What is a MIG welder?
To understand a MIG welder, you first need to understand the processes involved in making MIG welding possible.
A few crucial components have to be involved. The metal being welded is, of course, essential. A thin wire is also needed to act as an electrode.
The wires used in MIG welding are consumables and, as such, will fuse with the metal in question. This happens when a welding current is passed through the wire. The result is an electric arc between the wire and the metal being welded.
The arc is supposed to heat both the wire and workpiece to their melting points. Consequently, the molten materials mix before cooling and becoming a singular unit. Also, a shielding gas is released simultaneously to ensure that this process happens to completion without the components reacting to other elements around the work area.
As such, the MIG welder is the device that makes the above processes possible. Also, the machine needs human input to tweak parameters such as wire-speed, voltage and polarity.
It also needs to be attached to a high-pressure cylinder containing shielding gas. As we have already explained above, the gas is an integral part of the welding process.
What to expect from a MIG welder under $1000?
A MIG welder that costs under $1000 is not going to be the most impressive tool you own, especially for professionals. Nonetheless, it should be good enough to take on small to medium-sized tasks.
Additionally, most of the machines should be relatively compact since they do not offer many welding process options. Nonetheless, you have devices like the Weldpro MIG200GDsv, which offer 3-in-1 welding processes as exceptions to the norm.
Features to consider when choosing a MIG welding machine
You will see different manufacturers battling it out to see who can provide the most value at that price range. This is often visible in the features offered. As such, you have to take the said features into account before making your investment choice.
Fortunately, we offer detailed descriptions of the features you are likely to encounter in the section below.
Multifunction or MIG/Flux-Cored welders
The Weldpro MIG200GDsv, as we have already established, is a multi-function tool. The other options on the list are mostly MIG/Flux-cored options. It is, of course, up to you to decide which option you would rather have.
Admittedly, multifunction tools, just like the name suggests, have more functionality. Nevertheless, these kinds of tools tend to cost more.
Most people with dedicated workshops will have installed sockets that work with their devices. They can also hire an electrician to tweak the power output.
However, a more straightforward way to go about this is to buy a machine that works with your current socket output. DIYers can choose a device rated at 120V or 240V since that is what is available for most homes.
The output power will affect the look of your final result. As such, you should go for the tool with the highest output power as it offers more range. Often you will see a flatter weld whenever you add more power. You can use this information to control the outcome of the job at hand.
Size and weight
Size and weight are not likely to affect the functionality of the tool. However, they do affect mobility. If the goal is a tool that stays in a stationary position, you should have no problem choosing a heavy one.
However, a lighter and smaller machine is easier to transport and move around. As such, you should be able to choose which option works best for you.
Also, a common theme is that bigger welding machines tend to have more features and functionality. However, there are exceptions to this rule.
The duty cycle is a relative term that describes the on/off cycle of a welding machine. It is often indicated in terms of percentage out of 100%.
In the case of the Hobart Handler 500559, you can expect the tool to stay on for 20% of the time during this cycle. Conversely, it will stay off for 80% of this period.
In another scenario, the Lincoln Electric PRO-MIG 180 will stay on for 30% of that duration. As a result, the bigger the duty cycle, the better. This means you have more time to work on your weld provided that other parameters stay similar.
Depending on the welding job at hand, you may want to use thicker or thinner wire diameters. As such, having a wide range with the device you are using may be necessary.
Thinner diameters tend to achieve a higher current density as compared to thicker wires if the power output is the same. As a result, the thinner wire may penetrate deeper than its counterpart. This is assuming that all other parameters remain the same.
Where you only need to weld closer to the surface of the metal in question, you can use thick wires.
You also want to know the feats that the machine is capable of with regards to the thickness of metals it can handle. With this information, you can check against the size of metal sheets that you usually work with and determine whether the tool is appropriate or not.
The Miller Electric 907612 is one of the few machines on our list that don’t come with a spool gun. However, this component is a necessity when looking to weld aluminum. As such, you will either have to purchase the gun separately or resolve to never weld aluminum.
Most people will choose to buy the optional attachment. However, most of the other manufacturers offer the spool gun as part of the initial purchase. Buying a machine that has one will save you a lot of trouble later on.
The energy that flows through the device can sometimes cause it to overheat. This may result in all types of adverse chain reactions.
An example is that you may experience a short circuit with your equipment, which can be hazardous both to the user and the welding machine. As such, some manufacturers tend to include some protective measures.
The thermal protection will sense when the machine gets too hot and disconnect it from the power source. As a result, the device will remain in good condition, and the user will remain safe.
Of course, a lot of things go into determining the welder quality as well as the performance of the device. Some of them are addressed above and only when you put them all together can you determine whether the performance of the machine is sufficient.
Here factors like duty cycle, wire diameter and maximum output can be the most telling.
The five-year warranty is one of the key selling points of the Everlast PowerMIG 140E device. Most users will love the fact that the manufacturer takes responsibility for the quality of the product.
Consequently, they are ready to offer repairs and refunds should the device suffer any damage during the first few years of use. That is also something you should be looking at when you decide to buy your machine. However, you should be aware that it is rare to find warranties that cover you for more than two years.
The auto-set feature provided by the Miller Electric 907612 can be quite useful for anybody new to welding and learning the tools of the trade. As such, this would be an extra reason to make the purchase.
Similarly, if you find an extra feature that appeals to you in a product, you should get it. This is, however, based on the assumption that most other features of the device prove satisfactory.