Welding is one of the most useful skills there is.
No workshop is truly complete without a welder. However, it can be expensive to put one in the corner.
That’s why we found some great budget machines for you.
Here are some great budget welders.
A quick comparison
Lotos TIG200ACDC 200A
Forney Easy Weld 261 140 FC-i
Weldpro MIG200GDSV - Best Budget Multi-Process Welder
SunGoldPower MIG Welder 140A
Amico TIG-160DC TIG / Stick
Best Budget Welder With Reviews
Here are some of the best budget welders we found on the market:
1. Lotos TIG200ACDC 200A - Best Budget TIG Welder
- 15 to 200 amp welding range
- Comes with WP 17 TIG torch
- Uses square wave techn ology
- Includes a gas regulator
- AC TIG, DC TIG, stick arc welding
- Weld 24 gauge up to 3/8-inch thick
- No-touch arc starting on TIG
- Foot pedal comes in the box
- Pre-flow/post-flow feature
- AC balance for cleaner welds
- Control pedal isn't high frequency compatible
- Persistent complaints about service
The Lotos TIG200 brings 200 amp power to your workshop and offers technology like a high frequency no-touch arc start to help conserve consumables. It’s got 10 different profiles saved in the settings memory to let you switch from process to process easily or when you’ve got different thicknesses to work with on a particular project like an automotive restoration job.
This machine features dual 120/240 voltage source power. One of the more interesting features in this price range is pulse width modulation (PWM). Pulse width modulation controls the width of the bead for a more uniform, proportional and cleaner look to your craft. Another aspect of the same technology is AC balance control, which adjusts the amount of time the AC sine wave spends on each of the positive and negative halves of the AC cycle. The effect of the adjustment is to clean oxidation while you weld, creating beads that don’t need as much chipping and brushing.
The Lotos TIG200 has some complaints of inconsistent quality control, but most problems have been minor, things like loose connections or screws. Lotos offers a 1-year warranty with 30 day “no questions asked” refund.
The TIG200’s pre flow and post flow feature maintains weld integrity by starting gas flow immediately before the arc starts and continuing gas flow for a moment after you stop welding. This keeps the weld area shielded from impurities and oxidation while the weld puddle is wet, maintaining weld integrity.
2. Forney Easy Weld 261 140 FC-i - Best Budget MIG Welder
- Comes with an arc gun
- Holds 4-inch and 8-inch spools
- Can weld 1/4-inch thickness
- Weighs only 19 pounds
- Includes adapter for 15 to 20 amps
- Built-in fan
- Welds as thin as 24 gauge sheet
- Duty cycle is 30 percent
- Wire speed, power are infinitely adjustable
- 1-year warranty
- The drive doesn't like hard wire
- Flux core only, no gas MIG
Forney is known for rugged machines built to last . Owners love these machines and swear by their quality. The Forney Easy Weld 140 FC-i weighs only 19 pounds and comes with a 1-year warranty.
With 120 volt input power, this machine can be plugged in wherever you are to take care of business. 140 amps is enough power to weld up to 1/4-inch steel and the lower end output can weld sheet metal as thin as 24 gauge. It’s not a true gas MIG machine, but flux core welding is one of the best-penetrating processes available. Flux core can weld in the wind, a practical advantage over gas MIG welding.
The only user complaints were about trying to feed hard wire through the drive, which can lead to kinking. Forney has hit a home run with this little welder, which we picked as our Weekend Warrior in our “Best MIG Welders” article. As a market-leading machine with a 1-year factory warranty from a company with a great reputation, the Forney Easy Weld 140 FC-i would be great for your workshop.
3. Weldpro MIG200GDSV - Best Budget Multi-Process Welder
- MIG, DC Stick or DC TIG
- Dual digital display
- Easy to set amperage and wire speed
- High temp protection with indicator
- Automatic voltage and wire speed
- 2T/4T trigger lock for long welds
- High frequency lift-type arc starts
- 15-200 amp TIG range on 240 power
- Spool gun capable
- DC TIG will not weld aluminum
- MIG mode not suitable for thin metal
The Weldpro MIG200gdsv is a 3-in-1 multi-process welder incorporating MIG, DC TIG and stick arc functions. It has a dual digital display so settings are easy to read and adjust. It can weld up to 5/16-inch plate steel with 200 amps of power when running on 240 volts. The arc is able to weld as thin as 14 gauge sheet metal, the MIG can get down to 19 gauge and the TIG process can weld as thin as 24 gauge sheet.
Weldpro includes MIG and TIG torches with the MIG200gdsv as well as a gas hose and regulator. DC TIG isn’t practical for welding aluminum, but this machine can weld aluminum using the optional spool gun with the MIG process. This welder also features high frequency lift-type arc starting in TIG mode and has a 2T/4T trigger lock that keeps the arc going without having to hold the trigger down, great for long weld runs.
The Weldpro MIG200gdsv is a well balanced, powerful and feature-packed multi-process welder at a great price, and Weldpro backs the machine with a 1-year warranty.
4. SunGoldPower MIG Welder 140A
- Light 30 pound weight
- Duty cycle is 60 percent
- Dual 120/240 volt input power
- 1-year warranty
- Live fan for overheating protection
- Can use a spool gun
- 16 gauge sheet metal to 5/16-inch plate
- Mounts 4 and 8 inch wire rolls
- Both MIG and flux core
- Wire speed has infinite adjustment
- Poorly written manual
- Gas regulator not included
The SunGoldPower MIG 140A has infinitely adjustable power level and wire speed controls. The wire drive area has enough room to store your connection cables for easy portability. SunGoldPower included the ability to mount either 4-inch or 8-inch wire spools. At 30 pounds, this machine is more substantial than some others in its class, but still easy to carry and move around.
This machine is equipped with a live exhaust fan to control internal temperatures. One problem mentioned by owners is the manual, which is unintelligible except for the parts list. Others weren’t happy that the SunGoldPower MIG 140A doesn’t include a gas regulator for the MIG mode. On the plus side, this welder comes with dual 120 volt and 240 volt input power capability, making it convenient to use.
The SunGoldPower MIG 14A has a Wire Inch feature to make feeding and setup easier. Burn Back technology will adjust the stickout length of the electrode wire, feeding it out and then back to the optimal amount of stickout whenever you stop welding. SunGoldPower backs up the MIG 140A with a 1-year warranty.
5. Amico TIG-160DC TIG / Stick Arc Welder
- Wide 20 to 160 amp output range
- 120/240 volt input
- Stick arc welder with DC TIG
- 10-foot ground clamp
- 13-foot electrode clamp
- Duty cycle is 60 percent at 160 amps
- High frequency lift start
- Comes with a TIG torch
- Portable at 26 pounds
- Welds 24 gauge up to 3/8-inch
- Doesn't come with a gas regulator
- No TIG control pedal
The Amico TIG160-DC has an output range from 20 to 160 amps, giving this machine the capability to weld from 24 gauge sheet metal up to 3/8-inch plate. This machine features dual 120 and 240 volt input power for ease of use and with the 26-pound weight, the machine is both versatile and highly portable.
High technology features like lift-type arc starts and soft arc adjustment are uncommon in this price range. The Amico TIG160-DC unfortunately doesn’t come with a control pedal or a regulator, but it does come with a 13-foot TIG torch and a 13-foot electrode clamp. The ground clamp is 10 feet long. Because this is a DC TIG machine, welding aluminum isn’t really an option, but there’s no better process for welding sheet metal than TIG.
In short, the Amico TIG160-DC is an inexpensive machine with great reviews, a wide current range, dual voltage input, high frequency lift-type arc start and soft arc feature. The 60 percent duty cycle at full power is just icing on the cake. This one is definitely worth taking a look at.
6. DEKOPRO 160A MMA Arc Welder
- Dynamically adjusts settings while welding
- Dual 120/240 volt input
- Quiet, high efficiency fan
- 10-160 amps output range
- Digital LCD display panel
- Process Protection System prevents overload
- Standard 6-50R dryer plug
- Only weighs 12 pounds
- Infinitely adjustable amps control
- 60 percent duty cycle at 160 amps
- Doesn't like 6011 welding rods
- Grounding clamp is cheap quality
The DEKOPRO 160A MMA Arc Welder is a very inexpensive way to start welding for not much money. Users give this machine great reviews with good results and ease of use for an arc welder in this price range. This design dynamically adjusts both current and voltage settings to keep a high quality arc going.
Many experienced welders have mentioned problems running 6011 welding rods. Others complain that the grounding clamp is too cheap. We feel these minor issues are offset by the 60 percent duty cycle at full power and the nice LCD settings display.
This machine offers dual power input with both 120 volt ability to plug into household current and 240 volt to take advantage of current settings higher than 140 amps. The wide 10-160 amp output range allows welding even thin 28 gauge sheet metal, although you’ll need to move fast when running stick welding in that capacity. 160 amps will let you penetrate 5/16-inch steel plate. The DEKOPRO 160A MMA will run both straight and reverse polarity and offers infinite adjustability of current levels to fine tune your settings.
Budget Welder Buyer’s Guide
Just because a welder is inexpensive, it doesn’t have to be “cheap.”
You can find a lot of value in today’s machines, with a lot of technology, multiple processes, high power levels and a lot of accessories if you shop around.
Don’t settle right away, because you’re going to see another one that looks like an even better buy next week. Here are some things to consider while you’re looking.
Which Process Should You Choose?
No single process is going to be the best choice in every situation.
The most versatile types of welding are stick arc or MMA and flux core, sometimes called wire feed or gasless MIG. Flux core isn’t true MIG welding, because MIG means metal inert gas and flux core welders don’t provide shielding gas to the welding process.
Flux core is probably the easiest to learn and, except for arc welding, it has the deepest penetration into the metal. Flux core wire is hollow and filled with flux powder, which melts or burns away when consumed by the welding process, providing the gas shielding you would get from a bottle and hose in the MIG process.
Although it’s cheaper, an older process and more basic from a technology standpoint, flux core actually outperforms gas MIG welding in a few key areas. It welds better in the wind, it gets deeper penetration with the same current, it’s easier to learn than MIG and of course it’s cheaper both for machines and consumables.
MIG is best used where the welding bead will be exposed in the final piece.
TIG welding, or tungsten/inert gas is related to MIG, but uses tungsten wire with gas shielding from a bottle and hose. It’s often used on thin material or on some more uncommon metals like aluminum, stainless, copper or titanium. TIG requires a high level of skill.
Type of Work
Naturally, it’s important to take the type of work you’re going to be doing into consideration.
Assembling trailer frames or tool boxes from angle iron calls for a stick welder. If you’re going to be building bicycle or motorcycle frames where the beauty of exposed welds is called for, the only thing that will really do is TIG welding.
If you want to weld aluminum on a budget, a MIG machine with a spool gun is often a cheaper way to do it than an AC TIG machine and all those accessories.
When looking at power needs, you need to consider both ends of the machine.
If you’re only going to plug this thing into your household’s 120-volt current, you’re going to be limited to 140 amps, which is still enough power to weld up to 1/4-inch thickness. That will let you build those trailer frames we mentioned earlier.
But you really want a 240-volt welder if you want to weld thick material exclusively or if you need very fine control on the lower end for thinner metal such as automotive bodywork.
Because the primary purpose of this article is to help find a good welder on a budget, clearly price is going to be a factor in your purchase. There is more to this than simply choosing the welder with the smallest number on the price tag.
Along with a reasonable price range that fits your budget, you need to consider the value received for the money spent. You may still need to buy accessories and spend more money than you would have on the more expensive machine.
Where Does That Leave You?
We’ve selected the Lotos TIG200ACDC 200A as our Budget TIG Welder because of an outstanding mix of low cost, wide range of features, satisfied customers and generally high quality.
The Forney Easy Weld 261 140 FC-i is an easy pick for our Best MIG Welder even though it’s only a flux core welder because it welds at a very high quality level, can handle up to 1/4-inch steel, plugs into household 120 volt power and only weighs 19 pounds. The fact that the dealer and service network of a venerable company like Forney comes with it is just gravy on top.
Our choice for Best Budget Multi-Process Welder was the Weldpro Mig200gdsv because it delivers three processes, automatic dynamic settings adjustment coupled with infinitely adjustable manual settings, includes nearly everything you’re going to need and has a reputation for good performance and high quality. What more do you need from a budget welder, anyway?
Today’s market offers a myriad of great choices in the budget welder category. Take your time, consider your choices carefully and you’ll see this list offers the right mix of choices for your budget.