Best MIG Welders Review – The Definitive Buyers Guide 2018

Best MIG welder review

Best MIG welder review

When I recently was looking for a new MIG welder, it was hard for me to decide which one to get. The market is huge, and a detailed comparison of all welding machines on the market takes so much time.

Thus, I created this MIG welder review list, in which I rank, rate and review the best MIG welders on the market. I hope this summary will save you time to find affordable products that are easy to use.

Of course, I put a lot of work into this huge list. And to be honest, I also get a little commision when you buy a MIG welder via my links on Amazon (but at no extra cost for you!).

Top MIG welder comparison chart

So let’s take a look at the best machines on the market.

Below you find a compact overview of all MIG welders I already reviewed on my site.

Image Product NameWeightPowerInput VoltageScore
Best value
Forney 140 A MIG Welder Review – Forney #309
Forney 309 MIG welder
57 lbs
30-140 A
Duty 115 A @ 20%
110 V
220 V
2 Miller 110V Welders – Millermatic 211 Review
Miller Millermatic 211
38 lbs
30-230 A
Duty 115 A @ 20%
110 V
220 V
Editor choice
3 Hobart Handler 190 MIG welder Review 2018
Hobart Handler 190
68 lbs
25-190 A
Duty 130 A @ 30%
110 V
220 V
Best seller
4 Hobart Handler 140 MIG Welder 115V Review
Hobart Handler 140 MIG Welder 115V
57 lbs
25-140 A
Duty 90 A @ 20%
110 V
220 V
5 Hobart IronMan 230 (500536) MIG Welder – Review 2018
Hobart IronMan 230
184 lbs
30-250 A
Duty 175 A @ 60%
110 V
220 V
Best price
6 Lincoln Electric K2185-1 Handy MIG – MIG Welder Review
Lincoln Electric K2185-1
49 lbs
35-88 A
Duty 70 A @ 20%
110 V
220 V
7 Longevity MIGweld 140 Review 2018
Longevity MIGweld 140
40 lbs
140 A
Duty 90 A @ 20%
110 V
220 V

If you like, you can use the navigation links below to navigate through the article quickly.

Table of contents

Best-selling easy MIG welder for beginners

Hobart Handler 140

Are you looking for one of the best-selling easy MIG welders for beginners on the market?

Some MIG welders are too complicated because they have too many control knobs and settings to adjust. As a beginner or occasional welder, you don’t want to change every little detail of the welding arc but just start welding.

The Hobart Handler 140 has an easy set-up process (2 knob control) that allows you to start welding in no time.

Moreover, the Handler 140 is a portable and versatile welding machine for professional and home use.

With a weight of 57 lbs, the Hobart Handler 140 has a medium weight but still allows the user to carry the device around.

Thanks to the industrial grade cast aluminum wire drive system you get a robust wire feed system, that works hand in hand with the heavy-duty grounding clamp.

On the downside, the Handler 140 is limited in power.

It provides 140 amps max and has a duty cycle of 20% @ 90 A. Thus, this machine is not suited for continuous high-power welding.

Another thing I’d like to mention is that you are limited to 110 V household power, meaning you can not operate this machine on 220 V.

Handler 140 Quick Specification

  • Input Voltage: 110 V
  • Output Power: 20% @ 90 A, 25-140 A
  • Weight: 57 lbs
  • Welding Mode: MIG & flux-cored
  • Max. metal sheet thickness: 1/4″

Pros and Cons List

PROS:
  • Simple machine setup process (2 knob control)
  • Easy operation on 110 V household power
  • Included thermal overload protection
  • Capable of MIG and flux-cored arc welding
  • Cast aluminum wire drive wheel

CONS:
  • Limited to 110 V input power
  • Limited in power (140 amps max. / duty cycle 20% @ 90 A)

To sum it up, the Hobart Handler 140 is good, when you are a beginner or intermediate welder that does small repair or manufacturing projects that don’t need too much power. In my opinion, the Hobart Handler is the best MIG welding machine for beginners with an excellent price/performance ratio.

Hobart 500559 Handler 140 MIG Welder 115V

3 used from $489.99
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Last price update as of November 7, 2018 2:15 pm PST More Information
$499.99
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Best 110V MIG welder

Forney 309 (140 MIG)

Are you looking for a mid amp range MIG welder that runs off of 110 V household power?

The Forney 309 is a 110 V MIG welder is ideal for DIY, metal fabrication, automotive repair, farm & ranch projects and general maintenance & repair jobs.

Weld steel, stainless steel, aluminum and cast iron up to a thickness of 1/4 inch.

The Forney 309 is capable of both, flux cored welding as well as MIG gas welding.

With a weight of 57 lbs, the Forney 140 MIG welder has a medium weight but is portable.

On the downside, the Forney 309 is limited in power, because it provides max. 140 amps and a duty cycle of 20% @ 115 A. Thus, for large projects with continuous high power welding and sheet thicknesses above 1/4″ you will need a welder with more power.

Special hint: Additional product rebates are available at Forneyind.com/greenback.

Forney 309 Quick Specification

  • Input Voltage: 110 V
  • Output Power: 20% @ 115 A, 30-140 A
  • Weight: 57 lbs
  • Welding Mode: MIG & flux-cored
  • Max. metal sheet thickness: 1/4″

Pros and Cons List

PROS:
  • 110 V operation: plugs into a standard 110 V wall outlet
  • Easy operation (2 knob control)
  • Durable wire drive system made of cast aluminum
  • Capable of MIG and flux-cored arc welding

CONS:
  • Limited to 110 V input power
  • Limited in power (140 amps max. / duty cycle 20% @ 115 A)

In summary, the Forney 309 is good, when you need a 110 V MIG welder for welding projects with a metal sheet thickness up to 1/4″.

It comes with a duty cycle (20% @ 115 A) that is higher than the duty cycles of the competing machines which are the Hobart Handler 140 (20% @ 90 A) and Longevity MIGweld 140 (20% @ 90 A)

Forney 309 140-Amp MIG Welder, 120-Volt

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Last price update as of November 7, 2018 2:15 pm PST More Information
$499.99
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Best 220V MIG welder

Hobart Handler 190

Are you looking for a high power 220 V (sometimes also rated with 230V or 240 V) MIG welder that will do the job for you?

The Hobart Handler 190 will probably come with more power than you will ever need. The Handler 190 is designed for light industrial performance. Thus it provides an output range of 25 amps up to 190 amps. The machine offers a duty cycle of 30% @  130 Amps. You will be able to weld metal sheets with 24 ga. up to 5/16 in. in single pass welding.

Hobart’s 5/3/1 warranty gives you a five-year warranty on the transformer, three years on the electronics and one year on your MIG gun. This means if any of these components fail within the defined period, you will get a replacement at no cost to you.

On the downside, the Handler 190 is not capable of 110 V input power. Moreover, it does not have an infinite voltage selector. Compared to other devices with less power, the Handler 190 has way more weight to carry around.

Handler 190 Quick Specification

  • Input Voltage: 220 V
  • Output Power: 30% @ 130 A, 25-190 A
  • Weight: 68 lbs
  • Welding Mode: MIG & flux-cored
  • Max. metal sheet thickness: 5/16″ (in single pass)

Pros and Cons List

PROS:
  • Made in the USA
  • Easy set up for beginner
  • Infinite wire feed speed control
  • Simple feed control with Spoolrunner 100 spool gun
  • Capable of MIG and flux-cored arc welding

CONS:
  • Limited to 220 V input power
  • Voltage selection is not infinite (7 preset settings)
  • Weight (68 lbs)

To sum it up, the Hobart Handler 190 is a portable high power 220 V MIG welding machine. Overall its a rugged device for professional and home use, construction, maintenance, and repair works that I can recommend.

Hobart 500554001 Handler 190 with SpoolRunner 100

3 used from $569.99
Free shipping
Last price update as of November 7, 2018 2:15 pm PST More Information
$759.99 $899.00
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Best cheap MIG welder for around $300

Longevity MIGweld 140

In case you are looking for a cheap MIG welder around $300, you should take a closer look at the Longevity MIGweld 140.

The Longevity MIGweld 140 is a very lightweight (40 lbs) thus a portable device that is good for occasional DIY and home use.

On the downside, with a duty cycle of 20% @ 90 A it is one of the least powerful 140 amps machines in our comparison. Weld steel up to a thickness of 3/8″.

MIGweld 140 Quick Specification

  • Input Voltage: 110 V
  • Output Power: 20% @ 90 A, up to 140 A
  • Weight: 40 lbs
  • Welding Mode: MIG & flux-cored
  • Max. metal sheet thickness: up to 3/8″

Pros and Cons List

PROS:
  • Attractive price!
  • Very low-weight device
  • 110 V operation: plugs into a standard 110 V wall outlet
  • Easy operation (2 knob control)
  • Capable of both, MIG and flux-cored arc welding

CONS:
  • Limited to 110 V input power
  • Limited in power (140 amps max. / duty cycle 20% @ 90 A)

LONGEVITY Migweld 140 - 140 Amp Mig Welder Capable Of Flux-Core And Aluminum Gas Shielded Welding 110v

1 used from $340.31
Last price update as of November 7, 2018 2:15 pm PST More Information
$379.99
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Best portable and lightweight MIG welder

Millermatic 211

Are you looking for a MIG welder that is portable and lightweight?

No matter if you are a homeowner, own an auto shop or are a maintenance specialist that needs to carry the welding machine around, there is nothing more annoying than a heavy, bulky device.

But no worries, the following MIG welder comes with a compact design, minimal weight and lots of power at the same time.

Thanks to the small size of 11.25 x 12.5 x 20.5 inches and the low weight of only 38 lbs, the Millermatic 211 is truly a portable and lightweight MIG welder. As you can see in the comparison table above, there is almost no other welding machine with such a low weight. Because of the small size and low weight, you can carry the Millermatic 211 around without any problems.

Moreover, the Millermatic 211 has dual-voltage capability (110 V and 220 V). Thus you can meet and work with your clients at the point of their need, independent of specific voltage levels. As a plus, this machine is capable of both, gas metal arc welding (GMAW) and flux cored arc welding (FCAW).

A very nice feature is Miller’s Auto-Set mode: Just set the material thickness and chose weld wire diameters on the turning knobs. With this feature, you can save time because you don’t have to try out different parameters.

With an amperage range up to 230 amps, this machine has a lot of power for thicker materials.

On the downside, the Millermatic 211 is quite expensive.

Millermatic 211 Quick Specification

  • Input Voltage: 110 V & 220 V
  • Output Power: 20% @ 115 A, 30-230 A
  • Weight: 38 lbs
  • Welding Mode: MIG & flux-cored
  • Max. metal sheet thickness: 18 ga. to 3/8″

Pros and Cons List

PROS:
  • Portability (11.25 x 12.5 x 20.5 inches)
  • Low weight (38 lbs)
  • High power (230 A max. / Duty 30 % @ 130 A)
  • Multi voltage capability (110 V & 220 V)
  • Capable of MIG and flux-cored arc welding
  • Millers Auto-Set mode

CONS:
  • Price

To sum it up, the Millermatic 211 is a portable, lightweight and versatile machine with lots of power. In my opinion – although quite expensive – this is the best portable and lightweight MIG welder you can get.

MIG Welder, 120/240VAC, 1 Phase

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Last price update as of November 7, 2018 2:15 pm PST More Information
$1,279.00
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Best MIG welder for under $500

Lincoln Electric K2185-1

The Lincoln Electric K2185-1 Handy MIG is an ideal device for you if you need an affordable, very lightweight and thus portable device for light-duty welding tasks.

Because of limitations in power and duty cycle, this not a welder that is suited for professional, industrial and heavy-duty weld-jobs. It is not recommended to weld metal sheets thicker than 1/8″ with the Lincoln Handy MIG.

Lincoln Electric K2185-1 Quick Specification

  • Input Voltage: 110
  • Output Power: 20% @ 70 A, 35-88 A
  • Weight: 49 lbs
  • Welding Mode: MIG & flux-cored
  • Max. metal sheet thickness: 24 ga. up to 1/8″

Pros and Cons List

PROS:
  • Portability
  • Low weight (49 lbs)
  • Capable of MIG and flux-cored arc welding

CONS:
  • Limited to 110 V input power
  • Low power

Lincoln Electric K2185-1 Handy MIG Welder

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Last price update as of November 7, 2018 2:15 pm PST More Information
$318.52
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Things to consider before selecting a MIG welder

1. GMAW or FCAW welding?

Do you need a welding machine that does only MIG welding (GMAW) or would you also like to do Flux Cored Arc Welding (FCAW)? Actually, most of the machines on the market are already capable of both welding methods.

2. Which input voltage do you provide for the machine?

Low end machines work with household power outlet of 110 V (115 V/120V). Machines with higher output voltage typically work with an input voltage of 220 V (225 V/230 V). Some multi-voltage power machines are capable of both input voltages.

3. How much output power do you need? What duty cycle is ok for you?

As a rule of thumb you can say, the higher the output power of the machine is, the higher its price will be.

The duty cycle is measured on a 10 minute scale. Now, if you have a machine with a duty cycle of 20% at 130 Amps this means you can weld 2 minutes at 130 amps. After that the machine needs to cool-down for 8 minutes before you can start your weld-cycle again.

4. Do you need to transport the machine often?

When you transport the machine a lot, you should consider to get a cart or a lightweight machine that you can carry on its handle. Also check the machines size. It could be to bulky for storage.

5. Price

Of course, your budget is also a critical factor you have to consider before buying a MIG welder.

6. Check the robustness and quality of the machine

I’d recommend you to stick with known quality brands like Hobart, Lincoln, Miller. A low quality welding machine is something no one needs.

Does the machine have a protection against overheating? Minimum option is an overheat indicator, best option is auto-cooling.

A cast aluminum wire drive system is also something many people recommend to have.

7. Usability

Is the machine you choose user friendly? If you are a beginner, is there any help to adjust the correct settings? If you are an expert, is it possible to adjust all the settings you want to?

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Video guide – How to pick your first MIG welder

Also check out this video guide where Kevin Caron explains what features are important when you choos your first MIG welder.

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The basics of MIG welding

What is MIG welding?

MIG welder

MIG welder fixing car

MIG welding is a subtype of Gas Metal Arc Welding (GMAW) process. Gas metal arc welding systems usually do have a wire feed system in place and active (MAG-welding) or shielding gas (MIG-welding) is placed on top of the weld area.

MIG stands for Metal Inert Gas. MIG welding is a welding process in which an electric arc forms between a wire electrode and the workpiece metal. A constant voltage power supply is used to generate the arc. This electric arc heats the metals and thus the parts are melted together. Together with the electrode which is being consumed during welding the inert gas exits the nozzle and avoids oxygen to enter the weld area.

Typical inert gases used for MIG welding are argon and helium. The type of shielding gas affects the behavior of the weld pool, penetration depth and the mechanical properties of the final weld joint. Overall, the MIG welding process provides solid weld results.

Initially, the MIG welding process was invented in the 1940s for welding aluminum and non-ferrous materials in WW2. Because of its advantages in speed, it was soon also applied to different types of steel.

Definition of welding

Welding is a process to merge two different parts. Merging is done by high heat and can be done in combination with force. Most of the times metals are being welded together, but it is also possible to weld plastics with appropriate equipment.

There are different well-known welding processes like MIG welding, MAG welding, TIG welding, electrode welding and oxyacetylene welding. In this article we focus primarily on the process of MIG welding.

MIG welding systems – typical applications

A MIG welder is excellent for your home DIY welding projects. Compared to other welding processes (like stick welding) MIG welding is a lot easier.

Start welding your car frame, boat deck, lawn equipment, car parts or trailer frames or garden fence.

Typical applications for welders

  • Car frame fixing
  • Boat deck repair
  • Machine maintenance
  • Garden fence construction
  • House repair
  • Prototype design in motorsports

MIG welding video

MIG welding – electric arc theory

At MIG welding you can make a distinction between the different types of welding arcs.

The three main transfer modes in GMAW are globular, short-circuiting, and spray. (Source: Wikipedia)

As the arc voltage increases, the metal drops increase in volume and the material transition becomes short-circuit-free. The temperature inside the electric arc is around 10000 – 15000 Fahrenheit (6000-8000°C).

Read also: How to MIG weld

Now, if the arc length during welding is too long, the arc breaks off after the material transition. As the current increases, the number of drops increases. At the same time, the volume of every single drop decreases.

A change in the wire feed also changes the length of the arc and thus the quality and shape of the seam and its penetration depth.

MIG welding safety recommendations

When using a welding machine, many hazards can be identified. First of all, when you use welding equipment, please ensure that your environment is adequately ventilated. We can not recommend using your welding equipment which is operated with gas in a closed room. Inhalation of weld fumes can lead to risky situations.

Protect yourself with good safety gear to avoid contact with of UV radiation, high current electricity and inhalation of weld fumes.

Also, you should make sure to cover your skin because welding produces high levels of UV radiation. Thus it is also essential to protect your eyes from burns with a good welding helmet or protective goggles. For a very efficient and comfortable work I can recommend auto-darkening welding helmets.

Moreover, spatter and liquid metal can drop onto your clothes so make sure to wear protective clothing.

Required accessories for welding

For welding with a MIG welder, it is, of course, necessary to purchase appropriate gas cylinders. Depending on the model, additional electrodes are also required.

Last update was on: November 7, 2018 2:15 pm

Image Credits: Pixabay

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