Best mig welder reviews 2018
Hobart Handler 210 MVP MIG WelderHigh-end contractor’s capabilities
High-end MIG welder withstand high-volume commercial use and adapts to all DIY welding projects.
Hobart Handler 210 MVP Review
Regardless of what you need to weld, the Hobart Handler 210 MVP could be your best bet. Developed to withstand high-volume projects, this machine is perfect for workshop work, either it’s arts & crafts, welding auto body panels, garden equipment, or trailer frames and hitches.
Thanks to its optional spool gun plug-in, the welder can even handle aluminum alongside other ferrous and non-ferrous alloys.
Two receptacles connecting to 115V and 230V add flexibility, and the welder automatically adjusts itself to the correct power input, guaranteeing a superior performance.
Powerful enough to handle all projects in a breeze yet small enough to take with you wherever needed, the Hobart Handler 210 MVP is perhaps the best MIG welder for heavy-duty amateur use.
Hobart 500559 Handler 140 MIG WelderIndustrial performance
Easy handling of all tasks, from household repairs to heavier duty farm or garage welding works.
Hobart 500559 Review
The Hobart 500559 is perhaps the best allround MIG welder on the market, blending convenience, versatility and an attractive price point.
Welding cast iron, brass, titanium, copper, and magnesium alloys, this tool operates on 115V standard current and boasts a wire feed speed up to 740 IMP at no load.
A high amperage output, together with 5-position voltage control, ensures smooth control of the arc regardless of the welding thickness, and everything is crowned by the industrial-grade cast aluminum drive system.
Very easy to set up in less than ten minutes and easy to use even by the novice, this MIG welder withstands all workshop demands and finds its place in an amateur or professional’s arsenal. Powerful, reliable, and convenient, the Hobart 500559 brings the best value for money.
LOTOS MIG175 175AMP Mig WelderFlexible dual-voltage use
Versatile welder for home or commercial use developed for mild steel and stainless steel.
LOTOS MIG175 Review
Slightly weaker than our best-in-class pick and slightly stronger than our best-value, the LOTOS MIG175 delivers the best of both worlds. Running on 200-240V and on a dual frequency of 50 or 60 Hz., this professional welder is developed for welding mild and stainless steel, as well as aluminum.
Perhaps the best feature of this machine is the transformer technology that connects the unit to any compatible outlet and allows for a quick setup in just minutes.
Handling industrial wire spools of four or six inches and coming with built-in resettable overload protection, the LOTOS MIG175 ensures safety and long lifetime. Performing and portable, the tool withstands most tasks but comes at a hefty price.
Forney Easy Weld 29901 125 FC MIG WelderConvenient start-up kit
MIG welder completed of all accessories needed by the novice, at a price that won’t break the bank.
Forney Easy Weld 29901 Review
The Forney Easy Weld 29901 was designed with the novice in mind and mostly appeals to the DIYers looking for a reliable all-in-one solution for their workshop.
Including all needed to get started, the kit features the reliable 29901 125FC Flux Core Welder, a Premier Series helmet designed to reduce user fatigue, a set of heavy-duty gloves and a Flux Core welding wire.
The welder is slightly weaker than our other picks, yet it withstands high-volume use and handles plate thicknesses up to 24ga-1/4’’.
Ideal for the occasional user but coming with all needed to use it right out of the box, the Forney Easy Weld 29901 is ideal for those in search for a convenient budget welding start-up solution.
2. Why invest in a MIG welder?
The metal active gas (MIG) welder is a popular type of welding machine appealing to hobbyists and professionals alike thanks to its great performance on welding ferrous and non-ferrous metals, easy setup and portability.
What makes the MIG welder different than all other welding machines are the electrodes and the wire feed spools.
- MIG welder electrodes: Are actually metal wires which are either solid or flux-cored. The former is made of solid metal and require to use a shielding gas that protects the weld pool from exposure to air, which could create excessive splatter or compromise the quality of the weld. The latter uses a flux core that provides the protective barrier to the weld and is then removed when work is done.
- MIG welder wire feed spools: Are located on the side of the welder and are fed through a torch during operation. This process makes welding simple, as the operator only has to press the trigger to engage the wire, which then feeds itself automatically into the weld pool at a constant speed, guaranteeing accurate results.
3. What to use a MIG welder for?
Easy to use thanks to its construction and providing accurate results, the MIG welder is employed in many DIY and professional applications, such as:
- Arts & crafts welding
- Industrial fabrication
- Automotive repair
- Home repairs and renovation
However, these machines are less than ideal for fine welding applications or joining thick metals, although there are exceptions.
4. MIG welder power
The voltage of a MIG welder gives a clear indication of the max power the welder can deliver. Most entry-level welders work with 115V alternating current (AC), whereas the commercial MIG welders reach as much as 240V.
But just because a welder runs on 240V, it doesn’t mean it’s the best MIG welder for you.
How much power do you need?
When assessing power, consider your needs. What do you want to weld? Thin metals for DIY projects? Thicker metals for household or workshop applications?
- A 115V welder is ideal for handling thin metals and is typically inexpensive.
- Heavy-duty 240V welders provide sufficient power for welding thicker metals but can be expensive.
- Dual-voltage machines often provide a compromise, delivering a lower power than commercial-grade welders but coming at attractive price points.
Do you need dual voltage capabilities?
Owning a dual-voltage MIG welder equals versatility. Such a model adapts to all applications, allowing you to choose between energy efficiency and high power by simply switching from low to high voltage plug.
However, if you typically work only with thin metals or only need more power for heavy-duty applications, investing in a specific machine could save you some money or deliver higher power.
5. Transformer vs. inverter MIG welders
MIG welders use either a transformer or an inverter to transform the lower AC voltage from the wall outlet into a higher voltage used by the welding torch.
- Transformer MIG welders: Use an old-fashion copper wire transformer to amplify the voltage. This technology is reliable, but the transformers are cumbersome and negatively impact the portability of the welding machine.
- Inverter MIG welders: Use a last-generation silicon-based technology that is cost-effective and lightweight. Inverter welders are great to use with power generators, although this technology tends to have a shorter lifespan.
6. MIG welder guns
There are two types of MIG welder guns, low amperage (or light-duty) guns, and high amperage (or heavy-duty) guns.
- Low amperage guns: Typically provide a welding capacity between 100 and 300 amperes (amps) and equip entry-level and DIY MIG welders. These guns are lightweight and easy to maneuver but typically have a short lifespan and need constant replacement.
- High amperage guns: Are the right choice for high-volume or heavy-duty applications and output a power between 400 and 600 amps. They are heavier and harder to maneuver due to their larger construction but will withstand years of use.
Air vs. water-cooled MIG guns
Depending on the type of gun and application, choosing the correct cooling system is essential.
- Air-cooler MIG guns: Use the air in the environment to dissipate heat. This type of system is used on both light- and heavy-duty guns and is effective on smaller guns up to 300 amps or on heavy-duty models used occasionally.
- Water-cooled MIG guns: Are equipped with a system that pumps a cooling solution from a radiator integrated near the power source. The coolant goes back to the radiator where the heat is absorbed more effectively by the various components of the system. This technology often equips heavier duty guns from 300 to 600 amps.
7. Contact tips and nozzles
Owning the best MIG welder is not enough to get the job done. You’ll also need accessories, like contact tips and nozzles.
Best MIG welder contact tips
The contact tips correspond to the diameter of the wire, but its size must also correspond to the application. Industrial applications require larger contact tips which have a better temperature management than the smaller tips.
Contact tips can be tapered and non-tapered, threaded and non-threaded.
- Tapered contact tips: Have a long shape and are typically employed when working in restricted spaces, such as pipeline welding.
- Non-tapered contact tips: Are shorter and tend to hold temperature better. They also have a longer lifespan but are hard to use in narrow spaces.
- Threaded contact tips: Are intuitive to install or remove, and are typically used on most DIY and entry-level commercial MIG welders.
- Non-threaded contact tips: Conduct heat and electricity better and are quicker to replace after a burnback, because they require no tools to change.
Best MIG welder nozzles
The nozzles have the role to direct the shielding gas to the weld and can be either threaded or non-threaded.
- Threaded nozzles: Are sturdier on the gun and offer a better concentricity between the tip and the nozzle. However, they are hard to change and clean.
- Non-threaded nozzles: Are easier to clean and change but they don’t fit quite as good as the threaded ones.
8. Other important features
A few other important features can make the difference between a good and the best MIG welder.
- Spool gun: Essential if you want to weld aluminum; the aluminum wire often gets jammed in the torch, but the spool gun keeps it away from it for a smooth operation.
- Thermal overload protection: A MIG welder can easily overheat when used for too long, but the thermal overload protection can stop the machine when it’s too hot, prolonging its lifespan.
- Accessories: Some welders come with an array of accessories convenient especially for the novice. Some useful items are a welding helmet, welding gloves, and the wire.