Top 5 Best MIG Welder: Comparison and Buyer’s Guide in 2018

Whether you’re a professional welder or just someone with a keen interest in heating metals, you’ll find value in using a MIG(Metal Inert Gas) welder. Such a machine provides a variety of uses even beginners can immediately perform.

Of course, they are not particularly cheap — getting one is an investment. Thus, it’s important for you and your wallet to pick the right model. And with our amazing guide, you’ll surely find the best MIG welder for your hobby or profession.

Top MIG Welder Reviews and Comparison

Lincoln K2185-1
Duty Cycle: [email protected]%
Input: 115V/60Hz
Weight: 46lbs
Welds Up to: 1/8'' mild steel
Goplus MIG 130
Duty Cycle: [email protected]%
Input: 115V/60Hz
Weight: 35lbs
Welds Up to: 1/4'' steel
Hobart 500559
Duty Cycle: [email protected]%
Input: 115V/60Hz
Weight: 57lbs
Welds Up to: 1/4'' steel
Lotos 175-Amp
Duty Cycle: [email protected]%
Input: 115V/60Hz
Weight: 85lbs
Welds Up to:1/4" steel
Super Deal 130
Duty Cycle: [email protected]%
Input: 110V/60Hz
Weight: 38lbs
Welds Up to: 0.023'' steel

Lincoln Electric K2185-1 Handy – Best Overall

Lincoln Electric K2185-1 Handy

Weighing at 26 pounds, Lincoln Electric K2185-1 Handy is the lightest one on our list. This makes it the most portable MIG welder that suits the beginners. Made in the United States, the Lincoln Electric K2185-1 can handle mild steel workpieces. These are materials with a thickness of about 0.125 inches.

If you’re wondering how this one will deal with air-based contaminants, it employs the two methods. It can either rely on its shield-generating flux-cored wires or use a shielding gas. The latter isn’t included in the package, but it’s good to know you’ve got both options.

Plus, the package already comes with a lot of materials that will help you weld as soon as possible. Apart from the welding gun, you’ll have the gas nozzle, and hose ready for assembly.

The spool of wire is well-built. We don’t expect to see any hiccups as the wire is fed for welding. This is also due in part to the contact tips — tiny MIG welder components that shift the current to the wire. Without them, the fabrication period will inevitably be extended.

Furthermore, the input voltage is 115v. While this isn’t high enough for more industrial fabrications, it makes the Lincoln Electric K2185-1 accessible to household users. A 115-volt socket is a standard for residential buildings.

Pros

  • Relatively light and portable for easy handling
  • This wire welder Comes with flux-cored wire with an option for shielding gas
  • You can adjust the speed of the wire feed
  • Comes with one-year parts and labor warranty and another 90-day warranty for the welder gun and cable
  • Uses fan cooling to extend its lifespan

Cons

  • Compact design makes it unable to carry larger spools of wire
  • Only four voltage settings make it difficult to get the right voltage for a variety of materials

Overall

This Lincoln Electric K2185-1 isn’t a mighty one, but that isn’t a big letdown. If you’re new to welding and you want to get the hang of it, get this model. This Lincoln model is not only portable but also uses a 115-volt socket that you already have at home.

Goplus MIG 130 Welder – 1st Runner Up

Goplus MIG 130 Welder

Goplus MIG 130 welder is also advertised for household use, but it’s got a bit more weight than the Lincoln Electric model. The model of Goplus weighs 35 pounds and made of stainless steel. One exception is the handle, which is made of plastic instead to ensure user safety.

It sports a black and orange design that will surely complement every other machine in the tool shed.

Likewise, this one is specifically meant for light welding tasks. If you have a car or motorcycle that needs a little bit of repair, use this machine.

This Goplus 130 model won’t have problems with the workpiece as long as the metal is fairly thin. Similar to the Lincoln Electric Welder, this model only comes with four heating or voltage options. While we would have appreciated more adjustability, the provided options are just enough for personal welding tasks.

Since the Goplus is the best welder used for thin metals, you should get the .030 flux core wire. There’s nothing wrong with a .035 wire, but that type is better suited for metals with a thickness of at least 0.25 inches.

If you use the correct the type of wire, Goplus MIG 130 welder won’t show any signs of overheating. On a related note, it comes with a couple of air vents to regulate the temperature. And if you’re worried about the welding torch always being activated, you can use the on/off safety control.

Pros

  • Durable steel body with an ergonomic plastic handle
  • Offers 10-speed options for wire feeding
  • This wire welder includes a flux-cored wire welding
  • Has enough power to work with clean, non-oily, and thin metals
  • Comes with a triangle ground cord to protect the machine and the user from strong electric currents

Cons

  • Portability and reach would have been improved with the inclusion of a rechargeable battery
  • Included safety mask isn’t good enough for regular welding use

Overall

If you need a MIG welder that is fairly portable with a variety of safety features, check out this one. It won’t help you with heavy-duty welding procedures, but you can repair your car or a friend’s bike with his model.

Hobart 500559 Handler 140 – 2nd Runner Up

Hobart 500559 Handler 140

Weighing in at 65 pounds, the Hobart 500559 doesn’t settle for welding thin metals. It is designed and assembled in the United States. If you’re a beginner, just read the well-detailed user manual that allows you to assemble everything within minutes.

This MIG welder can accommodate metals with a maximum thickness of 0.25 inches. So if you’ve got any magnesium alloys, copper, flux-cored aluminum, or even titanium to work with, use this machine.

While the first two welders we reviewed only had four voltage settings, this one comes with five. It’s certainly a minor improvement, but even this one additional option will help you create a stable electric arc.

Even if the Hobart 500559 offers more welding power, you still only need a 115-volt household power outlet. You also have to get a 20-amp circuit, which is also a standard for households.

Pros

  • You can use it for fixing vehicular panels or any of your gardening equipment
  • The instructions are written well enough that you won’t need any professional assistance
  • 10-feet power cord for an extended reach without the use of a battery
  • Includes a limited manufacturer’s warranty

Cons

  • You can use a mixture of argon and carbon dioxide with the gauge but using only carbon dioxide doesn’t work
  • The included flux-core wire is prone to entanglement

Overall

Hobart 500559 is fantastic one among all that strikes a balance between household-friendly use and formidable welding power. It can handle both thin and thick workpiece metals. Plus, it comes with five voltage settings instead of the usual four.

Lotos 175-Amp – Best Under $1000

Lotos 175-Amp

For people who need a MIG welder that can handle a variety of metals with ease, there’s the Lotos 175-amp model. Weighing 85 pounds, this is the heaviest one on our list.

It’s definitely not as portable as the other entries, but the construction is undeniably good. The top handle is ergonomic and sturdy. In general, the cubic red and black design gives it a professional, industrial image.

Due to its size, you’ll need a 220-voltage wall outlet. This is nearly double the usual 115-volt household outlet necessary for the more portable MIG(Metal Inert Gas) welders. But there’s nothing for you to worry about. The machine has overload protection as a safety precaution. Thus, any extremely high currents won’t hurt you or the welder.

Lotos 175-Amp is compatible and one of the best welder with four-inch and eight-inch wire spools — both of which are common in industrial welding. You can weld metals of various thicknesses such as aluminum, stainless steel, and mild steel.

Pros

  • Powerful enough to weld thick materials such as 0.375-inch aluminum and 0.25-inch stainless steel
  • Overload protection and temperature control extends its lifespan
  • Has an amazing power efficiency of 80 percent to lower operation costs
  • Includes a one-year manufacturer’s warranty

Cons

  • Instructions should have been more detailed especially since this is a hefty machine
  • Heat adjustment takes some time getting used to

Overall

As the biggest one here, there is a lot to expect from the Lotos welder. By sacrificing portability, this model becomes fully capable of welding metals thicker than 0.125 inches. We wish it was more user-friendly with the user manual, but this is still a solid investment.

Super Deal 130 – Best MIG Welder for Beginner

Super Deal 130

The final MIG Welder goes back to a lightweight build at just above 38 pounds. The largely black and modern design of this machine means that it won’t stand out.

This machine could have been heavier, but Super Deal was wise to utilize PVC material. Even if polyvinyl chloride (PVC) is plastic, manufacturers can benefit a lot from it. PVC is lightweight yet sturdy and easy to weld. What you get is a nice grip on the machine.

Moreover, the Super Deal MIG 130 Welder uses flux-cored wire. You no longer have to get a tank and any separate shielding gas to keep contaminants away.

There are several controls to take note on this one. For one, there’s the variable feed speed control. You can only choose among four buttons, but there’s also a rotary knob if you want more speed precision. With the knob, you can pick among 10 speeds.

Pros

  • 10 wire feeding speed options for you to choose from
  • Comes with half a pound of welding wire and a ground cord
  • You can quickly turn off the torch with the safety control
  • Temperature can be adjusted using four settings

Cons

  • The included protection mask does not have a good quality
  • The user manual is poorly written with some spelling mistakes

Overall

This model from Super Deal is one of many portable ones. What makes it stand out from the competition is its design and adjustability.

Instead of sporting a metallic case, this Super Deal machine opted for a lightweight yet durable PVC material. Likewise, we appreciate the variable speed control that helps beginners learn the process with ease.

What the MIG Welding Is

There is a variety of welding processes such as Gas Tungsten Arc Gas Welding (GTAW) and Flux Cored Arc Welding (FCAW). Our focus is on MIG welding (Metal Inert Gas).

This process is part of the general gas metal arc welding (GMAW) category. Every welding process in the GMAW category relies on an electric arc to develop between the workpiece metal and the wire electrode.

How is the arc formed? Well, the MIG welder simply lets an electrical current to go through a couple of electrodes. One electrode is the workpiece metal while the second one is a metal or steel wire. A trigger on the welder gun ensures that the steel wire from the spool moves accordingly.

This results in a short circuit to appear between them. It’s the electric arc that has a temperature ranging from 5,000 to 40,000 degrees Fahrenheit — enough to melt metal. You can then use this electric arc to work on several workpiece metals. Melt and join them together in whatever form you want.

Likewise, the welding gun uses a shielding gas made up of argon and carbon dioxide to protect the metals. These gases are transferred from a tank to the tip of the welding gun through a pipe.

You see, there are many contaminants such as oxygen and nitrogen in the air. If they hit the workpiece metals, their overall quality is affected. The shielding gas prevents these contaminants from affecting the metals while they are still in the melting and shaping process.

Types of MIG Welding

Gas-Based:

The difference between these two general types is pretty simple. We previously mentioned the use of shielding gas to protect the metals from airborne contaminants. If your welder has this, you are conducting gas-based MIG welding.

Apart from its main function, gas-based welding also reduces the amount of spatter — melting-hot droplets that come out during the welding process. Plus, the use of carbon dioxide or argon ensures the stability of the electric arc.

Gasless:

The second type can actually be classified as its own subtype of the GTAW process. Instead of using a gas shield, gasless MIG welding utilizes a flux-cored wire. With either method, oxygen and nitrogen can’t just contaminate the melting workpiece metals.

How is this possible? It’s because the flux-cored wire generates a gas shield on its own. In particular, gas is formed when the flux burns. Thus, It’s isn’t entirely without gas. The term simply refers to the lack of need for gases like argon and carbon dioxide to come from a tank and then to the tip of the welding gun.

Here, the shielding gas is a built-in feature of the wire. Gasless one sounds like the ideal type, but you’d have to exercise extra caution. This type of welding does not reduce the amount of dangerous spatter and slag.

Factors to Consider While Making a Choice:

Now that you know how a MIG welder works, you should know what differentiates one machine another. Understanding the following aspects will help you become a well-informed buyer.

Wire Size

There are two categories of wire weld: ER70S-6 and ER70S-3. The first type of wire is ideal for welding steel workpieces that were exposed to corrosion and weld scale.

Corrosion leads to rust, which ruins the color of the metal. Similarly, weld scale refers to the leftover steel that attaches itself to the workpiece — creating an unsightly mark. The ER70S-6 wire has a significant deoxidizing attribute to work with affected metals.

On the other hand, the ER70S-3 wire has a lower but commendable amount of deoxidizing properties. The wire is constructed using silicon and manganese.

With a good amount of these two chemical elements, the MIG welder can safely use shielding gas. Also, the ER70S-3 wire welding is commonly used for developing farming equipment, car frames, steel furniture, and general metal parts.

Material Type

Knowing what materials you will use with them will help you choose the right model. For one, you’ll know which of the two wire types you need. Second, you can search for the best one in the market with the necessary voltage settings.

Check if the workpiece material is stainless steel, aluminum alloy, or carbon steel, among many others. Workpiece metals with a thickness of four to five millimeters are considered thick. They need at least 30 amps.

Size

Just because you’re going to work on metal doesn’t mean you need a massive machine. Both professional and casual welders should look for a design that suits their needs and available space.

It should give people a relatively simple way to work with metals. You can go for a more portable variant if you’ll only do light welding. Likewise, contractors will benefit from MIG welders that they can carry from one place to another with ease.

AutoSet Feature

If you’re new to MIG welding, you must look for this feature. As the name implies, the AutoSet feature will ease the configuration process. You won’t have to change every setting on your own.

Instead, you simply identify the wire and material measurements. They will then adjust its settings accordingly.

Conclusion

MIG welders are the machines that help homeowners and workers to repair and fabricate metallic workpieces. They vary in size, weight, and in the welding power.

As long as you know what you want to work on — whether you’re repairing the backyard fence or making a table — you’ll find the best MIG welder for you. We hope that our guide helped you in choosing your new welding machine.

Author: Steve

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