If you’re looking into a new MIG welder, you’re in good company. MIG welders are one of the top selling products at the Baker’s Gas and Welding online store.
Some folks new to welding may have a bit of sticker shock when they see what a new MIG welder costs. Meanwhile others may be overwhelmed with all of the options out there. Is it worth buying the more expensive model that provides all of the versatility you’ll ever need?
How to Find a MIG Welder with Enough Power
As you look over your power options for a MIG welder, the biggest decision you’ll need to make is whether you want to pick up a unit that runs off a wall outlet at 115V or whether you want a combination unit that also offers 220V power. A 115V MIG welder can handle most small home welding projects, but thick, heavy metal may be off limits with one of these lighter units (see this unit for example: (Miller Millermatic 141 MIG Welder w/ Auto-Set)
If you have a side welding business or you plan on using a MIG welder in your shop, then you’ll want to consider a combination unit that also offers 220V for heavy duty projects (such as the Miller Millermatic 211 w/ Advanced Auto Set). Keep in mind that a 220V welder needs a wall outlet that can handle that voltage—the same kind of plug you use for an electric dryer.
Why a MIG Welder’s Duty Cycle is Important
If you plan on welding all day or you have particularly large pieces of metal to weld, then a welder’s duty cycle is critically important. A duty cycle is the number of minutes a welder can operate during a 10 minutes cycle. The longer the duty cycle, the longer you can weld, but the price will also increase accordingly.
Cost Factors to Consider for MIG Welders
As you explore MIG welders, keep in mind that you’ll need to purchase shielding gas or flux-cored consumable welding wire for your projects. In addition, many welders pick up a MIG machine because they plan on working on aluminum. Aluminum wire tends to bunch up in the wire feeder, and therefore a specially designed spool gun for feeding aluminum MIG wire will be a time saver. Make sure you pick up a MIG torch that offers this capability.
How to Make Your MIG Welder Last
Two features that can make a difference for the long term durability in your welder are its short circuiting and thermal overload protection features. Short circuiting protects your welder from a surge of power that may cause spatter and ruin the weld pool. Your welder needs to have a way to modify the electrical current when short-circuits happen.
Thermal overload, as you may suspect, is a bit more important because it will prevent your welder from overheating. If you’re exploring an inexpensive MIG welder, make sure you’re at least not skimping on this critical feature. By the time you purchase another cheap welder after a thermal overload, you could have bought a top of the line welder that will save you on time and money for the long haul.
Welders are a life-long investment. Unlike cell phones and computers that we expect to replace every five years, you should expect your welder to last for as long as you need it.