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: September 20, 2021
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MIG welders have been around since the 1940s’ and have slowly grown into one of the most sought-after welding machines of hobbyists, autobody workers, and many other professionals in the field. But which is the best MIG welder under 500 on the market today?
If you’re an experienced welder who’s tried different machines, it would be very easy for you to choose a MIG welder. However, beginners might find it very hard to select a welding machine that can get the job done.
We’ve reviewed and ranked the best options available today to help you find the best MIG welder for you. We have selected the best models based on their duty cycle, power, functionality, and much more. MIG welding is one of the most popular forms of welding today, and it’s always best to have a reliable welding machine that can handle all the tasks you need.
The HZXVOGEN MIG Welder is an excellent pick for beginner welders looking to start a new hobby. With its 25%, 200A duty cycle, you can run it for around two and a half minutes at 200A before cooling it down for seven and a half minutes. It’s a reasonably light welder, making it easy to move around. Since this welder uses a flux-cored welding wire, you can get through thicker joints and metal much easier.
This is a 4-in-1 welder, which gives you more functionality than other models out there. It has an LCD display that makes it much easier to view the controls and other parameters. The handle is made out of acrylic, which makes it sturdy and comfortable to use. The duty cycle is fairly good for a Mig Welder under 500 and allows you to use this machine to handle some of the tougher welding tasks.
What stands out?
We enjoyed the LCD display feature on this model. It allowed us to easily view the different controls and parameters, making for a much more convenient welding experience. The smart control also allowed us to quickly switch between the different modes, making it an ideal model for beginners.
What cons did we manage to find?
However, since this is primarily a MIG welder, it isn’t that big of a deal. However, one downside to this model is that it didn’t come with a tig gun, which slightly reduces the functionality. The welder also doesn’t come with flux-cored wires, meaning you will have to buy them on top of the machine. Since the machine only supports flux-cored wires, you won’t be able to use solid-wire electrodes that are better fitted for thinner metals.
Our next pick comes from LOTOS, one of the most reliable brands in the welding community with an excellent reputation. This heavy-duty MIG welder weighs in at 85 lbs, so while this isn’t the most portable MIG welder, it packs a punch that will allow you to handle many different tasks. It has a duty cycle of 20% at 175A; this means that you can run it for 2 minutes at 175A before you need to rest it for 8 minutes. It comes with an aluminum wire feeder that allows you to have more stability when welding.
One of the standout features of this model is its versatility. This MIG welder under 500 can weld aluminum using the spool gun included in the package. Since it also comes with an argon regulator, making it ideal for people who use Argon/CO2 mixed gas. The two convenient knobs on the machine make it very easy to control, and since it comes from the LOTOS brand, you can rest assured that the welder has an excellent build quality. The transformer and other components of this gas MIG welder under 500 were designed with durability in mind so that it will last you a very long time in the workshop.
Why did it make our list?
We enjoyed the fact that this welder came with just about everything you need in the workshop. It can handle different types of welding tasks and comes with a spool gun and argon regulator, which can make things much more convenient for those in need of a full welding set.
What is not ideal about it?
With that said, we would’ve enjoyed this gas MIG welder more if it were lighter. Since it weighs around 85 lbs, it can be hard for people to move it around. And if you plan on welding in different locations, this could be a real drag.
We chose this next model because it is one of the best MIG welders portable under 500 today. It only weighs around 36.3 lbs, making it very easy to carry around to different locations. It has a duty cycle of 60% at 120A. So, if you run the machine at 120A, it can run for 6 minutes before you need to cool it down for 4 minutes. While it isn’t the most powerful MIG welder out there, it can get the job done reasonably well.
This is a 3-in-1 machine, so you can also use it for TIG and MMA welding aside from MIG welding. Unlike other MIG welders on the market, this model comes with an integrated wire feeder and a full-size MIG platform, allowing you to weld different materials easily. All you have to do is select between the different modes.
What makes it stand out?
We really enjoyed the fact that this welder came with multiple different modes. Aside from handling MIG welding, you can also use it for TIG and MMA welding. To switch between the functions, all you have to do is use the knobs on the machine. And with its compact and lightweight design, you can bring it with you anywhere you go. Since this machine is compatible with solid and flux-cored wires, you have much more flexibility when it comes to the wire you use when welding.
Which disadvantages must you keep in mind?
One thing we didn’t enjoy is that it is a very unforgiving welder. When using this for your tasks, we highly recommend dialing your settings first and testing it out on a piece of scrap as you might risk damaging your project by using the wrong settings.
This next feature is an excellent pick for beginners. In fact, many people claim that this is the best MIG welder for under 500. 220v and 110v voltages will work with this welder, making it a very convenient pick. It only weighs around 27lbs, so it’s easy to carry around and move to different locations. It has an excellent duty cycle of 80% at 140A, which isn’t the strongest out there, but would be ideal for handling most beginner welding tasks.
One thing that sets this welder apart from other models is its ease of use. It is compatible with flux wires and solid wires, allowing beginners to experiment with both gasless and gas welding. This model also has a lift TIG mode, which isn’t high-frequency TIG, but can give users enough flexibility to try out different types of welding. Another great feature of this model is that it supports solid and flux-cored wires. This allows you to use these MIG welders in different conditions and handle a wider variety of materials.
Why is it special?
We immensely enjoyed all the different welding modes you can use with this machine. Since it supports both solid and flux-cored wires, beginners can easily switch between whichever mode best suits them. The brand also offers great customer support, a three-year warranty, and a free consumable guarantee!
What are the flaws?
One thing that we considered a downside of this welder is that it doesn’t come with a spool gun. Since it has a specific mode that supports spool torches, it would’ve been a great addition for them to include a spool gun in the package. This model also doesn’t have the best duty cycle, so you will have to frequently cool it down, especially if you’re welding at more than 140A.
Our last feature on this list has the best value for the money. With the capability to work with both solid and flux-cored wires, this is one of the best gas MIG welder under 500 that you can get today. Since you can use it for a wide variety of welding tasks, it is one of the most popular options for both beginner and experienced welders.
Despite being a relatively affordable model, it comes with great features that beat out others in its price range. It has an LCD Display that clearly informs users of a bunch of different parameters such as the mode, voltage, and much more! It has a steel handle, so durability is no issue, and it even has an insert for a smart chip that can protect it from overheating, creating a safe environment in the workshop.
What makes it special?
The versatility of this welder is what we enjoyed most when doing the research. Since it has multiple modes, it can handle gas, mixed gas, and gasless welding, which is more than what many others in its price range have to offer nowadays. There are two knobs on the machine that control voltage and wire speed, making it very easy for beginners to use.
What cons did we find?
One thing we didn’t enjoy was the lack of accessories that come with this model. This MIG welder under 500 can handle a lot of different tasks. However, if you haven’t purchased the right attachments before starting on your project, you’re going to have to end up buying them separately to utilize this welder to the full extent.
Things to Consider
There are many different factors to consider when buying a MIG welder under 500. And if you’re new to the world of welding, it might be tough to find the right model for you. In fact, many beginners get overwhelmed by the sheer amount of options out there.
To help you narrow down your choices, we’ve created a quick buying guide that contains all the important things to consider when searching for a MIG welder under 500.
What is special about MIG Welder machines?
MIG stands for Metal Inert Gas, and it is a type of welding GMAW
Trusted SourceGas metal arc welding - WikipediaThere are four primary methods of metal transfer in GMAW.
. A MIG welder works by forming an electric arc between a MIG wire electrode and the workpiece metal. The electrical arc causes the metal to heat up, which results in the metal melting and fusing together.
While MIG welders are fairly complex machines, they are a great choice for anyone interested in DIY welding projects. In fact, this welding process is very popular among professionals as well. MIG welder machines allow you to create high-quality welds much quicker than other types of welding, such as TIG welding, which takes much slower
Trusted SourceMIG vs TIG | Welding Types, Materials, and Applications - A GuideA comparison between MIG and TIG welding, outlining what the processes entail, advantages, materials utilized, and typical industrial applications.
. You can use MIG welder machines on a wide variety of steel recipes.
Since MIG welder machines don’t use a flux wire, you get much less slag entrapment, resulting in higher quality welds. With a MIG welder under 500, you can even weld with much less splatter, meaning you won’t have to deal with a large loss of alloy elements.
MIG welder machines are one of the most versatile welding tools out there. They can handle a variety of tasks, and if you make sure to get the best MIG welder machine for you, it will be your go-to tool in the work shed.
Features to Consider
Now it’s time to dive deep into features you need to keep an eye out for when shopping for the best MIG welder under 500. Every person has their own needs and preferences in the workshop, and some features might be more important than others depending on these needs. The following are some of the most important things to consider when buying MIG welders.
And if you find a MIG welder under 500 that ticks all these boxes, then you’ll end up with a reliable machine that you’ll be able to use for many years to come!
Welding Wire Support
When looking for the best MIG welder under 500, one major factor to consider is the welding wire support. This refers to the type of wires you can feed into the machine. Typically, MIG welders use two types of wires, flux-cored and solid wire electrodes
Trusted SourceWhat Kind of Wire Do You Use for a MIG Welder? – Welders LabThe right MIG wire will also provide better accuracy when wires are being placed and more consistency overall, so you don’t have to go back over your work multiple times.
Flux-cored wires are best for gas-shielded and self-shielded projects. You will need external shielding gas with gas-shielded wires, while you won’t need it for self-shielded wires. Usually, beginner welders use self-shielded wires as they are less complicated. Flux-cored wires work great in windy conditions and are used to get a reliable and durable weld.
On the other hand, solid wire electrodes will require a shielding gas and are the common wires used for MIG welding. Solid wire electrodes require shield gas to protect the weld pool from particles in the atmosphere that can possibly contaminate your weld pool. Solid wires are best for welders working with thinner sheets of metal who need solid welds. With that said, keep in mind that these wires don’t work in windy conditions.
When shopping for MIG welders, we recommend getting models that support both types of wires to provide you with more flexibility. Some MIG welders under 500 will only support flux-cored wires, such as the LOTOS MIG175. Other models will support both types of wires, like the HITBOX MIG Welder. But if you only plan to work on thicker metals and need a welder that can handle windy conditions, welders that only support flux-cored wires would still be a good option.
MIG welders have a high percentage of duty cycle, and it allows to work for a longer period of time.
The duty cycle refers to how long a welder can work before needing to cool down. Typically, the duty cycle is expressed in a percentage of 10 minutes at a specific electrical current. An example of a duty cycle is 80% at 140A, which is the duty cycle of the REBOOT MIG Welder. This means that the machine can work for 8 minutes at 140A before cooling down for two minutes.
Higher duty cycles will result in better performance. It will also mean that you can use the welder for longer without worrying about cooling it down right away. Sometimes, you need to sacrifice a bit of time in exchange for higher output. For example, the HZXVOGEN MIG Welder has a duty cycle of 25% at 200A. This is very powerful, and you can extend the length of the duty cycle by lowering the electrical current. Since the HZXVOGEN MIG welder handles higher outputs for longer, it is considered the best 180 amp MIG welder under 500 on the market today.
Shoppers must buy MIG welders with the right input voltage for their workspace. Typically, in the United States, outlets are 110V, so you need to find a machine that works at that specific voltage. However, some households also use 220V outlets, and in that case, you need to find a different MIG welder under 500. 220V is the standard in many different countries, so we highly advise shoppers to check out the outlets they have at home, specifically the ones in their work shed, so they know what input voltage their machine requires.
The LOTOS MIG175 only supports 200-220V. This means that those in the United States might have a hard time finding the right outlet to power the machine. However, if you have a transformer or auto-voltage regulator, you can easily get around this problem.
You can also find MIG welders under 500 that can handle different voltages. For example, the MOPHORN MIG welder works with 110V and 220V input, giving users much more flexibility.
Another major consideration for shoppers is the size of the MIG welder. Ideally, the dimensions of your MIG welder should be based on the size of your workshop. Before buying yourself a MIG welder, check out your workspace and measure it.
Figure out where you plan on putting the welder beforehand and measure the area. It will be much easier to select the ideal size of your MIG welder when you know the space you have and base your decision on these measurements.
The MOPHORN MIG welder measures in at 20’’ x 12’’ x 15’’, which makes it one of the largest picks on our list. If you choose this model, make sure you have adequate space to store it. However, if you don’t have as much space for storage, you can check out models like the HITBOX MIG welder, which only measure in at 11.02’’ x 5.31’’ x 8.66’’, making it much easier to store and move around.
A significant amount of people in need of a MIG welder under 500 won’t be working in only one space. Many professionals and hobbyists often find themselves moving their welding machines around to different locations to take on different projects. If you plan on welding in a bunch of different locations, it might be best to get a lighter welder as those are easier to move around.
Our research found that the MOPHORN MIG welder is the best MIG welder that’s portable under 500 as it balances high performance and movability. However, if you need a welder that’s even lighter, the HITBOX MIG welder weighs in at just 15.43 lbs.
Keep in mind that if you get a lighter welder, you end up sacrificing some functionality. Heftier MIG welders tend to be more heavy-duty than the lighter models. These machines will also be significantly more durable and could potentially last you a much longer time. Machines like the HZXVOGEN MIG welder, our pick for the best MIG welder under 500, weigh in at 35 lbs, which is fairly heavy, making it pretty tough to move around.
Another example is the LOTOS MIG175. As a premium and heavy-duty MIG welder, this machine weighs in at a whopping 85 lbs. This means that bringing the machine with you is going to be a very tough task, but in exchange, you get a durable machine that can take on much heavier tasks.
The most common materials for MIG welders are acrylic, metal, and steel.
The handle of your welder is another very important component to consider. When shopping for MIG welders under 500, you’ll be faced with a couple of different handle materials. Different manufacturers use a variety of materials.
The right handle material will make it much easier for you to accomplish welding tasks. And if you’re a beginner, the right handle will also allow you to learn the ropes of MIG welding quickly. Acrylic handles are a modern innovation and would be a great pick for many people. Acrylic handles can be molded much better to fit the hand. These handles are also very durable and can last a while. One of the best MIG welders on our list, the HZXVOGEN MIG welder, features an acrylic handle.
The right handle for you largely depends on your own tastes and preferences. If you get the chance, we highly recommend that beginners try out different handle styles to find the one that feels most comfortable for them. Metal and steel handles are considered the more traditional choice as most MIG welders on the market feature them. If you prefer the feel of metal handles, the LOTOS MIG175 welder would be a great heavy-duty pick for you.
And for those who enjoy the feel of steel handles, the MOPHORN MIG welder might be just the right choice for you.
After considering the features mentioned above, it would also be best to choose a model with a good warranty. You never know when a product will arrive at your door with factory defects, and it’s always best to keep yourself protected against defects that can ruin your entire purchase.
Since MIG welders are a significant machine that is designed to last many years, a lot of them come with a limited warranty to protect you against factory defects. In our list, the REBOOT MIG welder features the longest warranty at 3-years. The rest of the models on our list only have 1-year warranties.
While the REBOOT MIG welder offers longer protection against defects, keep in mind that the warranty shouldn’t be the only deciding factor when buying MIG welders. It’s important to weigh all the different factors, and the warranty should not be overlooked when deciding on the best MIG welder under 500 for your workshop.
Another great way to narrow down your options is to select a specific price range before shopping. Ask yourself, how much am I willing to spend on a MIG welder? Your answer relies on a lot of different things, such as your means, needs, welding projects you need to accomplish, and many more. However, once you answer this, it will be much easier to weed out options that don’t fit in your price range.
Some of the best MIG welders are available under 500. While there are many MIG welders out there that fetch high price tags, with some even costing you up to four digits, these welders are designed for heavy and professional use. So, if you need a welder designed to handle simple home welding tasks, we recommend shopping in the sub-500 price range.
When buying the best MIG welder under 500, remember that you have to pay more for premium features. For example, the LOTOS MIG175 is our best premium MIG welder, and while it comes with many great features, it also comes with a high price tag. On the flip side, the HITBOX MIG welder doesn’t come with as many features, but it’s available at a much more affordable price, which could be a fair trade for many people.
Many extra features come with certain MIG welders. For example, the HZXVOGEN MIG welder comes with an LCD Display and smart control features that can potentially make welding much more convenient for you. Another example is the MOPHORN MIG welder, which has different modes such as TIG torch and STICK functions. Features such as these make certain models very enticing.
Not everyone out there needs to have these special features, but they do exist to make welding easier, so make sure to consider extra features when shopping for the best MIG Welder under 500.
One last factor to consider is the components included in the package. While many of the MIG welders featured in this list are compatible with different types of welding, not all of them come with the right components. For example, the REBOOT MIG welder comes with spool support features but doesn’t come with a spool gun.
When figuring out which components you need to be included in the package, start by figuring out what you plan to accomplish with your welder. Think about the different projects you’ll take on, the thickness of the metal you’re welding, and even the conditions of your workspace.
MIG welding is considered by many to be easier to pick up than other forms of welding. However, everyone works at a different pace, so it’s hard to say how long it will take to accomplish a job on a MIG welder. The time it takes to complete a welding project depends on your welding skills, the type of project you’re taking on, and the MIG welder you’re using. However, many experts recommend practicing MIG welding for 30 minutes to 1 hour a day to really get the hang of the technique and make it faster to finish MIG welding projects.
This depends on the type of project and welder you’re using. Ideally, the welding wire should be the same material as the metal you’re welding. With MIG welding, you people typically choose between solid wire electrodes and flux-cored wires. Solid-wire electrodes are best for thinner sheets of metal, while flux-coded ones are best for windy conditions and working on heavier and thicker materials.
When welding, there are five main pieces of personal protective equipment (PPE) that you have to wear. These include eye, hand/arm, face, body, and head protection. A standard set of welding PPE contains leather gloves, gauntlets, leather apron, safety goggles (with side shields), welder’s goggles, or a welder’s helmet. It’s always best to keep yourself fully protected while welding to avoid any accidents or injuries.
Based on all our research, we found that the HZXVOGEN MIG welder is the best option for most people out there, making it the obvious editor’s choice. It’s a powerful machine that can handle many welding tasks, supports flux-cored wires, and is fairly convenient to move around.
For those in need of a heavy-duty welder, we recommend the premium pick, the LOTOS MIG175. While it is fairly expensive and heavy, this machine packs a punch and will be able to handle just about any MIG welding task you can take on.
And if you need a budget-friendly MIG welder under 500, the HITBOX MIG welder is a great option. Despite being one of the most affordable MIG welders on our list, it performs much better than most other models in its price range and is very portable, making it a great pick for beginners looking for the best value for money.
The right MIG welder for you largely depends on your needs and preferences in your workshop. Before you head out and buy yourself a MIG welder, we recommend that you sit down and take the time to figure out what you really need and want from a welder. And from there, it will be much easier to find the best MIG welder under 500 for your needs and projects!
Gas metal arc welding - Wikipedia
There are four primary methods of metal transfer in GMAW.