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: July 04, 2022
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Aluminum is a tad trickier to weld than steel alloys and other common metals. Welding aluminum improperly can cause a serious burn through. The best welder for aluminum will offer you exceptional travel speed and better control among other features for the best welding results. The market is saturated with welders for aluminum that choosing the best can be a whole bag of experience.
We compiled a list of the best-rated welders for aluminum to help you make the best choice. Some of the crucial parameters we paid attention to in our reviews include dimensions, material thickness, weight, duty cycle, process types, input voltage, and maximum output. The features determine the welders’ durability, convenience, and overall performance. A welder with a high input voltage and great output will give you a clean start and a smooth arc. If it has a compact and lightweight build you can use it for extended periods without getting exhausted.
Input voltage: 110/115/120 V – 220/230/240 V, 60 Hz
Duty cycle: 30% @ 230V
Material thickness: 1/4” – 3/8”
Dimensions: 10.62” x 19.5” x 12.37”
Weight: 79 lbs.
Hobart is a respectable brand with a fantastic line of MIG welders and this 210MVP is downright the best MIG welder for Aluminum you can buy with your money. It is popular among professional welders because of its easy-to-use design and versatility. It will allow you to achieve your most desired high-quality and neat welds.
The welder is a bit on the heavier side in its build coming in at 79 pounds. Moving it around might be tedious especially if you want to use it in different locations in your working area. You can solve this by getting a wheel cart that you can also use to store your gas cylinder and cables.
When it comes to power, the 210 MVP packs a punch. It features 7 voltage settings that ensure you achieve precision welding that results in attractive and neat welds. This is why it is highly preferred by professionals.
Moreover, the welder offers unrivaled convenience with its easy setup. In fact, it comes fully stocked and ready to use. With it, you can weld various items including farm equipment, trailer frames, body panels, and gun/bow racks. Even more, it is powerful enough to weld 24-gauge materials with a 3/8-inch thickness in one pass.
Essentially, the welder has an infinite wire feed control system that allows you to manage maximum arc performance by controlling speeds for less spatter.
What are its best features? The welder runs a solid power of 210A despite its compact build. It is also impressively convenient with an easy setup and easy to use settings.
What could be improved? The welder is fairly heavy, thus a bit challenging to move around.
The Forney 220 ST PRO Welder is a multifunctional welder with 2-in-1 operation; that is, you can use it for stick welding and TIG welding. It’s not a specific version for MMA electrode welding, however, it can be used for TIG and Stick welding. If fed with a higher power meter, however, it has no problem working at its maximum capacity; it can weld iron, stainless steel, and cast iron without problems.
It’s designed to work with a low amperage of 5A and can get up to 220A. One of the strengths of the welder is that it has a relatively low price, especially taking into account its premium quality. With a weight of only 32 lbs, it can be transported almost anywhere with minimal effort, so it is ideal especially for those who use it for small on-site operations.
Simple and versatile, the adjustments are easy to perform and the degree of versatility is also good since it can use electrodes of different diameters, basic, and more. The materials it can weld range from iron, steel, stainless steel, and cast iron. Being an inexpensive welding machine, it is accompanied by a supply of poor-quality accessories. Also, some accessories such as the torch kit and pedal are not included.
This is the closest rival to the Forney 220 ST PRO Welder we just reviewed above. It is one of the best TIG welders for Aluminum out there. It offers excellent value for money with its powerful features that provide the best welding results.
The TIG225X has a robust impact-resistant design that is meant to offer long-lasting performance. All its features including cords, pipes, and welding torches have a high-grade quality built.
The welder’s weight of 90 pounds can be a bit challenging to handle and move around but it suggests a stronger transformer. Plus, it has a strong carrying handle that helps with portability.
Other than its weight, its 10 control dials also pose a challenge, especially for beginners. They have very precise settings but can be a bit daunting to understand. Once you wrap your head around the unit’s functionality, you will appreciate how the welder weld aluminum and other metals with high precision.
You can use the welder with either 240v and 225A output or 120v input current and 140A output which offer a pretty decent duty cycle.
Further, the PrimeWeld TIG225X comes with a welding mask and chipping hammer wire brush combo. However, they both look cheap and flimsy and for your safety, it would be better to invest in a proper welding helmet. You can use the mask when you’re still an apprentice to observe what the other person is doing.
Why are we impressed? The welder’s digital display and sophisticated yet precise controls offer the best welding quality on different materials regardless of how thin they are. Plus, it comes with a 3-year warranty.
What negatives must you be aware of? other than its heavyweight build and complicated controls nothing could be better with this welder.
This is another full-function AC/DC TIG welder that blew our socks off. It has a couple of superior features like its state of the art IGBT inverter and PWM that give you all the versatility you could ever need. You will have to dig deeper into your pockets for the welder but it will be worth every single coin.
Essentially, the welder offers pulse welding for aluminum, MMA stick welding, and many other capabilities for different types of metals. The unit has a rugged 69-pound build with a sturdy impact-resistant frame that can stand the test of time. Its stick and TIG welding torches have superb quality and it has all the fittings you would need to get started.
Moreover, it has great and straightforward control dials. Beginners will appreciate how easy it is to comprehend the precise TIG welder settings owing to the welder’s digital display.
The welder offers input power options of 110v with a maximum 150A output or 220v with a maximum 200A output. Its duty cycle is pretty impressive for a welder within its price range. You can get a 100% duty cycle at 150A.
Why is it special? The AHP Alpha-TIG200X-2018 is one of the best aluminum welders out there with its 200Hz maximum frequency for pulse welding. It has a tough build with multiple features that do a superb welding job on different types of materials. With a 3-year warranty, this welder would be money well-spent for a home DIYer or a professional welder in a small workshop.
What are the flaws? You have to part with a hefty amount of cash for this unit but it is a worthy investment.
You should always turn to the best when the weld has got to be right. The Lotos MIG175 is one of the best in the industry with all the features you would want for welding almost everything from aluminum to stainless steel and steel.
The welder has been painstakingly designed to offer you unrivaled convenience and maximum versatility. It is meant to be used with flux core and it has its own gas regulator which allows you to weld different types of materials.
You can move from booth to booth with this welder and operate it with much ease thanks to its manageable weight. It is not the lightest in the industry but it won’t break your back.
With its 220v/240v and AC 50/60 input voltage, the welder can handle wire reels of various sizes. You also get a spool gun that will save your time and energy big time. It ensures you get a seamless weld that lasts by feeding the wire evenly. You can even adjust the wire feed to the speed you like.
Just like all the other LOTOS MIG welders, this welder has an arc that never fails. It is consistent and reliable. Plus, you will love its easy 2-step trigger that releases gas very fast. What’s more, the welder is timed for 3-second bursts after which you can pick up a rhythm and weld to your heart’s content.
What are its best features? This is the ultimate handyman’s MIG welder that does a quick and neat welding job. It is built to last and has several great features that make it a perfect choice for DIY welders who do fabrication work.
What could be improved? the welder cannot be used in busy production lines as it is built to handle light DIY tasks at home or a small professional workshop.
This is the cat’s pajamas when it comes to all-around welding functionality. The LOTOS TIG 200 is not the cheapest nor the priciest. It offers you a pretty penny-worth. It has plenty of features that can benefit the experienced welder and at the same time, it is incredibly versatile and easy to use for a beginner.
The machine has a lightweight but beastly build that will last you a good one. At 58 pounds, it is not the best lightweight but it can be easily moved around and doesn’t feel flimsy like most ultra-lightweight machines do. It is also pretty compact thus saves on storage space and though looks are not that important, this welder is a stunner. It is an ideal choice for the aesthete handyman.
One praiseworthy feature of this welder is the automated switch process between 220v and 110v. The welder simply detects the voltage that is needed and adjusts itself accordingly. Because of this, the machine works well for both TIG and Stick jobs and can weld a variety of materials including aluminum, stainless steel, and steel.
With an impressive duty cycle of 60% at both 190A for 200v and 150A for 110v, you can weld metals as thin as 6mm and as thick as a quarter an inch. You will also achieve accurate welding thanks to its AC/DC 200 amp square wave inverter.
Unlike many other welders, the Lotos TIG200 comes with a few extras of decent quality like a mask set, a stick electrode holder, and a ground clamp with cable.
What are our favorite features? The welder is perfect for both a beginner and a professional welder. It has incredible features and you don’t have to spend a fortune to enjoy easy and high-quality welding.
What could be better? It takes time to get used to the foot pedal.
This is by far the best welder you can get for the money. It beats the pants off of pricier welders with its ability to convert into a 220 to give you a hotter weld that you can use for small-to-medium welding tasks and household repairs.
With this welder, you can weld pretty much anything including DV reverse rods. It is ultra-lightweight, coming in at almost 35 pounds but doesn’t feel flimsy at all. Plus, it has a secure carrying handle at the top of its case that adds to its easy portability.
The digital display of this welder makes it easy to set the welding parameters, and the 2T or 4T trigger function gives you control over the welding process from start to finish.
Moreover, the machine is software controlled and has a square wave AC/DC output. Plus, with 110/220v input current, you will be able to achieve more penetration than splatter thus experiencing less wastage.
The machine is able to save welding parameters while powered off, and it can also auto-recover last time’s welding parameters. Its unique air channel design increases the heat dissipation of the power device, and control circuits, and minimizes dust absorption, thereby greatly improving longevity and reliability.
The only downside to this welder is that it doesn’t come with a foot pedal which makes aluminum helps to control the welder. On the bright side, it features an auto saving function that makes the process gun a breeze.
What are its best features? There are so many welders that are way better than this stick welder in terms of features and performance but not at its price point. It has plenty of standout features that make it a huge steal like an intelligent temperature fan control, autosave of welding parameters, etc. It is also among the best lightweight aluminum welding machines out there.
What could be improved? The only contention with this valuable welder is that you have to buy the foot pedal for easier control of the welder and it also can be not of the highest quality.
Things to Consider
With three welding processes to choose from, it is pretty obvious that the market is saturated with different brands and models of welders for aluminum. Without the right information, choosing the best can be daunting. This segment includes all the critical aspects you have to consider before making a purchase.
Features to consider when choosing the best welder for aluminum
These are the crucial parameters that you must consider for you to make the best buy:
There are 3 main welding processes suitable for welding aluminum and they include torch welding, MIG welding, and TIG welding. TIG welding is the most popular process because TIG welders do an excellent job of preventing burn through.
Aluminum needs a lot of heat to be welded and can hold the heat for a long time leading to a burn-through. Also, TIG welding can be applied to both thick and thin aluminum plates/sheets. With a TIG welder, you have to choose a separate welding rod with an alloy that is closest to the alloy of the aluminum pieces. TIG welding needs a little getting used to, compared to MIG welding but once it is mastered, it produces the neatest and strongest welds.
MIG welding is the second most common welding process for aluminum. It is a perfect way of welding thin aluminum sheets because they produce the right amount of heat needed for a successful weld. When choosing a MIG welder, you have to decide whether you will be using the spray arc or pulse welding methods. For pulse welding, you will need an inverter supply of power while for spray arc welding you will need a constant voltage and currents machine. Another thing you must consider when buying a MIG welder is that 100% argon is the best shielding gas for welding aluminum.
Torch welding is the third and least common welding process. It is more complicated than MIG and TIG welding thus mostly used by experienced professionals. If you are a welding newbie, it is highly likely that you will experience a burn-through with this process because it takes a lot to be able to master how to control the heat applied to a work-piece.
This is one crucial consideration especially if you are looking to buy a TIG Welder. AC capability is essential for aluminum welding because it works well on thinner materials. The DC (Direct Current) capability is highly suitable for welding thicker materials. Many high-power welding machines run on DC but it does not work well with aluminum because of its lower melting point and other special properties. Nearly all the TIG welders on our list have the AC/DC capability.
This is another aspect that also determines the thickness of the materials you will be welding. If you are not sure of the types of materials you will be welding, you better go for a TIG welder with dual voltage. Voltage combines with ampere output to determine the overall heat input of the welder. Therefore, it is safe to choose a machine that has dual voltage and a wide ampere range to enjoy the flexibility of working on different types of metals with different thicknesses. The AHP Alpha-TIG200X-2018 is a prime example.
As mentioned above, maximum output and voltage go hand in hand and they are the main determinants of the overall heat input of your welder. It also determines the types of materials you will be able to weld. For versatility, it is safe to go for a welding machine with a wide ampere range. For an aluminum welder, you have to choose a machine with amp specifications that go as low as 10 or even 5 amps. Better yet, you need a machine that features amperage control as it is common for welding machines to experience fluctuations that affect the quality of a weld.
Amperage control will save you the pain of checking the gauges every other time and it will help you achieve welds with superior quality.
This is one of the most critical aspects to consider before purchasing a welding machine. It is the actual amount your welder will be able to do within 10 minutes before resting and cooling down. The time a welder needs to rest and cool down depends on its overall build quality, its cooling system, and the types of cooling equipment you’ll be using. Every welding machine has a specific amperage rate that determines its duty cycle which also comes in handy when you need to choose the peak current to use for your projects.
Duty cycle is usually measured in percentages and is indicated on every welding machine. If your machine has a duty cycle of 50% then it means it will be able to run for 5 minutes before resting.
Welding electrodes, rods, or wires come in different sizes. You can choose any of the 7 sizes available on the market. However, to get the ultimate welding results you have to choose a suitable size for your projects.
You can as well go for a versatile size like the 6011 which can be used with AC/DC powered machines in all directions. It also offers exceptional penetration power and can be used to weld different types of materials. Other electrode diameters come in handy in specific instances, for example, the 7024 is the ‘It’ electrode for welding thicker materials like steel.
This is a key consideration especially if you are a beginner welder. Welders are super engaging machines and the easier they are to use the more you’ll enjoy welding. Be sure to go for a welding machine that maximizes automation and digitization in its build. If features like high-temperature shutdown are automated, you will have an easier time.
Some machines feature digital display to help you follow the manufacturer’s regulations like preferred material, voltage, and amperage. You are also likely to achieve precise welds if the machine comes with preset features like voltage and amperage.
Welder quality and performance
To get a big bang for your bucks, you have to ensure the welder has a great build quality with all the features mentioned above. Any welder with all the parameters above will be suitable for anything you intend to do with it especially if you’re a hobbyist. You have to weigh the pros and cons to be able to get a versatile model.
Top brands like Hobart, Miller, Everlast, and Lincoln provide more capabilities and superior quality. Though they cost a pretty penny, they should be your top consideration if you intend to do entire-day welding.
Dimensions and weight
These determine the portability of the welder. Normally, it is the size of the welder’s transformer that determines its overall size and weight. The transformer is the heaviest part of a welder. If you are an on-the-go welder, you should always opt for lightweight and compact models as you can easily move around with it. You should also check to see that it comes with a sturdy carrying handle that makes lifting it from one place to another super-easy.
On the other hand, if you intend to work at a stationary workstation, then the heavy models would be okay.
A welder, just like any other machine is likely to encounter challenges in its operation. That’s why a welder that is backed by a generous warranty like the AHP Alpha-TIG200X-2018 should be your top consideration. A generous warranty is a value-added proposition.
Be sure to go for a model that comes with a couple of accessories like a foot pedal, welding torches, and inert gas attachment tips among others. Some of them, like the foot pedal, make the machine more user-friendly.
All TIG welders running on AC power can weld aluminum.
Choosing the best welder for aluminum is not a walk in the park especially with all the numerous brands and models available. That shouldn’t be the case anymore with all the pro tips on this guide. Should you be overwhelmed with the multiple options on the market, you can easily pick any of the top-rated welders we have reviewed at length. Our top recommendation is the Hobart Handler 210MVP. Hobart is a top brand, so its quality is unquestionable and it offers incredible versatile functionality.
Our Premium choice, the Forney 220 ST PRO Welder is one of the best TIG welders for aluminum out there. It is remarkably lightweight, weighing a mere 50 pounds, and its ability to weld different materials of different thicknesses sets it apart from the rest.
Our third choice, PrimeWeld TIG225X, stood out because of the various capabilities it offers. It is a TIG/STICK welder with a solid build and superb features like a decent duty cycle. Its generous 3-year warranty backing makes it one of the best welder for aluminum available on the market.
How Do I Weld Aluminium? A Definitive Guide to the Welding Process - TWI
There are numerous processes that can be used for welding aluminium and its alloys, which are detailed in this FAQ.