Best TIG Welders Under $2000 of 2020 – Reviews & Buyer’s Guide
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There are hundreds of TIG welders out there manufactured by dozens of brands. This makes choosing the right one a hard and tedious process.
Since we’ve reviewed and compared over 78 different models over the years we decided to curate our best findings in this article.
First, we’ll go over our 5 favorite TIG welders for under $2000, and then we’ll tell you about the factors you should focus on when determining the right model for your needs.
We hope that this helps you in your search. Let’s get to it!
Comparison Table (updated in 2020)
|Miller Maxstar 150 STL|
|Lincoln K5126-1||3 years||4.70/5|
|Hobart 500551 EZ-TIG||1 year||4.30/5|
|Esab Rebel EMP 215ic||1 year||4.15/5|
The 5 Best TIG Welders Under $2000
1. Miller Maxstar 150 STL TIG Welder – Best Overall
We chose the Miller Maxstar 150 STL as our top pick for one simple reason. It is easy to use and built to work forever. It’s versatile and compact, so if you need to work on-site you can pack this light little number up and take it with you to do a variety of jobs. The interface is intuitive, even for people with limited experience, and it has features — its Fan on Demand being more prominent — that help moderate its heat output to prevent it from being damaged by overuse. That is, if you get your start TIG welding with the Maxstar 150 STL, you’ll probably be using it for years to come.
That, in turn, makes it a great investment and a great value. You’re not just paying to use it for the next job, but with jobs years from now in mind. So, you can buy with confidence that you’re going to get your money’s worth.
We didn’t like, however, that it can’t weld aluminum because it’s a DC-only welder. If that’s you in the introduction to this set of reviews, you’re going to need to keep looking.
2. Lincoln K5126-1 TIG Welder
If you’re the artist in the intro to these reviews, this is the model we’d recommend to you, specifically because it’s the best one we reviewed that can handle aluminum. While the TIG pulse is a bit crude, it’s still highly effective. You will be able to weld just about anything you want to with this.
It’s also versatile in that if you don’t have 220v available, you can use it at 110v. There is some decline in quality, of course, but that’s to be expected. It’s also easy to use. Don’t throw out your owners manual, but you can place it someplace where it can collect dust.
What we didn’t like was the weight. At 72.3 pounds, it’s not very portable. If you need to work in the field, you’ll want to look for a different TIG welder.
3. Everlast PowerMTS211Si TIG Welder – Best Value
The best for-dollar value of the TIG welders we reviewed goes to the PowerMTS211Si. It welds as good as the top two but for a generally lower price. If you’re looking for bang for your buck, give serious consideration to this one.
For welding rookies, this is also one of the easiest models to pick up. The controls are intuitive, which should cut down on the fear factor. Because complex, intimidating machines promote poor quality, this means the Everlast PowerMTS211Si shortens the learning curve.
But there were things we didn’t like about it. Like the Miller MaxStar, it’s a DC-only welder, which means it can’t weld soft metals like aluminum. This cuts down on the versatility of materials it can weld. It’s also too heavy to be legitimately portable. You can lug it around from job to job if you really want to, but there are much lighter models on the market if doing that with ease is really important to you.
4. Hobart 500551 EZ-TIG Welding Machine
There is great value and there is cheap. Great value delivers more for-dollar bang for your buck. The Hobart 500551 EZ-TIG gives you exactly what you pay for. On the plus side, it works and works well. It definitely welds, and because it’s AC/DC, it welds aluminum. This model would make you happy if all you’re doing is basic, no-frills work.
Beyond that, if you want to weld something of greater thickness, the best this can do is about 3/16ths. Any thicker and this model can’t handle it. The Hobart is also taxed with a lower-than-usual duty cycle at higher amperages. You expect that to a certain extent, but not to the degree you get with the Hobart. Plus, the power cord. We don’t need a power cord long enough to circle the equator, but one that is long enough to get out of our workspace would be appreciated.
If you’re looking for a TIG welder to do the basic job, this one is functional. That’s about the best we can say about it.
5. Esab Rebel EMP 215ic TIG Welder
The only thing we liked about the Esab Rebel EMP was the handle. It was more comfortable to us than the competition. That would mean a lot more if you didn’t have to worry about accommodating the duty cycle since your hand recovers just as quickly as the machine cools.
Beyond that, we just didn’t like this model. We didn’t like that the control tips were held in place by the shielding nozzle. This degrades versatility. We called customer service to discuss this, and had difficulty getting through. Finally we did. Not to ruin the surprise of how it turned out, but companies are highly encouraged to hire people who can identify their product lines. Just some free advice.
Finally, it is limited to hard metal welding because it’s DC only. If you want to weld aluminum or some other soft metal, you’ll want to look for something else.
It’s true that a TIG welder is only as good as its operator. In this case, however, the trick is finding the narrow band of materials it works on. Aside from the comfortable handle, we were disappointed with the Esab Rebel.
Normally, when offering tips on how to match a user with the right tool, our first suggestion is for the purchaser to ask just what they want it for. TIG welders deliver clean, precise welds, which usually means a couple of things. First, the owner has a specialty in mind uses for things like sculptures or airplanes. So, we’ll assume you already know what you want it for and skip right to the criteria you should use to pick one.
Range of amperage
Because TIG welding is used most frequently for thinner metals, it requires an ability to deliver power within the scope of those substances. A TIG welder that doesn’t hit 200 amps, for instance, will be limited in how thick a sheet of aluminum it can weld. So, you should definitely match amperage range with what you’re willing to pay for a welder.
AC/DC or not to AC/DC
While hard metals require a DC current if you plan to weld soft metals like aluminum you will need a combination of AC/DC. Aluminum and other soft metals oxidize and the positive cycle of the AC current cleans away the oxides while the DC does the actual welding, as it does for hard metals. So, if you plan to weld nothing but stainless steel, you can get away with a pure DC TIG welder. If you will weld a range of metals, you will need to plan accordingly.
Specialized use brings to mind a natural need for flexibility in use. If you’re an artist who welds sculpture, you might have the need for your TIG welder in your studio. If you’re commissioned to do an installation piece on scene, on the other hand, you will need to consider one that allows you to take it into the field without fear of damage or degraded performance. The same applies for every use. If you think you’re going to need to take it on the go, you should look for a TIG welder that accommodates it.
It’s all about control
Because TIG welding involves metals that are sensitive to heat, you’ll want to find one that can regulate it with precision. Or at least permit pulsing so that what you’re welding has the opportunity to cool while being welded so it doesn’t warp. When shopping, look at a welders capacity for TIG pulsing.
Welding for too long will cause your tool to overheat, which eventually will damage it and degrade its performance. Pay attention to duty cycles, which is a percentage of 10 minutes that a TIG welder can operate without the need to let it rest. You’ll need to do a little math in your head to figure out how many minutes you can let it run and it’s usually measured based on what power of output is being used. In general, you’ll want to find a TIG welder with a higher duty cycle, because that will permit you to work longer and get your job done more quickly.
Quality of performance is usually the best way to pick a winner, but in the case of TIG welders, that honor went to the MaxStar 150 because it’s built for portability and has life-lengthening features to it. You’ll be able to make great welds on the go for years and years, even if it doesn’t work with aluminum. The Lincoln K5126 could but was just simply too big and bulky to charitably call portable. It’s portable in the same sense that an 80-pound boulder is portable. Everlast’s PowerMTS211Si was a budget-friendly introduction to TIG welding for rookies but also wasn’t very mobile, while the Hobart failed to excite us on just about every level. The less said about the Esab Rebel, the better.
We hope that you’ve found some value in our reviews. If not, we hope that you found value in the tips we offered in our buyer’s guide and that you can apply a few of the lessons we learned into matching yourself with the right TIG welder.
- Comparison Table (updated in 2020)
- The 5 Best TIG Welders Under $2000
- Buyer’s Guide