Using an MIG welder is one of the simplest ways of joining metal sheets – a total newbie can also learn how to use the machine in a few hours. MIG welders are a popular choice among DYI enthusiasts or hobbyists for convenient setup.
You can also use Plasma cutters and TIG welders for the job, but the machines aren't quite as easy to use. Metal Inert Gas (MIG) welding was first introduced during the Second World War to join large steel tubes and gauge metal sheets. This new invention eliminated the use of heavy machinery to weld metal
However, to create accurate and smooth welds, it is essential you invest in a quality MIG welder. Using the right machine will save time and energy, allowing you to weld thicker metals uniformly in one go. If you’re having trouble finding the right MIG welder, this handy buyer’s guide will help you make a more informed decision.
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Best High-End MIG Welder
Best Mid-Range MIG Welder
Best Low-End MIG Welder
Advantages Of MIG Welding
Most experienced users opt for MIG welding over TIG and Stick welding because they can apply it to all kinds of materials including thick carbon steel, aluminum, and alloy. Additionally, the self-shielding does not cost too much, and the machine is quite simple to use. Newbies can also benefit from the auto-feed wire that produces a comfortable and smooth weld.
Unlike other models, you don't have to worry about changing the brush and rods too frequently to remove the slag, which helps you save plenty of time that you can use for other more important tasks to boost productivity.
Also, while TIG welding may not be suitable for beginners, MIG welding can be learned by practically anybody with just a few days of practice, which is the perfect machine for users who are in search of a model for home use.
Reasons To Invest In An MIG Welder
Wondering why you should set all of your savings aside to buy an MIG welder? Here are some benefits of MIG welding:
With MIG welding, you don't have to worry about constantly changing chips and rods, which saves more time, allowing you to spend all your time productivity.
Simple To Learn
Another advantage of using an MIG welder is its simplicity. If you are a beginner, you can take up basic training on how to use the machine more efficiently. Pay particular attention to how to clean the weld. TIG welding is a more complicated process and is not suitable for beginners who want to work on home projects.
Users can rest assured they will achieve smooth welds using the MIG welders. The simple machine offers superior control and helps amateurs make the perfect weld. MIG provides better weld pool visibility. Add this to the simplicity of the process and better control provided by the auto-feed wire, and MIG makes it simple to produce a great looking weld.
MIG welding incorporates the use of shielding gas that protects the arc, which guarantees there is little loss of alloying elements since the material transfers along the arc. With only a few minutes of clean up, the MIG welder will be all set for the next round. Also, clean up does not require much effort so you can utilize your time more productively.
Compared to other types of welding equipment, the MIG welder is incredibly versatile and is suitable for a variety of alloys and metals. Apart from home welding projects, some industries employ MIG welders. Some common metals that you can work on with this machine include stainless steel, magnesium, nickel, copper and lots more.
Factors To Consider When Purchasing The Best MIG Welder
Here are a couple of factors you should keep in mind while investing in the best MIG welder:
MIG welders typically run on 220 V or 110 V while some manufacturers offer units with dual voltage for increased flexibility. Invest in a machine with a higher voltage if you want to perform heavy-duty tasks.
A lower voltage machine is a good option if you want to work on projects around the house and only use thin metal. A high-powered 220V machine is a good choice if you want to weld thicker sheets.
We suggest you play it safe and purchase a welder with a multi-voltage option, which will allow you to adjust the power setting according to your project. Some high-end models automatically alter the voltage according to your needs.
10-minute increments define the duty cycle. The span of time you can run the welder during these ten minutes is known as the duty cycle. If the MIG welder you have purchase has a duty cycle of 20%, it means you can weld for 2 minutes out of 10 before the machine has to rest. A higher duty cycle ensures you can get more work done in a short amount of time.
MIG welders offer stress-free welding. Carrying around a heavy machine is not always the most practical choice and can also lead to storage issues in the long run.
Newbies are especially known to face problems in running the bead on the right welding zone if the machine is too heavy. However, don't compromise on the performance of the device since it is one of the most important factors when investing in an MIG welder.
Heat Overload Protection
You should not overlook this feature when investing in an MIG welder because it guarantees the safety of your home and your workplace. This function automatically shuts off the machine when it's overheating, therefore reducing the risks of accidents and ensuring the longevity of the machine.
If you value the safety of people around you, invest in a welder that has a thermal overload shutoff button.
The wire size and material thickness are one of the most important factors to consider when investing in an MIG Welder. Fortunately, the material thickness is not much of a problem since most welders allow users to control the amount of power you need thanks to the digital display found in most units.
However, it is crucial you inspect the maximum and minimum thickness of the metal, which will ensure you don't overload the machine or end up breaking it.
If you are a professional welder, you will benefit from a product that offers an auto-set option. This option allows you to dial the thickness of the material and the machine will automatically alter its settings according to your requirements.
Many manufacturers offer bundle deals so look out for spare parts to accessorize your welder. Don't forget to buy a helmet or any other kind of safety equipment.
Price And Warranty
Buyers need to ensure the particular MIG welder falls in their budget and has an impressive warranty. A guarantee depicts how certain a brand is about their product and shows how committed they are to their customers. Buying a welder may look like a challenging task, but if you follow these instructions, you will have no trouble at all in selecting the best model.
Maintenance Tips For Your MIG Welder
Proper maintenance is necessary if you want to prolong the life of your MIG welder.
Regular touch-ups can prevent the machine from overheating and is crucial for the longevity of the machine.
However, it is essential you read the owner's manual first as the type of maintenance can vary from unit to unit. Here are a few basic guidelines you should follow:
Follow The Specifications
The best way to prolong the life of your welding equipment is to use it for its intended purpose. Pay close attention to the duty cycle of the welder as it will keep you from pushing the machine beyond its limits.
You can prevent damage to your machine by selecting projects that will not push the machine far beyond is capabilities and limits. Ensure you purchase the right model according to your projects.
Professional welders know the importance of taking the covers off their MIG welders and blowing compressed air into the unit, which is especially important if you use the same space for woodwork as it would remove all the dirt and debris from the mechanical parts. It also a good idea you cover the machine when it is not in use to prevent it from getting worn out.
For future use, it is recommended you perform woodworking tasks in a separate location away from the welder since sawdust can find its way near the machine and create a spark, resulting in a flame, which is also important for the long-term performance of your machine.
Regularly Cleaning The Machine
After weeks of use, ensure your welding equipment is clean and ready for use. Follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for cleaning the equipment.
Maintain The Piece Of Equipment Regularly
To ensure your welding equipment is in perfect running condition, schedule a regular maintenance. Some shops offer weekly, monthly or yearly services to ensure the machine runs as good as new even after several years of use.
Regular check-ups eliminate the risk of the machine burning or breaking down unexpectedly. However, it is essential you set up routine maintenance according to your usage.
Replace Worn-out Parts
To ensure the machine is in perfect working condition, replace worn out parts as soon as you suspect something's wrong. Certain components of the MIG welder, such as the wire feeder and the brushes may have to be replaced from time to time depending on how often you use the machine. Replace the liner to ensure the wire feeding works smoothly.
Our Recommendations: The Best MIG Welders
Want to invest in the best MIG welder in town? Here are some of our top recommendations according to different categories:
Best High-End MIG Welder
The Winner: Hobart Ironman 230 MIG Welder
The Hobart Ironman 230 MIG Welder is among the most popular high-end MIG welders in town and is easy to setup. If you are a beginner, you are likely not to face any problems at all when using this machine. Plus is has a lot of power so you can use it to perform any welding task you want.
The machine delivers around 30 to 250 amps of pure power encased in a heavy duty cabinet. The arc of the machine is designed to provide a smooth, flawless weld without any inconveniences.
Post-cleanup is also not an issue when using this machine. The 230 MIG Weldercan also work with aluminum if you install the Hobart DP-3545-20 spool gun. The spool gun is included in the package and is easy to install.
The rugged design of the Hobart Ironman 230 MIG Welder delivers 30-250 amps of power which is more than enough for most jobs. Setting up the machine only takes a few minutes and is not much of a hassle. The spool gun is also quite easy to install and is ideal for trailer fabrication, marine and auto repairs, aluminum fabrication and lots more.
Some notable features of the unit include:
- Includes a 200 amp gun with a built-in cylinder rack/running gear
- Hinged door that results in easy access to wire drive system
- Built-in thermal overload for added protection for the unit
- Unique spool hub that makes it easier for users to spool a snap without any tools
- Adjustable drive rolls and two grooves for different wire sizes
- Automatic wire alignment and tool-less brake tension knob
Runner Up: Millermatic MIG/Flux Core 120V Welder
Millermatic is one of the biggest brands when it comes to manufacturing the best quality welders. This particular model offers plenty of power and produces solid outcomes. The minimal design makes the device easy to carry and transport to different locations.
The strength of the superior quality machine lies in its utilitarian qualities, which means you can conveniently operate it without any problems.
Most customers who purchased the product were highly satisfied with it and left positive reviews. You can use the machine for multiple types of projects. It is also great for beginners thanks to its portable design. You can use the machine for welding materials such as aluminum, stainless steel, and mild steel.
This machine is an excellent choice for users who are new to welding and are in search of a portable device. The MIG/Flux Core 120V Welder is suitable for most welding tasks in farms, garage work, and automobile manufacturing factories and performing projects around the house. Because it's lightweight, you don't have to worry about straining your hand.
Users can set the machine to auto or manual mode. The auto-set mode allows quick set-up and reduces splatters. Overall, the machine is small, simple and easy to use. This Miller product surely won’t disappoint you. Some notable features of the machine include:
- Superior 'auto set' feature, so the machine automatically sets according to your requirements
- Users can also choose to get the machine for welding manually
- Quick select drive roll that makes setting up the machine a breeze
- Includes an aluminum drive system for added convenience
Alternative: Hobart Handler 500554001 190 With SpoolRunner
When it comes to purchasing the best MIG welder, Hobart is a reliable brand. This particular model features a handy SpoolRunnerthat offers you a powerful combination that is hard to beat. The durable machine is impossible to beat and offers you great value for your money.
The highly functional machine allows you to weld up to 24 gauge steel without any inconveniences, offering you incredible welding quality. Customers also benefit from a handy industrial warranty protection plan.
The machine allows you to work with all kinds of materials including stainless steel, sheet metal, and aluminum. The base unit produces about 190 amps of power and allows you to choose from 7 voltage settings, enabling you to tackle many welding jobs with ease.
Depending on the type of projects you take on, a 4-inch reel may not always be enough for the task. Well, fortunately, this particular model can support up to 8 inches of reels, which means you can benefit from a combination of MIG welding wire capability and Flux Core.
To further add convenience, the machine offers a dual gauge regulator along with the package. Some notable features of the Hobart Handler include:
- Efficient SpoolRunner with a plastic casing
- Work cable with clamp that makes the welder comfortable to use
- Dual gauge regulator and solenoid valve along with a gas hose
- Spool hub accommodates 4 to 8 inches of spool
Best Mid-Range MIG Welder
Lincoln Electric MIG Welder, Handheld, 120VAC
This easy to use Lincoln MIG welder is a handheld tool that you can use for various projects. The machine weighs around 60 pounds, making light-weight and portable for all your welding needs.
This machine can operate on an input power of 120V and can run on most power plugs without any problems which mean you can practically use it anywhere you want. The tool is an excellent choice for home projects, rental shops, and small auto-body workshops. Unfortunately, you cannot plug this machine into a generator so it might not be suitable for remote welding sites.
The welding machine can work with materials including stainless steel, aluminum, and mild steel. Some notable features of the MIG welder include:
- 50-500 IPM feed speed control
- Rigid drive aid with cast aluminum body
- Enhanced connectivity thanks to brass-to-brass gun
- Adjustable drive system prevents wire crushing and tangle
Best Low-End MIG Welder
Forney 309 140-Amp MIG Welder
The Forney 309 MIG Welder is a sight to see and is excellent when it comes to spools. While most units are quite restrictive and don't offer as many features, this particular model can accommodate various pool sizes.
It can house the standard 4-inch spool along with a standard 8-inch size as well. However, if you want to benefit from the other features, you will have to purchase the other accessories separately.
Unlike other MIG welders in the market, the Forney 309 is compatible with other brands, and you can connect it to Tweco compatible consumables. However, not all of the consumables fit properly, so make sure you do your research.
You can use the welding machine to weld a plethora of metals including mild steel, cast iron, aluminum and stainless steel. Rest assured, you can conveniently alter the setting of the MIG welder to suit the different metals.
Some cool features of the Forney 309 MIG Welder are that it is effortless to transport and weighs less than 62 pounds. Thanks to its integrated cable wrap, you can rest assured the wires remain organized.
This particular model also has a much larger cabinet which means users have plenty of space to store tools, which makes it easier to pack and unpack the machine. You don't have to worry about removing clutter and can easily organize your space. Some notable features of this model include:
- Gas hose and flowmeter included
- Processes include Flux cored and MIG gas
- Tweco compatible parts
We hope this detailed guide has provided you all the information you need regarding investing in the best MIG welder. To ensure you get the best value for your investment, don’t forget to check out customer reviews on Amazon. Good luck!