If you’re going to end up with the best MIG welder for you, you first have to define the nature of the jobs you need them for. Our guide will no doubt help you understand the individual reviews we are about to see better.
Let’s start this with a story. Natalie (not her real name, lest she hunts us down for putting it there) is quite a stickler for detail. For her, a dress is not perfect if the stiches aren’t properly aligned, if there are threads hanging out here and there, or if all the buttons aren’t fixed in such a way that all the holes are facing the same direction. One day, she asks Bob (obviously not his real name for ethical reasons) to make her welded coffee and console tables
with stained wooden tops to complement her vintage-themed home. Bob heads off and, on the agreed date, he presents the tables to her. Now, one would expect that Natalie would be ecstatic, seeing as her tables arrived on time, but her reaction was quite the opposite, to Bob’s chagrin. She looked the tables over and shook her head in disapproval, then she pointed out each joint to Bob and asked him why they weren’t smooth, and how secure he thought such joints would be. Bob’s response and the ensuing discourse between professional and client won’t be detailed here but, as you can guess neither was satisfied.
The thing is this: our friend, Natalie, had seen cleaner, smoother welds on furniture in the market but, being her unique and creative self (something many of us can relate to), she decided she wanted something custom-made. What she didn’t know was that the process through which those welds were produced, even though it included welding helmets
and gloves, didn’t include the regular welding tool. MIG welders are the tools you use to create secure and supple joints that are smooth and have the least amount of distortion. They come in different designs and can be used on an industrial scale and for smaller projects as well; there is a high chance that this was what was used to create the joints on the furniture she saw in the market.
One also has to wonder why Bob’s welds weren’t up to par, especially since it was a paid job – didn’t he know about these MIG babies, and didn’t he think they were worth their hype? MIG (Metal Inert Gas) welders are actually quite easy to use; they’re a type of arc welder
that utilizes non-reactive gas, aka inert gas, to melt metal electrodes into the spots that you’re welding. The gas shields the weld from oxidation, giving you cleaner welds. They’ll steadily feed the electrode and melt it, sustaining the pre-set arc length. What’s more, they can be used on a variety of metals and metal thicknesses, which means that whether you’re a pro or an enthusiast, you can use these welders for a wide range of welding projects.
They come in a wide price range, so there is a great-quality MIG welder for just about any budget. They’re faster to work with and the continuous wire feed greatly reduces the need for stopping and restarting, producing a more reliable weld and increasing your productivity. Having said all this, one just has to wonder about Bob and hope that we don’t have to wonder about you too.
When it comes to the all-important issue of price, we advise that you invest in an MIG welder that’ll offer premium performance for a long time so that you don’t end up spending more. The welders we reviewed in this article fall within a $140 - $2250 price range, and if you’re thinking that’s a pretty wide range, we agree with you. There are reasons for that difference and we’ll try to explain them. A major reason for the price difference lies in the features offered by the MIG welders; the more basic the welder, the less expensive it’ll be and vice versa. So, you won’t expect MIG welders that use only flux core wires to sell for as much as those that employ shielding gas, or both options. Whether you’re handling heavy-duty or DIY projects, you shouldn’t expect the best deals from cheap MIG welders, as they may not offer the kind of results you seek.
When you’re shopping for an MIG welder, you should know the kinds of tasks you intend to accomplish with it, as knowing that will enlighten you on what features to look out for. Having said that, here are some important features of an MIG welder:
- Welding Range
- Input and Output
- Duty Cycle
Construction and Design
Choosing an MIG welder without considering its welding range is akin to replacing your favorite drink with your least favorite one; are you going to enjoy it? No. You’ve paid for it? Yes. Trust us, it’s a frustrating situation to be in. The welding range refers to the sizes of metals that the welder can effectively, or is designed to, work on. As you weld, you’re bound to come across metals of varying thicknesses. This isn’t a problem, as you can set the MIG welder to the amount of power needed. However, you should take note of the maximum and minimum ranges so that you don’t overwork the welder, causing damage to it.
When we talk about input and output in MIG welders, we’re referring to the amount of electrical power that is required to run the welders. The typical power requirements for MIG welders are 110V and 220V; you’ll even find units that offer a flexible dual-voltage system. What you should know about this is that the higher the voltage required, the more power the welder will use and, consequently, the thicker the metal sheets that it’ll be able to weld.
Performance and Ease of Use
Duty cycle refers to the length of time within a 10-minute period that your MIG can be operated for, before allowing it some rest. For instance, an MIG with a 3% duty cycle can be run for only 3 minutes out of 10 before it needs to be turned off and allowed some rest. If you’re going to be using one of these for professional, paid projects, you’ll have to look for those with high duty cycles.
Another feature of importance is heat protection. It can work by shutting off the machine if it gets too hot, or by keeping it electrically cold. This is a safety feature that everyone can benefit from, whether you’re a pro or DIY enthusiast.
Take note of the size of the MIG welder before deciding on one. This is because if it’s too large, you might find that it’ll be
somewhat bulky and cumbersome to move around. Depending on where you’d like to set it up and how often you’ll be moving it around, ensure that the weight isn’t a deal or back breaker. A handle is definitely going to make life a lot easier if you’re going to be moving your MIG around.
A warranty is important with products like this, as you’ll want to ensure that what you ordered is what got delivered and that it’s in functional order, as this is no small investment. Check out the warranty that backs the unit you’re interested in so that you can shop with confidence.
And there we have them, the best MIG welders on the market from the leading welding product brands. We do hope you’re ready to make your order, enjoy!