5 Top Picks
25 Hours of Research
20 Products Considered
Our Score: 90/100
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Our Score: 75/100
Along with MIG welding, TIG is one of the most common types of welding used by many industries and DIY enthusiasts. MIG will certainly be the easiest for a beginner to learn, but TIG welding results in a smoother finish, which is hard to match.
Experienced TIG welders may be able to create a welding bead at a fast rate, but this rarely competes with the speed of MIG.
When more precision is needed though, TIG leads the way every time, suitable for engines or even a space shuttle exhaust.
TIG welders earn an average of $17.88 an hour in the U.S., although you could raise your earning potential with your own equipment. Whether you are considering setting up a small fabrication shop, you already have your own business, or simply want to branch out with your DIY skills, we have it covered here.
We have looked at five of the best TIG welders under $1000, and what you should consider when choosing the a welder for your needs. If budget is not an option take a look at our overall favorite TIG welders here.
Table of Contents
- Best Overall: AHP AlphaTIG 200X
- Runner-Up: PrimeWeld CT-520D
- Alternatives: Everlast 2017 Power i-TIG 201
- Alternatives:Lotos Technology LTPDC2000D
- Alternatives:Forney 324
- Why Is TIG Welding Great for Thinner Metals?
- Factors to Consider When Buying a TIG Welder
- Final Thoughts
Weighing in at 69 pounds, the AlphaTIG 200X is the largest welder machine we looked at. Standing 23 inches tall with a footprint of 19 inches by 12 inches, it is best suited to a garage, studio or a small shop.
The AHP AlphaTIG 200X is one of the most versatile welding kits on the market, with an impressive capacity of 200 amps. You can also alternate between AC or DC; ideal if you want to work with both steel and aluminum. A 60 percent duty cycle allows you to work for longer periods without the fear of overheating.
This machine is ideal for both amateurs and professionals as it comes with all the standard TIG accessories. A control switch and foot pedal makes it easier to use the torch. A thin rod gives outstanding precision when used on projects like welding cars, motorbikes, sculptures or bronze castings, where a smooth finish is desired.
The amperage range of this machine is significantly larger than many of its competitors, with a range of 110 to 220V and a massive 200 amp output. The AC/DC capability can help when working with both aluminum and steel. The AC current aids the welder to clean the oxidation on a surface when it’s being welded.
It’s easy to switch between AC/DC modes with advanced inverter technology and pulse width modulation of the IGBT technology. However, you may feel the requirement for a balance of the AC mode, as it can both shorten or lengthen the welding or cleaning cycles, depending on the metal used.
Unfortunately, the regulator on this machine is not precisely calibrated, which can result in a discrepancy in the amount of argon left. The estimated argon, and the actual amount, can often vary wildly.
The display on the machine doesn’t accurately show the current amperage that you have the machine set to. Even when adjusting the amperage knob, your display won’t change until it hits about 2T.
- Smooth arc is easy to manipulate.
- Three-year warranty against breakage, malfunction or unit failure from manufacturer defects.
- IGBT and pulse width modulation technology.
This TIG and stick welder from AHP is a powerful combination machine. With a large flexible amperage range, the ability to use both AC and DC, and excellent arc stability, it will handle anything between ¼ inch aluminum and ⅜ mild steel.
The AHP AlphaTIG 200X does have issues with the regulator and the display screen, which can leave you unsure of the amount of argon left or the exact amperage. However, for the money, this welder offers great versatility in an easy-to-use package.
Runner-Up: PrimeWeld CT-520D
This welder combo device offers three combinations in one compact package.
The CT-520D can function either as a TIG or stick welder, in addition to being a plasma cutter.
As a stick or TIG welder, it can work with a maximum capacity of up 200 amps, or 50 amps output as a plasma cutter.
A lightweight unit, at just over 32 pounds, it can be easily carried from one place to another when needed. A compact design means it will fit into even the smallest of trunks, with the main unit only measuring
23.6 inches by 12.8 inches and a height of 16.8 inches. The dual voltage function automatically switches between 110V or 220V, meaning it can either be used at home or in an industrial setting.
A built-in air gauge helps with the regulation of the welding process. It has a duty cycle of 60 percent and a power efficiency of 85 percent. This device can easily cut through metals up to ½ inch thick, like a knife through butter.
You will normally find the Primeweld combination unit nestled among the best budget plasma cutters. However, in reality, it is a more than capable TIG and stick welding device with a solid duty cycle of 60 percent. It may be slightly heavy for a cutter, but as a welding unit too, it’s extremely lightweight.
The control panel on this combination welder/cutter is very well thought out, with both digital displays and an analog air pressure gauge. It’s a very easy unit to use, with switching between the stick and TIG welding mode both quick and simple.
The accessories and consumables provided for the machine are of a high quality, from the TIG torch to the electrode holder for stick welding. A detailed manual is included, which makes it suitable for those new to TIG welding or plasma cutting.
It’s not all good news. The Primeweld CT-520D is a DC only welder, which means it will be unsuitable for aluminum or other softer metals. The high amp output and 60 percent duty cycle will certainly warp any lighter materials.
The other problem with this welder is the inferior inverter technology used. Primeweld has chosen to use parallel Mosfet transistors, which don’t employ IGBT technology. Therefore, you don’t get a pilot arc and you lose the facility of cutting through painted, rusted or rough surfaces.
- Durable design to last longer in harsh environments.
- Comes complete with a three-year warranty.
- Includes a variety of accessories, including TIG torch, air filter, grounding cable and a plasma torch. Can also attach a foot pedal
If you are looking for a low cost cutter/welder combination, the Primeweld CT-520D is an ideal candidate. One tip many users share when using the welding function is to bypass the regulator and run the argon directly into the machine.
The regulator/water tap is perfect for compressed air for the plasma cutter, but it can impede the flow of the argon when TIG welding stainless steel.
Even with the additional foot pedal cost, you are getting a quality and highly portable TIG welder and the ability to cut through metal too, for under 500 bucks. It’s just a shame about the lack of IGBT technology on the inverter but that’s not a dealbreaker.
Alternatives: Everlast 2017
Power i-TIG 201
The Everlast Power i-TIG 201 offers features found on high-class models, like Invertec and Maxstar, but at a fraction of the price.
This model is a replacement for the popular Power ITig 200, which was widely used in professional situations where heat control is more important.
This latest model features both a lift start capability and a high-frequency start for DC welding. A low amp start of just 5 amp and the pulse feature ensures a precise control of temperature.
That doesn’t mean it’s lacking in power, it still has a maximum output capacity of 200 amps at 200V, with a 35 percent duty cycle. Dual voltage capability means this unit can be used with both 120V or 240V single phase supplies. The highly portable design, weighing just 40 pounds, means you can easily move it from one place to another.
The fact that Everlast has managed to pack so much into this small unit for a budget price is a miracle. The digital IGBT design may offer better control of the parameters, but it still retains an analog feel and look. If you’re one of those welders who likes to keep an eyeball or hand on the controls at all times, the control panel is easy to read and use.
With that extra control of all the parameters, you will be able to get the best quality and cleanest of welds. Although, the duty cycle is only 35 percent at 200 amps output; in all other modes it can be as high as 60 percent.
The dual voltage capability allows you to weld steel to a maximum of 5/16 inch thickness at 240V with a single pass. At 120V it can still manage 3/16 inch thick steel on a single pass or 3/8 inch thick with a multiple pass. This increases further on multi-pass at 240V to ½ inch thick steel and can weld a minimum of 0.007 inch thickness in both modes.
This is a DC only output welder, which makes it unsuitable for welding aluminum, even at lower amperages. If you regularly need to weld aluminum, you should purchase an AC and DC TIG welder.
The durability of this kit can also be an issue with some users jokingly referring to it as the “Neverlast”. It may be assembled in the USA but it uses parts from the Far East and China. However, the customer service offered by Everlast is exceptional and it has a five-year warranty.
- Includes a 12-foot Everlast TIG torch with 35 series DINSE-style connectors, work clamp and stick electrode holder.
- Consumables starter pack is also included, although tungsten is not supplied.
- Foot pedal is an optional extra purchase.
The Everlast Power i-TIG 201 has already carved out a niche for itself with professionals and enthusiasts who need more precise heat control. Gunsmiths, stainless fabrication shops and sculptors will often use this TIG welder for its low amp start capacity and pulse features.
If you have been looking for a professional level TIG/stick welding kit, this model from Everlast provides unrivaled features in this price range.
Many users love that old-school analog feel, which also incorporates the latest digital control of all parameters. Just ensure you buy the extra foot pedal if you want maximum control and precision.
Lotos Technology LTPDC2000D
This Lotos Technology multi-purpose 3-in-1 combo welding machine offers a Pilot Arc plasma cutter, TIG welder and stick welder in one compact unit.
The plasma cutting feature uses a 50 amperage output, while both the TIG and stick welding offer a maximum capacity of 200 amps.
The automatic dual voltage facility of this machine means you can use it on both 110V or 220V at a 50/60Hz frequency. You will need to supply your own male plug for use on a 110V supply.
At just 41 pounds, with a compact design measuring 17 inches by 12.5 inches and standing 8 inches tall, it’s one of the most portable welders we looked at. It has been specially designed for small business users or home DIY enthusiasts, while offering features for more professional users.
The Lotos LTPDC2000D is extremely user friendly and easy to set up for welding. Although we normally never recommend TIG welding for beginners, it’s as simple as flipping a switch, setting the current and starting to weld. With this unit, you can easily weld materials like stainless steel, steel, ferrous alloys or molybdenum.
An adjustable torch head makes it easier to weld tighter corners, with a trigger that can be positioned on your thumb or finger for better maneuvering. This model has been designed to create a cleaner and stronger contact with ease. The dual voltage and frequency features make it more tractable and offer more flexibility in application.
Using an Infineon IGBT Power Drive matrix, this is a very durable machine. It’s a one-time investment that will fulfill all your welding and cutting needs for many years to come. Using the state-of-the-art PAPST cooling system, that the tip will always chill down after use.
At this price, there are bound to be a few drawbacks in what seems to be an accomplished unit. The regulator that is supplied is unreliable and, unless you reroute the valve just to use air, you will only waste argon. The leads for the welding torch are also rather short: we estimate you need at least another 10 feet, and it doesn’t come with a foot pedal either—another additional cost.
The consumables for this welder are machine specific and quite costly; Lotos insists consumables are ordered from the company to maintain the warranty. Customer service is reported to be shoddy by many customers, who doubt how worthwhile the three-year warranty will be.
- Non-touch pilot arc of plasma cutter allows for cutting the metal without touching the surface—ideal for rough, rusty or corroded surfaces.
- Supplied with TIG adjustable head torch, cutting torch, stick/MMA torch, consumables, ground clamp, air filter, argon regulator and connections.
- Three-year manufacturer’s warranty against defects.
If you are looking for a 3-in-1 combination unit to meet all your welding needs, the Lotos LTPDC2000D would be a good choice. Not only will it save you money, but it will also require less space in smaller workshops than three individual machines.
The arc point plasma cutter is found to be one of the best on the market and the welding creates a strong and cleaner weld on most metals. However, remember it is DC only and not recommended for use on aluminum.
The Forney 324 is a multi-process, inverter-based welder, equipped with a maximum output of 190 amps.
This is a DC only model of welder which means you won’t be able to weld aluminum using it. However, you could use the MIG gun in a limited fashion but you won’t get as neat a weld.
When taken from the box, this is a MIG welder only. You can quickly set it up with both 4-inch or 8-inch spool sizes and acceptable wire diameters of up to 0.35 inches. If you want to use as a TIG welder you are going to need to buy a foot pedal, torch and spool gun additionally.
With a compact footprint of 20.25 inches by 16 inches and weighing just over 50 pounds, this combination welder is highly portable. Input power is 120V or 230V with a rated duty cycle of 20 percent at the maximum output of 190 amps. Forney offers a 5/3/1-year warranty but some components are not covered for labor costs.
Different welding tasks will often require a different discipline of welding. Sometimes buying two or three separate machines is beyond the budget of home-based welders. This multi-process welder from Forney makes it simple to MIG, TIG or stick weld with just one unit—and saves space in your garage or workshop too.
The Forney 324 can perform gas or flux-cored MIG welding straight from the box. Packed with a gas hose and flow meter, it will accept electrodes with a diameter of ⅛ inch and some 5/32 inch diameter electrodes will also be compatible. TIG or stick welding can be performed with the purchase of the necessary accessories.
With a rated duty cycle of 20 percent at maximum output, you should be able to get a good bead with this welder, especially when using the MIG setting. Using the Forney welder is relatively easy, with a detailed instruction manual and two dials for easily setting the mode. The Forney 324 even runs on domestic one-phase voltages of 120V.
We are never really a big fan of units that require purchasing extra upgrades for the job they advertise on the box. You will need to purchase as extra, the TIG torch and pedal, etc., to make full use of this welder. This will easily take it over the $1000 mark.
Like most machines around the same price, the Forney isn’t a heavy-duty welder. It’s okay for those daily household DIY tasks around the home but not suitable for more industrial jobs. This welder tends to work better on ¼ inch material or thinner and is found to struggle on materials with a greater thickness.
The one-year warranty on external parts is reduced to 90 days if the welder is used for industrial purposes. However, you still get the full 5-year parts and labor or full replacement on the transformer and 3 years on all other parts inside the welder.
- Synergic “smart” welding parameters allow you to optimize the arc for less splatter and higher-quality welds.
- 15-foot long power cord enables it to work without an extension cord in most environments.
- Improved cast aluminum wire feed drive with replaceable parts.
The strength of the Forney 324 MIG/Stick/TIG multi-process welder really lies in its MIG welding capabilities. However, if you are willing to shell out for the upgrades, you will get a capable TIG and stick welding device that can improve your TIG skills and the ability to weld in more difficult locations.
Why Is TIG Welding Great for Thinner Metals?
TIG welding, also known as GTAW, uses a non-consumable tungsten electrode to create the weld. A shielding gas, like argon or helium, is typically used to protect the material being welded.
Heat is generated when the arc passes through an electrode to the metal and fuses the two surfaces together.
TIG is the best welding method for working with thinner metals, like those found on a car body or sheet metal.
Unlike MIG welding, you can turn the starting amperage down very low, often to 5 amps, to prevent just melting the metal. The extra control offered by TIG using both hands, and sometimes a foot pedal, will also be more advantageous for precision tasks.
If you are going to weld thinner materials on a regular basis, you will need a welder that has good arc stability, especially when used below 10 amps.
A welder that doesn’t spike the amperage at startup will allow for easier starting, more control and an improved crater fill. If a welding machine should spike, it will just burn a hole in thin metals.
Factors to Consider When Buying a TIG Welder
TIG welding can be a harder process to learn—we’re not talking about welding newbies here. To properly use a TIG welder requires a great deal of multi-tasking and precise hand-eye coordination.
Choosing the right machine for the job can be just as important too, with the wrong choice being a costly mistake.
Many people, especially those who have never tried TIG welding, assume it is going to be more expensive. With tungsten rods, argon gases, something to sharpen the rods and protective gloves amongst the consumables needed, along with the extra time you need to perform the task, the costs can soon mount up.
The good news is you can now find many quality TIG welders for under $1000. For more industrial uses you will be looking close to the $1000 mark, where DIY enthusiasts will often find a suitable machine for under $500.
It can be quite easy to get carried away when first choosing a TIG welder, with many beginners ending up with a $2000 plus welder that they will never make full use of.
It’s also important, when you are choosing a machine, to consider what range of accessories or consumables come with it. Although you will have to purchase extra consumables as you weld, things like a foot pedal or a quality torch are one-off purchases.
Having to purchase any essentials as extras, like the pedal, regulators, connector cables or torches, will significantly affect your budget.
Without a doubt, the most important thing to look at when choosing a TIG welder, is power requirement. If you choose something which is too weak, you may end up with an expensive doorstop.
A welding machine which is too powerful for your needs can be a waste of money, because you’re paying for features you won’t use.
The output of a TIG welder is measured in amps and you should always try to get the widest range you can for your budget. The less range of amperage you have, the smaller the variety of metals you will be able to weld.
Thinner metals will require a lower output of around five amps, while metals like aluminum will need more power, typically around 200 amps.
The input power is just as important—you don’t want to buy a welding machine that won’t run on your home supply.
The standard supply of American homes of 115V is ideal for mid-level TIG jobs. However, the best TIG welders will usually have the option for 230V too. If your power supply is equipped for it, you can simply pump up the power for greater efficiency.
Ease of Use
TIG is a complex process that isn’t particularly recommended for novice welders. However, even more experienced welders will want a device which is easy to use.
For most home enthusiasts, a machine that is user-friendly with clear controls and display is often enough.
Although you can control TIG welders with the panel on some machines, a foot pedal offers better control and keeps both hands free.
If you choose an alternating current (AC) welder, you will need a simple AC balance control. This will enable you to set how much time is spent on the positive current for cleaning away oxides and the negative for penetrating the metal. If you weld with softer metals, like magnesium or aluminum, you can fine tune for a better weld.
How easy is the welding machine to carry? Remember, you are going to need space for all the accessories, like the torch and pedal, as well as the consumables and gas. Will it fit in the trunk of your car or are you going to need a flatbed truck?
Many of the TIG welding machines now come in a small, cube-like form and weigh around 40 to 50 pounds. These can be ideal for working outdoors at different locations on car bodies or engines. Ensure you have a long enough power lead, and torch cables to use in more confined environments.
What Are You Planning to Weld?
If you're planning on welding materials like steel or stainless steel and copper, then a DC welder will suffice. However, self-oxidizing metals like aluminum or magnesium will need an AC output welder which can clean the metal as it oxidizes and create a strong, neat weld at the same time.
Different welding processes will require different torches, so make sure there are interchangeable torches rather than a permanently fixed one. A multi-process welder can offer you greater versatility in which metals you weld.
At the very least, a quality TIG welder should be able to perform stick welding too, with many also featuring MIG welding for a faster process. You can even get TIG welder 3-in-1 combinations that offer plasma cutting, for times when you need to cut through the metal.
Try choosing a welder that uses an IGBT digital technology, for working on rusted, corroded, or even painted surfaces.
I hope that this choice of machines and consideration of factors to look for has helped you narrow down your search. The most important thing to consider is what type of jobs you want your welding machine to do.
It’s important to choose the right machine for the correct materials and the power you need.
There’s a wider choice than ever before for the best TIG welder under $1000 but, in my opinion, the AHP Alpha TIG 200X is the best option. With a choice between AC or DC output, a reliable 60 percent duty cycle and IGBT technology, you will soon be producing perfect welds on any metal from aluminum to stainless steel.