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.
- 15 HP inverter generator power
- Rugged wheel kit for portability
- Two 120V outlets and amperage dial
- Super-light & efficient
- Easy start technology
- 12 to 14 hour fuel run time
- 9,000 watts
- Multi-process applications
- AC/DC capabilities
- 9,500 watt output
- Reputable brand
- Weighs 198 pounds
- Slightly more affordable
- High-quality components
1. Tomahawk 15 HP Engine Driven Generator
Best Stick Welder Generator
This welder generator might be just the thing for you. It’s suitable for taking onto job sites when you require electrical power and constant current stick welding. Whether you’re going to a farm or a construction site — or anywhere else, really — this product will be your companion.
It has back wheels which allow you to maneuver it easily. So you can take it around with you, whether you go.
This generator packs quite the punch with 15 HP and 2000 watt power.
What We Like
15 HP Inverter Generator Power
Power is one of the most critical elements when choosing a welder generator. With a horsepower of 15, this will give you continuous powerful force. It’s very reliable for running your tools, even simultaneously.
Rugged Wheel Kit for Portability
If you’re moving from place to place and need to take this with you, it’s easier than ever. The rugged wheel kit makes it easy to transport around job sites.
Two 120V Outlets and Amperage Dial
We think you’ll appreciate the two 120-volt outlets. This lets you plug in most power tools. You can even use two at once!
It also has a digital voltmeter so that you can keep an eye on the welding output.
Last but not least, it has an amperage dial so that you can customize your amperage within a coarse range.
What We Don't Like
Assembly Required Upon Arrival
It’s important to note that you may have to put in some effort to get this up and running. The welding cables don’t come assembled, so you need to take time to do that. In fact, some customers found that the included ones weren’t long enough. So take note that you might need to buy longer ones.
The gas tank also comes without a cover. The bag it comes with is pretty cheap, too.
Overall, it’s a fantastic choice, but works a little better with some adjustments.
|Dimensions (inches)||30 x 24 x 22|
|Multi-process||TIG, stick and MMA|
2. Lincoln Electric Ranger 330MPX
Best Quiet Welder Generator
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.
What We Like
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.
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.
What We Don't Like
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.
|Dimensions (inches)||25 x 20 x 36|
3. Lincoln Electric Ranger 225
Best Gas-Powered Welder Generator
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.
What We Like
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.
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.
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.
What We Don't Like
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.
|Dimensions (inches)||42.3 x 21.5 x 29.9|
|Multi-process||TIG, flux-cored, MIG|
4. Miller Electric Bobcat 225
Best Portable Welder Generator Combo
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.
What We Like
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).
What We Don't Like
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.
|Dimensions (inches)||40.5 x 20 x 32.75|
|Multi-process||TIG, flux-cored, MIG|
5. Lincoln Electric Bulldog 5500
Best Budget Welder Generator
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.
What We Like
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.
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.
What We Don't Like
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.
|Dimensions (inches)||25.6 x 21.8 x 31.5|
|Tomahawk Generator||Stick Welder||202 lbs||30 x 24 x 22″||15||2,000||210||Gasoline||DC||TIG, stick and MMA|
|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|
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.
Things to Consider (Buying Guide)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.