A Metal Inert Gas (MIG) welder is a convenient tool that is simple to set up and easy use. When utilizing a MIG welder, the fabrication process takes a few hours to learn. Once the MIG is mastered, both professionals and hobbyists have a skill that will endure for years to come.
Metal fabricators, farmers, professionals, and enthusiasts approach MIG welding with individualized and diverse levels of interest and motivation. However, the benefits are conclusive across the board. MIG welding is easy to master and execute. it is an efficient method of welding that saves both time and money on the job. MIGs produce excellent welds on many different types of metals for jobs both large and small.
MIG welders can be used at both the professional and novice levels. The greatest challenge for the laymen, however, is choosing the right tools for any project. Below is a quick guide to help you find the right MIG for your job. We will discuss the pros and cons as well as highlight the details of the some of the top MIGs in the industry today.
Which MIG welder is best for the money?
Ever wanted to fast-forward the highlights in an ESPN telecast just to know the final score of the game? Then you probably want to know already which product is the best choice out of this review. Well, it is my opinion that you will not find a better MIG welder for its price tag than the Hobart 500559 Handler Wire Welder.
This machine is durable, compact, performs outstandingly and is an excellent value for the money. The Hobart welder meets or exceeds the needs of today’s do-it-yourself hobbyist. Its drive system of cast aluminum and work clamp helps this machine to deliver the excellent performance of professional quality.
With industrial strength, multi-functionality and handy features, the Hobart Handler can handle any number of welding demands. The product comes out of the box practically ready for use with minimal setup necessary.
What is MIG Welding?
In MIG welding an electrode or steel wire cylinder is fed from the welder through a liner and out of a contact tip that is in the machine’s gun. The welder uses power to heat up and melt the wire so that it can be used as an adhesive. Inert gas is integrated into the metal liquid to protect the liquid from infusing with any other atmospheric substances. Using the melted electrode, two metal pieces can be joined as they pass through the welding gun. This process is far quicker than the traditional arc methods that required the use of welding rods. The simplicity of the operation allows users at different skill levels to utilize the tool for a wide range of welding jobs.
There are several advantages of using a MIG welder:
- Uses on thick plates or light-gauge material
- Welds aluminum, carbon and stainless steel
- Speeds are significantly higher than stick welding
- Reduces the amount of smoke that usually occurs with welding
an image was taken from http://www.lincolnelectric.com
Shielding gases, A.K.A, inert gases, are utilized during the gas metal arc welding (GMAW) or gas tungsten arc welding (GTAW) process. The reason welders use gases is to ensure that oxygen or vapor does permeate the work area. Although the gases inhibit the presence of oxygen, it can also create a poor weld if not used correctly. The key is to choose the right type and amount of gas for the work you are doing. Shielding gas can also be expensive. Before you purchase shielding gas, make sure to do your homework in order to find a type of gas that is both highly-effective, weed-friendly, and cost-effective.
The four most common gasses used for a high-quality weld are:
- Carbon Dioxide (CO2)
- Oxygen (O2)
- Argon (Ar)
- Helium (He)
an image was taken from http://www.lincolnelectric.com
To use MIG welders for Flux Cored Arc Welding (gasless welding), it requires changing the polarity switch near the drive to alternate from a solid wire to flux cored wire. In the case of gasless MIG welder, the flux core wire separates the weld pool from oxygen. A self-shielding tubular flux-cored wire can be utilized to remove oxygen by eliminating the weld pools reliance on atmospheric gas.
There are several benefits to gasless welding. First, the MIG can be used in any position or in any environment since there is protection from the gas built into the MIG. Second, since no gas is needed, then it is a more cost-effective and efficient means of welding. Third, it is perfect for beginners since it requires less skill to operate the machinery. Last, flux cored arc welding produces welds with little to no porosity. It creates a solid mass form throughout the weld.
If you wish to learn more about Self-Shielded vs. Gas-Shielded electrode you can visit lincolnelectric.com
One of the first things you want to consider when buying a MIG welder is the output power. For home projects, using thin metals, 100 amps will be sufficient.
A rig that has a maximum 140 amps is good to have because you will never know if you will need to weld some things that are thicker.
It may cost you a few extra dollars more, but it will be worth it.
The minimum power output is another thing to look at when considering a MIG welder.
For 18-gauge metal, a welder with a minimum of around 30 amps is just fine.However, if you are going to weld fragile metal that is around 22 gauge or 0.8 mm, then you want to look for a machine with a minimum out of 20-25 amps.
Probably, just as important as power is the unit’s feed rate. The feed speed has to do with the speed at which the wire gets fed from the machine to the gun. If it is too slow, the wire will disappear the second it comes into contact with the metal – creating an ugly, uneven weld. If the speed is too fast, the cord will reach out from the gun and leave you with a ton of spatter.
When there is a continuous arc, the wire is going just fast enough. If there is a separate setting for power and speed, then chances are you will have to play around with scraps first to find the correct setting. The best MIG welder will come with an automatic speed setting that will adjust the rate to the relative power. If you have to make small tweaks, there is usually a manual override available.
Wire size and material thickness
The use of thin wire like .023 or .030 in. will prevent burning through on light materials.
The use of thick wire, such as .045 in., will allow for superior fusion when using more abundant metals.
The two most common wire types are ER70S-3 and ER70S-6. The ER70S-3 is perfect for welding purposes of all kinds.
Whereas, the ER70S-6 wire is typically for use on dirty and rusty surfaces when more deoxidizers are necessary.
The wire size that will be utilized for welding will not determine the type of machine you would want to purchase, but the device will play a part in determining the size and type of wire you will use for welding.
Performance is most important when choosing a MIG welder, but you want to consider size if you have a limited space and to avoid carrying around a giant machine. Welders can range in size from 40 lbs. to several hundred pounds. It depends on the features and power. The portability needs depend greatly on the kind of welding you will need to accomplish. If you have to move the welder around a great deal, there are carts available that make things a little easier. In the case where the welder will be used for auto body work, the cart is ideal for moving around the car smoothly.
Top 10 MIG welders
Below are some reviews and important information about the most popular brands and models of MIG welders in the industry. These reviews should help you make the choice as to which unit is best for you. Keep in mind that all MIG welders essentially perform the same function. What separates each product is its application and additional manufacturer features and components.
The Hobart 500559 Handler Wire Welder
Hobart 500559 Handler 140 MIG Welder 115V
The Hobart 500559 Handler Wire Welder, also known as the Hobart handler 140, is a MIG welder with high task yield and incredible power. It is compact and portable. It operates on 115V household power and delivers 140 amps output power. The Hobart Handler 140 does not need additional setup and is ideal for steel, stainless steel, and aluminum.
The Hobart Handler has a flux core capacity that makes it capable of working thick gauge steel – even 24-gauge up to ¼ in thick materials. The machine is perfect for DIY repairs, basic metal welding, construction jobs and auto body repairs.
quality & durability
The Handler 140 is built to be durable. It is Hobart’s most popular MIG welder. It is also the industry’s best model for the value. It is extremely versatile. It is perfect for the welder in an auto body, farm projects, and household repairs. With a 5-position tapped voltage control, the welder allows you the ability to select how tuned you want your arc. It has a heavy-duty work clamp and gives an industrial performance.
Trailer repair using the Handler 140.
- Easy to use
- Covered with 5/3/1 Hobart warranty
- Lightweight design and compact for usage and storage
- Easy setup
Lincoln Electric K2185-1 Handy MIG Welder
The Lincoln Electric can be plugged into a standard 20-
Welds both MIG (shielding gas sold separately) and flux-cored
amp outlet. Although gas is essential for function, it can work without gas as well. Flux core welding makes use of a hollow wire electrode that gets fed through the gun.
This welder is compact, lightweight, and portable. It has four settings for voltage a speed adjustment that allows to weld from 24-gauge to 1/8” thick metal. It comes with everything you need for MIG welding in the box. It comes with a cable assembly, gun, clamp and work cable, gas regulator, hose, and gas nozzle, solid wire spool, contact tips and hand shield with filtering lens and plate. The only left to do is add the shielding gas.
- Easy to set up
- Compact and portable
- Not intended for industrial use
- Welds only mild steel up to 1/8”.
Forney 299 125FC Flux Core Welder
Forney Easy Weld 299 125FC Flux Core Welder
There is no need to use a cylinder filled with argon or an argon C02 mix, which can be costly. This welder will save you money, and you can weld a quarter of an inch. It requires 120v for input and gives 125 amp out. It is suitable for home and garage welding.
The Forney 299 125FC Flux Core Welder comes with handles and allows for 2 and 10 lb. wire spools. It can be used anywhere. It is packed in torch wrap – making it easy to take off and on. It is perfect as a starter welder. It works without having to use a gas set up.
Perfect starter welder for a MIG machine.
- Wire loads easily and quickly.
- Adjustable feed speed
Hobart 500553 Handler 210 MVP
Hobart Handler 210 MVP
With the 210 MVP, you can use either the 115V or 230V power input. It does not require additional tools to connect to the power receptacles. It has a multi-voltage plug that makes it easy to connect and use the welder anywhere. Using with an instruction guide is easy. It is perfect for beginners or professionals.
The optional plugin SpoolRunner 100 is great for welding aluminum. It has a built-in wire feeder with adjustable tension.
The 210 MVP MIG Welder has a powerful output to deal with 3/8 in. mild steel and good enough control for 24 gauge. It is easy to connect the optional SpoolRunner spool gun. It can be used for applications of mild or stainless steel. The welder has seven output voltage settings and speed control.
- Welding is smooth
Hobart 300796 SpoolRunner 100 Spool Gun
If you are looking a quick and simple spool gun, then the Spoolrunner is your best option. When using the gun, simply plug the lead directly into the feed head. You’ll then attach the trigger lead, and then turn on the spool gun switch, and you’re ready to go.
The spool gun can be used for aluminum welds as well as other similar types of metal such as stainless steel.
- Welds aluminum and stainless steel
- Can handle 4-inch wire spools
- Comes with an adjustable, spring-loaded tension release
- User-friendly drive rolls
- Additional parts including plastic carrying case
extra contact tips, and an additional nozzle
- The spool level adjustment is different with the level of the spoon
- It is difficult to get into tight spaces due to the non-movable nozzle
- Some parts of the spool gun are not replaceable
Lincoln MIG Welder, Handheld, 208/230VAC
The Lincoln MIG welder comes with the regulator, gun, wire spool and other accouterments. The standard gun is replaceable with a Magnum 100SG spool gun. Cast aluminum gives a smooth flow of wire throughout. There are 180 amps to heat almost any job. It is versatile and uses an assortment of wire thickness for light fabrication and maintenance and repair.
- Portable at only 66 lbs.
- Affordable price
- Comes with Lincoln Electric Magnum 100SG spool gun kit
- Not recommended for heavy-duty jobs
- 3/32” cullet and body.
- You have to purchase a separate cullet and body if the MIG contains 1/16”, 0/040” or 0.20” electrodes.
LOTOS MIG175 175AMP Mig Welder with FREE Spool Gun
Suitable for welding stainless steel, mild steel, aluminum, and other metal materials.
The machine has excellent weld penetration with a wire feed motor system that functions well. It has a 30% duty cycle. It weighs 85 lbs.
It can connect to a 200 to 220V wall outlet and can be set up in ten minutes. Its transformer technology has been proven to be reliable and durable.
A spool gun is added to the package at no additional charge.
- Temperature controller
- One year manufacturer warranty
- Shipping only within the U.S.
Hobart 500536001 IronMan 230 W/DP-3545-20 spool gun
MIG Welder capable of delivering 30-250 Amps of weld power
The Hobart Ironman 230 can be used in a farm or garden and household repair. can be used in a farm or garden and household repair. It operates with 230V input power. The product comes with reversible drive rolls to limit the amount of money spent on replacement parts. The Ironman 230 also comes with controlled infinite wire speed. It has a thermal overload protection that controls and keeps it from overheating.
- Smooth, easy-to-control arc
- Infinite wire feed
- Easier access to the wire drive system
- Short power and ground cable
- Weighs 270 lbs
- Needs a 230v or 240v outlet to run on household power supply
Lincoln Electric Power MIG 210 Mp K3964-1
Processes MIG, Flux-Cored, DC Stick, DC TIG VERSATILE, RUGGED, SIMPLE TO USE.
The Lincoln Electric Power MIG 210 Mp is versatile and has strong sheet-metal construction. It is ideal for most jobs in the home or a small shop. It can be plugged into any conventional power supply. It has dual voltage inputs of 120V or 230V. It has excellent arc action with diamond core technology.
It has an easy-turn numeric drive that indicates if there is any tension present in the unit. The Lincoln is ideal for beginners and those who are getting into welding for the first time. The display is easy to operate and simple to set up. The MIG is flexible enough to be used for both TIG and Stick welding.
Dual Voltage Inputs (120V or 230V) means you can plug into any common power supply
- Has a plug-and-play feature
- The wire feed is not steady and may need to be replaced often.
- Weighs only 40 lbs.
- Cannot handle mass production
Forney 318 190-Amp MIG Welder, 230-volt
Flowmeter and gas hose included
The Forney 318 comes with a 10’ welding torch, 15’ power cord, regulator, gas hose, and ground clamp. Its input range is up to 190/230V. It can be used on cast iron, stainless steel, mild steel, and aluminum. The wire feeder is the cast-aluminum drive system. It allows it to last longer and weld heavy-duty materials. It welds metal up to 3/8” and there is a gas hose and flowmeter included with the unit.
The product is versatile being able to process MIG and flux-core. Tweco consumables are compatible and it comes with a Euro-connect MIG gun. The spool gun is 20-ft. in length and is ideal for aluminum wire. It has an integrated gas line and gives the user almost unlimited freedom during welding.
Euro-connect MIG gun with Tweco compatible consumables
- 5/3/1 year warranty.
- Have new, improved and upgraded functions.
- Can be used for rugged jobs
- Parts are replaceable
- Easy to set up
LONGEVITY Mig weld 140-140 Amp Mig Welder
Shares the same consumables found in local stores, easy to learn and operate, comes with wire.
The Longevity has a proprietary transformer technology and comes with a thermal overload protection to prevent overheating. It is 140 amp welder. It allows for easy interchange of torching with a spool gun. The machine can handle up to 11 lbs. of the spool. It connects to any 110V wall outlet. There is a power plug installed on the equipment. It has the capacity to weld up to 3/8” of mild steel.
The unit operates on gas or can function using flux-core welding. The Longevity is portable and can be plugged and used anywhere. It is perfect the shop or home.
- Easy to use
- Thermal overload protection
- Weld pattern may be inconsistent on 20-gauge metals
When you go to purchase your MIG welder, you want to know your requirements well. Knowing what to look for will ensure you are making a wise investment. Remember to think about what you will regularly be welding. You want to buy a welder that has enough power for the jobs you need. More power will cost you more, but it is worth it than having to deal with a welder that is underpowered. Also, try to keep in mind how much you are willing to spend beforehand because it can be easy to get carried away with the different features.
In the article above, I have explained the basics of MIG welders. I hope this article has answered any questions you might have had relating to MIG welding. If you like what you have read in this article, take a second and share the post or leave a comment.