Looking to fix a broken tailpipe or mend a treasured television stand? Then you’ll need a portable welder. Unlike their clunky brethren, portable welding machines weigh less than forty pounds and fit just about anywhere. Even better, I think they’re the best types of welders to learn on because they’re easy to use and plug into house power sockets.
Whatever your goals and aspirations, the portable welding market has boomed. Thanks to Amazon, I’ve witnessed a spate of well-made welders for sale from foreign countries, like China and India. Plus, top companies like Lincoln Electric have invented portable welders for at-home projects and on-site gigs.
Below, I provide you detailed reviews of the top seven best portable welders for DIY and professional use. This list contains flux core, MIG, TIG, and stick options to fit a range of budgets and projects. Curious to know which one you’ll buy? Read on to find out.
- Best Portable Welder – Comparison
- Reviews of the Top 7 Portable Welders
- Forney Easy Weld 261
- VIVOHOME Portable Flux Core Wire Welder
- Lincoln Electric Handy MIG Welder
- Goplus MIG 130 Welder AC Flux Core Welder
- SUNCOO 130 MIG Welder
- Mophorn 200 Amp TIG and Stick Welder
- Reboot 110V/220V Portable Stick Welding Machine
- What to Remember While Choosing the Best Portable Welder
- My Verdict
Best Portable Welder – Comparison
|Forney Easy Weld 261||140 Amp||120V||19 pounds|
|VIVOHOME Portable Flux Core ||120Amp||110V||37.3 pounds|
|Lincoln Electric K2185-1 Handy||70Amp||115V||51.2 pounds|
|Goplus MIG 130 Welder||105 AMP||110V||36.5 pounds|
|SUNCOO 130 MIG Welder ||105 AMP||110V||37.1 pounds|
|Mophorn Tig Welder 200 Amp||200 Amp ||110V 220V||20 pounds|
|Reboot Stick Welder||170Amp||110V 220V||20.1 pounds|
Reviews of the Top 7 Portable Welders
In Fort Collins, Colorado, Forney Industries has relished its near 90 years as a leader in welding machines and equipment. In fact, they were the first company to sell a consumer-grade arc welder, way back in 1940.
That gift for ingenuity is clear from the first moment you open Forney’s Easy Weld 261. This is the company’s most popular welding machine. It’s a flux core, or gasless MIG, design that uses .30 flux core wire. From the front panel you can see it has infinite wire speed and voltage to adapt to any project.
This is an entry-level welder with professional bones. It impressed me with its beefy 140-amp power cycle. Forney says it can weld up to 1/4” steel, but I’ve seen videos of consumers welding thicker than that without overheating the unit.
Coming in at 19 pounds, the Forney Easy Weld 261 is an ideal portable welder. I envisage no sprained backs or sore arms from unloading this machine off a truck or pulling it off a shelf in a tinkerer’s garage shop.
As a gasless MIG welder, you cannot hook up an inert gas. That means the welder outputs plumes of smoke. You can curb the fumes a little by buying quality wire. But if you plan to run this thing inside, you’ll need ventilation.
Opening the hood, you’ll notice a spool adapter for small and large wire. Like most budget machines, the wire drive is made of plastic. The rollers are steel, along with the bolts, but if the plastic knob breaks, you must buy a replacement from Forney.
This machine includes an 8-foot MIG gun, 8-foot ground clamp, torch wrap handle, and an adapter for 15-amp to 20-amp plugs. You’ll need to buy contact tips and flux core wire before welding with the Forney Easy Weld 261.
I found the welder performed well on a 15-amp breaker. So if you plan to run this at home, either outside or in a shed, you should be fine. If possible, have a dedicated 15-amp breaker for thick gauge welding, as it might pop a breaker on high voltages.
On a 20-amp breaker, the 261 competes with welders twice its price. It has a commendable duty cycle and works well for repair work or small projects. I think this is the best portable welder for small projects. It comes highly recommended for beginners or amateurs.
VIVOHOME is a Chinese manufacturer with an impressive list of products. From fruit juicers to electric fireplaces, if you’re looking for bargains for your home or office, they’ll most likely have it.
A reader turned me on to their flux core welder recently, and I ordered one and put it through my rigorous testing process. The consistency of this machine’s welding ability shocked me. It runs on 115v power, which means a 15-amp house breaker will supply you with more than enough power to weld up to 1/4” steel.
The overall build quality is subdued yet impressive. The outer shell is stainless steel with a black matte finish. It doesn’t scuff easily and should repel most cases of rust and corrosion. VIVOHOME organized the front panel with easy-to-understand switches. You have an adjustable dial for your wire speed and two switches for a total of 4 current flow settings.
At its highest setting, this Portable Flux Core Wire Welder runs for around two minutes per 10-minute on cycle. That’s lower than your average welder. But at this rock-bottom price point, you won’t find anything better.
I really like the consistent feed for your flux core wire. Opening the hood, I discovered the feed wheel has notched grooves. I’ve tested welders in this price range before and rarely do they have grooved wire feed wheels.
The welder weighs around 30 pounds. That’s more than the Forney model but still within the portable welder range of approximately 50 pounds. It’s compact and should easily fit in a small storage space or shelf.
With the Portable Flux Core Wire Welder from VIVOHOME you get a welding gun, ground clamp, welding helmet, wire brush, two contact tips, and a spool adapter. You must buy flux core wire before operating the machine.
There are some downsides. First, there’s no contactor to energize the flux core wire, so it’s always active. This is an annoyance when working on big projects where you must move your metal around in between welds. Essentially, whatever the tip of the welding gun touches will trigger the flux core wire.
Last, hunt for tutorials online. The instructions that ship with the unit are badly written in a half-senseless version of English. You can find a ton of tutorials for similar welders, however, so you can easily remedy this inconvenience.
I recommend the VIVOHOME Portable Welder for beginners and small shops planning small scale welding jobs. Also, it’d be fine for on-site farm machinery welding where you only have access to a gas generator.
Lincoln Electric is the Ford of welding machines. Heavy duty industries like high rise construction and offshore oil have relied on their products not only because they work but because they’re backed by one of the leading warranties in the business.
The Handy MIG Welder is Lincoln Electric’s answer to increase in hobbyists seeking an affordable machine for small to medium projects. This is a MIG and flux core welder. That means you can weld with shielding gas or gasless self-shielding flux core wire.
You can run this machine on a house circuit as it runs on DC 115-volt power. With just house power you get a strong arc capable of upwards of 1/8” to 1/4” welds. Lincoln Electric suggests using this machine on mild steel projects around the house or hobby shop. It’s not rated for professional applications.
That being said, the machine sports premium parts that you rarely see on portable hobby welders. For example, the wire drive is a mix of aluminum and plastic components. The body of the wire drive is plastic, the springs and internal parts are metal and aluminum. These components upgrade your performance and ensure they’ll last longer than the competition.
I think for the right person this is the ideal machine which is why I placed it at my third spot. Hobbyists without access to 20-amp 220v breakers should seriously consider the Handy MIG. It runs longer than the cheaper brands, with duty cycles of around 40%. Plus, with the included accessories, you have more than enough stuff to get you going right away.
Included with this machine you get a Lincoln Electric welding gun and ground clamp, a gasless nozzle and a gas nozzle, gas regulator and hose for inert gas, one pound of flux core spool and two pounds of MIG spool, a few contact tips, welding hand shield, and a wire brush.
The welding gun alone sets this product apart from the competition. The gun feels solid and well-built. Also, it contains a contactor so it won’t engage with surfaces unless you pull the trigger. This stops accidents in the shop as the tip touches metal when you’re adjusting or moving stuff around with the machine on.
As a MIG welder, it performs especially well. You may want to buy another regulator because the one in the box doesn’t show you how much gas is left in your tank. This is a strange oversight by Lincoln Electric for an otherwise well made and well-priced machine.
Weighing in a 25 pounds, the Handy MIG Welder is a fantastic option for hobbyists and small shops looking for a MIG and flux core portable welder.
Goplus ships thousands of SKUs around the world. They sell a range of products in over a dozen categories, including home and garden and home improvement. When you want to save money without losing quality, they’re an ideal brand from which to buy.
The Goplus MIG 130 Welder AC Flux Core Welder is a prime example of Goplus’s money-saving superiority. It’s an AC welder that runs on 115v house power. I usually consider AC welders the lower end of the welding spectrum. That’s because they run hotter and overheat faster. But Goplus’s machine surprised me.
Working with this welder, I found it to be a fantastic value for the price point. We’re in the bottom tier here, so don’t expect to weld clean exhaust pipes or trailer hitches. For milled steel you’d find around your house, however, you’ll get your money’s worth with the Goplus MIG 130 Welder AC Flux Core Welder.
This is a very convenient machine. It runs flux core wire, which means no inert gas required. The downside to gasless flux core is that it’s harder to get clean welds and you can’t weld thin material. You’ll also require plenty of air circulation.
On the front panel you’ll find a 10-speed wire adjustment knob and 4 settings for your current flow. On the highest setting, the MIG 130 Welder runs on a 20% duty cycle, or two minutes every ten minutes. For small projects and minor fixes, that’s more than enough time. The two-fan cooling system in the back means when you overheat the machine you won’t wait long for it to reset.
The welder comes with everything you need to start right away, including cables, flux core wire, and a ground clamp. I recommend this product for anyone that wants to try welding and has very limited space and money.
Suncoo is an international company that manufactures industrial-grade products for the construction, automotive, food, and pet sectors. From grooming tables to plasma cutters, if you’re looking for affordable yet durable products, they’ll have it in stock.
The SUNCOO 130 MIG Welder resembles other AC gasless welders on my list. Like the GoPlus 130, this is a great option for DIY projects and house repairs. That’s because it runs off a 15-amp breaker and ships with everything you need to weld right out of the box.
With this welder you get a flux core welding gun, ground clamp, contact tips, extra fuses, a weld brush, and face mask. The flux core wire that ships with the product should last you a few sessions, but I recommend buying another spool to have on hand. It runs out faster than you think.
The manual explains the switches and dial on the front panel. There’s no gas port on the back of the device, so you can’t try MIG gas welding. This limits what you can do with this machine. But also makes it very easy to learn and earn some welding experience quickly.
My only gripe with the inner workings is that the spool drive is plastic and doesn’t grip the wire as well as a machine that’s two or three times the price. Sadly, these sorts of problems come with the budget territory. With some finagling, however, you can achieve some fantastic welds.
For the right customer this is an ideal machine. It runs on any wall outlet and can weld upwards of 1/4” milled steel. Anyone who’s a little tentative about buying a welder and doesn’t want to spend too much should try out the SUNCOO 130 MIG Welder Flux Core Wire Automatic Feed.
Mophorn is a niche product maker with best-selling ice cream machines and engravers in their stock lists. They’ve recently opened into the welding market and have surprised customers with their reasonably priced DC machines.
The 200-amp TIG and Stick Welder big performer in a portable package. It weighs in at just 20 pounds and yet can TIG weld on 220v power and stick weld with the included torch.
This machine can weld stainless steel, titanium, and copper brass. The front-facing controls are very easy to operate. You have an ARC and TIG switch and adjustable ARC and TIG power flow knobs.
As a dual voltage machine, the Morphon 200 AMP welder can plug into your house power 15-amp outlet or a 20-amp circuit. The only downside is that it doesn’t come with an adapter for 220v power. That means out of the box it can run on a 15amp circuit.
Setting up argon gas is very simple. They labeled the ports on the back of the welder. You must buy a gas regulator separately. Otherwise it ships with everything you’ll need, including a torch gun, arc electrode holder, work clamp, welding mask, welding brush, and user’s manual.
I really liked the torch gun. It feels great in the hand and the trigger system responds well and doesn’t jam up. The ARC stick welding without gas runs flawlessly, too.
With a 60% duty cycle and 95% efficiency rating, this TIG welder is hardy enough for the novice hankering to weld TIG or ARC stick. It’s also a fantastic portable option for professionals that want to cut down on the cost of their secondary TIG machine. The Mophorn 200-amp TIG Welder is light, easy to learn, and versatile enough to be a staple tool in your hobby shop or truck.
Over the last five years, Reboot has built a name for itself off the stellar performance and reliability of their MIG, TIG, and stick welders. These are heavy-duty machines furnished in steel and copper, ready to repair your car and build your deck.
The Reboot 110V/220V Portable Stick Welding Machine is a 26-pound workhorse. I really enjoyed working with it and if you’re looking for an easy stick and Lift TIG welder add my seventh and final pick to your list of maybes.
I like that Reboot designed this as a three-board machine. Most Lift TIG welders run off a single board. That means they can overheat in warm shops. Usually, if the board fries the entire machine is toast. Here, you’re guaranteed a long working life and a high efficiency rating of 85%.
With this welder you get most of what you need to weld today. It includes an electrode holder and cable, a ground clamp, and a 110v to 220v conversion adapter. The only downside to the package is it doesn’t come with a manual. You must either figure it out on your own or look it up online.
As a DC inverter welder, you get a host of steady power that’s easy to control thanks to the digital readout on the front panel. I really like the electrode holder. It secures the rod very well and lets you weld at a comfortable angle.
At 110 amps the Reboot Stick Welder runs with a duty cycle of 100%. That’s continuous Arc stick welding with no downtime. It doesn’t overheat easily. This makes it a fantastic machine to learn on, whether you plan to use it as a portable welder or not. At this affordable price, the Reboot stick welder is a machine you don’t want to turn down.
What to Remember While Choosing the Best Portable Welder
Buying a portable welder isn’t just a matter of price comparison. There’s a slew of details to consider before you hit that buy button. While you make your final decision, briefly go over my seven tips for buying the best portable welder for you.
MIG vs TIG vs Stick
This is easily the most important consideration. MIG welders are often the least expensive. This is doubly true for gasless MIG, otherwise known as flux core welding. The downside to flux core is that it can’t weld thin material. It’s also the dirtiest of the bunch.
An inert gas option on your MIG welder would be the next best option. TIG and stick welding are much harder to learn, but the payoff includes finer and cleaner welds. Portable welders usually shirk TIG, although I’ve found a few good ones for my list.
Weight and Dimensions
Comparing a list of portable welders, you’ll quickly realize that the definition of portable is broad. Some companies think if a welder is under fifty pounds it’s portable. Other brands argue that it must fit in the boot of a Honda Civic.
So instead of taking their word for it, measure your space before hunting for a welder. Just because my list teems with products that call themselves portable doesn’t mean it’ll work for you.
House Power or Shop Power?
Welders come with two power modes, 110v and 240v. Most portable welders work with 110v power, which is your standard house power. Finding a portable 240v machine is a little harder, but possible.
Base your power needs on what you’re welding and where you’re welding it. TIG welding almost always requires 240v. Conversely, MIG and flux core welding can get away with 110v for small projects done in the safety of your garage.
Extras and Attachments
While you’ll get a welding machine, stick gun, and ground clamp with your welder, extras and attachments range from product to product. Just because a machine ships with attachments or bonus bits doesn’t mean it’s worth your time.
I go over the included extras in my reviews and explain which items are worth the money and which are just stuff you’ll toss out in a month. Spools of wire, foot pedals, and extra contact tips are decent additions. Stay away from those free face masks and buy a real one.
What the Warranty Covers
One of the biggest differences between a budget welder and a premium welder is the warranty. Budget welders supply a bare bones warranty that only covers the first year of use and only specific working parts.
A company such as Lincoln Electric, however, offers upwards of three years on parts and labor. If you plan to do a lot of welding or customers rely on you to weld consistently and on time, then you should consider a name brand.
Your Budget and Your Goals
There’s a wide range of budgets and expected projects just like there’s a wide range of portable welders. What you plan to work on and how much you can realistically afford play as big a role as the product you end up purchasing.
I recommend writing a list of the projects you intend to work on in the next few months. Consider how thick the metal you’re welding is and how much welding you must do. Then break down your finances and come up with a number under your maximum and stick to it.
Additional or Unforeseen Expenses
Buying a portable welder isn’t just about the machine. Even if the device ships with a sample spool of wire, you’ll at least need a full spindle. Then there’s safety equipment, such as a welding vest and pants and a welding visor.
Those of you looking to buy flux core or what the budget brands call gasless MIG welding, you’ll need proper ventilation in your shop as it is noxious. Tally up your additional expenses before settling on an ideal price for your welder.
A portable welder suits a wide variety of shops and hobbyists because of its quick learning curve and compact frame. They can fit easily into a small garage or in a work van without hogging up real estate for other tools or supplies.
But the best welder for one consumer isn’t the same for another. That’s why my list contains MIG and TIG portable welding machines, so you can choose the right product for the job. Whether you need a flux core welder for thick metal or a TIG welder for precise aluminum welds, you’ll find the right choice here.
My favorite of the bunch, however, is the Forney Easy Weld 261. It weighs less than 20 pounds, operates on 15-amp and 20-amp breakers, and can weld thick steel right out of the box.