After sawing through hardwood, painting a few walls, and repairing some wall damage around the house, you start realizing that there’s a lot more you could fix if only you had the proper tools. But, when it comes to metal repair work, you not only need the proper machine for the job, you also need a certain level of skill.
Luckily, most welders for home use are easy to use and come with intuitive charts that explain different voltage settings and how many passes you need to get through certain materials. That being said, picking a welder requires some knowledge. The best way to go about this is to have a look at what’s available and read a quick buyer’s guide, and that’s exactly what you’ll find here.
My Top Picks for the Best Welders for Home Use
Take a look at my favorite picks and see how they differ from each other in terms of specs, versatility, and skill requirements.
- My Top Picks for the Best Welders for Home Use
- Consider Your Experience
- How Fast Do You need to Work?
- What About Price?
At just 46lbs, the Handy Mig is super easy to handle. It plugs into household outlets so you shouldn’t have trouble using it in your workshop or garage. But the 115V input voltage is probably not something for construction sites.
Occasionally, you can try to weld something stronger than recommended. However, no matter how well-built the K2185-1 is, you just can’t squeeze more power out of it. 1/8” steel is your limit. Although this may seem restrictive, you can still do plenty of work on car restorations or repairs.
At a maximum of 88A current output, the Handy Mig is not that powerful. It also has a duty cycle of 20% at 70A which may rub some people the wrong way. What it does have going for it are a few usability features such as speed adjustments.
It also has a long cable, gas regulator, replacement wire spool, and more. The package has everything a beginner welder needs to start learning or use out of the box. The warranty is not bad either as you get one year on parts and labor. Unfortunately, you only get three months on the cable and the welding gun.
The voltage only has four settings, but it’s not a massive drawback given the low output of the Handy Mig. The minimalist control panel may even be a blessing in disguise if you don’t have much welding experience.
The Easy Weld 299 is one of my favorite flux welders. It provides great wire control with its 10 different settings. And, to make things even better, the welder is not restricted to 2lb spools. The extra storage on the Easy Weld 299 can hold a 10lbs spool just fine so that you can work on more time-consuming projects.
Price and portability are nothing short of impressive. The Easy Weld 299 is almost twice as cheap as some welders of similar specs. However, this is the result of some compromises in build quality. This Forney welder is not a high-quality tool though it should still be fine for most housework or smaller artwork.
You shouldn’t use the Easy Weld 299 with steel. It is rated to work with 24-gauge to 1/4” metal but stainless steel can take a toll. Another area in which manufacturers compromised quality is amperage settings. Although there’s nothing wrong with the 299’s 125A current output, not everyone can get enough work done with just two amperage settings. The choice certainly affects those that want to work with thicker metal.
The wire feeder is a bit short. So is the power cable. But the unit is very light, just 14lbs. It’s not only good for home use but it’s also well-suited for beginners. The 110 to 120V input allows it to be used on any home outlets, which makes it a backup instrument too.
Most people look at this Amico welder and see a great deal on a multifunction welder. This unit comes with TIG, Stick, and Arc welding capabilities, including enough output current and arc stability for HF TIG welding. While all of that looks great on paper, there’s something else that grabbed my attention.
The wide range of safety features is truly impressive considering how complex and budget-friendly the welder is. There’s built-in protection for over and under voltage, overheating, voltage fluctuation, and pretty much everything else you can think of. This allows you to not only use the unit at home but also at a job site as a backup unit. It is dual voltage 115V and 230V.
The unit works with outlets and generators just as well. The IGBT inverter technology allows you to weld stainless steel, mild steel, copper, brass, cast iron, nickel alloys, just to name a few. This makes the Amico TIG-225/220 suitable for repair work, finishing touches, and complex art projects.
Sure, AC/DC output may not be mandatory for the average DIY home welder. However, the extra amount of work that you can get done is nothing to scoff at. The 220A maximum current output can get you through 24 gauge stainless, although it may take two passes or more since there’s no pulse control on the machine.
The Handler is not the cheapest welder on this list but it may just be the most durable and it’s cheap for a Hobart. It’s a standard MIG welder that doesn’t feature too many fancy features. It’s as straightforward as welders get when you need them for light work around the house.
It comes with a variable current output of 25 to 140A. This should be enough for 1/4” mild steel. However, you will need .030 wire to get the best results. You should also consider interrupted stitching if you want your beads to look perfect. But this only becomes mandatory when you’re working with thick materials.
With a duty cycle rating of 20% at 90A and 19V, the Hobart Handler is not too amazing in terms of specs. But the consistency of the MIG welds is most important. This is not an industrial Hobart welder but it should be able to handle anything you can throw at it at home.
The control panel is quite simple and makes the unit very beginner-friendly. Is it worth it for beginners? – It really depends on whether or not they can afford it. Truth be told, even though this is a simple MIG unit, experienced welders may just get more use out of it due to the high level of control it offers.
This welder is very user-friendly and portable. It has a fairly large LED display and a digital amp controller which allows you to control the flux of the arc for both thin and thick metal surfaces.
Its 60% duty cycle alone gives it good value. The Amico Power is compatible with a wide range of electrodes which should give you a chance to achieve superior arc stability. Of course, only as long as you remember that the welder’s shielding won’t work on reactive metal.
The Amico Power can weld through just about anything. However, its ability to make a single pass doesn’t go beyond 1/8” metal rods.
This affordable welder isn’t perfect. The build is slightly imbalanced with more weight concentrated at the back of the unit. All the insulators are plastic and quite brittle and may succumb quickly to wear and tear at high heat. That being said, its affordability and flexibility make it a good unit to learn stick welding on.
This compact welder has a lot more to it than meets the eye. Though tiny and lightweight, it packs a punch and has a level of adjustability rarely seen in budget-friendly MIG welders. The stainless steel body gives it durability and stability.
You can play with four current flow settings and change the wire feed speed according to what your project needs with a 10-setting knob. The current settings are on the 1/2 and Min/Max buttons. This allows the welder to be used on thinner steel and iron, but it should be more than enough for general repair work if you don’t mind doing second passes from time to time.
There are also some features that add even more value to the welder – a carry handle, two air vents, welding gun, built-in overload protection, protection mask, chipping hammer, and 0.55lbs welding wire. With the exception of a pair of gloves, you get everything you need to starting welding straight out of the box.
Consider Your Experience
Before choosing a welder, think seriously about your skill level. Have you used one before or is it your first time? – If you’re new to welding, you might want to consider a beginner-friendly model even if it lacks certain versatility. This generally means a MIG welder.
TIG and Stick welders are obviously better suited for more complex projects. They’re more powerful and have fewer issues with contamination, but they need a steady hand and a good understanding of various current and voltage settings.
How Fast Do You need to Work?
Consider this. MIG welders are known to be very fast. But a welder’s duty cycle is what ultimately determines how fast you can get the job done and make it look professional. MIG welders don’t have an amazing finish even in the hands of an experienced welder.
So, if you decide on a Stick or TIG welder, you’ll want to compare duty cycles. The lower the value, the less time you can use the welder continuously.
What About Price?
This is where things get tricky. Sometimes you can hit it out of the park with a low budget welder. There are plenty of affordable models that come with adjustable settings and enough juice to cut through thick pipes. However, at the same price range, you’ll often have to trade power for durability.
So, should you get an expensive welder? – Since we’re talking about home use, probably not. Unless you plan on using it multiple times a week, in which case you’ll benefit from paying a premium for durability and extra safety features.
For future reference, DC welders are generally more expensive. That’s because they can use a wider range of electrodes, have more cutting power, and give you more control over the arc. That doesn’t mean that they’re also best-suited for beginners, or that they’re always worth investing in.
If you’re just trying to put together small thin pieces of mild steel and do some patch work, AC welders will do the job just fine and cost you a lot less. Of course, an AC/DC welder is also an alternative if you’re not quite sure what type of work you might tackle in the future.
Time to Hone Your Skills
Whether you want to learn welding or just to save a few bucks on house repairs, the market is saturated with plenty of small welders for home use and for any budget. It comes down to knowing what exactly you're expecting from your welder and how often you want to use it before arriving at the best possible choice.
A hardcore woodworking and welding enthusiast, Russ is the editor-in-chief of TAH. In his spare time, Russ loves watching sports, and (binge) watching Netflix.