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Almost anyone can begin a welding career or turn it into a side hobby, but not without the proper welding equipment. For beginners’ welders, the MIG welder is the most user-friendly and versatile out of all types of welding machines. If you're looking for the best MIG welder under 500, take a look at these 7 value-for-money MIG welders that can perform the simplest or most complicated welding jobs.
Our Favorite MIG Welders Under 500
Our Score: 92
Our Score: 85
Our Score: 82
Buyer’s Guide for Welders in this Price Range
Welding is a process that uses high heat to melt and combine various materials like metals and thermoplastics. There are different methods used for welding, depending on the welding technique, materials to be welded, welding speed and other factors.
These options include:
- Electroslag welding or ESW is used when welding thicker materials
- Stick welding (known officially as SMAW or shielded metal arc welding) is used for handling cast iron
- TIG welding (aka TIG for tungsten, inert gas) is commonly used for joining thin parts of stainless steel with other non-ferrous metals like copper alloys, magnesium and aluminum.
- MIG welding (metal inert gas welding or gas metal arc welding/GMAW) is recommended to beginner welders because it can easily work with stainless steel, steel and aluminum alloys.
These types of welder machines come in a wide range of prices based on factors like welding power, amperage, and special features such as spool gun capability. However, the best MIG welder under 500 is generally enough for home use.
Best MIG Welder Under 500 USD Reviews
Everyone has to start somewhere when learning the art of welding. Like me who entered this world a complete beginner without any knowledge of even the most basic welding technique, most of the skills I learned came from experience playing with the Forney Easy Weld 271.
Forney's Easy Weld 271 is a multi-purpose welding machine - it can work as a MIG welder, DC TIG welder, and even a stick welder. So if you're stuck trying to figure out the type of welding machine for you, you won't have to stress about this dilemma anymore. And because it supports a three-position switch, you can change between processes quickly.
The Forney Easy Weld 3-in-1 welder has a rated output voltage of 12 to 24V and current range of 43 to 110 amp. It can accommodate two- and ten-pound rolls of wire. I like that wire feed speed is fully customizable, giving you the flexibility apt for beginners to arrive at a perfect weld.
You can use Forney's Easy Weld 271 without gas, or with gas, but you'd have to purchase a gas hose and regulator to make it work. They're compatible with any standard three-prong outlet and due to its very light weight (at only 25 pounds), this machine is actually a portable welder.
With the Forney 3-in-1 welder, anyone can begin welding right out of the box. When you’re ready to expand your welding techniques and skills, it’s good to know that you can purchase more accessories gradually like a torch, welding nozzles and contact tips, diffuser, and more.
As beginner welders would attest, if you don't expect a huge duty cycle from the Forney Easy Weld 271, this machine will serve you well.
Things We Liked About FORNEY EASY WELD 271
Things We Didn't Like About FORNEY EASY WELD 271
The SUNGOLDPOWER 200Amp Welder is a snazzy-looking, multipurpose machine that works as a MIG, MAG, ARC and MMA welder. It was designed with the flexibility in mind, since you'll be using only one adapter regardless of picking the gas-shielded MIG welding or gasless flux-cored welding for your current project.
Although the spool gun isn't included on this kit, the SUNGOLDPOWER 200Amp welder is ready to accommodate an aluminum spool gun whenever you decide to add to your welding tools. I do appreciate the selector switch, which makes it exceptionally easy to switch from spool gun to MIG gun effortlessly.
The best feature of SUNGOLDPOWER is its dual voltage capability. Because it operates with 110V/220V Dual Voltage, welders no longer have to purchase another machine to use in areas where the voltage required to operate is not available. Plus, having dual voltage means the welder is powerful enough to be used for most projects, so this make and model isn't exclusive to hobbyists. Even professional welders can take it for serving clients in the field.
This welder gives you control over the welding power and wire feed, so you can adjust when needed when changing materials from stainless steel to aluminum and other metal materials.
The SUNGOLDPOWER 200Amp welder is able to weld any material up to 200 amps, even if the steel is up to 1/4-inch thick. What impressed me about this is the minimal splatter welds, which is often an issue for multipurpose welding machines like it.
Price-wise, SUNGOLDPOWER’s MIG MAG ARC MMA Stick DC Welder definitely is the most value-for-money out of all the machines I listed here. Simply because of its flexibility and features, durable casing, and enough weight perfect for portability without the flimsy feel of other low-priced welders.
Things We Liked About SUNGOLDPOWER 200AMP MIG MAG ARC MMA STICK DC WELDER
Things We Didn't Like About SUNGOLDPOWER 200AMP MIG MAG ARC MMA STICK DC WELDER
If your number 1 priority is for a welding machine to accommodate aluminum, the LOTOS MIG 140 is more than enough to help you do the job. It was designed with all skill levels of welders in mind, so if you're experimenting on welding the thinnest materials like an exhaust pipe to the heavier steel, you'll be able to weld with the LOTOS MIG140 flawlessly.
Note that the LOTOS MIG 140 wasn't built for industrial use. If you bought this machine for home use, you'd find this LOTOS model more than enough for most welding jobs that involve up to 3/16-inch steel.
The LOTOS MIG 140 already includes the MIG torch, argon regulator, gas hose, ground clamp cable, wire, welding mask, and contact tips. Out of the box, you can easily connect this MIG welder to your existing 110/120v wall outlet.
Two things I like about this MIG weld machine are the aluminum wire feeder (and how you're able to adjust its settings) as well as the amperage control. These two allow you to fine-tune your weld as you minimize splatter significantly. Plus points for the torch that's easy to use - it won't intimidate beginner welders.
Things We Liked About LOTOS 140 AMP MIG WIRE WELDER
Things We Didn't Like About LOTOS 140 AMP MIG WIRE WELDER
If you are in need of a MIG welder that powers up to 110v, the Lincoln Electric K2185-1 Handy MIG Welder will surprise you.
Design-wise, it is light and portable, but still has the weight needed to keep it in place while working. Lincoln Electric's MIG welder is aimed at hobbyists, newbie welders and anyone who is planning to embark on a project involving light gauge mild steel.
The Lincoln Electric K2185-1 Handy MIG Welder had continuous wire feed and a dial, which helps you adjust its speed anytime you deem necessary.
This Lincoln Electric welder comes with the welding gun and cable assembly, gasless nozzle to use for flux-cored welding, and the hose, gas nozzle and gas regulator for MIG welding. There's even a 2-pound spool of 0.025-inch solid MIG wire and 1-pound spool of 0.035-inch flux-cored wire included to get you started.
Things We Liked About LINCOLN ELECTRIC K2185-1 HANDY MIG WELDER
Things We Didn't Like About LINCOLN ELECTRIC K2185-1 HANDY MIG WELDER
A professional welder I knew way back recommended that I check out Hobart 500572 Handler 100 if I wanted to take care of light fabrication, steel repair and other light maintenance myself. And his advice was right on the money.
Hobart's 500572 Handler 100 is equipped with reliable 100 amps of power that can weld up to 3/16-inch steel with flux-cored wire. It features a very useful wire feed, which gives any user the flexibility of trying out small- to large-sized spools of wire as you learn which wire fits your current welding needs.
There's no shielding gas here, but I can guarantee that the flux-cored wire welding is enough for most home or farm applications. It has been a good soldier, helping me weld with 0.30 Flux core wires, which you should definitely purchase separately to maximize this machine to its full potential.
Hobart also has impressive customer service. My machine had to get fixed after the wire stopped feeding, and they were pleasantly helpful throughout (without any fee that I had to pay out of my pocket).
Things We Liked About HOBART 500572 HANDLER 100
Things We Didn't Like About HOBART 500572 HANDLER 100
The YESWELDER Digital MIG-205DS MIG Welder is a good-looking machine, with the buttons and dials easily spread so you can control the wire feed speed and wire thickness. Once all settings are made, the welder automatically sets the recommended amperage and voltage based on your current set-up.
When I bought YESWELDER's MIG welder, I was trying to expand my welding techniques beyond MIG and found out quickly that I made the right decision. This 4-in-1 welder comes about 90% assembled already out of the box, so I was able to weld immediately on 110v and got to experience quickly how hot start works really well.
YESWELDER's multifunction welder is equipped with a "one button selection," so users can quickly switch between welding requirements. Any job will become easier thanks to its 2T/4T design that lets you continuously weld at longer periods and provide better control for spot welding. Plus, it is capable of welding with 1/16 stick electrodes.
There's nothing special with the hammer and brush included in this YESWELDER kit (and the manual is quite vague), but the 110V/220V adapter, MIG gun, electrode holder, ground clamp, spools of wire and contact tip are perfect to get things started.
Things We Liked About YESWELDER DIGITAL MIG-205DS MIG WELDER
Things We Didn't Like About YESWELDER DIGITAL MIG-205DS MIG WELDER
Don't mistake its low price for the quality performance you can receive out of the SUNCOO 130 MIG Welder Flux Core. I had one borrowed to test it out and I was impressed.
Out of the box, it comes with a 1-mm tip installed (and one extra), one 0.8mm tip, free spool of flux-core wire (0.25-pound of 0.8-inch wire), and two fuses for backup.
Design-wise, it looks like any other MIG welder in its price range. But once you crank up that transformer and begin working with this 110 MIG machine, you'll feel the convenience of SUNCOO's design. I especially love the four-button settings for variable feed speed control, allowing you to adjust wire feeding via a rotary knob.
This SUNCOO flux core welder is capable of welding thin steel and iron, so you'll be able to work with this tiny machine for regular household repairs like pipes.
What I think is unique about this model is that it has strategically-placed air-vents that help bring temperature lower while you work. It's a pretty cool addition, since small welders like these often heat up quickly and cool down slowly (not a design flaw, but more on a size issue).
Things We Liked About SUNCOO 130 MIG WELDER FLUX CORE
Things We Didn't Like About SUNCOO 130 MIG WELDER FLUX CORE
Amperage range and Welding Power
If you've decided to start mastering MIG welding, you'll need a MIG welding gun with a continuously-fed, consumable spool of wire to melt and combine metals together. The MIG welding gun is fueled by an inert gas, which is responsible for producing high heat enough to melt the wire of your choice.
In most MIG welding machines, the proper voltage and amperage range automatically adjusts for you after selecting the wire-feed speed, wire diameter, and metal thickness of the materials you're going to weld.
If your machine requires you to set up the amperage range manually, it is important to identify what kind of projects you'd be embarking on.
- Small MIG welders - If you're planning to weld 1/4-inch thick steel and below, you'll need a MIG welder that could produce up to 140 amps. Welders that run on 110 to 115 volts could be enough for this task.
- Medium- to large-sized MIG welders - Bigger 220-volt machines are able to weld up to 1/2-inch steel even in one pass.
Because the voltage settings rely on how thin or thick your materials are, some welders can stay on a single voltage setting throughout the life of its machine as long as they don't change materials for their projects.
However, if you are unsure of the projects you're going to do, but require the MIG welder for just home use (and not for business), then a higher amperage machine is recommended. With higher amp MIG welders, you'll be able to have deeper welds, consistent-looking welds, and generally more welding options.
Choosing the proper equipment for the job is important because your decision will affect welder quality. And when you pick the wrong machine, the chances of a poor-quality weld increase as well.
As you already know, weld quality assurance is essential because poorly-weld materials could lead to breakage or leaking. In some cases, a weld failing may only cause a small inconvenience such as a faucet leak. However, if the weld causes structural damage to a larger element, such gas pipes, the poor quality weld can be catastrophic.
What’s the Duty Cycle?
Duty cycle is the amount of time a welder is able to operate at a certain amperage. Duty cycle is written as a percentage and about 10% duty cycle is equal to a minute of welding time.
So if you see a MIG welder with 20% duty cycle at 90 amps, it means that you can use it to weld continuously for two minutes, then have to let it rest for the remaining 8 minutes.
There are two issues that may come up:
- Your project requires longer periods of welding time, so imagine how much time will be wasted from all the resting time
- As you use higher amperage, expect the duty cycle to go lower as well
- 100% duty cycle possible, but only on high-end, commercial-level welding machines that run on 3-phase power
When you understand duty cycle, you'll also realize that adjusting amperage can accommodate better welds at longer periods.
Other Features to Consider
A cheap MIG welder can still be a useful tool even if it isn't pricey. You just have to pick the right machine for the job. The following features can help improve welding capabilities ten-fold and may not be included in standard MIG welders:
- Spool gun - If you're going to weld aluminum, the welder should be able to connect to an aluminum spool gun. Unfortunately, if you're going with cheap welders, the spool gun is usually NOT built into the machine. Higher-priced MIG welders often come with a spool gun.
- MIG wire - All MIG welders need wire that passes through the gun and then melt to weld onto other metals. You can choose the thickness, size and features (like flux-cored) wires.
- Wire feed trigger - Some models have manual wire feed, while others are equipped with an automatic wire feed trigger. If you want to be able to switch between manual and automatic, make sure this feature is available on your chosen welder.
- Dial settings - Not all MIG welders are created with a dial that allows you to control wire feeding and amperage settings. These two settings are significant in improving weld quality and speed no matter the position or material used.
1. What size of MIG welder do I need?
How many amps does a MIG welder require? On average, 115-volt welders require 140 amps to weld up to 14" thick steel, whereas 220-volt welders require roughly 200 amps to weld up to 12" thick material.
2. Are gasless MIG welders any good?
A gasless MIG welder for sale gives exceptional penetration and strength; however, this is dependent on the machine and technique utilized. Some can even be reduced to work with the tiniest of materials, while others cannot.
3. Is stick welding stronger than MIG?
Stick welding is somewhat more robust and superior due to its ability to complete large-scale welding operations. Additionally, stick welding has a greater penetration rate than MIG welding.
4. What should I look for when buying a MIG welder?
MIG welders range in power from low-amperage 110-volt machines that can weld up to 3/16" steel to large 220-volt machines that can weld 1/2" steel in one pass. However, bear in mind that low-amperage machines are frequently limited to welding with flux core wire.
5. How thick of steel can a MIG welder weld?
Gas metal arc welding (or GMAW) is the technical term, while wire welding is colloquial. MIG allows the home hobbyist, artist, farmer/rancher, motorsports enthusiast, or do-it-yourself welder to make most manufacturing and maintenance/repair welds on material ranging from 24-gauge to 1/2-inch thick.