If you’re looking for the best welder for home use but don’t know where to start, fear not.
We’ve reviewed and summarised all the top choices to make your life easier.
There’s a full welding guide later on, but for now take a look at the welders below to get a better idea of what’s out there and what you’ll get for your money.
When choosing a welder you’ll want high performance from a unit that’s both compact and easy to use.
All of the products on our list fulfil that criteria. They’re all perfect for beginners, as well as those with more advanced welding skills.
Let’s kick things off with our top choice.
Rating: (4.5 / 5)
Hobart’s portable home welder packs enough power and versatility to handle just about any job.
It’s a 115 volt, 140 amp wire feed welder, with a ten foot MIG gun, heavy duty ground clamp, and a roll of flux cored wire meaning you can start welding straight out of the box.
It also features a regulator and gas hose allowing you to switch over from flux cored to MIG welding with ease (see the welding guide later on if you’re not familiar with these terms).
The five position voltage control allows you to create a smooth arc of any thickness.
It’s ideal for MIG welding anything from cast iron, copper and brass, to titanium and magnesium alloys. And with the flux cored you can add aluminium to the list making this a great all-round choice.
One of it’s best features is the weld set-up guide included on the inside of the lid, which makes it super easy to get started.
In our view it’s hands down the best welder for home use out there.
Each unit is manufactured in Troy, Ohio, and is backed by Hobart’s excellent 5/3/1 Industrial Warranty.
Rating: (4.5 / 5)
Next up, from Amico Power, is this inverter arc stick welder that switches to DC power from AC before using a stepdown process to produce the correct voltage required for the job in hand.
It’s nice and compact, so very easy to carry around, but don’t let that fool you – it’s also very powerful.
It features a versatile 115-volt or 230-volt output with 60 percent duty cycle and comes with an electrode holder and a 10 foot cable as well as a work clamp, input power adapter plug and more.
This is a convenient welder that you can plug in to any standard electrical outlet and get the job done fast.
The performance and ease of use are right up there as far as home stick welders go.
If you can’t quite stretch for the Hobart this is an excellent alternative and arguably the best welder for the money.
It’s also the best stick welder for beginners that we came across.
Rating: (4.2 / 5)
If you want something small and portable without breaking the bank the Goplus 130 has plenty of great features for the price.
This MIG gas welder has a stainless steel body and uses convenient flux cored wire with four adjustable welding speed levels.
It’s a nice small size which makes it really easy to carry around and features a tough stainless steel case that will endure.
The welding gun has an on-off safety control and automatic thermal safety protection as well.
The Goplus is the second cheapest option on our list, but it outperforms the others in it’s price range so well that we think it’s the best budget option around right now.
A solid choice for beginners, hobbyists, and those who only need it for occasional use.
Rating: (4.4 / 5)
This TIG torch welder, also from Amico, is unfortunate not be named in our top 3.
Having said that, we’ve set the bar extremely high and this product falls slightly short as it does not work with aluminium.
Stainless steel, alloy steel, mild steel, copper, cast iron and chrome are all no problem, and the full-size TIG and stick platform, outperforms most rivals on arc quality, and voltage control.
It’s easy to use and very portable, so still a great choice for stick welding – its possibly the best welder for sheet metal of the lot.
The 200 amp output provides plenty of power, and it’s designed to produce a smooth weld with no spatter.
Includes TIG torch with a 13 foot cable, electrode holder, work clamp and handy guide.
Rating: (4 / 5)
Super Deal has a great home welder that’s well priced given it’s power and precision.
Constructed of height quality PVC material it has a comfortable grip that makes it one of the easiest welders to use.
It has plenty of power to offer too, with variable speed adjust and ten levels of wire feeding speeds to get you the perfect weld every time.
Comes with welding spool wire, a welding face mask (which is a nice touch), chipping hammer, 2.5M Torch, an extra two tips, and ground cord.
For convenient welding with flux-cored wire, and a self release metal-inert gas feature while welding, this unit is an excellent addition to your home garage or workshop at an affordable price.
Rating: (3.8 / 5)
The Lotos CT520 has plenty to offer anyone looking for a home welding machine.
It actually offers three functions in one. It can be used: as a plasma cutter with 50AMP plasma cutter current output; as a TIG Welder with 15-200AMP DC TIG electric current output; and as a Stick/MMA Welder with 15-200AMP DC Stick/MMA electric current output
The ideal thickness for plasma cutting is half an inch, but it will work up to three quarters of an inch if required.
The unit has a handle to carry it around and uses compressed air to cut stainless steel, alloy steel, copper, aluminum and more.
It comes with a one-year limited warranty and a 30 day 100 percent satisfaction guarantee.
That said, you do have to fork out a bit more for this one, so unless you really need the plasma cutting feature at home we’d recommend that you go with the Hobart instead, which is the best home welder around in our opinion.
Rating: (3.5 / 5)
The CMT Pitbull may not have all the bells and whistles of some of the other welding machines on this list, but it is still one of the best selling home welders on the market.
This is thanks largely, as the name suggests, due to it being super portable.
At just 28 pounds and with dimensions of 18 x 13 inches it is the most compact welder we could find.
Cheapest on our list at less than $75 dollars, it is affordable without compromising too much on performance.
In fact the 3.5 star rating from over 280 independent reviews is slightly misleading, as when you delve into it a bit deeper a lot of the negative feedback is attributable to human error.
For the price it’s arguably the best welder for beginners to start with before moving on to something more robust for bigger jobs.
With the Pitbull you get a terrific portable 100 amp arc welder that is made of 100 percent metal.
It’s cased in a sturdy little box with a carrying handle and is ideal for someone new to welding.
Choosing a home welder can be challenging.
You want something that is powerful enough to get the job done, but you don’t want to be pushing around a big welder that takes up much space your garage.
The welders on our list are both portable and powerful, and definitely represent the best options on the market for home use right now.
If you pressed us to choose one we’d have to go with the Hobart. It’s versatility, ease of use, power and all-round performance set it apart from the others.
Yes, it’s a little pricey, but the cost is definitely justified.
If the Hobart is just too much, the Amico TIG Welder is an excellent alternative.
It’s all very well looking at the various products that are out there, but the information isn’t much use if you’re not sure what it means.
It took us quite a while to get to grips with the terminology and how to do it when we first started out with home welding.
So in this section we’re going to take a look at the most common types of welding that you’re likely to be doing in a home shop or garage, and how you go about each one.
First of all, let’s get it clear in our heads what welding actually is.
Welding is a process that we use to join materials together. When we talk about welding in this article, we are talking about joining metals together (although it is possible to weld other materials, such as thermoplastics, but that’s outside of the scope of this post).
When we weld we use extreme heat to melt the materials with the result that they fuse together when they cool down.
Welding should not be confused with other common metal joining techniques, such as soldering, where the base metal is not melted to create fusion.
Welding does not stop with the melting of base metals. It also includes the addition of a secondary material, or filler, along the joint, which creates a stronger fix once it cools than if the joint were created between base metals alone.
There are many different types of welding – more than a dozen if you care to count – but for us home welders, we need only concern ourselves with three of four.
1. Stick Welding
Stick Welding, or shielded metal arc welding, refers to the process of joining metals via the use of electricity.
In this type of arc welding electricity is used to create sufficient heat to melt the metals that you’re working with before they cool and bind together.
An independent power supply is used to create the electric arc between the metal stick that is manually introduced and the base metals, with the result that, upon contact, the base metals melt.
You can use either a DC or AC current to arc weld.
The point of the weld is protected by a layer of shielding gas (which is where the longer name comes from).
The protective layer comes from the flux coating of the stick, which is designed to disintegrate during the weld.
2. TIG Welding
TIG Welding, or gas tungsten arc welding, involves the use of a non-consumable tungsten electrode (stick) to complete the weld.
The phrase TIG means tungsten inert gas welding.
Both the electrode and the point of the weld are protected from the elements by an inert shielding gas, and a filler metal, referred to above, is introduced to help bind the joint.
In TIG welding an electrical current passes across the arc of the weld via a plasma column made up of ionized gas and metal vapor.
TIG welding is often used to join together non-ferrous metals (think aluminium and copper) with thin stainless steel sheets.
This type of welding permits the welder far more control over the process than the other methods mentioned here, resulting in stronger welds, however it is much more time consuming and a lot harder to master than the others.
3. MIG Welding
MIG Welding, or gas metal arc welding, involves the use of a welding gun that feeds both the wire electrode as well as the shielding gas onto the welding area to form the join.
The phrase MIG means metal inert gas welding.
MIG welding is a much faster process thanks to the constant feed of wire, which can be adjusted to suit the size and pace of the job.
As a result it is the most popular form of industrial welding with machinery doing the bulk of the work.
That’s not to say it can’t be employed in the home garage, and you will have seen that several of the welding machines on our list are MIG welders.
Given the speed that you can work at, and the less time it takes to master, MIG welding can be a great option for a home welder with plenty of jobs to get through.
4. Flux Cored Arc Welding
This is very similar to MIG welding.
It’s an automatic (or at least semi automatic) process involving the constant introduction of a consumable electrode via a wire feeder to the point of the weld.
External shielding products are sometime applied directly to the weld to help protect it from the elements, however the liquid slag created by the weld and the flux itself are relied upon for this.
Flux cored arc welding machines are often compact and portable, making them popular with construction workers who rely on their speed and move from job to job.
Sparks will fly as they say, and given the extreme heat that you’ll be working with, having the correct safety equipment at hand when welding is a must.
1. Safety Gloves
A good, strong pair of heat resistant welding gloves are highly recommended for obvious reasons.
Check the safety guidelines on the machine that you’re using to see if there is a recommendation.
2. Welding Mask
This, as you’d imagine, is also essential. Again for obvious reasons.
A couple of the machines listed above come with a helmet included. In other cases you’ll need to buy one separately.
You sometimes see welders holding the mask in front of their face, rather than actually wearing it. This is not recommended.
3. Heat Resistant Overalls
A jacket or apron, at the very least is recommended to avoid damage or injury to your front from sparks and spatter.
4. Other Safety Suggestions
If you’re MIG welding you’ll need a well ventilated space for the task, however using a vapor mask is advisable.
You should also have a CO2 extinguisher and a bucket of sand to hand just in case.
So now you know about the different types of welding, you’ve hopefully got a good idea which of the products on our list would be a good fit for your project.
Now lets take a look at how you’d actually use them.
To start with, take a look at this useful clip on stick welding from Longevity:
To summarise, the process is as follows:
- Get your tools together – welder, electrode stick, clamps, cables and base metal
- Clear your working area – choose a non-flammable surface (a stainless steel table for example)
- Prepare your base metal (the metal that you’re welding)
- Do this by removing any surface grease or rust with a cloth and wire brush
- Lock your base metal securely in a clamp or a vice where necessary
- Attach the ground clamp to the second piece of metal to be welded
- Pick the correct rod (electrode stick) having regard to its thickness for the job
- Work out the correct amp range for the job
- Put your rod into the rod holder, or stinger, with the stinger clamp attached at the clean end
- Put your mask on
- Turn the welding machine on
- Holding the stinger at the handle, the electrode rod should be facing the point of the weld you intend to make
- Using a spare piece of scrap metal practice tapping the electrode against it to get the feel for it
- When you’re ready to start the weld position the rod above the welding point
- Begin tapping the weld point with the tip of the rod (touch and pull away)
- Soon you will create an arc
- Holding the tip of the rod a small distance from the weld (say 1/8 of an inch) slowly move the rod in the direction of the weld
- When you do this, the metal below will melt and the gap between base metals will start to fill
- You will create deeper, more penetrative welds, by going at a slow steady pace
- And the more side to side movement you make the wider the weld you’ll create
- When you’ve finished you should clean your weld with a wire brush and sand it down with a blaster if you need it to be smooth
- Use a rust preventing primer to seal the weld to protect it from the elements and prevent corrosion.
Here’s a great clip from LWELDS explaining the TIG welding process in detail:
Here’s a slightly more crude summary:
- Pop your safety clothes on – mask, gloves and overalls
- Plug your TIG torch into your machine following the manufacturer’s instructions
- Plug in your foot pedal
- Choose your current setting – AC for aluminium, DC for steel and other hard metals
- Grind your tungsten electrode – you want a ball at the tip for AC welding and a point for DC welding
- Sort out your gas settings – you need to use argon or mixed argon gas for this process
- Secure your regulator following the manufacturer’s instructions
- Put the gas hose and flowmeter on
- Slowly open the valve on your cylinder until you reach the correct flow rate for your job
- Set your ampage to the correct level for the job – you’ll need a higher ampage for thicker metals
- Remove any grease, rust or debris from your base metal with a cloth and wire brush
- Insert the tungsten electrode into the welder following the manufacturer’s instructions
- Clamp your base metals together in a vice or C clamp
- Begin welding the base metals by placing a series of small tack welds every three to four inches to hold them together
- Point the torch toward the welding area with your tungsten about a quarter of an inch from the site
- Use the pedal to regulate the flow of the welder
- The torch will begin to melt the base metals
- When this starts to happen, introduce the filler rod to the puddle to strengthen the weld
- Use the arc to move your weld along in the opposite direction to that which the welder is facing
- Continue until your weld is complete
For a great introduction to the MIG welding process, check out this awesome clip from TheProRancher:
So the process summarised is as follows:
- Put your safety kit on – mask, gloves and overalls
- You’ll need good ventilation and/or a vapor mask
- Grab your MIG gun and prepare your welding area or table
- Clear it of all unnecessary items
- Choose your wire – it should be made of the same metal that you intend to weld
- The thicker the base metals you intend to weld the thicker the wire you will need
- Tighten your wire reel, with the first few inches of wire nice and straight
- Add the wire to your torch by feeding into the liner via the guide tube following the manufacturer’s instructions
- Turn the welder on and use the feeder to push the wire through the welder
- Assess the tension required to feed the wire through without much effort and adjust accordingly
- Set the machine’s polarity by following the manufacturer’s instructions
- Keep your electrode about a quarter of an inch from the weld site
- Be sure to use a shielding gas to protect the weld from the elements
- Weld your base metals together making sure the wire stays at the front of the welding pool
- You can drag the weld along the line that you’re welding to get a deeper weld
- Or you can push the weld along to create a wider bead/weld.
As we’ve now looked at the different types of welding, and how to carry them out, you should be getting a feel for which one will best suit your needs and goals.
To help you choose which type of welding and therefore which machine to go for, we’ve put together the following short buyers guide. But first here is a handy clip from Arc Academy highlighting the pros and cons of each method:
What Do You Need It For?
The type of welder that you buy should be determined by the type of work that you will carry out with it.
If you’re going to be working outdoors, with farm machinery or on a forecourt for example, stick welding is often a good choice as it is good with thicker materials, is a more robust process in the wind and works well with rusted metal.
MIG welding is popular for thinner metals such as auto bodies, fences and frames. It can also be very quick so if you have a lot if welding to get through this is a good option. You can use a MIG welder for fixed cored welding too, which is a definite advantage.
TIG welding provides higher quality welds that are the most pleasing on the eye. A TIG is probably therefore the best welder for hobbyists.
What Type Of Metals Will You Weld?
You’re limited to welding steel, stainless steel and aluminium with a MIG welder. If that’s all you need then there’s very reason to go for one of these machines.
A TIG welder is fine with steel also. It can weld iron too, but won’t work with aluminum.
A stick welder will get the job done on everything above apart from cast iron. Unlike the others it can be used with brass, copper and other more exotic metals.
Of the machines on our list the Hobart is probably the best welder for sheet metal. It’s also probably the best welder for car frames, whereas if you’re a boatman, the Amico is probably the best welder for aluminum boats.
How Much Expertise To You Have/Need?
If you haven’t got any experience, don’t want much and don’t think you’ll need much for what you have planned, then there is a good argument for getting a MIG Welder as this process is the easiest to learn and the quickest to carry out.
If you want to develop a high level of skill in order to make beautiful welds (and have the patience to do it) then you may be better suited with a TIG welder. A TIG is usually the best welder for beginners and hobbyists who are passionate about learning a new skill.
And if you want a mix of speed and skill (and want to work with the widest array of metals) a stick welder would not be a bad choice.
There’s no getting around it: if you want the best quality tools for home welding you’ll have to pay a higher price for them.
As we’ve previously mentioned, if you ca stretch to get the Hobart you really won’t be disappointed.
If its a little too much for your needs then consider the Amico or the GoPlus, which bot represent great value for money – The Amico is probably the best welder for the money after the Hobart.
Check out this handy post from Miller Welds for more help.
When it comes to home welding machines there are plenty of great brands out there.
We’ve made it pretty clear that we think Hobart is the best in the business (that’s largely supported by the user feedback – they’re adamant that the 500559 is the best MIG welder for home use by a mile), but there are a few other that deserve a mention.
Amico Power in particular have a great range of machines to suit all jobs and budgets. They’ve been doing this since 1995 and are well respected brand that can be relied upon.
Lotos Technology, based in Sunnyvale, California, have been supplying quality welding and cutting tools to small businesses and DIY enthusiasts for over a decade – their CT520 model is definitely worthy of its place on our list.
Hopefully all of the information above has been useful, and you now know enough to decide which is the best home welder for you.
Which do you think is the best welder for home use?
If you feel that there are other products out there that deserve to be on our list then please let s know below. We’d love to hear from you.
Likewise if you’ve had problems with any of the welders recommended above we want to hear from you.
Where to now?
To put your new welding skills to good use of course!
Do you need to fix an exhaust leak, a blown head gasket, or a rack and pinion leak perhaps? Check out our recent posts on these topics above to see if you’re better prepared then most to deal with them.
And will your project need holes threading to accommodate nuts and bolts? If so you’ll need a tap and die set.