Best Welder Generators of 2020

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Categories Welding
Weld anywhere with a welder generator.

Working on construction sites and building projects presents a whole new set of challenges, especially when it comes to welding. What do you do if there is no available power or the only generators on site are for the lights and general electrics?

Say hello to the best welder generators, where mobile welding is entirely possible.


How Does a Welder Generator Work?

A welder generator provides power for welding machines, without the need to connect to a mains power supply. Fill up the fuel tank, just as you would a regular generator, and the generator will power your welding equipment.

It makes you entirely mobile, enabling you to work wherever the welding project is rather than being restricted to the workshop or one place.

What Size Generator Do I Need for a Welder?

The bare minimum is a 5,000-watt generator to power a 120-volt welder drawing less than 40 amps at startup. This also includes many 160-amp welders. If you have a welding machine that has 240 volts, it may only draw 20 amps at startup, but you will need a generator that has a minimum of 7,000 watts.

8,000 and 10,000-watt generators are available, but these generate so much power that you could run the entire house without the generator skipping a beat.

How To Choose the Best Welder Generator

Making the best choice depends on a host of considerations. Here are some of the fundamentals you should consider before you buy.

What Fuel Will You Need

Generators are typically gasoline driven, but it is possible to get LPG and diesel models. The type of fuel shouldn’t affect how you use the generator, but the costs will vary greatly. This impacts on your running cost significantly.

Diesel gives the longest runtime for your dollars, as it is more economical. Most fuel supplied on-site is diesel, so you are likely to need a diesel generator.

Propane is more costly, but there are advantages to using it. It can be stored for a long time, unlike gasoline that has a shelf-life of about 6 months. It burns cleaner than other fuel types, meaning it can be used in areas where there is less ventilation.

Fuel Consumption

Most small, compact and portable generators are gasoline-powered. These are the most common because they have high fuel efficiency and are more robust in colder weather. Also, gasoline is cheaper than propane and diesel.

Power Type

Whether your chosen generator is AC or DC matters, especially if your welder is the opposite current. Finding one to match is crucial. Failing that, if you have an AC/DC welder, get a generator that can switch between the two.

How Heavy?

Gasoline generators are typically suitcase-size, making them portable and easiest to transport from job to job. The rule of thumb is that the more powerful the generator, the more cumbersome and heavier it is.

The two main designs are open tube frame and an enclosed casing. Tube frame models tend to be lighter and more compact, while enclosed varieties are quieter and protect the engine components better against damage.

How Portable?

By its very nature, a welder generator should be portable so you can work remotely. But some are better than others. If you have a heavy generator, it might be worth mounting it on the back of your truck?

All generators are designed with a degree of maneuverability, but whether you go for an open tube or enclosed model is a personal choice. Just make sure you can lift it without causing any injuries, and it has the power to run your welder.

Power Output

The style of welding matters because the generator you have needs to cope with the demands of the job. You may also have a multi-process welder that requires enough power to operate things like plasma cutters.

Get a generator with the grunt to power other equipment, like grinders, lights and other power tools.

How Loud?

The noise your welder generator makes is significant, especially if you are working near it for hours on end. Encased models are quieter because everything is hidden neatly behind a sealed casing, significantly lowering the volume of the generator. Open tube models are the noisiest.

However, don’t compromise on power for the sake of noise levels. Building sites are noisy places by definition, so invest in ear defenders and get the generator to match the power you need as a first consideration. But if you can get a quiet model, great!


The Best Welder Generators of 2020

1. Lincoln Electric Ranger 305 Multi-Process Welder Generator

Best Multi-Process Welder Generator

- Lincoln Electric Ranger 305 G Multiprocess DC Welder/AC Generator Featuring Chopper Technology - 305 Amp DC Welding Output, 9,500 Watt AC Power Output, Model# K1726-5
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Lincoln Electric features heavily in this review because they are the main manufacturer of welder generators. This is part of the Ranger models of welder generators, with this one being the more powerful.

It’s a DC/AC welder, so you can switch between the two, especially if you want to switch to TIG welding aluminum, and a unique, Chopper start system that starts an arc easily and reduces spatter as well as enhancing the bead appearance.

It has a Kohler engine with a fuel capacity of 12 gallons, and it has a duty cycle of 100 percent at 305 amps at 29 volts. This is a powerful welder generator, with a rated wattage of 9,500, easily enough power to tackle the toughest tasks.

Why We Love It

9,500 Watts

This welder generator is easily powerful enough to tackle the hardest jobs, and when you need the power, this welder generator delivers.

Quality and Durability

Lincoln Electric are famed for their attention to quality and detail. This model is no exception, with a sturdy casing enclosing the components and engine. It is hard-wearing and ideal for the job-site.

Multi-Process Welder

This model tackles stick, TIG, MIG and flux-cored welding, as well as switching between AC for TIG welding aluminum and DC for general purpose welding.

Keep In Mind

Lacks a Tubular Frame

Tubular frames are sturdy and lightweight, making the welder generator both robust and easy to transport.

High Price Tag

Welder generators are never cheap at the best of times, but this model is eye-wateringly expensive. However, if you want the best, you’d better dig deep.

Additional Specs

Weight (pounds) 510
Dimensions (inches) 36.2 x 21.5 x 42.3
HP 23
Wattage 9,500
Amps 305
Fuel Gasoline
AC/DC AC/DC
Multi-process Stick, TIG, MIG, flux-cored
Price $$$$

2. Lincoln Electric Ranger 330MPX

Best Quiet Welder Generator

Lincoln Ranger 330MPX Engine Welder Generator K3459-1
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If you want a welder generator that is quiet and still performs, this is worth your consideration. This is the Ranger 330MPX, the second of 4 Lincoln Electric models to feature in this review. Thanks to new and improved technology, this model is 20 percent smaller, and 25 percent lighter than all the other welder generators in its class.

So, not only is it 60 percent quieter than the competition, but it’s also lighter and portable. It also benefits from a digital interface that is the latest in advancements to improve the welder’s performance and productivity.

It features the same Chopper easy start function, and with a running wattage of 10kW, it has enough power to tackle the heavy-duty tasks that the 330-amp output demands.

Why We Love It

Super-Quiet

Welder generators are not the quietest at the best of times, so to get a model that is 60 percent quieter than the competition is a welcoming relief to those around you and for your ears.

Super-Light, Super-Efficient

Thanks to the latest developments in technology, this welder generator has a 20 percent smaller footprint and it is 25 percent lighter. Getting this unit to and from your place of work should be a lot easier.

Easy Start Technology

Lincoln Electric has invented Chopper technology that ensures an easy start to the arc and improves the quality of the beading and reduces spatter. It all adds up to an easier welding experience.

Keep In Mind

Very Expensive

This is the second most expensive welder generator to make the review. While it is quality, it is costly. Think about the price of a small second-hand car, and you might be in the right ballpark with the price.

Lacks a Tubular Frame

Like the Ranger 305, this welder generator lacks a robust tubular frame. Instead, this is an enclosed case generator, which makes it compact and protects the engine components.

Additional Specs

Weight (pounds) 446
Dimensions (inches) 25 x 20 x 36
HP 25
Wattage 10,000
Amps 330
Fuel Gasoline
AC/DC DC
Multi-process Stick, TIG
Price $$$$

3. Lincoln Electric Ranger 225

Best Gas-Powered Welder Generator

Lincoln Electric, K2857-1, Engine Driven Welder, Ranger 225
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This is the model down from the Ranger 305, so it lacks some of the refinement featured on that model, but it is still a quality welder generator as it shares many attributes. It has 9,000-watts of power, so it should handle the toughest demands made of it in the field, and it has a 14-hour running range thanks to the 12-gallon fuel tank.

This welder provides DC and AC, so you can use it to power other tools, and it primarily acts as a stick and TIG welder. It lacks the Chopper technology of the 305, making the stability and smoothness of the weld harder to achieve, which subtracts somewhat from the overall welding experience.

Given that the price of this generator is fractionally less than the 305, it might be a good idea to pay the extra and get the beefed-up welder generator, but if you can’t stretch that far, this is an excellent choice.

Why We Love It

12 To 14 Hour Fuel Run Time

The 12-gallon fuel tank will run continuously for 12 to 14 hours, giving you plenty of time to complete your welding tasks. It also has an electric start, making it more efficient.

9,000 Watts

The 305 produces 9,500 watts, so this cheaper model holds its own, creating 9,000 watts. That’s still plenty of power to get those heavy-duty tasks completed.

Multi-Process Applications

Whether you are flux-core, TIG, MIG welding, this Ranger 225 has you covered. And because it has an AC/DC power generation, you can TIG weld aluminum as well as DC weld stainless steel, cast iron and mild steel.

Keep In Mind

Lacks Some Features

When comparing this to the 305 model, it lacks the Chopper technology to create easy arcs and produce better quality weld beads. These may not be deal-breakers, but they make a world of difference to people learning the craft.

High Price Tag

Unfortunately, the high price tag is a feature of Lincoln Electric Ranger generators. They are quality, but comparing this model to the 305 doesn’t see much in dollar savings, yet this welder generator is a less capable machine.

Additional Specs

Weight (pounds) 563
Dimensions (inches) 42.3 x 21.5 x 29.9
HP 23
Wattage 9,000
Amps 225
Fuel Gasoline
AC/DC AC/DC
Multi-process TIG, flux-cored, MIG
Price $$$$

4. Miller Electric Bobcat 225

Best Portable Welder Generator Combo

Engine Driven Welder, Bobcat 225
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This Miller Electric Bobcat is a powerful welder generator, producing 9,500 watts of power. It’s on par with the Lincoln Electric 305 for performance, but it costs a lot less. It is a versatile machine, capable of TIG and stick welding, but it also copes well with MIG welding, which is great if you want to try a welding style that’s easier to master.

It has the same 12-gallon fuel capacity and features like an idle lock and reduced sound levels to make the working environment more comfortable. This is the best DC welder to make the list, but it does lack some of the refinement of the 305, which impacts overall on your welding enjoyment.

Why We Love It

AC/DC Capabilities

Having both AC and DC covers a whole gamut of welding criteria, and the ability to TIG, stick and MIG means this is a versatile tool that is truly multi-process.

9,500 Watt Output

You need a generator that can handle heavy-duty tasks, and this Miller Electric model does just that. It may lack some of the features of the 305, but this welder generator will keep you welding no matter what.

Great Brand Name

When you invest in a MIller Electric product, you are buying quality and a little piece of history. Miller Electric has been in existence since 1928 when they invented a small stick welder that could operate on rural electrical supplies (1).

Keep In Mind

Loses Out To the Ranger 305

The ranger has more features like Chopper technology that makes starting an arc easier, and it produces less spatter. If you are spending this sum of money, it might be better to get the 305.

Leads Sold Separately

The Bobcat is a quality welder, but if you are spending this much money, the least you might assume is that the leads come with the generator welder.

Additional Specs

Weight (pounds) 497
Dimensions (inches) 40.5 x 20 x 32.75
HP 23
Wattage 9,500
Amps 225
Fuel Gasoline
AC/DC DC
Multi-process TIG, flux-cored, MIG
Price $$$$$

5. Lincoln Electric Bulldog 5500

Best Budget Welder Generator

Engine Driven Welder, Bulldog 5500
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The Bulldog is a tube frame welder generator, making it a lot lighter than the enclosed case models. This one weighs 198 pounds, which is over half the weight compared to the others. It isn’t the most potent welder generator, producing 5,500 peak watts and 4,000 continuous watts.

It is still powerful enough for stick welding, but unfortunately, it doesn’t support any other method. As the budget model, it costs half what the others do, so if you are into saving money, it’s negative points might not matter.

The amperage range is 70 to 140, and it comes with low-lift grab bars to make it easier to transport.

Why We Love It

Weighs 198 Pounds

This welder generator is half the weight of some on the list, weighing just 198 pounds, making it easier to cart to and from the worksite. The tubular frame adds stability, and the open casing reduces the bulk of the welder generator.

Slightly More Affordable

Nothing is cheap when it comes to welder generators, but in context, this is half the cost of most on the list, qualifying it as the budget model. You will still need a few thousand dollars, but that’s a bargain.

High-Quality Components

As you would expect from Lincoln Electric, the materials and components used in manufacturing this welder generator are of the highest quality. So, if you want a sturdy and robust device that doesn’t cost the earth, this is a good choice.

Keep In Mind

Limited Welding Uses

This welder only supports stick welding, so if you want to switch styles, you need to get another welder generator, which will cost! It also might restrict the applications you can do and the material you work with.

Small 8.9 Horsepower Engine

The more expensive models have 23 horsepower engines. This one is rated at 8.9, so it is considerably less powerful than the competition.

Additional Specs

Weight (pounds) 198
Dimensions (inches) 25.6 x 21.8 x 31.5
HP 8.9
Wattage 4,000
Amps 140
Fuel Gasoline
AC/DC AC
Multi-process Stick
Price $$

Welder Generator Comparison Chart

Product Best Weight Dimensions HP Wattage Amps Fuel AC/DC Multi-process
Lincoln Electric Ranger Welder Generator Multi-Process 510 lbs 36.2 x 21.5 x 42.3″ 23 9,500 305 Gasoline AC/DC Stick, TIG, MIG, flux-cored
Lincoln Electric Ranger 330MPX Quiet 446 lbs 25 x 20 x 36″ 25 10,000 330 Gasoline DC Stick, TIG
Lincoln Electric Ranger 225 Gas-Powered 563 lbs 42.3 x 21.5 x 29.9″ 23 9,000 225 Gasoline AC/DC TIG, flux-cored, MIG
Miller Electric Bobcat 225 Portable Combo 497 lbs 40.5 x 20 x 32.75″ 23 9,500 225 Gasoline DC TIG, flux-cored, MIG
Lincoln Electric Bulldog 5500 Budget Pick 198 lbs 25.6 x 21.8 x 31.5″ 9 4,000 140 Gasoline AC Stick
Jump to the Full Welder Generator Reviews

Welder Generator FAQs

Will a 5kVA Generator Run a Welder?

Yes, a 5kVA generator will run a welder machine, but only one with limited volts. The highest rating you can run with a 5kVA generator is 120 volts, as long as the welder generates 40 amps or less during startup. If your welder is more powerful, you may need to upgrade to a 7kVA or even 8kVA generator.

Can I Run a Stick Welder on a Generator?

Yes, you can, as long as the welder uses no more than the generator’s maximum rated amperage. For example, a typical stick welder uses about 100 amps, so if you are running your welder on a generator of 5kVA or more, you should be okay. If you up the amps to weld heavy-duty projects that need greater weld penetration, then consider upgrading your generator to a 7 or 8kVA model.

Can a Welder Generator Power a House?

It depends on the power output. A welder generator of say, 10,000 or 12,000 watts can power an entire household without any trouble at all. It also depends on the size of the house and the amount of electricity needed, but generally, a welder generator with enough watts can power a house.


Welding on the Go

Welder generators are efficient machines that allow you to work in any environment without needing to plugin. They are a professional welders dream because they increase your earning potential and make you completely mobile.

Welder generators cost a lot of money, but if you are a welder looking to gain new opportunities, a welder generator is an ideal tool.

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About the Author

Mark Weir

Mark spent 24 years working in real estate, so he knows his way around a home. He also worked with contractors and experts, advising them on issues of planning, investments, and renovations. Mark is no stranger to hands-on experience, having renovated his own home and many properties for resale. He likes nothing better than seeing a project through to completion.
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