6 Best MIG Welders for Beginners in 2021
A metal inert gas (MIG) welder is a type of welding machine that uses a continuous electrode wire running through a welding gun to form welds on metallic pieces.
MIG welders use inert gases to prevent contamination of the welding process, which may result in sub-par or inconsistent welds.
When choosing a beginner MIG welder you’ll be looking at factors such as voltage, amperage, duty cycles, and weight of the tool.
Dive into our review of top 6 MIG welders for beginners and buying guide to help you choose the best model to help kick-start your welding venture.
- 6 Best MIG Welders for Beginner – Review
- 1. Super Deal MIG130 – Best Budget MIG Welder for Beginners
- 2. Hobart 500553 – Best Heavy-duty MIG Welder for Beginners
- 3. Forney 261 – Best Lightweight MIG Welder for Beginners
- 4. Lotos MIG140 – Easy-to-use Beginner MIG Welder
- 5. Hobart 500559 – Versatile MIG Welder for Beginners
- 6. Lincoln Electric K2278-1 – Beginner MIG Welder for Home Repairs
- How to Buy the Best MIG Welders for Beginner
6 Best MIG Welders for Beginner – Review
1. Super Deal MIG130 (Best Budget)
2. Hobart 500553 (Best Heavy-duty)
3. Forney 261 (Best Lightweight)
4. Lotos MIG140 (Easy-to-use)
5. Hobart 500559 (Versatile)
6. Lincoln Electric K2278-1 (For Home Repairs)
1. Super Deal MIG130
2. Hobart 500553
3. Forney 261
4. Lotos MIG140
5. Hobart 500559
6. Lincoln Electric K2278-1
(For Home Repairs)
1. Super Deal MIG130 – Best Budget MIG Welder for Beginners
- Input Power: 110 volts
- Amperage Range: 50 amps to 120 amps
- Duty Cycle: 10% to 35%
- Weight: 38.1 pounds
If you’re a beginner welder looking for a budget MIG welder then the Super Deal MIG130 is your best bet.
Compared to other models, this welder is the most affordable and accessible to entry-level users.
What we especially loved about it is that it comes with a variable amperage of 50 amps to 120 amps so that you can control wire-speed for diversity in welding techniques.
Some of its core components are made using PVC, and a delicate material that allows the inclusion of a comfortable grip for ease of handling and operation.
It also comes with thermal overload protection, which includes a cooling fan that will safeguard the machine even as you focus on the welding task at hand.
For ease of use, the tool has a digital soft key control panel that is intuitive and readily accessible.
An issue we noted with the budget Super Deal MIG130 is its single-voltage input power that may limit the weld sizes and arcs you can achieve with the welder.
2. Hobart 500553 – Best Heavy-duty MIG Welder for Beginners
- Input Power: 115 volts - 230 volts
- Amperage Range: 25 amps to 210 amps
- Duty Cycle: 20% - 30%
- Weight: 87 pounds
Hobart 500553 stands out as the best heavy-duty MIG welder for beginners on our list because of its high-power input and amperage range.
It features a dual-voltage input of 115 volts and 230 volts, which can be varied using 7 voltage settings. These superior power settings support precision welds of different arcs and thickness.
At 115 volts, you get a duty cycle of 20% at 90 amps, and the 230-volt option will support a duty cycle of 30% at 150 amps, allowing for longer machine utilization per welding session.
Because of its quick-change drive roll system, you won’t require and tools to set up the machine or load up the wire feed.
The only downside of the top-rated Hobart 500553 MIG welder is that it comes at a steep price, which makes it the most expensive model on our list, but its superior features are worth every buck.
It is also very heavy and not easily portable.
3. Forney 261 – Best Lightweight MIG Welder for Beginners
- Input Power: 120 volts
- Amperage Range: 140 amps
- Duty Cycle: 30%
- Weight: 19 pounds
If you’re looking for a lightweight MIG welder for beginners, Forney 261 is your best bet.
At only 19 pounds in weight, this welder supports portability more than any other on our list. You can use it for offsite work, which is a major boost when starting your welding career.
Another impressive feature of this welder is its infinite voltage and wire feed speed control, which is a great combination when you want absolute control over the welding process.
Its high 140-amp power output supports the welding of medium-gauge metals such as 1/4-inch steel. Also, the welder can achieve a 30% duty cycle at 90 amps, a range similar to that of premium models.
The welder’s rugged all-metal case makes the tool durable and capable of handling day-to-day operations.
We did notice, however, that the Forney 261’s amperage is fixed, hence not versatile in supporting many welding techniques.
More Detailed: Forney 261 Review
4. Lotos MIG140 – Easy-to-use Beginner MIG Welder
- Input Power: 110 volts - 115 volts
- Amperage Range: 25 amps to 140 amps
- Duty Cycle: 20%
- Weight: 54 pounds
Lotos MIG140 is a beginner MIG welder whose design has been optimized to support ease of use, especially for entry-level welders.
The tool comes with 2 digital displays to help users adjust wire feeder speed and welding voltage with more precision compared to manual controls.
To deliver a more stable and efficient welding experience, the welder comes with an aluminum wire feeder that is also very durable.
Welding gun control is enhanced in this tool by 2T and 4T switches. The 2T switch is manual while the 4T one is semi-automatic, allowing you to release the trigger for long during welding jobs.
You can also use the welder for multiple applications including welding mild steel, aluminum, and stainless steel.
Unfortunately, the Lotos MIG140 MIG welder does not come with a spoon gun included. You need to buy that separately, hence additional costs.
5. Hobart 500559 – Versatile MIG Welder for Beginners
- Input Power: 115 volts
- Amperage Range: 25 amps to 140 amps
- Duty Cycle: 20%
- Weight: 57 pounds
Hobart 500559 is a versatile MIG welder for beginners, which is designed to handle a variety of welding techniques and materials, especially with its wide amperage range.
The tool has the capacity for high performance as it can weld 24-gauge mild steel of up to a 1/4 inch. It is also recommended for welding cast iron, copper, brass, magnesium alloys, and titanium.
This welder has a superior amperage range of 25 amps to 140 amps, which supports a wire feed speed of 40 - 700 inches per minute (IPM) for versatility in welding techniques.
It comes with a 5-position voltage control selector, which improves the welding thickness by adding a smooth and stable arc.
You will also get a weld set-up guide, which comes on the inside of the tool’s cover to help simplify the setup process, especially for first-time users.
A potential drawback of the Hobart 500559 is that it is very pricey for its modest features and many beginners may find this price well beyond their budgets.
More Detailed: Hobart 500559 Review
6. Lincoln Electric K2278-1 – Beginner MIG Welder for Home Repairs
- Input Power: 115 volts
- Amperage Range: 35 amps to 88 amps
- Duty Cycle: 20%
- Weight: 46 pounds
If you’re looking for a good beginner MIG welder to execute home-repair tasks, then the Lincoln Electric K2278-1 is the right tool for you.
It comes with a mid-range amperage of 35 amps to 88 amps, which is great for basic welds that don’t demand a lot of power of welding wire.
With its 20% duty cycle at 70 amps, this tool comfortably welds up to 1/8-inch of mild steel, making it great for hobby and home repair projects that utilize this material.
For your safety, the welder has a cold contractor safety feature that will keep the welding wire electrically “cold” until you press the trigger to activate it.
The machine plugs into a standard 115-volt, 20-amp household power outlet so that you can simply plug and begin using it without any complex setups.
We did note, however, that the Lincoln Electric K2278-1 has a single voltage input that limits how much power can be used during welding.
How to Buy the Best MIG Welders for Beginner
The power input of your MIG welder will be measured in voltage. Some welders come with dual-voltage power outputs of 115 volts and 230 volts, for instance.
Such welders are great if you want to vary power between low and high to achieve specific welds on metals.
Single-voltage MIG welders are great for light-duty welding because of their constant voltage.
2. Duty Cycle
The duty cycle is a specification used in welding, which defines the duration, within a 10-minute period, within which a welder can produce a specified welding current steadily.
If, for example, your welder has a duty cycle of 20% at 90 amps, this means it can run steadily for 2 minutes at that current, but after that, it needs to “rest” for the next 8 minutes before resuming welding.
Welders with higher duty cycles will weld longer at specific amps, hence their suitability for intensive welding projects.
3. Wire Speed
The wire speed is the rate at which the welding gun produces the welding wire that will be used for welding. It is measured in inches per minute (IPM) and also regulates amperage.
The wire speed of your MIG welder will increase as amperage increases. The reverse is also the same. Hence, if you set the peak amperage of your MIG welder is 120 amps, wire speed will be fastest at this setting.
Fast wire speed means more amperage and consequently, more heat, so less penetration, and excessive melt-through.
When looking at material, we consider the material of the metals being welder, or the welding guide wire’s material. Most wires are flux-cored and made of carbon steel, stainless still or aluminum electrodes.
They are preferred for their welding efficiency when combined with the ideal inert gases.
The material you are welding on also matters when choosing a MIG welder. Most beginner models will handle mild steel of up to 3/8-inch in size.
Other common materials welded using beginner MIGs magnesium alloys, titanium, carbon steel, and stainless steel.
5. Thermal Overload Protection
Thermal overload protection is a handy feature included in MIG welders to prevent them from damage that may be caused by overheating.
Sometimes you may exceed the recommended duty cycle of your welder and it may get hot to the point of malfunctioning.
Thermal overload protection is a mechanism that will prevent such an outcome. Hence, you may benefit a great deal from buying a welder with the feature.
6. Easy to Use
For beginner welders, a MIG welding machine should be as easy to use as possible to make the setup and operation process fast and simple.
Most MIG welders require minimal assembly and are further made easy to use by including comprehensive user guides.
Some manufacturers include guide charts for with a voltage and amperage combination for different welding conditions.
The portability of your MIG welder will be determined mostly by its weight. Some models we reviewed were as heavy as 87 pounds, which makes portability difficult.
However, there are lighter models weighing about 20 pounds, making them significantly lighter and easy to transport from one point to another.
Some MIG welders have handles to provide gripping mechanisms that may improve portability.
We’ve covered everything there is to know about MIG welders for beginners who wish to join the welding profession or just execute some simple home and hobbyist projects.
When shopping for your MIG welder, remember to check that its power will meet all your welding project needs. The check its duty cycle, wire speed, electrode material, ease of use, and portability.
Remember you can always refer to our top 6 MIG welder for beginners’ review and buying guide to help you choose the model that works best for your welding projects.