Best MIG Welders 2020
One of the most common tools found in metalworking workshops is a Metal Inert Gas (MIG) welders. These are also known as Gas Metal Arc Welders (GMAW) and are the go-to tool of any serious welder. There are also other welding tool options such as Tungsten Inert Gas (TIG) also known as gas tungsten arc welding or stick welders but at Wonkee Donkee we much prefer MIG welders. The main reason for this is the efficiency that you get from MIG Welders when you are fusing a range of different types of metal together. It is also a relatively safe and easy way to complete welding tasks which means that regardless of whether you are an experienced welder or not it is worth considering a MIG welder.
If you get yourself a MIG welder and you do not pick up the skills so easily then you really do not need to worry. There are extended guides, videos and MIG welder customer reviews which can help you along the way. At Wonkee Donkee we have tested out all of the best MIG welders available on the market and created this great MIG welder buying guide just for you. Our goal is to do all the hard work so that you can make the correct decision easily, making sure you get the best MIG welder for you.
Hobart 500559 Handler 140 MIG Welder
If you are looking for a company that has been creating high-quality welding equipment for over 100 hundred years then you really cannot look any further than Hobart. The American based company has invented, innovated and produced some of the best welding tools which means that you know you are buying quality. Since the introduction of MIG welders, Hobart has become known for their ease of use with the Handler 140 model being a great MIG welder for beginners to start out. It is simple to use to weld both steel and aluminium using the 140amp motor running off 115 volts which means it can run off a standard household socket.
In addition, the Hobart Handler 140 comes includes a flux core wire within the cost. This allows you to weld 24 gauge steel to a thickness of up to ¼ inch. It is also easy to carry and move around weighing only 57 pounds which is great for a beginner who only needs a MIG welder for certain tasks in projects and can be easily stored between uses. One drawback of this Hobart MIG welder is the duty cycle of 20% at 90 amps. This means that are using the welder for two minutes for best performance it will need to be rested for eight minutes which is relatively high in comparison to other MIG welders we have tested.
At Wonkee Donkee we have a real affinity to Hobart products, quite simply because you just know that you are going to get high-quality whenever you purchase one. If you are a beginner looking for your first MIG welder then simply look no more. The Hobart 140 is so simple to use, extremely portable and can carry out a range of simple tasks. The ease at which you can learn to safely weld steel and aluminium is amazing and can really help you get the hang of including welding components in your projects.
The inclusion of a Flux core wire is also a nice addition as you become more comfortable using the tool allowing you to experiment with more technical work. The duty cycle is a bit of a pain and requires patience but with how affordable the Hobart 140 MIG welder is that one drawback is definitely not a deal-breaker.
Miller Electric Millermatic 211 MIG Welder
Miller is another well known American welding tools manufacturer that is known for creating great quality welding equipment. So it comes as no surprise to us that the Miller Electric Millermatic 211 MIG Welder is easily one of if not the best MIG welder included in this review. One thing we must note early on is that although this tool is incredible, it does come at a price with this Miller model being one of the most expensive in our list. The first feature that stands out about the Miller Electric MIG welder is its weight of only 50 pounds which makes it one of the lightest welders included within our review. This lightweight characteristic combined with comfortable handles makes this model an extremely portable welder which is so easy to store away when not in use.
Secondly, Miller has included a dual-voltage which allows you to easily switch the MIG welder to work at different input powers depending on what you have available. The convenience of being able to operate the MIG welder at both the standard household power output of 120 volts as well as the higher 240 volts from higher-powered sockets. This power means that you can weld mild steel and stainless steel up to a thickness of ⅜ inches. The Millermatic can also weld aluminium with the aid of a spool gun also up to a thickness of ⅜ inches from 18 gauges. This Millermatic MIG welder also boasts a high duty cycle depending on the input power you are operating at. When using the lower input power of 120 volts this welder will run at 115amps for a 20% duty cycle (meaning an 8 minute rest is needed after 2 minutes use). At the higher input power of 240 volts, this welder will run at 150amps for a 40% duty cycle (meaning a 6 minute rest is needed after 4 minutes use).
As soon as the Millermatic MIG welder arrived we were excited to test it out. The thing that strikes you first is just how lightweight it really is which just makes it so convenient to move around. We also like the dual voltage power with the performance of this Miller at the higher 240V power input simply incredible easily welding stainless and mild steel. The added benefit of welding aluminium with a spool gun is also decent too.
If you are a professional or a welding novice then you should at least consider the Miller Electric Millermatic 211 MIG Welder as it is just simply that good. However, with high-quality normally comes high prices and this Miller model is definitely not one of the most affordable MIG welders in our review.
Goplus MIG Welder 130
If you are looking for the cheapest tool included in our best MIG welder review then you will find it in the GoPlus 130 MIG welder. In terms of value for money, it is difficult to compare any other MIG welder against it because it is literally so affordable. Although you do get a good MIG welder in comparison to the money you have to separate with this power tool is most suitable to beginners or hobbyists that only need to complete small tasks. If you are a professional after a heavy-duty MIG welder then we suggest you look elsewhere.
The Goplus allows you to weld iron and steel up to ¼ inch thick which for small projects is more than enough. It is also well designed to be compact and is very low weight, at just 35 pounds. You can get started straight away too with the inclusion of a Flux core wire which is accompanied by four different levels of current flow which can easily be adjusted and ten levels of wire speed. When looking at the duty cycle of the GoPlus 130 model it is what you would expect for such an affordable MIG welder which runs at 110 volts (compatible with household power sockets). When operating at 80amps you will have a duty cycle of 10% (meaning a 9 minute rest after 1 minute use). At the higher operating power of 105amps, this increases up to 15% (meaning an 8.5 minute rest after 1.5 minutes use).
If you are after a complete MIG welders beginner kit for a reasonable price then you don’t need to look any further than the GoPlus 130 MIG welder. Although it is definitely not one of the most powerful welders included in our review it can do all the basic tasks needed by an inexperienced metalworker or a keen hobbyist. It is the cheapest MIG welder worth buying on the market, and will certainly not disappoint you.
If you just want to try out MIG welding, it is so easy to use that you will be up and running in no time. As we mentioned at Wonkee Donkee we really like this MIG welder and it is a great starter tool. However, for professionals or more experienced MIG welders, the GoPlus 130 will probably be too basic and a more expensive and powerful option would be better.
Lincoln Electric Handy K2185-1 MIG Welder
Another tool manufacturer known for its high-quality welding equipment is Lincoln Electric. Founded back in 1895 the company have released some of the best welders available on the market today. The Handy K2185-1 MIG Welder is another great power tool from Lincoln at an extremely affordable price it is definitely worth a consideration. It is also a relatively lightweight tool at only 46 pounds which makes it easy to move around if you have limited space in your workshop.
Fitting within Lincoln’s brand reputation the Handy K2185-1 is durable and extremely reliable, providing you with consistent high-quality welding performance even when used daily. This MIG welder provides you with the ability to weld mild steel between a thickness of 24 gauge and ⅛ inches. The input power required is only 115 volts which will easily run off a normal household socket. For this low power requirement, the Lincoln Handy has a good duty cycle of 20% at 70amps (meaning an 8 minute rest after a 2 minute use). In addition to four different output power settings which can be easily dialled into by the user. There is also an intelligent cooling system that reduces the risk of the motor overheating using a fan mechanism.
If you are an experienced welder who values durability and reliability more than extra power then the Lincoln Electric Handy K2185-1 MIG Welder might just be the right tool for you. Lincoln welding tools are well known for their excellent durability with every welder we have spoken to who has picked up the Handy model having minimal complaints.
The one minor drawback is the lack of power in comparison to more expensive models. But how effective this Lincoln welder is, especially on a daily basis without compromise on results really makes it difficult to overlook. At Wonkee Donkee we love durable tools so we were always bound to have a soft spot for this Lincoln welder.
Hobart Handler 210 MVP
As we mentioned in the first review of this best MIG welders list, Hobart is a well-known manufacturer in top of the range welding equipment. So it is no surprise that the brand Hobart take up 3 places in our top 10 list. In comparison to the Hobart 500559 Handler, this 120 MVP model is much more powerful and heavier. With additional features such as several different power outputs and dual voltage options, the price tag of this model does increase. However, you can’t say that you are not getting bang for your buck.
The MVP model can weld steel, stainless steel and aluminium from 24 gauge right up to ⅜ inches in thickness. It also comes with a spool hub which is capable of handling both 4 and 8 inch reels. The dual power input puts you in control of whether you use this Hobart MIG welder at either 115volts or 230volts with an easy switch. This increases the duty cycle from 20% at 90amps (meaning an 8 minute rest after 2 minutes use) to 30% at 150 amps (meaning a 7 minute rest after 3 minutes use).
This is definitely a more premium MIG welder than the Hobart Handler 500559, but that does not mean that it is not a great tool for beginners and professionals. At Wonkee Donkee we see this as an upgraded version which is still as easy to use whether you are a novice or an expert it just has some extra features which you can really benefit from. The extra power is the most obvious with the dual voltage power input settings providing you with more control of the overall power of the welder.
It also has relatively high duty cycles which means you can get more done with this MIG welder without having to wait around as much. One thing at Wonkee Donkee that we were not a big fan of with the Hobart MVP welder was the weight of the tool. At 87.5 pounds it is nearly double the weight of other MIG welding tools, making it nowhere near as portable. Saying that we think overall it is a great premium MIG welder alternative to the Hobart Handler 500559 whether you have used a welder before or not.
If you are new to welding then you may not have heard of the California based company called LOTOS who have been producing welding tools since back in 2007. But do not fear the (relatively) newcomer as their MIG175 model has earned its place in our top 10 MIG welder review. If you are after an all-round versatile tool with a mid-range price tag and some added extras then this LOTOS MIG welder is definitely worth considering. It is easy to set up and you can be welding as quickly as a couple of minutes (providing you have a 240v outlet available).
Arguably the most impressive feature of the LOTOS MIG175 is its duty cycle. Allowing you a 20% cycle when operating at 175amps (meaning an 8 minute rest after 2 minutes of use) or a 30% cycle when operating at 135amps (meaning a 7 minute rest after 3 minutes of use). This power output allows you to weld steel and stainless steel between 18 gauge and ¼ inches as well as aluminium up to ⅛ inches in thickness. It also comes with safety features such as thermal overload protection in addition to easy to adjust heat and wire speeds features providing you more control when operating. As we previously mentioned the LOTOS only operates at the higher input power of 240v which can be an inconvenience if you do not have one available. It also weighs 85 pounds which means it is no small MIG welder.
At Wonkee Donkee we always like new manufacturers coming out with power tools as they sometimes create a really special tool which has added features and innovations not included by industry leaders. Although LOTOS is a relatively new on the block their welding tools are really beginning to compete with the big hitters in the industry. What we love about the MIG175 model is its completeness as a welder. All-round it is just a great welding tool with an impressive duty cycle, thermal overload protection, ease of operation and ability to weld steel, stainless steel and aluminium.
However, there are a couple of things that stopped us falling completely in love with the MIG175 welder at Wonkee Donkee. The single higher power input requirement can be a pain if you only have household sockets and the weight of 85 pounds makes it slightly bulky in comparison to other MIG welders available on the market. Saying that, if this model is a bit too powerful for you or more high-spec than you think you need, then we suggest you take a look at the MIG140 option from LOTOS. It is very similar to the MIG175 model but with a little less power and less fancy bits which might make it more suitable to beginners.
Forney 309 140
Another familiar name in the welding tools industry is Forney who is again an American based company who have been manufacturing since 1932. Their latest model the Forney 309 140 makes our best MIG welder review due to its incredible combination of versatility and affordability. Its flux core has the ability to weld up to ¼ inches of mild steel, stainless steel, cast iron and aluminium and is compatible with both 4 and 8 inch wire spools. It also tackles the issue of reducing the possibility of wires tangling using its cast aluminium wire feeding system.
The duty cycle is also good with the Forney 309 140 with a 20% duty cycle at 115 amps (meaning an 8 minute rest between each 2 minute use) or a 35% duty cycle at 90 amps (meaning a 6.5 minute rest between each 3.5 minute use). The input power of the model is the standard 115 volts which makes it compatible with regular household sockets. Finally, the Forney 309 140 weighs around 56 pounds which is standard for a welder of this size.
There is something about a tough as old boots no-nonsense tool that you cannot beat. At Wonkee Donkee we were amazed at how versatile the Forney 309 140 is at welding a range of materials including steel, stainless steel, aluminium and even cast iron. Back this up with its heavy-duty cycle it really is a great tool if you are the type who just likes to get the job done. To add to this one clever design feature that we really liked is the cast aluminium wire feeding system which reduces the likelihood of the wire tangling as it feeds through.
It is difficult to recommend a better MIG welder for household use than the Forney 309 140 so if that’s what you are after then definitely take a look. One thing we will say is that for heavy-duty professional use, this might not be the right tool for you. But, as long as you are not intending to overuse this MIG welder you really cannot go wrong.
LONGEVITY Migweld 140
Another relatively new company to the industry of manufacturing welding tools is LONGEVITY. Since their establishment in 2001, they have been producing and innovating MIG welders to compete against the so-called big boys on the market. The LONGEVITY Migweld 140 certainly does that too, earning its place on our list of top 10 best MIG welders. Unlike the other welders that have made our list this model is made and produced in China. This is not necessarily a negative as it leads to a cheaper and more affordable MIG welder without any sacrifice of power of quality. One drawback of it being built in China is that it does not include a gas cylinder which means you will need to purchase one separately. Once you get a cylinder it is really straightforward to set up and you’ll be welding in no time.
In terms of performance the LONGEVITY Migweld 140 can weld 24 gauge to ¼ inches of steel and has a range of 10 different voltage setting you can select from your standard socket with its input power of 110volts. It also operates thermal overload protection which is a great safety feature. The Migweld 140 is also compatible with a Flux core although this needs to be purchased separately. The duty cycle is what you would expect from a MIG welder like this offering a 20% duty cycle when running at 90 amps (meaning an 8 minute rest after 2 minutes use). The weight of this MIG welder is also similar to comparable models on the market such as the Handler 140 and Forney 309 140 coming in at 54 pounds.
At Wonkee Donkee we were slightly sceptical when we first received the LONGEVITY Migweld 140 and in honesty, it is pretty much what we expected. Don’t get us wrong, it is a good solid MIG welder and cheaper than comparable models on the market. It is also easy to set up, compatible with a flux core, includes a range of voltage settings and safety features like the thermal overload protection.
However, for us, convenience is massive when purchasing power tools. Let’s face it no one wants to wait around for that extra part to come before they can use their new toy. The lack of gas cylinder and flux core being sold separately left us a bit disappointed with this model as the money you save buying it as a more affordable option misrepresents the overall cost. If you want a good solid MIG welder and maybe want to try something new then you won’t be disappointed with the LONGEVITY Migweld 140 just remember to get all the extras.
The fact that this is the third relatively new company that has a MIG welder in our top 10 review shows how competitive the market is. Everlast began manufacturing welding equipment in 2004 and their latest model the i-mig140e is by far their best yet. Everlast has combined a simple design to make this MIG welder perfect for beginners and professionals. Don’t be fooled into thinking that the simple design means that it is a simple tool. The i-mig140e easily has one of the best duty cycles of any of the welders we have tested and loads of personal customisation to suit your needs. It is also the lightest MIG welder we have reviewed at an amazing 28 pounds, you cannot get a more portable model for that.
In terms of performance, there is a dual input power of 120 volts and 110 volts which both run off a standard household socket. This Everlast model then provides you with complete control over the voltage level with an infinite amount of settings. You can also easily adjust the wire speed to your preference again improving the customisation. In terms of the materials that this model can weld you have mild steel, stainless steel and chrome-oly up to 3/16 inches of thickness. You can also use both 4 inch and 8 inch spools depending on the task at hand.
It is hard for us at Wonkee Donkee not to get too excited about the Everlast i-mig140e. For such a lightweight tool (the lightest in our top 10 MIG welders list) the power output is incredible. Not only that it boasts one of the best duty cycles of any welder included in our review, which means a lot less waiting around which is important if you don’t always have a lot of spare time.
At Wonkee Donkee a tool that does well as allowing the operator to customise the tool to their preferences always gets a massive thumbs up from us, and the Everlast i-mig140e does just that. What we will admit to is that although this welder is arguably one of the best on the market, its price tag clearly reflects that. If you are serious about MIG welding and need a great lightweight tool for your personal or professional projects then we promise that you cannot go wrong. If however, you are on a tighter budget and you are unlikely to use a MIG welder regularly then a more affordable option might be more suitable.
Hobart 500536 Ironman
The final Hobart MIG welder included within our list is not like any of the welders we have reviewed so far. It is not only the ironman by name but also by nature. It has the most power and the best duty cycle of any MIG welder available. All of this firepower does, however, mean that it is a bulky welder weighing in at a huge 224 pounds. Not suitable for anyone who needs to weld on the go. You will also have to part with a more significant amount of money to get this super heavy-duty tool too.
Let’s talk about performance. The Hobart 500536 Ironman can weld steel from a thickness of 24 gauge through to up to ½ and inch. It makes light work of welding steel, stainless steel and aluminium also having the capability of a flux core. It also helps regulate its own heat with a fan-on-demand mechanism which cools the power tool in cases where it overheats. The duty cycle is, wait for it, an enormous 60% when operating at 175amps (meaning a 4 minute rest is needed after 6 minutes use). This is simply unrivalled by any other MIG welder available. With this astounding amount of power, it is no surprise that the input power is 230 volts, meaning a household socket insufficient. This power can be customised too with 12 different voltage power settings and an infinite amount of adjustments available for the wire speed.
We are not going to lie, at Wonkee Donkee we were like a kid at Christmas waiting for the Hobart 500536 Ironman MIG welder to arrive. Let’s just say we were not disappointed at all. The power of this welder matched with such an efficient duty cycle makes it easily the best heavy-duty MIG welder available on the market. It also includes a load of different customisation settings too which we found really enhanced the user experience. It is simply a ridiculously high-quality heavy-duty MIG welder which is the dream for any professionals who need an Ironman in their day to day work.
The drawbacks are obvious with this model pretty much being a static machine which you will probably need to sacrifice a decent amount of your workspace to accommodate. The weight makes it difficult to carry so for your own safety keeping it in one place if you can is advised. In addition, as effective as the Ironman is when it comes to a heavy-duty MIG welder you do pay for it financially. We would only recommend this option to serious welders who have the space, money and the need for.
MIG Welders - Buying Guide
Before you purchase a MIG Welder there is a range of different things that you need to consider in order to buy the best MIG welder for you. As with all of the tools we provide guides and reviews on at Wonkee Donkee, the first consideration that you need to make is what the tasks are that you need the tool to complete. In regards to MIG welders, then you need to make sure that what you need to do is possible. Unfortunately, if you are looking to weld metals with a thickness of more than half an inch then a MIG welder is probably not the right tool for you. However, if you only need a MIG welder in order to fuse together metals thinner then half an inch then the rest of this buying guide will help you choose the best MIG welder for you.
If you are inexperienced with using a MIG welder tool then you will probably be amazed at the number of different things that you can do and the projects that you can complete just using a MIG welder. It is a great tool to have handy in your workshop and with how easy it is to assemble and use makes it so convenient especially if you only need it for small tasks within a larger project. The MIG welder is also such an easy to operate tool that you can pick it up and learn relatively quickly how to operate it allowing you to complete more complex welding tasks in no time!
In the next sections, we will look at in detail what you need to consider before you buy a MIG welder. This guide has been put together by our great team of Wonkee Donkee working with our regular customers who are experienced welders. The purpose of this MIG welder buying guide is to provide you with everything you need to know in order to make the right decision. If you think we have missed anything out then get in contact with us at Wonkee Donkee and we will look at it for you!
When researching the best MIG welder to buy, you will come across the term input power on every model available on the market. The input power is basic to understand and it is simply the amount of power that the MIG welder works at. MIG welders that work at an input power of 110-140 volts will run off household standard plug outlets. Higher input power requirements such as 220volts can be switched between the two, providing more power and higher quality operation at the higher setting. This may need a new outlet completely but if you are using your MIG welder regularly then there is no reason not to do this.
At Wonkee Donkee our recommendation is that if you are after an easy to use MIG welder for small parts in projects then a lower power input will be a lot more convenient whilst also being more than capable at completing whatever task you need to do. In contrast, if you are an experienced welder and use your MIG welder regularly then the higher input power can give you that extra assistance in completing your projects to the highest standard.
The duty cycle is another common term you will come across when you are diving into the specifications of MIG welders and it refers to the efficiency of the machine. To first explain this we will give you what the technical meaning is and then simplify it so that anyone can understand. A MIG welders duty cycle is the amount of time that you can operate the power tool for before a cooling period is required. It is important that the duty cycle is adhered to for the majority of the time as this helps prolong the overall lifespan of the tool.
It is common to see the duty cycle of a MIG welder to be referred to in terms of percentages which may seem confusing but it is actually pretty simple when you delve down into it. If a MIG welder states that it has a ‘20% duty cycle at 90amps’, this means that if you operate a welder for 2 minutes then you should let it rest for 8 minutes before using it again. This is due to 20% of 10 minutes being 2 minutes (the operating time) and 80% of 10 being 8 minutes (the rest time). Another example may be a ‘35% duty cycle when operating at 135amps’.
If we look at this again using the industry standard of 10 minute increments then you can operate the MIG welder for 3 minutes and 30 seconds before resting it for 6 minutes and 30 seconds. You may notice that the amps that MIG welders operate at when talking about duty cycle alter within models. This is because MIG welders typically have adjustable dials which can be turned to change the amps that the tool is working at.
As for most power tools you need to consider the weight when making your purchase choice. MIG welders are no exception and although on average they tend to weigh around 50 pounds, models vary a lot with some weighing less and others weighing a lot more. The importance of the weight of your MIG welder goes hand in hand with your physical capability. If you have no issues with your physical health then a heavy MIG welder may not be a hindrance to you.
However, if you do or may do in the future then you may want to consider a lighter MIG welder option or alternatively purchase another tool such as a stacker truck or wheeled cart to help move your MIG welder. Unfortunately, we cannot make a recommendation as to what weight MIG welder is best as lightweight options lack extra features which heavier models really benefit from so it really is a personal decision for you based on your capabilities.
Thermal Overload Protection
Safety is of the utmost importance when you are operating a MIG welder for both yourself and whoever is in the surrounding areas. At Wonkee Donkee we cannot stress the importance of always wearing a welding helmet and a welding mask as well as gloves when using a MIG welder. To aid in improving the safety of the user some MIG welders come with thermal overload protection. These are common features among high powered tools in the industry and are a really beneficial feature to help reduce the risk of injury to the user as well as protect your power tool from damage.
The way that thermal overload protection works is by constantly monitoring the temperature of the motor and cutting off power if it overheats. This can be caused by an accidental covering of the motor fan, overuse or a technical fault. Thermal overload protection is great for stopping accidental damage to your power tool whilst also preventing the possibility of an overheating motor causing injury to the operator. Some examples of MIG welders that use this technology are the LOTOS MIG175 175Amp and the LONGEVITY Mig-weld 140.
Other MIG welders use different mechanisms in order to prevent overheating. Examples of these are the Lincoln Electric K2185-1 Handy which uses a cooling fan to reduce the motor temperature and the Hobart 500536 Ironman which has an automatic fan that turns on if needed when in operation. The overall benefits of having a MIG welder fan that uses thermal control technology is the reduced risk of injury to the user or damage to the tool which may lead to an extended cooling-off period or possibly even having to buy a new machine.
MIG Welders - FAQ's
What is a MIG welder?
A MIG welder is the short name used for a Metal Inert Gas welder and are one of the most widely used methods in order to weld metals together. The reason that MIG welders are so popular is that they are reasonably affordable, quick and really easy to use. All MIG welders come with guides on how to use and following these can have you using a MIG welder safely and effectively in as little as one hour. MIG welders are operated by a trigger which is held down. This action leads to a metal wire being continuously fed out along with shielding gas. When these two factors are combined with metal it leads to melting which fuses two different pieces of metal together.
Can any metal be welded?
This again isn’t the easiest question to answer as it really depends on which MIG welder model that you are using. To make it a little easier for you at Wonkee Donkee we have made a list of all the metals that all of the models included in our best MIG welder guide can weld: stainless steel, aluminium and mild steel. Some of the more premium MIG welders that we have reviewed can also weld more materials such as cast iron, iron and in some cases a few metal alloys.
What thickness of metal can a MIG welder weld?
When buying a MIG welder it is important to research their limitations as well as their benefits. One limitation of MIG welders is that they can only weld metals up to a certain thickness. Typically, MIG welders cannot weld any materials that are thicker than half an inch. The standard capability of MIG welders is welding materials from 24-18 gauge (0.0239-0.0478 inches) up to around half an inch. If you are looking for a welder tool to handle thicker metals than a stick welder would be a much more suitable tool.
How do you set up a metal Inert Gas Welder?
How you set up your MIG welder is dependant on the specific model that you have. However, most MIG welders do not vary that much in their setup process. In this section, we give a basic setup of a MIG welder which is pretty standardised across most models available. At Wonkee Donkee we advise you to read and follow the instructions on your specific MIG welder in order to set it up safely.
The first thing that you need to do when you are looking at preparing an area for using a MIG welder or any other welder is to ensure that you have a fume extractor and place it directly above the working area. The second step is important for your own safety and should be done before any welding takes place every time. This step is attaching the ground clamp to a piece of metal to avoid the possibility of getting shocked. Following this step, adjust the screw on the gas cylinder so that it is loose. You then need to open the cylinder by turning the handwheel on the top. As you are doing this you should be monitoring the gas pressure gauge to ensure that you alter it to the correct pressure. Finally, turn the adjusting screw until the gauge displays 10 to 15 Cubic Feet per Hour (CPH).
That is a basic guide on how to set up a MIG welder and it is universal across all models available on the market. Again, we must mention that models do vary slightly so you should always read the manual of your specific MIG welder model and follow the instructions to ensure that it is set up correctly. Another key aspect of setting up your MIG welder is finding out the correct settings to set the welder to. All MIG welder models have accompanying charts that provide the information on what the best settings are for use.
This also varies between models as well as varying between the materials and their thickness. When looking to weld metal it is important that you take all this into account and set your MIG welder up in preparation for that specific task. This is important as different metals require different wire speeds and operating voltages. Using the welding chart to get the right settings will ensure that you get the cleanest weld to help your project look professional.
What metals can you use a MIG welder to weld?
We don’t mean to keep going on about it at Wonkee Donkee as we do love MIG welders. However, their main limitation is that they can only weld metals up to a thickness of half an inch. For some MIG welders, half an inch is also a difficult task so unless you are purchasing a premium MIG welder such as the Hobart 500536 Ironman it would be more accurate to say that the max capacity of most MIG welders is about ⅜ of an inch.
Due to the MIG welder only being effective for smaller welding tasks it makes it excel in environments such as garages where it can be used for small jobs such as welding repairs on motorcycles, cars or any other type of vehicles. You will also see MIG welders widely used in construction, mainly due to how easy and quick they are to use allowing for tasks to be completed efficiently to help the project move along. Finally, mass production is another industry where the MIG welder dominates as the favoured welding tool.
Are all MIG welders compatible with Flux core wiring?
The typical way that MIG welders work is through combining metal wire, shielding gas and heat in order to seal two or more pieces of metal together. This is an effective method and creates a strong weld between the materials. However, if you regularly use your MIG welder then after a while gas can become costly. Another issue is that it reduces the portability of the MIG welder as gas canisters are typically heavy and not easy to transport. An alternative to using gas is Flux core welding. If you have never heard of this before then do not worry it is relatively simple to understand.
Unfortunately, not all of the MIG welders included in our best MIG welders review are compatible with Flux core wiring. But, choosing one of the MIG welders that do means that you can have a very portable MIG welder as you do not need to carry a clunky gas canister with you every time you need to use it. Another advantage of using Flux core wiring is that it is much more practical when working in outside conditions (gas-powered MIG welders generally struggle when exposed to the elements). The final advantage of Flux core wiring is the power boost that it offers. This can be invaluable when working on a project where your MIG welder cannot generate the amount of power required.
How hard is it to use a MIG welder?
If you do have experience in welding then you will know that one of the greatest advantages of a MIG welder is the speed at which it allows you to weld materials together. In comparison to TIG welding or stick welding, the speed is unmatched as both of these tools and processes take extra time in order to seal materials. The ability to complete welding tasks quickly is great for the amateur who has small welding jobs to complete in their projects as it does not take up large amounts of time which can make a difference when free time is limited. In addition, it is also a major benefit to professional welders who can increase the efficiency of their work output and spend less time on projects with the same great results. This is demonstrated in the fact that MIG welders are used in most mass production of products with metal components.
The simplicity of MIG welding in comparison to other welding options is another major positive, especially for inexperienced welders. Most welders learn how to weld metal by starting off with a MIG welder due to its speed, easy setup and simple operation. Firstly, the MIG welder includes almost everything you need for any welding task in one product. It is important to see what added extras certain MIG welders include as this may save you money and time in the long run. For such a powerful tool a MIG welder typically takes less than half an hour to set up, which makes it much more convenient than other welding options. The MIG welder is also very easy to operate safely too regardless of your ability which is massively important with such a potentially dangerous tool. It is also really easy to pick up with most MIG welders including how to use guides which can be easily followed. When we tried out different MIG welders we could not believe how easy it is to get the hang of welding and after maybe an hour we were reasonably confident welding materials together.
MIG Welder Guide Conclusion
The main brilliance of MIG welders is that the level of experience you have is irrelevant. If you are a complete novice to welding then the MIG welder is a perfect starting tool which allows you to learn the basics safely and easily by following the model’s manual guides. Alternatively, if you are an experienced welder then a MIG welder is also a great tool to have close to hand. The MIG welder is quick, affordable and easy to use which is why it is so often preferred over other welding machines such as stick welders.
The speed of setup is completely unmatched when compared to other welding options available on the market. The efficiency of the tool when in use is also a major benefit which is vital if you only need the MIG welder to complete small tasks as part of a larger project. All models also come with guidance charts that are specific to that particular MIG welder. These charts will give you the exact settings needed in order to achieve the best welding results possible. Another advantage of MIG welders is the wealth of information available on the internet about how to use a range of different models. This instantly available knowledge combined with the information you get from the manufacturer on purchase will have you including advanced welding as part of your projects in absolutely no time at all.
The main drawback of MIG welders is the limitation in the thickness of metal that it is able to weld. For this reason, we have to say at Wonkee Donkee that a MIG welder is not the complete welding tool for all your needs. Realistically MIG welders are effective at welding for materials up to ⅜ of an inch with one or two models able to work on materials that are ½ an inch. If you are looking for a welding tool to take on materials of a larger thickness than this then you should really consider TIG or stick welders.
As with all power tools that we review at Wonkee Donkee it is really important to do your own research before you make a purchase. In this guide to the best MIG welders available, we have covered what we believe to be the best products available on the market today. Choosing the best MIG welder is dependant on your own preferences, budget and capabilities.