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Light It Up: Begin Your Welding Journey an Affordable MIG, TIG, and Stick Welder
Last updated ago
8 min read
By 
Welding Buddy Experts
Published 
December 24, 2021

Light It Up: Begin Your Welding Journey an Affordable MIG, TIG, and Stick Welder

Last updated ago
8 min read
By 
Welding Buddy Experts
Published 
December 24, 2021
BEST VALUE
BEST CHOICE
PREMIUM PICK

It’s certainly not for everyone, but welding is a crucial skill to learn in numerous industries. For example, the automotive industry is entirely dependent on professional and skilled welders for manufacturing the highest quality cars. With a welding torch in hand, you can gain access to countless opportunities in a variety of places.

However, you can also take up welding as a side hobby. You don’t have to be working as a professional welder to be able to wield the all-powerful torch. Many DIYers enjoy having the ability to bend and manipulate metals according to their desires. Welding can be both a practical and enjoyable activity that you can spend your weekends doing.

Where Do I Start?

As a welding neophyte, you might have already discovered the various kinds of welding methods. All that welding jargon can surely make your head spin! Out of all the welding processes that you can learn, MIG welding is deemed the easiest to grasp. Aside from being straightforward, it doesn’t cost much to get started.

“How does MIG welding work?” you might ask. Metal inert gas (MIG) welding utilizes the power of electricity to manipulate metal materials. In MIG welding, you create an electric arc from a positive anode (e.g., electrode wire) and a negative cathode (e.g., metal material). This process results in the melting of the wire, creating a weld pool that cools down to form the joints.

Don’t let yourself be confined to a single welding process, though. You should check out any MIG/TIG/stick welder on the market today. These multi-process combo welders let you pick and choose among the different welding methods in a single machine.

What to Consider When Buying a Welder?

Are you having difficulties nailing down the perfect MIG/TIG/stick combo welder in hardware stores and online marketplaces? For example, a Miller or a Lincoln MIG/TIG/stick welder is a strong contender. Unfortunately, they are very difficult to buy due to their steep prices. As you peruse the store's catalog, you should take note of the following before you purchase one.

Voltage

A welding machine is very powerful equipment that needs an incredible amount of juice. That’s why you have to check the voltage of both the machine and your power outlets. Plugging a welding machine into an incompatible power source can damage your equipment and, in the worst cases, result in an accident.

Aside from compatibility with your power outlets, determining the right voltage also affects the performance of your welding machine. A welder rated at a higher voltage can produce higher amperages. That’s why if you want to work with thicker metal materials, you might need a welder with a high voltage rating.

Budget

Buying a high-end sports car to take your kids to school isn’t exactly a pragmatic decision. Likewise, when looking for a welder, you have to consider yourself and your own preferences first. What applications do you want to use it for? Are you looking for specific features and specifications? Determining your needs and preferences will lead to a better and more practical decision.

Duty Cycle

Welders use massive amounts of energy to do their job. Considering the amount of energy that passes through its components, welders frequently overheat and need to cool down. If you’re working on a sensitive project, you have to ensure that your welder can work for as long as you need it to. This is where knowing the machine’s duty cycle can come in handy.

Expressed in a percentage, the duty cycle pertains to the amount of time that a welding machine can be put to work at a specific amperage. For instance, a welding machine might have a duty cycle of 150 amps at 40%. In simpler terms, this means that the welder can work for 4 minutes (out of the total of 10 minutes) at 150 amps without overloading.

Portability

Welders can be heavy and bulky pieces of equipment. However, if you need to move from one site to another, you would certainly need a welder that is designed to be portable. Portable welders come with a handle and a lighter weight. These kinds of welders can easily be transported on smaller vehicles like hatchbacks or sedans.

Welding Modes

As we have discussed earlier, there are numerous kinds of welding processes. While you’re currently taking the first steps to master MIG welding, you should also consider learning other welding methods. Each welding process suits very specific situations that you might eventually find yourself in.

If you wish to take on other welding processes after you’re done with MIG welding, you should consider welders that feature different welding modes. Instead of buying separate welders for each welding process, you can use a single machine for two or three. Be on the lookout for a MIG/TIG/stick combo welder for sale!

Our Recommendations

Tooliom 200A MIG Welder

Specs at a Glance:

  • Sold on Amazon for $299.99
  • Automatically matches current and voltage values
  • Features software-based synergic functionality
  • Can also be used as a TIG and stick welder
  • Easily welds materials up to 5/32 inches or 4.0 millimeters thick
  • Can be fed with a solid core wire with a diameter of 0.3” or 0.8 mm
  • Handles 0.35-inch or 0.9-millimeter diameter flux core wire
  • Designed to be compatible with 110V and 220V outlets

Powerful Console Controls

With a single press of a button, you can easily switch between different welding modes. The other buttons and knobs on the console also make it easier to customize the device to your needs. It also has an all-digital display panel that reveals relevant information as you operate the machine. As a result, this interface will be highly appreciated by beginner welders.

Capable 5-in-1 Machine

As soon as you’re confident with your MIG welding skills, you might want to learn more about other welding methods. The Tooliom 200A has 5 different welding modes that you can easily switch between by pushing down the mode button. As a result, you don’t need to buy another welder to practice your stick welding and TIG welding skills, which saves you money in the long run.

Drawbacks

When you are in your garage or workspace, you will move around frequently. You might want your materials and equipment within reach. As such, the position of your equipment, especially your welder, is crucial. Unfortunately, the Tooliom 200A doesn’t come with extension cords, making the task of finding the perfect spot for it difficult.

Aftersales

The company offers a 30-day money-back guarantee for the Tooliom 200A. If you make a refund claim, however, the company will deduct 10% from the total price as a stocking fee. In addition, the shipping charges won’t be included in the refunded amount.

If you encounter any problem or have any inquiries about the Tooliom 200A, you can reach the company through their official website. You can reach them by accomplishing a contact form on the website or by sending them an email. They can be contacted during the weekdays from 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM.

Weldpro 155

Specs at a Glance:

  • Sold on Amazon for $399.64
  • Designed to take on the demands of the most difficult welding jobs
  • Capable of MIG, flux core, and stick welding processes
  • Can also be used with TIG welding by acquiring an optional TIG torch
  • Features a removable MIG torch cable that can be easily replaced
  • Can be used with an aluminum spool gun
  • Compatible with 0.023, 0.030, 0.035 MIG and flux core wire
  • Seamless polarity change by swapping dongle cables
  • Features a dual voltage configuration (120V and 240V)

Dual Voltage Flexibility

Looking for a welder that works everywhere can be truly challenging. For instance, power outlets in your home and your workplace might have different voltages. Older machines have external adapters to make them work with incompatible power outlets. Fortunately, the Weldpro 155 is designed to be compatible with both 120V and 240V outlets.

Versatile Portability

If you are hoping to use the same machine in your garage and at work, you need a welder that can easily be picked up and transported. The Weldpro 155 is designed to be just that. It has two handles (at the front and the back) that you can use to pick it up sturdily. In addition, it has a comfortable vertical clearance below the assembly.

Drawbacks

With a duty cycle of 30% at the lowest voltage configuration, the Weldpro 155 may seem lacking for experienced welders. If you hope to use this machine for heavy-duty applications, you might have to consider other options in the market. Another downside is that the housing of the wire drive is made of plastic which can melt in extreme temperatures.

Aftersales

The Weldpro 155 comes with a 3-year warranty. If that is not enough for you, you can purchase an extended warranty from the manufacturer. They will shoulder the shipping costs for products with defects within the first 30 days since the date of purchase. Shipping fees for warranty claims made beyond the 30-day period will not be covered by Weldpro.

Lotos MIG175

Specs at a Glance:

  • Sold on Amazon for $514.27
  • Comes with a durable wire feeder made of high-quality aluminum
  • Already comes with a spool gun
  • Can be used for welding different metals such as stainless steel and aluminum
  • Exhibits a durable transformer technology that you can rely on
  • Covered by a 3-year limited warranty and 30-day money-back guarantee
  • After-sales support provided by a team based in the United States
  • Rated with a 175-amp output that can take on 3/16-inch thick aluminum
  • Can be used with 220V and 240V power outlets
  • Can't be used in TIG welding
  • Compatible with wires ranging from 0.025”–0.030” diameter

Comes With a Spool Gun

Due to how different aluminum is from other materials, you need a specialized tool to be able to weld it more efficiently. Aluminum is a very malleable material, so much so that the wire quickly oxidizes. As such, aluminum can be challenging to work with. The Lotos MIG175 comes with a spool gun that feeds the wire to the gun itself, making aluminum welding jobs a whole lot easier.

Longer Welds

One important spec that you have to consider when it comes to welding machines is the duty cycle. The duty cycle determines the duration of time by which you can continuously operate the welder. The Lotos MIG175 can have a duty cycle anywhere from 20% to 30% based on the amperage. For instance, at 135 amps, the machine operates at a 30% duty cycle.

Drawbacks

Massive amounts of energy pass through the machine. As such, it requires durable and high-quality components, including the power cord. Unfortunately, the power cord that comes with the Lotos MIG175 causes some concern among customers because of how thin it is. In addition, it leans towards the heavier side, making it less portable than its rivals.

Aftersales

Lotos Technology offers a 30-day money-back guarantee for its products, including the Lotos MIG175. If you spot defects or encounter any issues with the product, you can file a warranty claim on their website. In addition, your unit is also covered by a 3-year limited warranty policy. Within the first year, you can have the compromised unit replaced for free.

Hobart Handler 140

Specs at a Glance:

  • Sold on Amazon for $559.99
  • Gives you control over your voltage output with its 5-level knob
  • Works well with welding jobs involving steel, stainless steel, and aluminum
  • Has a multi-process design; can be used as a MIG and stick welder but can't be used as a TIG welder
  • Compatible with household power outlets with 115V voltage rating
  • Feeds in wire at a speed of 40 to 700 IPM
  • Outputs a welding amperage of 25 to 140 amps
  • Can go up to 20% duty cycle at 90 amps

Overload Protection

Whenever you operate the machine, you are going to be working with extremely high temperatures. Intense heat can damage the machine’s components over time. To address this problem, the Hobart Handler 140 comes with self-resetting motor protection that prevents system overload.

Reliable Portability

Weighing a comfortable 57 pounds, you can carry the machine with you anywhere you go. Its low-profile dimensions and shape let you place it anywhere inside your garage or workplace without disrupting your workflow. You can depend on the Hobart Handler 140 for your welding jobs anywhere and anytime.

Drawbacks

A spool gun makes welding jobs involving aluminum materials easier. However, the Hobart Handler 140 doesn’t come with its own spool gun. If you work with aluminum frequently, you will have to spend more money on a third-party spool gun. Another problem that you might face is limited movement because of its short power cord.

Aftersales

Hobart generously covers the Handler 140 with a 5-year warranty. For up to 5 years, you can enjoy peace of mind while knowing that the manufacturer will help you out with parts and labor. You can contact their customer service team via their official website and hotline number.

Final Thoughts

Welding can be challenging at first. Fortunately, with the right equipment, you can quickly master the art. Some welders have a multi-process design, allowing you to seamlessly jump from one welding process to another. MIG/TIG/stick combo welders are a great choice for welders who are taking their first steps into the world of welding.

The sooner you nail down the perfect welder for you, the sooner you will conquer the craft of metalworking!

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