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Small Cabin Forum / General Forum / Looking for MIG welder under $200
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WILL1E
Moderator
# Posted: 10 Nov 2020 14:09
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Looking for a new MIG welder for under $200 bucks to do some tinkering, small repairs, etc. Gas or flux core is fine with me.

Was thinking about the chicago electric from Harbor Freight, but didn't know if there were others out there i should consider for more bang for the buck.

Thoughts?

WILL1E
Moderator
# Posted: 10 Nov 2020 14:10
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BTW, i want it to plug into standard 110

ICC
Member
# Posted: 10 Nov 2020 14:54
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I have welded for over 50 years. Not professionally but as a hobby, a DIY'er.

MIG welders are great but without the gas it is not a true MIG, it is just a wire feed welder. Convenient but not as good as it could be when using it.

If the welder is to be mostly, or only, indoors I would highly recommend a MIG that comes with the required gas system. If welding mostly outdoors the flux core wire is best as wind can and will blow the gas away from the point being welded. If indoors gas eliminates any need for chipping away the slag.

Personally I would not buy one of those HF welders. They can be a nightmare to repair, a nightmare to obtain some parts. The next batch they sell may be made in a different Chinese factory. A Hobart is the minimum I recommend, some Lincolns are great and most Millers are super. You will pay more but they last. My Miller MIG was bought in 1980 and still works. A few parts have been replaced but nothing major. My Miller stick welder is even older.

My 2 cents worth.

WILL1E
Moderator
# Posted: 10 Nov 2020 15:27
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Understood...just can't justify the cost of a hobart setup let alone a Miller (who happens to be right down the road from me). Pretty much everything will be done outdoors.

paulz
Member
# Posted: 10 Nov 2020 15:39
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HF must sell a zillion of those things, there must be honest reviews on the welding forums. My first MIG was an offshore and it was terrible but that was many years ago. Things have certainly improved. I have a Lincoln 110v now, reliable as a brick. Also a Miller 220v TIG.

My buddy worked at a welding supply store. They always had used Millers for sale from guys that upgraded (you won't be welding anything thick with 110) and they came with a warranty. Might look into that.

Nobadays
Member
# Posted: 10 Nov 2020 18:22
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Like ICC I have been welding - hobby, equipment repair and fabricating- for nearly 50 years with just about every machine out there.... I too think Miller is the best, but Lincoln makes some fine welders as well. I always had company welders to use so hadn't owned one for years.

I had a Century (Lincoln makes these... lower line) mig, flux core I picked up at a garage sale for $75.00. Did several projects with it then suddenly the main transformer burned out. Only ran about 1 1/2 spools of wire through it... the half spool was on it when I bought it, that was all that had been ran through it by the OP.

The one I have now is a $99.00 HF cheapo. I have ran 2 full spools of wire through it and am close to finishing a 3rd. Is it a great welder... NO... is it good enough for projects around the cabin...yes. The thing to watch on any of the smaller/cheaper welders is the duty cycle. My little HF has a 10% duty cycle... rest it 9 minutes after 1 minute of continuous welding. You can't be in a hurry or you will burn it up. I'm pretty sure I ruined my Century welder by not resting it enough.

The welders like the Lincoln 100amp have a 20% duty cycle... weld continuously for 2 minutes out of 10 minutes. As the machines get bigger/better the duty cycle increases.

I would love to have one of the better machines but when my Century fried I was not financially able to spring for anything more than the HF $99.00 deal. All this to say.... yep, buy a Hobart, Lincoln or Miller if you can, you won't be disappointed, but you can get by with a HF welder if dollars are tight.

toyota_mdt_tech
Member
# Posted: 10 Nov 2020 21:55
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Quoting: WILL1E
BTW, i want it to plug into standard 110

Willie, with a 110VAC MIG welder, your output will be limited, many are rated max at 130A, but this is ONLY if its plugged into a 30A 110V circuit, otherwise, going to be less. But a small pop can welder with flux core have its place for sure and knowing thta going in, you should be good to go.
Maybe just consider a "buzz box" or an AC stick welder.

toyota_mdt_tech
Member
# Posted: 10 Nov 2020 22:20
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Quoting: ICC
A Hobart is the minimum I recommend, some Lincolns are great and most Millers are super. You will pay more but they last. My Miller MIG was bought in 1980 and still works. A few parts have been replaced but nothing major. My Miller stick welder is even older.

My 2 cents worth.



ICC has perfect advise.
I have a 220V Mig, rated for 160 amps, smaller of the 220V units, been a real workhorse. Sold by Matco tools, make by Century. It uses the bottle of C25 sheild gas. I run .030 wire in it for almost everything, I can run some .023/4 for smaller stuff if need.

I also have a Snap On Muscle Mig 250, will weld at 185A at 100% duty cycle, the unit has a detachable suitcase where you can take it in a tight space, leave most of the big machine behind. But my Matco is my bread and butter welder. I use shield gas.

I built woodstove for my cabin, trailer for a buddy, plus I make anything I need that cant be purchased like a roll cart for my plasma cart. I glued one up in under an hour after my 4 casters came in from amazon.

Oh, Willie, get an auto darkening helmet, best thing since sliced bread and make sure you have no exposed skin when welding. You will get radiation burns, cover your arms etc. If you are like me and wear short sleeve shirts, I have a set of Lincoln welding sleeves I put over my arms. The red welding gloves from Home Depot are top notch, nice and soft from the get go, the gray Lincoln ones are stiff.

See wodstove I made (welder in background, its on a cart, makes it easier to operate)

Plasma cutter cart

trailer I made in 5 weekends.

Add more items like oxy acet set up, a chop saw (14") a few hand grinders (4 and 7") nice bench grinder (7 or 8") and misc welding clamps to round out your fab shop
welder in background
welder in background
cart for cutter
cart for cutter
5003.jpg
5003.jpg


Brettny
Member
# Posted: 11 Nov 2020 06:00
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With only $200 in the budget I would look for a used name brand machine. They wont be easy to find at that price but by buying a off brand with no gas provisions your really limiting your self. Flux core welding can be tricky and it's very sloppy. Both things that can frustrate a beginner. I stopped useing flux core decades ago, even outside.

For brand if your asking about what one of the big names it really dosnt matter as your a beginner so will prob not even notice. Miller, Hobart, Lincoln and esab are all good brands and will have parts available years down the road or at least still be working decades later.

Now if you just want to tinker around in the garage and stick two pieces of metal together a HF welder will work. I wouldnt expect it to weld real good or last too long. Both are something I want in a welder. To me a welder is a tool you buy for nearly a lifetime so make sure its quality.

socceronly
Member
# Posted: 15 Nov 2020 13:15
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I just ordered the super cheap Forney to learn on. Just came in the mail yesterday. Have not used it yet.

Has anyone welded a cabin/bunkie together?



jsahara24
Member
# Posted: 16 Nov 2020 11:01
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I get the Harbor Freight emails and I just got a 10% off all welders coupon in my last email. Something to check out if you decide to go that route.

I personally have a Hobart 140, very reasonably priced and has worked great for me.

WILL1E
Moderator
# Posted: 16 Nov 2020 11:21
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@jsahara24 care to share? I'm an inside track club member and i haven't seen that in my emails the last few days.

jsahara24
Member
# Posted: 16 Nov 2020 14:34 - Edited by: jsahara24
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Not sure if you can use this coupon but pic attached..... I got the email on Friday..
welder_coupon.png
welder_coupon.png


toyota_mdt_tech
Member
# Posted: 16 Nov 2020 15:35
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I see Northern Tool just had a email flyer, Klutch brand (Chinese I am certain) on sale, 140 amps, suspect its a 120VAC unit.

WILL1E
Moderator
# Posted: 17 Nov 2020 08:08
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Well i went to buy the HF Titanium 125 Flux unit last night and of course my luck, they were all sold out. Now it's either wait, order online and pay shipping, or find another local HF with one in stock.

rpe
Member
# Posted: 17 Nov 2020 09:58
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I can echo Brettny's comments. I've had a couple off-brand welders in the past, and found they were of poor quality, with difficult-to-find spare parts and consumables.
I kept my eyes open, and found a used Lincoln MigPak 180 for just over $200. As a novice welder, I find welding with shielding gas worlds easier than gasless with that nasty flux core wire.
If you're welding heavier stock (> 1/4"), for your budget you might consider a stick welder as a better choice.

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