There will be times when a repair job can’t be done at the garage or a shop. For instance, repairing a massive John Deere tractor may require you to travel to the field. It is during these scenarios when having the bestportable mig welder comes in handy.
That’s why many welders prefer to work with a portable mig welder, or one that can be brought to the field when the work requires it. A portable mig welder comes with a handle, so you can transport it from one place to another. Of course, it is also a lot lighter compared to other mig welders.
Having a portable mig welder isn’t just about being able to bring the unit out of the garage. There are instances when a small welder can work best, like connecting steel reinforcing bars in a free stall barn. With a small welder, it would be easier to move from joint to joint than moving a 200-pound welder.
- 1 How to Choose the Best Portable Mig Welder
- 2 How to Choose the Best Portable Mig Welder
- 3 Final Verdict
How to Choose the Best Portable Mig Welder
You should also keep in mind the following factors in selecting a portable mig welder:
Most mig welders are heavy, with the average weight at around 80 pounds. The portable ones are less than 50 pounds in weight. Sure, carrying a 50 pound unit would still be a task but the portable units come with an easy grip handle so you can easily bring them from one place to another.
You should also consider getting a cart for the portable mig welder. Although a portable unit can be carried around with relative ease, a cart makes things a lot easier particularly in transport and storage.
Input Power Rating
If you’re intent on using the mig welder for small scale projects such as joining thin seets of aluminum of iron, a basic unit that has can be adjusted to 115 to 140 volts should suffice. But if you’re looking for industry-level tasks wherein thick materials have to be connected, then you will need a powerful welder that is rated 220volts.
A safer choice would be a machine that is dual voltage. This means it can weld on both 110 volts and 220 volts. This type of mig welder can let you take on small and industrial scale projects without changing wall outlets.
Duty cycle is the amount of time that the welder can operate out of a 10-minute period. To better illustrate this, say unit A can deliver 300 amps of output at a 60 percent duty cycle. This means that the unit can weld consistently at 300 amps for six minutes. But it must be cooled down in the remaining four minutes to avoid overheating.
Usually, mig welders for light industrial projects have a 20 percent duty cycle at 230 amps or lower. For more demanding industrial projects, you will need a unit with 40 to 60 percent duty cycle.
The rule of thumb has always been, less amperage for thin metals and more amperage for thicker metals. Thus you should have at least an idea of the materials that you intend to weld before buying a portable mig welder.
For instance, if you are to weld steel that is a quarter of an inch thick, you would need 180 amps in a single pass. Of course, you can always make multiple passes to weld thicker materials but that would also mean more time waiting especially if your machine has a low duty cycle.
Other Factors to Consider
How to Choose the Best Portable Mig Welder
You can go online and realize that there are plenty of portable mig welders available on the market. With many of the manufacturers using high dollar marketing jargon, it can really get confusing to pick just one. Don’t worry, as I have made a short list of portable mig welders you should consider purchasing:
It plugs into a 115 volt wall socket, and would let you weld metals up to 1/8 inch thick. Included in the package are gas nozzle wire plus gun assembly, gas hose and regulator work clamp and cable, and tactile hand shields with plate and lens.
There’s also a AC electricity and fan cooling to prevent overheating of this unit. Plus it is very maneuverable that you can take it outside the work shop.
Just don’t expect this mig welder to work well for heavy duty projects. Apart from that disadvantage, there’s really nothing you can complain about this unit.
This 90 amp wire feed mig welder is a versatile and portable unit. You can make good use of it for your home, garage, and DIY projects.
It runs off of a standard electrical plug that you typically find in any home. And it comes with everything you need to start welding—welding mask, ground clamp, gun, welding hammer, carry handle, and brush.
Safety is assured as this unit has an overheat shutoff feature. Simply put the unit automatically shuts down when the duty cycle is exceeded. It comes with a one-year warranty.
Just be careful when carrying the unit as there are reports that the handle isn’t the sturdiest.
It can be used for welding a variety of materials, like stainless steel and mild steel. You can also weld aluminum provided you have a spool gun, which is sold separately. The package includes ground clamp cable, gas hose and regulator, MIG torch, welding mask, and wire.
While it has its strengths, this mig wire welder also has its weaknesses. A common complaint is that its torch trigger has the tendency to stop functioning. And while it has a one-year warranty from the manufacturer, it covers only the body of the machine. It won’t cover any other parts like the torch hose.
This is the lightest in this list, weighing just 26 pounds. Not only is it lightweight but its casing is well made and heavy duty. It’s a great welding machine for small to medium sized repair jobs.
The unit is also very user-friendly, with its interface easy to understand and use. There’s an on/off button up front. On top of it is the voltage meter window.
Be cautioned though that it doesn’t have a plug, so you will have to do it yourself. Most users however say they were able to do so in less than five minutes.
This is another lightweight mig welder, weighing only 28 pounds. It has a thick handle on top, so you can move it easily or place it in a vehicle.
Voltage is at 110 volts, thus you can plug it in most wall outlets. Amperage control ranges from 45 to 100 amps, and it can weld up to ¼ inch of mild steel.
The price is very enticing too, as it is one of the cheapest in the list. You will have to bear with the unit itself, as it doesn’t feel solid at all.
With the many portable mig welders available in the market, no one can blame you if it will take you a long time to pick just one unit.
But remember that in choosing a mig welder, you just don’t look at the weight and the handle of the unit. You also have to know the input power, amperage, and the duty cycle of the welder. You also need to consider other factors like ease of use and overheating protection of the unit. Accessories, too, can affect your buying decision.
It also helps if you read user reviews prior to buying a mig welder. By doing so, you will have an idea on what to expect from the machine. These are the things you need to take into consideration when choosing the best portable mig welder.