Best MIG Welder for the Money (2018 Smart Shopping Guide)

When it comes to metalworking, one of the most versatile and useful products that you can have in your workshop is a welder. Although there are a few different kinds of welding you can do, a Mig welder is a reliable option that allows you to work on a wide variety of projects.

Whether you’re a hobbyist or a professional, these welders are easy to use and don’t require extensive experience or expertise to operate.

Today we’re going to be looking at the best MIG welders available on the market today - some of these models are meant for pros, while others can be ideal for beginners and weekend hobbyists. Regardless of your skill level, you’re sure to find the right welder for your needs. Let’s see what these models have to offer. 

Best Mig Welders - Comparisons  

10 Best Mig Welders in 2018

1. Hobart Handler 210 MVP MIG Welder

One of the more crucial elements to pay attention to when buying a Mig welder is the amount of power you get to operate. Low-end models provide around 115 volts, while high-end units can go up to 300 or more.

With the Hobart Handler, you get a dual-voltage system that allows you to transfer back and forth, depending on your needs. Best of all, you simply have to switch the plug, meaning that there are no complicated procedures or tools required to customize your power level. 

To make things even more versatile, this welder has 11 different voltage settings. At 115 volts, you have seven options, while the 230 gives you four. This way you can work on a broad spectrum of jobs without having to switch to another machine. Hobart is one of the most reliable brands making welders today, and it’s this reliability and attention to detail that illustrates why.

With some mig welders, you can use flux-core wires that don’t need shield gas. Although the Hobart Handler doesn’t have that capability, you can work on most kinds of steel, including stainless. Also, it comes with a spool so that you can weld aluminum as well. Many lower end models don’t have this option, which is part of what makes the Handler such a good buy. Even better, changing from spool welding to regular mode is as easy as flipping a switch.

The simplicity of the Hobart Handler makes it an ideal choice for both pros and beginners alike. You don’t have to be highly experienced to use this machine for your metalworking projects, although it does cost more than your average unit. Overall, this Mig welder is perfect for anyone who wants to invest in a long-term model that will provide reliable and versatile results for years to come. 

What we liked

  • Dual voltage system (115 and 230v) for convenience
  • Seven adjustable voltage settings for more precision
  • Quick change drive roll system
  • Can weld 24 ga to ⅜ steel in a single pass
  • Switch from spool gun to mig gun effortlessly
  • Cast aluminum drive system
  • Ideal for beginners and DIY welders
  • Works on stainless and aluminum

What we didn't like

  • More expensive than other models
  • No flux welding

2. Lotos MIG140 140 Amp MIG Wire Welder

When picking out the best Mig welder for your needs, you should decide if customization is crucial or not. If you’re doing the same kind of welding with little variation, then it’s much better (and more cost-effective) to buy a machine that specializes in that type. However, for those who need precise adjustment, the Lotos MIG Wire Welder is an excellent choice. This is a relatively compact and lightweight model (at only 54 pounds), and it’s perfect for field work or smaller job sites.When comparing the specifications of this unit to others, you can see why it’s so great for versatile welding. Although it’s on the lower side of the power range (110 volts), you can work with regular and stainless steel as well as aluminum. You do, however, have to buy the spool separately if you want the full suite of options. Here is an overview of the metal sizes you can work with:

  • Stainless Steel: 18 Gauge – 3/16"
  • Mild Steel: 18 Gauge – 3/16"
  • Aluminum: 1/8" or Thinner 

As we mentioned, customization is one of the primary selling points of this welder. As such, it comes with knobs to adjust both the voltage output and the speed of your wire. When it comes to power, you get 10 different settings. As far as speed goes, you can adjust between 0 and 100%. On top of that, it comes with a 2T/4T switch, so you can further customize how fast your welder heats up and gets going.

When adjusting your settings, two displays show you the current voltage and percentage. This ensures that you get precise results every time. Overall, if you work on remote job sites and you need a reliable welder for a variety of materials, this is one of the better choices.

What we liked

  • Durable construction
  • Relatively lightweight design (54 pounds)
  • Easy carry handle for fast transportation
  • 10 variable voltage settings
  • Customizable wire speed (0-100%)
  • LCD shows current stats
  • 2T and 4T switch built-in
  • 110 voltage design
  • Works on stainless and aluminum
  • Aluminum wire feeder built-in

What we didn't like

  • No spool gun provided
  • Not as powerful as other models

3. LOTOS MIG175 175AMP Mig Welder

If you like the power and performance of the Lotos Welder above, but you need more voltage for the kind of work you do, then you will want to get this unit instead. With a 175-amp motor, you can operate between 200 and 240 volts, giving you a greater range of possibilities. With this welder, you can efficiently work on most metals, including soft and stainless steels, as well as aluminum. You can even buy the spool gun with the welder if you like to make it even more convenient.

Because Lotos makes it, you know that you can customize both your voltage settings and wire speed. As with the model above, you have ten settings for each, allowing you precision and control over your work. Unfortunately, this model doesn’t provide a display to show you the exact numbers, so that is a bit of a drawback.

One area where this welder shines is that you can do both gas and flux welding. Flux-core welding is ideal when appearance isn’t a factor since it can be faster and cheaper to do. Shield gas can be expensive to refill, so having the ability to switch back and forth can save you both time and money.

Another reason that we like this welder is that it comes with thermal overload protection. Since you’re working at high voltages, it’s imperative that you can prevent the whole thing from blowing up and getting destroyed. Not only will the welder shut down before that happens, but it has an indicator light to give you a heads up when you’re over temp.

What we liked

  • Durable construction
  • High-powered welding unit
  • Dual-frequency design
  • Operates at 200-240 volts
  • 10 voltage adjustment settings
  • Customizable wire speed
  • Easy carry handle
  • Thermal overload indicator and protection
  • Quick change drive roll system
  • Optional spool provided
  • Welding chart on the back
  • Works with most metals, including aluminum
  • Flux-core and shield gas capable

What we didn't like

  • In rare cases, the gas may continue to come out when the gun stops
  • Can be challenging to get spare parts

4. Hobart 500536 Ironman 230 MIG Welder

So far, we’ve been looking at welders that are made for both beginners and veterans. However, if you’re a professional that needs extra power and performance, then you have to get something like the Ironman from Hobart. Granted, it’s larger and more expensive than anything else on this list, but it has much more to offer, and it can work on a wider variety of jobs. Whether it’s spot welding for repairs or metal fabrication, the Ironman can handle it all.

First of all, this unit has a 230-volt capacity. It also comes with 12 settings so that you can adjust the output as needed. Second, it can be used for gas or flux-core welding, so feel free to work however you want to get the job done. Best of all, this machine has a low bar of entry, meaning that even if you’re just starting your welding career, it can work for you.

To make your job easier, this welder is designed to minimize spatter, allowing you to save time that would otherwise be spent cleaning and polishing your welds. Also, you can work with almost any size wire, which is why it’s made for professionals.

Moving this machine around is a breeze, thanks to the built-in wheels and handle. You can maneuver wherever you need it to, making it an ideal choice for both the workshop and field operations. Overall, if you need the best, this is the best. 

What we liked

  • 230-volt capacity
  • 12 adjustable voltage settings
  • Ideal for small and large jobs
  • Precision welding reduces splatter and cleanup
  • Low skill level required
  • Gas or flux-core welding available
  • Built-in wheels make it easier to move
  • Two cylinder racks for storing hoses
  • Ideal for construction and repair
  • Works on heavy gauge steel and aluminum
  • Infinite wire feed spool control
  • Thermal overload protection
  • 0-700 inches per minute wire feed system
  • Hinged side door for easy access
  • Can use two wire sizes on a single roll
  • Automatic wire alignment

What we didn't like

  • No aluminum spool provided
  • Priced for professionals only

5. Forney Easy Weld 299 125FC Flux Core Welder

As we mentioned, flux-core welding is perfect if you’re trying to save time and money. Although it does require more cleanup than gas welding, it works if you don’t have to worry about the appearance of the final product. As such, if you prefer to do flux-core jobs and you want a compact unit, then this model from Forney is an ideal choice.

Although this welder is not designed for high-performance use, it can be perfect for when you have to do some spot welding, and you don’t want to spend a lot of time getting set up. This unit works with both two and 10-pound spools, and it operates at a 120-volt capacity, which is perfect for light welding work. In fact, it even comes with a switch so you can go from sheet metal to thin plates instantly.

Other features that we like about this welder include the thermal overload alarm, the carrying handle to bring it with you, and the adjustable wire speed settings. Overall, this is a fantastic portable welder for light patchwork and repairs.

What we liked

  • Compact and lightweight design
  • Made for flux-core welding only
  • Easy carry handle for transportation
  • 120-volt capacity
  • Works with two and 10-pound spools
  • Sheet metal/thin plate switch included
  • Thermal overload alarm
  • Adjustable speed settings
  • Welds 24 ga up to ¼ inches
  • Weighs only 40 pounds

What we didn't like

  • Not designed for big jobs
  • No adjustable voltage settings

6. LONGEVITY Migweld 140 - 140 Amp Mig Welder

Next, we have another compact and portable welder. This model is excellent for beginners and DIY enthusiasts, as well as professionals who need something that can be brought into the field for any onsite project. This unit is lightweight and easy to carry, and it comes with sufficient power and customization to meet your needs.

Although it only has a 110-volt capacity, you can adjust your settings as much as necessary. You can customize both the speed of your wire as well as the voltage level. Not only that but you can do both gas and flux-core welding, providing you even more versatility and performance. It works on most metals, including stainless steel and aluminum. However, you do have to buy an aluminum spool separately, so keep that in mind.

Thanks to its compact design and easy carry handle, you can bring this welder with you wherever you go, making it an ideal choice for small workshops or field operations.

What we liked

  • Portable design
  • Easy carry handle for convenience
  • Gas or flux-core welding
  • 110-volt capacity
  • Adjustable voltage settings
  • Variable speed options
  • Ideal for DIY enthusiasts

What we didn't like

  • Aluminum spool sold separately
  • In rare cases, the motor may shut off unexpectedly

7. 2017 Everlast mig140 MIG welder

When it comes to finding a portable welder, you want a brand that is well-known for making that kind of machine. Everlast is a high-quality choice for small, lightweight welders, and this model is a perfect example. It only weighs 25 pounds and provides you with more than enough customization to get the job done.

Performance-wise, you get up to 120 volts of power while welding. It’s designed for gas operation, although you can adjust it to do flux-core if you know what you’re doing. However, since this unit is built for beginners, don’t try to change it if you’re not sure.

Features that we appreciate about this welder include a thermal overload warning, variable speed and voltage adjustments, and easy access to the wire feeder for convenience. Also, Ever last welders come with a built-in control cover so that you don’t accidentally hit the knob and change your settings while working.

What we liked

  • Compact and lightweight design
  • Control shield to prevent accidents
  • Variable speed settings
  • Adjustable voltage
  • Max 120-volt capacity
  • Thermal overload warning
  • Easy carry handle for transportation
  • Ideal for small jobs and beginners
  • Weighs only 25 pounds
  • Can do flux-core welding (with adjustments)

What we didn't like

  • No aluminum spool provided
  • Not designed for high-performance use

8. MIG Welder Inverter Mig welding 200Amp 220V DC MIG MAG

For the most part, compact and portable welders are not meant for high-performance jobs. However, this unit from Hitbox changes that mentality by providing you with a lot of power in a small container. So far, we’ve seen lightweight units that provide up to 120 volts, but this one can give you an incredible 270 volts if you need it.

The range of this welder is incredible, going from 160-270 volts. Also, it uses a digital customization system, making it even easier to get the results you want. LED displays tell you the precise voltage and wire speed, and it also has indicator lights if the unit is going to overheat. Best of all, the welder will shut down automatically before any damage is done so that you can weld worry-free.

With this kind of power, you can do either gas or flux-core welding, which provides you even greater versatility and customization. Not only that but the unit has an energy-efficient motor that lets you plug into a generator, making it an ideal choice for field work as well.

Getting so much power from a welder that weighs just 22 pounds is remarkable, which is why we highly recommend this unit to anyone, from beginners to professionals.

What we liked

  • Durable construction
  • High voltage capacity
  • Shield gas or flux-core welding
  • Easy carry handle for convenience
  • Digital display for precision control
  • Hinged door for easy access to wire feeder
  • Lightweight model is only 22 pounds
  • Adjustable voltage settings
  • Customizable wire speed
  • Operates between 160-270 volts
  • Thermal overheating protection
  • Auto shutoff fan
  • Energy-efficient design

What we didn't like

  • Not designed for aluminum welding

9. 2017 Everlast PowerMIG 200 200amp MIG stick welder

If you liked the capability of the Everlast 140, then you will love what the 200 model has to offer. This model is another compact and portable design, but it has more power so that you can do a wider range of welding jobs without any issues. Another reason that we like this device is that it generates less of a spatter arc, meaning that you don’t have to spend as much time on cleanup as with other units.

When it comes to customization, this welder has everything you need to get the control and precision you deserve. First of all, it enables you to do both gas and flux-core welding, so you can save time and money if necessary. Secondly, it has a dual-voltage design, providing better power efficiency and reliability. You can go from 110-220 volts, making it ideal for most metals, including aluminum. That being said, you do have to buy an aluminum spool separately, so keep that in mind.

As with all Everlast welders, you get a few additional features that give you extra safety. It has a thermal overload warning, so you don’t damage the machine, and it comes with a plastic cover for the controls to prevent accidental bumping.

Digital displays show you your voltage settings as well as your wire speed. This enables you to get better precision and accuracy while working. Also, the analog knobs ensure that you don’t overshoot and wind up with too much power or speed. Overall, this welder is ideal for both beginners and professionals and will make your next project go smoothly. 

What we liked

  • Durable construction
  • Dual-voltage design
  • Low spatter arc for less cleanup
  • Gas and flux-core welding
  • Capable of doing stick welding
  • Control cover prevents accidents
  • Adjustable voltage and wire speed
  • Digital displays for precision and control
  • Easy carry handle for convenience
  • Thermal overload warning
  • Operates between 110-220 volts
  • Lightweight design is only 35 pounds

What we didn't like

  • Pricier than other models in its class

10. Forney 29901 125 FC MIG Welder

Our final model is another portable welder from Forney. This is similar to the flux-core welder above, although this one specializes in gas welding instead. Also, it’s a full set of accessories to help you get started. As such, this model is perfect for beginners who don’t have all of the necessary gear to start working on their next project.

As far as performance goes, this welder is designed for small jobs and fast operation. It has a 120-volt capacity, and it allows you to adjust the wire speed settings as you see fit. It comes with a thermal overload warning for safety, and it’s relatively lightweight at 35 pounds. Unless you’re a professional who needs a high-powered welder, this model will work for most of your needs.

What we liked

  • Portable and compact design
  • Built for DIY enthusiasts
  • Adjustable wire speed
  • Thermal overload warning
  • Cost-effective design
  • 120-volt capacity
  • Startup kit included

What we didn't like

  • Gas welding only
  • Not designed for big jobs

Video Credit: Myboxoftools

Final Verdict 

Since there are so many fantastic welders on this list, we can’t pick just one to recommend. Thus, we’re going to offer two suggestions based on your potential needs.

For the professional who needs power and reliability, you can’t really go wrong with the Hobart Iron man. Although it’s expensive and bulky, it’s built to handle almost any welding job, so it’s more of an investment than anything. 

If you’re just a hobbyist or you don’t weld as often, then the Mig Welder Inverter from Hitbox is your best bet. It’s compact design and energy-efficient motor allow you to work almost anywhere, and it has a professional-grade range without the exorbitant price tag.

Sean J. Stone
 

Sean has been a woodworking enthusiast for 8 years, and in that time has written huge resources on woodworking and tools.

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