Best MIG Welder – Our Top Picks for Welding Enthusiasts
Metal Inert Gas (MIG) welding, also referred as Gas Metal Arc Welding (GMAW) was introduced during the period of Second World War as an effective method of joining thin gauge metal sheets and heavy steel tubes. The invention of this quick and easy welding technique aggravated the production of heavy-duty weapons.
MIG is one of the easiest processes of joining metal sheets, even a layman can learn it in just a few hours. MIG welders are particularly used by hobbyists for the convenient set-up of the tool. Others use TIG Welders & Plasma Cutters. To develop accurate, neat and smooth welds, possessing a good MIG welder is mandatory.
The top MIG welders in the market save both your time and energy as they allow thicker metals to be welded uniformly in one pass. With a suitable MIG welding device, not only you can obtain great welding speed, but you can also try your own bit of artistry on thinner materials. On the other hand, a defective welding machine can completely massacre all your efforts. Shopping for the best MIG welder isn’t as easy as you think.
Best MIG Welder - Our Top Picks
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Our Top MIG Welder Reviews
In a bid to save costs (as welders can get quite pricey), people often pick the cheapest option available. This isn’t a smart move by any means, as choosing a cheap MIG welder in a hurry would only mean troublesome consequences after the purchase. So, before you decide on a particular model, make sure you read the MIG welder reviews below.
Hobart 500559 Handler Wire Welder
Hobart is the first name to hit my mind whenever I talk about affordable, powerful yet portable MIG welders. It is a compact and stylish MIG/Flux core welder that works on 115v standard household power.
Preferred by professional welders and hobbyist equally for farm projects, aviation, auto body tasks and repairs, Hobart 140 houses a spool of wire acts like the filler material.
This long-lasting feed head features a quick-release drive roll level which provides marvelous control over the action. An electric arc between the feed wire and the specimen slices the material into sheets without creating slags. The unit can easily take care of 24 gauge to ¼ inches mild steel sheets.
The 5-position voltage control settings is highly satisfactory, it lets you fine-tune the arc according to the thickness of the specimen. Overwhelmed already? Allow me to tell you this model has one of the strongest safety arrangements in the world of MIG welders. All in all, Hobart 140 is the master tool for MIG welding, no second thoughts upon it.
Lincoln Power MIG 180
Lincoln’s Power 180C MIG welder is a go-to option for the amateurs. It’s delightfully hassle-free to handle and with a duty cycle of merely 30%, cleaning up the implements is a toy-game for anyone. The multivoltage unit allows one to run the beads uniformly on the specimen by improving the arc.
Designed to handle heavy-duty commercial welding tasks, MIG 180, which is the highest of its category. It can run on the industrial input power of 230 volts, providing the maximum power output of 180.many veterans who have reviewed the product have considered it to be a fairly strong tool for flux cored welding of ½” thick aluminum and MIG welding of 3/16” steel sheets. This one-in-all easy-to-carry-along equipment does the job for a fabricator and an automobile mechanic along with splendid efficiency.
Forney MIG 140
This portable gas/no gas unit from top-notch MIG welder manufacturer Forney is a decent tool for industry-level welding tasks that requires a high-level of accuracy and speed.
A strong, highly functional welding machine which goes light on your palms is exactly what a welder requires to boost their productivity. The Multiple voltage settings is a key element of the product, it allows you to tweak the level of heat as per the need. The power input of 230v is just about right for automobile garage, factories and farms.
Welding machines, as we all know, produces high sparks to cut the materials. It’s essential to integrate a decent cooling system in the unit to prevent it from going dysfunctional due to overheating. Thankfully, the cooling fan installed in Forney MIG 140 is quite reliable. Apart from these features, the other prominent advantages of the product includes a Tweco type torch with quick disconnect capacity, a duty cycle of 120% and many more.
Hobart Handler 190
Looking for the best MIG welder with 180A-220v range? Hobart Handler 190 shouldn’t miss your eyes. Its revolutionary dual process system housed with a durable wire-feed flux core makes results in exceptionally low operation cost.
The versatile MIG welder is a good option for welding mild and stainless steel and aluminum with a thickness up to 5/16”. Talking of the special features, it goes without saying that the unique 7 voltage option is the biggest USP of this product. It helps in improving the arc performance immensely by providing extensive wire feed speed control.
Hobart 190 MIG comes with a built-in spool gun that wards off feeding issues of delicate aluminum wires. The dual grove drive roll system provides full authority over the system, allowing you to switch the wire size whenever necessary. For the icing on the cake, it includes a self-resetting thermal overload to prevent the system from overloading.
Lotos MIG 175
Versatility is the mantra of Lotos MIG 175. The solid and durable machine equipped with a stellar wire feed motor functionality and advanced transformer technology would be an asset for any aspiring welder.
Among the notable specifications, the extensive voltage settings along with wire speed adjustment make the work in your garage run smoothly. What makes it stand out among its contemporaries is the performance stability and safety of usage. I can’t help admitting this is one of the easiest to assemble units I’ve ever come across.
Welding mild steel, stainless steel and aluminum plates is the forte of Lotus MIG. More brownie points go to the power efficiency of 80%. The delivery package is usually also stuffed with useful side products like a protection mask, a ground clamp, a very well-designed argon regulator and an argon hose.
Everlast Power I-MIG 200
Here comes a two-in-one welding machine that can switch between MIG and a stick welding mode. This dual voltage, mighty appliance powered by IGBT based inverter technology is a gem of its class. The light weight makes the machine easily movable.
After trying and testing a number of popular MIG tools, I’ve concluded that no other MIG welder holds as many features as this one does. No matter how experienced or skilled welder you’re, without adequate safety precautions, the entire effort can go haywire. Giving to priority to the consumer safety, the latest models from this range are enhanced with an adjustable burn back control that automatically sets the right length of the wire at each restart.
The maximum power output of the welder is 200A and can be operated at an input power supply of 120v-220v. With this and many other innovative features added to the system, this product becomes a lucrative option for any welding enthusiast not willing to break a bank for a good MIG welder.
Millermatic 140 MIG Welder
When it’s a big brand like Millermatic, reliability and desirable output are bound to be the obvious returns on investment. The design of this Millermatic has been kept minimal. The strength of the machine lies in its utilitarian attributes. It can be operated without trouble by any adult.
If you’re new into welding, a portable unit like this can help boosting your confidence the best. Very suitable for garage works, welding tasks in farms, automobile parts manufacturing factories and home. The shipping weight is on the lower side, which reduces the load from your hand and improves welding speed.
The auto-set mode provides the advantage of quick set-up, reduced spatter and also administers a tip saver to guard the unit against short circuit. Handling material thickness up to 3/16” in a single pass is a cakewalk for it with the maximum power output of 140A. Small, simple and effective-if you wish to see these three qualities fitted in one product, Millermatic won’t disappoint.
Lincoln Easy MIG 140
This welding wonder can be operated from almost anywhere (having access to electricity) as it consumes a standard input power of 120 volts. Vehicle owners who wish to save on maintenance and repairing cost would love Lincoln Easy MIG 140.
Furthermore, one doesn’t need to be in possession of a smattering knowledge of welding techniques to maneuver this tool, thanks to the two user-friendly knob controls fixed to the unit. Flux core welding is often essential for the deep penetration into thick materials. The good news is Lincoln 140 can be transformed into a gasless flux core welder within roughly a few minutes.
The start-up process is incredibly smooth, giving way to almost zero spatter. For the serious welders out there, the arc performance is definitely up-to-the-mark. For a high-performance welding machine within a moderate budget, Lincoln’s MIG 140 is a product worth treasuring for.
What is MIG Welding?
In MIG or Metal Inert Gas welding, a spool of steel wire or electrode is continuously fed from the machine, first through a liner and then out of a contact tip in the gun.MIG also requires power to heat and melt the wire. The Inert gas (helium, argon) flows out of the gun and shields the weld puddle from the atmosphere which contains gases like hydrogen & oxygen for neat welds. The word Inert itself means the gas won’t blend with any other substance.
Most digitized MIG welders available today automatically regulate the electrical settings of the arc. In case of the manual machines, you need to be careful about the torch positioning, welding direction, speed and amperage level. In a nutshell, MIG welding is all about melting the wire electrode in the arc to run a bead through feeding. MIG joints are widely chosen over stick welding as the former doesn’t allow any weld distortion by shielding the puddle against the atmosphere. Therefore, the joints are sturdier and more durable. MIG welding is performed upon a number of thin materials, aluminum, stainless and carbon steel and alloys.
Types of MIG Welding
In case of gasless MIG welders, a flux core wire creates a shield around the weld pool to prevent it from the oxygen in the air. Sometimes a self-shielding tubular flux-cored wire is also used which keeps the oxygen out by ending the need of gas from the atmosphere. When welding arc melts the wire and flux simultaneously, a gas shield is formed around the weld. So, technically, there’s no MIG welding without gas. Gasless MIG welding ensures deeper penetration and easy vertical and overhead positioning of the weld. A big downside of this kind of welding is the formation of slag and spatter between the passes, but they can be reduced with proper technique. For joining materials thinner than 1.2 m.m, you better skip this process.
Gas based MIG welding is performed by using carbon dioxide (CO2) or argon as a shielding gas and DC positive polarity. The choice of shielding gas makes a huge difference in the portability and quality of the weld. Gas MIG welders produce little spatter and provide a very stable arc. To know how a particular gas-based or gasless model performs in real life, you need to read MIG welder reviews carefully and note if most of its pros coincide with what you’re mainly looking for.
Advantages of MIG Welding
The reason why any seasoned welder would choose MIG welding over TIG or stick welding most of the time is that it can be applied on almost any material, be it thin aluminum, thick carbon steel or alloy. The self-shielding wire needed for the technique doesn’t cost a fortune. The simplicity of the process results in excellent control. The auto-feed wire makes producing cleaner weld pool an effortless, smooth affair.
You don’t have to change the rods or brush the weld constantly to remove the slag. It saves a lot of time which can be effectively utilized to boost productivity.
TIG welding takes a considerable amount of time to be grasped properly whereas MIG welding can be learnt and mastered over within just a few days of practice. Customers intending to use the welder essentially for home projects would find his “point and shoot” process much easier to deal with.
Ways to Choose the A Great MIG Welder
Input power rating
Basic MIG welders that could be adjusted to 115v-140v are suitable for small scale home projects, mainly used for joining thin sheets of iron and aluminum. Power requirements are way higher for industry-level projects in which very thick materials need to be welded as quickly as possible to meet the customer demand. For this, you need to go for obdurate, powerful welders like Hobart Handler 190. Keeping in mind the different kind of specimen you’ve to work on for a commercial farm, it’s best to play safe by choosing welder with multi-voltage option. It allows you adjust the power setting from 120v-230v whenever the situation demands. Some advanced models can automatically set the appropriate level of voltage you need for the specimen.
Wire size and material thickness
The size and type of wire weld can be neatly divided into two categories namely, ER70S-6 and ER70S-3. The former is commonly used to work on rusty, untidy surfaces when more deoxidizers are required whereas the second one is perfect for all kinds of welding purposes. Being aware of the type of material to be welded will help you determine the configurations, wire diameter speed, voltage settings and other features essential for the target task. Products offering auto-set option come very handy for professional welding. Once the Auto-set mode is on, all you have to do is to dial the thickness of the specimen and the machine will fine-tune itself accordingly.
MIG welders are primarily engineered for stress-free welding. Who wants to carry along a gigantic, heavy-weight welding machine that is not only painful to handle but also lends considerable foothold in your garage. Novice welders especially find it difficult to run the bead on the correct welding zone due to the excess weight of the tool. One thing you need to be careful about is not to prioritize the size. At the end of the end, it all boils down to the performance.
Duty cycle usually refers to the time limit within which the machine runs at a pre-set voltage and amp output without exceeding the temperature of the component parts. This output is inversely proportional to the welding output. It commonly measured by the performance in 10-minutes cycle. In a more elaborative form, if the duty cycle of a fabricator is 20% at a power input of 180A/240V, it implies that the unit will run for 2 minutes and need to be cooled down for 8 minutes before restart.
You go to the market with zero idea about what to purchase, a bunch of unscrupulous dealers will be more than happy to fool you for some extra income. Know your requirements well and you’ll successfully make the wisest investment of your hard earned money. Nevertheless, buying a good welding tool is one thing and using it efficiently is another. Lack of proper protection (for example, a good welding helmet) and right technique can actually put all your effort into soup.
In this article, I’ve tried my best to include and explain everything I’ve learnt about welding in my 20+ years’ career. Hopefully, it has helped to clear all the confusions you had about MIG and facts related to it. You can also take the opinions from the existing customers of a certain product before reaching any conclusion.