Cheap MIG welder discussion.

LJTim

Active Member
Location
Herriman, UT
I'm in the market for a MIG welder. I have had the cheapest Harbor Freight welder for a while, but I immediately learned it's limits. I didn't (really still don't) know much about welders when I bought it. But at least I know enough now to know that it isn;t enough of a welder for me. PS It's for sale for $75 :rofl:

I recently completed a project of cutting my Jeep frame and stretching it. Lots of welding was involved. I used my brother in-law's Millermatic 180 with gas. This was sufficient for likely all my future needs. Here are some features/uses I see in my future, and if any of you experts might have a minute, please let me know what you think.

1. I would like the capacity to weld up to 1/4" plate in a single pass. Axle truss, suspension brackets, suspension joint inserts are just a few things I see myself potentially tackling.
2. I understand 240 input is needed. I will be wiring that into my garage this summer. 120/240 capability would be a plus for me, but not a must.
3. Price is my biggest issue. I would like to be set up for under $600.
4. Flux and gas shielded capabilities is a plus as well, as I'm not sure how fast I will be able to get a full gas set up. Seems like almost all of them can run either.

Things I don't need, or other things I don't understand, so I have no idea what numbers I should be looking for with my needs.

1. I don't know anything about "duty cycle"
2. Spool guns. I have used 4 welders, and none of them used a spool gun, so this isn't important to me.
3. I don't know if infinite settings, or the notched settings will be sufficient for my needs.
4. I also don't have an issue going slow, and making my welds in short segments - so I'm not concerned with having the most powerful welder out there.
5. I don't know what inverter welders are vs. transformer welders are, and which all of these are.
6. I only plan on MIG & Flux core welding, so if it is a multifunctioning welder and the tig capabilities suck and the Mig is great, that is fine by me, because I won't ever be tig welding.

Here are a few welders I have been reading about, and people seem to be very satisfied with all of them. This is why my decision is so tough. I don;t really see the big differences between them all. Links are in the title of the welders.

1. LOTOS MIG175 175AMP Mig Welder

2. MIGMax™ 215 Industrial Welder

3. Forney 318 190-Amp MIG Welder

4. Everlast POWER I-MIG 200E

5. Hobart Handler 190 MIG Welder

6. Sungold MIG200 inverter welder

7. HITBOX 200Amp Inverter MIG Welder
 
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Tebbsjeep

Active Member
Location
Ogden
I would look at Eastwood welders. I'm not a pro welder by any means, but I plan on purchasing the Eastwood MIG250. It's more expensive than you want, but it hits all your other marks.
 

4x4_Welder

Active Member
Location
Twin Falls, ID
See if you can track down a used or refurbished Millermatic. I have a 211 at work, and this is the first welder I used with truly good auto set settings.
The Vulcan welders at HF check a lot of the right boxes, but I haven't had any real hands on them with them to see if they are for real or just hype.
Generally, a more expensive, larger, heavier welder will give a better duty cycle and last longer overall.
 

Agility Customs

Supporting Vendor!
Supporting Vendor
Out of all of the welders you have listed the Hobart is the only one I would consider. I would stick to an ESAB, MIller, Hobart or Lincoln. Not neccesarily in that order
 

mesha

By endurance we conquer
Supporting Vendor
Location
A.F.
I agree with agility, of those on the list the hobart is the way to go.

A neighbor just bought one of the green fancy harbor freight multiprocess welders. it is pretty good for the money, but it wasn't anywhere near the lincoln/miller/hobart welders I have used. Not that it was bad, just wasn't quite as smooth. It might be fine for most peoples needs. It would probably be fine for my needs. I have had a few lincoln and miller large and small frame welders or each. They were all excellent. My favorite welder of the ones I have had is my current miller 211. I really like it and I love the autoset feature.
 

xj_nate

Poser
Location
UT
Lincoln Pro Mig 180 for me. I've built a crapload of stuff with it over the last decade and it's been an awesome machine. I also appreciate the ability to pick up consumables for it from Lowes or Home Depot (HD actually has their own version of it).

$600 is hard to beat.
Lincoln
 

LJTim

Active Member
Location
Herriman, UT
Lincoln Pro Mig 180 for me. I've built a crapload of stuff with it over the last decade and it's been an awesome machine. I also appreciate the ability to pick up consumables for it from Lowes or Home Depot (HD actually has their own version of it).

$600 is hard to beat.
Lincoln
Hmmm. I didn't realize they had a 180 for that cheap.
 

Mouse

Member
Hobart is a good name. I'll say this is a "buy once, cry once" type of purchase. You want quality welds on the project your described for your safety and the others around you. My MIG is a 180 amp Lincoln (HD version) and can do everything you have mentioned. Gas makes the welds look so much better than flux core.
 

xj_nate

Poser
Location
UT
Hmmm. I didn't realize they had a 180 for that cheap.
Yup, it's not like their fancy 180 machine with infinite settings but it seems like a lot of people get them as a starter machine and then never outgrow them (like me). I learned on a bigger, fancier Lincoln but have never wished to have one of my own.
 

LJTim

Active Member
Location
Herriman, UT
Yup, it's not like their fancy 180 machine with infinite settings but it seems like a lot of people get them as a starter machine and then never outgrow them (like me). I learned on a bigger, fancier Lincoln but have never wished to have one of my own.
Are there only 5 volt settings, or is it a continuous dial?
 

Agility Customs

Supporting Vendor!
Supporting Vendor
I believe Carl (I Lean) Still has a Lincoln 180 and he has done more fab work than most of us combined
 

frieed

Jeepless in Draper
Supporting Member
Location
Draper, UT
I don't know that I'd call a 180A welder single pass on 1/4". I'd bump to a 200+ if you can make the stretch and really need 1/4"
 
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