The first MIG welders were developed back at the turn of the 19th century. Today’s MIG welders have come a long way, and they use shielding gas to protect the weld. MIG welders are popular among DIYers and pros for home repairs, auto body work, hobby projects, and much more. They’re an excellent option for the home workshop, and there are even several portable MIG welders available that can be taken right to the job site.
The best MIG welder for the home, shop, or job site will have all the features you need for the projects you will be working on the most. Our team has tested and reviewed a variety of different MIG welders at various price points. These MIG welder reviews will help you compare the key features on the most popular MIG welders available in 2019, so you can decide which one is ideal.
MIG Welder Comparison Chart
|Brand/Model (Click Item Text to Scroll to Review)||Rating|
|1. Forney Easy Weld 261 MIG Welder|
Our Top Pick for 2019
|2. Lincoln Electric K2185-1 Handy MIG Welder||9.8/10||CHECK PRICE|
|3. Lotos MIG Wire Welder with Flux Core||9.6/10||CHECK PRICE|
|4. Hitbox ARC Welder 160A Portable Welder||9.5/10||CHECK PRICE|
|5. Vivohome Portable Flux Core Wire Gasless MIG 130 Welder||9.4/10||CHECK PRICE|
|6. Forney Easy Weld 299 125FC Flux Core Welder||9.3/10||CHECK PRICE|
|7. Goplus MIG 130 Welder Flux Core Wire Automatic Feed Welder||9.2/10||CHECK PRICE|
Best MIG Welder Reviews
1. Forney Easy Weld 261 MIG WelderCLICK TO CHECK PRICE
Our top pick for 2019 is the Forney Easy Weld 261 MIG Welder. This machine is very easy to work with, so it’s perfect for the DIYer or hobbyist, as well as the professional metal fabricator. This portable MIG welder by Forney was cleverly designed so that it can be carried easily from one job to the next for repair work and maintenance tasks. The entire unit weighs only 19 pounds!
The Forney Easy Weld 261 is a gasless MIG welder with wire feed speed control that makes it very user friendly, even for beginners. This model welds 24-gauge wire up to ¼-inch thick. Additional features include a torch wrap and infinite voltage. The Forney Easy Weld also has a 120-volt input and 140-volt output.
Reviewers found this unit to be very easy to set up, reporting that you can go from the box to your first bead in under 10 minutes. The arc is easy to control, and the wire feed is nice and smooth. The Forney Easy Weld works with flux core wire only. This machine was built to last with an all metal case… you won’t find any cheap plastic on the Forney 140 FC-i!
The Forney Easy Weld 140 FC-I MIG Welder comes with an 8-foot MIG gun, an 8-foot ground clamp, and a 20A-15A adapter. Whether you are brand new to welding or have lots of experience, this machine offers excellent value for the money. For your peace of mind, Forney backs up this product with a 30-day money back guarantee against manufacturer defects and a 1-Year warranty on all internal components.
2. Lincoln Electric K2185-1 Handy MIG WelderCLICK TO CHECK PRICE
This compact, lightweight MIG welder by Lincoln Electric is an excellent choice for the hobbyist or homeowner. The K2185-1 welds light gauge mild steel and plugs into a 115 V, 20 Amp outlet. This unit features four voltage settings and a continuous wire feed adjustment that allows you to weld mild steel from 24 gauge to 1/8-inch thick.
Everything you need to start welding with the Lincoln K2185 is included in the box, including the cable and gun assembly, work cable and clamp, gas nozzle, gas regulator and hose, wire spool, contact tips, and hand shield. It also comes with a spool of self-shielded, flux core wire, contact tips, and a chipping hammer with a brush so that the welder can accommodate gasless, flux cored wire, as well.
Reviewers of the Lincoln Handy MIG Welder appreciate the simple controls and a thorough instruction book that make this welder easy to set up and use for the first time, even for the novice welder. Dialing in the wire speed and heat settings are very straightforward so you can get going on your project with little fuss.
Some users reported that this welder gets too hot if you use it for long periods of time, so it’s not great for extensive projects. However, the Lincoln K2185-1 is an excellent entry level welder with great capabilities at an affordable price. The manufacturer provides a 1-year warranty on this welder.
3. Lotos MIG Wire Welder with Flux CoreCLICK TO CHECK PRICE
The Lotos 140 MIG Welder is an excellent choice for the hobbyist, homeowner, or professional welder. This machine can be used with solid wire or flux core welding wire. It is capable of welding 24-gauge mild still up to 3/16-inch thick, 24-gauge stainless steel up to 3/16-inch thick, and aluminum plate up 1/8-inch thick.
This MIG welder by Lotos is compact at only 16 inches by 14.5 inches, but we found it to be rugged enough to stand up the typical abuse of the job site. The Lotos 140 weighs in at 54 pounds, so it’s light enough to be portable and it even comes with carrying handle. The output can easily be adjusted from 30A to 140, allowing you to weld a variety of metals.
Although this welder is perfect for MIG welding, it is also very versatile and can be for flux core welding. It also works with or without gas. A wire feeder is included in the design, making this model very user friendly. In addition, this unit has two digital displays and a 2T/4T switch.
The Lotos 140 is an excellent welder for the price. Reviewers found it very easy to use and set up. Although this model is loaded with advanced features, it’s a very versatile machine that even a pro welder will appreciate. Lotos provides a one-year limited warranty on this MIG welder.
4. Hitbox ARC Welder 160A Portable WelderCLICK TO CHECK PRICE
If you’re looking for a portable welder that’s versatile and powerful, you’re going to love the Hitbox ARC 16A. This welder has a 60Hz input as well as digital control with an MMA stick, Lift TIG, or VRD. This machine has a duty cycle measuring at 40% and 160 amps of output power, which is more than sufficient for most light to medium duty welding tasks.
The Hitbox ARC 160A features a 200A earth clamp and a 200A electrode holder, all in an extremely portable, compact machine that weighs in at only about 9.5 pounds. For such a lightweight machine, it is still very well built and sturdy. The unit is smartly designed with several protective features, including over heating protection, over current protection, and over or under voltage protection.
The ARC 160A by Hitbox is designed with inside hot start and anti-sticking. The output current automatically increases, allowing even the novice welder to form an electric arc. This feature also prevents the machine from overloading by decreasing the welding power source if the electrode sticks to your workpiece during welding.
It should be noted that this welder comes with a 220 plug like the ones usually found on large air conditioners. Many reviewers fixed this problem easily by changing out the plug themselves. Several reviewers also reported that the welding cables that come with the machine are shorter than they would like, but they can also be upgraded to meet your needs. At the end of the day, the Hitbox ARC 16A is an excellent welder for the price.
5. Vivohome Portable Flux Core Wire Gasless MIG 130 WelderCLICK TO CHECK PRICE
This gasless MIG welder from Vivohome is another affordable option for anyone in need of a portable welder. This is a no reaction welder that uses flux-cored wire for convenience. This machine releases metal inert gas while you weld which prevents oxidation of the welded parts. This user-friendly machine is an excellent choice for hobby projects and home repairs on light gauge steel.
The Vivohome Portable Flux Core 130 allows you to achieve a professional weld on both mild steel and stainless steel. It’s an especially popular choice for auto body work and other thin steel welding projects. The welding speed is adjustable, and the unit features four levels of current flow settings.
You can easily tackle thin still, stainless, aluminum sheet metal or thicker steel with flux-core welding simply by adjusting the four variable speed buttons on the front of the machine. In total, the machine has 10 welding speeds, making it incredibly versatile. Everything you need to start welding is included right in the box: welding gun, grounding clamp, welding helmet, welling wire brush, and more.
Reviewers were happy with the performance of the Vivohome Portable Flux Core MIG Welder, especially at such an affordable price. However, the mask that comes with the machine is pretty flimsy, so you’ll probably want to upgrade to something nicer if you plan on doing a lot of welding.
6. Forney Easy Weld 299 125FC Flux Core WelderCLICK TO CHECK PRICE
The Forney Easy Weld 299 is the perfect choice for anyone who wants to learn how to weld, but it’s also great for the experienced welder who needs a small, portable machine. This unit can handle flux-core wire up to ¼-inch thick and runs 2-pound or 10-pound spools. It weighs only 14 pounds, which makes it a good option for on-the-go.
Reviewers of the Forney Easy Weld 299 appreciate the generous six-foot-long power cord. The smaller size of this machine is a bonus when you’re working in tight spaces, like car repairs. Since there’s no need for gas, it’s also great for use at remote job sites. Setup couldn’t be easier; just plug it in, and you’re ready to start welding.
The Forney Easy Weld 299 has an input of 120V and an output of 125 amps. We were impressed with the capabilities of this machine, given its small size. It is powerful enough to weld stainless steel and can be used for heavier-duty applications, too. This machine features two power settings, one for metal plate and one for sheet metal.
This machine was designed for the DIYer who has always wanted to try welding but may be intimidated by larger machines. It’s great for smaller projects, auto body work, and home repairs, but it doesn’t have the capabilities you would expect from a more expensive machine. Forney provides a 6-month warranty on the Easy Weld 299 Flux Core Welder.
7. Goplus MIG 130 Welder Flux Core Wire Automatic Feed WelderCLICK TO CHECK PRICE
The Goplus MIG 130 is a wallet-friendly, versatile, and portable welder weighing in at only 35 pounds. This gasless unit has enough power to handle auto body work and light steel welding projects in the home or professional setting. It’s also a fantastic option for the hobbyist who wants to make metal decorations and sculptures.
With the Goplus MIG 130, you can choose from four different heat settings depending on your project. The unit was designed with a durable steel frame for long life, as well as a sturdy plastic handle for convenient carrying to the job site. The 65-inch cord on the welding gun is very convenient when working in small spaces.
We love all the extras that are included with this machine that allow you to start welding right away. In addition to the welding machine, you will receive a face mask, welding gun, welding wire, and a welding brush/chipping hammer. The Goplus MIG 130 also has two air-vents and automatic thermal safety protection to prevent overheating.
Although this welder does come with a mask and wire, most reviewers recommend upgrading them if you plan on using this machine on a regular basis. At such a reasonable price, the Goplus MIG 130 is a great little welder for the money.
How a MIG Welder Works
MIG welders can be used for a variety of applications. They can be used to weld everything from sheet metal to heavy steel pipe. Experienced welders will be able to make beautiful, deep, smooth welds using a MIG welder, but even the novice welder can achieve satisfactory welds, too. MIG welders are easy to set up and use. Just plug it in, turn on the gas shield, and you’re pretty much ready to weld.
There are three types of ARC welders, MIG, TIG, and stick. The difference is in the gas shield. The gas shield can be created in one of two ways. In some cases, a tank that is connected to the machine releases a cloud of gas. Or, the gas shield can also be created by a flux which uses a chemical reaction to release the gas.
MIG welders pump gas through the welding cable. The gas and welding wire come out of the same nozzle, and the gas creates what is called a “protective cloud” around your arc as you weld. MIG welders also have wire feeders, and they hold the wire on a spool inside the machine. The wire is used to create the weld material.
In the case of flux core welding, there is flux on the inside of the wire, so you don’t need a separate tank of gas. When you pull the trigger on the welder, the wire comes out through the nozzle and creates a complete arc. MIG welders usually have several heat settings, depending on the material you’re working with. On the right setting, they provide the right amount of power to get a deep weld without using so much power that they burn a hole through your workpiece.
For even more versatility, MIG welders allow you to adjust the feed rate of the welding wire. The appropriate feed rate will vary according to your project but having the ability to fine-tune these settings is a real bonus. Whether you’re a pro or a beginner, it’s smart to do a test bead on some scrap material before you start working on your project. That way, you can make sure your machine is set up properly.
MIG Welding vs Stick Welding
When it comes to MIG welding versus stick welding, most welders have their favorite process. And just like with most things, each process is better suited to certain applications. Generally, MIG welding is better suited to finer welding jobs while stick welding is recommended for things like structural welding and pipelines. Here’s an in-depth look at the difference between these two different types of welding.
MIG welders offer a lot of different setting and options that can be adjusted according to the material that you’re working with. That makes them a good choice for projects that require accuracy and precision, such as auto body work. However, it does take some practice to get the settings just right.
On the other hand, a stick welder is chosen for heavy duty projects, such as structural welds, because they get better penetration. That’s not to say that you can’t get good penetration with a MIG, but it does take some patience and experience.
When it comes to safety, stick welding gives off a lot of spatter and sparks. It also burns very hot. Proper clothing is essential. MIG welding can still get pretty hot, and you should dress accordingly, but you won’t get nearly as many sparks with a MIG welder.
At the end of the day, you can get a quality weld with either process. However, stick welding usually takes longer because you have to change electrodes frequently as you work. There’s also a lot more splatter with stick welding, so you’ll have to do more sanding and cleanup on your finished project.
MIG welding is relatively easy to learn. If you have a little experience, the correct settings, and the right technique, you can create a strong weld that looks nice on a variety of materials using a MIG welder. Because you’re getting a finer weld, there’s very little need for sanding or cleanup on your final project. MIG welding is also more efficient and faster than stick welding. MIG welders are probably the most versatile choice for the home, shop, and job site.
Setting up and Maintaining a MIG Welder
Learning how to set up your machine correctly is an essential part of MIG welding. Different types and thicknesses of metal require different settings. The voltage, wire feed speed, and gas flow rate control the heat of the weld. The voltage setting is the primary heat setting that needs to be adjusted based on the thickness of the metal, joint, gas type, the size of the electrode used, and the position of the weld.
The wire feed speed is regulated in Inches Per Minute (IPM), and it controls how fast the wire is fed into the joint. The wire will have better contact with the weld joint if it is fed at a higher speed. Getting the best contact possible is important because it allows the machine to operate at a higher amperage, which means the heat will be higher, as well.
The transfer type is controlled by the flow rate of the gas, as well as the type of gas you use. You need to have your settings adjusted so that enough gas is flowing to adequately protect the joint of your weld from air. The flow of the gas is measured in CFMs, or Cubic Feet per Minute. If you are welding indoors where there’s no wind, a setting of 15 CFM is usually sufficient, but in drafty areas, you may require a CFM of 50. Never set the flow rate too high because it could cause air to be sucked in and contaminate the weld.
Most manufacturers will include a guide to the proper settings or a MIG welding chart along with the machine. These are meant to be guidelines, and it will take some trial and error to get the setting just right. Always test your setting on a piece of scrap metal before you begin working on your actual project.
The most important thing you can do to keep your MIG welder functioning properly is to keep it clean. Never allow sawdust from other projects to get into our machine. You will also need to replace the tip on your welding torch periodically. Some machines will also need to have the brushes inside the wire feeder replaced occasionally. Refer to your instruction manual for detailed maintenance instructions on your particular machine.
Best MIG Welder Buyer’s Guide
If you are new to MIG welding, the reviews above can help you compare the most popular machines available in 2019. Knowing a little more about the features that are available will help you decide which unit is the ideal for your particular situation. Here’s a look at some of the key features to help you make an informed decision.
Higher Amps and output voltage mean more power and heat for you to weld with. Machines with higher output can weld thicker metals and a larger variety of metals. Input amperage is also important. Welders with 110-volt input will have a limited output, while machines with 115V or 120V can produce a higher output to weld thicker metals. In general, the more Amps a MIG welder can produce, the more it will cost.
The duty cycle of a MIG welder indicates how long the welder can be used before it gets too hot, and you have to stop welding. For example, a duty cycle of 20% indicates that you can only weld for 2 minutes before it has to cool down. The higher the duty cycle, the longer you can weld before the machine needs a rest period to cool off.
What Types of Jobs Will You Do?
Considering what types of jobs you will be doing can help you decide which MIG welder will be best for your situation. If you will only use it a couple times a year to weld mild steel and think gauge medals, a light-duty welder, like the Goplus MIG 130, is all you need. For larger projects and thicker gauge metals, you’ll want something with more power, such as the Forney Easy Weld 261.
The more welding speeds a MIG welder has, the more versatile it is. If you want to be able to work on a variety of different types and thicknesses of metal, choose a machine like the Vivohome MIG 130 that has 10 different welding speed settings.
The warranty provided by the manufacturer should also be considered. If your MIG welder fails, you will want to know that the manufacturer stands behind their product. Choose a welder that has at least a 1-year warranty.
Summing It Up
MIG welders are incredibly versatile and easy to use. They are very popular for everything from auto body work to hobby projects and home repairs. It will take a little practice to get the settings just right, but once you get the hang of it, you will be able to create precise welds that look great on your projects. The best MIG welder for the home, shop, or job site will be the one that has the features you need to complete the jobs you will be working on the most. Our MIG welder reviews will help you compare the most popular MIG welders available and decide which features are the most important to you.