MIG welders may be almost as popular as TIG welders but professional welders mostly prefer the former because they are ideal for large and complex projects that use thicker metals.
MIG welders are used in mass production because they are not only versatile but also faster. Another reason to add these machines to your tool collection is that they are easy to learn, making them suitable for welders of all skill levels. To avoid guesswork, we spent several hours researching the best MIG welders available on the market. We have compiled a list of the top products based on their performance, prices, durability, dimensions, and duty cycle, among other key features that will help you make an informed decision.
More features: 1/4-3/8 in max material thickness, welds steel, stainless steel, aluminum, clamps and guns included
Hobart – 500553 Handler 210 is our Editor’s Choice because of its versatility and ease of use which makes it ideal for pros with occasional welding tasks as well as one of the best MIG welders for beginners and pros. It comes with dual voltage plug option that improves the welder’s portability because you can use 115V or 230V outlet, and there is a convenient weld settings chart that is placed on the inside part of the door for quick reference. The MIG welder is compatible with steel, stainless steel and aluminum, and it only takes one pass to weld material that is 1/4-3/8in. in maximum thickness.
Hobart – 500553 Handler 210 is heavy but still lighter than Hobart Ironman 240 which has a larger transformer. However, it has duty cycle of 20% at 90A and 30% at 150A with 150V and 230V respectively. Although this is enough for a MIG welder for home use, the other products in our list have a duty cycle that would also be suitable for complex welding applications. Otherwise, we appreciate the built-in safety features for motor protection and thermal overload, and you do not require any tools to switch drive rollers for different types and sizes of wire.
More features: push-and-turn digital controls, LCD screen, also used for TIG, stick and flux-cored welding, 60 Hz input, 3-year limited warranty
Lincoln Electric Power MIG 210 Mp also supports dual voltage inputs of 120V or 230V. The welding machine is our Premium Pick and it boasts of several advanced features with superior performance for its size. It has maximum output of 220 Amp and provides a duty cycle of 25% at 200A and 40% at 100A. The machine welds up to 3/16-inch aluminum or up to 5/16-inch stainless or mild steel. You can also use it for TIG, stick and flux-cored welding. It is rated among the best MIG welders for the money and it available with a 3-year limited warranty.
The set up process is simple and the MIG welder comes with a large color LCD display with a nice interface, accessible user settings and push-and-turn digital controls. This allows you to easily choose the welding process, wire diameter, gas mix and material thickness, and then the screen will display weld details such as the speed, amps and volts. Although costly, this is a good MIG welder with a duty cycle that that we recommend for light to medium tasks. Some users had faulty wire path covers in previous models but that part has since been upgraded in this version.
Forney Easy Weld 140 FC-I is one of the lightest entry-level machines in our list. It is the best cheap MIG welder with light weight of 19 pounds, infinite voltage and wire feed speed control, and maximum output of 140 Amp. It is capable of welding mild steel with 1/4-inch maximum thickness. The welding machine comes with 8-inch MIG gun, 20A-15A adapter, built-in top carry handle, torch wrap, and 8-inch ground clamp. This welder is our pick for Best Value, and it is backed by a limited warranty of 12 months which might seem short but is reasonable for the budget-friendly price of this machine.
This machine is compatible with 120V outlets. It is not as versatile as the best professional MIG welders which support dual or multiple voltages. However, we like the duty cycle of 30% at 90A which is decent for repair, maintenance and DIY projects, and the machine performs well in flux-core welding. The welder is designed to work with 0.030-inch flux-core wire that will not reduce the duty cycle. Some customers have mentioned having a lot of spatter which is fairly common with flux core. We also suggest replacing the nozzle with a flux nozzle for a better view of your work piece.
As the name suggests, Weldpro MIG210 LCD is a welder designed for professionals and it is equipped with features that optimize efficiency and output. For starters, the welder has a high duty cycle of 40% at 200A and maximum output of 200 Amps. It also comes with LCD screen with the option for independent voltage and wire speed control. Besides that, this model sports numerous upgrades that improve your welding experience and qualify this product as the Best Professional MIG Welder. You now have more adjustable settings, including manual mode option. The machine is covered by a limited warranty of 3 years.
As mentioned above, the LCD display now includes an upgraded menu with on-screen options for type of gas, type of electrode, MIG mode, Spot weld for body panels, polarity changes, Arc force, Hot Start, and Full Synergic or Full Manual option. Another update is the “out of range” feature that warns you when the voltage or wire speed setting you choose is outside the recommended relative value. This is among the quietest welding machines we found during our research, and it is also lighter and smaller than WeldPro 200. An optional spool gun for aluminum welding is also available separately.
Most welders in this price range do not come with a spool gun but LOTOS MIG175 does, which is one of the features that make it the best 220V MIG welder. As well as the high-speed spool gun, buyers also receive an aluminum welding wire, 4-prong end connection and argon gas regulator in the package so you can start welding right away. The Company offers 3-year limited warranty, 1-year new replacement warranty and 30-day refund. You can weld up to 1/4-inch mild steel or stainless steel and aluminum of 3/16-inch maximum thickness, and the spool gun has received high ratings by owners.
This is one of the best cheap MIG welders we found with an output of 175 Amps and a duty cycle of 30% at 135A and 30% at 175A which welds for 2 minutes at maximum power. It is a great intermediate choice for flux core welding. If you cannot access a 220V outlet and you are a hobbyist or you mostly do light to medium welding jobs, you should consider MIG140 which has input voltage of 110V. Some customers had problems with the shielding gas regulator having inaccurate values and the feed not working correctly and the Company quickly sent replacements.
If you are looking for the best MIG welder for 1/2″ steel that is also within an affordable budget, we recommend Everlast Power-i-MIG 200E which comes with a relatively long limited warranty of 5 years. The low-spatter welding machine has dual voltage capability, compact and lightweight design of 30 pounds that is easy to transport, a good duty cycle of 25% at 180A and maximum output of 200 Amps. The 220V MIG welder also features overload protection, a stable arc performance and a new LCD screen with a user-friendly interface. The maximum thickness of the material you can weld at 120Vand 240V is 3/32 inches and 5/32 inches respectively.
The Cyclone 200E features new upgrades such as the LCD screen with Powerset mode that allows you to select the metal thickness, wire diameter and gas type and then the machine will automatically provide the appropriate setting which you can also adjust. There is the option of manual mode, too. The digital IGBT inverter optimizes output power, allows you to conveniently switch between different voltages and enables you to use this MIG welder as a flux-cored or stick welder. The only drawback we found is the ground cable which we would like to be longer since the one provided is only 5-foot long.
What made us pick this model as the best MIG welder for beginners is the low cost, 3-in-1 functionality, ease of use, the included accessories, 110V voltage input, and the small and light profile. TOOLIOM 135A MIG Welder is also suitable for Stick and Lift Tig although you will have to purchase an extra Tig lift torch. The machine comes with a MIG gun, 10-ft electrode holder, 10-ft ground clamp, wire brush and 2 contact tips. Other features we like are the smart digital display, overload protection, and the high duty cycle of 60% at 135A and 100% at 104A.
Although this model has the same maximum output and duty cycle as TOOLIOM 135A 110V/220V Stick Welder, it only supports 110 input voltage compared to the latter which has dual voltage capability but no Flux MIG function. There is a knob to set and adjust the wire speed, voltage and amperage of TOOLIOM 135A MIG Welder, and a chart in the manual to guide you on set up and user settings. The grounding clamp does not seem sturdy but we appreciate the long cables and the high duty cycle. Unfortunately, you have to buy the tig torch separately to hook up shielding gas.
MIG welders continuously feed the metal wire to the gun at a specified speed when you hold down the trigger. They also emit shielding gas and the heat melts and fuses two metals. MIG welders are suitable for mass production and welding tasks that require speed and low expenses. They are also relatively easy to use which is why they are a great choice for both beginners and professional welder.
MIG welders are mostly used to fuse aluminum, mild steel and stainless steel of thin to medium thickness, with the majority welding metals that are up to 3/8 inches in thickness. There are superior models are capable of welding cast iron, iron and some alloys ranging from 18 gauge to 1/2 inch in thickness.
MIG welding application is common in construction and automotive industries as well as in mass production of ship and computer components because it the process is quick and cost-effective.
The following are the main features you should consider when choosing the best MIG welders for the money.
Welding machines with high capabilities and advanced features will typically be expensive. But a higher price does not necessarily translate to better performance. You can find the best MIG welders under $500 that come with useful features such as dual-voltage capability, wide range of welding applications, user-friendly controls and adjustable settings that maximize output and efficiency.
The welding gun designed for MIG welders for home use features a double-layer gas tube that feeds and regulates the flow of inert gas and wire from the welder to the gun’s tip. On the other hand, the gun for flux-cored welding machines is not capable of shielding gas MIG welding. A FCAW gun does not have an integral gas feed tube and cannot be used for inert gas MIG welding. The welding flux is embedded in the wire’s core and it is releases as shielding gas as the metal melts after hitting an arc.
Another difference between flux-cored and MIG welders is their contact tips. The contact tips of MIG welders have a wide outer shroud, and the contact tips of flux-cored welders have a narrow angled shroud.
We have included the best dual-use MIG welders for the money. Among them is Forney Easy Weld 140 FC-I which does not require external supply of shielding gas. These welding machines are capable of both flux-cored MIG and gas MIG welding because they come with a gas MIG gun.
A key feature that will influence the cost of a welding machine is the power requirements. The input power, or voltage, also allows you to establish whether the machine will be compatible with your outlets.
A welder with voltage ranging from 110 to 140 volts will be suitable for most hobbyists because it is compatible with standard home outlets and can weld up to 3/8-inch material thickness. The downside is that the duty cycle will be short.
The best 220V MIG welder with high output power and greater capabilities require a 230V outlet. Keep in mind that you cannot use an extension cord with most welding machines. So, if you don’t have a 230V outlet readily available at home, we recommend buying dual-voltage welders. These are versatile models that are compatible with both 110V and 220V outlets and others that you can pair with an adapter to work with any plug for high input voltage
Amperage is another factor that you should consider when assessing the input power. The majority of 110V power circuits have 20 amp breakers which may not be enough to provide maximum voltage out of a high-powered welder without shutting it down, especially if you are welding thicker material with 110V machine. We recommend a 30 amp circuit breaker for 110V welders and 50 amp circuit breaker for 220V welders. Remember to also use a cable with the appropriate size for input power.
To determine the correct voltage and wire speed to use that will produce the cleanest product, you need to know the type and thickness of the material you will be welding.
A 110V MIG welder with 90 amp power output can safely weld steel that is 1/8 inches in maximum thickness whereas a 220V MIG welder with power rating of 180 amps typically welds steel that is up to 1/4-inch thick.
MIG welders are ideal for thinner 24-gauge or 18-gauge materials as well as thick materials ranging from 3/8 to 1/2 inches. Stick welders are more suitable for much thicker metals.
A general rule when welding is to use one amp per 0.001 inch of mild steel. This means that you will need approximately 125 amps for 1/8-inch of low carbon steel, 25% more power for aluminum, and 10% less power for stainless steel.
The best professional MIG welder should be efficient to yield maximum power output with little input power. This also results in stronger and cleaner welds with great consistency and penetration. The products use minimal welding wire to reduce cost and they are free of spatter and oxidation.
Everlast Power-i-MIG 200E which we recommend as the best MIG welder for 1/2″ steel excels at efficiency and performance by using a digital IGBT inverter. The technology maximizes power output and allows you to use the machine as a stick or flux-cored welder. It also enables you to alternate between various voltages.
Most of the products we have featured come with various modes and settings that you can adjust to your weld. Some are available with preset settings that are automatically activated when you put in the details related to your weld to eliminate guesswork.
The size and dimensions of a welding machine may not be a big deal if you perform most of the tasks, such as automotive welding, in a workshop. You will only need to make sure that the machine can fit in the space available. However, if you will be carrying out various welding projects that might require you to move the welder to job sites, then you need to consider a compact and lightweight machine that will be portable. Apart from size and weight of the welding machine, you also need to check the ground length and lead length to ensure they are long enough to provide a spacious workspace that will not restrict your movement. We have featured the best small MIG welders that will also be suitable for individuals with an injury, disability or small stature.
One of the most important factors to consider when choosing the best professional MIG welder is the duty cycle. This refers to the amount of time you can run your machine continuously at a particular output power level before it overheats or shuts down. Duty cycle optimizes the performance and lifespan of your welder. It is expressed as a percentage that is in 10-minute increments. For instance, Lincoln Electric Power MIG 210 Mp has a duty cycle of 25% at 200A and 40% at 100A. What this means is that you can weld continuously for two minutes and 30 seconds at a 200 amp rating and then stop the welder for the remainder of the 10 minutes. If you are welding with this machine at 100 amp rating, you can run it for a total of four minutes before you allow the machine to rest for six minutes. The amount of amps differs from one model to another but you can adjust it on your welder. Look for a product with a longer duty cycle if you are a professional welder.
All the products we have recommended feature sturdy material and safety features that will improve the lifespan of your welding machine. The warranty varies according to the brand and the model, with the best professional MIG welders providing long warranties that promote confidence in the product. One of the qualities that make LOTOS MIG175 the best cheap MIG welder is that buyers receive a 30-day refund offer as well as 1-year new replacement warranty and 3-year limited warranty.
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Which to Choose?
All welders, including the best 110V MIG welders for the money, will come with multiple accessories for additional value. These might include welding gun, wire spool, contact tips, ground clamp and cable, wire brush, power cord, tool kit, and a user manual. The cables should be long and equipped to handle maximum output power, the wire should be enough to start you off, and the welding gun should ideally be able to accommodate different welding processes.
Useful Tips and Tricks
Hobart Handler 210 welds steel, stainless steel and aluminum and material with maximum thickness of 1/4 to 3/8 inches. Our top pick also features dual voltage capability and toolless switch of drive rollers, and it comes with clamps and welding guns.
Lincoln Electric Power MIG 210 Mp is a Premium Pick with high output power, maximum thickness range of 3/16 to 5/16 inches and a large LCD screen with intuitive controls. It is one of the best MIG welders we have reviewed with a duty cycle that is ideal for light to medium welding applications, and the machine also supports flux-cored, TIG and Stick welding.
If these two options are beyond your budget and you need a cheap MIG welder for beginners, Forney Easy Weld 140 FC-i would be a great choice. The lightweight welding machine has a high duty cycle of 30% at 90A and it comes with an 8-inch MIG gun and ground clamp as well as an adapter.