As you may know, finding the best MIG welding machine can be a difficult process. It seems that there’s too much info out there. Any welder worth his flux wants a machine that can handle the work at hand, but not at exorbitant cost or one that’s got more power than you actually need on a daily basis.
Before we get into the best MIG welding machine for your purposes, let’s cover welders should be looking for in the first place.
Power: How Much Do You Need?
For most home projects, you can get by with a machine that runs at 110 V. At this voltage, you can weld thin metals for most handyman projects, but thicker metals won’t weld. However, to handle industrial projects, you’ll want a machine can run at 230 V for deeper welders and a more cohesive bond without excessive heat marks.
As an alternative, welders that engage in a wide range of projects can use an all-in-one MIG welding machine. With the flick of switch and change from a low voltage plug to a high voltage plug, you can use both in order to handle most projects that come your way. Of course, it should be noted that even the best MIG welding machine that works as a combination unit won’t give you as much power as heavy-duty units, such as the Millermatic 252, which can be quite pricey.
Are Flux-Cored MIG Wire Welding Machines Enough?
It’s common among many of the less expensive MIG welders to run flux core wires without a shielding gas. As the flux core wire melts in the weld, the flux rises to the surface, which creates a protective coating on the weld—however, this layer of flux will need to be removed, leaving the weld itself scratched up. So, if you’re using a cheaper MIG welding machine, flux cored welding machines aren’t a good choice where a neat appearance is important for the job. In those cases, gas-shielded MIG wire will be the best choice. As with many things in life, you pay for what you get.
Do You Need a Spool Gun?
Welding aluminum? If so, you’ll often find that the wire can get jammed in the MIG torch as it is fed from the wire feeder—not good. To remedy this nuisance, attaching a spool gun to your torch places the wire a couple inches away from where should come out of the torch, eliminating wire jams.
Regulate the Flow of Your Shielding Gas
If you don’t use flux-cored MIG wire, then shielding gas will be a regular expense. To cut down on how much you’re spending on each weld, investing in a good regulator for your MIG welder will save on fuel costs and spend more time on the task at hand.
Got Thermal Overload Protection?
As you may know, if you do weld too long, your MIG welder could overheat. The duty cycle of a MIG welder determines how many minutes you can weld in a ten-minute cycle before the machine needs to cool off. As a rule of thumb: The higher the duty cycle (~60%), the longer you can weld before having to take a break. This cuts down on your efficiency and if you’re not careful, you may find yourself damaging even the best MIG welding machine.
How can you save yourself from overheating? The answer is by choosing a MIG welding machine that features thermal overload protection. If you’re planning on using your welder in the long-term, thermal overload protection is your best bet.
Okay, now that we’ve got the basics out of the way, let’s take a look at some of the best MIG welding machines out there.
For Beginners and Home projects:
- Forney Easy Weld 29901 125 FC MIG Welder Start-Up Kit
- Hobart 500559 Handler 140 MIG Welder 115V
For Home and Industrial Projects:
- LOTOS TIG200 200A AC/DC Aluminum Tig/Stick Welder Square Wave Inverter with Pedal and Mask
- Hobart 500554 Handler 190 MIG Welder 230V
- Super Deal Black Commercial MIG 130 AC Flux Core Wire Automatic Feed Welder Welding Machine w/Free Mask 110V