Nothing is worse on a tough job than losing power. Maybe you’ve plugged into a bad circuit or you’re sick of relying on the faulty fuse system in your shop or site. The best remedy in such situations isn’t finding a new power source. Instead, bring your own.
Welder generators put the power in your hands. You get all the benefits of a MIG, Stick, or TIG welder with the peace of mind that ships standard with a heavy-duty generator. The machines on my list represent the best power and performance you can buy with a few quick and simple clicks.
In this thorough review, I offer you the top seven best engine driven welders you can buy. I’ve tested them in-house on sample projects to learn their limits and note their striking benefits. Once you’re finished this review, you’ll be ready to purchase a tool that won’t just weld joists and linkages, but power your saws, hammer drills, and grinders.
- Best Welder Generator – Comparison
- Reviews of the Top 7 Welder Generators
- HOBART Champion Elite Welder Generator
- TOMAHAWK 15 HP Engine Driven Portable Generator and Welder
- Hobart Champion 145 Engine Driven Generator Welder
- Lincoln Electric Ranger 305 G Multiprocess DC Welder and AC Generator
- Miller Bobcat 250 Diesel Engine-Driven Welder and Generator
- Lincoln Electric Vantage 300
- Miller Trailblazer 325
- What to Consider Before Buying the Best Welding Generator
- My Verdict
Best Welder Generator – Comparison
|Name & Brand||Max Amp||Watts||L x W x H||Price|
|HOBART Champion||225||9500||41 x 20 x 28|
|TOMAHAWK||210||3000||23 x 21 x 28|
|Hobart Champion 145||145||4000||21 x 18 x 18|
|Lincoln Ranger||305||9000||42 x 21 x 29|
|Miller Bobcat||250||9500||34 x 20 x 45|
What is a welder generator?
A welder generator is a two-in-one machine that operates as a welder and hard voltage power source. They are simple to operate, safe, and perform well in commercial and private projects and situations. The ones on my list are engine-driven and consume either gasoline or diesel. Consumers who buy welder generators usually need a tool with multi-functionality. This can be because of their lack of power options at their home or shop. Some customers buy these products for outdoor and on-site jobs.
Not only can you Stick, MIG, or TIG weld with these machines, you can also plug in other 120V and 240V tools and run them with no loss of power. Welder generators pump out hard voltage, which means its a steady circuit that adapts to the changing needs of your tools. This is especially important for professionals or adept hobbyists that use concrete drills, ratchet guns, and other heavy construction devices that suck up lots of power while chewing through concrete or steel.
Reviews of the Top 7 Welder Generators
Since 1917, Hobart has helped America build bridges and erect buildings. Their equipment is trusted by engineers and foremen with hundreds of hours of experience tackling the complexities of modern job sites. That’s because Hobart machines perform better than other leading brands and they’re often cheaper, too.
The Hobart Champion Elite Welder Generator excels as a Stick and DC TIG welding machine and as a robust generator system. This is a heavy-duty machine capable of pushing 11,000 watts of power from the moment you hit the push-start button. What I love most about these welder-generators is that you get the best of both worlds for the price of one. And while many products in this category cut corners to deliver a little bit of everything, I can’t find anything wrong with this product.
I’ve run this Champion for hours to conclude that it’s truly a continuous run machine. You can power compressors and hand tools without this thing shutting down or stuttering. The steady power generation is partly thanks to Hobart’s self-described innovative technology. They don’t detail their patented chipset and wiring, but it certainly gets the job done without overheating and running cool.
The other secret to the Champion’s success relies on its OHV Kohler engine. It sips fuel, saving you money on fillups. I also like the 12-gallon tank that cuts down on gas consumption throughout the week or month. Don’t knock a generator’s fuel economy. For you independent professionals that rely on portable power, even one extra tank of gas a week can add up fast.
Hobart somehow cut down on the machine’s weight, too. At nearly 500 pounds, two men can lift it into the bed of a truck. Admittedly, this isn’t your most portable option. If you need castor wheels or a trolly, you must buy them separately For those that need to move their welder generator from a truck to a shop daily or weekly, maybe browse the Lincoln Electric welder on my list, number four.
The big question is how does this thing weld? Well, you won’t find a more stable Stick welder on the market. And with the proper equipment, you can also DC TIG weld. With the installed quick-set current dial, setting up a weld requires no time. Items such as a stinger, diode sticks, or TIG gun and peddle can be purchased directly from Hobart.
For your all-around heavy-duty welding needs, the Hobart Champion Elite Welder Generator tops my list as the best deal for your money.
Tomahawk is a San Diego-based manufacturer of power equipment for various trades, including pest control, farming, sanitization, and construction. They’ve been in business since 2012, championing the quality of American-made machinery and tools. They’ve also partnered with Honda to provide some of the lightest and most durable engines in the business.
The Tomahawk 15HP Engine Driven Portable Generator and Welder performs incredibly well right out of the box. With this product, you’ll enjoy the full package. It can Stick and TIG weld. Crank up the engine, and it can pump out 2,000 watts of stable power.
The stick welder leads contain durable metals and feel weighty in your hands. The 60% duty cycle offers plenty of uptime for long projects. I know of many welding shops that swear by their Tomahawks. They say the machines rarely break down and can withstand daily use better than Lincoln Electric or Miller.
I love that Tomahawk also supplies you with a TIG torch. It isn’t the most well-made torch, but for beginners or tradesmen in a pinch, it’ll do just fine. The ports accept most traditional welding guns. That means you can connect your favorite torch and enjoy the stable power output this generator provides.
The portable system of the 15HP Tomahawk pumps out 50 to 210 Amps of DC. That raw power can outperform AC, especially on large projects or heavy-duty cycles. The Stick gun supports 6010 rods and 7024 rods. I think Tomahawk truly embraced the requirements of a portable generator. Because it ships with the wheelie harness bolted to the frame. And the two rubberized wheels offer enough clearance to cart this thing over gravel and rough terrain without too much bother.
The digital meter on the front-facing control panel displays your amperage in real-time. I like the easy to understand amperage chart by the dial. With the meter and dial within inches of one another, locking in the right settings based on your metal thickness or metal type is adaptable and foolproof.
Weighing 154 pounds, the engine-driven welder generator combo is lighter than some stick and TIG welders. Lifting this well-made machine onto a truck bed or table can be done with two people and no broken backs. Professionals and hobbyists alike should keep the Tomahawk 15HP Portable Generator and Welder at the top of their list of purchases. I know it’ll stay at the top of mine.
Hobart long ago shrugged off their professional-only ambitions. They’ve been making consumer-level welders and generators for over a decade. So if the features and build quality of my number one pick, the Hobart Champion Elite, seemed enticing but you balked at the price, then consider their pared-down Champion 145.
This portable welding generator boasts the same authentic Hobart craftsmanship as the Elite. They fabricate their frames and internals in the USA from local and international sourced parts. In this model, they ditch the Kohler engine for a Briggs and Stratton Intek engine. It outputs 4,500 watts of surge power and 4,000 watts of hard voltage. That’s double the power than my number two pick, the Tomahawk. Also, with the engines upgraded efficiency and 6.25-gallon tank, you can operate this machine at max capacity for days before refilling.
I love that the generator sports four 20A 120V outlets. They can be used in combination with the 240 VAC receptacle on the front of the machine. The construction and project possibilities with that much stable power at once can supply an entire crew. Three nail guns and a heavy-duty air compressor or a team of chipping guns can run all day on this 4,000-watt beast.
To top it off, the Hobart Champion 145 Engine Driven Generator supports a 145 Amp DC stick welder. You can plug in your handle and weld with a maximum of 5/32 diameter electrodes. The generator pumps more than enough power to your electrode. The easy to read chart on the front panel explains your amperage levels based on the thickness of the steel you’re welding. The only downside to the welding system equipped on the 145 is that you can’t upgrade it to MIG or TIG.
The Champion 145 does come with a few drawbacks which dropped it down a few notches on my list. The handles on the back of the machine for carting it around could be longer and thicker. They seem a little short for such a weighty machine. Also, I wish they upgraded the castors on the bottom. The wheels work fine over pavement or sidewalks, but any welding hobbyist knows that a generator must be carted over all sorts of terrain.
I enjoyed my time with the Hobart Champion 145 Engine Driven Generator Welder. It’s ideal for those requiring a powerful generator and a handy stick welder.
Lincoln Electric hardly needs an introduction. They’ve been in the business of fabricating America’s buildings and machines since the early days of electrical process welding. Today, you can find Lincoln machines on the biggest job sites across the globe.
With the Ranger 305, Lincoln gathered their best engineers and pulled off an impressive marriage of power and functionality. This is a multiprocess welder capable of MIG, TIG, and Stick welding. It also outputs up to 10,500 watts with a 25 HP engine-driven generator.
I dropped this machine down on my list simply because of its price and size. Not many hobbyists will need this much power. In all honesty, neither will your everyday contractors. Lincoln Electric built this Ranger 305 G for those that demand multiple processes now or will need them in the future.
The generator installed in this machine was manufactured by Kohler. It’s a gasoline engine with a 23HP carburetor and fuel injection for easy starting. I love that they equipped a high performing fuel pump so the machine can start and run in high altitudes. You get a 12-gallon tank for extra-long run times. I did find, however, that the fuel economy impressed me less than my number one pick, the Hobart Champion.
The bulky engine in the Ranger does come at a price. This machine weighs 510 pounds. You won’t be throwing this in a trolly and carting it across farm fields. More likely, you’ll strap it to your truck bed or keep it secured in your shop and run it from there.
Welding with the Lincoln Electric Ranger 305 G Multiprocess DC Welder testifies to the peak performance capabilities of the brand. In this one machine, you can push-start TIG, stick, gasless flux core, and mixed gas MIG. That’s a lot of potential in one box. In fact, it’s the most processes of any device on my list.
None of the welding processes underperform either. You have plenty of support from the secondary features to weld efficiently and safely. The digital readouts on the front panel track your amps and volts. You can pre-configure your settings before starting. This is especially helpful with TIG welding. And because you have a solid 10,500 watts of hard voltage, you won’t have to worry about your power source cutting out or distorting your arc.
Miller Welding has seen it all. They’ve been at the front lines of change and have competed successfully against other big names in the industry. Owning a Miller welder isn’t just about today, it’s about what you can do in the future.
The Miller Bobcat 250 is the first on our list to sport a diesel generator. Diesel’s fuel economy surpasses that of petrol. So if you plan to run your generator for hours at a time, seven days a week, diesel is the ideal solution for you. Also, it’s often cheaper to purchase. You can also use biodiesel which is made from plant matter and helps reduce your carbon footprint.
This model has been discontinued on the Miller website and replaced with the Bobcat 260. This provides you an opportunity to buy the 250 now at a reduced cost. I love how quiet it run, even at max load. The innovations Miller made to their 200 series include an advanced muffling system. You can run this machine at any hour of the day, and it won’t disturb nearby residents or other workers.
Miller installed a Kohler engine into the Bobcat 250. It provides similar power potential as my number four machine, the Lincoln Ranger 305. You get 9,500 watts of peak power and 11,000 watts of auxiliary. It can easily run multiple tools on a worksite or any welding process you need to get the job done.
Welding processes included with this machine are MIG, DC TIG, Stick, and Flux Core. You can also upgrade the device to operate as a plasma cutter. Usually, testing a generator welder with multiprocess potential, one process lags behind the others. Not so with the Miller Bobcat 250. I can’t stress enough how helpful DC and AC options can improve a job or site. DC welding offers stability and rock-solid performance. And the 20 Amp and 40 Amp outlets power your other tools.
The Miller 250 is an investment. If you don’t have a TIG torch or gas valves, you’ll need to buy it. In fact, the 250 doesn’t come with any of the extras found with other kits. This is strictly a generator and welder that adapts to your needs. As such, I recommend it to professionals and contractors seeking the industry standard. I don’t imagine any hobbyist needing this much machine at a home shop.
Lincoln Electric’s extensive lineup of welder generators contains more than one ideal solution for your welding and portable power needs. Building off the success of their Ranger line, the Vantage equips customers with more tools to work smarter and faster.
The Lincoln Electric Vantage 300 is a diesel-powered generator with multiprocess welding features. I found this machine incredibly easy to use, despite the various features and switches on the front of the machine. Lincoln advertises the Vantage as a Five-process welder. With this one machine, you can MIG, TIG, Stick, Flux Core, and Arc Gouge.
The heart of the Vantage 300 is its diesel generator. They swapped out their Kohler from the ranger for a Kubota. I prefer Kubota because they have an extensive history with construction machinery, such as front-end loaders and dozers. The company knows how to build engines that run in tough conditions. It’s an excellent pairing with Lincoln. The 4-cylinder Kubota engine runs much quieter than its gasoline counterparts. And with the standard gauges on the front panel, you can monitor the heat, RPM, and fuel levels with one glance.
The Vantage 300 is a big machine. You get a massive 20-gallon fuel tank, which is bigger than many consumer automobiles! The size comes with the inevitable drawback of weight. You won’t be able to lift this machine with two people. You’ll need a hoist or small swing crane to move it onto the bed of a truck or platform. But I imagine anyone seeking a generator welder this large would be aware of such a problem.
The welding potential of the Vantage cannot be overstated. This machine produces tight beads regardless of the process you choose. The front panel switches, knobs, and dials offer you impressive control over the arc, amperage, and voltage. You can run a simple flux core bead with this machine or a downhill pipe MIG. The touch-start TIG runs from 20 Amps up to 250 Amps without any negative bead draw or power lag.
With continuous 3-phase AC power, you can run a plasma cutter or inverter welder. The 10,000 watts of continuous power support any power tools your crew will need on your job site now and in the decades to follow. This is the true definition of futureproofing. I recommend the Lincoln Electric Vantage 300 for professionals seeking the latest in modern welding technology.
For professional welders and journeymen in the construction industry, buying a Miller welder just makes sense. The brand boasts an excellent track record and its warranty is world renown.
But if the Miller Bobcat in my number five spot isn’t streamlined enough for your on-the-go workload, you need to check out my last pick, the Miller Trailblazer 325.
The Trailblazer marries productivity with precision. Miller honed the device to run longer, start faster, and perform better thanks to modern efficiencies. This is a 300-amp gas-powered welder generator that focuses on maximum runtime and steady power. With this machine, you can weld Stick, MIG, and TIG. You also have the option of remote-control tuning for tricky jobs.
I enjoyed Miller’s proprietary Auto-Speed technology. It matches the generator’s speed to the load capacity of your welding kit or plug-in tools. This helps to curb the noise output when the machine runs idle and maximizes the power when you need it. Many generators on my list run one speed, so what you hear and feel is what you get. Not so with the Trailblazer. This machine boasts a four-speed engine that ramps up based on your needs. You’ll save money and lower emissions at the same time.
Another money-saving addition to the Trailblazer 325 is its Electronic Fuel Injection or EFI. This feature provides quick starts regardless of the weather. You won’t have to fuss with a choke or a pull cord. Just hit the start button and the 325 will kick into its quiet idle gear. The EFI also adds even more savings with advanced fuel economy. You can weld the entire day with this machine and not have to stop once to fuel up.
The Miller 325 weighs less than other machines in its price range, and it’s 12% smaller. Yet the welding performance matches that of other products on my list by Lincoln or Hobart. That’s thanks to Miller’s ArcReach technology. I enjoyed my time with this innovative system. Your amperage and voltage can be controlled on your gun rather than at the generator. This saves you time and provides added safety.
I recommend the Miller Trailblazer 325 for contractors and professionals that need a fast, reliable generator welder combo with increased fuel economy and patented ArcReach technology.
What to Consider Before Buying the Best Welding Generator
Regardless of which generator and welder you choose, this is by no means a small investment. More than most products you buy online, you must learn what you need and what you don’t need. There’s a device on my list that’s perfect for you, but to find it check my six tips below.
Job Scope and Budget
While a 24HP, 11,000-watt generator with TIG capacity sounds incredible, you may not need that much horsepower. Know the limits of your project scope and work within it. For small at-home repair jobs, a cheaper engine-driven generator should be more than enough metal for your fences and auto bodywork.
On the flip side, contractors that spend their days’ welding frame joists and using other heavy machinery should invest in a more expensive machine.
Welding Type Required
There are three basic welding systems, MIG, TIG, and Stick. The majority of my picks offer you Stick welding because its the easiest to set up and doesn’t require too much secondary technology. Adding other welding systems on the generator will raise your price and weight. Remember that you can’t upgrade most generators. So if you want to learn TIG eventually, it may be a worthwhile option to buy a generator that has the potential to weld TIG.
Weight and Size
The weight and size of an engine-driven generator are correlated to the power output. You won’t find a 10,000-watt generator that’s under 100 pounds just like you won’t find a 5,000-watt generator over three hundred pounds. Know the output you need before you buy your generator. This is one of the rare situations where I’d recommend you to over-estimate. Because having more power can be useful, but not having enough can ruin your project or job.
Maintenance Routine and Challenges
Engine-driven generators boast more moving parts and complex systems than battery generators. They contain oils and lubricants and seals. This allows them to pump out a steady power flow without draining stored energy. It also means these generators require maintenance.
At the very least, you’ll need to perform oil changes. Some of the machines on my list are easier to maintain than others. My first pick, the Hobart Champion, has a fast-access oil change nozzle, much like some cars. You won’t be so lucky with other machines.
Portable Vs. Stationary
This may sound strange to some customers, but some people require a stationary generator. Either they operate out of a home shop that doesn’t contain a stable 220V outlet or they have no power source. Know that many of the products on this list do not ship with casters or a wheelie harness. You simply get the flat-bottom generator straight out of the box.
So if you need a portable welder generator, either budget for the added wheels or find one that ships with a harness and casters pre-installed.
Your Power Tool Arsenal
Last, inventory your power tool arsenal before buying your welder generator. Because your welding needs may be sated with a Stick welder, your heavy-duty chipping gun or concrete saw may require more wattage than the product you’re eyeing.
A high-wattage generator can run multiple tools at once, too. This is great news for contractors that must run a compressor and a hammer gun, for example, or a hedge trimmer and a buffing attachment.
There’s no limit to the potential of a quality welder generator. You can literally build a house or fabricate a car’s exhaust system with this tool by your side. It’s the foundation of many job sites across the country. Now you can own it and order it from the comfort of your laptop or smartphone.
But no matter the possibility of this product category, you can still pick the wrong one for your needs. My list of the best welder generator combo you can buy online will save you lots of time and money. But if you’ve read through this page and still can’t decide, I have one last recommendation: The Hobart Champion. This exceptional welder generator ships with enough power to run multiple heavy construction tools and its very easy to maintain. Try it now with the assurance of Hobart’s rare full-guarantee and warranty!