Welders used to be expensive. The concept of the best cheap welder didn’t exist. But now, thanks to mass production and falling costs, finding the best budget welding machine is entirely possible.
If you are looking for an affordable electric arc welder, you’ve come to the right place.
- Adjustable voltage settings
- Portable & light
- Ideal for home use
- Max 88 Amps output
- Cold contractor safety
- Easy to use controls
- Lightweight inverter technology
- Works on rusty surfaces
- Simple controls
- Weighs 25 pounds
- Simple to operate
- Comes with accessories
- Flux-core capabilities
- Adjustable speed & temperature
- 3-in-1 tool
- Precision welding
- Ideal for thinner material
- Stainless steel casing
- Adjustable current flow
- Weighs 35 pounds
How Do You Weld on a Budget?
This is a 60 million dollar question. Okay, since we are talking about budget, let’s call it the 60 dollar question. The first thing you do is shop for a budget welder.
There are plenty of cheap welders out there. There are more low-cost models than high-end machines, so finding one should be easy. However, finding a good one is a different matter.
The second thing is to decide on a method of welding. TIG welding is more expensive thanks to the higher cost of the machines and related equipment. Stick welding is low-cost and easy to set-up, as is MIG welding, the most common method practiced by far.
Decide what material and thickness you are going to weld. Stick is better for outdoor conditions, so for mending farm machinery, this is a good choice. TIG and MIG would be expensive and ineffective in these conditions.
MIG welding requires gas, which adds to the costs, but it is an effective way to weld stainless steel. TIG is better for thinner materials but is very hard to master, so wastage would be high as you learn the skills.
Look for multi-process welders that cover all three methods. You save a packet and get to widen your scope. It brings me neatly to my next point: practice makes perfect. The easiest way to minimize welding costs is to reduce wastage. By bettering your welding technique, you waste less.
Visit steelyards to get hold of scrap metal to practice on. It’s a lot cheaper than wasting good quality material.
Think about the equipment downtime as you finish welding. When you need to weld another part, it takes power and energy to start it up again. This costs money. Bulk welding is far cheaper.
Preserve your budget by using good preparation skills. A well-prepared piece of metal welds easier, uses less filler and has a higher tensile strength. In some situations, a double bevel may be better than a single. It requires 1.45 pounds per foot of weld metal, whereas a single uses 1.96.
How To Choose the Best Budget Welder
Budget welders can be excellent value for money or an expensive mistake, depending on what welder you buy. Knowing the difference is crucial.
Decide on the Discipline
TIG welding is better for exotic metals and thinner material, but it is hard to master. It is also the best method for precision welding. MIG welding is easy to learn and is suitable for working on thicker plates. Stainless steel and other aluminum alloys work well with MIG welding.
Stick is best for thicker metals, thanks to its deeper penetration. It is also the method of choice for working outdoors. Don’t buy a MIG or TIG welder if you are working in the open air. Stick is hard to learn but effective on brittle metals like cast iron.
Think About Power
You should consider the input and output ranges of the welder you buy. Also, you may want an AC or DC welder or one that caters to both. Cheap welders produce about 100 to 150 amps for output, limiting the thickness of metal you can work on.
What’s the Duty Cycle?
Duty cycle is a term you should get familiar with. The duty cycle is defined in 10-minute frames. Your welder is rated in percentage depending on how many minutes it can operate within that 10 minutes.
If a welder rates at 30 percent, it means you can work for 3 out of every 10 minutes, allowing the torch to cool for 7 minutes. Most cheap welders have a duty cycle of about 15 to 30 percent.
How Much Do You Want To Spend?
Most cheap welders range in price from just a few hundred dollars and higher. Above that, and you are in the realms of higher-end models. Logic tells you that if you are spending less on the welder, then so is the manufacturer during the production process.
Cheap welders don’t last a lifetime, unlike higher-end models. That said, cheap welders are excellent if you want to see out the next 5 years of welding without too much outlay.
Hobbyist or Professional?
Home welders are the reason why the cheap welder market exists. They fill that niche, allowing you and me to buy a budget model and attend to minor repairs or craft welding at home.
Professionals have a different set of demands. They need welders to be robust, have a high output range, and withstand the rigors of the construction site. A cheap welder wouldn’t last the distance in that environment.
Multi-Process or Not?
Multi-process welders cover all the bases when it comes to welding methods. Some welders can MIG, TIG and stick weld, saving you a packet on the purchase costs. Decide what you want the welder to do and the type of work you are undertaking, then buy the welder to suit that application.
If you are mostly working outside, a stick welder will be the best choice. If you need precision, a dedicated TIG welder is ideal. You get the picture.
The Best Budget Welders of 2022
With so many cheap welders to choose from, there were a few worth considering. Here are the best 7 we could find.
1. Hobart 500572 Handler 100
Best Cheap Welder for Cars
When you work on cars, you need a welder with the flexibility to deal with thick and thin material. Say hello to the Hobart Handler. It has 4 output settings to increase or decrease the voltage depending on the metal’s thickness.
This versatility is ideal when you are working on body panels and axles alike. The flux-core wire allows you to work in almost all settings because it is a gasless welder. Again, fixing vehicles is a messy business, often conducted in outdoor conditions, so this welder will fast become your favorite.
It has safety features like the cold start, which keeps the wire electrically cold until the trigger is depressed. This makes it easier to use and decreases the instances of accidental arcing, which causes arc-eye.
Adjustable Voltage Settings
Multiple settings give you the flexibility to scale up and down the thickness of the material you can work with. Car maintenance and repair need this versatility because of the different metal gauges.
Portable and Light
One of the best features of this welder is its size and weight. It is portable and easy to store away, ready for when it’s needed.
Ideal for Home Use
Because it’s rated at 115 volts, you can plug this machine in and get to work fixing your car right there on the driveway. It works on the domestic power supply, making it the ideal tool for home car repairs.
This is a dedicated flux-core welder, so bear in mind that once you’ve finished making the repair to the car, it won’t TIG or MIG weld for other applications. This will limit its use.
|Dimensions (inches)||16 x 10 x 13.5|
|Duty cycle||20 percent|
|Safety features||Cold start|
2. Lincoln Electric K2278-1 Handy Core Power Welder
Best Portable Cheap Welder
If you are looking for a portable welder, this is the model you should consider. Lincoln Electric is a respected name in the industry, and this Handy Core Power Welder will set you off in the right direction.
It can weld to a depth of 0.125 inches on mild steel, and it has straightforward controls. It has a high and low power switch and a dial that controls the voltage. It’s lightweight and portable, so it should satisfy most home or hobby users, and it is also a great choice as a beginner welder.
It plugs straight into your home electrics and delivers a maximum 88 amps output. It also has a cold contractor safety feature that keeps the torch electrically cold until you depress the trigger. It stops instant arcing the moment you plug in the unit and protects your eyes.
Ideal for Beginners
When you first learn a new skill, it takes all your concentration to get it right. Why would you want to over-complicate matters with a welder that is so difficult to use? What you want are easily adjustable controls.
Cold Contractor Safety
Keeping the electrode electrically cold until you are ready to use it is a useful safety feature. It stops arc eye and retinal damage because it cannot form an arc until you depress the trigger.
Easy To Use Controls
The controls on this welder are simple to master, making it a great choice if you are a novice. It has a high and a low button and a dial that controls the output. What could be easier!
Lacks Real Power
With a maximum output of 88 amps, you will struggle to weld anything other than small welding projects and lighter tasks. This is a welder aimed at the home-user market, so it isn’t going to cope with heavy usage.
10-20 Minutes Cooling Time
Don’t expect a fast work rate when using this welder. It takes between 10 and 20 minutes to cool down between uses, making the task painfully slow.
|Dimensions (inches)||8.82 x 17.99 x 12.88|
|Duty cycle||20 percent|
|Safety features||Cold start|
3. DEKOPRO 110/220V MMA Welder
Best Cheap Stick Welder
This DEKOPRO has inverter technology. Inverters enable you to regulate the arc’s quality, and they are more efficient and precise than heavy-duty transformers. However, they don’t have the same capacity as transformers, so it might limit your workload.
While a stick welder is tricky to master, it is rewarding and beneficial on the farm and when working outdoors. The gasless feature means that you can also achieve high-tensile welds even on rusty and painted metals.
This stick welder is suitable for welding aluminum, mild steel, stainless steel, and other non-ferrous materials. It is a go-anywhere welder, weighing just 12.1 pounds. It makes it the ideal welder if you are looking to take your skills on the road.
The package comes with a stick torch, power adaptor, wire brush and earth clamp.
Lightweight Inverter Technology
The inverter replaces heavier and less efficient transformers as a means of controlling the accuracy of the arc. Also, inverters are lighter and more advanced, so they can deal with adjustments more rapidly.
Works on Rusty Surfaces
If you are in the field and need to make fast repairs, you don’t have time for metal preparation. Stick welders bypass this and are effective even on rusty and painted surfaces.
With an on/off switch, a current dial, and a current meter, this welder is simple to use and control. This is ideal if you are learning the ropes and want to keep things as simple as possible.
Feels Cheaply Made
When welders are so cheap, you have to question the economics of the production process. How do they make these machines so cheap? For one thing, the quality of the components suffer, which reduces the sturdiness of the welder.
Rods Stick at 110V
Everyone reports that this welder works well at 220 volts, but at 110 volts, the rod tends to stick, making it almost impossible to get a great weld line and joint.
|Dimensions (inches)||16.1 x 11.4 x 6.3|
|Duty cycle||60 percent|
|Safety features||High-speed fan, overload protection|
4. Forney Easy Weld 261, 140 FC-i MIG Welder
Best Cheap MIG Welder
This Forney Easy Weld could so easily have won the best stick or MIG welder awards thanks to its multi-process capabilities. It handles TIG and stick welding, but it is primarily a MIG welder. It puts out a maximum of 140 amps and is a dependable light-gauge welder.
Even though it is a multi-process device, it works best as a MIG welder, which is why we chose it. This makes it easy to learn with and super-versatile. It is easy to operate and robust, thanks to the rigid metal shell, and you can use it as a gas shielded welder or go gasless if you prefer, in outside conditions.
This unit is also lightweight, making it a contender for the portable category. It weighs just over 25 pounds, putting it at half the weight of the Hobart.
Weighs 25 Pounds
You could lift this with one arm. Being so light makes it ideal for storing away in the garage or workshop, and given its diminutive size, it fits into the smallest of car trunks.
Easy To Use
The controls are simple to operate, making it another welder suited to beginners. It has two dials and a switch to select different welding methods. The dials control the amperage and the voltage.
This welder saves you money because you don’t need to buy a TIG or stick welder separately. While this welder is primarily MIG, it can switch easily between stick and TIG. It makes it a 3-in-1 welder and the perfect machine to cover all your welding bases.
If you want the best quality, you have to pay for it. It isn’t the most expensive welder available, but it also isn’t the cheapest. Forney has opted for the middle ground, where they hope their superior quality shines through.
Short 12-Month Guarantee
Compared to some models that have 3 and 5-year warranties, this model has a meager 12-month guarantee. If something malfunctions after the first year, you have no way of addressing the problem with the manufacturer.
|Dimensions (inches)||14.19 x 19.31 x 11.61|
|Multi-process||Stick, TIG, MIG|
|Duty cycle||Not stated|
|Safety features||LED warning lights|
5. Super Deal PRO MIG 130 AC Welder
Best Cheap Beginner Welder
Super Deal may lack the industry recognition that names like Lincoln Electric and Forney get, but if you are a beginner and on the lookout for a starter welder, you could do a lot worse than this model.
It’s primarily a MIG welder, but it does operate as a flux-core welder, making it versatile, especially when you want to go gasless and work outdoors. It has a user-friendly interface, which is ideal for beginners. There is an on/off button, a high and low setting to adjust the current flow and a dial. What could be simpler!
It only weighs 38 pounds, so it is portable and easy to store away, and it even comes with accessories like a welding face mask, a wire brush and a hammer to chip away any hardened deposits.
Ideal for Beginners
When you start out, you want a welder that gives you the most for your bucks and is easy to use. This welder hits that nail cleanly on the head, especially as it comes with an array of accessories.
Sometimes you need to adopt a different approach to your welding, so having the option to swap from MIG to flux-core is a bonus. It means you can go gasless and take your welding outside.
Adjustable Speed and Temperature
Changing the speed and temperature allows you to work on different grades of steel as well as thicknesses. It gives you flexibility when it comes to home and auto repairs.
10 Percent Duty Cycle
At 60 amps, the duty cycle is an impressive 35 percent, but this restricts the material thickness you can work with. At 105 amps, that cycle drops to 10 percent. For every 10 minutes of usage, you get 1 minute of operating time!
Feels Cheaply Made
Low price equals cheaper components. It is about as low-cost as welders get, so it’s no wonder the quality of the working parts is questionable. This is fine, as long as you understand that you get what you pay for.
|Dimensions (inches)||20.25 x 15 x 12.5|
|Duty cycle||10 percent|
|Safety features||Welding face shield|
6. Lotos CT520D 200 Amp Tig Welder
Best Cheap TIG Welder
Okay, the first thing to say is that TIG welders are a lot more expensive than MIG and stick models. This welder is low-cost for a TIG but is almost 4 times the price of the cheapest welders featured in this review.
This Lotos is a multi-process welder. It TIG and stick welds, plus it also has a plasma cutter feature. So it has all the bases covered when it comes to metal fabrication work. This is a DC TIG welder, so it is effective with stainless steel and thinner gauge metals needing precise joints.
This model has an easy arc starting feature that gets you going in no time and maintains a steady welding pool and a consistent welding shape.
You can TIG weld, stick weld and plasma cut with this machine. For fabricators and welding enthusiasts across the country, this is a handy tool. It speeds up your work rate and reduces your costs.
When you need a level of accuracy that other welding techniques fail to deliver, TIG is the best. You get neat welds that rarely need any cleanup, and it keeps spatter to a minimum.
Ideal for Thinner Material
TIG is versatile, but it is better suited to thinner material. If you are working on sheet metal, using a TIG welder results in a neater joint and less cleanup.
TIG welders are a lot more money than MIG and stick welders. This model is over 3 times the price of some on the list.
Hard To Master
TIG is the hardest welding technique to learn. It can take months to get it right, compared to MIG welding, which can be mastered quickly.
|Dimensions (inches)||17 x 8 x 11|
|Multi-process||TIG, stick, plasma cutter|
|Voltage||110/220 (requires an adaptor)|
|Duty cycle||60 percent|
|Safety features||Air filter, easy arc start, adjustable hot striking|
7. Goplus MIG 130 Flux-Core Welder
Best Cheap Flux Core Welder
This welder can handle lighter duties like sheet material and thinner gauge metals. It has 4 adjustable current levels to cater to different applications. And thanks to the automatic wire feed system, you have one less thing to worry about when operating the welder.
It has safety features like overheat protection and two vents to keep the machine cool. It’s lightweight, weighing just 35 pounds, so it is the ideal home and workshop welder for smaller tasks around the home.
It comes with accessories, including a chipping hammer to remove hardened slag and a welding mask.
Stainless Steel Casing
The stainless steel body protects the welder from damage and the rigors of daily use. It is a feature typically found in more expensive welders rather than budget models.
Adjustable Current Flow
Adjusting the current flow gives you greater flexibility to weld thinner or thicker material. It makes it possible to do repair work on car body panels without the fear of melting the sheet metal.
Lightweight and Portable
This welder weighs 35 pounds, so getting it to and from the welding site is easy. It also makes it simple to store away in the garage or workshop.
Offering a 3-month warranty is like saying we don’t want to support this product after that time scale because it will undoubtedly malfunction. Warranties underline the confidence manufacturers have in their products.
This machine has such a low retail price that the quality of the components are not as good as the high-end models. It all adds up to a higher risk of a malfunction, with the possibility of seeking a full replacement.
This welder tackles the lighter duties, restricting the types of metals you can work with and the applications.
|Dimensions (inches)||14 x 8 x 12|
|Duty cycle||20 percent|
|Safety features||Overheat protection, safety cooling fan|
|Product||Best||Weight||Dimensions||Multi-process||Voltage||Max amps||Duty cycle||Warranty|
|Hobart 500572 Handler 100||Cars||44 lbs||16 x 10 x 13.5″||Flux-core only||115||100||20%||5-year|
|Lincoln Electric Handy Core Power Welder||Portable||45 lbs||8.82 x 17.99 x 12.88″||MIG||115||88||20%||1-year|
|DEKOPRO 110/220V MMA Welder||Stick||12.1 lbs||16.1 x 11.4 x 6.3″||Stick||110/220||160||60%||1-year|
|Forney Easy Weld 261, 140 FC-i MIG Welder||MIG||26 lbs||14.19 x 19.31 x 11.61″||Stick, TIG, MIG||120||140||N/A||1-year|
|Super Deal PRO MIG 130 AC Welder||Beginner||38 lbs||20.25 x 15 x 12.5″||MIG, flux-core||110||120||10%||1-year|
|Lotos CT520D 200 Amp Tig Welder||TIG||39 lbs||17 x 8 x 11″||TIG, stick, plasma cutter||110/220||200||60%||1-year|
|Goplus MIG 130 Flux-Core Welder||Flux Core||35 lbs||14 x 8 x 12″||Flux-cored, MIG||110||130||20%||3-month|
Can I Plug a Welder Into a Regular Outlet?
Most home welders have a voltage range of 110 to 120 volts. This matches the domestic power supply within your home. Industrial welders have 220 to 240 volts. This is too much for household supplies and better suited to commercial applications.
Some machines come with a multi-voltage power (MVP) adaptor so you can switch between the two with ease. These are dual voltage machines that can be used inside the home, thanks to the MVP adaptor. The only other way to get 220-volt sockets is to employ a professional to come and install one.
Take a Leap, Go Cheap
Cheap welders will never perform well enough to interest the professionals, but if you are a home welder, they are affordable, compact and easy to use. Best of all, they don’t cost the earth.
A cheap welder is the ideal tool to buy for occasional use because it will last for years thanks to the light usage, and cost you next to nothing.