by Ronald Paugh
Last Updated January 20, 2019
One of the most important things to consider when buying a welder is what type of welding you intend to do.
Beyond the difference in applications, the different types of welding often require different techniques and are learned in stages.
That said, every stage will require something a little different than the one before it in terms of technique, so it is a good idea to get the right welder for each type of welding that is best suited for a beginner.
When buying a welder, power can be approached from two different perspectives. The first is how powerful the welder is itself.
This is important because a thicker wire will require more power to fully melt and produce clean, strong welds. The second consideration when it comes to power involves how the welder itself is powered.
Welders will either be AC or DC powered. DC powered welders are used more often for professional welding because they can handle all types of wire.
However, beginner welders might do better with AC welders as the AC current will help better control the arc, which means less to worry about.
That said, do not use AC welders for wire coated with high cellulose sodium or low hydrogen sodium.
This feature is important to ensure that the beginning of the weld is just as consistent and good as the rest of the weld.
Welders that do not have a hot start function can create a “lumpy” weld at the beginning which is less secure than the rest of the weld.
That said, hot start welders will often require you to adjust the initial voltage, which means beginners may have to do some research before using this feature.
A more advanced welding machine will also include other voltage regulators like a soft start, crater current, anti-stick, and slopes; though these features are not necessary for beginners if they cost more than comparable welders without them.
In the end, there is no single welder that will be the best welder for all beginners to buy. Depending on what type of projects you think you will use the welder for, one welder will invariably be better than the others.
For instance, amateur mechanics are certainly not going to need the same welder as someone looking to make a few repairs around the home in most cases.
For most beginners, the overwhelming majority of their projects will involve MIG welding, because this is the easiest type of welding to do. In that regard, the Hobart 500559 is the best MIG welder that we reviewed.
While it is fairly expensive, it provides the widest range of versatility we saw in the types and arrangements of metal we saw. Moreover, it offers a wide range of features to help control the arc, so you do not need to finesse it quite as much.
Of course, most beginner welders may not be comfortable dropping half a grand on a welder and would prefer to buy something a bit more budget-friendly. In this regard, we recommend the Goplus.
While it may not have the same kind of brand recognition as some of the other welders we reviewed – nor does it come with a warranty – the price and quality are hard to beat.
Hobart is a brand that specializes exclusively in welding products and has an answer for whatever type of welding needs you may have. This is one of the few brands on our list that even offers extremely capable plasma cutters as well as every type of welder around.
In this instance, Hobart makes by far the best MIG welder that we came across with a number of features that are ideally suited for beginner welders.
For one, this welder aims to provide the maximum amount of control. This is important because beginner welders are often not the most technical welders.
As such, it allows beginners to set their welder up and simply go without having to worry about less than ideal welding conditions. Arguably two of the best features in this regard are the valve and gauge.
The solenoid gas valve and dual-gauge regulator ensures that your welder provides a steady stream to help control the arc.
On top of that, the Hobart also features a 5 position voltage control so the arc will not be too strong or too weak. Finally, the AC current will further stabilize the arc, preventing it from developing a blown shape.
Unlike some of the other companies on our list, Goplus does not have the brand prestige that ensures comfort and security. In fact, Goplus does not specialize in welding or even metal fabrication products at all.
Instead, this company offers a wide range of products that are more focused on the consumer market and for use at home. As a result, their welding products are priced lower than others on the market.
This is by far the least expensive welder that we reviewed. In fact, it is more than 50 percent less expensive than the next least expensive welder on our list.
If you are a beginner welder, chances are you may not be comfortable dropping hundreds of dollars on a product that you are not necessarily all that proficient with yet.
Thankfully, the Goplus actually manages to provide a solid beginner experience at an incredibly low price. For instance, while not the most adjustable, the Goplus welder still provides 4 different voltage settings. On top of that, the AC current of the Goplus helps stabilize the arc and prevent a blow shape.
Perhaps one of the best things about the Goplus for beginner welders is that it comes with a complete kit -including a mask and brush.
Everlast is another brand on our list that has made quite a name for itself making and selling welding products. In fact, this is one of the few brands that has even extended their focus to include a wide variety of peripheral devices designed to be used in conjunction with their welders, like generators and inverters.
This specialization combines to provide an excellent product lineup which is on full display with their PowerARC 160STH TIG welder.
It is worth noting that this welder is designed for buyers who are a little bit more experienced than. That said, if you are a beginner TIG welder, this product is designed to help guide you through the learning process.
This begins with a wide range of versatility that includes a number of regulatory features, so you do not have to worry about imperfect technique while you learn.
First, this welder provides an infinitely variable power control dial. Rather than having a handful of prearranged settings controlling the power of your welder, you can fine-tune the power to get exactly the right kind of arc you need.
On top of that, the post flow regulator ensures that your TIG argon arc will control both the quality of the weld as well as the rate of argon consumption.
Amico Power is probably best understood as a mid-tier manufacturer. While they do not actually specialize in welders exclusively, it is one of their major product lines, and all of their other products use a similar motor based mechanism.
That said, this is definitely one of the most budget-friendly welders that we reviewed, but it is also designed exclusively for stick welding. While this is not inherently a problem, it does mean you should be a bit more advanced than an absolute beginner.
When it comes to stick welding, this is definitely a good product to begin learning on. Aside from the fact that it is relatively inexpensive, it is also one of the lighter welders on our list.
Since stick welding travels easier than many of the other types of welding, this provides more versatility. In addition, this welder can run from either AC or DC electricity depending on your arc needs.
In terms of stick welding effectiveness, the Amico Power offers a solid 160 amps to work with. Of course, as a beginner you may not yet be able to handle that kind of power, but the Amico Power welder has you covered there too.
With an infinite amperage control knob, you will not have to worry about splattering your weld when stick welding again. The only issue is that the amps have a tendency to run lower than stated, though they remain constant even with an extension cord.
SUNGOLDPOWER is actually far more well-known for their budget-friendly power inverters than they are for their welding machine.
That said, welders – especially those that run on DC power – are noted for including power inverters as part of their design to help control the arc. This actually bodes well for the power of this welder – though it carries considerations with the arc.
In terms of power, this is by far the most powerful welder that we reviewed. With 200 amps of power, the SUNGOLDPOWER is 25 percent more powerful than its closest competitor.
On top of that, this welder comes with a hot start feature, so you do not have to wait for the arc to form before you can begin working.One of the more interesting qualities about the SUNGOLDPOWER welder is that it is also the lightest welder that we reviewed.
This welder also offers a bit of versatility in that it can be powered from either 110V or 220V outlets, and you will not have to worry about the DC conversion. Even better, this welder comes with overload protection to ensure that the welder does not blow out your circuit breakers.
The only issue is that this welder may be a bit too strong as the arc has a tendency to blow through the puddle and the voltage to amperage ratio often splatters more than others.
Lincoln Electric is easily one of the more storied companies on our list, with a history stretching back over a century. While the brand may have started out making electric motors, they quickly pioneered welding machines and made the first portable electric welding machine in the world.
This innovation and experience have carried over into the modern day, leading Lincoln Electric to produce the best portable welder for beginners we have found.
It is important to note that this is not strictly the lightest welder that we encountered, but it is still lighter than most and by far one of the best MIG welders on our list.
For one, the Lincoln Electric is AC powered, which will ultimately help control the arc for beginner welders much more than a DC powered arc will. On top of that, the 4 voltage settings provide more control to prevent splatter.
The Lincoln Electric also provides a fully adjustable wire feed, so you do not have to feel rushed when welding and make mistakes that simply add more work to your project.
Even though this welder puts out the lowest power at only 88 amps, it is still consistent enough to handle ⅛” mild steel. On top of that, this welder will not get hot until triggered, and then it has an incredibly short heat up time.
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