Best Mig Welder for the Money 2017 Reviews & Guide

Best Mig Welders
Buying Guides

The first time I ever looked into mig welder’s for my workshop, the reliable internet wasn’t at the tips of my fingers. The new age has gotten incredibly lucky with being able to find new information and reviews on products before they purchase. Today, I’ll be discussing the best MIG welder you can get for your money, that’s available at a consumer level.

What’s a mig welder for, you ask? You’ve heard of tig welder, but a MIG welder is a type of welding device that takes heat from a consumable wire electrode and melts together with the metal. The electric arc form typically defines the mig process, and it’s “non-street” name: Gas metal arc welding (GMAW), metal active gas (MAG welding), and more.

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 Hobart 500559 Handler Wire WelderHobart 500553 Handler 210Lincoln Electric K2185-1
 Hobart 500559 Handler Wire WelderHobart 500553 Handler 210Lincoln Electric K2185-1
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BrandsHobartHobartLincoln Electric
TypesMig WelderMig WelderMig Welder
Model500559500553K2185-1
Weight0.6535 pounds87.5 pounds49 pounds
Product Dimensions19 x 11 x 13 inches24 x 18.6 x 13.2 inches18 x 16.75 x 10.31 inches
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Mig Welder Buying Guide

How Many Amps?

There are a minimum and a maximum number of amps you should work with when dealing with MIG welding, and it entirely depends on the thickness of your steel and what type. Below are the maximum number of amps per steel thickness.

  • Butt weld – 2.0MM = 90 amps
  • Butt weld – 2.5MM = 110 amps
  • Butt weld – 3.0MM = 130 amps
  • Butt weld – 4.0MM = 150 amps
  • Butt weld – 5.0MM = 180 amps
  • V and Root Gap – 3.0MM = 90 AMP
  • V and Root Gap – 3.8MM = 110 amps
  • V and Root Gap – 4.5MM = 130 amps
  • V and Root Gap – 6.0MM = 150 amps
  • V and Root Gap – 7.5MM = 150 amps

If you’re still unsure, there are plenty of MIG calculators online that can help you calculate the exact number of amps required with your specific setup.

As for the minimum number of amps, those who are only using steel of 1.0mm thickness, you’ll want to use a minimum of around 30 amps. Smaller welding machines shouldn’t use anything below this, as it’s not that small. However, an 8.0mm thickness can be used with something as low as 20 or 25 amps as their minimum.

Workshop Power Supply

In your workshop, if you have a 13-amp outlet, you can run around 150 amps. Having a larger machine means that you’ll need a blue plug suitable for wiring that you have to dedicate for, and this will need to be 32 amps. For workshops using a 13-amp outlet, you’ll want to make sure to change this annually, as these aren’t meant to run this much consistently. Failure to do so will result in frying your outlet and your welding equipment.

Duty Cycle

Veterans probably won’t be reading this buyer’s guide I’m putting together, so we’ll start from the beginning: a duty cycle is a 10-minute interval in which you run up to the highest amount of power because of the MIG welder overheats. Measured in percentages, you’ll have to do a bit of math. For example, if a MIG welder is at 60% of its duty cycle at 100 amps, this means that it can run for six minutes straight without overheating, although it will need 4 minutes to cool down afterward. If you don’t allow time for cooldown, your welder will overheat, and you can fry the entire piece of equipment.

Are you in the market for a smaller welding machine? If so, you’re in luck when it comes to duty cycles. Smaller devices that lack a fan can run at their full power capacity without overheating. If you’re someone doing automotive repairs, the duty cycle isn’t something you’ll have to worry about too much.

What Else You Need to Know

Before I get into my personal reviews of the best MIG welder on the market, there are a few other things you should know when it comes to mastering the craft of MIG welding. When it comes to what you wear while welding, you should always wear cotton and welding gauntlets. Wearing this will allow you protection from molten metal, as it’s scorching to the touch – although, you should know this by now!

Welding masks are essential to MIG welding operation. Even if you’re just a hobbyist, and you have a primary mask, you still were smart enough to choose protection over vanity and comfort. If you have the choice, opt for a gas regulator with a twin gauge to measure the flow rate and pressure remaining.

It’s imperative to walk into this and know what you can buy at a consumer level. You shouldn’t want into (or click onto an Amazon store) and think you’re going to receive the best and highest quality devices for a super cheap price. You get what you pay for, and you should also know that semi-pro MIG welders at a consumer level may also come with a burn back, but you may have to pay a little more.

Best Mig Welder Reviews

The Arksen MIG-100 Flux Core Welder

ARKSEN© MIG-100 Gas-Less Flux Core Welder, 90AMP

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When it comes to having a reliable and inexpensive piece in your garage or workshop, the Arksen MIG-100 Flux Core Welder is one that I’d highly recommend. I’ve tried this out during guest spots in garages while traveling and I have to say it packs quite the punch – something I didn’t really expect. Features of the Arksen MIG-100 include:

  • Welding mask, welding wire + more
  • Duty cycle: 15% at 90 amps or 35% at 60 amps
  • No gas operation

With an 115 voltage and max open voltage of 33V, the duty cycle of the Arksen can be run at high on 90 amps for 15% before overheating, and 35% at a low 60 amps before overheating. The listed duty cycle is very desirable for the price. Unlike many other mig welder packages, you have a variety of options when choosing. Not only do you receive the welding device itself, but you also receive:

  • Welding wire
  • Welding mask
  • Chipping hammer and wire brush
  • Torch
  • Tip
  • Ground cord

Some of the aforementioned are crucial pieces in safety and running the MIG welding machine. However, you can also customize your package before shipping, and you can choose:

  • Mig-100 (standard, nothing included)
  • MIG-100 + cart
  • MIG-100 + cart w/ handle

The one issue that some may find is that it’s not that big. While this is perfect for smaller workshops and garages, I must say that it does pack quite the punch for such a little guy. If you have larger hands, you’ll still probably be able to work with this with no problem. Great value for the price, the heat transfer of the Arksen MIG-100 is consistent and of high-quality. The wire spool included with this Arksen set was actually better than I imagined, and I would highly recommend this for those who are active in their home workshops and garages.

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The Lincoln Electric K2185-1 Handy Mig Welder

Lincoln Electric K2185-1 Handy MIG Welder

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The Lincoln Electric K2185-1 Handy MIG Welder is a highly rated, compact MIG welder. Don’t let the compact aspect fool you, though, as I was pleasantly surprised by the power and quality of the welding done with this piece. Features of the Lincoln Electric K2185-1 include:

  • Welding capabilities of 1/8” mild steel
  • Welds both MIG and flux-cored
  • Plugs into a standard, household 20-amp outlet (115V)
  • 70 amp

The versatility in the incorporation of the flux core welding allows you to weld mild steel in an optimal fashion and with ease. Flux core welding uses a hollow wire electrode that’s fed through the gun (the Lincoln Electric in this case) and welds the joint in which you’re working on.

As for MIG, you’re searching that style for a reason! The Lincoln Electric is fantastic for home outlets because it can be plugged into the standard 20-amp outlet. You don’t have to renovate your entire workshop every time you get a new piece in your tool inventory. For a household capable piece of welding equipment, the 1/8” thickness of mild steel is actually pretty impressive – from my experience, at least.

The only issue potential buyers of the Lincoln Electric may find is that gas is pretty important in the function of this MIG welder, as it can make the difference between a quality weld and a poor one. While this isn’t a make or break fact, it can also work without gas, too. For the price, it’s a fantastic purchase that I’d recommend for those who are active in their home garages.

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Hobart 500559 Handler Wire Welder

Hobart 500559 Handler Wire Welder

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I must say, the Hobart 500559 Handler Wire Welder is one of my favorites on the market. There are some models that I’ve used that I’ve really enjoyed, but this one takes the cake! Included in the standard packing for the Hobart includes the welder machine, but you can also purchase the machine along with a welding accessory – nozzle gel. For those who need it, it saves you a bit of money on purchasing separately, and it’s quite convenient. As for features of the Hobart 500559, these include:

  • Ability to weld 24 gauges to ¼ inch mild steel
  • 25-140 amps
  • Industrial cast drives system
  • Operates off of 155V

The diversity and variety in the steel sizes and the amperage allow you to receive full range of this welder, along with the industrial cast aluminum drive system – allowing for a heavy-duty and industrial performance from a consumer level buy. Beyond this, those who work in home workshops can easily plug this into your standard outlet, as it operates off of 155V.

My favorite aspect of this welder is that it’s MIG ready, and there’s no additional setup required upon purchasing. It’s portable and compact, allowing you to bring this anywhere you need to get the job done. Of course, the operation off of 155V (household) current is another portability advantage.

Those who are into household repair projects, automotive projects, and heavy projects, the Hobart 500559 is a great selection. The MIG gun can pull for 10 feet, allowing quite the large range of home workshops and smaller workshops. The power cord is of the same length, along with a dual gauge regulator and gas hose. An 8-inch spool adapter is also included in this, providing you with a large starter package of an industrial capable welder.

Of course, any perfect device has some sort of issue with someone, and the only disadvantage I can find with the Hobart 500559 is that the wire feed knob turns kind of easily, which can be an issue if you tend to bump your machine or if the vibration gets a little powerful. However, over vibration is typically a user error and something you don’t have to worry about usually. Overall, this is one of the best MIG welder machines on the market and one I highly, highly recommend.

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Hobart 500553 Handler 210

Hobart 500553 Handler 210 MVP For Use with SpoolRunner 100

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The Hobart 500553 Handler 210 is a little bit different than the last Hobart mentioned but is just as high-quality. If you have the SpoolRunner 100, this Hobart is for usage with that. Other features of this include:

  • Built-in gas solenoid valve
  • Spool hub assembly accommodation
  • 10-feet H100S4-10 gun
  • 10-feet work cable and industrial clamp

The built-in gas solenoid valve is a valve that is controlled by the current of electricity through a solenoid. The flow of electricity and the quality of the valve play directly into how well your welder will function. In this model, you’ll receive a consistent flow of electricity and your welding will be of high-quality. The machine is not cheap in design, and won’t disappoint you!

The length of slack on both the gun and work cables will allow you to have a bit of range, as well. Amongst these, the built-in gas solenoid valve also has a dual-gauge regulator built in. The spool hub assembly also accommodates both 4 and 8-inch spools, which is quite convenient compared to competitors.

Like many other models on the market, the Hobart 500553 can be used with an ordinary household outlet current of 155V or 210MVP. The Hobart is also ideal for usage with:

  • Trailer frames and hitches
  • Gun racks
  • Lawn and garden equipment
  • Metal sculpting
  • Farm equipment & more

The skill level necessary for the operation of the 500553 is low, as you don’t need to be a super professional. The only thing you must be a professional in is safety, as always. With the ability to weld between 24-gauge mild steel and 3/8 mild steel, there’s quite a decent gap for you to perform with this machine consistently.

The only qualm with the Hobart 500553 is the fact that it has a lower duty cycle, but as it’s not a piece of high commercial equipment, this is something seasoned users expect, despite its high-quality welding. However, this doesn’t play down the quality of welding that comes from this device, and it’s still one I’d highly recommend for both rookies and veterans of welding alike.

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Hobart 500536 Ironman MIG Welder

Hobart 500536 Ironman 230 250 Amp MIG Welder With Wheel Kit & Cylinder Rack

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The Hobart 500536 Ironman 230 250 Amp MIG Welder is a portable and convenient MIG welding machine that lives up to the brand and the reviews. Equipped with wheels for optimal pulling convenience, other features of the 500536 include:

  • A heavy-duty cabinet
  • Flawless welding arc
  • Reduction in splatter and post-welding cleanup
  • Better duty cycle

There’s nothing worse with a welding machine that is of cheap quality, as it can overheat much quicker and the welder may break more easily. As for the 500536, that’s not anything you have to worry about. Redesigned for heavier duty welding, the flawless welding arc allows you to deliver a perfect job, along with a reduction in splatter and post-welding cleanup. The almost non-existent cleanup is what makes this machine one of the best MIG welding machines on the market. After a back breaking job that you just want to relax after, you can do so when you purchase the Ironman from Hobart.

The redesign also allows for a better duty cycle, allowing between 30 and 250 amps of power. You can do more on a lower setting or a lot for a shorter amount, but longer than other models. The only issue I found while using this welder is that the cables are shorter compared to the competition, but not something that’s a deal breaker. If you’re someone who works in a small home workshop shop often, it’s not something that makes or break, and you won’t suffer.

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My Recommendation

For newbies, this article on the best MIG welder may be too overwhelming causing you to be unable to make a decision right now. If you still need a bit of persuading, I’ve picked out an option that I’ve personally used and kept in my business workshop for a long time now – the Hobart 500559 Handler Wire Welder. The features are fantastic for the price, the amperage is actually versatile, and it’s an optimal choice for those who work with 24 gauges to ¼ inch steel often. Remember, always practice perfect safety habits when dealing with any sort of welding machine: mig or tig. Happy welding!