Chris is a teacher of Literature at a school in New Berlin, Wisconsin. He is also our favorite irreplaceable freelance writer who can turn such a boring topic into something that people read with interest and pleasure.
Thomas is a professional welder who gained his certification several decades ago and learned all the nuances of this job since then. When not at work, Thomas loves fishing in a lake near his summer house.
Last updated: August 17, 2022
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Budget is one of the major concerns for welders who are beginners or hobbyists, but did you know that you can get an affordable entry-level product from the best flux core welders under $300? We spent several hours researching the top-rated models that are available with a portable design that is easy to operate.
Some of the features we considered in our review are the input and output current for high power production, metal thickness, and the length of the MIG gun and grounding clamps cable that allows extended reach. We also looked at the flux core welders with a high duty cycle that is ideal for thicker materials.
More features: 8-ft ground clamp, 140 Amp output, 6 ft cord, 120V input power, ¼-in max plate thickness
Our Editor’s Choice Forney Easy Weld 140 FC-i blends an attractive price tag with good features such as an above average 8’ MIG gun, 8’ ground clamp, several integrated vents for proper airflow, and unlimited voltage and wire feed speed adjustment. The input and output current is 120V and 140 Amps respectively. The machine that we picked for our Editor’s Choice welds material that is ¼-inch in maximum plate thickness. It has manageable weight of 19 pounds and a built-in handle as well as a good build of all-metal casing with the 8 corners sporting corner protectors. The welder can accommodate 2 and 10 pound rolls of wire.
This welder is easy to set up and suitable for lighter flux-core welding applications by both amateurs and professionals. As a wire feed welder, it limits users to flux-core welding because it lacks a gas line support for MIG welding. However, the technique it uses is ideal for materials that require deeper penetration. The lightweight design and integrated handle on the top makes it portable for different job sites and the machine includes safety features like LED light indicators and dual light on mode that alerts you when you exceed the duty cycle. Assembly is easy because the ground clamp and torch are integrated and it is easy to install the wire spool and start welding within minutes.
What stands out?
Increased precision due to infinite wire feed speed and voltage control
Rugged build that is also portable
Easy to assemble and use
Safety light indicators
High ratings by users
Accommodates 10 pound rolls of wire
What cons did we manage to find?
Only supports fluxed-core welding
You require extra accessories for flux core welding
More features: 160A output current, 16 ft cord length, 0.8 mm plate thickness, 15-22V output voltage
Both Forney Easy Weld 140 FC-i and Reboot RBM-1600 accommodate 2 and 10 pounds of wire but the latter can weld wire with thickness of 0.030 inches as well as 0.040 inches. Reboot RBM-1600 has duty cycle of 40%@160A and 100%@120A and welds mild steel, stainless steel and other metals. It comes with a long 16’ cord and output current range of 30 to 160A for powerful welding. The manufacturer recommends a generator that is at least 5000W, a 50A circuit breaker for 220V operation and a 30A circuit breaker for 120V.
Unlike MIG150 which does not have serrated drive wheel or a gun and hose assembly that you can replace, Reboot RBM-1600 features a replaceable hose assembly and gun and a serrated drive wheel for flux core wire. The machine has versatile usage and supports MIG, MMA, gas, gasless and Lift-Tig welding applications. Some buyers had their welders breaking down soon after purchase but the reliable customer support replaced the faulty machines. We would also prefer the main power on/off switch to be at the front to increase accessibility.
Why are we impressed?
The multiprocess welder supports diverse welding applications
It works with material thickness above 0.030 inches
Includes the MIG and stick in the package
Automatic adjustment of wire speed
Fast shipping and excellent customer support
Compact and powerful
What negatives must you be aware of?
The location of the power switch at the back is inconvenient
The manual should be more descriptive for easy operation
More features: 135A output current, 20.7V output voltage, 1/8-in plate thickness, digital display
TOOLIOM TL-135M has duty cycle of 60%@135A and 100%@104A, 135A output current to weld mild steel of 1/8 inch plate and flux core wire thickness of 0.030 and 0.035 inches. It works with the standard 120V outlet, welds carbon steel and stainless steel and supports stick, Flux Mig and Lift Tig welding. The lightweight machine comes with a carrying handle, a 10’ ground clamp, a 10’ electrode holder, a MIG gun, 2 contact tips, and a wire brush. The welder can accommodate 2 pounds rolls of wire and includes a digital screen that displays the output welding current.
There is a knob to control voltage, amperage and wire speed and some buyers are disappointed that they cannot control wire feed speed separately because it is connected to the voltage setting. As a result, the wire feed speed tends to be too high for the voltage setting. You must buy the Tig torch separately to hook up the shielding gas for Tig weld. We recommend this product for stick welding and MIG welding thinner steel. It is easy to operate the machine and the welds are clean and smooth. You have to engage the feed trigger as a safety precaution for the machine to work.
What do we love it for?
Great features at reasonable cost
High duty cycle, compared to models in the same price range
Includes long ground clamp and extra contact tips
Compact and lightweight
Built-in safety mechanism
Accommodates various metals and welding techniques
What were we disappointed with?
It can be difficult to control the wire feed speed because it is dependent on the voltage setting in use
More features: 140A output current, overload protection, ¼ in plate thickness, fit for 2 lbs wire
ETOSHA MIG 140 Welder is a great choice for beginners and DIY enthusiasts who want an inexpensive model that is capable of handling small welding tasks. The machine provides the best value with support for material thickness of 0.03 and 0.035 inches, overload protection, and electric choke control for deep penetration and less spattering. The welder has a duty cycle of 25%@140A, 140A output current and it accommodates 2 pound rolls of wire. The package includes a grounding clamp, welding gun, a reel of 0.8 mm, a brush, mask, and 1kg welding wire.
This welder weighs only 14.7 pounds. You can easily use it for home projects or transport it to other sites for repair and maintenance jobs. The synergic adjustment feature ensures the right feeder speed and voltage consumption. Some of the things we would like to see improved are the mask which is made of flimsy plastic and the wire included with the machine because it causes a little splatter. There is also one dial to adjust the current and wire feed speed and some users report that the wire feed speed is too fast on lower settings.
What do we love it for?
Compact and lightweight design for improved portability
Synergic adjustment of voltage and feeder speed
Accommodates two wire sizes of 0.03 and 0.035 inches
Multiple built-in safety features
Easy to use
What were we disappointed with?
Hard to fine-tune wire feed speed because you cannot adjust it separately
More features: 135A output current, 5/32-in plate thickness, LED indicators, automatic shutdown, 10 ft earth clamp
We recommend YESWELDER Flux-135 MIG Welder as the best portable flux core welder under $300. It features a small profile and negligible weight of 13.1 pounds and a decent duty cycle of 60%@135A and 100%@104A. The unit welds mild steel up to 5/32-inch plate thickness and wire diameter of 0.03 and 0.0035 inches. Buyers also receive a 10’ ground clamp, 8’ Mig gun cable assembly, a wire brush, and 2 contact tips. According to the numerous positive reviews, this welder performs fairly well for its price.
YESWELDER Flux-135 MIG Welder includes automatic shutdown mechanism and LED indicators. The light weight, MIG gun that works with Lincoln Magnum 100L and the output current of 135A stick makes this product convenient for MIG, Lift TIG and stick welding both at home and away. However, you will have to buy the Lift Tig gun, argon tank and regulator separately. Besides that, this welder only fits 2 pound rolls of flux wire. Otherwise, this welder is a great choice for DIY projects by newbies and hobbyists. It produces smooth welds with minimal splatter.
What makes it stand out?
Accommodates welding on low amperage settings
Easy for beginners to set up and use the machine
LED indicators and automatic shutdown function for safe operation
Compact with light weight that is easy to carry
Neat welds with little to no splatter
Which disadvantages must you keep in mind?
The feeder speed is directly connected to the voltage setting
The welder does not fit 10 pound rolls of flux wire
More features: 110V output power, built-in storage space, 10 speeds, ¼ in plate thickness, automatic shutdown
Among the most notable features of VIVOHOME MIG Welder 170 are the 10 adjustable welding speeds and 4x current flow settings that are convenient when welding different materials such as mild steel, stainless steel or aluminum sheet metal. The machine welds materials that are up to ¼ inch in plate thickness and it is compatible with wire thickness of 0.03 and 0.035 inches. It also boasts of built-in storage space, a hand grip that is comfortable, a decent duty cycle of 60%@170A and output current of 150A, and automatic shutdown function.
This welder is relatively heavier than the other products we have featured in this review of the best flux core welders under $300. It would be good for art projects and garage and home repairs although the comfortable hand grip helps to ease transport to other sites. The settings for current flow are Min, 1, 2 and Max. When you buy the welder, you will receive it along with a welding helmet, a 4.9’ gun with on/off safety feature, 0.03” flux core wire, 6.6’ grounding clamp, and a wire brush.
Why is it special?
Adjustable speed and current settings to suit diverse materials and welding tasks
Comfortable and heat-resistant handle
Integrated storage space on top of the machine
Automatic shutdown feature
Compatible with 0.03”and 0.035” flux-core wire
What are the flaws?
Some owners report that their wire feeder stopped working after approximately 20 minutes or the wire feed motor will sometimes starts skipping
More features: 130A output current, 7 ft power cord, 10 ft ground clamps
Amico MIG-130A flux-cored welding machine comes with 10’ ground clamp cable assembly, 8’ MIG torch gun assembly, a spool of 0.030” flux-cored wire, 7’ power cord, 220V plug, 230V to 110V adapter, and a user manual. You can adjust the current and voltage and match the wire feeding speed to the applicable current. It is compatible with both 0.03” and 0.035” flux cored wires and has a duty cycle of 60%@130A and output current of 130A at 110V and 220V. Safety features include automatic voltage fluctuation compensation and overheat and overload protection mechanism.
Mig-130A is marketed as having the latest IGBT inverter technology and great arc stability. It has been upgraded with detached leads and you can switch between 110V and 220V. This makes this welder convenient for tasks on various sites, including in remote areas. In addition to the dual voltage capability, the welder has light weight of 18 pounds and a fan that dissipates heat by automatic temperature control. The machine is efficient with great duty cycle. However, it does not accept 10 pound spool of wire.
What are our favorite features?
This welder supports dual voltage inputs of 120V or 230V for greater flexibility
Several built-in safety features
Works with 0.03” and 0.035” wire thickness
IGBT inverter technology
Includes flux-cored wire and adapter for quick set up
What could be better?
A number of users find the manual confusing. For instance, the names of the voltage and wire speed knobs are switched in the manual
Limited to 2 pound spool of wire
Things to Consider
Apart from getting a flux core welder that is within your budget, you also want to ensure that the welder can meet all your welding needs. We will explain all the key features you should consider and the role they play in producing durable and clean welds. In this buying guide, we will also discuss factors that promote a welder’s portability, efficiency and output power.
What to Expect from Budget Flux Core Welders?
Most budget-friendly flux core welders are compact and portable models fit for working on-the-go
You can buy an inexpensive flux core welder that is more versatile, easier to use and faster than a stick welder. The best flux core welder under $200 will work with different metal thicknesses, provide powerful arcs and produce a clean weld since flux core welders generate less smoke and fumes when using gas for gas metal arc welding (GMAW). They are also a better option for outdoor welding because the gas they use can withstand windy conditions.
Budget flux core welders are suitable for beginners, hobbyists and DIY enthusiasts.
How to operate them
You should pull the machine for flux core welding to have a precise joint. Point the machine at the weld pool and then pull it away from the weld pool while ensuring the wire-speed is high to avoid the slag getting caught up.
How to Pick the Best Flux Core Welders under 300
Price is just one factor you should consider when shopping for the best flux core welders under $300. To ensure you get the best value for your money, here is the checklist you will need before making a purchase.
We have featured the best flux core welders under $300, but did you know that there are welders that do not support flux-core MIG welding? You should confirm the type of welding processes you can perform with your machine because some welding methods are only suitable for specific applications. TOOLIOM TL-135M is capable of MIG, Lift TIG and Stick welds and can be used in diverse wedding applications such as home repairs and outdoor projects.
Flux core wire capacity
You can pick cheap flux core welders with standard and increased 0.030-0.040-inch wire capacity
Flux core wire capacity is determined by the type of material you will be welding. For instance, wire thickness of 0.030” which is designed to weld thinner metal works well with 120V input current and best with 210V because of better penetration, but you will need a minimum of 220V to weld the 0.035” wire that is meant for thicker metals. To get around this, you can opt for a versatile welder such as Amico MIG-130A which operates on dual voltage of 120V or 230V and works with 0.030” or 0.035” wire.
0.030” wire is mainly used by hobbyists for light welding tasks and it does not require shielding gas. It is also ideal for tight corners because it makes the weld pool more visible by depositing less metal. This wire size is also cheaper than the 0.035” wire and produces less flux which results in less spatter and smoke.
The 0.035” flux core wire generates more heat and provides more welding power and better penetration. It requires higher voltage to prevent shortening of the arc cone and reduction of the width of the bead which can lead to poor penetration depending on amperage output and the metal you are welding. To maximize penetration, use the best 220V MIG welder with a high voltage input that will not be compromised a lot by long power cables or the welder’s efficiency power rating or poor welding clamps and cable connections.
0.035” wire produces more spatter and smoke due to the high flux content but it is ideal when welding outside, especially in windy conditions, because the high flux content prevents weld contamination. It is also better at welding gaps because it deposits more metal.
Input and output current
Input current is the voltage your machine will need to function properly and you should confirm it before making your purchase to ensure that it matches your power supply. Majority of home outlets have 110V input current which can operate most entry-level flux core welders that are suitable for light welding tasks and DIY projects. 110 to 140 volts is common but if you choose a welder that operates on 220V power input for professional welding, you must have a 220V outlet. If not, you will need an adapter such as the 230V to 110V adapter that comes with the dual voltage Amico MIG-130A welder.
When looking at input voltage, you should also consider amperage to identify the best amp breaker that will prevent power shutoff when you run the machine on maximum voltage. The manufacturer of Reboot RBM-1600 recommends a 30 amp circuit breaker for 120V welders and a 50 amp circuit breaker for 220V. You should also ensure that the input end has the right cable size.
Amperage is a good indication of output current. The higher the number of amperes a welder generates at a particular duty cycle, the more powerful the machine is. More amperage translates to more output power. 50 to 90 amperes is standard for most budget-friendly models that weld up to 1/8-inch steel. However, you will find powerful models in our list of the best flux core welders under $300 that generate 130 to 170 amperes. These machines can weld up to 1/4-inch steel.
Flux core welders can be used on thick materials and even galvanized steel
When choosing the best flux core welder under $200 , one of the most important factors to consider is metal thickness. Some MIG welders can only handle mild steel, stainless steel and aluminum while the more versatile ones can fuse iron, cast iron and alloys as well. Plate thickness determines weld durability; welding metal that is thicker than recommended for your flux core welder will lead to cracks because the thicker base metal will have high thermal conductivity that will cause rapid cooling that will be too fast for the design. This results into a brittle weld that develops cracks.
Most flux core welders can weld 24-gauge, 22-gauge and 14-gauge steel. 0.035” wire can weld 20-gauge steel up to 3/16-inch plate thickness. Some 0.030” wires are also capable of welding metals thicker than 14-gauge but you will need multiple passes.
We do not recommend using the 0.035” wire to weld anything thinner than 20-gauge steel.
Models that support both 0.030” and 0.035” wires can weld metals with up to ¼-inch plate thickness.
Dimensions and weight
The portability of your welder is largely influenced by the dimensions and weight of the machine. Flux core welders are designed to be portable so you can place them at the best welding position. If you are elderly or small in stature or you have an injury or disability, it is important to get a welder that you can easily handle, transport and store. A portable welder is also convenient for professional welders that have to travel to job sites. Most of the products we have featured weigh less than 20 pounds and the heaviest welder in our list has manageable weight of 34.6 pounds.
Gun and clamps
Not all welders support a spool gun for aluminum welding. Also, a gun may be designed for only flux-core wire welding with no integral gas feed tube, or as a MIG gun which features a double-layer tube that moves the inert gas and wire to the tip of the gun. The MIG machines capable of both flux-cored MIG and MIG welding include a gas gun and they do not require external supply of shielding gas. Instead, you simply swap the gun tip, wire and shroud to switch to flux-cored MIG mode.
The length of the cables, also known as leads, with the gun and clamp will determine how portable your welder is. Look for longer leads with extended reach that allows you to move freely without having to move your welder. We recommend gun cables that are 10 to 24 feet and ground clamp cables that are 10 to 12 feet.
Duty cycle is the percentage of the 10 minutes your machine can weld continuously and safely without overheating. Duty cycle prevents overheating by shutting off the welder after a specific temperature.
A good welder should be able to provide 3 to 3.5 minutes of continuous operation before it takes a break to cool down. All the models we have included among the best flux core welders under $300 fit this parameter, including Forney Easy Weld 140 FC-I which has a duty cycle of 30%@90A. Some of them have higher duty cycles of 60%@135A and 100%@104A to weld thicker materials for longer time period.
Durability and warranty
As much as light weight is preferred in flux core welders, you should consider the material used in construction and ensure it is durable. Along with durability, check the warranty for additional protection against unforeseen manufacturing defects.
We have featured a number of flux core welders that weigh less than 20 pounds. Among them is YESWELDER Flux-135 MIG Welder which weighs only 13.1 pounds and provides one of the best portable flux core welders.
For the best cheap flux core welder for beginners, check our recommendations of the top-rated flux core welders under $300. These are cost-effective welders that blend low prices with all the features you will need to start a variety of light welding tasks.
Forney Easy Weld 140 FC-i ticks several boxes that make a good welder. The most appealing features include infinite wire feed speed and voltage control, compatibility with 2 pound and 10 pound rolls of wire, built-in torch and ground clamp, and an integrated handle that makes the lightweight 19-pound welder even more portable.
Reboot RBM-1600 is compatible with 0.030” and 0.040” flux core wires to accommodate diverse metals of varied thickness. It supports dual voltage and several welding applications such as MIG, gas, gasless, MMA, and Lift Tig. We also like the long cord and the ability to replace the upgraded gun and hose assembly.
ETOSHA MIG 140 Welder provides the best value for welders who are worried about budget. Apart from being affordable, this welder comes with multiple safety features and a synergic adjustment feature that beginners will particularly find useful. The lightweight machine works with 0.030” and 0.040” wires and welds up to ¼-inch plate thickness which makes it one of the best flux core welders under $300. It is also easy to set up and operate it.
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