MIG welding is the go-to technique for versatility, speed and affordability. Since the nineteenth century, MIG welding has been the most sought after and widely used form of welding (1). And today, it is as popular as ever.
We put the best MIG welders under the spotlight to see which are the top ones in each category to make your MIG welding choices easier.
- Complete kit
- 5-position voltage control
- Household friendly
- Increased power output
- 3-in-1 welder
- Increased welding cycle
- Easy to master
- Easy to transport
- Professional quality
- Complete kit
- Slow start technology
- 175-amp weld output
- Fully kitted
- Transformer technology
- Gasless welder
- Easy to set up
- Metal tips
- Thermal overload protection
- Soft-key control panel
- Automatic controls
- Great value for money
- No gas required
- Oxidation resistance
- Adjustable heat settings
- Gasless operation
- Comes with all the kit
What Is a MIG Welder Best Used For?
If you need a speedy repair, MIG is your style. If you are working on a home welding project, MIG is your best method. MIG welds anything from copper, nickel, silicon bronze and carbon steel. It also welds thicknesses ranging from 26-gauge sheet metal to heavy industrial plates.
When you are making repairs and fabricating small structures, MIG welding is the fastest, most versatile and cheapest method. You don’t get the smooth finish of a TIG welder, but the extra splatters can be ground down, and if you are making repairs, it is suitable for the task.
How To Choose the Best MIG Welder
There are many considerations when investing in a MIG welder. From budget to ease of use, they all play a role in your decision-making process, but what should you look for in the best MIG welder? Here’s a handy guide.
Buying on a Budget
Getting the best for your dollars is a priority. The only difference between expensive MIG welders and budget options is the ease of use and the accessories they come with. Sure, components and build quality play a role, but these MIG welders are built to a minimum standard and can perform the tasks.
It also depends on the quality of the weld. Cheaper models produce a more splatter-gun effect rather than a targeted approach. You can always tell who has a budget welder by the quality of the joint.
Max Out the Amps
The maximum amps dictate the type of welding projects you can undertake. Buy the machine with the amperage to suit the task. For heavier work, 150 to 200 amps should be sufficient. It gives you added scope to scale up the projects.
Don’t be fooled by the manufacturer’s claims about what their welders can do. It’s a bit like car makers quoting unrealistic top speeds or average MPG. They always oversell to get you to buy-in.
Minimize the Amps
At the other end of the spectrum, when you need to work on thin sheet material, like car repair and bodywork, you need a welder that has low amps, unless you want to melt the metal. Having the versatility of a minimum amperage increases your scope to accept delicate projects that require precision and accuracy.
Some welders have 25 to 30 amps, which is ideal for working on sheet steel 8 mm thick. This is where the cheaper models start to fall by the wayside. Budget models have less scope at the top and bottom end of the amperage scale, restricting the projects you can undertake.
It’s All About the Power
Think about where you want to use the welder. Shops and factories are better suited to industrial-scale welders that operate at a higher voltage. Domestic workshops typically have 110 volts. Professional MIG welders can have 240 volts.
Try and avoid permanently live torches. This is where the budget models fall short. Manufacturers leave contactors out of their welder to save costs, meaning that when you power up the unit, the torch is always live.
More expensive models only become live when you depress the trigger, thanks to the contactor. This avoids you making contact with surfaces when positioning the torch, which could cause arc-eye.
Read the small print closely as this is something manufacturer’s rarely mention in the sales blurb.
Gas or Gasless?
There are advantages and disadvantages to both methods. Gas protects the weld from oxygen, making a neater and more targeted weld. Gasless relies on a flux-core wire that protects the weld.
Gas is much easier to use and gives a neater result. There is far more splatter with a flux-core welder, which results in you having to continuously brush away the slag before painting. Gas welding is restricted to indoors because it is susceptible to the wind, whereas gasless is less dependent on the weather conditions, making it an ideal tool for on the spot repairs.
Gasless welders are also cheaper to operate because you don’t have the added expense of buying the gas.
Inverters started out as cutting edge technology found in high-end welders, but more and more, they are finding their way into home and hobbyist welding kits. They are the modern alternative to transformers and use electronic wizardry to give increased control of the arc.
The downside is that inverters are fragile, unlike transformers, and are prone to knocks and bumps that could damage the circuitry, leaving you with a welder that doesn’t work. This is annoying when you need it while working on job sites and industrial settings.
The Best MIG Welders of 2022
There are hundreds of MIG welders available to buy, so finding the ultimate 10 was a challenge. Here are our 10 most desirable MIG welders in each category.
1. Hobart 500559 Handler 140 MIG Welder
This Hobart MIG welder has a 5-position voltage control for a smooth arc transition, no matter what the material’s thickness. It means it can weld 24 gauge steel up to 0.25 inches thick. It is a multi-functioning welder that operates on a household voltage of 115, and it has a 20 percent duty cycle at 90 amps, which means for every 2 minutes welding, it must be rested for 8 minutes.
This increases to 25 percent when you up the amperage to 140. This MIG welder is suitable for welding steel, stainless steel, aluminum and other metals. It may not be the best for professional use or top the poll for home use, but this welder is pretty hard to beat as an all-rounder.
It comes with the cable and clamps, the dual-gauge regulator gas hose, 10 ft HR-100 MIG gun, 0.30-inch contact tips, and it even comes with a sample spool of flux-cored wire.
With so many great reviews, it was hard to ignore this welder as the best overall. It is a great all-rounder and would suit smaller professional tasks and home repairs. So many people cannot be wrong.
It operates on standard household voltages, so it makes it the ultimate garage or workshop repair tool. If you are working on your car or mending that broken metal gate bracket, this welder has you covered.
High Price Tag
While the price tag is not the steepest we have encountered, it is pretty high for a DIY/semi-professional welding kit.
Suited To Lighter Duties
This welder will not cope with heavy-duty tasks and is better suited to lighter, on the spot repairs or household maintenance.
|Dimensions (inches)||19 x 11 x 13|
|Duty cycle||20 percent|
|Accessories||Gas cables, flux-cored wire spool, 0.30-inch tips|
2. Weldpro 200 Amp Inverter Multi Process Welder
Inverter technology removes the need for transformers, making the welding unit lighter. You get increased control and power without the added weight. This welder is suitable for MIG, stick and TIG welding at a maximum output of 200 amps.
This unit is suitable for home or professional use. However, make sure you get a professional to install a 220 volt socket if you plan on using the maximum output on this welder. What makes this welder unique is the duty cycle at lower amperage. It has a 100 percent cycle at 110 amps and 30 percent at 200 amps.
Increased Power Output
Unlike the Hobart, this welding kit can operate at 200 amps, meaning you can tackle more substantial tasks. This is thanks to the inverter technology that increases power output and control.
It is a versatile machine with TIG, MIG and stick welding capabilities when operated at 200 amps. It means that you can even braze different metals together using the MIG brazing techniques.
Increased Welding Cycle
At 200 amps, this welder has a 30 percent duty cycle, which is a 10 percent increase on the Hobart. At 110 amps, that cycle increases to 100 percent, meaning you can keep going without the fear that the unit will overheat.
Requires 220 Volts
If you want to use this unit at home, you will need to get a 240-volt socket installed, as it exceeds the voltage of standard domestic systems. This is a cost factor to keep in mind.
Be aware that inverter technology is the new equivalent of transformers, but inverters lack robust qualities. It means your welder is susceptible to knocks and bangs associated with the rigors of life on the job site.
Similar to the Hobart model, this welding kit will set you back a lot of money. That said, it is a quality product that will tackle domestic and light to heavy tasks.
|Dimensions (inches)||17.22 x 8.66 x 14.96|
|Duty cycle||30 percent/100|
|Accessories||TIG torch, MIG torch, gas hose, power adaptor, flow meter, 2 contact tips|
3. Forney Easy Weld 261 140FC-i MIG Welder
If you want a welder that’s easy to transport and lightweight, this is the perfect choice. It could so easily have won the award for the best MIG welder for beginners. It comes with everything you would expect from a compact welder.
It is a gasless unit, relying on flux-core to get the job done. It has infinite voltage and wire feed control, making it ideal for novices, and it welds metal to a thickness of 0.25 inches. It has a 30 percent cycle at 90 amps, and it has an all-metal casing for added robustness.
Easy To Master
Thanks to the infinite voltage and the wire feed control, even the greenest welders would feel confident using this machine.
Easy To Transport
This welder weighs just 19 pounds, so getting it to where you need it is easy. It makes this the perfect welder for DIY applications, metalwork repairs, maintenance and hobbyist activities.
Great Value for Money
When you compare this welder’s price to the two previous models, you realize what great value for money it is. You could buy two of these for the price of one Weldpro. It is another reason why it is a great welder for novices.
Build Quality Issues
There are always compromises when it comes to quality and performance versus the price. However, to save costs, the maker has reduced the quality of the components and the construction.
Slow Feed Rate
The wire feed rate is about 3 inches per second, which slows you down. Ideally, you should aim for 5 to 6 inches per second to achieve a decent weld rate.
|Dimensions (inches)||16.7 x 12 x 8.1|
|Duty cycle||30 percent|
|Accessories||MIG gun, ground clamps, power adaptor|
4. Miller Electric Millermatic 211 120/240V 1 Phase MIG Welder
This Millermatic is a firm favorite among the most experienced welders because it is reliable, lightweight and compact. It even has a unique slow-start function that ensures when the wire forms the arc, there are minimal splatters or deformed bead profiles that many other models lack. This is a feature rarely found on smaller MIG welders.
It is a high-quality welder with an extensive range of settings, a superior MIG gun and an impressive warranty. It also welds aluminum and mild steel to a thickness of 0.38 inches, and stainless steel to 0.35 inches.
The only downside is the price. This unit costs double the amount of the Weldpro. However, if you want a welder that will last you a lifetime, then what you pay now will seem irrelevant 10 or 20 years down the line.
For such a small unit, this welder offers the best in reliability, power and quality. It’s the reason so many professionals love using it. It is the MIG welder of choice.
It costs a lot more than some, but you get a 10 ft MIG gun with 10 feet of cable, a built-in gas solenoid valve, a dual gauge regulator with a gas hose and a sample 0.030-inch spool.
Slow Start Technology
This is a feature typically reserved for larger, industrial welders. It means that as the arc first forms, you get minimal splatters. It makes for a neater weld finish.
This is not your run of the mill compact MIG welder. This unit is famous for its quality and performance. All of this excellence costs money. So, if you want the best, be prepared to delve deep.
Chinese Made, USA Assembled
It may not mean much to some, but if you like supporting US businesses, this could be a deal-breaker. This welder is assembled in the USA, but the components are manufactured in China to save costs.
Requires 240 Volts
Make sure you get a specialist in to install a socket powerful enough to take this unit’s voltage. It will need an upgrade in electrics, and this is an added expense.
|Dimensions (inches)||16.7 x 12 x 8.1|
|Duty cycle||40 percent at 150 Amps|
|Accessories||MIG gun, ground clamps, regulator, sample spool|
5. LOTOS MIG175 MIG Welder
This complete welding kit comes with a dedicated aluminum spool gun, which removes the need to purchase one separately. This welder is effective when working with stainless steel, mild steel and aluminum.
Unlike the Weldpro, which relies on inverter technology, this LOTOS model uses transformers. It means it is harder wearing and less likely to malfunction. It makes this the ideal tool for small businesses that need the reliability of a tried and tested welder that won’t break the bank.
It’s one of the reasons why it handles 4-inch and 8-inch industrial standard spools.
175-Amp Weld Output
This kit can weld stainless steel, mild steel and aluminum with the dedicated aluminum spool gun supplied with the kit.
This welder comes with the MIG torch, the aluminum spool gun, the cables, regulators and even the face mask. It is the complete set to get you started straight out of the box.
Transformers have been around for ages, so they have a track record of reliability and durability, unlike the newer inverter technology. Use what works and stick with it.
Industrial But Compact
You have to go a long way to find a better industrial size welder with such heavy-duty ambitions. It handles 4-inch and 8-inch industrial standard spools for more arduous and larger welding projects.
Requires 220 Volts
Domestic power supplies operate on 110 volts. So, while this unit may still work when plugged into 110-volt sockets, it will struggle to operate fully, hampering the weld capabilities. Get a dedicated 220V socket installed.
20 Percent Cycle at 175 Amps
For every 2 minutes of welding work, you will need to rest the torch for 8 minutes to cool down, which seriously hampers your work rate.
|Dimensions (inches)||18 x 12.5 x 10.5|
|Duty cycle||20 percent at 175 Amps, 30 percent at 135 Amps|
|Accessories||MIG gun, Aluminum spool gun, contact tips, face mask, ground clamps, regulator, sample spool|
6. Lincoln Electric K2278-1 Handy Core Power Welder
If you are looking for a MIG welder to learn the ropes, this Lincoln Electric might be the best option. It lacks the finesse and capabilities of the Miller Electric Millermatic 211, but it is significantly cheaper.
You get a MIG gun, a cable assembly, a floor clamp, and input cables, all attached at the factory to save you the effort and time. It only produces a maximum of 88 amps, so it isn’t the most powerful welder on the market, but this isn’t as important when you are learning the ropes. What is crucial is you understand how the welder operates and how it handles.
It is a gasless welder, utilizing a flux-cored wire electrode, so while it may splatter more, it doesn’t come with the complications of gas shielding.
As time progresses, getting to grips with a gas-shielded welder is crucial because this is the most common type of welder kit. However, for learning how a welder operates and what it can do, this gasless model is invaluable.
Easy To Set Up
Another reason why this is the ideal learning welder is that it is easy to set up. It enables you to graduate to more complicated machines with experience.
It costs a fraction of some on the list, so while it may not be as refined, it is an entry-level model that allows you to learn without breaking the bank.
Lacks Real Power
If you want a welder for substantial repairs and heavy-duty tasks, look elsewhere. Where this kit excels is it gives you an entry-level into welding that other models don’t afford. You can graduate to more powerful welders as you grow.
Prone To Overheating
This model is prone to overheating, even when you subject it to lighter garage-style duties. It takes about 10 to 20 minutes to cool before you can reuse it.
|Dimensions (inches)||8.82 x 17.99 x 12.8|
|Duty cycle||20 percent at 70 Amps|
|Accessories||MIG gun, ground clamps, input power cables|
7. Super Deal PRO MIG 130 AC Flux Core Welder
There are so many candidates for the best welder for home use that it was difficult to single out one option. However, this has to be the best candidate because it only has uses around the home or in the garage workshop.
This is in part due to the price and the accessories supplied with the welder. It is a 130-amp welder with a gasless flux-core wire, which is another reason why it is safer to use around the home and garden. It has a soft-key control panel with adjustable wire feed speeds and temperature settings.
It even comes with a welding helmet and thermal overload protection.
Excellent Value for Money
For all those little jobs around the home and garage, this welder is pretty hard to beat. It has all the kit to get you started and enough power to tackle lighter tasks and spot repair jobs.
Metal tips reduce the instances of slag forming. Over time, you will get some residue settling on the tip, but because you get a spare, you can always swap it and carry on welding.
No Gas Required
Gas has to be stored safely in the garage and is another safety consideration when using a welder. This is a gasless flux-cored wire welder, so there is no need to worry about keeping gas canisters safe. Plug it in, and you are ready to weld.
Only Fit for Lighter Duties
This model has limitations. You would only ever perform light tasks and small repairs with this welder kit. It won’t be powerful enough to tackle major projects. For that, you’d need a larger capacity welder, and probably a gas-shielded one.
Build Quality Issues
Something has to give to get a welder this cheap, and that’s the quality of the materials used. It isn’t going to last the distance like a Millermatic 211. You will probably have to replace this in a couple of years.
|Dimensions (inches)||12.25 x 15 x 20.50|
|Duty cycle||10 percent at 105 Amps and 35 percent at 60 Amps|
|Accessories||MIG gun, ground cord, spool wire, chipping hammer, 2 tips, wire brush, face mask|
8. YESWELDER Digital MIG-205DS
Having a dual-voltage welder is the best of both worlds, giving you the ability to switch between domestic 110 volts for home repairs and lighter tasks and then take the welder to the job site for more arduous tasks.
This YESWELDER unit has precisely that; dual-voltage capability to handle 110 volts or 220 volts. The duty cycle on this at 125 amps is an impressive 60 percent, which means that for every 6 minutes spent welding, the unit only has to rest for 4 minutes to cool down.
It has an automatic compensation feature for fluctuations in voltage and automatic temperature control for added convenience. The other bonus is the price. This welder costs a fraction of other, more expensive models.
If you like an easy life, the automatic temperature controls on this welder will get your juices flowing. It even detects when there are voltage, current and overload fluctuations, making it ultra-safe.
Great Value for Money
Okay, so we aren’t talking about the same robust quality and reliability of the Millermatic 211, but this is a lot of welding kit for the price tag. As far as entry-level welders go, this is hard to beat for value.
Domestic or commercial? It’s your choice, but with this unit, you can have both because it handles dual-voltage. It means once the domestic chores are done, you can take it to the job site. It also saves you buying 2 welders to cater to the different voltages.
Build Quality Issues
No welder this cheap is going to rival the others for quality and durability. You will probably end up replacing this welder after a few years because it has stopped working.
TIG Torch Is Optional
This unit is sold as a stick welder, but you can buy a TIG torch to turn it into a TIG welder. However, this is an added cost to consider. It may not seem that important given the price, but it is a cost nevertheless.
|Dimensions (inches)||14.9 x 12.4 x 7.4|
|Duty cycle||60 percent at 125 Amps|
|Accessories||Stick welder, ground clamp, power adaptor, power cord|
9. VIVOHOME Portable Flux Core No Gas MIG 130 Welder
Gasless welders are becoming more popular, especially with the home DIY community, because they require no argon gas to shield the weld and protect it from oxygen. Flux-core welders have an insulated wire that shields the weld without the use of gas.
Gas can be expensive to buy, so having a gasless welder saves on that cost. They also perform the same tasks with almost the same results. Gasless welders are indeed a bit messier because you have reduced control and more splatter, but you can always brush the slag off and clean up after you’ve finished.
No Gas Required
Gasless welders are ideal home welding kits because you don’t have the added worry of storing gas canisters, especially if you have young children who like to explore. Gasless welders simply plugin and you are ready to go.
The flux-core wire automatically releases inert gas as part of the welding process to protect the weld from oxidation and prolong the integrity of the joint.
This home welding kit is such a great price that it is an ideal addition to your garage or workshop. It costs a fraction of some models on this list, and while it may lack the qualities of the high-end welders, it certainly meets the needs of most home projects.
Lighter Tasks Only
It is a welder that caters to home use better than the job site. It is set up to run on domestic supplies, and the gasless element means there are no canisters of argon to store away safely.
Build Quality Issues
We are starting to sound like a stuck record when it comes to these cheaper models. While they appear excellent value, you get what you pay for, so don’t expect the very best quality components and build standards.
|Dimensions (inches)||19.8 x 14.7 x 12.6|
|Duty cycle||60 percent at 50 Amps|
|Accessories||MIG welder, ground clamp, power adaptor, power cord, 2 tips|
10. Goplus MIG 130 Welder
If you are looking for a budget model, this Goplus could be the answer. It costs a fraction of the higher-end models, but for home-based DIY projects, this is an ideal tool.
It is a flux-core welder, meaning it requires no gas, thanks to the core protection that produces inert gas as part of the welding process. It has 4 adjustable heat settings, 2 air vents to keep it from overheating, and a torch with a full on/off safety control. It means that you can position the torch before it is live and an arc starts to form.
It has a welding torch, welding wire, a ground cord, a wire brush and metal tips. It comes with everything you need to get started.
This welding kit is one of the cheapest available, meaning that if you are new to welding or are looking for a solution to home DIY projects, this could be the best choice. It won’t cost the earth, and it will get you welding straight out of the box.
Not having to pay for gas is a real bonus, especially if you are watching the pennies. This model needs no gas, so while it won’t produce neat results like a gas-shielded welder, it should still get the job done.
Comes With All the Kit
Even though this set is super-cheap, it still comes with a list of accessories that puts others to shame. Goplus has done everything to ensure that you have everything you need to get started when you unbox this welder.
Nothing this cheap is that good. The lack of quality shows in the components and the limitations of the welder. If you want a unit that will last as long as you, think again and buy something with a proven track record.
Not as Precise
Accept the fact that gasless welders are not as neat or precise as gas models. They are harder to control and splatter more, meaning extra work getting a smooth finish when you have finished welding.
|Dimensions (inches)||14 x 8 x 12|
|Duty cycle||30 percent at 90 Amps|
|Accessories||MIG welder, ground cord, welding wire, wire brush, metal tip|
|Product||Best||Weight||Dimensions||Voltage||Max amps||Duty cycle (%/Amp)||Warranty|
|Hobart 500559 Handler 140 MIG Welder||Overall Pick||57 lbs||19 x 11 x 13″||115||140||20||1-year|
|Weldpro Inverter Multi Process Welder||Inverter||30 lbs||17.22 x 8.66 x 14.96″||115/220||200||30/100||2-year|
|Forney Easy Weld 261 140FC-i MIG Welder||Compact||19 lbs||16.7 x 12 x 8.1″||120||140||30||1-year|
|Miller Electric Millermatic 1 Phase Welder||Professionals||50 lbs||16.7 x 12 x 8.1″||240||230||40/150||3-year|
|LOTOS MIG175 MIG Welder||Aluminum||85 lbs||18 x 12.5 x 10.5″||240||175||20/175, 30/ 135||1-year|
|Lincoln Electric Handy Core Power Welder||Beginners||45 lbs||8.82 x 17.99 x 12.8″||110||88||20/70||1-year|
|Super Deal PRO MIG 130 AC Flux Core Welder||Home Use||38 lbs||12.25 x 15 x 20.50″||110||130||10/ 105. 35/60||1-year|
|YESWELDER Digital MIG-205DS||Dual Voltage||11 lbs||14.9 x 12.4 x 7.4″||110/220||205||60/125||1-year|
|VIVOHOME Portable Flux Core No Gas Welder||Gasless||36.2 lbs||19.8 x 14.7 x 12.6″||110||130||60% at 50 Amps||1-year|
|Goplus MIG 130 Welder||Budget Pick||35 lbs||14 x 8 x 12″||110||130||30% at 90 Amps||1-year|
Can I Plug a Welder Into a Regular Outlet?
For domestic use, look for a welder with a 110-volt supply. This suits the home environment as well as your workshop or garage. If you require anything more powerful, you will need to get a qualified electrician to install a 240-volt power socket to handle the extra amperage required.
Is Gasless MIG Welding Any Good?
Gasless is less precise, gives you a less clear sightline of the project and it will splatter more than a gas-protected welder.
The advantage of a gasless welder is it can be used outside in varying weather conditions, even the wind. This makes it the ideal tool for on the spot repairs where you don’t get to pick and choose the conditions.
Is Stick Welding Better Than MIG?
Stick welders are better because they are easier to use and better suited to 80 percent of uses, especially on the farm or in the garage. However, you cannot weld thin sheet metal because stick welders burn out the material. MIG welders are more versatile and can adapt to a higher range of jobs.
How Thick Can a MIG Welder Weld?
It depends on the amperage, the material and the type of weld joint. A 150-amp welder can weld steel, using a V and root gap of 6 mm. If you were welding a butt weld, this drops to 4 mm. It’s not uncommon for 150-amp welders to fuse 0.25-inch steel.
Step up the amperage to 200, and you could increase that thickness to 0.50 inches.
The MIG Is Big
MIG welding remains the most popular form of welding both in the home and the workplace. It is simple to learn, relatively neat and convenient. Also, there are so many MIG welding machines available that the product list could run into the hundreds.
Decide what you want the MIG welder for and buy something that accommodates the task at hand. And remember, if you are getting a welder for home duties, think about the voltage, because you may come unstuck trying to run an overpowered welder on a domestic voltage.