Best MIG Welder For Home Use When You’ve No Gear and No Idea

By Ben Norton / October 7, 2018
Best Welder For Home Use

You need to find the best MIG welder for home use, when you have no GEAR and really no idea where to start …

When you want to get into welding, either as a hobby or something a bit more serious –

Maybe you have welded before and now you’d like to take on the odd welding job and get paid for welding as a side hustle.

You need the best MIG welder you can find, one that’s capable and good value for money.

I have the selected my top five best welders for home use to find out which one is ideal for you.

Let me show you how to narrow down the field.

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For those of you who are impatient to know which is the best welder for home use in my opinion. It is the Everlast 140 MIG welder and I’ll explain why …

Everlast 140 And Accessories

View the price of the Everlast i-MIG 140 on Amazon

The Everlast i-MIG 140 MIG welder is both a flux core wire welder and a MIG welder that can use gas combined. To find out why I chose it read on.

The Five Welders I Compared

1.  Everlast i-MIG 140e
2.  Forney Easy Weld 29901 MIG
3.  Hobart Handler 140 MIG
4.  Lincoln Electric Handy MIG
5.  Lotos MIG 140 Welder
The reasons I chose these welders to compare and see which one is the best welder for home garage and shop are;

  1. Because they come from good US brand name manufacturers
  2. They are popular – and for good reason, they all have great reputations
  3. They are easy to use, portable and work on the electrical power available in the home.

Later in this article I do a point by point comparison, with tables of all the welders so that you can see how they compare on the important points. For example, duty cycle, metals welded, size, set up and use.

 

Best MIG Welder for Home Use Quick Overviews

1. Everlast I-MIG 140e MIG Welder

Everlast MIG 140 Front

Click to see price of the Everlast i-MIG 140e on Amazon

Unique in the list of welders I have chosen is the Everlast I-MIG 140e.

The I-MIG uses IGBT Inverter technology. (Insulated Gate Bipolar Transistor) instead of the usual transformer base the other welders use.

This technology means that you can get better welding power output for less power input. Considering the Everlast’s light weight and its welding results, you get the best duty cycle and welding performance of the welders I’ve looked at.

And that is why the Everlast 140e won the crown of the best home MIG welder.

Pros of the Everlast 140e

  • The IGBT Inverter design means a longer duty cycle, a high voltage output for the power put in
  • A nicely portable and light weight welder.
  • Will weld with solid wire and shielding gas as well as flux core. A great MIG welder for the money.
  • Can weld Aluminum with the optional spool gun
  • A great warranty means that Everlast has faith in the quality of their welder and it is borne out in the great reviews it has.

Cons of the Everlast 140e

  • Flux Core use means a separate drive roll has to be purchased as it doesn’t come with the Everlast in the box.
  • Lack of guidance of the settings for welding puts this welder more toward the experienced welder.

Summary

Great performance for your welding, the type of materials you can weld and the thickness of metals it can take on. There aren’t many areas other welders in its class can beat Everlast. It is why it earned the crown as the best MIG welder for home use

Read the Everlast iMIG 140e Full Review

2. Forney Easy Weld 29901 125 FC MIG Welder

Forney Easy Weld 125 FC Front

Click to see the price of the Forney Easy Weld 29901 on Amazon

The Forney Easy Weld uses Flux Core welding wire only and comes as Start Up Kit with some basic accessories. Or you have the choice of buying only the welder itself.

In the Start Up Kit includes the Forney Easy Weld 29901 125FC welder plus a welding helmet, welding gloves, grinding wheel, and a wire scratch brush all Forney products so they are excellent quality.

Pros of the Forney Easy Weld

  • A great welder for beginners and the more experienced wanting a light duty portable flux core only welder for home use.
  • The Forney Easy Weld is lightweight, and its dimensions and the carrying handle makes the 125FC convenient and portable.
  • Up there in the list of the best wire welder for the home

Cons of the Forney Easy Weld

  • Flux Core wire only so this welder is only suitable for mild steel
  • Six foot cables to the torch head and to the ground clamp is short and may be too restricting for a beginner to use easily
  • No Aluminum welding with this flux core only welder
  • Only the two output Amp settings so may be too inflexible for some.

Summary

When you are new to welding the Forney 125fc is a simple straight forward wire welder from a well known brand name. An excellent option for light-duty jobs, where you want something easy, reliable, durable, and the extra bonus is that it is portable too and one of the best wire welders for the money.

Read the Forney Easy Weld Full Review

3. Hobart Handler 140 MIG Welder

Hobart Handler 140

Click to See the price of the Hobart Handler 140 on Amazon

USA designed and built. The Hobart Handler 140 MIG Welder is a welder with a really great reputation and a good MIG welder for home use.

The Hobart Handler will use flux core wire to weld mild steel and when your skills are up to it you have the choice of getting yourself some shielding gas and practice your skills welding Stainless Steel.

A 115 volt welder running on standard household power you get good performance with the Hobart Handler. Designed for light or medium welding tasks, sturdy and well built.

Pros of the Hobart 140

  • Solid duty cycle at 20% at 90 Amp.
  • Easy to Use, a nice sturdy MIG for use in and around the home garage or workshop.
  • Flexible as it will use Flux Core or solid wire with shielding gas.
  • Hobart’s 5/3/1 Warranty. Five years on the transformer, three years on electronics, one year on the welding torch.

Cons of the Hobart 140

  • A bit pricier than some but the quality shines through.
  • No spool gun option for welding Aluminum, which you would expect for a welder of this class.

Summary

A good welder for a the home, use in the garage or home shop. Five tapped settings and a solid construction. A five year warranty shows how much faith Hobart has in this welder and what a great welder this is.

Read the Hobart 140 Full Review

Lincoln Electric Handy MIG K2185-1 Welder

Lincoln Electric Handy MIG

Click to See the price of the Lincoln Electric Handy MIG now on Amazon

This Lincoln Electric Wire Welder is a stalwart of the industry. Many have been sold and this welder has a great reputation. Its long and great reputation got it on this best welder for home use list. Able to use flux core welding wire or solid wire and shielding gas.

The Handy MIG has a welding voltage range between 35 Amp and 88 Amp and a maximum output of 88 Amp. So not the most powerful of the welders chosen. The LE Handy MIG uses standard house hold power on a 20 Amp fused circuit.

Pros of the Handy MIG

  • A good welder for using to repair the metals found around the home and yard
  • The Handy MIG is a reasonably light and portable welder for use around the home
  • A durable welder that has lasted the test of time

Cons of the Handy MIG

  • Short cables to the torch head and to the ground clamp means you have to plan your work carefully
  • No spool gun available for welding Aluminum

Summary

An easy to set up, simple well known welder with a great reputation. For light to medium projects. A welder proven to be reliable and durable.

Read the Lincoln Electric Handy MIG Full Review

5. Lotos MIG 140 MIG Wire Welder

 

Lotos MIG 140

Click to see the Price of the Lotos MIG 140 on Amazon

Lotos has been in the welding market from 2007, they design their welders in the US and manufacture in China. Since being released to the market Lotos has upgraded the MIG 140 and the 2017 upgrade sees two LED digital displays on the front of the welder.

Able to use flux core or solid wire and shielding gas. The Lotos MIG has a welding voltage range that goes up to 140 Amp and uses standard house hold power on a 20 Amp fused circuit.

Pros of the Lotos 140

  • A capable welder for the experienced and beginner alike as it is very easy to set up
  • Works on home power
  • You can weld light Aluminum with the optional spool gun.

Cons of the Lotos 140

  • There aren’t many cons for this nice little welder.

Summary

Convenient to use because the Lotos MIG 140 can connect to your normal house 120 volt power.

There is really nothing bad to say about this, a great MIG welder for around the home workshop. Versatile has great user feed back, easy to use, at 54 lbs in weight it is toward the higher end in terms of weight making it not as portable as some.

Read the Lotus MIG 140 Full Review

 

What Is a good Welder for Home Use a Point by Point Comparison

Now that we have taken a look at the top five, lets look in a bit more detail at the best welders for home use contenders.

How you are going to power your welder and what power do you have available in your home are important things to consider. Because …

Welders are greedy for electricity and you have to think about what kind of power you have and what you could put in.

Welders Compared – Power Needs

Welding thicker metals, stainless steel, galvanized steel or Aluminum all suck power out of a welder if you’re going to form good welds.

120 volts and a 20 Amp fused circuit with a good earth connection that you can dedicate to your welder is the minimum you will need.

All the welders chosen can operate on a 20 Amp fused circuit though to get the highest voltage output and the best performance out of the true MIGs – the Everlast i-MIG,  the Hobart Handler, the Handy MIG and the Lotus welder you will need a 30 Amp fused circuit.

A Reasonable Duty Cycle

A Reasonable Duty Cycle – What is that?

Duty cycle is a measurement that tells you how long you can use your welder before you risk damage to it. The greater the duty cycle the better. It means you can use your welder for longer.

Described as a percentage at a particular welding voltage. e.g. 10% at 80 Amps.

This means that over a ten minute period you can weld for 1 minute maximum at the 80 Amp setting and then you will need to rest your welder for nine minutes. In comparing duty cycles 20% at 80 Amps is better than 10% at 80 Amps. 20% means you can weld for two minutes before needing to rest your welder for eight minutes.

A good MIG welder for home use needs a reasonable duty cycle.

Duty Cycles of the Five Welders

Everlast iMIG 140e 25% at 140 Amp
Forney Easy Weld 29901 20% at 80 Amp
Hobart Handler 140 20% at 90 Amp
Lincoln Electric K2185 20% at 90 Amp
Lotos MIG 140 20% at 90 Amp

On this measurement the Everlast iMIG 140 comes out the clear winner with the highest duty cycle at the highest voltage setting.

Welding Machine Brands – which is the best?

The best welding machine brands are well known for their reliable robust machines. The best welding machine brands are Forney, Hobart, Lincoln Electric, and Miller Electric.

There are comparatively newer entrants onto the market place that have also built great reputations in the last ten or so years, such as Lotos and Everlast.

The better welding machine brands are US based with welding machines designed in the US. Some manufacture locally but many now oversee a manufacturing process abroad.

All the welders reviewed are good solid brands with great reputations and should see a beginner welder proud.

What is your budget?

Although it is tempting when starting out to buy a cheap – less than 100 dollars, no name welder, you’ll probably find unless you get lucky, it won’t last you long. Your money, your hard earned dollars will be wasted.

It’s better to give yourself a reasonable budget – say 500 dollars, to get your welder and the things you’ll need to protect yourself while welding. For example, a welding helmet, apron, welding gloves and pliers.

Think more in terms of what is the best MIG welder for the money? All the welders compared fall within the $100 to $500 dollar price range.

Easy to Use and Easy Set Up

As a beginner welder you will want a welder with clear instructions. A welder that is as easy to set up as possible. Preferably the manufacturer has provided some YouTube video’s for those of us who are more visual and prefer to watch a video than read a manual.

Clear dials, easy to read and use and preferably a welding chart to give you a start on what voltage settings and wire feed speed for the thickness of metal you are welding.

Setting up your welder correctly will be crucial – you want to get on with learning how to weld properly not fight with your welder.

All the welders I have looked at are easy set up and use with good manuals. Everlast, Forney and Hobart have the best and most helpful YouTube videos.

What Are You Going to Weld

Metal Thickness and Max Voltage

Take a moment to think about your projects. What is the typical thickness of the metal and what type. This is important as the thicker the metal and the more exotic the type then you may have to spend more on your welder or uprate the power you have available to you in your home garage.

For example Aluminum welding draws a lot of power and you’ll have to think about a welder that is capable from a voltage point of view and has accessories to allow you to weld Aluminum.

Very thin metals will also demand skill and a welding machine that is up to the task.

The Five Welders Compared Metal Thickness and Maximum Voltage

Min/Max Thickness Maximum Voltage
Everlast iMIG 140e 24 gauge to 3/8ths 140 Amp
Forney Easy Weld 29901 24 gauge to 1/4in 80 Amp
Hobart Handler 140 24 gauge to 1/4in 140 Amp
Lincoln Electric K2185 24 gauge to 1/8th 88 Amp
Lotos MIG 140 24 gauge to 3/16ths 140 Amp

A bit of a mixed bag here, they all can weld from 24 gauge up. The Everlast welder is the best on maximum thickness and on the maximum Amp you can use. Though to operate this welder at its maximum voltage output you will need to put in a 30 Amp circuit which will not be possible for everyone.

What Metals Can I Weld

What metals can I weld?

After looking at the maximum voltage, thinking about what you want to weld is important. As the type of metal will drive the kind of welder you should buy to be happy with your choice.

All the welders reviewed will do mild steel and low alloy steel or galvanized steel.

Welding stainless steel will generally require a welder that will also run gas as Tri-mix gas is generally used.

Although it is possible to buy stainless steel flux core wire and indeed the flux core wire only welders talk about being capable or welding stainless steel. Results with stainless steel flux core can be patchy so I would suggest leaving that till you have more experience or pick a welder that will feed separate shielding gas.

As for welding Aluminum, some will, with a separate wire spool gun used to feed the Aluminum filler wire.

Aluminum is a soft metal and using a spool gun for the Aluminum filler wire will produce the best results. Also bear in mind that Aluminum welding needs a lot of voltage.

Using 120 volt home power you are limited in the power available to you for both stainless steel welding and Aluminum welding. For both these metals you will need to go to the top voltage range of all the welders capable of welding these metals. A 30 Amp fused circuit will also be required so you can feed the necessary power through to your welder.

The Five Welders Compared on Welding Mild Steel, Stainless Steel and Aluminum

Mild Steel Stainless Steel Aluminum
Everlast iMIG 140e Yes Yes Yes with Optional spool gun
Forney Easy Weld 29901 Yes No No
Hobart Handler 140 Yes Yes No spool gun
LE Handy MIG
Yes No No spool gun
Lotos MIG 140 Yes Yes Yes with Optional spool gun

On this measurement the most flexible are the Everlast iMIG 140, and the Lotos MIG 140.

Size and Weight

Sturdy, Reliable, Portable?

All important considerations. The better manufacturing brands will produce welders that are sturdily constructed and ones that are reliable. Portability is down to the weight and size of the welder and your own personal view of what is easily portable.

If you are going to take your welder to your project then considerations of what power you have available there come into it.

Extension cables that are robust, suitable for the current they are carrying and the environment they are in are a must.

14 AWG extension cables or 12 AWG cables depending on the distance from the socket and If you are trailing extension cables outside then you need ones that are rated for out door use.

On the welder itself, longer cords to the welding touch and grounding clamp mean as a beginner you have more flexibility in the way you work.

The Five Welders Compared by Size, Weight and Cord Lengths

Size Weight Cord Lengths
Everlast iMIG 140e 14 x 8.5 x 17 in 25 lbs 10 ft
Forney Easy Weld 29901 12.6 x 18.5 x 24.6 in 42.6 lbs 6 ft
Hobart Handler 140 12 x 11 x 19 in 57 lbs 10 ft
Lincoln Electric K2185 12.8 x 8.8 x 18 in 46 lbs 8 ft
Lotos MIG 140 14 x 9.5 x 16 in 54 lbs 8 ft

In terms of portability the Everlast I-MIG wears the crown here with the Forney Easy Weld coming in second, Although it is the largest in physical size of all the welders.

Thermal Protection

All the good brands feature Thermal protection to protect the welder in case you get so enthusiastic using your welder that you exceed the duty cycle. Thermal protection switches the welder off until it is cool enough to continue.

All the welders reviewed have Thermal protection.

Press Trigger to bring the Voltage to the torch head

With some cheaper models of welders the torch tip is live as soon as you switch on the power button on the welder. This means that should you rest the welding head close enough to a metal surface an unwanted arc will form.

Not to mention the potential damage to your eyes and to the eyes of whom ever may be in the garage or home workshop with you, it is far better to have a welder where the current is not supplied to the weld tip until you press the trigger on the welding torch and you are ready to weld.

All the welders compared have triggers on the welding torch that have to be pressed before voltage is sent through to the torch tip to weld.

No fuss, no accidental arcs.

After Sales Service

Once you have your welder, you hope and trust it will give you many years of good life. Even so it is useful to be able to contact the manufacturer for advice and should you need it repair for your welder. There is no doubt that the more reliable the welder the keener the manufacturer is to give you a longer warranty. Lets see how the welders compare.

The Five Welders Compared, Warranty

Warranty
Everlast iMIG 140e 5 year warranty parts and labor against manufacturing defects. 6 months warranty on the torch and cables and should the MIG fail within 30 days, Everlast will pay shipping to and from the repair center
Forney Easy Weld 29901 6 months warranty on defects on manufacturing, 90 day on the MIG gun
Hobart Handler 140 5 year warranty on the transformer, 3 years on the electronics, one year on the MIG gun
Lincoln Electric K2185 1 year limited warranty parts and labor, 90 days on the MIG gun and cable
Lotos MIG 140 30 day buy with confidence, 100% satisfaction guarantee, 1 year limited warranty.

In terms of Warranty, Hobart and Everlast offer the best after purchase service.

Who has a Forum?

An active manufacturers forum is a nice to have when you first get your welder. It’s a place to go along to look up or ask any question you have about your particular welder and what your doing. Here are how the chosen manufacturers and their welders do on the active forum question.

  • Everlast – yes they have their welding forum
  • Forney – No forum
  • Hobart Welders – yes their weld talk forum
  • Lincoln Electric – No forum
  • Lotos Technology – No forum

Everlast and Hobart have active engaged forums where you can go to ask all sorts of questions and representatives from the companies themselves will answer questions and queries.

If your welder doesn’t have an active forum there are welding forums you can go to and take advantage of the skill and experience of the people there. I would suggest joining a forum is a way of getting backup and advice and for learning more about the subject of good welding.

Practice, Practice, Practice

Play with your welder, experiment, find out the settings that are good for what you want to weld. Build your skills and with practice in no time your skills will grow and grow.

Last Words

Now, you may not agree with my choices or the welder I have chosen as the winner for the best MIG welder for home use and that’s ok. I hope that I have provided you with enough information that should you decide not go with my choice you are able to choose a welder that will be perfect for you.

 

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