How to Choose the Right MIG Welder
Welders in the market for a MIG welder will have quite a lot of information to read through. You want a machine that can handle all of the work you have, but you don’t want to spend all of your vacation money or put yourself in the red by purchasing a welder that has more power than you need. While every welder’s situation is a bit different, here are a few things to consider when you’re looking for a new MIG welder.
Image Source: Lincoln Electric
How Much Power Do You Need to Weld Effectively?
A basic MIG welder for home projects will run at 115 V, like the Millermatic 140. This will weld thin metals, but it won’t handle thicker metals. However, the jump to a more powerful industrial MIG welder such as the Millermatic 252 will provide both a ton of power and a higher price.
A good option for welders who will have a wide range of projects is an All in one MIG welder like the Millermatic 211, which operates at either 120 V or 230 V. You just need to switch from a low voltage plug to a high voltage plug in order to get started. While a combination unit won’t give as much power as the heavy-duty Millermatic 252, it will also be quite affordable.
Can You Get By with Flux-Cored MIG Wire?
Some of the less expensive MIG welders run flux core wires that don’t need a shielding gas. As the wire melts in the weld, the flux rises to the top and creates a protective coating on the weld. This layer of flux needs to be removed, and the weld itself will be scratched up. This makes flux cored welding inappropriate for welds where a neat appearance is important. In that case, gas-shielded MIG wire will be a better choice.
Do You Need a Spool Gun?
If you’re welding aluminum, the wire often gets jammed in the MIG torch as it’s being fed from the wire feeder. By attaching a spool gun to your torch, you place the wire inches away from where it needs to come out of the torch and eliminate wire jams.
Regulate the Flow of Your Shielding Gas
Shielding gas will be a regular expense if you aren’t using flux-cored MIG wire. By investing in a good regulator for your MIG welder unit, you’ll save on fuel costs and spend more time on task.
Thermal Overload Protection
The duty cycle of a welder will determine how many minutes you can weld in a ten minute cycle before the welder has to cool off. The higher the duty cycle, say 60%, the longer you can weld.
If you do weld too long, your welder could overheat, and then you’ll be rereading this article in order to pick out a new welder. You can save yourself from overheating by choosing a model that includes thermal overload protection. Considering that your welder is a long-term investment, thermal overload protection is like an insurance policy.
Which Welder Brand Is the Best?
If you want to start a fight at a welding shop, get everyone talking about which welder brand is the best. Generally speaking, these top welder brands are all sturdy machines that will be a sound investment: Lincoln, Miller, ESAB, Thermal Arc, and Hobart. These brands are all available at Baker’s Gas and Welding.
Miller is the best-selling brand at Baker’s online store, but sometimes your choice of a welder will rest more on whether you can find a shop nearby that is capable of fixing your welder if you run into a problem down the line.
Baker’s has plenty of other resources to help you find the best welder: