How to Choose a MIG Welder
After reading about the merits of the major welding brands and the general features to review when selecting a welder in this guide, you'll probably need to know a little more about the particular welder you want to buy. If you're looking into purchasing a MIG welder, there are certain features that are specific to a MIG welder for consideration.
Who Should Buy a MIG Welder?
Most welding operations have a MIG welder on hand for many of their projects, while many beginners find it easy to use right from the start. MIG welders have a wide range of applications. Here are some common uses for a MIG welder:
- Hobby and Beginning Welders
- Automotive Repair and Manufacturing
- Welding Shops
- Industrial Fabrication and Manufacturing
- Anyone looking for a simple and effective way to join metal
MIG is not ideal for several applications:
- Portable Welding Jobs (unless you have the right power supply set up)
- Fine Welding Work
- Joining Thick Metals
What's Unique to a MIG Welder
Wires that are solid or flux-cored: MIG welders have a consumable electrode like stick welders, but there electrodes are metal wires. These wires may be solid metal and require a shielding gas. Others have a flux core that melts with the metal, rises to the top of the weld in order to provide a protective barrier, and is then chipped away when the weld is done. Some flux-cored wires use a shielding gas as well, which makes the flux easier to chip away.
Since MIG welders use relatively thin wires that are fed through the torch, MIG welders are naturally unable to weld thick metals that require a significant amount of filler metal.
Wire feed spool: The wires used for MIG welding are fed through the MIG torch through a wire feed spool on the side of the welding machine. The welder needs to only press the trigger on the torch in order to engage the wire, which automatically feeds itself into the weld pool. Having the correct wire speed for the job will make a significant difference in the quality of the final weld.
Features to Look for in a MIG Welder
A Spool Gun for Welding Aluminum: If you intend to weld aluminum, the one feature that most welders can't live without is a spool gun. Aluminum tends to get tangled when fed through the standard wire feed spool. The ideal solution is a spool gun that attaches to the torch handle and feeds the aluminum filler wire directly into the gun, traveling a few inches. If your welder doesn't come with a spool gun, make sure it at least has a mount where you can place it should you need one.
How Your Welder Handles Short-Circuiting: When a short-circuit occurs while welding, a surge of power may cause spatter and ruin the weld pool. Different welders have various ways to modify the electrical current when short-circuits are about to happen and prevent spatter and interference with the weld pool.
Thermal Overload Protection: Many top welders include thermal overload protection that will prevent your welder from overheating while you work. However, compare customer reviews to discover if your particular welder has had any glitches in the past, as a thermal overload is every bit as bad as it sounds. A thermal overload will turn your welder into an expensive end table.
Best-Selling MIG Welders at Bakers
Our current list of best-selling MIG welders at Baker's consists entirely of Miller welders, and they also show the range of MIG welder choices available. Many welders believer that the MIG welders made by Lincoln Electric are comparable in just about every way, and therefore the differences may come with some special features or personal brand preference.
Baker's sells all of the top name welding brands available on the market. Miller, Lincoln, and ESAB all offer ready-to-weld packages that only require the addition of shielding gas to begin using the MIG Welder.
The number one best-selling MIG welder at Baker's is the Millermatic 211 All-in-One MIG Welder that can switch between 120 and 230 V so that it can handle both small and large jobs, perating at a standard or high voltage outlet. This combination gives welders the best of both worlds, ensuring they have enough power to get any job done.
This powerful welder is ideal for manufacturing. It is capable of welding material from 22 gauge to 1/2 inch thick in a single pass. This is not the welder to choose if you're tooling around in your garage at home.
This highly recommended welder is the ideal starting machine for the home and hobby welder for small projects all the way through light manufacturing. It is simple to set up and even offers a setting called Auto-Set for welders who aren't sure about which way to turn the nobs on their controls. Simply set the wire diameter, set the material thickness, and start welding.
Baker's Gas and Welding offers free shipping on many welders and competitive prices on the leading brands such as Miller, Lincoln, and ESAB. While beginners uncertain about how much welding they plan to do can usually find a suitable used welder, those interested in a long-term investment will find extensive research, manuals, and article links on the product pages. Browse welders at Baker's Gas and Welding.
The next article in the welding buying guide will cover what materials you need in order to start MIG welding.
Next in the Buying Guide: What MIG Welders Need