MIG welding is considered one of the simplest forms of welding. Because it's so easy to learn, many beginners strive to find a MIG welder.
However, it's not always easy to find the best MIG welder under $500. To help you, we reviewed the options of the best MIG welder for under $500.
How MIG Welders Work & Their Benefits
The MIG welder uses a constant-feed wire combined with gas to create a basic weld. It's a beginner's model that is easy to use. With this machine, you can weld several types of metal, from nickel to aluminum and steel.
Plus, you will spend a lot less to purchase the best MIG welder when compared with other options. However, some models can get slightly pricey, depending on the features chosen. Yet, there are budget-friendly MIG welders on the market that make ownership even less costly.
Considerations When Buying A MIG Welder
When you purchase the best MIG welder under 500, you are basically buying a beginner's model. However, you might want to increase your capacity down the road. If you think you might want to do more than merely MIG welding, look for a multi-purpose machine that will also support flux-cored welding.
Evaluate your power requirements before purchasing a welder. 120-volt machines will provide up to 140 amps, but you can run it off of a household outlet. Otherwise, you will need to have a 30-amp breaker and special outlet run to use a 240-volt machine. These heavy-duty welders also cost more.
Where do you perform your welding projects? The welder that you would use outdoors is very different from the one that you would use indoors. In fact, operators in an outdoor workshop can easily upgrade to commercial-grade welders without an issue. Read through the customer reviews to find out how others have used the machine.
Feed Rate & Duty Cycle
Look into the wire feed speed before you make a purchase. If the speed is too high, the gun could kick-back or provide unnecessary sputter. Additionally, compare duty cycles. This number shows the percentage of ten minutes that you can weld continuously without cooling off the machine. As an example, a duty cycle of 30% @ 90A says that the machine can run three minutes at ninety amps.
Wire Size and Material Thickness
The wire size helps you figure out the appropriate feed speed. Plus, the thickness of the materials used makes a difference. Thickness levels are different between copper, aluminum, carbon steel, and magnesium. Because MIG welding is meant for thin, lightweight materials, you don't want to use items that are too thick.
Weight & Portability
How easy is it to move the welder around your workshop? Some are quite heavy but might come with wheels making portability easier. Still, the lightweight and compact machines tend to be underpowered, so this is a serious trade-off you need to make. Otherwise, you will have to pay more to get a heavy-duty welder that is also lightweight.
Parts Availability & Replacement
Purchasing the best MIG welder under $500 ensures that you get a budget-friendly option, but you need to think about what will happen when parts need to be replaced. Some foreign-built machines use parts that are hard to buy. We prefer buying an American-made welder that uses universal parts for quicker repairs.
There are several other features you can invest in to boost performance.
5 Best MIG Welders Under $500 Reviewed
1. Lincoln Electric K2185-1
Best MIG Welder Under 500
20% @ 70 Amp
Wire Feed Speed
Lincoln Electric is a leader in the industry, so it only makes sense to trust the company when you need a budget-friendly welder. This particular model isn't just compact but also extremely lightweight. While it won't handle your heavy-duty projects, you can use it for hobby jobs and home repairs with ease. It's best paired with light gauge mild steel and runs at 20% at 70A. You can also purchase a separate cart to make it more portable.
The contractor safety feature of this machine keeps the welding wire electrically cooled until you pull the gun trigger. Your package will come with a six-foot power cord and eight-foot clamp cable. You also get the welding gun and cable assembly, gasless nozzle to do flux-cored welding, a hose for MIG welding, gas regulator, and a gas nozzle. Additionally, the package includes contact tips, a chipping hammer, and a welding hand shield.
This welder is one of the top-rated at any price point, but it only comes with a one-year warranty. Of course, to buy a welder for less than $500, it will be difficult to find a longer term from most companies. Still, there doesn't seem to be many complaints about the durability or customer service.
2. LOTOS MIG140
Best Entry Level MIG Welder Under $500
20% @ 90 Amp
Wire Feed Speed
By spending just a little more, you can receive more features and capabilities. This LOTOS machine features a durable aluminum wire feeder that provides a stable weld. It also comes with a manual and semi-automatic switch that allows you to release your finger during operation. The attached digital display also makes it simple to see what's happening while welding. The best part is that you can plug this into your everyday household outlet for use anywhere.
Operate this 140-amp welder on 24-gauge mild stainless steel. You can also weld aluminum if you purchase a separate spool gun. In this package, you get the MIG torch, gas hose, ground clamp cable, argon regulator, contact tips, welding wire, and a mask. Because of all the accessories included, you can unbox the entry-level welder and get started.
This welder does weigh a little more than the last option but provides more power. Because of this, the customers seem genuinely happy. In addition, it comes complete with a one-year warranty, which shouldn't be a problem when you consider the brand's reputation. We recommend this household welder if you need something for light-duty jobs that will also be dependable. If you need something with a lot more power, you will need to spend more.
3. Forney Easy Weld
Best For Light DIY Welding Projects
30% @ 80 Amp
Wire Feed Speed
This Forney proves that you can purchase a multi-process welder without spending more than $500. Use this as a 3-in-1 stick welder, DC TIG welder or MIG welder. You will need to buy additional accessories to use it as a TIG welder, but the versatility is a big plus. Also, everything that you need to get started is included, so simply unbox and get moving.
With the three-position switch, you can change among processes quickly. With the infinite voltage and wire feed speed controls, you can accurately control your weld with the help of a dial. Plus, the metal case is rugged, ready to handle whatever you throw at it. It's also big enough to take two to ten pounds of wire roll. What is most surprising about this machine is the low weight. You can easily take this machine with you anywhere, despite the versatility.
Again, we see a one-year warranty on this welder, which appears to be standard at this price point. However, Forney is a brand that can be trusted, and the customer reviews back up the durability of this machine. If you need a welder that operates in multiple ways, you can't ask for more than the Easy Weld.
Best Dual Voltage MIG Welder Under $500
35% @ 60 Amp
Wire Feed Speed
Another thing that's difficult to find when shopping with a budget under $500 is a dual-voltage machine. However, this model provides just that. You can plug it into your household 110V outlet or use a 220V one instead. This multifunction welder provides MIG, MAG, ARC, and MMA capability. You can even use it to perform gas-less flux-cored welding.
With this model, you can perform aluminum welding. You simply need to purchase an additional spool gun. Plus, there is a handy selector switch that makes it simple to change between the spool gun or MIG gun operation. With the adjustable welding current and wire feed speed, you can completely adjust your welding to produce a variety of thicknesses. That's why this machine works well for maintenance, repair, farm equipment, and other household tasks. You can use it with stainless steel, aluminum, mild steel, and more.
The reviews on this model continue to excel and make it difficult to believe that the price is so low. However, you might have some trouble finding replacement parts for this welder as it isn't one that uses readily-available components. Additionally, there is only a one-year warranty on this machine, as there is with the others.
5. Campbell Hausfeld WG309000AJ
Best For Heavy Duty Projects
20% @ 90 Amp
Wire Feed Speed
If you want a heavy-duty welder at a fraction of the price, this one is sure to please. The Campbell Hausfeld provides a durable steel powder-coated case for maximum durability. It also comes with an oversized handle for complete portability. With the professional cold torch, you can expect easy work of your metal fabrication, maintenance, auto shop work, and repairs.
Additionally, this model provides a heavy-duty drive deck to provide consistent wire speed. The robust capacitor offers a smoother arc and produces less spatter than some other options. There are also five heat settings, so you can easily match the metal thickness up to ¼-inch. Your welder comes with a weld and ground cable length that reaches ten feet.
The biggest difference found with this model versus the other welders is the warranty term. The company provides a five-year warranty, which is what more expensive models come with. There aren't as many customer reviews to reference as the other models, but we know this brand is reliable. In fact, its customer support is often rated as some of the best. If you need to complete a heavy-duty project but have to stick to a tight budget, you will be happy with this option.
Safety Tips When Using a MIG Welder
MIG welding safety is something that must be considered by any operator. Without the right steps, you could get hurt. Here are a few safety tips we recommend.
We also found this beginner's guide on using a MIG welder.
MIG Welders: Common Issues & Fixes
You could face some common welding issues during operation. Here are a few welding issues and possible solutions.
Possible contamination – clean your materials
Temperature might be too low – raise it
You are probably pushing your gun – try pulling it instead
Reduce input temperature
Wire isn't feeding
Look at the spool and remove any jams
Feed speed or voltage might be too high – try lowering it
Mig Welder Accessories
When you weld, the most important accessories are those that keep you safe. Make sure you have PPE and a working fire extinguisher on hand.
You will also want to have a supply of contact tips, gas nozzles, electrodes, and tungsten rods for your jobs. It's better to have a stock than to be run out to the store in the middle of a project.
People Also Ask (FAQs)
Are MIG welders under $500 worth buying?
While the majority of MIG welders are going to sell for more than $500, there are still many great options available. We don't recommend the above options for more than a beginner, but they shouldn't be overlooked.
How long do MIG welders at this price point generally last?
If you take care of your MIG welder, it can last many years. Read through the customer reviews to understand what other people have experienced.
How do I keep my MIG welder in good working condition?
When you are done using your MIG welder, you should clean it off and blow out the components with air. Thankfully, there's very little welder maintenance to perform. The most important aspect is that you regularly inspect the machine for wear or tear and replace any parts that aren't operating properly.
What size MIG welder do I need?
MIG welders don't come in a one size fits all package. Look for a model that provides various options, from the types of materials you can use and the feed wire needed. Most people find that a 30 to 150-amp welder is often enough.
Can I use a MIG welder without gas?
MIG welders utilize gas. This gas creates bubbles that protect the welding points. Machines that claim to provide gasless MIG welding are simply using flux core welding with a metal tube and self-shielding instead.
What is the best MIG welder under $500? The Lincoln Electric K2185-1 has exceptional customer reviews and is worth every penny. It's often rated as the best MIG welder when compared with higher-priced options, so there's no reason to spend more.