Choosing a wire feed welder for your home or shop project is a smart choice. That’s because wire feed machines are easy to learn, and even easier to use.
On the hunt for a wire feed welder, you’ll come across a plethora of options at various price points. The market for MIG and flux core machines has increased because of the myriad videos online that show off projects and advertise tutorials.
The problem is that no two welders work the same. You need hands-on experience with a machine to know if it’ll work with your house power or shop set up or project materials. That’s why I’ve tailored my choices to the most versatile welders you can buy online.
Below, I provide detailed reviews of my favorite wire feed welders, as well as tips on choosing your perfect device and a out-of-the-box guide to welding confidently.
- Best Wire Feed Welder – Comparison
- Reviews of the Top 7 Wire Feed Welders
- Hobart Handler 140 MIG Welder 115V
- Forney Easy Weld 140 FC-i MIG Welder
- Lincoln Electric Handy MIG K2185-1 Welder
- Super Deal PRO MIG 130 AC Flux Core Wire Feed Welder
- Goplus MIG 130 Flux Core Wire Automatic Feed Welding Machine
- Hobart Handler 190 MIG Welder 230V
- Lincoln Electric Weld Pak 125 HD Wire-Feed Welder
- 7 Considerations While Choosing the Best Wire Feed Welder
- Step-by-Step Guide to Wire Feed Welders
- My Verdict
Best Wire Feed Welder – Comparison
|Hobart 500559 Handler||90 Amp||115V||65 pounds|
|Forney Easy Weld 261||140 Amp||120V||27.9 pounds|
|Lincoln Electric K2185-1 ||70Amp||115V||26 pounds|
|Super Deal PRO Commercial ||120 AMP||110V||38.1 pounds|
|Goplus MIG 130 Welder||105 AMP||110V||35 pounds|
|Hobart 500554 Handler ||130 Amp||230V||78 pounds|
|Lincoln Electric Weld Pak 125||125 Amp||120V||56.8 pounds|
Reviews of the Top 7 Wire Feed Welders
Since 1917, Hobart Welding Products has maintained a high level of standard across their welding machines and welding supplies. They specialize in crafting durable, safe machines. Which is why all Hobart welders come with their incredible 5/3/1 warranty on parts and performance. Few companies can match Hobart’s longevity in the industry or their dedicated product support.
That means buying a Hobart welder isn’t just ensuring you’ll have a high-quality machine in your shop today, but in the years to come. The Hobart Handler 140 MIG Welder ranks as one of my all-time favorite machines for one simple reason: it does everything it says it can do better than the competition.
I’ve yet to have a problem with this welder. As a 115v welder, it has a basic three-prong house plug and runs off a 15-amp breaker. If possible, I recommend either a dedicated 15-amp breaker or a 20-amp breaker. Newcomers to welding may find that dialing in the Hobart can be tricky, and they’ll likely pop the breaker a few times.
This is a very reliable machine. I can easily see why Hobart claims it’s their top selling device. It can run both flux core and MIG, which means either a gasless flux wire or a C25 shielding gas. They work very well with zero performance issues aside from learning the machine’s wire feed speed.
Opening up the side panel for the first time, I was happy to see Hobart installed an industrial-rated cast aluminum drive system. Many of the welders you’ll find on my list and in stores reduce their price by installing plastic wire drives. While they work fine, they break easily and wear out fast. Once a wire drive is toast, you must buy a new unit. So the money spent on a machine with an aluminum drive, in my opinion, is well worth it.
The arc performance on the Hobart Handler 140 is stable and precise. With a five-position voltage control, you’ll weld with a stable arc regardless of your power set up in the shop or at home. The machine ships with everything you need to start the moment you open the box, including a 10 ft wire feed gun, ground clamp, sample wire spool, contact tips, dual gauge regulator, quick select drive roll, and a power cord.
I recommend the 140 Handler by Hobart for both professionals looking for a MIG welder and newcomers that want the freedom to experiment with flux core and gas welding. Weighing under 60 pounds, it’s ideal for on-site welding, too.
In the mountainous terrain of Fort Collins Colorado, Forney Industries builds machines as rugged as the landscape. Since the 1930s, fabricators and metalworkers have sworn by Forney machines.
That level of detail and craft is why I chose the compact Easy Weld 261 as my second pick. It’s a fantastic option for high wind conditions and locations that cannot store shielding gas.
As a gasless flux core machine, the 261 can weld 24-gauge steel up to 1/4” thick. I’ve even seen some reviews that claim it can weld thicker metals, but that depends on your skills with flux core wire feed machines.
This is a lightweight and capable machine. At less than 20 lbs, you can cart this thing wherever you need with minimum back strain. The convenience translates to an ideal at home or do-it-yourself consumer that must cart their welder to a friend’s shop or into the backyard.
The only downside to the Forney Easy Weld 140’s design is that it outputs 140-volt power. That cap its welding ability to a 15- or 20-amp breaker. For the hobbyist, that’s probably not a bad thing. But if you own a shop with a dedicated 40-amp breaker, I advise purchasing another machine.
The wire feed on this welder is dead simple to use. As a budget device Forney cut costs by supplying a plastic drive. I had no problems using it, but be careful not to crack the adjustment knob or locking mechanism. Replacing the machine is cheaper than installing a new plastic drive.
The Forney Easy Weld 140 outfits you with the basics. You’ll need contact tips and a spool of flux core wire to begin your welding project, so don’t forget to buy those too. In the box you get the welding machine, wire feed gun, and ground clamp.
Dialing in the wire speed and voltage will take you less than five minutes thanks to the easy-to-use voltage and wire knobs on the front of the device. They have a satisfying resistance when you tweak them, a bonus that cheaper machines often lack. The chart on the back of the bay door breaks down your duty cycle ratios. At 90 amps, expect to run this machine for three minutes every ten-minute cycle.
I see the Easy Weld 140 as an ideal purchase for a beginner than doesn’t expect to MIG weld in the next few years. Pros that need am easy to carry flux core welder for quick jobs in hard to reach places should consider this machine, too.
Lincoln Electric is an industry standard manufacturer for pipeline, offshore, automotive, and heavy fabrication welding. Professionals rely on Lincoln Electric to provide a quality machine with warranty-backed parts.
If you plan on pursuing a welding career, then the Handy MIG K2185-1 Welder should be at the top of your list. While it’s considered a hobbyist or beginner machine, you’ll learn the controls and feel of Lincoln Electric welders, fast-tracking you to success down the road.
This welder is capable of flux core and gas-based wire feed welding. There’s a port on the back of the device for inert C25 or whatever gas you prefer to use. Out of the box, you can flux core weld by plugging the machine into your garage socket.
Like the Forney Easy Weld before it, this is a 20-amp welder that runs at 115-volts. I advise having a dedicated breaker to run the Handy MIG as I had problems popping mine at home running the machine for more than a few minutes.
With stable power, however, this device is more than capable of welding from 24-gauge to 1/8” steel. Some consumers have gone well beyond that with flux core, to 1/4” or more. Just remember that when learning flux core your welds may look unsightly. So if the weld will be visible, choose the MIG option.
That’s what’s great about this machine. You can switch between the MIG and flux core by swapping out the spool inside wire feed bay. The wire drive on the Handy MIG is a mix of plastic and steel and seems more durable than a straight plastic drive.
You have four voltage options on the front dash and infinite wire feed control. I really like the wire gun that ships with Lincoln Electric machine. It feels weighty in the hand and the thick cord won’t tear or wear easily.
This machine comes with everything you’ll need to weld from the second it arrives at your door. You get a gun with 10-ft of cable, a ground clamp, gas nozzle and regulator and hose, spools of MIG wire and flux core wire, a handful of contact tips, and a complementary face mask.
I recommend the Lincoln Electric Hany MIG for beginners that want the option to wire feed with and without shielding gas. Weighing 26 pounds, it’s also portable enough to be strap to a service truck as a portable welder.
Consumers searching for the ultimate in budget-friendly products online have latched on to Super Deal because they’ve mastered the thin line between affordability and quality. They sell everything from jewelry cabinets to washing machines. And for my money, the MIG 130 AC Flux Core Wire Feed Welder stands out as an ideal candidate for those looking to try out welding for the first time.
Although Super Deal stamped MIG on the front of this machine, it’s not a MIG welder. This is a wire feed flux core welder that plugs into a 15-amp socket. At less than 30 pounds, it’s lightweight and contains everything you need to weld straight away.
For me, the biggest surprise was that this machine worked at all. At this price, I expected the welder to produce an unstable, unusable arc, but that wasn’t the case. After some adjusting, I could churn out a steady feed of wire and weld upwards of 1/8” steel.
The downside to the price of this machine is that the components aren’t as durable as a Lincoln Electric or Hobart machine. The wire feed drive is made of plastic, same with the PVC shell that covers the welder. So those of you that are rough with your tools should look elsewhere.
Using Super Deal’s MIG 130 is very simple. There’re two switches on the front panel that adjusts the amperes to its high and low setting. The wire feed knob sports an authentic resistance and supports infinite adjustment. The best part is that this welder comes with everything you need, including a wire feed gun, contact tips, a spool of flux core wire, ground clamp, wire brush, and face mask.
If you’re new to welding and just want to tinker with jobs in your shop, I recommend the Super Deal PRO Commercial MIG 130 AC Flux Core welder.
For you hobbyists debating which budget welder to purchase, add this one to your list, too. Like the Super Deal, the Goplus MIG 130 Flux Core welder champions the idea that you don’t need hundreds of dollars to weld at home.
Just a note, this is another machine that states on the box it’s a MIG welder. In truth, it’s a flux core welder. There’s no port on the front or back for inert gas, and it cannot run MIG wire.
Either way, as a flux core machine it runs very well, especially when factoring in the cost. I like that Goplus fabricated the body of the MIG 130 in stainless steel, but the downside is it’s heavier than other options on my list, at 35 pounds. It’s still easily carted in the back of a truck or shoved into storage in a little garage shop.
Welding with the Goplus requires very little setup. There’s a switch on the front panel that flips between two voltages. I advise staying on low voltage unless you have a 20-amp breaker. As an AC welder, it can pop a 15-amp breaker if it’s running too long.
Because it’s a 1/10 machine, you’ll be using it in bursts. I consider this a good thing since the flux core wire it ships with smokes more than most. Make sure you have adequate ventilation when using this welder.
The wire feed adjustment will be where you tinker the most. Everyone that owns one of these Goplus welders has found different speeds to be ideal. For me, I finally locked it in at 3 and a half. But some said they needed to tweak it up to 5 or more.
These are just minor complaints to an otherwise fantastic budget machine. I recommend the Goplus MIG 130 to newcomers and hobbyists looking for a flux core machine that includes everything you need to begin welding.
If you’re looking for a brawny welding machine with the potential for thick welds, then take a minute to gaze at the well-equipped Hobart Handler 190 MIG Welder.
This is a 20-amp to 40-amp welder with a respectable 30% duty cycle running at 130-amps. You’ll see this machine in industrial shops all over the country because it produces accurate welds in both MIG and flux core wire feed setups.
Hobart manufactures the 190 MIG welder in Troy, Ohio from American-based parts. They also boast one of the best warranties in the business. So while it is costlier than other products on my list, you get what you pay for. The 190 twinkles in the eyes of professional buyers, but I also think it’s a great option for hobbyists that are looking to future-proof their purchase.
The added power makes welding auto body panels, machine parts, and farm equipment simple. And with the optional Spool Gun 100, you can even weld aluminum.
The wire drive installed inside this machine is made of quality aluminum parts and won’t crack or break from excessive use. The wire feed gauge responds quickly and requires little adjustment mid-weld.
Although professionals love the 190 MIG welder, it’s easy to pick up and use, making ideal for the hobbyist investing in a rig. Plus, it comes with everything you need to weld, including a wire feed gun with 10-ft cable, ground clamp, dual gauge regulator, 10-ft power cord, contact tips, and a sample spool of flux core wire.
I recommend the Hobart 190 MIG welder for those willing to invest in their welding needs. This machine outputs a hefty 230 volts, runs on 40-amp breakers, and can weld up to 5/16 thick steel. If you can afford this welder, I strongly consider it.
While Lincoln Electric espouses the needs and preferences of professionals, they also sell products dedicated to the self-teaching consumer. And while the Handy MIG is a fantastic entry-level device, I think for the right person the Weld Pak 125 HD is a smart choice.
This is a flux-core only machine, running on 120 volts of DC power. It plugs into your basic 15-amp wall outlet and can weld upwards of 5/16” steel. My favorite thing about this machine is its drive system. At this price point Lincoln Electric has one of the best solid cast aluminum drives you can find.
Loading flux core spool into the bay compartment is easy and the tension dial accurate. The machine ships with a spool adapter so you can install various sizes and thicknesses.
The brass-to-brass connections between the wire drive and the wire feed gun means there’s less likelihood that you’ll snap or crush the wire. Overall, the machine upholds Lincoln’s renown build quality. But the durable inner parts and outer shell means the welder comes in at 49 pounds. That’s one of the heavier products on my list.
The front-facing dials support four voltage options and ten wire speeds. But from my experience the well-tuned wire drive means you won’t need to tinker with the wire feed too much.
The Weld Pak 125 HD ships with all the bits to weld the moment the box lands on your doorstep, such as their renown Magnum 100L gun and 10-ft cable, a ground clamp, contact tips, wire spindle adapter, sample spool of flux core wire, and a how-to DVD.
If you want an ideal flux core wire feed welding experience and shirk shielding gas-based welding, then I highly recommend Lincoln Electric’s Weld Pak 125.
7 Considerations While Choosing the Best Wire Feed Welder
Here are my guidelines for picking a welder for your shop or garage. They cover everything from best warranties to the difference between flux core and shielding gas wire feed welding.
MIG Vs Flux Core
You can divide wire feed welders in to two types: those capable MIG and flux core and those capable of just flux core. The difference between the two types comes down to a gas port in the front or back of the machine. Gas-based welding has a finer bead and works better on thinner metals.
We can use flux core no matter the wind conditions and on thicker metal. But the downside is the beads are large and sometimes garish looking. Ideally, it’s better to buy a machine that does both. Flux core-only machines are cheaper.
Your Shop’s Power Source
Wire feed welders operate on either 15-amp breakers or 40-amp breakers. If your shop or garage only has house, then veer away from 240-volt machines. There are plenty of quality 130-volt machines that can flux core and MIG weld.
Other machines operate at both 130 volts and 240 volts, future-proofing their use in your shop for years to come. Some of you, however, may never need that much power, so a 130-volt machine would be ideal.
Potential Welding Projects
One factor in how much power you’ll need is what you’re welding. Thin metal, such as 24-gauge, requires MIG welding. That’s because flux core pops through the other side of thin metal in a burst of power.
On the other hand, flux core wire feed welders provide a cheap alternative to adhering thick metals. So consider what you’ll be welding now and in the next year or two. That way, you can purchase a machine that fits your shop’s needs.
Do You Need Portability?
While all the machines on my list are portable when compared to a TIG welder, they range from 20 lbs to 60 lbs. Obviously, 60 lbs can seem like twice that much if you must cart it around two or three times a day. Even dragging the machine off a shelf can be more of a problem than it’s worth. Be realistic when buying a wire feed welder and take the weight into account.
The Brand’s Reputation
My list contains products that range from the cost of a weekly grocery bill to your car’s monthly payment. In tandem with the range in price is the brand’s reputation.
The cheaper welders come from Chinese companies that use parts that haven’t gone through the rigorous quality control processes of companies like Hobart. Those of you planning to use your welder daily should consider buying from a reputable company.
Warranty and Return Policy
I recommend reading the finer print before adding your welder to your online shopping cart. Every brand ships their unit with a warranty and return policy unique to that company.
Depending on what you’re welding and how often you use the machine, it may be worth buying a product with a robust return policy and parts warranty.
Included Components and Extras
Not every wire feed welder on my list ships with everything you need to weld. At the very least, you’ll want to buy a big roll of flux core or MIG wire and safety equipment. If you plan running shielding gas, you also must check with a supplier because you won’t be getting it from your online order!
Step-by-Step Guide to Wire Feed Welders
I advise all my customers to start with wire feed welders. That’s because they’re easy to use. And with flux core, they do not require the secondary knowledge, safety precautions, and purchase of shielding gas. Everyone has to start somewhere, so while you’re mulling over the best wire feed welder for your needs, check out my guide to wire feed welding.
Step 1: Safety Comes First
Before you step into your shop, you’ll need the proper safety equipment. For MIG and flux core welding, you must meet these minimum requirements: shielding mask, leather gloves and apron, leather shoes, and denim jeans. Beyond your equipment, never weld without proper ventilation. The smoke that erupts from your weld contains noxious fumes and can harm you.
Step 2: Clean Surface of the Metal
Dirt, grime, and rust affect your welding beads ability to bond to metal. The cheapest way to scrub your work area is with a wire brush. If you have a grinder with a buff wheel or steel wool, you can use that too. You’ll want a shiny clean surface for MIG welding. Flux core can handle a little rust and dirt, but it’s still beneficial to clean the metal beforehand.
Step 3: Stick-Out Length
After you’ve installed a new batch of spool and feed the wire through the gun with a press of the trigger, cut it down to about 3/8 of an inch. We call this the stick-out length. You’ll attempt to maintain this length on your wire as you weld.
Step 4: Choose Adequate Voltage
On the inside of the door to your spool housing, you’ll find a chart that tells you the voltage and approximate wire speed based on the thickness of your metal. If there’s no chart, check the owner’s manual or online. Your gas ratio, for MIG welding, will be labeled on the chart, too.
Step 5: Calibrate Your Wire Speed
As you’re welding, the wire speed will require some trial and error. Don’t worry if you take a few attempts, this is normal when using a new machine, adepts and novices alike. Your wire speed will change depending on what you’re welding and the type of wire you’re using.
Step 6: To Push or To Pull?
The question I get asked the most from my readers is if they should drag or pull their weld. You’ll want to drag your weld across the seam if you’re using flux core wire. When MIG welding with shielding gas, you’ll push the weld.
Step 7: Stay in the Blue
Sometimes it’s hard to tell if you’re welding properly or if the bond hasn’t taken. A trick to maintaining a strong bond is to check for blue light near the surface. Blue light indicates a bond between your welding bead and the metal. If you see yellow and white light, stop welding and check to see what’s going on at the weld line.
Owning a wire feed welder ups the potential projects and repairs that you can do in your shop or garage. And because many of them work with flux core and shielding gas, you have an edge over lesser machines. Just remember to have proper ventilation before starting any project, and to purchase safety gear rated for flux core or C25 gas welding.
I’ve enjoyed using all 7 of the products on my list of the best wire feed welders. But if I had to choose one, it’d have to be the Hobart Handler 140 MIG Welder. It’s a solidly built device yet maintains a low weight. And the robust warranty provided by Hobart provides years of peace of mind after your purchase. Highly recommended!