The Best Welders Money Can Buy In 2018 - Ultimate Buyer's Guide
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The Best Welders Money Can Buy In 2018 – Ultimate Buyer’s Guide

If you’re new to welding, then choosing the best welder can be a difficult process, especially if you’re not sure what features to look for or what to expect in terms of performance.

We created a site that’s dedicated to reviewing only the top models on the market, whether it’s the best MIG or TIG machine, the most versatile, or the easiest to use.

The right welder for you will depend on the type of process you specialize in. Fortunately, we’ve included flux-cored, stick, TIG, and MIG welding machines, not to mention some great multitasking machines that can handle each type of welding process.

Of course, the more versatile a welding machine is, the higher the price tag. Whether you’re a serious welder and need a new machine for work, you’re going to school for welding, you use a welding machine for your artwork, or you’re simply a DIYer who makes their own repairs around the home, we’ve got the perfect model for you.

Choosing a Winner

We spent several days going over the best-selling models of welders on the market and came up with the five leading models that were able to withstand our rigorous testing process. Each of these machines scored well in a variety of areas including versatility, power, performance, and extra features.

We’re dedicated to helping you find the right welding machine, based on process, application, and power needs. Before you dive in and begin reading summaries of our five top models, check out the comparison chart below, which showcases the differences between each of the welders including power, cost, rating, process, and more.

Top Rated Welder Models- Comparison Chart

ProductVoltage
Process
duty cycle
cost
Rating
Hobart 500554001 Handler
Hobart 500554001
View Price
230v
MIG
30% at 130amps
$$$$
5/5
Lincoln Electric Powermig

View Price
120v/230v
Multi
30%
$$$$$4.5/5
LOTOS MIG175

View Price
200-200v
MIG
20%
$$$4.5/5
MIG/Flux Core Welder

View Price
120v
MIG/flux-cored
30%
$$$4.5/5
ViperMig 180amp Mig Welder

View Price
115v and 220v
MIG
30% at 108 amps
$$
4.5/5

Our Top Rated Models

Best Welder-Hobart 500554001 Handler 190 with SpoolRunner 100

Our Rating: (5/5)

This top-selling Hobart welding machine is user-friendly and is packing some serious power. Not only does this machine feature a more compact, lightweight design, but it also offers a setup that’s very beginner-friendly, making it the perfect choice if you’re shopping for your first MIG machine and need a model that you can really rely on.

This is a heavy-duty MIG welding machine that can be used for work or home repairs. This model comes with some great features that allow it to handle tougher weld jobs both indoors and outdoors. In fact, it can handle metals that range from twenty-four gauge up to 5/6 of an inch thick.

Most Versatile-Lincoln Electric Powermig 210 Mp #K3963-1 Welding Machine

Our Rating: (4.5/5)

The Powermig is one of the most versatile welding machines on the market. It can handle, TIG, MIG, stick, and flux-cored, making it a great choice for pro use, although the beginner and DIYer can also appreciate what this welding machine can do. Additionally, it also features dual voltage inputs, intuitive controls that give you more control over the welding process, and a large digital display screen that will allow you to keep an eye on the machine’s settings and parameters. This all in one machine has a lot to offer the skilled welder who needs a model they can depend on to handle both thin and thicker materials.

Top MIG Machine-LOTOS MIG175 175AMP MIG Welder

Our Rating: (4.5/5)

The MIG175 by LOTOS easily blows the competition out of the water.  The machine’s lightweight, compact design makes it highly portable, so you can easily take it with you from job site to job site. This model comes with a free spool gun and a wide range of controls that will allow you to precisely control welds for a cleaner look and minimal cleanup. This is a dedicated MIG welding machine, which means it doesn’t offer the same type of versatility you’ll get with a model that can perform a variety of other welding processes, but for the price, you get a powerful MIG machine that you can really depend on.

Best Welding Machine for Beginners-MIG/Flux Core Welder by Miller Electric

Our Rating: (4.5/5)

This model by Miller Electric can handle both MIG and flux-cored welding processes, which is a huge plus for buyers who need this model for a variety of jobs at home or at work. This is a full-sized model which means it’s only designed for indoor use. This multitasking model comes with both an auto-set and manual mode. When placed in the auto-set mode you can ensure each weld is done precisely, for a cleaner, tougher weld. Additionally, the manual mode will allow you to have more control over the process. Beginner-friendly and versatile, this welding machine scored well with new welders and pros alike.

Best Value-ViperMig 180amp Mig Welder by RazorWeld

Our Rating: (4.5/5)

The ViperMig by RazorWeld is a dedicated MIG welding machine that features a lightweight design and a durable construction that makes this model a great choice if you need a welder for spot welding on the job. Additionally, it offers both gas shielded and gas-less applications. This means you can use this model indoors and outdoors, even in windy conditions. The gas-less application is perfect if you need to make repairs outdoors, which is why this welder is such as great choice for the DIYer or contractor. Versatile, affordable, and easy to use, this dedicated MIG machine is a steal for the price.

Welding Machine Buyer’s Guide

Whether you’re a welding novice, you’ve gone to school for welding, or you have on the job training, buying the best welder is not an easy decision, especially if you need one to take to the job site. If you’re totally new to welding, then our buyer’s guide will come in handy and can help to get you started on a bright and brilliant career path with a welding machine you can truly rely on.

In the world of welding, there is no one welding process that will work for all types of applications. We’ll briefly go over each of the basic techniques in order to shine some light on the pros and cons of each type. This will essentially help you to choose the best welder for you, based on the intended application.

Basic Welding Techniques

The most commonly used welding processes include stick, TIG, and MIG. Each of these processes comes with their own limitations and benefits. One may be more suitable for a specific application than another. Unfortunately, as we mentioned earlier, in welding there is no universal process that you can use for every type of application.

MIG

A MIG welding machine utilizes a wire welding electrode that’s on a spool and automatically fed at a pre-selected constant speed. Created by an electrical current between the wire and base metal, the arc melts the wire, joining it with the base. This results in a higher strength weld that has a beautiful look without much cleaning necessary. Most experienced welders will tell you that MIG welding is very clean and is often used on thicker or thinner plate metals.

FCAW

Also known as flux cored arc welding, is similar to MIG welding. FCAW utilizes a wire-fed process however, it differs in the fact that the self-shielded flux cored welding doesn’t require a shielding gas. Instead of a shielding gas, a flux cored wire will be used in order to shield the arc. This process is very efficient, simple, and it’s effective, especially when you have to weld on dirty materials or you’re stuck outside in windy conditions. This type of welding process is often used in construction because of its portability and welding speed.

Both FCAW and MIG welding are pretty simple to learn and allow you to create very clean welds on stainless steel, steel, and aluminum. Both of these processes also have the ability to weld materials that are very thin.

TIG

In order to produce a weld, this type of welding process utilizes a non-consumable tungsten electrode. A filler metal and a shielding gas are used to protect the welds from contamination. Energy is conducted across the arc via a column of metal vapors known as plasma and ionized gas. This welding process is often used to weld very thin sections of nonferrous metals including copper alloys, magnesium, aluminum, and stainless steel, and alloy steel. The process provides the user with a higher level of control over the quality of the weld. This can result in better quality welds.

Many feel that TIG welding is much slower and more difficult to master compared to other processes.

Stick

Stick Welders

Beginners typically learn how to weld using an arc welder. In the past, stick welding was the most popular option to use for DIY repairs around the home. Stick welding utilizes an electric current that flows from a gap between the welding stick and the metal. This type of welding is very effective for use on most joints and types of alloys. It can also be used in drafty areas outdoors and indoors. It provides a much better bond on dirty or rusty materials and is one of the most commonly used processes for onsite welds. Unfortunately, this process is very limited in terms of thinness and it can only be used on metals that are no thinner than eight gauge. It also requires cleanup on completion, emits a lot of spatter, and requires frequent rod charging. For many, it can also be difficult to learn, especially when it comes to maintaining an arc. This type of welding machine is available in AC/DC, DC, and AC. It’s often used to weld metal that’s thicker than 1/16 of an inch or more. These welding machines can be a great choice for home repair jobs, hobbyists, and more.

What Type of Welding Machine is Right for You?

Before you buy, it’s important to determine which type of materials and welding projects you’ll work on the most. If you need a welder for work, repairs around the home, or auto work, this can majorly impact what type of welding machine you’ll end up and the type of costs you’re looking at. Below we’ll go over the different type of welding machines you can choose from, whether it’s a dedicated MIG welder, a flux-cored, or a multitasking unit. Each style of welding machine comes with its own advantages and disadvantages. Additionally, make sure you end up with a welding machine you can actually use based on your skill level and career goals.

Below you’ll find a list of the basic welding machine components and how they support operation.

Arc

The arc is the gap between the point where the air makes contact with the metal and the end of the electrode.

Flux

The flux is the coating found in flux-cored welding wire and on arc-welding rods that are consumed in the arc in order to produce the shielding gas.

Shielding Gas

This gas will protect the molten metal from contaminants. Typically, shielding gas consists of CO2 or a type of mixed gas.

Electrode

A coated metal wire that has the same composition as the material being welded.

Features to Pay Attention to

Before you buy, there are many factors and features to consider. Below you’ll find an extensive list of features to look for before you hit that buy now button.

Output Rating

This rating involves the voltage and amps the machine can produce for a duty cycle period.

Duty Cycle

The duty cycle refers to the amount of time out of a ten-minute period that a machine can be operated at a max rated output. As an example, if a machine states it has a sixty percent duty cycle at three hundred amps, this means that the machine can only be used for a total of six minutes before it needs a rest. During this rest period, you’re giving the machine time to cool down. Giving the welding machine a break based on the machine’s duty cycle rating will prevent serious heat damage to the welder.

Thermal Overload Protection

Not every machine will come with this feature. It works by cutting output power to the gun or torch automatically if the circuit inside begins to overheat. A cooling mechanism, such as a fan will keep running in order to disperse the heat.

Power Supply

The power supply you have in your garage or at work will have a bearing on the type of welding machine you can use. If you have the domestic two hundred and forty volt supply then you’ll be pretty limited regarding the welding power source you can use. Generally, models with one hundred and ten up to one hundred and thirty amps will operate on a standard outlet, but anything bigger will require a special three-phase power supply. The three-phase electrical supply can be installed in your garage but it must be done by a licensed electrician. The power supply requirements should be clearly listed on each model’s spec sheet.

Wire Feed

The wire feed speed is usually listed as in-min. This stat refers to the amount and speed the filler metal is fed into a weld. A higher feed speed usually means a higher amperage.

Inverter and  Transformer Welding Machines

Inverter and  Transformer Welding Machines

These days, there are a couple of power source options for welding machines. The transformer style is older and is often found in outdated, traditional welding machines of the past, however, new models still use this power source option. The inverter is currently the more popular option.

Inverter: An inverter welder offers functions that transformer welders can’t including variable wire feed speed. The features the inverter offers will give the user more control over the entire welding process. Inverters are compact and often lighter than transformer welding machines which are much larger and can weigh three times that of a basic inverter model.

Inverter style welding machines are considered more efficient and because of these they usually come with a great duty cycle. These machines utilize modern electronics so they don’t lose as much heat as outdated machines.

Transformer: These machines feature a much simpler technique than inverter welding machines, and because of this, they’re usually much easier to repair. These machines are often step regulated which means they are controlled by step switches instead of the type of infinite controls that you’ll get with an inverter. Most portable, newer welding machines that are designed for both work and home use feature inverter technology. Many feel that transformer welding machines are out of date and can’t really compete with the inverter’s versatility.

Machine Types

We’ve gone over the different welding processes used, now we’ll look at the machines designed for each of these specific processes. Some models that you’ll come across can handle more than one type of welding process, typically MIG and flux-cored. However, there are models out there that can handle up to four different processes in one machine, which is pretty impressive.

TIG Welding Machines

These welding machines will require more skill to operate compared to other welding processes.  Because this machine is able to join a wide range of metals at a variety of thickness levels, it results in a precise, clean finish. The arc will jump between the metal and electrode with this welding process, which tends to generate a very high temperature. A TIG machine is often more expensive than a basic stick or MIG welding machine.

MIG Welding Machines

In school, most courses focus first on teaching students about this type of welding process. MIG is simply easier to learn and very versatile. These machines are typically used for thicker, heavier materials, while TIG welding machines can handle very thin and thick metals. While MIG isn’t as versatile as TIG, these machines are a great starting point. In fact, many on the job welds done at construction sites are usually MIG welds. These machines are often priced more affordable compared to other types of welding machines. Some feature a portable design, while offers are pretty massive weighing in at over seventy pounds.

Multitasking Welding Machines

If you work on a wide range of projects in the garage or around the home, or you need a versatile machine to take to and from work, then you really can’t go wrong with a model that can handle a variety of processes. Models that can do TIG, MIG, Flux-cored, and stick, will obviously give you more welding options depending on the material you’re welding. But these machines are usually designed for the pro or the DIYer that has some experience with other welding processes. If you’re totally new to welding then this higher priced welding machine may be overkill.

Learn How to Weld Like A Pro

Welding isn’t easy, especially if you attempt to expand your skills and attempt to master a new type of welding process.

If you’re a beginner and don’t know much about welding machines, you can click here to read our article on how to MIG for beginners. This article goes in-depth regarding the MIG welding process and offers some great tips regarding how you can get started.

Our other article on how to weld thin metal will walk you through the entire process, while also providing tips on how to avoid the common mistakes most beginners make when working with thinner material.

Final Thoughts

The best welders should have a great duty cycle, pack the type of power you need for a specific task, and come loaded with features you can rely on for a tougher weld and a faster welding experience. Of course, the best welder for you will ultimately depend on what you need the machine for. If you need a machine for simple home repairs, then you may be better off with an affordable, easy to use MIG machine. If you need a welding machine you can rely on daily for work, then a multitasking model that can handle TIG, MIG, and stick is the way to go. We hope our reviews of the leading models and our buyer’s guide have helped you to choose the right type of welding machine that can meet your needs at work or around the home.