Best MIG Welding Spool Gun: Our Highest Rated 5 Spool Guns

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Welding can be physically draining, but absolutely rewarding with the end result. All of your time and hard work physically reflected in a job well done, as you can look at your finished product and proudly state, “I made that”. In order to achieve such a victory, you need a machine that you can rely on. One that will be everlasting, created with quality materials, and it can meet your expectations for any upcoming projects. This is where welding spool guns come into play.

Welding makes up the majority of what is around us. It is an indispensable job that creates amazing things that are around us. Items that we take for granted, on a daily basis.

A common, but challenging, material to weld is aluminum. When working on aluminum, you need to have complete control over the both the material and the machine. Being of thin material, aluminum requires a more intricate machine. Not any welding device will do. Seeing the demand for it, MIG welding machines have evolved with time, to include a special spool gun that can adapt to the conditions of aluminum. Creating a welding spool gun that will directly put the wire feed into the torch itself. Creating a seamless, and effortless, looking final result.

Things to Be on The Lookout For with a Welding Spool Gun

When searching for a MIG welding spool gun, there are a few things that you may want to look for. Here are some of the highlighted things that you can look for. This eliminates it down to the perfect MIG welding spool gun to fit your needs.

Materials it Can Handle

If the MIG welding machine comes with a spool gun, or an area that you can attach one to, then it will be capable of handling aluminum. Commonly, MIG welding machines work great on a multitude of materials besides aluminum. Martials such as: stainless steel, carbon steel, nickel, copper, magnesium, silicon bronze and plenty of other alloys.

Weight of the MIG Welding spool gun

Where will you need to use your MIG welding spool gun? Being attached to a hefty machine will create some limitations. If you plan on traveling with it, from home or around the worksite, you need one that will not have you running up your bill at your local chiropractor’s office. Save your back, and your valuable time, by considering the weight of the model that you intend on buying.

Extras and Additional Features

Look into the product description to see if it comes with any extras. Does it come with any extra contact tips? What about additional spools or clamps? These bonuses are just the final confirmation that you may be looking for, to know that this machine is the one you need.

Warranty Information

Look for a welding machine that comes with a warranty. Most will come with a manufacturers warranty. Some will cover one year, or even up to three years. Should anything ever go array, the warranty has you covered. Whether it be a simple repair or replacing a part. A warranty offers a piece of mind, so you can focus more of your attention on your project than worrying about a “what if”.

Top Five MIG Welders with Spool Guns Included

Sit back, relax, and rest your fingers for that upcoming project. We have uncovered the research for you! Here are the top five recommended MIG welding machines with a spool gun for 2019.

Hobart 500536001 IronMan 230 W/DP-3545-20 Spool Gun by Hobart

This hearty machine produces 30 – 250 amps of power. Welding materials such as aluminum, mild steel and stainless steel with a duty cycle of 60% @ 175 amps. Weighing in at 250lbs makes this one that will be stationary. This is great machine for those that are just beginning or have some experience. A 20ft., 200 amp spool gun is included. There is a 3yr limited warranty for sound protection, should the moment arise. This machine can tackle aluminum fabrication, trailer fabrication, sign manufacturing, auto and marine projects alike. Typical issues that can arise with any wire feeding on soft aluminum wires are eliminated with the use of the spool gun. Finishing with a seamless weld, leaving post-cleanup almost obsolete.

Hobart Handler 210 MVP MIG Welder by Hobart by Hobart

Offering up convenience and portability, by weighing in at 87.5lbs. Simple and easy to set up by following along with the included guide. Perfect for any tasks that include aluminum, mild steel and stainless steel. Producing a duty cycle of 115v at 20% @ 90 amps. Having 7 voltage settings allows for this machine to be more flexible than others currently on the market. This machine is ideal for those working on automotive, household repairs, and farming projects that require additional power. Included with the set is a 10ft H100S4-10 MIG welding gun, dual gauge regulator and gas hose, 10ft work cable cord with clamp, extra .030 contact tips, and more. A 3yr limited warranty is also included with this powerhouse.

Forney 318 190-Amp MIG Welder, 230-Volt by Forney

This is a phase 1 machine producing an impressive 190 amp maximum output for versatile projects. Whether it be for farming, automotive, marine, general fabrication along with welding repairs. Portable by weighing in at 74 lbs, and ready to use with a regulator and a gas hose. It is a transformer based machine with multi-step welding capability and containing six steps in total. The 5/3/1 factory direct warranty means that your machine will be covered based upon the layers offered by the company itself. The welding processes are MIG (GMAW) and Flux Cored (FCAW) and features spool gun capability, a longer gun/torch, extra long power cord, quick connection torch, HD cast aluminum feed/drive system with geared idler and drive roll.

Forney 322 140-Amp MIG/Stick/TIG Multi-Process Welder, 120-Volt by Forney

A smaller green machine, from the Forney family, weighs only 47.2 lbs. As a multi-processor putting out 140 amp of maximum power for versatility. This machine is capable of MIG, Stick or DC TIG welding. Having a power cord length of 15 ft., it is great for basic maintenance repair, light industrial projects, farming, automotive, marine and many other fabrication tasks. Providing amazing features such as the following: spool gun capability, STICK electrode holder, standard MIG and synergic MIG modes, longer gun/torch with common consumables, HD cast aluminum feed/drive system with geared idler and drive rolls. A quick start-up guide is available so that you may plug-in and go to work. This is a 1-phase, with a 5/3/1/ manufacturing warranty.

Lotos MIG140 140 Amp MIG Wire Welder Flux Core Welder and Aluminum Gas Shielded Welding with 2T/4T Switch, 110V, Red by Lotos Technology

This 54 lb. mighty machine is durable, reliable, and consistent with its aluminum wire feeder. Creating a higher quality aluminum feed, the guides with precision and flawless results. Able to weld on aluminum, stainless steel and mild steel projects. The transformer technology can simply plug in to a standard 110v wall outlet, with a quick setup lasting approximately ten minutes. Providing convenience by now having the 2T/4T switch, which allows for a longer welding time. A digital wire display makes it easier to read and provides a precise drive system that can lower the risk of the wire getting tangled or crushed. Accommodating the machine is a standard warranty, directly issued by Lotos itself, and is good for one year.

Frequently Asked Questions

All the frequently asked questions have been numerically coordinated to match the above numbered machine.

1a. Does the IronMan 230 come with the MIG gun and the spool gun?

Yes, the IronMan 230 comes with the MIG gun and the spool gun.

1b. Does the IronMan 230 weld flux core? Or, does it only weld with gas?

Yes, it welds with the flux core and gas. Making it convenient to use, without needing to have multiple machines.

2a. Is the Handler 210 a good machine to start with, when learning how to weld?

Yes, this produces a great flow for a beginner to use. Simple settings make it convenient to tackle any of your projects.

2b. Does the Handler 210 include a gas cylinder?

No, but it comes with the regulator and hose to attach to a gas bottle.

3a. Is the Forney 318 compatible with competitor parts (i.e. Lincoln. Miller, Hobart, etc.)?

Yes, for standard parts it is compatible with items such as tips.

3b. What size plug does the Forney 318 use?

A 50a, fitting into a NEMA 6-50 outlet.

3c. Is the Forney 318 made in the USA?

Yes, Forney products are made in the USA since the 1930’s.

4a. Which TIG torch is compatible with the Forney 322?

The Forney 85654 TIG Torch for Forney Multi-Purpose Welders can fit the Forney 322.

4b. What kind of gas can I use on the Forney 322?

It depends on what you are welding. Use 100% argon for TIG and when welding aluminum on a spool gun. For mild steel, use 25/75 argon.

5a. Can the MIG 140 operate without gas, when welding aluminum?

No, gas is required to run the machine for welding aluminum.

5b. Can the polarity be reversed on the MIG 140?

Yes, the polarity can be reversed.

5c. What is the typical cycle running time, for the MIG 140?

It can typically run for four hours, allowing for enough time to transition.

Conclusion and Wrapping Things Up with Welding Spool Guns

While deciding which machine is right for you; remember that you are looking for your next investment. Make sure that the machine will work according to the projects that you intend to use it on. Figure out the primary location in which you will be using your machine. Think of what extensions that you may need, in the future, if you decide to add on to your new toy. Be sure that it will be easy for you to use, and to provide a quality finish. Put some spark into your project, with a new MIG Welding Spool Gun machine!

Best MIG Welding Accessories: Our Choices in 16 Categories

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If you recently purchased a MIG welder, you’re probably eager to get started on one of the many projects buzzing around your brain. However, welding is a high-intensity hobby. It requires specific protective gear to keep you working safely for years to come. In addition to these items, there are a handful of other key tools that will allow you to create more precise welds and complete higher-quality projects. Read on for a comprehensive list of must-have MIG welding accessories and optional equipment to outfit your shop.

MIG Welding Accessories: Safety Essentials

MIG Welding exposes you to potentially dangerous electrical currents, gas, heat and bright light. This raises the risks of burns, blindness and even explosions. To protect your eyes, hands and other exposed skin, you absolutely must wear a good helmet, gloves and jacket anytime you pick up your welder.

MIG Welding Helmets

A quality welding helmet shields your face and eyes from hot sparks, UV radiation and metal spatter while you’re working. Make sure it includes proper shading to help prevent the painful condition known as “arc eye,” a painful inflammation of the cornea that can result from exposure to the UV light produced by welding torches. The models below are excellent choices for beginning or experienced welders.

Coocheer Solar Arc Tig Mig Auto-Darkening Welding Helmet

mig welding helmetsThis helmet may first catch your eye thanks to its bold patriotic design. However, the Coocheer Solar Arc Helmet is more than just a good-looking exterior. You’ll be floored by its powerful performance and convenient features that make every weld a safe, comfortable experience.

Its auto-darkening feature takes 1/30,000th of a second to kick in, so your eyes stay protected from harmful UV rays, and the transition from dark to light takes less than a single second. The 10-year battery life means it’s always ready to go when you are, and the wide field of vision allows you to easily see your entire project area.

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Neiko 53932A Auto-Darkening TIG/MIG Welding Helmet

mig welding helmetsThis striking helmet’s auto-darkening feature is powered by a lithium battery with a solar boost. It offers a range of shade levels (albeit without a grinding setting) and goes from light to dark in 1/25,000th of a second.

This option provides ample UV and infrared protection for your eyes and face and includes an extra cover lens and lithium battery for extended use.

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Eye Protection for MIG Welding

mig welding eye protectionA helmet alone simply isn’t sufficient to protect your eyes from the potential hazards of welding. Welders should always wear goggles or safety glasses with side shields under helmets. This provides additional protection from flying particles and chipped slag.

It also protects against irritation and chemical burns from fumes and chemicals and photochemical damage from ultraviolet radiation (UVR). Proper eye protection also alleviates issues stemming from infrared radiation and intense blue light.

Goggles such as Lincoln Electric Cutting and Grinding Goggles provide the highest level of protection from these threats, but any safety glasses that conform to ANSI Z87.1 will also work. Here are some other options that conform to all necessary standards:

MIG Welding Ear Protection

mig welding ear protectionWhile the welding process itself isn’t particularly loud, the cutting and grinding involved in preparing your materials can reach unsafe levels.

Additionally, any industrial and commercial applications of MIG welding is oftentimes performed in louder work environments.

It is crucial to always wear a good-quality pair of ear plugs or ear muffs to prevent permanent hearing damage. Here are three recommendations for these MIG welding accessories:

Best MIG Welding Gloves

mig welding glovesWelding uses intense heat to melt steel. For this reason, you’ll need to protect the body part closest to that heat source: your hands. In contrast to TIG welding gloves, which are thinner and allow for greater dexterity, MIG gloves are thicker to provide increased insulation and can make fine movements challenging.

The best MIG gloves take that challenge into account in their design to maximize both heat protection and dexterity. These are ideal MIG welding accessories.

The bright blue US Forge 400 welding gloves are made of soft, supple top-grain leather for enhanced dexterity, while their lock-stitching keeps them in great shape, weld after weld. Cotton lining makes them comfortable to wear for extended stretches of time, and their low price tag is hard to beat.

If you’re ready to splurge a bit, the Caiman 1878-5 Deerskin Welding Gloves are worth every penny. The buttery deerskin leather conforms perfectly to your hand for proper finger alignment and excellent dexterity. The gloves extend up the forearm for maximum protection. Also, the Kevlar stitching and reinforced wrist patch guarantee these gloves will hold up to years of wear.

Best MIG Welding Jacket

mig welding jacketA welding jacket provides critical upper body protection from the welding torch’s intense heat and sparks. It is crucial on a list of MIG welding accessories. Jackets for lightweight jobs or warm climates may use layers of specially treated flame-resistant cotton to keep heat away from your skin. Meanwhile, heavy-duty jobs call for a more robust jacket made of pigskin or calfskin leather. The best welding jacket protects your upper body from the heat produced by a welding torch.

It’s important to get the fit right when selecting your jacket. This is because a loose-fitting jacket can leave gaps that expose your skin. Jackets that fit too tightly can restrict your range of motion as you work. Ideally, your jacket will allow you to move freely while shielding your skin and clothing from heat.

mig welding jacketIf work demands or weather call for a lightweight jacket, the Miller Electric Cotton Welding Jacket is a reliable choice. It is popular with both hobby and professional welders. The jacket consists of 88% cotton and 12% nylon, minimizing the risk that synthetic fibers will melt under high heat. The snap closures keep the jacket securely fitted to your body. Snaps on the cuffs keep them tightly closed for a seamless fit under your gloves.

For high-intensity welding, you can’t go wrong with the Lincoln Electric Heavy-Duty Leather Welding Jacket. It’s crafted from premium cowhide leather to provide ultimate protection from the elements of welding, while the cotton lining helps keep you cool in high-heat situations. The jacket’s design also incorporates a multitude of protected pockets to keep tools and accessories handy.

Fire Extinguisher

mig welding fire extinguisherIn case of fire, be sure to keep a regularly inspected, A-B-C rated fire extinguisher within reach of your work space.

  • An “A” rating means the chemicals will put out fires fueled by paper, wood, textiles and plastics.
  • The “B” rating means it will extinguish flammable liquid fires involving oil, gasoline, kerosene or paint.
  • “C” rated extinguishers are effective against fires involving live electric equipment.

Two top options that we recommend are the First Alert 1038789 Standard Home Fire Extinguisher and the Kidde FA110 Multi Purpose Fire Extinguisher 1A10BC.

Optional Tools for Better MIG Welding Performance

These “nice to have” items can help make your welding more precise, more convenient and more productive.

Angle Grinders

angle grinderAfter welding a joint, an angle grinder can be useful for grinding the weld bead down. This is true especially in root and fill passes in pipe welding. Angle grinders can also be used in creating beveled edges for plate or pipe joints. They are also for preparing base metal surfaces by removing rust and other oxides prior to grinding.

Angle grinders may be used with a variety of discs, which fall into five basic categories:

  1. Grinding discs are used to remove excess weld metal, weld spatter, burrs and rough edges.
  2. Cutting discs function as a small circular saw to cut metal.
  3. Flap discs polish and smooth surfaces in preparation for painting, powder coating or bend testing.
  4. Wire brush discs remove weld spatter and slag without affecting the base or weld metal.
  5. Sanding discs use flat, round sheets of sandpaper to grind down surfaces. They require a spindle adapter for use with the angle grinder.

Chop Saw

chop sawA high-quality chop saw allows you to cut stainless steel, aluminum and other metals with precision. When combined with strategic clamp use, chop saws can help you generate consistent 45-degree miters. The Makita LC1230 12’’ Metal Cutting Saw is a bit of an investment. However, its performance and longevity make it an excellent value for long-term use.

Makita’s industrial-grade equipment has a well-deserved reputation for top-tier engineering, safety and customer service. The LC1230 is no exception. Cold saws like this one deliver clean cuts with no sparks, requiring minimal finishing once the cut is made.

It also leaves the metal cool to the touch almost immediately, eliminating any wait time before you’re ready to move on to the next stage of your project. Its small-but-mighty 15-amp motor produces a steady speed of 1300 RPM, making it the ideal tool for thick metals.

Measuring Tools

  • Use carpentry squares like this option from Swanson to double-check joints and miters and mark pieces prior to cutting. Fabrication-grade squares may be clamped right onto your project to keep joints square as you weld.
  • Used in tandem with squares, a good level like this one from Qooltek keeps your work on the straight and narrow.
  • A retractable tape measure like this classic option from Stanley ensures longer pieces of metal are cut properly. Meanwhile a basic flat ruler works well for small parts and fine details.
  • Soapstone like these from Ally Tools is the welder’s go-to for making marks on steel that remain visible once the metal heats up.

Pliers

A good pair of pliers will become one of the workhorses of your welding shop, both for cutting wire and clearing the contact tip. Made with high-strength, drop-forged steel, the Lincoln Electric Multi-Function MIG/TIG Welding Pliers are designed specifically for demanding welding and fabrication environments.

The pre-curved handles and silicone grip provide a comfortable fit, and the spring-loaded plier hinge reduces hand fatigue. Don’t let the plush feel fool you, though: this set of pliers can power through six different functions, including nozzle installation and cleaning, tip installation, slag hammer, wire cutting and spatter removal.

Clamps

No matter what type of project you may be working on, having a variety of clamps on hand—C-clamps, vise-grips, pipe clamps—will make it easier. The best of all worlds may be found in the versatile IRWIN VISE-GRIP Original Locking C-Clamp with Swivel Pads, whose wide-opening jaws allow you to clamp a variety of small items with a single tool.

An adjustable turn screw makes it easy to modify pressure and fit, while the classic trigger-release design maintains maximum locking force where needed. Made of high-grade, heat-treated alloy steel, this is the clamp you’ll turn to for years to come.

Magnets

Welding magnets make the soldering process easier by holding pieces of metal together at various angles. Fixed-angle magnets come in 45-, 90- and 135-degree versions, while adjustable models can be set to maintain any angle.

Nozzle Dip

Nozzle dip can be applied to MIG gun nozzles and tips to prevent buildup of spatter, which can lead to blockages that keep shield gas from flowing and stop wire from unspooling. You can also apply it to jigs and weld fixtures to extend the life of the weld and make cleaning easier.

Consumables Kit

A good consumables kit keeps you working once your contact tips wear out. This Eastwood model includes two gas nozzles, 20 contact tips (10 0.023″/0.6mm and 10 0.030″/0.8mm) and a plastic case.

MIG Light

A MIG light illuminates your work area before you strike an arc, making it easier to see when welding in tight, low-light areas (such as under a car). This battery-powered LED light from Steck—which is compatible with most ½-inch to ¾-inch MIG torches—mounts easily using a flexible bracket and offers intuitive controls.

Welding Cart

The weight of the tools and accessories you’ll eventually accumulate for welding adds up fast. Sooner or later you’re going to want a cart to help you move them around as you work. When choosing a cart, make sure it’s large enough to accommodate your welder and tanks as well as smaller accessories and equipment. A few highly-rated options include:

  • Hot Max WC100 Welding Cart: This durable cart is intelligently designed and boasts plenty of storage space with a 125-pound capacity. At just under 34 pounds, it’s easy to transport throughout your work space. Assembling the cart is a breeze thanks to the inclusion of self-locking washer nuts. Two safety chains on the back of the cart keep gas tanks secured, and the steel handle is strategically placed to avoid interfering with wiring.
  • MIG TIG Plasma Cutter Arc Welding Cart: This budget-friendly cart accommodates a welder, gas tanks and a variety of gear with a respectable 100-pound capacity. Three shelves provide convenient access to supplies, while two safety chains hold gas tanks in place. Heavy-duty casters keep you rolling securely from job to job.

Final Thoughts

If your budget is tight, be sure to check off the list of safety accessories before investing in the “nice to have” tools and gadgets. While the latter items will certainly enhance the quality and efficiency of your work, maintaining a safe working environment should always be your top priority. When done safely, welding can be a lifelong hobby, giving you plenty of time to add all the bells and whistles to your shop shelves.

Best MIG Welders for 2021: The 6 Best MIG Welding Options

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MIG, also known as Metal Inert Gas welding is a welding technique that employs the use of a consumable thin wire electrode, an addition of filler metal that’s added automatically and a shielding gas. This guide takes you through what we consider to be the best MIG welders for 2021 and beyond.

The Electrode

The electrode, a thin wire is fed from a reel that’s mounted on the welding machine through a flexible tube called a conduit liner and finally on a welding gun. The wire electrode is fed continuously when the trigger is pulled. The welding gun’s nozzle consists of a contact tip which electrically charges the wire and a gas diffuser which releases the shielding gas.

The Welding Gun

The welding gun’s trigger has three roles: to continuously feed the thin electrode, to switch on the welding current and a shielding gas. The electric current heats both the wire and the base metal above melting point in an electric arc; which explains why MIG welding is also referred to as Gas Metal Arch Welding (GMAW). The two coalesce and solidify into a single piece. The shielding gas protects the molten metal from reacting with oxygen and water vapor.

The Shielding Gas

The shielding gas contains three parts of Argon to one part of carbon dioxide. As you would expect, the gas is stored in high-pressure cylinders and regulated to usable levels. MIG welding uses a direct current. The MIG welding machine controls voltage, wire speed and polarity, all of which are set on it. The wire electrode is positive while the base metal, negative. A handle attaches the latter to the welding machine.

The MIG welding machine is set to different heat setting to ensure adequate penetration while at the same time avoid overheating the base metal. Test your weld setting on a piece of scrap metal to check whether they are the required ones is good practice and helps you avoid wasting material and ruining your project.

Top 6 Best MIG welders

Vulcan Migmax 140

The Vulcan Welder is one of the best arc welders on the market that goes the extra mile to adopt new technology. This welder features the spatter-free technology that ensures your welds are professionally finished. With an input power rating of 120V and the inverter technology in place, the Vulcan welder is the right choice for that traveling hobbyist.

Millermatic 211

The Millermattic 211 is a MIG welder that is suitable for steel and aluminum metals. It has been ranked one of the best welders for small weld works by a significant number of users. This is because of its amazing features. The Advanced Auto-set feature makes it extremely easy to adjust the welder to the right parameters.

Hobart Handler 140

The Handler 140 is one of the best welders for DIY’ers who are involved in a wide range of welding tasks. It is simple to setup and can be used by someone with less welding experience without experiencing major difficulties. Also, the Hobart Handler’s reasonable price does not at all compromise the expected quality of service.

Forney 100ST

The Forney 29801 100 ST is yet another one of the most reasonably priced yet high-quality welders on the market. This welder was designed with the needs of DIY’ers and hobbyists in mind as it comes with everything that you need. It also has economic and convenient power ratings and is fairly easy to set up.

Hobart Handler 190

The Hobart Handler 190 is a 68-pound welder that is suitable for 24 gauge to 5/16” metal thickness. This welder is one of the few in the market that comes with a built-in gas cylinder and a SpoolRunner feature that regulates the electrode. With the easy to manipulate controls, this welder is pretty simple to use even for an unskilled person.

Lincoln 210MP

The PowerMIG 210MP is a MIG welder from Lincoln Electric that is designed to serve quite a number of purposes. It is primarily designed to solve the day to day needs of educators, contractors, and do-it-yourselfers who are constantly in need of welding equipment. It has an adjustable power input of between 120V and 230V.

Why a MIG welder is a must-have tool?

A plethora of metals with various degrees of thickness can be welded using MIG welding. Stainless steel, aluminium, copper, silicon bronze, nickel and carbon steel are but a few commercially available metals and alloys in this list. These wide ranges of metals are most commonly used in day-to-day welding activities meaning it covers all the needs of most fabricators. Although it can only weld to a certain degree of thickness when done correctly, it can deliver a structurally sound weld on thin joints; 0.5 mm to be precise. The structural integrity of such welds in different industries makes it a flexible welding option.

For hobbyists, manufacturing experts and tinkerers of technology, MIG welding creates possibilities that were, before its inception, not possible. MIG welding machines can be integrated in robotics, a process known as automatic or mechanized MIG welding. Automatic MIG welding offers ensures accuracy and timeliness in the production process. The importance of the two cannot be understated. It speeds up experimentation procedures and saves time, making it more economical than any other welding technique.

Advantages of MIG Welding

MIG welding is perfect for multi-pass welding, particularly with suitable electrode selection. It also offers a wide array of electrode materials of different diameters to attain different weld thickness. This makes weld penetration viable at equal strength.

MIG welding has little or no waste. First, not as much fumes and gases are churned out as is the case with other types of welding, notably stick and flux cored welding. Since no covering slag is deposited, it also ensures minimal clean-up after welding. Electrode deposition is better than FCAW and stick welding.

Due to high visibility when welding, increased welding speeds, and affordable costs of the machine’s components, mostly the electrode, and the welding process this is the easiest way to learn how to weld. Welding in many positions is also possible.

Choosing a MIG welder

First, you need to consider the power output of the welding machine. This is dictated by the different use-cases of your machine. Different power outputs are ideal for different thickness of welding. A 30A machine would suffice for thin materials, e.g. car body panels. For steel and stainless steel, a minimum of 30A per millimetre is sufficient. This, however, can be counterproductive depending on the machine’s duty cycle. A safe choice would be to buy one that produces a 30% higher output than what you need to avoid overheating. The MIG welder also needs to have at least four power output settings especially those with 200A.

Second thing is the type of torch. Fixed torches which are more common for domestic use get the job done but easily break and are quite pricey when replacing them. A Euro-fitting torch is used by most professionals and has a build quality that matches and is, therefore, long-lasting.

The size of the spool of wire is also an essential factor to consider. Larger spools are cheaper than smaller ones. Most machines accept at least two different sizes of spools: maxi and midi spools or midi and maxi ones. A mini spool has a four-inch diameter while the midi is an eight-inch diameter spool. The two are commonly used domestically. The maxi, a twelve-inch diameter spool is preferred in industries.

Cylinders and Wire Feed Units

Small machines use disposable gas supply cylinders which have low upfront costs and are used domestically. Welders who will be handling a lot of welding need to go for the large cylinders, which are higher in upfront costs but cheaper in the long-run.

Finally, the number of wire feeds units. Most have two or four roll feeders. Two roll feeds are better for solid wires, but the latter is better for flux-cored and aluminium wire.

Conclusion

Whether you are a hobbyist who’s just toying around with metal work, a mechanic, a seasoned steel fabricator or a maintenance chap who works with steel, MIG welding is a welding technique you need to seriously consider. Not only for it’s wide array of uses, but also because it’s easy to learn in a short period of time. While most MIG machines are costly and getting familiar with the complexity of the machine is quite difficult at first, they are easier to maintain over time and you’ll soon overcome the expected learning curve, and getting a hang of it in no time.

It efficient, clean, delivers higher productivity that other methods and is versatile to different use cases. That faster welding speeds can be achieved through it only adds to the long list of advantages of using this type of welding technique. This article details all the information you need regarding the basic of MIG welding. With it, it is much easier to know what to look for when shopping for a MIG welding machine, the steps involved and why you need it.

Best MIG Welder Options: 10 Incredible MIG Welding Machines

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When looking for your next MIG welder, it is important for you to understand exactly what you are getting with each machine. You have decided to use the MIG continuous wire-feed versus the TIG wire rod feed, and are now looking for a reliable machine that gives you versatility. But what are the best MIG welders for your needs?

The good news for you is that there are plenty of MIG welders out in the market, at plenty of different price points to meet any budget. Obviously if money is not a concern for you then you can afford to spend a little extra cash and get a machine that has extreme customizable features and can operate on any metal with no problems.

If money is a concern, you will be happy to know that we have included many affordable options that are still more than capable of getting the job done. Even if you are completely new to welding and are in the market to learn, there is a machine designed for your skill level.

We want to make sure you find the right welder that matches your needs and desires. Whether you are a professional that needs a new MIG out on a job site or a do-it-yourselfer that could use a new machine around the house, we have a welder for you.

Hobart 500536 Ironman 230

hobart ironman 230 reviewThe Hobart 500536 Ironman 230 is a professional grade MIG welder that delivers elite power and performance. It is larger than the other the other MIG welders on this list but it packs the most features and can handle any variety of job. The Ironman operates on a 230-volt capacity and has 12 settings that allow you to adjust the output depending on the job. It delivers 30-250 amps of power and is optimized to deliver a flawless weld every time. This MIG welder can also weld 24 gauge up to ½ inch in a single pass with the option Hobart DP-3545-20 spool gun.

The spool hub can hold 2, 10, 33, and 45 lb wires. It is easy to spool with a tool-less brake tension know and automatic wire alignment. The drive wire system delivers 0 to 700 IPM wire feed speed. It also allows you to do gas and flux welding. You don’t have to be a professional welder to be able to use this machine, its advance features are easy to use and require a low to moderate skill level to operate.

Advantages of the Hobart 500536 Ironman 230

  • Operates on a 230-volt capacity
  • Has 12 voltage settings for easy control
  • Can weld 24 gauge to ½ inch in single pass
  • Spool hub holds 2, 10, 33 and 45 lb wires
  • Gas and flux welding

Disadvantages of the Hobart 500536 Ironman 230

  • Expensive model
  • Large body, not easily portable

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Hobart Handler 210 MVP

hobart handler 210 mvpComing in second on our list is another Hobart product, the Hobart Handler 210 MVP MIG Welder. Unlike its Ironman big brother, it has a smaller body and easily portable. The Handler 210 MVP operates on dual-voltage at 115V and 230V with seven voltage settings to aid with precision welding.

The 115 V has an output of 25 to 140 amps. The 230V has an output of 25 to 210 amps. Although it is smaller than the Ironman, the Handler 210 MVP is a rugged machine packed in a small case weighing only 87 lbs. Similar to the larger model, the Handler 210 MVP also has an optional spool gun, the SpoolRunner 100. The Handler 210 MVP welds 24 gauge up to 3/8 inch mild steel. This MIG welder is perfect for any DIY project at home and is only requires a low skill level to operate.

Advantages of the Hobart Handler 210 MVP

  • Easily portable
  • Seven voltage settings
  • Ideal for beginners
  • Welds 24 gauge to 3/8 inch steel
  • Welds stainless and aluminum

Disadvantages of the Hobart Handler 210 MVP

  • Expensive compared to similar models
  • No flux welding

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Lotos MIG175 175AMP

The Lotos MIG175AMP MIG Welder delivers power and performance with high voltage in a 175-amp motor. With the MIG175 you can operate between 200 and 240 volts, which is equivalent to other expensive models. The efficiency of this welder allows you to work with mild and stainless steels, as well as aluminum. The welding capacity for mild and stainless steel is 18 gauge to ¼ inch.

The welding capacity for aluminum is 3/8 inch or thinner. Included with the MIG175 is a high-speed MIG spool gun for aluminum welding. Similar to the Hobart Handler 210 MVP, the MIG175 is easily portable and only weighs 85 lbs. You are given ten settings to customize both your voltage settings and wire speed. The MIG175 also comes with thermal overload protection which is an impressive safety feature.

Advantages of the Lotos MIG175 175AMP

  • Operates between 200 and 240 volts
  • 10 voltage settings
  • Can work with mild and stainless steels, as well as aluminum
  • Weighs 85 lbs
  • Thermal overload protection

Disadvantages of the Lotos MIG175 175AMP

  • Does not display exact values for each setting
  • Cannot weld 24 gauge steel

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MIG Welder Inverter MIG Welding 200Amp

The MIG Welder Inverter MIG Welding 200Amp from Hitbox delivers a lot of power in a compact design. It has an incredible range of 160 to 270 volts, which should be plenty for any of your jobs. Unlike the LOTOS model above, this Hitbox allows you to use digital customization to get your desired results. It also comes with an LED display that tells your precise voltage and wire speeds.

If the unit is close to overheating, it will indicate that to you through warning lights and has an automatic shutdown after a certain point to ensure the best overall safety for you. The Hitbox MIG200 is extremely flexible, allowing you to do gas or flux-core welding.

Included with this welder is an MB15 MIG gun. The Hitbox MIG200 is a super compact machine, weighing only 22 lbs. It has an energy-efficient motor that allows you to plug it into a generator, which makes it convenient when you are out in the field or don’t have immediate access to electric power.

Advantages of the MIG Welder Inverter MIG Welding 200Amp

  • High voltage capacity
  • Gas or flux-core welding
  • Lightweight model
  • Adjustable voltage settings, with digital display
  • Energy-efficient design

Disadvantages of the MIG Welder Inverter MIG Welding 200Amp

  • Not designed for aluminum welding

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Lotos MIG140 140 Amp MIG

lotos mig 140The Lotos MIG140 Amp MIG is the smaller version of the Lotos MIG175. It operates at 110 volts and allows you to work with regular and stainless steels, as well as aluminum. Unlike other models on this list, the Lotos MIG140 does not come with a spool – you will need to purchase this separately.

The MIG140 is capable to weld 18 gauge to 3/16 inch stainless and mild steels, and 1/8” or thinner for aluminum. It does not have as much versatility as other options on this list but it is still an overall solid machine. The MIG140 also gives you 10 different settings and a 2T/4T switch that allows you to customize how fast the welder heats up. To ensure you get precise results every time, there are two displays that show the current voltage and percentage.

Advantages of the Lotos MIG140 Amp

  • 10 variable voltage settings
  • Lightweight (54 lbs)
  • 2T and 4T switch built-in
  • Works on stainless and aluminum
  • Easy to transport

Disadvantages of the Lotos MIG140 Amp

  • No spool gun
  • Operates at 110V

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2017 Everlast PowerMIG 200

The Everlast PowerMIG 200 is a compact model that delivers enough power to take care of any job. This model is popular among users because it doesn’t generate as much of a spatter arc as other models with similar specs. The PowerMIG 200 has a digital IGBT Inverter design that aids in the low spatter arc performance by providing a stable weld distribution.

Another feature to help with the spatter arc is the arc force control where you can adjust the arc. The PowerMIG 200 is a 200amp MIG stick welder dual voltage at 110V and 220V – this gives you the option to weld most metals, including aluminum. This is an extremely powerful and versatile machine filled with plenty of features to fully customize your weld. A dual digital display gives both volt and amp readouts allowing for precise parameters dependent on each job. You can also do both gas and flux-core welding.

The PowerMIG 200 also comes with safety features including thermal overload warning. This machine has a lightweight design and weighs only 35 lbs. The PowerMIG 200 is a great machine for both beginners and professionals, capable of meeting any of your welding needs.

Advantages of the Everlast PowerMIG 200

  • Dual-voltage design
  • Low spatter arc
  • Gas and flux-core welding
  • Operates between 110-220 volts
  • Lightweight design (35 lbs)

Disadvantages of the Everlast PowerMIG 200

  • More expensive compared to similar models

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2017 Everlast MIG140

Another impressive lightweight option for those looking to go portable, is the Everlast MIG140. This machine operates up to 120V of power and is designed for gas operation. You can also adjust to flux-core welding if you want. The MIG140 is designed for beginners and everyday do-it-yourselfers.

Although it is a beginner’s machine, it does provide you with enough customization options to fit any job. It is also extremely lightweight and weighs only 25 pounds – the perfect size for having around the house. The MIG140 comes out of the economy line of inverter MIG welders from Everlast but is promised to not skimp on delivering power and performance capability.

Its IGBT inverter design allows it to put out a higher amp output compared to transformer based MIG welders. It also comes with a 15 Series MIG gun, work clamp, Ar/CO2 regulator and consumable start kit. This is a great machine for those trying to learn or just have something extremely portable and easy to get to when the job calls.

Advantages of the Everlast PowerMIG 200

  • Extremely portable and lightweight (25 lbs)
  • Gas and flux-core capabilities
  • Good starter kit
  • IGBT inverter design
  • Easy to use

Disadvantages of the Everlast PowerMIG 200

  • No aluminum spool provided
  • Not designed for high-performance use

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Longevity MIGweld 140

The Longevity MIGweld 140 is another extremely portable and compact designed welder. It operates on 110V standard outlet power so it can be used just about anywhere. It also comes with gas or flux-core welding capabilities. This machine can some steel but if you want to expand to other metals you have the option to get another spool gun with more metalworking capability.

Although the Longevity 140 only has a 110 volt capacity, you have the option to adjust the settings to your custom job. Among these are the ability to customize the speed of your wire as well as the voltage level. As-is the machine is able to weld up to 3/8 inch of mild steel. It is a little bit heavier than some of the other compact designs but is still readily accessible, weighing just under 62 lbs.

The Longevity 140 is primarily geared towards beginners and smaller DIY projects, but it is a great welder to learn on until you are ready for a more advanced model with additional features.

Advantages of the Longevity MIGweld 140

  • Gas and flux-core welding
  • 110V capacity
  • Adjustable voltage
  • Adjustable speed
  • Great starter welder

Disadvantages of the Longevity MIGweld 140

  • Aluminum spool not included
  • Not great for advanced projects

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Mophorn MIG MMA Arc Welder 200 Amp

The Mophorn MIG Welder 200 Amp is a multifunction machine that is great for working with several metal types. It is suitable for welding low-carbon steel, alloyed steel and stainless steel. It operates on 220V and has a stable wire speed. The motor is extremely efficient and power saving. The MIG MMA comes with an automatic voltage pulsation compensation capability which provides good arcing and limited spatter.

Long welding time is ensured through the built-in fan that keeps the motor cool while running. The MIG MMA 200 Amp also comes with an anti-stick function that controls the welding current after sticking. This is a great machine for do-it-yourselfers who want a little bit more power than other budget models on this list.

Advantages of the Mophorn MIG Welder 200 Amp

  • Multifunctional
  • Good arcing
  • 220V capability
  • Great for more advanced DIY

Disadvantages of the Mophorn MIG Welder 200 Amp

  • Limited scope
  • Can pay a little more for better quality

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Forney Easy Weld 29901 125FC

The Forney Easy Weld 299 125FC is a great budget option for those looking to save some money and get started on their next welding project. It does have flux-core capabilities and is great for welding mild steel. It is primarily designed for smaller jobs and has a 120V capacity.

You do have the option to adjust the wire speed though depending on your desired weld. It is another awesome lightweight option and weighs only 35lbs. The Easy Weld 299 can handle wire diameter up to 0.03 inches and can weld a plate thickness of 24 gauge to ¼ inch. It is extremely easy to use so if you are new to welding, this is a great tool to start with.

It doesn’t have a lot of fancy features but that should be expected at this price point. This is an affordable budget MIG welder that can introduce you to welding and get your started. It also comes with flux-core wire, black leather welding gloves, and a Premier Series CamoADF helmet.

Advantages of the Forney Easy Weld 299 125FC

  • Great starter kit
  • Cost-effective
  • 120V capacity
  • Adjustable wire speed
  • Perfect for DIY

Disadvantages of the Forney Easy Weld 299 125FC

  • Novice model
  • Not designed for large jobs

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Picking the Best MIG Welders for 2019

Picking your next, or first MIG welder, should be dependent on your needs and desires of what you want to get out of your machine.

Best MIG Welders for Industrial Jobs

If you have larger industrial jobs you probably want to spend the extra cash and invest in a machine that gives you elite power and performance. We recommend the Hobart 500536 Ironman 230 if you are looking for a machine with plenty of power and tons of customization offerings.

It will be able to provide exactly what you need on the job site and can handle any task you put in front of it. It also weighs almost 225 lbs so it is not the most portable but it does come with wheels so you can move it around your shop with ease. If you are looking for a machine with similar capabilities but also more portable, the Hobart Handler 210 MVP is a great option.

Best MIG Welders at Lower Prices

If you want to have a welder with similar specs but don’t want to pay the Hobart prices, look into the Lotos machines. The Lotos MIG175 is going to have more power than the Lotos MIG140, but both have comparable specs. The Lotos MIG175 is going to be a larger model of the Lotos MIG140 so if the smaller fits your needs, you may not have to spend the extra money unless you want the larger model.

The MIG Welder Inverter MIG Welding 200Amp from Hitbox is another great option if you want a machine that has some flexibility as well as power. It has gas and flux-core capabilities, but the only drawback is that it is not designed for aluminum welding.

Best Compact Welder

Two extremely lightweight and compact designs can be found in the Everlast MIG140 and Everlast PowerMIG 200. Both machines have low spatter arc and are capable of adjusting voltage and wire speeds – the PowerMIG 200 is simply more powerful than the MIG140.

If you are looking for a welder to learn on you may want to start with one of our budget friendly options, either the Longevity MIGweld 140-140AMP, Mophorn MIG Welder 200 Amp, or the Forney Easy Weld 299 125FC.

Best Cheap Welders for MIG Welding: 5 Options Under $500

cheap welders featured

Metal Inert Gas (MIG) welding is the perfect avenue for getting started in the craft. The learning curve is minimal and it requires little space and even less cleanup. Also, MIG welding enables beginning welders to accomplish a significant amount of work in relatively little time. Therefore, all of this can build the confidence needed to gradually take on more complex tasks.

So, before we look at some of the best options for low cost and cheap welders on the market today for MIG welding, there are a few other factors you’ll need to consider as you start your first projects.

Amperage

When using a MIG welder, you’ll need to select the correct amperage based on the type and thickness of steel you’ll be working with. You can refer to one of several online MIG calculators to determine the appropriate number of amps needed for your project. However, in general, if you’re using one-millimeter steel, you’ll need a minimum of 30 amps to get the job done.

Power Supply

Even small welders draw substantial current. So, be sure the outlets and wiring in your work area are sufficient for the task. If they’re not, you could end up with a dangerous fire on your hands. Most hardware stores sell the equipment needed to test your system’s capacity. But, if you’re unsure, it’s worth the investment to have a professional electrician evaluate your setup. If necessary, they can install a dedicated outlet for your welder.

Protective Gear

Welding carries a high risk of injury if your body isn’t properly protected from the powerful light and heat produced during the process. Don’t cut corners in this area. Spend the money to get:

  • A good helmet
  • High-quality gloves
  • A welding shirt or apron
  • Leather shoes or boots
  • Thick pants

Ventilation

Make sure your welding area is well-ventilated, as the fumes produced by welding can cause permanent neurological and physical damage. The airflow should be sufficient to provide you with ample fresh air. However, it should not be so powerful that it disrupts your shielding gas. If you notice a buildup of fumes, take a break and open windows and doors or use a fan to help clear out the excess gases.

Now that your setup is ready to go, let’s dive into a review of the five best low-cost MIG welders available for consumer use.

Top 5 Cheap MIG welders

Goplus MIG 130 Welder

The Goplus MIG 130 Welder is an excellent choice for do-it-yourself home and automotive projects. Technically, the machine uses the gasless flux molding process, which relies on a flux-filled tabular wire versus drawing power from argon or carbon dioxide. The flux-cored wire allows the amateur welder to maintain operational efficiency without having to spend extra money on gas cylinders.

Features of the Goplus MIG 130

  • Cost-effectiveness: The cored wire is not only more dynamic, but also less expensive than traditional steel wires.
  • Heat and power control: Four heat and power settings allow the user to customize heat and speed for a wide range of applications.
  • Speed control: The wire speed control feature makes it easy to adjust for an infinite number of sheet thicknesses.
  • Value: The Goplus MIG 130 Welder includes all essential accessories. This includes a 65-inch welding gun, 72-inch power cord, welding wire, weld mask and brush. This allows you to get started on your projects right away.
  • Safety: The thermal overload protection feature automatically disables the system if you’ve exceeded the machine’s operational limits. This protects you from injury and the welder from damage, while two air vents help regulate temperature.
  • Efficiency: The welder’s built-in torch includes an on-off switch to make saving energy easy.
  • Durability: A well-crafted steel frame ensures the welder will hold up over years of use.

Limitations of the Goplus MIG 130

  • Output: The unit is not a DC output welder, and some users have reported frequent tripping with a 20-amp breaker, although it performs adequately for short welds.
  • Accessory quality: Some users reported receiving cracked or broken masks, and others stated that the mask was of insufficient quality, so plan to invest in a separate welding mask to be safe.

Forney Easy Weld 299

The Forney MIG Welder 299 125FC Flux Core Welder is another affordable unit that offers brand-name quality at a modest price. This 120-volt, 125-amp unit is ideal for novice welders looking to complete small household tasks, and it comes with Forney’s 80-plus years of expertise in the industry.

Features of the Forney Easy Weld 299

  • Ease of use: The Forney 299 125FC Flux Core Welder is intuitive and easy to use, even for beginners to welding.
  • Portability: The welder’s lightweight body and comfortable handle make it easy to transport for all your project needs.
  • Storage: The Forney 299 125FC Flux Core Welder includes a surprising amount of storage space for surplus wire (including the two-pound spool that comes with the unit).
  • Warranty: As a testament to their commitment to quality, Forney includes a six-month warranty that covers any repairs or parts replacement needed due to defects in material or construction.
  • Low-maintenance: The welder’s simple design keeps maintenance to a minimum. A basic cleaning to remove dust and dirt every few months is likely all the upkeep you’ll need to handle.

Limitations of the Forney Easy Weld 299

  • Capacity: This unit is intended primarily for small projects, so if you’re looking for a welder to handle jobs that require thicker metals, it may not be your top choice. The Forney 299 125FC Flux Core Welder is best-suited for 24-gauge, ¼-inch metals and precise welding tasks, such as auto maintenance and chain-link fence repair.
  • Short wire lengths: Some users may find the relatively short range of the wire feeder and work piece ground wires to be a bit of an inconvenience, but most users adjust with a little advanced planning.

Super Deal MIG 130

The Super Deal MIG 130 Welder is a high-quality, affordable household welding tool that offers powerful performance and intuitive features in a lightweight package.

Features of the Super Deal MIG 130

  • Portability: The Super Deal MIG 130 is made of durable PVC, offering a comfortable grip and easy portability.
  • Excellent performance: This welder uses wave form control technology with an adjustable inductor, allowing the user to customize the settings based on the requirements of the task at hand. Also, this feature increases fusion depth, reduces spatter and maintains a soft electric arc for more efficient operation.
  • Versatility: Choose from a wide range of wire feed speed and temperature options to match the thickness of your steel.
  • Control: The digital soft-key control panel is easy to use, even with welding gloves on, reducing the occurrence of errors and providing constant feedback about the machine’s settings.
  • Clean metal tip: The copper tip prevents slag buildup while welding and is easy to replace with the included spare tips when necessary.
  • Thermal overload protection: A cooling fan and thermal overload protection feature prevent overheating and potential damage to the unit.
  • Convenience: The welder’s compact size and light weight make it easy to store, transport and reposition for various project needs.

Limitations of the Super Deal MIG 130

  • Power source: Some users found that the unit consistently tripped a 20-amp breaker on a 120-volt circuit and suggest running the welder on a dedicated breaker to prevent this issue.
  • Speed: Even at its lowest settings, the wire speed is too fast for some users, who complained that the speed resulted in a sloppy-looking job.

Lincoln Electric K2278-1

The Lincoln Electric K2278-1 Handy Core welder is a well-rounded entry-level welder ideal for most home welding projects. This all-inclusive unit comes with welder, clamp, sample wire and shield. Because of this, it offers a simple, straightforward setup process and intuitive operation that will allow even beginning welders to dive right into their work.

Features of the Lincoln Electric K2278-1

  • Compatibility: The welder runs well off conventional 110-volt, 20-amp household outlets.
  • Quality: Purchase with confidence—Lincoln includes a one-year limited warranty on parts and labor on the Handy Core unit.
  • Safety: Overload protection feature automatically shuts down the unit to prevent overheating.
  • Portability: At 45 pounds, this compact, lightweight unit travels with you from job to job.

Limitations of the Lincoln Electric K2278-1

  • Price: While still affordable, the Lincoln’s base price is almost double that of many of its competitors.
  • Capability: The Handy Core doesn’t use gas and doesn’t have the capacity to handle heavy-duty projects.

HIT 140 MIG Welder

Don’t be fooled by its small size: the compact yet powerful HIT 140 Amp 120-Volt MIG Welder is versatile enough to take on automotive and industrial projects of all sizes at home or in the shop.

Features of the HIT 140 MIG Welder

  • Compatibility: The HIT 140 works with three MIG and flux-core wire sizes (.23 inches, .3 inches and .35 inches), with or without shielding gas.
  • Powerful performance: The unit can handle one-pass welding of mild carbon steel up to 3/16” thick or 24-gauge.
  • Convenience: The welder plugs into a traditional 120-volt outlet.
  • Versatility: Use the welder with a spool gun (not included) at any speed setting.
  • Safety: The system offers advanced thermal overload protection, and an indicator light alerts you to pending shutdowns.
  • Control: Enjoy total heat control with an infinite range of heat settings.
  • Value: The kit includes a six-foot MIG torch, 10-foot gas hose with regulator, TWECO type MIG gun, one MIG nozzle, two .3-inch contact tips, and a 10-foot ground cable with earth clamp and hex wrench.

Limitations of the HIT 140 MIG Welder

  • Price: Like the Lincoln, the HIT unit runs about twice the price of its competitors in this category.

The Bottom Line

In the low-cost MIG welder category, price doesn’t necessarily predict performance. Most of the models at the low end of the cost range performed just as well as the units priced twice as high. Before making your selection, be sure to confirm that the welder is compatible with your power supply and job requirements. If you go with one of the lower-priced units, you may consider using the money you save to invest in a dedicated breaker for it in your garage or shop.

No matter which entry-level welder you end up with, don’t skip out on the protective gear. A high-quality mask, gloves, boots, pants and shirt or apron will allow you to work safely and efficiently for decades to come.

And if you are looking to scale up, check our our other list of the six best MIG welders.