Best Cheap Welders (MIG, TIG, Stick) 2018
Starting your welding journey can be something of a love/ hate affair. There is a certain art to it, and not everyone quite acquires the knack. Which, if you have spent close to a thousand dollars, can really burn your butt.
That’s why it might make sense to start off with a cheaper rig. If the bug bites, you will probably want to go and buy a better rig, but that is true of any hobby/ passion. If it doesn’t take, at least you won’t feel so bad about it glaring back at you balefully from a corner of the garage.
That said, you still want to get the best cheap welder possible. Otherwise, the experience won’t really be a true reflection of reality. How do you sort through the hundreds of options out there?
You don’t have to – we did it for you. We have compiled reviews of cheap welders and came up with the best in each sub-category. We love making life easier for you.
Top 6 Best Budget Welders 2018
Best Budget MIG Welders
#1 Forney 29901 125 FC MIG Welder – Top Pick
This can be bought separately or can be bought in a kit. Either way, it is a brilliant introduction to welding. It will cope with light or medium jobs and comes in in pole position because it is affordable and durable.
All Forney welders are made in the United States and backed by Forney’s 5:3:1 warranty. You can weld from 24-gauge to ¼-inch. But if you are an absolute beginner, it is best not to go past 3/16 of an inch.
You can use this with mild steel but not aluminum. It is a great set to learn with. The duty cycle is quite low at 20% so that might be a little bit disappointing, but you should not be doing big projects as a beginner anyway.
The option to get the full starter kit together is extremely helpful. The glasses, etc. in the kit are all that you really need to start off with. They are not fantastic but also not bad.
- Easy to use
- Great warranty
- Nice range
- Great backup model if you upgrade later
- Suitable for light or medium welding
- Not a long-term option if you get serious
#2 Goplus MIG 130 Welder
This set comes in a little better on price, but we had to mark it down because the mask is really low quality. This is also a bit harder to master for newbies.
This MIG welder is durable and works on flux-cored wire. This means no need for gas. There are ten different settings for wire feeding speed. This is a good element for beginners because you can slow things down a bit and improve your accuracy.
It is a small and compact model and will work well for light projects. We would recommend choosing a different mask, but aside from that, you have everything that you need here for your first project.
There are also different settings for the heat. The casing is made of durable stainless steel and has air vents in it to help regulate the temperature better. This model has an emergency cutoff in the case of overheating.
- Good price
- More difficult to learn
- Mask is not good
Best Budget TIG Welders
#1 SUNGOLDPOWER 200Amp TIG ARC MMA – Top Pick
This is a great model and comes in first because of the simplicity of the model and the start-easy arc feature. This feature helps to ensure that your welder lasts as long as possible.
It is compact, portable and easy to move around. It is a good choice if you have high-frequency welding to do.
It has built-in heat and voltage protection systems. If the voltage is too high, or too low, or if the machine starts to overheat, these come into play. If you need to use a generator, this is a good thing.
Naturally, it is a smaller model, so it is not going to be able to handle industrial projects, but it will weld a range of materials, including bronze and steel. If you want to work with aluminum, you will need to look elsewhere.
It gives a steady arc and is pretty good, especially considering the low price.
- Good price
- Suitable for a range of projects
- Quick start
- Warranty conditions are unclear
- Not made in the States
#2 Amico TIG-225
This one comes in second because it is a little more complex to use. It is an excellent option if you want to try TIG welding at a high frequency or if you want to try your hand at stick welding.
It is a durable model, and every one is tested in the States before they are sent out to clients. This company is serious about quality.
The LCD display is nice and large – you can see the readings clearly and so can be more precise when welding. The machine itself is lightweight but produces a stable arc to ensure that spattering is kept to a minimum and the join is a good one.
You have a voltage compensator built-in to this model that will help to prevent situations where the voltage is either too high or to low.
You have a dual voltage input – either 115 volts (mains electricity) or 230 volts (generator.)
- Excellent quality
- Overload protection
- Good price
- Able to use with a generator
- Warranty conditions are unclear
- Checked in the U.S.A. but not made here
Best Budget Stick Welders
#1 Campbell Hausfeld WS099001AV – Top Pick
This is a real steal at the price, and that is why it gets the top spot in its class. Don’t be fooled by the inexpensive price; this model has been built to last. It is also backed by a five-year limited warranty so you can rest assured you are getting great quality.
It can work with stainless or mild steel that ranges from 18-gauge to 1/8-inch.
It works on mains electricity and has a duty cycle of 20%. This is a little disappointing, but it should be plenty when you are starting out.
The cable length is nice at six feet. This model has an easy-start arc feature and built-in protection against thermal overload. It can be used with electrodes up to 5/64-inches, but then you will need to have more amperage than your standard mains supply.
For the price, you will battle to find better – the only company that offers a remotely similar warranty is Hobart.
- Solid workmanship
- Great price
- Excellent warranty
- Will handle small projects
- Easy to learn on
- This will not carry you through to advanced welding
- Duty cycle is similar to others in this class, but still low
#2 Amico Power DC-160A
This model from AMICO came in second because it costs a fair amount more than the previous model. That said, it is still a good buy and has the capacity to stay with you as your skills become more advanced.
This kit contains everything that you need to get started bar the safety equipment. That is not such a big deal because, in most cases, you end up buying your own kit anyway. We would far rather that the concentrate resources on the welder than on a cheap mask or gloves.
It has a really nice-length cable at 10 feet. The work clamp is pretty good.
It has dual voltage input of 115 volts/ 230 volts and so can work off the household mains supply.
The LED meter is clear and easy to read. The duty cycle is fairly good at 60%, which is high for a welder at this price range.
It will handle mild steel, stainless steel, and some aluminum, but is better suited for thinner projects.
- Great starter machine
- Excellent duty cycle
- All you need is in the kit
- Only for smaller, thinner projects
- More expensive than the others reviewed
What do you need to know about welding before considering your first machine? Here are some things to mull over.
The Input and Output Voltage
This will be more important as time goes on and you start to advance your skills. Suffice to say for now that the higher the potential input power the welder can handle, the higher the temperature of the arc that can be achieved.
The better the arc, the stronger the weld and the greater the number of projects you can take on.
Welding Duty Cycle
Just like you, your machine can only do so much work at a time. The results of overheating here, though, could be pretty severe – it could mean the machine blowing circuits. In some cases, repairs make it cheaper to replace the machine completely.
The duty cycle is what tells you how long you can use the machine for before it must be shut off and left to cool off.
For a beginner especially, this is important. You need to get this right to ensure that the beads laid down are even and the weld is strong. If the speed is too fast, you won’t be moving along fast enough to do a really neat job.
If it is too slow, the work will take forever.
It is important for everyone to look into machines that cut off automatically when they overheat. This could potentially be annoying if you have not completed your project but it can also be a useful feature.
Another useful feature is when the welder requires you to depress the handle in order to heat the wire in the barrel of the gun. This prevents mishaps with molten metal.
When you are just going to be doing simple projects, you don’t need a bunch of extra features that do no more than confuse the issue. You want something that you can start easily, with a digital display that is easy to read and with clearly labeled buttons.
There is nothing quite as off-putting as being confronted with a machine that has a bunch of incomprehensible knobs and buttons. You do not want to have to try and figure things out halfway through the project.
That’s all folks – our comprehensive reviews of cheap welders is complete. Any of the options here would be a good purchase, but our absolute favorite for a beginner is the Forney 29901.
It is easy to learn, and you can choose the kit that has all that you need in it. The welder will do a good job of small to medium projects and so will be handy to keep on hand for a long time to come.
In the end, it has been made with quality being a top-priority, and that will always show.
We do hope that this has been helpful to you and you will enjoy welding with any of this choices.
- Top 6 Best Budget Welders 2018
- Best Budget MIG Welders
- Best Budget TIG Welders
- Best Budget Stick Welders
- Buyer’s Guide