There are several popular welder types on the market today, but wire-feed welders, also known as MIG welders, are a common choice for both professional welders and hobbyists. Selecting an MIG welder isn’t exactly a walk in the park, however, so we put together a list of the top welders for you to consider.
Top 7 Best Wire Welders
The field of welding has come a long way since the Industrial Age at the beginning of the 19th century. In fact, welding has been in development since the Middle Ages. In the United States, the practice became more refined during the World War II era in order to create much-needed industrial materials for soldiers and factories. Today, professionals and hobbyists alike can rejoice at the convenience of modern day welding tools, but that doesn’t mean all modern welders are the same.
Wire-feed welders, otherwise known as metal inert gas (MIG) or gas metal arc welders, have taken the welding world by storm in the last century. MIG welders get their name from the consumable wire electrode, which is shielded by inert gas to stabilize the wire electrode’s filler rod mechanism. Shopping for MIG welders can be a bit complicated even for the most experienced power tool worker, so we’ve put together a list of what we believe are the best MIG welders on the market today.
How We Chose Our Ratings
We take honesty and accuracy very seriously when it comes to our ratings, so we factor in every unbiased, thorough review and testimonial from customers, as well as general brand reputation and relevant data about each welder. You’ll notice that the welders we selected vary extensively in price range. The reason for this is because in many cases, the best welders are the more expensive ones. However, there are several welders priced in the mid to low range that made it onto our list due to their outstanding performance and overall value.
You’ll also notice that all of the welders that made it onto our Best Of list are rated rather highly. There are an immeasurable amount of welders available for sale, and we were lucky enough to find seven of the best welders in the trade, all of which could be considered equal to one another in value. Our readers may have differing opinions depending on their budget and personal welding goals, but may they take solace in knowing that the list below presents a well-rounded variety of welders to choose from.
The 7 Best Wire Welders in 2018
- 5-position voltage control selector adds a smooth, stable arc at all welding thicknesses
- Welds 24 gauge up to 1/4 in mild steel; Weldable Materials: Steel, Stainless Steel and Aluminum
- Welding Processes: MIG(GMAW), Flux Cored(FCAW)
- Operates off 115V standard household current; Wire Feed Speed Range 40-700 IPM, 50-740 IPM at no load
- Welding Amperage Range: 25-140 A; 20% duty cycle @ 90 Amps, 19V
When it comes to welders that are powerful, portable, and affordable, the Hobart brand is known to deliver consistently. This welder is a MIG/flux core hybrid that works on a standard household current of 115v. With a 20 percent duty cycle and five-position voltage control, you can always be confident that the Hobart 500559 will operate at the exact power level you want. This model is also recognized for its high-quality safety arrangement on both the exterior and interior of the machine, making it highly efficient compared to other models. Overall, Hobart is a tough welding brand to beat.
Like Hobart, Millermatic is also a well-known brand in the world of welding. Users love this brand for its minimalist and lightweight design, giving it the ability to be handled easily by the average adult. Because of its home and industrial-strength voltage power of 120v, popular uses for the Millermatic include work on automobiles and auto parts, farms, smaller garage projects and industrial manufacturing. The maximum power output is 140 amps, making the Millermatic ideal for handling material with a thickness of up to three-sixteenths of an inch. This welder is excellent for beginners and those who want a higher welding speed.
- Your purchase includes – 10 ft. HR-100 gun | 10 ft. work cable with clamp | .030” contact tips | Power cord with plug | Welding guide and material thickness gauge | Owner’s manual with installation, operation and maintenance guidelines
- Specifications: Input voltage – 230V 60Hz | Amp range – 25-190 amps | Duty cycle – 30% at 130 amps | Mild Steel thickness range – 24 ga. 5-/16” | Spool radio diameter inner/outer – .62”/1.95” | Max spool capacity – 11 lbs. | Power cord length – 6 ft.
- 7 voltage selections, enhanced magnetics and infinite wire feed speed control offers easier fine control of the output parameters for improved arc performance with less spatter
- You are able to quickly reference initial settings for different wires, gases, materials, and thicknesses. Provides you a quick starting point whether you are a novice or professional
- Less of your time consumed in setup by offering three grooves – two for different size solid wire and a third for flux-cored wire | Protects power transformer from thermal overload to provide you maximum reliability
Another five-star rating? We must be crazy, right? The truth is, the Hobart brand is so good that we couldn’t just have one model on our list. Although priced on the higher end of the spectrum, the Hobart Handler 190 proves itself wholeheartedly in value. Ideal for welding stainless steel and aluminum materials with a thickness of up to five-sixteenths of an inch, this welder operates on a maximum power level of 230v, making it perfect for large, industrial-grade projects. There are also seven voltage settings, so you can adjust the power according to where you’re working and what you’re working on.
- Clean and smooth plasma cuts on virtually any metal. Weld almost any metal. Exceptional arc stability for TIG/Stick functions
- AC & DC Pulse Cut Tig Arc (MMA)
Out of all the welders on our list, the Everlast Power I-MIG has the most versatile features. This welder is actually a two-in-one deal, containing a mechanism that allows the welder to switch between MIG and stick welding mode. Because of the two-mode options, the Everlast can operate at a power supply range of 120v to 220v. The machine is also lightweight, making it an ideal choice for welding novices. The affordable price point of this welder also makes it an extremely popular choice among both welding professionals and hobbyists.
The Lincoln welding brand is popular among auto mechanics and people who like to do work on their cars themselves. With a standard power level of 120v and fully adjustable drive system designed to reduce wire tangling and crushing, the Lincoln Easy combines power and efficiency at a level that easily rivals the most expensive welders on our list. This welder can also be set up to perform gas-free flux core welding as well as gas-shielded MIG welding. Lastly, the outer design of the Lincoln Easy is easy to understand and use for welders of all levels, making this welder one with an appropriate title.
The Lincoln Handheld wins the contest of portability, as it is the most lightweight welder on our list at only two pounds. Welding novices will love how easy this welder is to carry. This Lincoln features a duty cycle of 30 percent, multiple voltage settings and the power to weld materials such as half-inch thick aluminum and steel sheets up to three-sixteenths of an inch. The Lincoln handheld was designed for heavy-duty projects and can, therefore, run on a power level of up to 230v, placing this welder firmly in the industrial category.
- Welds up to 1/4 inch
- Flowmeter and gas hose included
- Processes include MIG (Gas) and Flux Cored
- Euro-connect MIG gun with Tweco #1 compatible consumables
- Argon/Co2 Regulator Sold Separately
This high-powered welder can operate as both an MIG and flux core welder. Although it runs on the standard power input of 120v, the maximum power input of 230v makes the Forney 309 ideal for garage work, small repairs and projects on farms and factories. The Forney can also weld materials up to a quarter inch in thickness. Because of the Forney’s supreme cooling fan feature, its duty cycle is the highest on our list at 120 percent. Weighing in at 56 pounds, this welder isn’t as lightweight as others, but it’s still a popular choice for welders of all levels.
Now that you’ve reviewed our top picks for the best wire welders currently on the market, make sure you’re fully prepared to make the right choice by considering all of the factors below. We take pride in our careful selection of the welders above, but every consumer has different needs. Welders are truly the opposite of a ‘one size fits all’ purchase, so the following categories will further assist you in determining which wire welder is best for your projects and your budget.
Power Input (Voltage): The power requirements of your welder greatly depend on the type of projects you expect to complete. For example, projects at the industry level are going to require anywhere between 120v and 230v of power input, while hobby projects in your home workshop or garage should only require a power input range of 115v to 140v. The amount of voltage you’ll require also depends on the strength of your available power outlets, so if your home project is going to require more than 200v, you’d better have a powerful outlet to work with.
Price Range: As we mentioned earlier, most of the best welders are expensive, but many of them are an affordable price for the general public. If you’re looking for the most powerful welder you can get on a tight budget, go with a lower-end welder like the Forney 309 or the Hobart 500559. If money isn’t an issue, mid-range to higher-end welders like the Hobart Handler 190 or the Millermatic 140 should cover all your welding needs. It is crucial to do your research and know exactly what type of welder you need before placing yourself in the hands of a salesperson that will undoubtedly try to sell you the most expensive welder available.
Portability: We are fortunate enough to live in a time when the majority of welders are relatively portable. If you’re a welding novice, going with the lightest option you can get is ideal for minimizing accidents and end results that don’t meet desired specifications. Luckily, most MIG welders boast maximum portability and easy storage. Although size doesn’t determine a welder’s performance, it is best to go with a size you feel most comfortable working with.
Wire Size: There are two main sizes of wire welds for MIG welders: ER70S-6, which are mainly for working on rusted, cluttered surfaces, and ER70S-3, which are all-purpose welders. ER70S-6 welders are commonly the choice of professionals and experienced welding hobbyists who will know how many deoxidizers they’ll need to weld properly in an imperfect setting, so if you’re new to welding, going with an ER70S-3 type would be your best bet.
Material Specifications: The size, type, and thickness of the material you plan to weld are all crucial for determining the kind of welder you should purchase. You should know the material you plan to work with inside and out in order to determine the proper voltage settings, configurations, and wire diameter speed you’d need for your project.
Duty Cycle: A welder’s duty cycle is the time limit, divided into 10-minute increments, in which a welder will operate at a set voltage and amp output without overheating the entire machine. During this time limit, a welder will produce a welding current safely. For example, a welder with a 20 percent duty cycle can run for two minutes before needing to rest for eight minutes, while a welder with a 30 percent duty cycle can continuously weld for three minutes before needing a resting period of seven minutes. Most welders come with a duty cycle between 20 and 40 percent.
Cooling System: Most people are aware of the fact that welding cuts materials by producing a large amount of extremely hot sparks. Because of this, not only does protective gear need to be worn while welding at all times, welders also need to be fitted with a proper cooling system to run efficiently and safely. Most welders do have cooling fans built in, but largely depend on the machine’s duty cycle to cool down. Typically, welders with large duty cycles have extremely efficient cooling fans.
Helpful Equipment: Many welders come in a packaged set containing a welder-seized utility rack with wheels, pliers, spool runners, nozzle gel, and other helpful accessories. Take a quick inventory of the equipment you already have before purchasing a welder with extra materials included. If you don’t have any of the equipment listed, it is recommended to buy a welder with accompanying equipment and utility storage.
Protective Gear: Last but not least, make sure your protective gear is up to standard. Welding helmets, jackets, and gloves are absolutely essential for safe, quality work and refining your welding techniques. Settling for the cheapest welding gear you can find is also not a great idea. We recommend doing research on the best welding gear and purchasing everything you’ll need before you purchase your welder.
Choose The Best Wire Welder
If you’ve already purchased or plan on buying one of the MIG welders on our Best Of list, let us know your thoughts. We greatly appreciate receiving as much feedback on our chosen products as our readers are willing to give.