Quick to get to grips with and versatile enough for home use or your own auto work, a MIG welder is a great piece of kit. A MIG – or metal inert gas – welder is also one of the easiest welding methods to learn and with a little practice, will produce a quality result for both metal repairs and fabrication. And all for much less than a full-on oxy-acetylene welding set-up.
But with a growing number of MIG welders out there, and a choice of gas or gas-less, how do you choose which model is the right one for your next auto or DIY job? That’s simple: we’ve welded together a list of the best MIG welders currently on the market so you can pick your perfect match.
The Best MIG Welder
The Best Choice pick in our MIG welder review is a decent-priced model from Hobart that can be used for both MIG and flux core welding, meaning it’s an excellent go-to for auto or home use. Working with the durability Hobart are renowned for, the Handler is easily portable and comes complete with the essential kit you need. It operates on a 115V household current and has a five-position voltage control selector so you can fine-tune the arc for a range of metal thicknesses. The set-up is also easy and the whole unit is one of the best MIG welders for the beginner to handle. This wire feed welder works best with cast iron, brass, magnesium alloys and aluminum and is a great bet for auto body work, domestic repairs and outdoor projects.
Use for MIG and flux core welding
Runs off 115V household current
Compact and portable
5-position voltage selector
Welds 24 gauge up to ¼-inch mild steel
- Weight65 pounds
Compact and portable, it’s also easy to set up and go
Can be used for both MIG and core flux welding
Power may not be quite up to large scale or more heavy-duty welding jobs
If you’re after a bargain-priced flux core welder for entry level use, then the Forney Easy Weld is a nice addition to your workshop. For less than $250 you get a compact, lightweight unit that has Infinite voltage and wire feed speed control.
Going gasless makes it easy to for a beginner to use and as a cheap MIG welder it has just enough power to enable you to weld mild steel up to ¼ inch thick. This is a good basic unit to use for DIY, auto repair and hobby projects and can handle 10-pound rolls of wire. A 30% duty cycle at 90A gives you a decent welding burst for the price before it needs to rest. It may not offer the neatest weld but for domestic use, this is a good starter MIG welder.
Lightweight and portable
Infinite voltage/wire feed speed control
120V input/140A output
Welds 24-gauge up to 1/4″
- Weight19 pounds
Lightweight and easy for a starter welder to handle
Good build quality for the price
The wire feed rate can be a tad on the slow side
With the reputation that comes with the Lincoln brand, this is an impressively low-priced MIG welder that makes light work of smaller welding jobs. Portable and compact, the Lincoln Electric Handy MIG Welder is relatively easy to use and is a good option for the hobbyist or DIY’er who feels there is a welder-shaped hole in their lives.
The trade-off for its compact size is that it’s not as powerful as some other mid-priced models, meaning it has a metal thickness limit of 1/8th of an inch. There’s no gauge so you don’t know how much gas you have left at any one time, but a quick trip to the DIY shop to buy an add-on will remedy that. And for heavier, more prolonged jobs it has a tendency to get a bit hot and flustered. But for the price and the Lincoln welders label, this is a more than adequate MIG and flux core welder for small jobs and essential repairs.
MIG and flux core welding
Lightweight and portable design
Wire feed speed adjustment
Welds 24-gauge up to 1/8″
Duty Cycle 20% @ 70A
- BrandLincoln Electric
- Weight26 pounds
Sturdy build with a portable, compact design
Great for smaller jobs and the home hobbyist
Not as powerful as some and won’t handle metal more than 1/8 inch thick
The dual-voltage Hobart Handler is an awesome piece of welding kit, making it an easy contender for our best MIG welder list. The Handler is a substantial beast, and gives the amateur welder a lot of options, from large DIY projects to auto repairs, while an optional spool gun gives you kit to effortlessly weld aluminum. As one of the best welders for home use, the dual voltage is a blessing, meaning you can switch from 115v to 230v in one easy twist. The Handler will then automatically adjust itself to the correct input power to maintain its arc performance. You also get seven voltage settings so you can fine-tune for a precise weld.
Dual voltage – 115v & 230v
Seven voltage settings
Welds 24 gauge up to 3/8”
Duty Cycle 20% @ 90A
Quick change drive roll system
- Weight87.5 pounds
Impressively smooth arc for quality penetration
The power on/off could be a little smoother
For a cheap and portable MIG welding machine when you need to make running repairs, check out the Goplus.
With its limit set at thin steel and iron, this should be $130 well spent, as long as you don’t expect more heavy-duty results. As a flux core welder, it’s easy to use, and you also get adjustable flow settings. It is a mini, but don’t let that put you off, this cheap MIG welder is a hard worker when it comes to sheet steel. The weld you lay may not be the most precise but for the money, you should be happy. You also get some nice additional safety features such as side air vents to help with heat dissipation, overheat protection circuit and a basic safety mask.
Flux core wire welder
Automatic wire feeder
Adjustable feeding speed
Air vents and overheat protection
Comes with a safety mask
- Weight35 pounds
Good value, basic flux core welder for light projects and occasional use
It’s a lightweight when it comes to thicker metal or heavier jobs
Easy to use, a portable size and a decent 125A output, as a basic flux-core welding machine at a low price, we think the Forney Easy Weld is hard to beat. Users report a good weld, considering this cheap MIG welder is less than $165 and while not a match for the expensive, all-spec big boys, this is a MIG welder that will step up to most domestic jobs.
One of the best MIG welders for the beginner or DIY fan, you can whip through your maintenance jobs and it can take metals up to ¼ inch thick. Complete with a ground clamp and MIG gun, this wire feed welder uses .030″ flux-core wire and comes with adjustable wire feed speeds. It can also accept 2 and 10 pound spools and comes with a six-month warranty.
Gasless, flux core welder
Welds 24 gauge up to 1/4”
120V input/125A output
Compact and portable
Uses 2- and 10-pound spools
- Weight41.9 pounds
A great price for an easy to use unit that provides a decent weld
Doesn’t quite give the penetration you may need for more heavy-duty repairs
This is a mid-priced MIG welder, but we think the versatility of this neat unit puts it in the same bracket as a much more expensive device. And the reason is you don’t just get a MIG welding machine, you get a tool that can up its game and work as both a TIG and stick welder! Plus, if you go for the optional spool gun, you will also have all your aluminum welding needs covered.
With its 200-amp spec, the Weldpro not only automatically adjusts and compensates voltage and wire speed but gives you the option to independently fine-tune if you need to. And its advanced induction settings give a smoother weld, with less spattering. You can also braze metals with the TIG technique. We think this is one of the best MIG welders for home use, that can step up as your DIY, auto project or outdoor repair work demands.
200 Amp MIG/flux core welder
Stick and TIG welding capabilities
Duty cycle 30% @ 200A
Welds 25 gauge up to ¼”
- BrandW Weldpro
- Weight30.4 pounds
Super-versatile multi-process welder that gives an impressive finish
Auto adjusts speed and voltage for a smooth, clean finish
Needs a little initial practice to really get the hang of it
The first thing to strike you about this multi-welder is its compact size – at just under 40 pounds it is nicely lightweight and portable. But it is a heavyweight when it comes to performance.
Versatile 4-in-1 welder
Lightweight and portable
Welds up to 5/16” stainless steel
Large color digital display
120V/230V dual voltage inputs
- BrandLincoln Electric
- Weight12 pounds
Solid, high-performing unit that works for both domestic and basic professional use
Provides MIG, TIG, flux core and stick welding, all in one
Need to buy an optional spool gun for working with aluminum
A 3-in-1 welder that can weld up to 1/2“aluminum, and all for less than $600 – that’s the package promised by the MTS-205. And all in all, it is an impressive MIG welding machine for the auto hobbyist or home DIY’er.
First up, it is nicely compact and relatively lightweight, and the various components are intuitive and quick to set up. For the price – typically less than the cost of the more well-known welding brands – the MIG and flux core works with steel, copper, alloy, cast iron and aluminum plus you get a TIG torch and a STICK function as part of the bargain.
Portable 3-in-1 MIG welder
Output range 10-205 amp
Wave-firm control system
Welds up to 1/2inch aluminum
Complete with TIG torch
- Weight50 pounds
A well- priced and versatile three function welder for home and auto projects
The manual is not as clear as it should be
The LOTOS Mig175 is a versatile and reliable MIG welder that can tackle both steel and aluminum jobs with some ease. With a spool gun included for aluminum welding, you have everything you need for basic, quality home welding or auto jobs. Plus, it’s well-made and portable so a great addition to your favorite tools.
At a mid-price, there’s a lot to like about the LOTOS, and it’s intuitive to use. And with its output rated at 175-amp the overall performance is good – mild/stainless steel: it welds 18 Gauge up to 1/4″ for stainless steel and 3/16″ for aluminum. The LOTOS MIG welder will also easily connect to your home 220V wall outlet. A nice starter MIG welding machine for the price.
175A welding output
Flux-core and gas shielded
Aluminum spool gun included
Welds steel gauge 18 up to ¼ inch
Works with stainless/mild steel and aluminum
- BrandLotos Technology
- Weight85 pounds
A versatile and well-built MIG welder that can cope with both steel and aluminum
Best suited to smaller home and auto projects
It is quite a heavy welder to carry around
The Lincoln Electric Easy MIG has the right name, as it’s an easy-to-use welder with the Lincoln credentials to attract the serious hobbyist. Built to last, this substantial unit is also portable although it’s a bit of a heavyweight. But that aside, you get a lot of decent welding for your 600 or so bucks.
You have the option of gas-shielded MIG or flux-core welding, with a slick action that with a little practice, enables you to lay down some neat beads. And at such a good mid-range price, this excellent Lincoln MIG welder can also step it up for more serious jobs, making it a good investment as you develop your welding and project skills.
MIG or flux core options
50–500 IPM wire feed speed control
Fully adjustable drive system
MIG weld up to 3/16in
Dual voltage power compatibility
- BrandLincoln Electric
- Weight85 pounds
Dual input power capability means its versatile when handling a range of projects
Its stable arc means this MIG welder can lay a good bead
With its 180A output, it’s a little light on power for heavy or professional use
If you’re new to welding and want a decent starter unit but don’t want to splash out, then take a look at the 140A MIG welder from LOTOS. It may not have the power of more expensive MIG welding machines but match it to the right job and you have a welding workhorse for your DIY or auto projects.
This MIG welder works well with mild and stainless steel, and with a spool gun add-on will also neatly weld thinner aluminum. Connect the welder to your 110V wall outlet and it takes minutes to set up, plus it has a thermal overload protection system to protect your welder. You also get an adjustable wire feeder so you can control the speed and welding voltage, with two digital displays so you can see you are on track. Add in a semi-auto switch for longer jobs and you get an effective but cheap MIG welder that’ll get you powering through those domestic jobs in no time.
140A welding output
Welding capacity: 18 Gauge – 3/16″
Quality aluminum wire feeder
Spool gun capable
Uses 4” or 8” wire spools
- BrandLotos Technology
- Weight54 pounds
A great starter welder for home jobs at a decent price
Supplied with a very small spool of wire so be prepared to stock up
As an inverter MIG welder, you get a decent shot of power and an improved arc from this 120V welding dynamo. The result is not only an increased duty cycle (35%) at its maximum, compared to a typical 20% in comparable transformer models. Add in a lightweight but sturdy body and you get a dynamo entry-level welder that is capable of a weld thickness of ¼ inch in when working with steel. It can also swap up to use flux core if you have the drive roller and will work with aluminum, but you will need to buy an additional spool gun. Plug directly into your home socket, this is a solid starter MIG welder for the amateur or garage use.
Inverter MIG welder
Use with 4” or 8” wire spools
Duty cycle – 35% at 140A
Compact and lightweight
Ideal for mild/stainless steel
- BrandEverlast Power Equipment
- Weight25 pounds
Light and portable, but not lightweight when it comes to power
You’ll need to buy add-ons for flux-core and aluminum welding
Ground cable is a little on the short side
A cheap flux core welder that does a basic job well, the Super Deal Pro is worth a look. The price is low – around $100 – so don’t expect a super tough or super powerful unit. But for occasional use or a quick domestic welding job it ticks the box. For your money you get a portable MIG welder that’s intuitive and easy for a novice to use. The arc is reasonably soft, and the end weld with a little practice is pretty precise. And you do get a range of wire feed speeds and temperature controls to give you a fine-tuned edge to each job. As you would expect from a bargain welder, the duty cycle is on the lower side – 10% at 104A although it can be boosted to 35% at 60A but you do compromise on the power.
Lightweight flux core welder
Variable speed controls
Automatic wire feeder
Adjustable current flow
Digital soft key control panel
- BrandSUPER DEAL
- Weight38.1 pounds
A straight up basic flux core welder at a budget price
Low power and limited functions mean it’s best for smaller, domestic projects
We finish on another premium welder, from welding stalwarts, Miller. At $1,500+, the 120 is not cheap but it is an investment welder that will cover pretty much all of your home welding bases. We think this is a good bet for the serious DIY’er, hobbyist or home auto repairer as it offers all the main functions as well as quality results you would expect from a Miller MIG welder. It does MIG or flux core and works effectively with the main metals, from stainless steel to aluminum. There’s a host of auto and manual adjustment features as well as thermal overload protection and the input voltage of 240V with an impressive duty cycle of up to 40% ensures you have the power you need to do a good job.
MIG and flux core welder
240V input voltage
Compact and portable design
Auto spool gun detect
Thermal overload protection
- BrandMiller Electric
- Weight49.9 pounds
Auto-settings result in some pretty impressive bead laying
For all its features, the unit is light and easy to carry around
May not be suitable for absolute beginners as some welding skill is required
Best MIG Welder Buying Guide & FAQ
Things to Consider When Buying a MIG Welder
While a MIG welder is considered the easiest to use for home projects, not all welding jobs are equal so before you put your money down, you need to go through a few checks to ensure you are buying the best MIG welder for you.
- What you need it for
A MIG welding machine for full-on industrial use is going to be different to the tool you’ll use at home for general DIY or maintenance. You need to consider your workspace, your power supply and the environment around you, before choosing the best welder that is fit for your particular needs. How often you plan to use your new MIG welder will also impact on the final model – and price tag – you want to opt for.
- Type of weld
The type of welding job you are planning should influence the MIG model you choose. Consider the materials you need welding, the thickness of the metal and the overall scale of the project – the thicker the metal, the more power you will need. You then need to be sure you can safely power a unit that needs a higher voltage.
- Its ‘duty cycle’
The duty cycle is how long a unit can weld for in one go so check the figures on the model spec to ensure it can run long enough when you are on the job. The cheaper the MIG welder, then it will typically have a shorter duty cycle, and may not be suited to welding thicker metals.
- Thermal protection
When the heat is on, you need to be sure your MIG welder not going to get too hot, especially on a longer job. Check the safety features that will protect you from a temperature overload. An internal cooling system should be a standard. Also look at built-in protection against short-circuiting at a crucial moment as you don’t want a sudden power surge to knock your weld off track.
- Size, portability and weight
Size really does matter, especially when it comes to your MIG! A beast of a machine could well turn your head but if you’re needing to take it off-site or will be carrying it around then a larger unit could well end up a bit of a burden. If you need it to be portable opt for a lighter model, although you may have to compromise on a little power for the convenience.
What Can You Weld With a Metal Inert Gas Welder?
The MIG welder is a versatile tool as you can use it to weld a wide range of metals, including aluminum, nickel, silicon bronze and other alloys as well as carbon and stainless steel.
Depending on the model you choose, you can also use a MIG welder on metals with different thicknesses, whether that is super-light aluminum or a thicker steel.
Types of Welders
There are four main types of welders, and each have their pros and cons when it comes to how and where you use them.
- MIG welding
Also known as Gas Metal Arc Welding, MIG is one of the easiest forms of welding to learn and comes in two forms – bare wire and flux core (or both). Bare wire requires a gas supply to shield your weld while flux core can be used outdoors as it is self-shielding and so doesn’t need a gas supply to work.
MIG uses a spool of wire fed through the ‘gun’ onto the metal to create an electric arc to weld the metal joint. On non-flux core models, a shielding gas is also used to protect the weld from any contamination. A wire feed welder is popular for DIY and amateur body workers as it is easier to use and less expensive than other forms of welding methods.
- Arc welding
Arc – or stick – welding is the most basic type of welder and is pretty old school. With a bit of practice, it’s easy to get to grips with and not as expensive as other welding methods. Stick welding uses a stick electrode welding rod, coated in compounds and metal powders. An electric current is then used to make an electric arc between the electrode and the metals to be joined.
- Gas welding
Gas welding uses oxy-acetylene gas to create a flame that is able to melt steel and certainly looks impressive. When mixed together in the right quantities within a hand-held torch, the oxygen and acetylene can reach a temperature of around 3,200 °C and can also be adjusted to meet the melting point of other metals, such as silver, copper and bronze. This method can be used to both weld and cut thicker metals.
- TIG welding
TIG welding is a two-hand job – with one hand you feed the filler rod, and in the other you hold the TIG torch. TIG stands for tungsten inert gas and the TIG electrode provides the current to the welding arc, with an inert gas cooling and protecting the weld puddle for a clean and accurate finish. TIG welding is mainly used for aluminum, steel, alloys and titanium and is a preferred method for when a high-quality weld finish is needed.
Maintaining Your MIG Welder Machine
Look after your MIG and it will look after you. A simple but regular maintenance routine will mean you get plenty of safe and effective use out of your MIG welder:
- Removing dirt and dust from your MIG welder will keep it in good working order. Use a blast of compressed air to quickly remove any debris from its mechanical parts and always use your MIG welding machine well away from any woodworking and its associated dust.
- Pay particular attention to key sections of the welder: clean the drive rolls and ensure the tension is adjusted correctly, check the gas line and clear out any obstructions to ensure adequate flow and check that the gas nozzle is plugged in correctly and doesn’t leak.
- Ensure your welder is well-greased by wiping the oil to redistribute after use, and layer on a new application of grease when and where needed.
- Replace key parts such as nozzles, drive rolls or the brushes inside the wire feeder when needed and if you plan for heavy use, consider putting your MIG welder in for a professional service once a year to keep it in great welding shape.
- Always cover your MIG welder when not in use, either in its own storage case or in a general toolbox that is large enough for it to fit.
Best MIG Welder FAQ:
Q: What is a Metal Inert Gas Welder?
A: Simply put, a MIG – or Metal Inert Gas - welder uses electricity to join metal pieces together and is one of the easiest types of welding to learn. It works by using an arc of electricity to create a short circuit between the welding wire and the metal. The heat produced - along with a non-reactive (or inert) shielding gas to protect the weld from any contamination – then enables the metals to cleanly mix together. The result is a weld pool that fuses the wire and the metal to create a join.
Q: How do I set up a Metal Inert Gas welder?
A: Before you get started, make sure you have the right safety gear – protective boots, full-length pants, safety jacket, gloves, helmet and safety glasses are the basics. And make sure the metal you plan to weld is secure and you’ve used a metal brush to clean down the surface and any rust or contaminates have been removed from the joint.
You need to set your MIG welder to the type of metal you want to weld, so always refer to your user manual as the metal and its thickness will impact on the machine setting, electrodes and gasses to be used. Always ensure you’re using the correct filler wire and gas combination. The other key settings to get right are the voltage, wire feed rate and gas flow.
The correct combination will ensure you get the right transfer and sufficient heat to penetrate the metal without burning a hole. A little initial experimentation will help you to get that final finesse right, and then you’ll be welding like a pro!
Q: Can any MIG welder use flux core wire?
A: A flux core provides a self-shielding alternative to gas to protect the electrode from being contaminated by air, so is a good option if you are welding outside where there are windy conditions.
It depends on the model as to whether your MIG welder can also use a flux core wire as most are designed to either use wire with a shielding gas, a self-shielding gas/flux core or both. The key is the polarity of the torch – which needs to be negative if you are to use a flux core wire. You will need to check the functions on your particular model of MIG welder to be sure it can be switched to electrode negative for it to be able to work with a flux core.
Q: What shielding gas is used for MIG welding?
A: The purpose of a shielding gas when welding is to protect the molten weld from oxygen, nitrogen and hydrogen in the air. When the weld pool interacts with these elements, it can cause problems such as pores in the weld or increased splatter. Shielding gases for MIG welders are either inert or active. The most commonly used inert gas is argon, which can be used for most metals including aluminum. An argon/carbon dioxide mix is also a common gas mix to use with a MIG welder as it has active properties and so increases penetration, although it is not effective with aluminum.
Our Top Pick
For its durability, portability, versatility and great price, the Hobart Handler 140 MIG Welder scoops our Top Pick. Running off an ordinary household current, this compact wire feed welder works hard for you, giving impressive results on a range of domestic and home auto jobs. Easy to set up and use, this is a great buy for the welding novice but can step it up as you build your welding skills.