Best MIG Welder Reviews 2019 – Top Ten Comparison

Last updated on April 2nd, 2019 at 11:39 pm

The beauty of a MIG welder is its ability to adapt to different types of materials, environments, and positions. Whether welding is your passion or everyday job, either way, you want to find the best MIG welder most suited for your needs. MIG welding machines are available from many brands in enticing designs and vamped up features, which can leave you confused on how to find a good MIG welder that understands how best to perform its task. With our MIG welder reviews, buying guides, and top 10 MIG welders comparison tables you will learn everything you need to know about MIG welders including flux-cored ones.

Best MIG Welder Reviews – Top 10

  • Hobart Handler 140
  • 4.6 Customer Rating
  • Process: MIG / Flux-Core
  • Power: 115V, DC
  • Amperage Range: 25-140A
  • Duty Cycle: 20% @ 90A
  • Welds: 24 ga. - 1/4"
  • Weight: 57 lb.
  • Warranty: 5-Year
  • Price: $$

  • Lincoln Electric Handy MIG K2185-1
  • 4.6 Customer Rating
  • Process: MIG / Flux-Core
  • Power: 115V, DC
  • Amperage Range: 35-88A
  • Duty Cycle: 20% @ 70A
  • Welds: 24 ga. - 1/8"
  • Weight: 46 lb.
  • Warranty: 1-Year
  • Price: $$

  • Miller Electric Millermatic 211
  • 4.6 Customer Rating
  • Process: MIG / Flux-Core
  • Power: 120/240V, DC
  • Amperage Range: 30-230A
  • Duty Cycle: 40% @ 150A
  • Welds: 24 ga. - 3/8"
  • Weight: 38 lb.
  • Warranty: 3-Year
  • Price: $$$$

  • Everlast PowerMIG 200
  • 4.6 Customer Rating
  • Process: MIG / Flux-Core / Stick
  • Power: 120/240V, DC
  • Amperage Range: 25-200A
  • Duty Cycle: 35% @ 200A
  • Welds: 24 ga. - 1/2"
  • Weight: 35 lb.
  • Warranty: 5-Year
  • Price: $$$

  • Lotos MIG175
  • 4.1 Customer Rating
  • Process: MIG
  • Power: 240V, DC
  • Amperage Range: 30-175A
  • Duty Cycle: 20% @ 175A
  • Welds: 18 ga. - 1/4"
  • Weight: 85 lb.
  • Warranty: 1-Year
  • Price: $$

In addition, below we have also prepared more exclusive multiple comparison charts for different types of the top rated MIG welders, to clearly mark the difference between each model. Comparing materials, wire sizes, wire feeder speed, and extra safety features.

1. Hobart 500559 Handler 140 MIG Welder

Hobart 500559 Handler 140 Best MIG Welder

Balanced perfectly between industrial performance and home use sits the Hobart Handler 140 MIG welder. This welder comes nearly ready to use out of the box, requiring only minutes of setup time, and weighs just 57 pounds.

Keeping quality in mind, the Handler 140 comes equipped with sturdy clamps, quick drive select, and industrial grade aluminum drive system. It has rotary knobs on the front for voltage selection and amp output, providing a wide array of arc options for each welding job.

With a 20% duty cycle at 90 amps, It’s enough for the average user, managing durability and quality work without the need for long, continuous usage. The Handler 140 is capable of taking on 24 gauge with up to 1/4 inch mild steel thickness.

It comes with inbuilt safety control features including thermal overload and short circuit protection. This is the best MIG welder for home use, in fact, it is highly recommended for light applications and first-timers. Check our full review of Hobart Handler 140

Pros:

  • Dual-process MIG and flux core functionality in a single tool. Best 110V MIG welder, suitable for household repairs, auto-body, fences, and even farm machinery.
  • Features a 5 tapped voltage control selector which gives the user total control on how to fine-tune the arc for a smooth weld.
  • Wire feed speed range of 40 to 700 inch per minute.
  • Additionally, it has a built-in gas solenoid valve and dual-gauge regulator.
  • It can handle industrial welding with either standard 4-inch or 8-inch spools.
  • Built-in contactor that keeps the wire cold until the spool gun is on.

Cons:

  • You may experience problems with creating a smooth wire feed especially if you do not have a heavy spool or cannot keep your feed wire straight.
  • Rough cooling fans.

2. Lincoln Electric K2185-1 Handy MIG Welder

Lincoln Electric K2185-1 Handy MIG Welder Reviews

The Lincoln Electric K2185-1 is a handy MIG welding machine that is lightweight and compact suitable for light jobs and repairs around the house. The MIG ready machine can take up jobs right out of the box as it comes with almost all the tools needed to get the job done.

Weighing 46 pounds, this Handy MIG welder is portable allowing one to move from one location to another. Welds mild steel from 24 gauge and up to 1/8 inch. The user-friendly machine has four voltage settings and continuous wire feed speed adjustments for a great job on most materials available.

Further, it has a fan cooled system for an extended life expectancy. Offers a 20% duty cycle at 70 amps, great for home and hobby welding. Equipped with lots of features that make it easy to use. Although there is no gas gauge, overlook this small negative and enjoy the benefits it has to offer. Check our full review of Lincoln Electric Handy MIG

Pros:

  • It features 4 selectable voltage ranges for enhanced accuracy.
  • The machine plugs into household 110V outlet thus suitable for repairs and jobs around the house.
  • The welder offers great diversity as it works on both MIG and flux core processes.
  • In addition to the continuous wire feed speed, from 0 to 300 inch per minute.
  • It offers convenience and extra safety with the cold contactor feature that makes sure the wire stays cold until you trigger to heat it.

Cons:

  • The welder has no gas gauge to alert you when you are running low on gas.
  • Has a short clamp cord and it requires a lot of re-spooling as it cannot house bigger wire spools.

3. Miler Electric Millermatic 211 MIG Welder

Miler Electric Millermatic 211 MIG Welder for professionals

The MIG Welder 120/240VAC from Miller Electric is a great machine that can weld 24 gauge and up to 3/8 inch of either aluminum or steel. It is perfectly suitable for maintenance, repair jobs, hobby welding, farm jobs, auto body, and cycle shops.

The inverter MIG welder allows on 120V for a 20% duty cycle at 115 amps and on 240V has a 40% duty cycle at 150 amps. It has plenty of features that will make welding a walk in the park.

They include auto spool gun detect, thermal overload protection, and fan-on demand, among other impressive features. Users will appreciate its quick and easy start with no spatter leading to a smooth welding experience. The handheld MIG welder Millermatic 211, weighs only 38 pounds, portable and easy to carry.

Although it limits the areas of application due to its short cable, this is a great performer that is durable and reliable. It is best suited for small jobs and hobby welders.

Pros:

  • The multi voltage MIG welder capability is definitely a plus for the Millermatic, works on 110 or 220 volts. In fact, it’s the best 220V MIG welder in the market.
  • Has plenty of features such as pre-flow and post-flow, a smooth start which allows for a spatter-free start and advanced auto-set control that simplifies the welding process thus suitable for beginners.
  • A versatile welder can do both MIG and flux core processes.
  • A multi-source welder allows operating on varying materials, with a wire feed speed of 60 to 600 inch per minute.
  • In addition, it offers three quick select drive rolls making setup much quicker and suitable for longer jobs.

Cons:

  • The ground cable is short which limits movement.
  • Wire feeder speed might feel too fast for beginners.

4. Everlast PowerMIG 200 MIG Welder

Everlast PowerMIG 200 MIG Welder for Home Use

An excellent performer, the Everlast PowerMIG 200, powered by a digital IGBT inverter technology. A portable MIG welder, weighing only 35 pounds. Suitable for high rise outdoor welding jobs.

The multi-function welder has a 35% duty cycle which allows for 125 amps when working on 120 volts and 200 amps when working on 240 volts power. Welds minimum 24 gauge and up to 5/6″ in a single pass and 1/2″ in a multi-pass. Also welds aluminum by plugging the optional spool gun.

This heavy duty MIG welder features arc force control which adjusts the arc characteristics of the welding process, offers stable and low spatter arc performance.

A feature-packed badass welder allows it to be the best MIG welder for professionals and beginners alike. With simplified controls and the ability to switch modes effortlessly making welding easy and fun. Packing more features than most MIG welders in its class.

Pros:

  • Runs MIG, flux-core, and stick welding which allows you to switch effortlessly when MIG is not a viable option.
  • Best dual-voltage MIG welder can operate on 110 or 220 volts depending on the environment one’s working on.
  • Not to mention, the incorporated digital meters which offer accurate multiple settings with warning lights.
  • It also has a controllable burn back system. This saves time and energy trimming for the wire, so the wire is always ready for use.
  • A wire feed speed range of up to 600 inches per minute.
  • Can handle industrial welding with standard 8 inch and up 12 pound wire spools. Easy to set up with positive gear driven rollers.

Cons:

  • The wire feed speed is hard to set precisely for detailed welds.
  • The analog knobs are not the best choice for this machine since everything else is electronic.

5. LOTOS MIG175 MIG Welder

LOTOS MIG175 MIG Welder for Beginners

The LOTOS MIG175 welder suitable for welding a minimum of 18 gauge and up to 1/4 inch stainless steel and mild steel, and up to 1/8 inch or thick for aluminum.

The MIG 175 amp welder has a reliable transformer connection that allows you to connect the machine to any 220-volt outlet. Being an easy to use, versatile MIG welder, this reliable performer makes an excellent tool for home welding repairs and jobs.

Weighs 85 pounds, offers a 20% duty cycle at 175 amps. It is easy to set up and only takes minutes to start running. Reliable and durable as it has a sturdy built that can withstand long hours of work, so you might not need to replace any parts with good maintenance.

The LOTOS MIG 175 comes with lots of features that make welding fun and easy. The welder comes with a MIG spool gun that is 10 feet 4 inches long and top speed for aluminum welding.

Pros:

  • The versatile machine operates on 200 and 240 volts and on a dual frequency at 50/60Hz.
  • Further, this MIG welder has aluminum gas shielded welding capability.
  • With a wire-speed range of 60 to 470 inch per minute.
  • It has a re-settable overload protection feature for increased operating life.
  • The welder can handle industrial welding with either standard 4-inch or 6-inch wire spools.

Cons:

  • Its a challenge to accurately maintain the optimum wire speed for each project.
  • 85 pounds, is not very portable.

  • Goplus MIG 130
  • 4.1 Customer Rating
  • Process: Flux-Core
  • Power: 110V, AC
  • Amperage Range: 50-120A
  • Duty Cycle: 15% @ 105A
  • Welds: 24 ga. - 20 ga.
  • Weight: 35 lb.
  • Warranty: 6-Month
  • Price: $

  • Forney 299 125FC
  • 4.1 Customer Rating
  • Process: Flux-Core
  • Power: 120V, AC
  • Amperage Range: 25-125A
  • Duty Cycle: 20% @ 80A
  • Welds: 24 ga. - 1/4"
  • Weight: 32 lb.
  • Warranty: 6-Month
  • Price: $

  • ARKSEN MIG-130
  • 4.0 Customer Rating
  • Process: Flux-Core
  • Power: 115V, AC
  • Amperage Range: 50-120A
  • Duty Cycle: 10% @ 105A
  • Welds: 1/8" - 1/4"
  • Weight: 38 lb.
  • Warranty: Contact Seller
  • Price: $

  • ZENY MIG-130
  • 4.0 Customer Rating
  • Process: Flux-Core
  • Power: 115V, AC
  • Amperage Range: 50-120A
  • Duty Cycle: 10% @ 105A
  • Welds: 24 ga. - 1/4"
  • Weight: 32 lb.
  • Warranty: Contact Seller
  • Price: $

  • Longevity MIGweld 140
  • 3.0 Customer Rating
  • Process: MIG / Flux-Core
  • Power: 115V, DC
  • Amperage Range: 20-140A
  • Duty Cycle: 20% @ 90A
  • Welds: 24 ga. - 3/8"
  • Weight: 54 lb.
  • Warranty: 1-Year
  • Price: $$

6. Goplus MIG 130 Welder Flux Core Welding Machine

Goplus MIG 130 Best Wire Feed Welder

The Goplus MIG 130 flux core wire welder with a self-releasing metal inert gas that prevents oxidation. Weighs only 35 pounds, it has a portable design that allows easy movement and wide application around the home.

Designed for household use, this smart welder is compact and durable, made of a sturdy stainless steel body for extended service capability.

Offers a duty cycle of 15% at 105 amps. Ideal for welding thin steel and iron such as 24 and 20 gauge. The mini-size welder creates a perfect finish making it suitable for simple home repair and maintenance jobs.

Comes with everything you need to start including, wires, brush, and mask. This is a great machine that is portable and reliable ideal for light work around the home. Best MIG welder for the money, it may have a few cons but nothing one cannot work around for its price tag.

Pros:

  • Easy setup and plugged into any household plug. Offers flux core welding which does not require an extra shielding gas.
  • This gasless MIG welder has plenty of features such as the 4 levels welding speed and a 10 level wire feeding speed. Easily adjust the rotary knob to make adjustments to the ideal settings.
  • The wire welder has two air vents that release heat to prevent an overload that is often disastrous to the machine.
  • Not to mention, automatic thermal overload protection.

Cons:

  • The motor overheats when welding for long periods which may result in the breakdown of the fan.
  • It has very short cables that limit the area of welding.

7. Forney Easy Weld 299 125FC Flux Core Welder

Forney Easy Weld 299 125FC Best Flux Core Welder

The Forney Easy Weld 299 is the best flux core welder, easy to set up and easy to use, ideal for beginners. Can weld 24 gauge and up to 1/4 inch mild steel.

With a 20% duty cycle at 80 amps, this plug and play welder is extremely easy to set up as it only requires one to plug into a source of power and start. The Forney 125FC is durable and reliable with thermal overload protection. The machine has a sturdy and rugged built, you can deliver great work without the fear of breaking it down.

Overall, the Forney 299 125FC is an excellent welder for a hobbyist or a newbie at home. Lightweight and easy to move, weighing just a bit over 32 pounds. This model also offers welding kits for beginners. However, one should not expect it to do industrial grade work because of the limitations of its power capabilities.

Pros:

  • The Forney 125FC is a flux core welder works directly through any household outlet without the need of shielding gas. It’s probably the best MIG welder for beginners.
  • Has 2 level settings and a variable wire feed speed from 1 to 10 levels.
  • Accepts both 2 and 10-pound spools.
  • Offers good value and uses Tweco consumables that are easy to find at the local stores.

Cons:

  • It does not have varying settings for the voltage thus limiting the areas of application.
  • The cords to the touch and ground clamp are short.

8. ARKSEN MIG-130 Gas-Less Flux Core Wire Welder

ARKSEN MIG-130 Best Wire Welder

The ARKSEN MIG-130 welder offers the functionality of MIG without the need for gas. Works on a 10% duty cycle at 105 amps. Capable of welding 1/8 inch and up to 1/4 inch mild steel.

This gas-less flux core welder makes a great companion for hobby and home welders. Weighing 38 pounds, the lightweight machine is portable for easy movement to job sites.

The ARKSEN MIG 130 is loaded with safety features that protect against harm. Such as the overload protection which shuts down the engine in case you exceed the duty cycle or block the air vent, a short circuit protection feature that protects the device against current overload, and built-in torch safety. Comes with everything you need to start at a great value.

Though noisy, the ARKSEN MIG 130, is ideal for home use and hobby welding. This is a good MIG welder option for auto body jobs, household repairs, and other heavier projects that may need extra power.

Pros:

  • This Flux core welder uses 110 volts power available at home with no special power requirements and no shielding gas. It can run flux core steel, stainless steel, and aluminum wires.
  • It has variable speed wire controls and trouble-free set up that makes it extremely easy to use.
  • Features a sturdy feed wire that delivers positive wire feed with the aid of adjustable tension control.
  • In addition, it allows for 4 adjustable heat settings.

Cons:

  • The fan can be a bit noisy which makes its operation a little loud.
  • Short duty cycle limits the welding applications.

9. ZENY MIG-130 Gas-Less Welding Machine

ZENY MIG-130 Best Gasless MIG Welder

If you are searching for a portable MIG welder that can handle small jobs around the house, the ZENY MIG-130 is the best budget MIG welder. Easy to use and light, weighing only 32 pounds.

The ZENY MIG 130 provides great results and is extremely easy to use. The machine comes with a number of wire feed speed and temperature controls that allow you to use it on materials of varying thickness without running into trouble.

The welder can comfortably weld 24 gauge and up to 1/4 inch mild steel and stainless steel, with a 10% duty cycle at 105 amps. It has safety features that increase protection during welding. These include a full on and off torch safety control and automatic thermal safety control.

The ZENY-MIG 130 is a handy tool for small repairs and jobs at home. The plug and play welder makes it easy for newbies to learn to weld while producing great results. With low and high-temperature controls, you can weld materials of varying thicknesses with ease.

Pros:

  • A flux core welder, easy plugged into any household outlet.
  • With the variable wire feed speed and 4 heat adjustment settings, you can have more control over the weld.
  • The adjustable welder comes with a metal tip that helps in creating a smooth, slag-free weld.

Cons:

  • The metal tip needs a few knockoffs while in operation to work efficiently.
  • The short duty cycle limits it usefulness for long periods of time on big jobs.

10. LONGEVITY Migweld 140 MIG Welder

LONGEVITY Migweld 140 MIG Welding machine

The Longevity Migweld 140 is a powerful welder that is capable of welding 24 gauge and thickness of up to 3/8 inches of mild steel. It can be used for light and heavy-duty jobs. Offers 90 amps at 20% duty cycle.

This inverter welder has a smooth, high-quality feed mechanism that makes welding easy. It has great features including thermal overload protection for extended engine life. A compact model that is designed to make welding easy and hassle-free for beginners.

Weighs 54 pounds, simple MIG welding machine that is portable and ready for use anywhere. Perfect for home and repair shops. Overall, the Longevity Migweld 140 is a powerful MIG welding machine that delivers high-quality welds. It is light and is easy to set up thus suitable for both beginners and professionals.

Pros:

  • It connects easily to the existing 110-volt power and offers flux core and aluminum gas shielding.
  • It shares consumables that are within reach as they are available in local stores meaning you will not have problems finding spare parts in case of a breakdown either.
  • Has a wire feed speed of 60 to 400 inch per minute.
  • Easy to use control panel, therefore, suitable for beginners.

Cons:

  • The regular hose is a bit stiff.
  • The wire feeding system is somewhat unreliable.

Best MIG Welder Comparison Table

Feature/ProductHobart Handler 140Lincoln Handy MIG K2185-1Miller Millermatic 211Everlast PowerMIG 200Lotos MIG175
TypeDC, MIG/Flux-CoreDC, MIG/Flux-CoreDC, MIG/Flux-CoreDC, MIG/Flux-Core/StickDC, MIG
Input, Phase, Hertz115V, 1PH, 60Hz115V, 1PH, 60Hz120/240V, 1PH, 50/60Hz120/240V, 1PH, 50/60Hz240V, 1PH, 50/60Hz
Duty Cycle @ Amps20% @ 90A20% @ 70A40% @ 150A35% @ 200A20% @ 175A
Welding Amps25-140A35-88A30-230A25-200A30-175A
Open Circuit Voltage28V29V54V60VN/A
Input Current Amperage20A20A17A20A22A
Wire Feed Speed40 - 700 IPM0 - 300 IPM60 - 600 IPM0 - 600 IPM60 - 470 IPM
Wire Diameter.023 to .035 Inches .025 to .035 Inches.023 to .045 Inches.023 to .030 Inches.025 to .030 Inches
Thermal OverloadAvailableAvailableAvailableAvailableAvailable

Best Flux-Core Welder Comparison Table

Feature/ProductGoplus MIG 130Forney 299 125FCARKSEN MIG-130ZENY MIG-130Longevity MIGweld 140
TypeAC, Flux-CoreAC, Flux-CoreAC, Flux-CoreAC, Flux-CoreDC, MIG/Flux-Core
Input, Phase, Hertz110V, 1PH, 60Hz120V, 1PH, 60Hz115V, 1PH, 60Hz115V, 1PH, 60Hz115V, 1PH, 60Hz
Duty Cycle @ Amps15% @ 105A20% @ 80A10% @ 105A10% @ 105A20% @ 90A
Welding Amps50-120A25-125A50-120A50-120A20-140A
Open Circuit Voltage37VN/A37V37V28V
Input Current AmperageN/A20AN/AN/A20A
Wire Feed Speed10 Levels10 LevelsVariableVariable60 - 400 IPM
Wire Diameter.030 to .035 Inches .030 Inches.023 to .035 Inches.023 to .035 Inches.025 to .035 Inches
Thermal OverloadAvailableAvailableAvailableAvailableAvailable

How to Choose the Best MIG Welder

Whether you’re a seasoned welder with years of experience or a novice looking to get their hands on a new welder machine. Knowing what your goals are will help you identify the best welder most suited for your needs. Some machines are able to power more electricity, creating a hotter arc, which allows for work on thicker metals than machines with lower power capabilities. Before making your purchase, decide which metals you will be predominantly working with.

While MIG is great for different types of metals, it is possible that another method of welding may suit your needs depending on the materials you will be working with. It’s also important to note where you will spend the majority of your time when welding. This will determine your power requirements, voltage, and the types of metals you can work with. By utilizing these tips, you will be able to analyze your needs and find the perfect unit while separating the good from the bad.

  1. Power Performance – 110V vs. 220V

Power input capabilities is a major factor to consider when choosing a MIG welding machine. A welder for small-scale projects at home or in the garage would run on a 110 volt powered through a standard household plug and do a great job. Because home welding projects are usually related to welding thin materials. If you will be mainly welding metals no thicker than 1/8” inch then a 110V MIG welder will do just fine. These 110 volt welders are great for portability but in some ways, lack in power where higher voltage welders prevail.

Larger units are capable of powering thicker electrode wire, thus being able to weld thicker gauge metals. The voltage of the unit is altered to control the arc. Higher voltage allows for a hotter arc and can work with thicker materials. If you will be welding more thick metals as 1/2″ inch then a larger 220V MIG welder would do a better job. If you are intending to work with different types of metals, then it is wiser to choose a welder that allows a multi-voltage option. It allows you the opportunity to switch between power modes rendering more versatility.

Welding machines labeled 230V and 115V may get you confused, as commonly there is only 110 or 220 volt power. However, welding machines can run with around a 10% voltage variance. This means that a 115V welder can run in a 110V outlet.

  1. Heat Capabilities – Amperage Range

MIG welding machines are classified by the output current amperage they produce at a given duty cycle. Basically, amperage is the heat it can produce, and the duty cycle is the length of time during a ten minute time period. Power output amperage rating dictates the thickness and the materials you will be able to work with. Some approximate amperage ranges for MIG welding mild steel are:

  • 18 gauge: 70 ~ 100 amps
  • 1/8 inch:  120 ~ 200 amps
  • 3/16 inch: 140 ~ 205 amps
  • 1/4 inch: 140 ~ 225 amps
  • 1/2 inch: 250+ amps

Here is an example; for welding on a modern car with thin panels, a small MIG welder might be enough. For an older car with thicker panels, a 130A welder would be the minimum. While a 4×4 would require 150A or more.

Also, you ought to consider the minimum amperage rating. A welder rated with a minimum of 40 amps welds sheets up to 2 mm in thickness together. MIG welders for bonding thinner materials should have 20 – 25 amp minimum rating, which would be more usable on 0.8 mm steel.

  1. Welding Time – The Duty Cycle

The duty cycle of a welder is expressed as a percentage measured at a given amperage. In layman’s term, a duty cycle is measured strictly by the number of minutes you can weld continuously at a certain power rating without overheating the unit. A typical rating for a home use 110v MIG welder is a 20% duty cycle at 90 amps. It means with the power set of 90 amps, you can only weld continuously for two out of every ten minutes to avoid overworking the welder. The duty cycle is also inversely proportional to the welding output. When the welder is being used at lower outputs, the duty cycle is bound to increase.

If you are welding for personal use, it is possible that a unit with a lower duty cycle will suffice for your needs. If you’re a professional and will be utilizing the welder for paid work, it is imperative to find a welder which can satisfy your time requirements without the need to cool down continuously. Adversely, if time is not of the essence, a welder with a 30% duty cycle would be a sufficient choice. For thicker metals or bigger jobs, choose a MIG welder with a higher duty cycle.

  1. Multi-Function – MIG & Flux Core

Some MIG welders in the market support flux cored functions. The MIG/flux-core welder is preferred if the work you want to do with the welder is diverse. Flux cored welding advantages are:

  • Works well on dirty or rusty metals.
  • Provides deep penetration for welding thick sections.
  • Flux core wires are more suitable for outdoor work.
  • Eliminates the need for carrying a shielding gas bottle by using a self-shielded flux-cored electrode.
  1. Portability – Size & Weight

Depending on your working environment, you want to make sure your MIG welder will fit your needs in the majority of situations you will find yourself working in. If portability is an important feature for you, there are many MIG welders which weigh in under 50 pounds, making them easy to move around different work sites.

The size of your welder will not necessarily define the power rating of the unit. Some small modern machines can deliver much higher power than bigger ones. You can also opt for wheels or a wheeled cart which will allow you to mobilize your unit to fit the job needs.

  1. Customer Service – The Warranty

Something that should go without saying is to find a unit with reputable customer service and a useful warranty. Ensure having a warranty that you can rely on in the event that your unit breaks down is an important feature for caring about your investment. Most companies offer diverse warranties which can cover everything from broken parts, labor to repair the unit, or even replacing the unit if there are factory defects. Even the highest quality welders can experience mechanical and technical issues, and you’ll be kicking yourself if you’re caught without a warranty.

  1. Other Considerations

Some of the best features to look for in MIG welders are systems that allow for advanced auto-set control, not to mention, fan cooling. Other features include;

  • Wire Feed Speed – It’s the speed at which the machine feeds the welding wire to the gun. Different materials require different feed speed in order to ensure an accurate welding process. Choosing a MIG welder with a wide range of feed speed will ensure accommodating various materials. It’s a great feature to have.
  • Spool Gun Capability – In aluminum welding, the wire usually gets stuck in the torch as it gets fed from the wire feeder. Placing the wire inches out of the MIG torch through a spool gun eliminates wire plunges. Look for this feature if you’re intending on welding aluminum.
  • Built-In Contactor – Keeps the welder’s wire cold until the trigger of the torch is pressed. As a result, you don’t need to worry about accidental contact with the base metal when shifting positions.
  • Thermal Overload Protection – Most modern MIG units comes equipped with thermal overload protection, which basically automatically cuts off the power if you exceed the machine’s duty cycle, to ensure you don’t overheat the power transformer. It also helps to prolong the machine’s life.

Lastly, finding the perfect balance between cost efficiency and your needs as a welder is important to understand. While it may not be an everyday thing where you spend hours in the garage working on a trailer, boat, car, or an art project, knowing your unit is reliable, adaptive, and functional in your life is crucial to a successful purchase.

Everything about MIG Welding

So, what is MIG welding? Simply it’s a process which uses a wire electrode, continuously fed through a gun, using a ground clamp and a shielding gas to form a complete circuit. The voltage from the machine runs through the electrode wire to heat it and melt it into a weld pool on the base metal to bond metals together. In a MIG welder, the wire electrode is fed continuously and is considered a consumable. The shielding gas used is also a consumable. The shielding gas protects the weld pool from the harmful effects of the chemicals in the environment which can weaken the weld.

Different combinations of wire electrodes and gases are used to weld different types of metal. Before beginning any project, ensure your electrode will be able to penetrate your metal, the correct gas or mixture is being used, and your power requirements are met.

The shielding gas can be provided with a gas tank connected to the same gun your welding wire is fed through so it would create a protective cloud around the weld. Or, by using a flux cored wire which releases a shielding gas when used through the gun or torch. Some MIG welders support the flux core option while others don’t.

MIG Welding History

This principle of welding was first developed in the 1800’s. Over a century of modification later, the process known as Metal Inert Gas or MIG was developed. In 1948, the Battelle Memorial Institute developed this process of welding. The process involved a continuous electrode and sprayed the weld across the parent metal. An inert gas, typically argon, was required to shield the weld and act as a barrier from the atmosphere, which would corrode the new weld and weaken it.

It was originally thought that only inert gases were usable for MIG welding, which led to high costs for the gases. It was later discovered that carbon dioxide, which is not an inert gas, was usable and offered deeper penetration than the pure argon gas. Since carbon dioxide was not a noble gas, the new name for the MIG welding process was changed to Gas Metal Arc Welding or GMAW. However, while more accurate in description, the name was not as popular and didn’t take hold. Other common names of this process are wire welding, Metal Active Gas or MAG, and Flux Cored Arc Welding or FCAW.

MIG Shielding Gases

In MIG welding, a shielding gas is used to protect the weld pool – which is the melted wire electrode – from the harmful effects of the atmosphere and the environment has on cooling beads. The shielding gas acts as a barrier to the molten weld pool from oxygen, nitrogen, and hydrogen contained in the air. These elements can compromise welds by causing holes within the beads and excessive spatter, making the weld less stable.

The shielding gas is transported from a gas tank to the weld pool through the weld gun. The nozzle at the end of the gun can be changed out to different diameters, which controls the amount of shielding gas at the welding pool. The typical shielding gas used for MIG welders depends on two main factors. The type of metal you are working with and the thickness of the metal.

Most MIG welders use argon, carbon dioxide, and helium for the job. Sometimes mixtures of two gases are used to create different chemical properties for the weld. Mixing two gases also allowed for use on different types of metals.

Electrode Wire Types

For MIG welding, there are two main types of wire to choose from, flux cored and solid wire. Each type has its advantages and disadvantages.

Solid Wire

Solid wire is commonly used for home and industrial projects. In this process, the shielding gas is required to ensure the weld pool remains free of contamination from the environmental elements.

  • Advantages:
  1. Solid electrode wire and shielding gas create a better-looking weld, it provides lower spatter levels.
  2. Lower spatter results in less cleaning time.
  3. The arc is soft and less likely to burn through the welding materials.
  4. Great for thin metals.
  5. More forgiving if the operator is somewhat erratic in holding the arc length or providing a steady travel speed.
  • Disadvantages:
  1. Less portable since a bottle of external shielding gas and other additional equipment is required.
  2. This method doesn’t work well in environments prone to wind or breeze.
  3. MIG has a soft arc which will not properly weld thicker materials.

Flux Core

The difference in flux core and solid wire electrode is the flux coating found on the flux core wire. This coating creates a specific area around the weld pool, which cools much faster than the wire itself. Flux core wire is also called a self-shielding wire, meaning there is no need for an external shielding gas tank.

  • Advantages:
  1. They have a high deposition rate, which makes them great for welders looking to maintain low costs.
  2. Flux core wire can also be used on materials which are rusty, dirty, or oily.
  3. Optimal for the outdoors and windy conditions. Portable as there is no need for carrying an extra shielding gas can.
  4. Has deeper penetration properties thus suitable for thicker materials.
  5. More diverse welding positions such as overhead and directly above due to the coating that cools and directs where the weld pool is concentrated.
  • Disadvantages:
  1. It is not recommended for materials thinner than 20 gauge.
  2. This process creates slag and spatters that may need extra cleaning and sanding.
  3. The settings of the wire and the angle has to be precise.
  4. Produces smoke that makes it hard to see the weld.

How MIG Works?

Most MIG machines are used for home and recreational use. It is common to use a MIG welder on trailers, auto-body repairs, and art projects.

The majority of the metals can be handled by a MIG welder by utilizing shielding gas and high current. In addition, this type of welding works in many different positions and is one of the easier methods of arc welding to learn. To learn more about other welding processes, you can read our welding comparison article.

What Can MIG Weld?

A MIG welder works on a wide array of parent metals. This is partly due to the variations of shielding gases used, and the different wire electrodes you can select for each job. For most MIG welders, mild forms of steel are clear choices. However, you can also weld many other metal combinations. The most common metals welded with a MIG machine are:

  • Carbon steel
  • Stainless steel
  • Copper
  • Magnesium
  • Nickel
  • Aluminum (with a special feeder and spool gun since the aluminum wire is very soft)

Depending on how much voltage your MIG welder is running at, the weld can be set to one of the four transfer types; globular, short circuit, spray, or pulsed.

MIG Welding Uses

The great thing about MIG is that you can put a machine in your garage and weld up everything that comes your way. MIG welding is easy to learn and you can do many things with it. MIG welding is most commonly used in vehicle fabrication to repair cars or motorbikes. It’s also used in construction where steel is the most commonly used metal. If you are looking for a MIG welding job in high production manufacturing, from computer components to auto parts, you will find that there are a variety of opportunities to choose from. You may also be interested to learn more about plasma cutters.

MIG Welding Types

MIG welding is a common form of arc welding in many households, as it works well with trailers, automobiles, and small farm equipment. It is a simple process to learn. There are four main classifications of MIG welding metal transfer types. Which are spray transfer, pulse spray transfer, globular transfer, and short circuit transfer. The difference between each metal transfer method simply pertains to the way in which the contact is made between the electrode wire and the parent metals.

MIG Welding Advantages

There are many advantages that a MIG welder has to offer. The fact that high-quality welds and beads can be achieved in a simple and fast procedure is a great benefit.

  1. In MIG, high-quality welds can be produced much faster compared to stick or TIG welding. Welding wire is fed continuously which allows for less downtime for replacing electrodes.
  2. In addition, using a continuously-fed wire minimizes the occurrence of defects on starts and stops.
  3. Only minor weld spatter is produced, as a result, minimal post-weld clean-up.
  4. Allows for deep weld penetration which gives the welder the ability to use a wide selection of filler metal compositions and diameters, to weld thick or thin materials.
  5. Very versatile and is used for a wide range of metal and non-ferrous metal, including aluminum, copper, mild steel, magnesium, nickel, iron, and many of their alloys.
  6. Not to mention, MIG welding is the most common industrial process to weld a broad variety of materials, parts, and structures.
  7. Requires less operator skill compared to other welding processes, for example, TIG.
  8. MIG welding can be accomplished in all positions.

MIG Welding Disadvantages

Although MIG welders have many advantages with the flexibility of materials and positions, they are confined by their inability to work with thicker metals.

  1. While it is possible to handle material thicker than ½ inch, it is generally easier to use a different form of welding for those materials.
  2. Burn-back is also a common issue when welding materials thinner than 1/16 inch.
  3. The process is difficult to apply in narrow or hard-to-reach places because the MIG welding gun is large and must be held close to the base metal (within 10 to 19 mm) to ensure that the weld pool is properly shielded.
  4. Relatively high levels of radiated heat which makes this process not ideal to use for vertical or overhead positions due to the possibility of excessive melt-through.
  5. The base metal must be clean and rust free to achieve a clean weld.
  6. Lastly, the MIG welder uses consumables which adds to the cost to acquire shielding gas, welding wires, tips, and nozzles.

After all, a MIG welder is a great versatile machine. Not to mention, it’s easy to master, you will find yourself spending most of your time with your new favorite toy. But, always remember safety first. Never forget to wear the suitable protective welding gear such as a welding helmet and gloves. They come in light and durable materials and you can get customized helmets as well.

Bottom Line

Overall, for welding enthusiasts, getting the right equipment is as important as having the skills to produce great welding results. It is vital to have the best MIG welder to obtain a professional finish when welding thin steel, car bodywork, and other home jobs. We understand how important it is for you to make the right investments hence our detailed list of MIG welder reviews, comparisons, and complete guides. With this knowledge, we hope you can pick the best welding machine and experience the many advantages MIG welding has to offer. Write your comment and tell us which is the best MIG welding machine for you.

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