MIG welders are an excellent tool to learn how to use. Often compared to a hot glue gun, this type of welder makes it easy to perform welds in virtually any setting. Furthermore, it’s often the first type of welder many folks learn on. They shouldn’t be sold short because of being user-friendly. Many professionals rely on MIG welders on a regular basis, and they are the best choice of welders for many tasks.
Of course, how you intend to use it and your budget are all contributing factors. It also comes down to your personal preference. The good news is regardless of whether you’re a professional or a hobbyist, there are plenty of options to choose from.
Best MIG Welder Reviews & Recommendations
Benefits of MIG Welders
- Faster welds: MIG welders allow you to produce welds more quickly than you could with other types of welders. Projects with a high amount of spot welds are often made quick work of with MIG welders.
- Easy to operate: Part of what contributes to speed is the ease of use. While they may look complicated, the welding process is extremely simple. With the right amount of training and experience, you can even perform welds with a single hand.
- Work with a range of materials: With the right settings selected on a MIG welder, you can weld thin materials. That’s why they are a favorite amongst those who often work with sheet metal. However, many systems are capable of producing quality welds on thick materials as well.
Types of MIG Welders
Gas MIG: MIG is an acronym for Metal Inert Gas. Gases such as argon and helium are used to shield the weld puddle in order to produce better weld qualities. A traditional MIG welder uses a solid wire and introduces these gases as the wire is fed into the weld puddle.
Introducing the gas externally offers two primary benefits. It allows thinner wire to be used, which is necessary for working on thinner materials. It also ensures there is less chance for bubbles or impurities to exist within the weld.
Gasless: Many MIG welders are intended only for use with flux-core wire. And though they look and operate as a traditional MIG welder, they do not use a gas system to shield the wire. The shielding gas is introduced by the wire itself because it has a flux-core. This is ideal for outdoor projects because there is less chance for the gas to be blown away by the wind.
One should note that most MIG welders that use gas can also use flux-core wire. But a welder without a gas system cannot use solid wire.
Lincoln Electric: Lincoln Electric was founded in 1895 in Cleveland, Ohio. Today, it remains headquartered in their home city and is a leading name in the industry. 125 years of focus on quality is how they are able to produce products like the Lincoln Electric PowerMIG 210.
Miller Electric: Founded in 1929, Miller Electric has been producing arc welders and cutting equipment for nearly 100 years. Today, they remain headquartered in their hometown of Appleton, Wis. They, too, are a leading name in the industry, and the Miller Electric 120/240VAC, 1 Phase, is a prime example of their top-tier equipment.
Hobart: Hobart is another company with more than 100 years of experience. Founded in 1897, Hobart has been producing electrical equipment for many industries. Like the others, they remain headquartered in their hometown of Troy, Ohio.
MIG Welder Pricing
- $100 to $200: Welders that list in this price range are your entry-level welders and are almost always intended for use with flux-core wire. They are great for learning, but not professional use.
- $200 to $500: In this price range, you can expect to find professional-level welders. They may still be considered entry-level because they are typically limited to thinner materials.
- $500 to $1,000: In this range, you will find welders that are capable of working with a broader range of materials. They may also come with some accessories lower-priced welders do not.
- $1,000 and up: Welders over $1,000 are far more capable. They can be used for industrial settings or may be a combination of different welder types. Some TIG/MIG/Arc combos exist in this range.
Quality Construction: A welder needs to be of solid construction. Even if you are purchasing a machine to learn on, flimsy parts are not an option. Welders that are cheaply made will break in the harsh settings they will inevitably be exposed to. Furthermore, a poorly constructed operating system will provide poor performance, making it even more challenging to learn.
Good Control System: A welder’s control system must allow you to select the settings you need to weld. While there is room for some leeway for non-professionals, you must still have the ability to set wire feed and heat to the settings required by each project. Dials are ideal for both wire feed and heat.
Welding Wire Selection: Before committing to a welder, it’s essential to reference the wire diameters it is compatible with. This directly relates to the materials you will be able to work with. Furthermore, you should also make sure it is compatible with the type of wire you intend to use (flux, MIG, or both).
Material Compatibility: Out of the box, MIG welders are compatible with mild steel, but some may be set up to weld stainless steel and aluminum. If you intend to work with these materials, you must make sure the welder can be set up to do so. Otherwise, you will need to invest in another welder down the road.
- Regulator and Gas Hose. Most MIG welders that use gas come with the regulator and gas hose. Therefore, it’s not always a concern. However, always double-check to make sure it is confirmed in order to prevent any hassle or further investment. It would be best if you also made sure replacement regulators and hoses are available as they will need replacing over time.
- Spool Gun. A spool gun is necessary for welding materials such as aluminum. If you intend to use the welder for that, you might want to invest in a welder that comes with one. However, many do not. If the model you’ve selected doesn’t, you should make sure you can purchase one that is compatible with it.
- Weight. Weight is not a primary concern, but it is something to be mindful of. If you are taking your welder outdoors or to multiple job sites, you want a model that is something you can easily carry. However, you don’t want to sacrifice overall quality for weight savings. Even if the better welder is slightly heavier than the others, it is still the model you should purchase.
- Combination Machine. Welders that combine multiple pieces of equipment into a single unit do exist. If you intend to perform MIG, TIG, and ARC welding, you may want to consider investing in a machine that has combined abilities. The initial investment may be much higher, but it prevents you from making future purchases.
Best MIG Welder Reviews & Recommendations
- Safety First. Safety gear is an absolute must. Never weld without the proper gloves, helmet, and leathers. Welding can be very dangerous and can cause permanent injuries if you don’t have the right gear.
- Invest in a Helmet. Welding helmets can get expensive, but this is no area to cheap out on. You should always invest in a high-quality helmet that allows you to see clearly as you work.
- Learn your Hand. Welding is an art form. The manufacturer will provide recommended settings for the welder based on a project’s specs. However, you might need to fine-tune these settings to match your abilities.
- Cleaner is Better. Preparation is critical. Make sure to clean the surfaces you are welding to get the best results. Furthermore, be careful of any chemicals you use. They can produce toxic gas when they burn.
Q: What is a MIG welder good for?
A: This depends on the model. MIG welders are most well-known for use with sheet metal. However, many are compatible with thicker steel and can be used for structural fabrication.
Q: What is the difference between a MIG and TIG welder?
A: The most notable difference is that a MIG automatically feeds the wire into the puddle and a TIG requires one to manually feed the rod in. MIG welders are often more capable of working with thicker materials, while TIG welders are compatible with a broader range of material types.
Q: What is the best welder for a beginner?
A: MIG and arc welders are typically the easiest to learn on. However, which to use comes down to the projects one will perform. For example, MIG welders are ideal for those learning to weld on automotive projects. Arc is suitable for those working with thicker materials such as plate steel.
Q: Do gasless MIG welders work?
A: A “gasless” welder still producing shielding gas with the use of flux-core wire. Though they produce more slag, they provide excellent penetration and solid welds. In fact, these welders are ideal for use outdoors because the wind is less likely to blow the shielding gas away.
The Hobart 500559 Handler 140 MIG Welder 115V takes our top pick. It’s versatile, reliable, and has high-quality construction. Though it’s not a cost-effective model, it is one you will have for many years.
Alternatively, the Super Deal PRO Commercial MIG 130 is a great model for beginners on a budget to consider. While it may not perform as good as a professional-grade piece, it is excellent for practice and small projects