Cheap Welders – A Comprehensive Buying Guide With Top Reviews
Note: This article has been updated in June 2019 and currently being the most up to date post on the internet.
While thinking of welding, most people imagine a big workplace with soot-covered hands doing some commercial fabrication. However, that’s not the start and end of welding. There are many more instances where a beginner or an average user will comfortably use a welding machine at their home. This is why cheap welders are appealing to them! They seriously do not need an upscale or highly professional model.
However, cheap welders for sale seem to be an obvious preference even of the professionals. Well, figuring out the best budget welder is actually not so easy, especially for beginners. This is because there are different types and that each of these types has further factors to consider.
For example, after deciding the type, you would have to choose one from that category by determining other factors such as power, duty cycle, and protection features. Thus, to make you, as a beginner or as a budget buyer, choose the best budget welder, this guide is out!
After all, how will you sort through several options available in a specific type category? Well, now, you need not do, as this guide does it for you.
Why You Need a Cheap Welding Machine
Commencing a welding career can be a pleasant or an unpleasant affair. It is somewhat like an art that all of us cannot master. This means all of us can learn but only a few are versatile experts. Well, if you end spending thousand dollars just for learning the purpose, it is really going to stress your budget.
If you have joined a training class or are trying your hands for the first time on welding, investing hundreds of dollars on a new welder is irrational. Thus, it makes sense to get started with a cheap welding machine.
The best cheap welder is perhaps a sensible way to learn the art or skills of welding, which is required for your upcoming simple projects or for taking up some serious job. While the former one would involve trial and error, the latter one would require you to be a bit experienced.
You may proceed to buy a better or advanced model but only if you wish to sustain yourself in this field as a hobbyist or a professional. Still, the fact is that even professionals would first consider buying a cheap MIG welder or a cheap TIG welder.
Buying such a model helps to have a real experience that involves facing all sorts of challenges. You should not get demotivated with the word ‘cheap’. This is because cheap welders do not give inconsistent or unreliable outcomes.
Even the collection of cheap welders has different reliable models. A home welder has a myriad of improvement projects at his disposal. Luckily, finding reliable discount welders no longer means compromising quality.
With the existing collection of cheap welders, these users can now take the benefit of multiple uses. These welders are usable right from fixing a broken chair arm to making creative statues using recycled metals.
The modern options run on electricity and are portable. Some models also work on gas rather than on electricity.
They do support the regular home power sockets due to which there is no need of rewiring or risk of circuit overloading. Cheap welders are capable of fulfilling the diverse needs of welding enthusiasts as well as homeowners, by working on a myriad of metals.
Factors to Consider for Buying the Best Budget Welder
As a fact, there is no single budget welder that comes with a single-size-fits-all capability. This is perhaps why several welding disciplines are offered. Each one comes with its pros and cons that must be considered.
Thus, in other words, it is essential to look for the best affordable welder by considering these pros and cons. Further, there are some more factors to consider whose applicability depends on your requirements.
The biggest requirement is the ability to weld all metals you need it for. When it comes to cheap welders, you will find many designed for only a few metals.
These models are for you if you will be working with a specific metal although a versatile welder capable of welding maximum metals and performing a range of tasks is preferable. Further, you may need a welder that can support both electricity and gas power sources.
Getting these facilities may add a bit to your budget, but you will then obtain the best of both worlds. In case of larger projects, a welder working with a 240v outlet is required. This is to enjoy the optimal flexibility and prevent an upgrade in future by eliminating the need to invest in a welder of a higher power.
So, let’s take a look at all such factors that affect your selection decision once you know which metals you will be working with for welding purpose.
The Welding Process
Welding joins two similar metal pieces either through the process of melting the base and fusing a filler metal or plastic that becomes a strong joint. This joint is formed by the power of a flame or an electric arc.
Mostly, ferrous metals are used for welding and the temperature is usually between 1500 and 3000 degrees Fahrenheit. Following are the different welding processes for you to consider as per the metal to be welded and skills required:
- Stick/Arc Welding or Shielded Metal Arc Welding (SMAW): This process involves an arc welder using a replaceable electrode to aid the arc. Shielding takes place by melting of the electrode’s outer flux coating. It is the electrode that provides the filler metal. This welder needs a significant amount of cleanup and frequent electrode (rod) replacements.
- Recommended When: In outdoor and in windy situations
- Recommended For: Cast iron, steel, stainless steel, dirty or rusty surface
- Support for Metal Thickness: At least 18-gauge or 0.16 cm
- Skill Level: Moderate
- Metal Inert Gas (MIG) or Gas Metal Arc Welding (GMAW): This process involves a wire feed welding machine that generates an arc to join metals by heating. The arc exists between the metal and incessantly fed electrode (solid wire). Shielding, in this case, comes from an externally provided gas.
- Recommended When: Ease of use is on priority, metals are thinner, high speed with cleaner weld and less cleanup is required, flux cored process is also needed
- Recommended For: Aluminum alloys, cast iron, steel, stainless steel
- Support for Metal Thickness: 26-gauge or even thicker surfaces
- Skill Level: Low
- Flux Cored Arc Welding: This is gasless welding that MIG welders can perform. Here, metals are joined with the help of an arc between the piece and replaceable electrode wire. The weld is cylindrical with the flux coat being within the shielding. Depending on the type of wire in use, this process takes place even without the shielding gas.
- Recommended When: In windy condition, deep penetration is required on thick surfaces, flexible and portable positioning is required
- Recommended For: Aluminum alloys, steel, stainless steel, dirty or rusty surface
- Support for Metal Thickness: 26-gauge or even thicker surfaces
- Skill Level: Low
- Tungsten Inert Gas (TIG) or Gas Tungsten Arc Welding (GTAW): This process involves using a TIG welder that works with a generator of high frequency. The arc is formed between the piece and non-consumable electrode of tungsten. Shielding comes from an inert gas such as argon. It is not necessary to use the filler metal in this process.
- Recommended When: Precise, high-quality welds or highly appealing beads are required
- Recommended For: AC for aluminum and magnesium, DC for copper, steel, brass, stainless steel, titanium
- Support for Metal Thickness: Both thin and thick surfaces
- Skill Level: High
In case your use is up to simple joining tasks, a cheap MIG welder is perhaps an ideal choice. The MIG process is perhaps the easiest to study and apply. It is also capable of welding common metals and thick surfaces via several passes. It can do a majority of jobs of a stick welder without using the same number of consumables.
In case precision is your topmost priority, a cheap TIG welder is your friend. You can accurately join thin metals with lower warps or deformation than usual. You can expect the output to be of x-ray quality.
The stick welding process hardly needs anything in terms of equipment due to which it is easiest to find a better welder performing it for less money. Well, you can perform this process on most metals, especially if they are rusty or dirty. Further, only stick welders are easier to use outdoors than the welders in any other category.
There are even multi-process welders that can do two or more of these welding processes. However, it may not be easy to maneuver these models.
Applications and Power Output
Before you choose a welder, it is critical to consider its common uses. These can be repair, automobile body, farm, general maintenance, or construction. Each welder is made for one or more of these applications, which is determined by its duty cycle, rated output, and other aspects.
For instance, a stick welder is ideal for repairing a railing’s wrought iron. Similarly, a heavy-duty repair requires a multi-process welder that can tackle different metals of diverse thickness.
Then, for light repair on steel or aluminum up to 3/16-inch thick, a rated output of 130-amp and a duty cycle of 20-30% are essential to perform a majority of your tasks.
In case of fabrication jobs, a more powerful welder generating an output of a minimum 200 amps as well as having a duty cycle of 40% is needed. For such tasks, cheap welders will not suffice in most situations.
As a conclusion, choose a welder with sufficient amperage so that a consistent root pass is guaranteed. If the first pass itself is dissatisfactory, the subsequent passes will not cover for it. So rather than buying cheapest welder possible, go for the cheapest welder that can give you a chance to make a smooth root pass consistently.
The AMP rating gives a better insight to a welder’s power potential to weld thick or thin metal surfaces. A higher AMP rating is required for welding thick surfaces than usual. For thinner surfaces, this rating should be low or else you will end up melting the metallic surfaces rather than joining them.
Welders usually operate on 110 or 220v circuits. However, there are many models that support dual voltage and eliminate our reliance on a 220V circuit.
Nevertheless, for home use, 110v models are ideal. For welding thicker surfaces, a welder with a power input of 220v and the greatest max AMP rating is required. It is vital to understand that more voltage does not mean greater power. In the absence of electricity, a gas-driven generator can suffice.
A welder may possess all the required features and specifications but it should be easy to carry to different working places. Many cheap welders are compact and small due to which they are portable.
If you will be performing small repairs more often, an ultra-portable welder is ideal. While the power may be a bit less than that of a bigger model, there would be no transportation issue. Most hand welders are within 70 lbs.
Gauged in minutes, duty cycle states how long the machine can smoothly and safely generate a current within the duration of 10 minutes. A welder with 20% duty cycle needs to rest for eight minutes after two minutes of incessant welding. Thinner surfaces need lower duty cycles.
Heat Overload Protection
This is perhaps a must-have feature on a cheap MIG welder. It allows the welding machine to stop welding and shut off in case of overheating, which protects not only the welder but also you and your work area.
Top 5 Cheap Welders to Consider
Hobart 500559 Handler Wire Welder – The Best MIG Welder for Money
Hobart specializes in manufacturing versatile welding products to cater to different welding needs. This MIG welder from Hobart is ideal for welding a lot of materials whose thickness is less than or equal to one-fourth inches.
It is especially suitable for smaller materials due to its exclusive support for 115v and 140amp household sockets at output range of 25 to 140 amps. Another commendable feature is its dual functionality, supporting both MIG and flux core processes. The switch is easier than expected due to the shipped gas hose and a regulator.
For safety, a built-in contractor ensures that the wires do not heat up during the idle period, keeping the risk of any damage away. For an accurate weld, there are five heat settings all operating well with a duty cycle of 20% at 90 amps.
This is unlike the other comparable welders that come with a maximum of four settings. Thus, you are ensured of an intact weld with optimum heat. The dual-gauge regulator and solenoid gas valve take care of arc control by ensuring a stable flow. Further, the AC current further adds to arc stability to keep a blown shape away.
- Versatile to perform both MIG and Flux Core
- Flexible with heat settings
- Good control over welding
- Great gas valve and gauge
- Significant resources required
- Still a bit costly
Goplus MIG 130 — Best Budget Welder for Beginners
If you think Hobart does not fit your budget as a naïve beginner, consider this one for MIG welding. It is true that Goplus is not an esteemed brand, as it is not exclusively into welding or fabrication products. However, this is the reason why its welders have a lower price than others.
This MIG welder is perhaps the cheapest welder in this list. It is actually over 50% less expensive than other cheap welders. Even though it is the cheapest, it ensures a solid startup experience at a stunningly low price.
Although it is not quite adjustable, the welder comes with four voltage/heat settings and a knob to adjust the wire feeding speed. Further, the AC current stabilizes the arc and has a duty cycle of 15% @ 105 amps. The welder can work on thin surfaces of steel and iron and can perfectly do general repairs and home DIY.
You also get a complete kit including a brush and a protective mask. Regarding heat dissipation, two air vents, safety control on the gun, and thermal safety protection exist. You can also read our separate article about best welder for beginners.
- Most affordable
- Portable and safe
- Complete kit
- Strong design and performance
- Versatile with heat settings and some necessities
- Steady arc (AC)
- No gas, no oxidation
- Only 130amps and 110v
EVERLAST PowerARC 160STH HF TIG / Stick IGBT Welder – The Best Cheap TIG welder
Everlast is the brand that is known for its cheap welders giving quality output. This model from Everlast is perhaps the best budget TIG welder with some advanced features.
As a result, there is no need to worry about any flawed or imperfect usage technique. Thus, it is for those who have some experience. So, for a beginner, this cheap welding machine simply guides you as you learn the TIG welding method.
With a duty cycle of 35% @ 160amp, this dual voltage machine is a TIG DC with a hot start, foot pedal, and high-frequency welder. It is also a stick with an integrated valve welder.
This machine implements the IGBT inverter technology due to which it is very light in weight, efficient in using power, and affordable in terms of cost. Then, its dial for variable power control allows fine tuning of the power for obtaining the desired arc. Further, the post flow regulator takes care of weld quality and argon gas consumption rate.
- Lightweight and portable
- Great digital display for accurate cuts
- Energy efficient
- Stable arc and reliable flow regulators
- Auto arc control and hot start
- Low-quality stinger and hose
Amico Power DC 160 Amp IGBT Inverter DC Welding Machine- The Best Arc Welder
For those who need an affordable Stick welder only, this dual voltage DC machine is ideal. You can expect good quality and some good features even at this low price.
This unit is both versatile and light in weight, which adds to its versatility. It can run with AC or DC power as per the arc requirements. The small size makes it easy to handle and carry this unit anywhere. To add, an electrode holder for ensuring an upright position, a work clamp, and a 10-foot cable makes it easier to move.
You not only can move it anywhere but also use it for different applications, ranging right from repairs to light metal fabrication with a duty cycle of 60%. You can also expect a complete control over the amperage due to a distinct LED meter not otherwise found on other welders.
- Lightest (18 lbs)
- Amperage control
- Electrode holder
- Superb duty cycle
- Amperage control via an LED meter
- Kit included with all requirements
- Risk of slipping if the handling of the holder is improper
- Cold start (not hot)
Forney Easy Weld 299 125FC Flux Core Welder
This is an ideal option for those who are looking for a welder for a DIY task or are new to welding. After Goplus, this one is perhaps the next most affordable option.
The biggest seller perhaps is the gas setup. It is gasless when it comes to flux core welding, unlike most other welders. Thus, it saves more money, as there is no need to purchase a gas-filled cylinder. Being packaged in torch wrap, it is simple to take it on/off. It is also versatile enough to work with 2lb or 10lb spools.
It is not a MIG welder as no shielding gas is needed. This 120v welder can easily weld 1/8″ steel with 15 amps plug and 20% duty cycle at 125 amps.
- Ease of use
- Low maintenance
- Lots of storage
- Short wire feeder and ground wires
Safety Precautions in Welding Practices
Of course, there is some joy of acquiring your first cheap welding machine and the eagerness to kick start your first welding work. However, there are some safety precautions that you should take to ensure that you get it right the first time.
After all, you don’t want havoc in your first welding works. Welding can be dangerous if certain measures are ignored or just overlooked. Consider the following:
- Your Personal Protection
Unlike other manual work, welding is a bit risky and you need to be clothed in the right attire before you start your welding process. You must have protective clothing which is not tight, but gives you some freedom to move around. It should cover you exclusively from burns, sparks, spatter, and radiations.
It is advisable you get woolen clothing because of its durability and its capacity to resist fire. Never grease or oil your protective clothing else it can catch fire when weld spatters fall on it. You must have some gloves, welding helmet, and welding boots.
- Beware of shock hazards
Depending on the voltage you are using, shock can be very severe to you as the welder, however, you need to protect yourself from it. You should always ensure that you don’t touch the lead in the welder when the input power is on in your socket. Remember that by switching your welder off, you don’t disconnect the power in the welder.
You only switch off the power in the welder by disconnecting it from the power input. Avoid welding on any metal workpiece or operating the welder when you are wet. Don’t expose any bare part of your body. Use plastic insulation on your electrode to prevent shock when you accidentally touch it.
- Beware of Radiations
These can be very dangerous to your eyes, especially the ones with the welder’s flash. Repeated welder’s flash can result in permanent blindness hence it is very important to have a helmet that is well fitted with the right glass.
This will protect your head, ears, face, eyes, and neck from the heat and radiation. You may not know that you are exposed to UV radiations until you have started having partial blindness; so always wear the right welding gears.
- Be in a well-ventilated house
Welding can cause an explosion if the room is confined and no proper ventilation. Welding releases some fumes which get concentrated leading to suffocation. If you are going to weld in an enclosed area, ensure there is enough ventilation.
In the end, you should choose one of the cheap welders as per your requirements and budget. As per the type of projects, a particular welder will seem to be better than the rest. For example, a welder that an amateur user will need is not going to be same as someone requiring for making some home repairs.
For most starters, MIG welding would be an ideal process to learn, as it is involved in the majority of their projects. It is also the easiest process to learn. In this sense, Hobart 500559 is our recommended cheap welder machine. It may seem a bit costly but it is perhaps the most versatile in terms of settings and metals supported.