As a professional, you want a welding process that is fast, versatile, and affordable. And no other welding process ticks all the right boxes quite like MIG welding. While MIG welding is easy, choosing the best professional MIG welder is not.
With this in mind, we decided to pit the best MIG welders against each other and see how they compare. We narrowed it down to three MIG welders that tick all the right boxes for pros from our comparisons.
We chose the Lincoln Electric Power MIG 210 Mp as the best industrial MIG welder. This welder has a high power output and is the most versatile of our three top choices. It is followed closely by the Miller Electric 120/240VAC, which loses out due to it not being as versatile.
The Hobart 500559 Handler 140 MIG Welder closes the list and is the best option for those on a tight budget.
best professional mig welder Reviews
Lincoln Electric Powermig 210 Mp
- 40% duty cycle
- 20-220 amps power output range
- 120/230v dual voltage input
- Push and turn digital controls
- 40 pounds weight
- 0.025 – 0.035 inch solid wire range
- 0.035 – 0.045 flux core wire range
While it doesn’t come cheap, there aren’t many welders that can match the Lincoln Electric Powermig 210 welder. This is a 4-in-1 welder that can handle all types of welding.
- Fabrication works
- Auto Body repair works
- DIY and home use
- Industrial welding projects
- Maintenance works
When you are shelling out $1000 plus on a welder, you will be keen on its performance, and the Powermig 210 Mp does not disappoint. To start with, it’s dual voltage, meaning you can plug it into either a 120 or 230volt power outlet.
When plugged into a 120v power outlet, you get a power output of 20 to 140 amps. This means you can weld thinner as well as thicker sheets of metal. Plug it into a 230v power outlet, and you get an output of 20 to 220 amps.
And with a duty cycle of 40%, this should handle most welding projects without any problems.
The versatility of this welder is in its 4-in-1 capability. With this welder, you can perform gas MIG, flux-core MIG, stick, and TIG welding. And while it cannot TIG weld aluminum, its MIG welding capabilities are sufficient for aluminum welding.
As such, you can MIG weld steel, stainless steel as well as aluminum. Its versatility is the main reason why this is the best industrial MIG welder on our list.
Size and weight
For such a powerful welder, you would expect it to be bulky and large. But on the contrary, this is a relatively lightweight and compact welder. It measures 19x10x8x14 and weighs 40 pounds. This means it is lighter than most of its competitors.
Ease of use
You get a digital display with this welder that shows the settings. There are also simple to use push and turn digital controls. This makes this welder easy to use for both professionals and novice users.
Also, since it is a dual voltage machine, you can plug it into the standard outlet in your home. Similarly, if you are a professional, you can plug it into a more powerful 230v power outlet.
- Being a 4-in-1 welder, this unit can handle a wide array of welding tasks.
- Its digital display and push and turn controls make it easy to use
- Despite its heavy-duty status, it is relatively lightweight and compact.
- It is constructed from heavy-duty sheet metal and heavy-duty plastics.
- Can weld up to 5/16 inch mild steel and 3/16 inch aluminum
- This is an expensive welder that will not be for everyone.
- Cannot run on AC for TIG welding aluminum
Miller Electric 120/240VAC
- 40% duty cycle
- 120/240v dual input voltage
- 30 to 230 amps DC output range
- 10 ft work cable with clamp
- Thermal overload protection
- On-demand cooling fan
At first glance, it’s hard to believe that the Miller Electric 120/240 VAC welder is a heavy-duty welder. But then again, looks can be deceiving.
- Industrial welding projects
- Auto Body repair works
- Metal artistry works
- Heavy-duty DIY projects
- Farm repair works
As a heavy-duty welder, this unit has a built in on-demand cooling fan. However, you will hardly notice it’s there thanks to its ultra-quiet performance. Besides this, the fan is also effective, considering this welder can be used with a 220-volt input voltage.
Surprisingly this unit weighs just under 50 pounds. While this does not make it the most lightweight, it is acceptable considering its performance. The entire unit is built from a combination of aluminum and metal composite.
Unlike some other welders, this unit is capable of running on both AC and DC. This translates to varied power output. You get between 30 and 230 amps when using DC and up to 150 amps for AC.
This power output is sufficient for welding thicker sheets of aluminum. With this unit, you can weld ⅜ inch thick aluminum sheets. On the flip side, it can also handle thin sheets of aluminum of up to 18 gauge in thinness.
As for steel, it can handle welding 24 gauge thin mild steel and ¼ inch thick stainless steel. Its duty cycle stands at an impressive 40%.
Apart from being able to weld stainless steel, mild steel, and aluminum, this welder is also dual voltage. You can plug it into a standard 120v power outlet or an industrial 240v outlet. This means both professionals and hobbyists can use it at home.
In addition, this welder is also capable of gas and gasless MIG welding. Towards this end, it can accommodate 0.023 inches to 0.035 inch solid wires. For flux core wires, it can accommodate 0.035 inches to 0.045-inch wires.
Easy to use
With this unit, you can either use a MIG gun or a spool gun. The best part is that it does not require a switch to switch between the two. An auto-detect function automatically identifies when a MIG gun is connected or when a spool gun is connected.
- Has a dual voltage capability making it adaptable to different welding tasks and environments
- While it is a heavy-duty welder, it is easy to use even for amateurs.
- It is compact and weighs less than 50 pounds, and thus is lighter than most other welders.
- It is capable of welding thin sheets of metal as well as thicker sheets
- Features a voltage control for adjusting the voltage
- Compared to other MIG welders, this one is quite costly.
- The ground cable is a bit too short.
Hobart 500559 Handler 140 MIG Welder
- 20% at 90 amps duty cycle
- 110/115/120v input voltage
- 15-140 amps power output range
- 10 ft MIG gun
- Five-position voltage control selector
- Adjustable wire feed speed
Hobart has a long history of producing excellent MIG welders. The handler 140 MIG welder is a medium-duty machine with an excellent selection of features.
It is best for?
- Auto body repair works
- Light to medium home repair and DIY projects
- Farm maintenance tasks
- Light to a medium manufacture
- Artistic metal works
With a power output of 25 to 140 amps, this compact welder can weld 24 gauge thin to ¼ inch thick metal. Furthermore, it runs on a standard 115 voltage power input, which is readily available to most.
The 20% at 90 amps duty cycle will be sufficient for most light to medium tasks. One of its best attributes is that it can weld steel, stainless steel, and aluminum.
Adjustable voltage and wire feed
You want to be able to adjust the voltage and wire feed to suit different welding tasks. The Handler 140 MIG has a five voltage selector for adjusting the voltage. There is also a wire selector that lets you adjust the wire feed speed.
This makes it easy to adjust the welder’s settings to match your welding needs. More importantly, the two selector knobs are well marked for ease of use.
As mentioned earlier, this welder can handle welding both steel and aluminum. This makes it a versatile machine. However, there is more in regards to its versatility. The welder can use both solid wire and flux core wires.
As such, you can use it for either gas or gasless MIG welding. You also get a sample pool of flux core wire included in the package. Thus you can get started with this welder upon receiving it.
Design and construction
Measuring 19 x 11 x 13-inches, this welder does not require a lot of storage space. Furthermore, it has a superior build quality. The outer shell is made from steel with a few plastic parts. It also features a cast aluminum drive system.
In terms of weight, it weighs about 57 pounds. While it is not the most lightweight, it comes with several accessories. These include a gas regulator, work cable with clamp, power cord, and a MIG gun.
- It can run on a standard 115-volt input plug
- The cast aluminum wire drive system guarantees years of wire feeding performance.
- Produces minimal buckshot with higher performance and smooth arc
- It comes with a built-in overload protection that automatically shuts it off when it overheats.
- It is capable of welding thin gauge metal of up to 24 gauge in thinness.
- It may require a cart if you intend to move it around often.
- It is not a generator friendly welding machine.
How to Choose a professional MIG welder
As a professional, you want to consider a lot of things before settling on a MIG welder. Here are the most important.
How much output power do you need?
The amount of power you need to complete a weld will depend on the thickness of the metal being welded. For thicker metals, you require a higher power output than for thinner metals. For example, for welding a ¼ inch thick steel sheet, you need between 180 to 190 amps of output.
However, for thinner sheets of metal such as 18 to 24 gauge, you need below 25 amps of power. Some welders have a power output range suited for thicker metals, while others are suited for thinner sheets of metal.
Nonetheless, there are those such as the Lincoln Electric Powermig 210 Mp that offer the best of both worlds.
The right shielding gas
The shielding gas you choose will have an impact on the weld. Ideally, you want to use a mixture of two or three gases. The most common and recommended is a 2.5% C02 and 85% argon gas mixture.
This mixture produces welds with little to no spatter, which is necessary for fabrication works and autobody repair works. A three-gas mixture of argon, CO2, and helium can also be used.
The duty cycle is how long a welder can run continuously before needing to cool down. The higher the power output, the lower the duty cycle. The best industrial MIG welder does not always have the best duty cycle compared to smaller light-duty welders.
On average, most heavy-duty welders’ duty cycle will range between 20% to 40%. For the best performance, consider a welder with a 40% duty cycle.
The power input
How much power does a welder require to run? A standard 110v power outlet can power some welders. However, some more powerful models will require a larger 220 or 240v power outlet. For a professional, a dual voltage welding unit is recommended.
A welder such as the Miller Electric 120/240VAC can be plugged into a standard 120v power outlet and a more powerful 220v power outlet.
Thermal overload protection
Due to the type of welding tasks you are likely to undertake as a professional, overheating is a constant threat. A thermal overload can damage your welder. This is why it is essential to consider a welder with overload protection.
Metals I can weld
Metals such as steel, stainless steel, and aluminum all have different chemical properties. As such, they cannot be welded in the same manner. For instance, aluminum requires AC and a special type of welding gun called a spool gun.
As such, not all welders are capable of welding aluminum. As a professional, you will want a welder that can handle all types of metals. Thus it is essential to consider a welder that can run on both AC and DC and accommodate a spool gun for aluminum welding.
You want a welding machine that will serve you for a long time. How well the welder is built and the materials used to build its chassis will impact its durability. The best welder for stainless steel will be constructed from a steel chassis.
A steel chassis will last longer and keep the welding machine running for many years.
The welding torch
The welding torch is one of the most essential components of a welding machine. Without it, it’s impossible to weld. Most heavy-duty welders will have heavier MIG torches. The reason is that they require heavy-duty MIG guns that can accommodate a higher voltage and amperage.
As such the MIG torch of the best MIG welder for ½ steel will seem heavier than the MIG torch of a light-duty welder.
Safety Features to consider
Safety is still an important component to consider. While you need to have all the safety gear and clothes on, your welder should also have some safety features. An on-demand cooling fan that cools the welder is essential.
Apart from cooling the welder, the fan also reduces the number of contaminants likely to be pulled into the machine. An overload protection feature is also essential. This feature automatically shuts off when the unit overheats.
Size and weight
The best professional MIG welder are not the most lightweight. However, there are those that do not take up a lot of space. Ideally, you want a welder that is compact and relatively lightweight.
40 to 50 pounds is what most professional MIG welders weigh. The lighter the welder, the better, especially if you plan on moving a lot with it.
The wire feed speed
Wire feed speed is important to the quality of your weld. The speed has to match the welding task at hand. As a professional, you want a welder that gives you the freedom to select wire feed speed.
As such, an adjustable wire feed speed is essential. An adjustable voltage is also essential as it plays a part in the wire feed speed selected.
The wire size
MIG welding wires range from 0.023 to 0.045 inches in diameter. The smaller the diameter, the less power needed to run it. For professional fabrication works, the 0.035 is the most preferred and recommended electrode size.
However, for more demanding tasks, you can also opt for the 0.045. The welding machine you choose should be able to accommodate these electrodes. Ideally, you want a machine that can use 0.030 to 0.045-inch electrodes.
Most professional welding machines do not come cheap, with some costing upwards of $1000. However, you can still get a welder for less than $1000. The Hobart 500559 Handler 140 MIG Welder is an excellent example of this.
Expensive welders will offer additional features such as the ability to stick or TIG weld. If you are on a budget, you can forgo some of these features.
Gas or gasless
MIG welding can be done with or without a shielding gas tank. The version of MIG welding you opt for will depend on what and where you are welding. For outdoor welding, gasless MIG welding is the best option.
However, for fabrication welding where aesthetics matter, gas MIG welding is recommended. Ideally, though, you want a welding machine that is capable of both gas and gasless MIG welding.
Transformer or Inverter For A MIG
Transformer welders are the more traditional welders. They are heavy and can be used in all kinds of environments. Also, they typically offer a higher power output. Inverter welders are the more recent of the two and offer flexibility and a lightweight design.
For modern MIG welding, we recommend going for an inverter welder. Their weight and flexibility give them an edge in modern welding techniques.
A warranty shows how much faith a manufacturer has in its product. As such, a longer warranty will always be a good thing. Some manufacturers offer a warranty on the different parts of their welding machines.
Top welding brands
Buying a welding machine from a trusted brand is always recommended. Some of the most trusted brands include Hobart, Miller Electric, Lincoln, Everlast, and Forney.
Myths About professional MIG welder
>>Sturdy Wire Feed Drives Are Key to Smooth Welding
The wire feed drive you are using will have an impact on your welding. Using low quality or the wrong wire feed drive can lead to problems with your welder—these range from birdnesting, burnback, and clogging of the gun liner.
These issues can cost you time and money. A good quality wire feed drive will result in a smooth welding experience with no hiccups.
>>Short Cords and Weak Clamps Are Common Complaints
One of the most common complaints about welding machines revolves around cords and ground clamps. Most welding machines come with weak clamps and short cords—a weak clamp results in less power output, which will interfere with the weld’s quality.
>>Light Duty Cycles Could Mean Delays
A light-duty cycle means you have to stop after a few minutes to allow your welder to cool. These stoppages can be consuming and lead to delays. For industrial projects, a high duty cycle will be essential to increase productivity.
>>Very Thin or Thick Metals a Challenge
Thin metals need to be welded with very low amperage settings. The problem with thin metals is that they are vulnerable to burn through. For thicker sheets of metal, due to their thickness, there can be a challenge with penetration as higher power output is required.
>>Short Cables Limit Mobility
This is mainly for outdoor welding, where you need to go to where the metal being welded is. Short power cables will significantly reduce your mobility as your flexibility to move around is reduced.
The best professional MIG welder is the one that can be used for heavy-duty welding. This means a welder capable of welding thicker sheets of metal. In the same light, the welding machine should also have the ability to weld thinner sheets.