If you’re getting into welding, you’re probably wondering what’s the best welder for beginners. One that you can get for the least amount of money, but still get the best equipment possible? Well, whether you’re starting to weld at home or are enrolled at a trade school, you need a machine that’s easy to learn to minimize mistakes and help you master your craft.
Still, the best welding machine for beginners has enough power to perform valuable work coupled with a decent set of features. Since no one unit fits all, here are our top eight welding machines that every beginner should consider.
Best Welder for Beginners
1. Hobart 500559 Handler 140
The Hobart Handler 140 is a DIYers favorite. This unit is a MIG and Flux Core welder that operates on a 115V power outlet. It’s pretty easy to use since it comes with two dials; one for the wire feed speed and the other for the five voltage settings.
Hobart 500559 Handler 140 is ready to weld out of the box. It includes a 10ft. MIG gun and a 10ft. work cable with clamp. This machine can weld metals from 24 gauge (1/40th of an inch) up to ¼ of an inch thick mild steel. To this end, this welder can handle steel, stainless steel, and aluminum. Yes, it can weld aluminum, although it is not spool-gun ready.
As for the duty cycle, Hobart Handler 140 has an impressive 20% @ 90A duty cycle. Thus, it’s the ideal choice for the beginner welder looking to complete simple tasks. From welding exhaust systems to the fabrication of heavier duty type projects such as creating your own welding bench. The welder includes a Quick Select drive system with three grooves to handle soft and firm wires.
Lastly, Hobart Handler 140 comes with a Miller gas regulator for peace of mind. The transformer power supply has five years of warranty, and the machine has a 3-year warranty.
- Can run on 4000-watt generator
- 4 in. and 8 in. spools
- 24 gauge to ¼ inch thick weldable steel
- Operates on standard 115V power outlets
- Can weld aluminum
- Requires wrench to adjust spool tension
- Grounding clamp could be of better quality
2. DEKOPRO 160A MMA Welder
DEKOPRO 160A MMA Welder is a compact and powerful machine that can weld a wide variety of materials. Its IGBT technology lets it weld mild steel, stainless steel, aluminum, and cast iron. You’ll like that it plugs into domestic 120V sockets, so there’s no need to install a 220V socket. Nevertheless, this feature indicates that it is not for heavy-duty work.
DEKOPRO 160A MMA Welder comes in a portable design and weighs 12.1 lbs. Therefore, it’s the perfect match for construction projects where you need to take the unit with you every day. With this welder, you can count on getting excellent arcs. At 110V, it can handle a 3/32 rod with no problem, while it can take on a 1/8 rod at 120V. We also like how well it penetrates ¼-inch steel.
This welder will allow you to achieve professional-quality welds on thin metal, especially with auto body panels. It comes with a straightforward but detailed control mechanism that beginners can easily understand. With only one current adjustment knob, varying welding currents is a cinch.
The current meter is digital, and it will show you the amperage available at any particular time. Furthermore, the 9.28 ft. electrode holder and 5.9 ft. power cord minimize dragging of the unit around your workspace.
- Easy to transport
- 10 – 160A meet many welding requirements
- Wide range of weldable materials
- Closed-loop feedback technology
- Competitively priced
- Includes many safety features
- Wire brush and slag hammer need an upgrade
- Stinger is plastic
3. Hobart 500570 Stickmate 160i
Hobart brings another incredible option for beginners in the 500570 Stickmate 160i. This model is great for homeowners since it runs on both 110V and 120V input power. It delivers 20 amps to 160 amps of output power to showcase that it is a powerful arc welder.
This welder can handle up to 5/32-inch steel; hence it can weld most stick electrode types. Nevertheless, it can only weld for two minutes out of ten at 65A. We get that’s why it is ideal for DIYers and hobbyists.
Controls on this unit are knobs on the front panel. You’ll appreciate that it has infinite amperage control so you can achieve precise arcs. It also allows you to make 10A increments, so you don’t have to guess the amp settings between two numbers. Even better, its hot start technology means that the welder will peak current immediately you scratch the welding material with the electrode.
Hobart 500570 Stickmate 160i supports nearly all welding electrodes, including 6010, 6011, 6013, 308L, 7018, 7024, and Ni-CL. Finally, its premium build incorporates a sturdy metal case and durable front and back plastic panels, indicating that the unit will withstand sparks and molten pieces.
- Can handle rough working conditions
- Includes all accessories to start welding
- Lightweight and portable
- High-grade build quality
- Dual-voltage capable
- Quick and reliable hot start technology
- Low duty cycle compared to others in its class
4. Lincoln Electric K2278-1 Handy Core
The Lincoln Electric K2278-1 Handy Core is a great starter welder if you’ve decided to start with flux-cored welding. This unit uses only flex core welding wire, and it will weld steel only. Furthermore, it comes with all the accessories, that’s why it’s one of the best welders for beginners.
Lincoln Electric K2278-1 Handy Core also comes with extra contact tips, sample wire, a handheld face mask, a brush, and a chipping hammer. Since it’s a beginner’s machine, the duty cycle is rated at 20% at 70A. As such, it can weld for two minutes in ten minutes. You’ll be able to use it for welding repairs that do not require lots of continuous power.
This model boasts an output range of 35A to 88 A to handle 18 gauge up to 1/8-inch mild steel. It plugs into 115V sockets, but you need a 20-amp fused outlet to keep it from tripping fuses. The wire feed speed dial runs from 1 to 10 and provides 0 to 300 inches per minute speeds.
There are four voltage settings: the high/low and the 1 and 2. Since it does not tell you what the setting relates to, Lincoln suggests settings for different mild steel gauges.
- It comes with a full 1-pound spool
- 10ft. MIG gun and ground clamp
- 8ft. power cord
- Includes two spare .035-inch contact tips
- Fan-cooled to improve life expectancy
- The clamp is of low quality
- Cannot handle large welding projects
5. Forney Easy Weld 261 140 FC-I Welder
The Forney Easy Weld 261 140 FC-I Welder is a 140-amp flux core welder for maintenance, repair, metal fabricators, and DIYers. Like the Lincoln, it cannot do MIG welding since it does not support a gas line.
This machine has double wire drive rollers. It is significantly built for the price since we don’t expect you to use it daily. Furthermore, the leads are only 8-ft long, so you’ll need to keep the unit away from the sparks. However, since it outputs 140 amps, you don’t need to worry about molten metal droplets.
Forney Easy Weld 261 140 FC-I Welder is easy to use, and you can start to weld in as little as 15 minutes after you get it from the box. There are two knobs for infinite voltage adjustments, but it does not have the wire feed speed specifications. Hence, if you’re relying on YouTube tutorials, it may be a bit complicated to follow specific welding instructions that stipulate the exact ipm and voltage for a particular weld.
- 8ft. MIG gun and ground clamp
- Includes 20 A to 15 A adapter
- Can accept 10 lbs. wire rolls
- All-metal casing
- Infinite wire speed and voltage adjustments
- Drive feed system is plastic
- Cannot weld aluminum and stainless steel
- Low duty cycle
6. ETOSHA MIG 160 Welder
ETOSHA MIG 160 Welder is built for both professionals and hobbyists. As you’ll see, it’s a remarkable machine with a massive radiator for heavy-duty cooling. Even better, it has water splash and thermal protection, and it boasts IP21 waterproofing. This machine will also stop automatically in case of an overload.
ETOSHA MIG 160 Welder can weld metal sheets as thin as 1/16 inches and as thick as ¼ inches. This unit operates on a typical 110V socket with 60Hz support. Moreover, it has an IGBT inverter and wire feed control for reliable performance.
With the ARC-160 stick, you can check precise welding outcomes, plus component quality is exceptional to handle a wide variety of tasks. Whether you want to assemble special vehicle tools, do your manifolds, or build a greenhouse with metal tubing, this welder can handle these tasks.
- Electric choke control for good formation
- Two extra tips
- Advanced cooling system
- Uniform adjustment system
- Portable design
- Included welding wire splatters a little
- No fixed amperage output indication
7. YESWELDER MIG 250 Pro
The YESWELDER brand has been around since 2006, but it competes effectively with century-old companies like Hobart. This brand is one of the few affordable but high-quality for novices. It has an output of 250A with a 60% duty cycle, proving that it’s quite capable.
The YESWELDER MIG 250 Pro provides the portability needed at only 39 pounds. It supports four functions: Gas MIG, Gasless MIG, Stick, and Lift TIG. It has automatic settings to get the perfect arc, but there’s a slight learning curve to using this welder.
This machine can weld steel, stainless steel, and aluminum. At the same time, it has a Teflon liner to allow MIG welding of aluminum. Nevertheless, the TIG option is not for aluminum but rather DC welding. The YESWELDER MIG 250 can take 0.9 MIG solid wire and 0.9 mm MIG flux wire. Since it has a high 250A output, it can get through a thick stock wire in a single pass.
- Includes a chart
- 30 A to 250 A for thin to thick metal
- Respectable 60% @ 250 A duty cycle
- Auto settings to simply usage
- 2T and 4T welding options
- Affordable for multiple processes
- Fan runs continuously
- Does not accept a spool gun
- Only single gas input
8. Weldpro MIG 155GSV
Weldpro MIG 155 GSV is another machine that supports multiple processes. You will find it easy to practice without buying a second welder since it can MIG, flux core, and stick weld. This model also supports DC TIG with separate parts if you want to get on to TIG welding.
Weldpro MIG 155GSV is a budget machine but it supports both 115V and 230V power. It also comes with a power adapter to improve its versatility. In addition, it is portable and comes with a handle for easy picking.
This unit has a low duty cycle of only 30%. As such, you cannot use it for heavy-duty welding. The welder handles only mild steel and stainless steel since it does not accept a spool gun for aluminum. Still, the 8ft. leads are short, so you may be limited to a small shop. Plus, it can only take 4inch spools, which further limits you to light use.
- Dual-voltage input power
- Compact and light to move around
- MIG, stick, and flux core welding
- Options for 2T and 4T modes
- Infinitely adjustable heat and wire speed controls
- Includes MIG torch, gas regulator, and stick arc electric holder
- Quality control issues
- Isolated complaint about erratic wire feeding
Beginners Guide to Buying a Welder for the First Time
When you are new to welding, you will find dozens of welding machines that can leave you wondering which one is ideal for your needs. Understanding these essential things to consider before buying a welder will come in handy.
Consider Your Skills
MIG, TIG, and Stick are typical welding processes requiring different equipment. MIG welding is suitable for beginners since it uses a wire feed system similar to flux welding. This welding method is the easiest and quickest to learn. Additionally, it produces a clean and powerful joint that’s aesthetically appealing. Nonetheless, MIG does not perform well outdoors in windy or rusty conditions.
Stick welding, on the other hand, is considered an intermediate skill. It entails using a flux-covered metal electrode that carries current from the welder to the material. This method allows welding with different metals, and you can use it indoors and outdoors.
TIG or GTAW (Tungsten Inert Gas or Gas Tungsten Arc Welding) is an advanced welding skill. The process is manual such that you hold the torch with one hand and feed the filler rod into the weld puddle. It requires a sophisticated welder that tells you when the metal is getting too hot or not hot enough.
TIG is the most rewarding skill since it yields the strongest joints in titanium, aluminum, and copper tubing. However, it requires a high initial investment.
Input and Output Power
The input power tells you what power your machine runs on. Some welders plug into 110V/120V household sockets, while others require 240V sockets, which are not always available at home.
As for the output power, it indicates the power that the welder yields in amps. For example, a unit with a 120V input rating can deliver 240 amps output power. The higher the output power, the more capable the machine is at handling thick materials, and it can weld for a longer time (Duty Cycle).
Note that each .001-inch of metal requires 1 amp of output. Therefore, a .125 thick metal will need 125 amps.
Machines with a low duty cycle use low amperage and stop more frequently to cool down. However, it can cover more jobs in a garage or shop. You will need a high duty cycle like 60% for heavy fabrication and manufacturing since such a machine will operate at high amperage.
Always look for a machine with overload protection since it will power off if the circuit starts to overheat. Other safety features to look for include fan cooling and water damage protection.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What type of welder is best for beginners?
MIG welding is considered the easiest for beginners since it is easy to learn. All the settings are on the welding machine, making it more user friendly to set the voltage and wire speed; hence you can concentrate on mastering your weld. There is no chipping of slag and it produces pro-quality welds.
Is TIG or MIG better for beginners?
Since MIG requires less hand control, you do not need to balance materials and learn timing to create a solid and admirable joint. If necessary, you can hold onto the hand piece with both hands for better control. That’s why MIG is better for beginners.
Choosing the best welder for beginners is not easy, but we hope you can find a suitable model from our top brands. The most valuable option is the Hobart Handler 140 since it is a versatile unit for MIG and flux core welding. For pure flux core welding, Lincoln Electric K2278-1 Handy Core is a capable unit for light-duty tasks, while the YESWELDER MIG 250 Pro is the most suitable unit for multiple processes. We sincerely hope we have helped you to choose a suitable welder for your particular requirements.