Overload Protection, Smooth Start, auto-spoolgun detection, and more) and you have the perfect machine for many welding careers.
3. Weldpro MIG 200 MIG Welder - Top Choice for Dual Voltage
When it comes to versatility, this welder can’t be beat. In addition to MIG and flux core welding, it is also perfect for TIG welding with the right settings, making it an extraordinarily multi-talented tool.
It welds 19 ga to .197 inch for MIG, 14 ga to .315 inch for MMA welding, and 25 ga to ¼ in for TIG, meaning it can do a wide range of thicknesses in all its modes. Swapping between these mode sis as easy as swapping the wire and tip, then flicking a switch.
It has an easy to read dual display which makes it simple and clear what you’re doing and how to move to another mode when you need to. It uses 230 volt power and can be adjusted to various ranges for each kind of welding just by turning a knob.
The construction is of course excellent, and it comes with high temperature and overload protection standard, backed up by a 2 year factory warranty. This machine does it all, and it does it all very well.
4. Lincoln Electric Easy MIG 180 - Best MIG Welder for Aluminum
This is a great Lincoln Electric model. It’s a full sized affair, so be prepared for the relevant bulk; it weighs about 85 lbs and is designed to be hauled around on a cart with the required shielding gas, though it can be used as a flux cored welder as well. I still recommend the cart, however.
Other than that it’s what you’d expect from Lincoln. It has a great conductivity (it uses brass to brass connections for extra efficient conductivity) and is fully adjustable in both speed and energy usage, between 50 and 500 IPM for the former and five presets for the latter.
The body is made of cast aluminum, saving you a bit of weight at the cost of a bit of durable. I’m not honestly sure the tradeoff is worth it; it only saves you about 10 lbs of weight across the whole thing, and is more easily dented or punctured than stainless steel.
Overall this is a fine, no frills model good for both amateurs and professionals.
5. Hobart Handler 210 MVP - Top Choice Under $1000
This is a slightly superior version of the other Hobart welder we covered above. It’s pretty good…but vastly over priced comparative to other models of similar performance. Still, it’s good for almost any job. It can run on 115 volt or 230 volt power, with a 20% duty cycle in the former and 30% in the latter. 30% is acceptable, though I balk at using anything with a 20% duty cycle, so I’d stick to the 230 volt whenever possible.
Rather than “true” tuning it has 7 preset voltage settings (between 25 and 210 amps) and with those can weld between 24 ga and 3/8 inch steel. It does steel, stainless steel, and aluminum, making it versatile enough for most non-specialized purposes.
All in all it’s a decent machine with unfortunately a less than decent price point, being about 25% more than I’d expect for a machine of this performance. On top of that it’s a bulky machine, weighing in at 87 lbs. you’ll need a cart for this one, which is a pain for such a limited machine. I wouldn’t necessarily say to avoid it, but wait until it’s on sale.
6. Forney Easy Weld 261 - Best MIG Welder for Beginners
I’ve looked at Forney’s Easy Weld models before, and they’re always quite good for their target user. Keep in mind that this is not the MIG welding machine for the professional welder, it is designed for beginners and hobbyists, but does so in such a way that they can learn the skills they need to hone for more involved machines.
It’s a flux core welder meaning no shielding gas is required, and only really does mild steel (up to ¼ inch), but within those parameters it’s flexible; it has a true range of power output between its two extremes and can be dialed to any of them with ease by the knobs.
The machine is incredibly lightweight (19 lbs) but quite durable, emphasizing in its design ease of use and carrying around for different projects.
The only true drawbacks are its price (it’s about half the price of a standard model but frankly could stand to be about $100 cheaper) and it doesn’t come included with accessories. If you want nozzle options or anti-spatter spray or similar accouterments, you’ll need to get them separately.
7. Lincoln Electric K2185-1 - Top Choice for Home Use
This is a great kit for the amateur welder, or somebody with everyday minor uses like a farmer or similar professions. It comes with everything you need to get started, at least for flux cored welding.
It includes both .035 in. flux cored wire and .025 in. MIG wire, though does NOT include the shielding gas needed for MIG welding. It also comes with an assortment of contact tips (three .0325 in. and three .025 in.), a handheld face shield, a chipping hammer, and a brush. It welds between 24 ga. and 1/8 in. mild steel, with a 20% duty cycle at 70 amps. This is not great, but usable for the kind of spot welding this is designed for.
It works on 115 volt power, making it easy to use on household power or with an adapter, and it stays electrically cold when not in use, keeping it safe to touch until the trigger is pressed.
Overall this is an excellent simple welder for the average person.
8. Sungoldpower 140A - Top Choice for 220v MIG Welder
In most ways this is a pretty standard light duty MIG welder. It does both MIG and flux cored welding, and includes some wire (but not the shielding gas) to start you off. It welds up to about a ¼ in. in steel and does other materials as well. Like most MIG welders it works on rusty metals. Everything about it is fairly standard: except that it’s an inverter welder.
Inverter welders get a bit of a bad rap from back in the days they were expensive and prone to breaking down. Older inverter welders were unreliable, but this model shows how far they’ve come. Not only is it incredibly inexpensive, it’s also super energy efficient, running off household 110 or 220 volt power and getting a massive 60% duty cycle, giving you more up time than down time when working.
If you want a cheap, energy efficient, reliable machine: this one has you covered.
9. VIVOHOME MIG 130 - Top Choice Under $500
Price-wise this is more what I expect from a beginner’s welding machine. Granted it is in many ways inferior to the Forney Easy Weld, but that’s fine for a starter machine.
It welds mild steel and stainless steel, and aluminum only, so keep that in mind. Power draw is low even at the maximum setting, putting out a max of 105 amps with a 110 volt power draw.
This is basically the home power drill of welding machines. It’s perfect for someone who needs to weld something 3 to 4 times a year and never really touch it in between except to move it aside (which is harder than it looks; this one weighs about 38 lbs, far heavier than a machine of this function should be) to find something else on the tool cart. For the price that kind of niche is perfect.
Keep in mind when using it that it has a terrible 15% duty cycle (out of every 10 minutes, you get 1 and a half minutes of use out of it), but for spot welding small things that’s perfectly fine.
10. Display4top MIG 130 - Top 110v MIG Welder
This super cheap MIG welder is the perfect starting point for a beginner welder with some DIY projects they want to get done. It’s no powerhouse, but it’s also not a huge investment, and can do any household welding you might want to do with ease.
It has a low 110 volt power draw with overload safety protection for if you accidentally run it for too long, and comes with everything you need to get started: the gun, a grounding clamp, a wire brush, a basic mask; all you need is the right kind of wire (it takes anything between .6 and .8 mm).
For a small machine it has a decent duty cycle 35%, largely due to the low power draw. It’s also incredibly lightweight (18 lbs) and very durable stainless steel. Great for moving around to multiple small project areas.
For what it is, it’s hard to beat this small machine in terms of safety, reliability, and portability, though its power obviously leaves a lot to be desired.
Final Verdict: Our Favorite For Your Money
Hobart Handler 140
The Hobart Handler 140 is the best bang for your buck as long as you can handle the bulk. It sits in the perfect confluence of inexpensive (under $500) and powerful, being good for both amateur and professional welders just getting started.
Many of the others are good, but are a bit more niche, more expensive, or just inferior in some way to the Hobart Handler 140 in an overall sense. As always though, make sure to have your specific uses in mind when buying, as the “best” product may not actually be the best for what you need.
Buyer’s Guide: How do I Choose the right MIG Welder?
There are a number of factors common to MIG welders you want to look out for. You want one with a good duty cycle, that is safe to use, easy to use, and is guaranteed to be a reliable purchase. Also pay a bit of attention to the size and weight of your unit, as it will determine where and when it can be used to a certain extent.
This is both the most and least important factor depending on how patient you are. A better duty cycle gives you more up time actually welding, but it’s not strictly necessary to have as much time as possible before letting it cool off. There’s plenty you can or even need to do between bursts of welding that it’s often fine to make do with what seems like a pitiful duty cycle.
That said, I think it’s best to look for at least 30%, as 20% really crunches you for time.
Easy to Use
A welding machine has a certain amount of inherent complexity in it that you can’t avoid, since there’s a fair bit of stuff you need to know to use it well, but a machine should have buttons that are clearly labeled, easy to turn, and with clear readouts of their results.
Much of a welder’s safety comes from external factors, like you wearing the proper protective gear (welding gloves, helmets or masks, a welding jacket, good work boots, etc.) and keeping your mind on staying safe while doing the job.
However, the machine itself should make some nods here. Overheat and overload protection are the two key things you look for in this arena. The former shuts off if you run the machine too far past its duty cycle, giving you a bit of a buffer and safety net if you mess up. The latter protects from energy surges, a must for any electrical device.
Other features, like electrically cold wires are nice to have, but are considered bonuses, not necessities.
Your welding machine should be of a size that you can use it for what you need. If you’re buying a welder for small odd jobs and spot welding, it should be lightweight and easy to carry, no more than 50 lbs at an absolute maximum, since you want to be able to easily carry it by hand from place to place.
If it’s a larger, more powerful machine, you want to ensure you’re in a situation where a cart can be used to haul it around your shop or similar, or it can be easily loaded onto a truck or tractor for farm work out in the field. Some others (like generator welders) might even be so large they need to be essentially truck mounted.
No size is particularly better than another, but you should always keep in mind your needs before buying a machine, as ending up with one that is too large or too weak is going to be a pain. You also need to keep in mind its actual size (not just weight) when purchasing, as if you need a cart you will need to keep in mind the dimensions of your welding machine. Likewise, smaller ones should not just be light, but also easy to store.
You need a machine that can go the distance, both with its internal parts and external parts. The outside should be made of a strong material that can weather the elements if need be. Steel and aluminum are good, and a sturdy plastic will do in a pinch, though it is never preferred.
The exterior should be watertight to protect the sensitive electrical components, and the entire apparatus should be heat resistant.
Inside everything should be arranged properly and secured tightly to avoid the machine breaking. A good welder is meant to last you years, even decades before giving out.
Which brings us to a last factor to consider:
A good warranty is a must for a welding machine. 5 years is good, 10 year, 15 year, or lifetime warranties are even better. Keep track of what your warranty covers at all times, as they may have different time limitations on different components. You don’t want to get stuck with a welder that has a lifetime warranty on the exterior shell but a 2 year warranty on parts and repairs and not know about it.