The best MIG welders can be used by the professional welder, the beginner, and the hobbyist, for a wide range of projects. This process is often utilized more so by the pros because it results in incredibly durable welds. Additionally, this style of welding is also beginner-friendly and the welding machines themselves are more affordable compared to other types.
If you’re in the market for a new MIG welder, then you’re going to have a lot of research to do. You’ll need a model that can handle all the work you have to deal with in the workplace on a daily basis, which means you can expect to pay more. Pro-quality models can cost hundreds of dollars, especially if you’re a beginner and you don’t know what features to look for and which ones you really need. That’s where we come in.
We have reviewed the leading models of MIG welding machines on the market and have narrowed it down to the top five models. Each of these machines has something special to offer, whether it’s top of the line safety features, intuitive controls, or a multi-process design that allows you to use one machine for a wide range of welding processes.
Comparison Table for Best MIG Welders 2021
But we’ve gone one step further and included informative articles on our site that will teach you how to weld stainless steel and one that will discuss how to become a welder and the important steps you’ll need to take for a successful career in this field.
If you’re not sure what type of features you’ll need for your new job or for work around the home, then you can take advantage of our buyer’s guide where you’ll find information on must-have features, how these welding machines work, and what you should expect in terms of performance from your new MIG welder.
Below you’ll find a comparison chart that showcases some of each model’s best features while clearly listing the differences between them, such as price, duty cycle, and outlet voltage needs.
The 5 Best MIG Welder Reviews 2021
Below you’ll get a glimpse of each of the top five models of MIG welders that have made it on our list. Each of these machines offers a top of the line performance, reasonable price, and a versatile design that will make them great options for pro use, while their intuitive controls make them very beginner-friendly and the perfect machines to use to practice different welding processes.
This MIG welder by Hobart Handler is one of the most powerful welding machines that you’ll run into in this price range. But not only does it offer great value for the money, but it’s also incredibly versatile and durable. The machine’s included controls are very simple to use and adjust, which is what makes this model best MIG welder for beginners. However, the welding machine’s weight can make it a poor choice if you’re searching for a model that’s lightweight and highly portable. Overall, the fact that the user can easily adjust the machine’s voltage settings, in addition to the fact that it supports both MIG and flux core welding makes it a steal for the price.
This exciting new model from Lotos comes loaded with some great features and a beginner-friendly design that makes it perfect for at home use. While it’s certainly powerful enough to produce professional looking welds, it simply can’t handle many of the larger tasks that a true industrial welding machine can. However, its lightweight design makes it highly portable, so it can be a great addition to your work gear if you’re in need of a compact MIG welder that you can use on the job for fast, small welding tasks. This model weighs in at just fifty-four pounds and comes complete with a built-in handle for ultimate portability. Not only that, it can handle both flux core and MIG welding processes, which is a huge plus for both the hobbyist and the professional welder.
This MIG welder by HITBOX features a better than the average duty cycle, and a versatile design that allows the user to produce pro-quality welds. While this machine isn’t quite as powerful as an industrial model, it does provide the type of performance the hobbyist can appreciate. It’s also a multi-process welder, which means it can handle a variety of welding processes including MIG, TIG, Arc, and lift. If you’re studying for your AWS certification, then you need a tough, reliable model that can handle a wide range of processes. Additionally, for a model this powerful, we were surprised to learn that it’s available at such as reasonable price. Compact, built tough, designed to handle four welding processes, and available at a resonable price, makes it the best multi-process welding machine.
Beginner-friendly and budget-friendly, you can’t go wrong with this compact welding machine by Sungoldpower. It’s a great starter welding machine and one that you can rely on if you need a solid MIG welder you can use around the home or for small jobs on the worksite. It’s also loaded with some great safety features including thermal overload protection which will automatically cause the machine to shut down once the internal sensors detect components are beginning to run hot.
This is another great multi-process welding machine and one that can handle TIG, MIG welding, and flux core. It also features a compact design that makes it highly portable and it’s approved for use on a variety of metals including stainless steel and aluminum. This package also comes with some great extras that will allow the user to get started welding right away. It may not be tough enough for industrial use, however, the intuitive controls and top safety features makes it one of the best MIG welder.
Best MIG Welders Buyer’s Guide
Choosing A MIG Welders That Will Last
There is no single welding style that can be used for all types of welding situations. Because of this, you need to weigh the pros and cons of each type of welding process. Since MIG welding is often considered by hobbyists and pros to be the most versatile, it’s usually the go-to process chosen for a wider range of jobs.
When you buy a MIG welder there are many factors to consider including duty cycle, input voltage, weight, metal thickness, and price.
This buyer’s guide will go over the specs to look for, how they can affect a welder’s performance, and what to look for in a new model, based on your skill level and intended use.
What is MIG Welding?
MIG stands for metal inert gas. This type of welding process involves the continuous use of a wire electrode, which is fed through the welding gun and is used to join a couple of metal materials together. Shielding gas is used to protect the weld and is fed through the gun.
This welding process allows pros and hobbyists to repair and maintain welds on materials that are up to half an inch thick. The main reason beginners turn to MIG welding over other types of processes is because it’s so beginner-friendly, however, the pros often use it for its flexibility.
Amperage and Voltage
The amount of amperage and voltage used when you weld will depend on several factors such as the thickness of the metal, the welding position, wire diameter speed, and joint configuration. Most MIG welders will come with a couple of amperage and voltage settings to simplify the process.
Multifunction or Flux-cored
MIG welders are either multifunction or flux-cored, which will require a gas cylinder. Most models of welding machines on the market come with both flux core and MIG welding options. However, there are some machines that will only work as straight flux or MIG.
A model that’s designed for home use is intended for small scale projects and will often run at around one hundred and fifty volts. This is because most hobbyists have welding projects that focus on thinner metals. Because of this, you’ll need to look for a machine that can handle a variety of metals. Industrial machines will not only have a higher voltage rating starting at two hundred and thirty volts but a higher price tag as well.
What is Input Power?
These machines feature different input voltages, which can affect how compatible a specific machine is with an electrical outlet. A welder is typically 220/225/230 volts or 110/115/120 volts. However, there are some models that can handle both. A welder with a lower input voltage is perfect for hobbyists, just as long as the user is able to plug them into a standard outlet. The big disadvantage here is that a lower input voltage usually means that the welder will have a limited output power, so the user will not be able to use the welder for thicker metals.
If you need a machine that can handle thicker welds then you will need a machine that can handle two hundred and twenty volts and an outlet that can handle this type of voltage.
Depending on what you’re welding you will also need a different output power. Many MIG welder manufacturers include a chart with their welders that can make it easier for the user to choose the right settings for the best quality weld.
Welding Machine Size
When you’re shopping around for a new welding machine, you will also need to take a model’s portability into account. This will include the machine’s weight and size. If you’re looking for a model that you can permanently set up in your workshop, then these specs may not be as important compared to the pro who needs a welding machine that’s compact, lightweight, and highly portable. Pros often travel from job to job so they will need a model that’s easy to carry and haul. However, you can find larger, more powerful welding machines that come equipped with carts, which can make it much easier to transport the machine.
On average, a small top of the line welding machine will weight around twenty-five to thirty pounds. These machines will come equipped with inverter technology which cuts down on its weight significantly. An industrial, pro-quality welding machine can weigh well over two hundred pounds.
In terms of the length of time, you need to weld, a machine’s duty cycle is probably the most crucial spec to pay attention to before you buy. If you need to use a welding machine for several hours at a time, then you’ll need a model that offers a higher duty cycle. This spec is presented in percentages. This percentage is based on the percentage of ten minutes of use before the machine begins to overheat. As an example, a model with a forty percent duty cycle should only be operated for a period of four minutes before it needs a cooldown time of five minutes or more. Typically, a more powerful welder will offer a longer duty cycle. If overheating is a concern of yours then you should purchase a model with thermal overload protection. This feature prevents damage to the machine by shutting it down automatically once you’ve hit the duty cycle limit.
If you need to weld aluminium with your welding machine then you need a model that allows you to attach a spool gun. Smaller welders typically don’t allow this.
Don’t risk spending a couple of hundred dollars on a cheap welder. Before you buy, always check the warranty. Many tops of the line welders will come with a one to three-year warranty. A good warranty can give you confidence in the product and a manufacturer who clearly stands behind their product.
Other MIG Welding Equipment
Before you get started, you’ll need to purchase additional equipment to ensure that you get the best, safest weld possible.
You must hook up a regulator to the machine’s cylinder before use. You’ll have several options to choose from including dual or single gauge, or gaugeless. A dual model is more expensive and will allow you to view flow speed and gas levels. The single gauge will only show you the amount of gas left.
Cylinder and Gas Type
For this type of welding process, you must use a gas cylinder. Keep in mind, different types of welding processes will require a different type of gas. Carbon dioxide is the most popular option for MIG welding because it’s the most affordable. CO2 is a low cost alternative compared to other gases which often include a mixture of argon and CO2. These gas mixtures usually come with a higher price tag but offer a higher quality weld, not to mention reduced spatter. If you’re welding titanium or magnesium you can also choose pure argon, however, it shouldn’t be used if you’re welding a type of ferrous metal.
Essential Safety Gear For MIG Welding
Before you use your new welder, you’ll need to purchase proper safety gear. This gear includes:
Fortunately, any welding machine manufacturer also produces all the welding gear you’ll need.
Why You Must Always Use a Welding Helmet
The most important piece of gear you need to buy for welding, aside from the welding machine itself, is the welding helmet. When you’re MIG welding, the light emitted from the arc is very bright. Without a helmet, you’ll risk damaging your eyes from burns caused by spattering. A helmet will allow you to clearly and safely view a weld puddle. The cost of welding helmets tends to vary. Top of the line auto-darkening helmets are more affordable and will allow you to see to position the torch and view your work, easily.
Welding Apparel for Ultimate Protection
Whenever you’re welding you should wear the appropriate clothing made out of leather or cotton with full-length sleeves. When you weld, extremely hot flying sparks can burn your skin. If you’re wearing a type of synthetic material it can melt and stick to your skin, resulting in severe burns. Because of this, choose clothing made out of leather or cotton only.
How to Use Your New MIG Welding Machine
Flux-cored and stick electrodes have a higher amount of additives. The solid wire used for MIG machines is not able to handle contaminants very well, such as oils, dirt, or rust. You can use a grinder or metal brush in order to clean the metal before you use the welding machine. The clamp must also connect clearly to the metal. This is because any type of electrical impedance can affect the wire’s feeding performance. For a strong weld when working with thicker metals, the user must bevel a joint, allowing for a full penetration to the base metal. This is crucial for butt joints especially.
Both wires brushes and grinders do a great job of removing surface contaminants prior to welding.
Preparing Your Welder
Before you even fire up the gun, inspect the cables and make sure there is a tight-fitting and a solid connection. The cables should be free of damage including fraying.
The next step is to choose the electrode polarity. When you MIG weld, you must use reverse polarity or DC electrode positive. The machine’s polarity connections are often found inside the welding machine.
Next, choose the gas flow speed. Switch on the shielding gas and choose a flow rate of twenty-five CFPH. If you think there may be a leak in the gas hose, use a solution of soapy water and check for bubbles. If you notice a leak the hose will need to be replaced.
Checking the tension is also important. If there’s too much or too little tension in the wire spool hub or the drive rolls this can result in poor wire feeding. The tension should be adjusted based on the manufacturer’s instructions.
The Right Technique
There are a couple of ways to go about MIG welding. The most common is called the forehand method and it involves pushing the gun toward the weld. This style features shallow penetration and a smooth wide surface. The other option is the backhand method and it involves dragging the gun much like you would with a stick welder. The result is deeper penetration with a narrower weld that features a higher center.
Weld Pattern Options for Beginners
With a MIG machine that’s set up correctly, the right position, and a clean weld joint, you can enjoy a better quality weld. Using patterns can help to compensate for a lack of experience. An experienced welder can easily adapt to a joint and know exactly how to weld it. But if you’re new to welding machine use, then choosing a good pattern can help to get you through it until you learn the ropes. A pattern will work to spread out the weld and make everything uniform and smoother. The most common weld patterns used in MIG include:
- Steady motion
Each pattern will require minimal training and can be relied upon for stronger welds that have a pro-quality look.
The best MIG welders are easy to use, come loaded with top of the line safety features that can protect your machine against overheating and damage. This site is dedicated to providing you with an in-depth look at the best models on the market in order to ensure you choose the right type of welding machine for you based on the type of material you’ll be welding, project size, budget, and your skill level. Because we decided to only review the very best welding machines, we’re confident that you’ll find your next model in our top five line up.