The 5 Best Welding Machines of 2018

Maxstar 150 STL TIG Welder AHP AlphaTIG 200X Forney 324 Multi-Process Welder Lotos CT520D Welding Machine Everlast Power ARC 140 Welder
TIG welder TIG welder Multi-Process welder TIG Stick welder Arc welder
High-range Mid-range High-range Low-range Low-range
DC AC/DC AC DC DC
Used for steel Used with

aluminium

and steel

Used for aluminum Used for steel Used for different types of steel
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There are very few industrial workshops or steelwork sites that don’t use a welding machine. Whether you’re joining bits of metal together or repairing damaged metal pieces, a welder is quite literally what holds everything together. Whatever you weld, wherever you weld, any one of the welding machines in our review will stand you in good stead.

Maxstar 150 STL TIG Welder

The Maxstar welder is made by Miller Electric, a leading name that’s known and trusted for its quality equipment. The 120 STL TIG welder, as the name suggests, can do stick and TIG welding and is one of the best for steelwork in industrial workshops. It only has DC capability, which means it’s not ideal for thinner metals. The Maxstar costs a little more than other welders, and might not suit everyone’s budget. But having said this, if price isn’t an issue then it’s worth the investment.

 

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Main Features

  • It can be used as a stick or TIG welder
  • It comes with a DC inverter
  • The lift arc features improve control, and the welder can be used with steel of different sizes from 0.020” to 3/16”

Pros Cons
Great quality machine for industrial steelwork Only operates on direct current which means you cannot weld aluminum and other thinner metals
Offers excellent arc control for better finish It is one of the more expensive welding machines available
Can be used for both TIG and stick welding
Pros
Great quality machine for industrial steelwork
Offers excellent arc control for better finish
Can be used for both TIG and stick welding
Cons
Only operates on direct current which means you cannot weld aluminum and other thinner metals
It is one of the more expensive welding machines available

AHP AlphaTIG 200X

The AHP Alpha TIG welding machine has a range of 100-220V and is very flexible. It offers both AC/DC capability and it can work with anything from 1/4” aluminum to 3/8” mild steel. The price of the AHP AlphaTIG welder is more competitive than the Maxstar and comes with most of the same features, making it an excellent choice for a workshop. This particular welder combines quality and affordability, which are two key features as far as we’re concerned.

 

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Main Features

  • It offers 200 amps of power output and can be used as both TIG and stick welder
  • Can be used with several different materials from aluminum to steel
  • Advanced inverter with DC capability as well as AC capability
  • Pulse amp control of 10-200 welding amps

Pros Cons
Very powerful with 200 amps Accessories like the regulator are not the best as it’s not calibrated precisely
AC/DC capability which makes it suitable for all types of metal The manual is hard to understand and not user-friendly
Makes use of IGBT technology
Pros
Very powerful with 200 amps
AC/DC capability which makes it suitable for all types of metal
Makes use of IGBT technology
Cons
Accessories like the regulator are not the best as it’s not calibrated precisely
The manual is hard to understand and not user-friendly

Forney 324 Multi-Process Welder

The Forney 324 is one of the most flexible welding machines on the market at the moment. It can be used as a TIG, MIG, and stick welder. The Forney 324 is better suited to hobby welders, rather than in industrial workshops or heavy-duty settings.  As far as a versatile, well-priced welder goes, this is a great option, but we’d recommend serious steelworkers go for an industrial machine like the Maxstar.

 

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Main Features

  • Functions include MIG (gas), TIG, flux cored (no gas), and stick welding and switches between the different welding processes easily
  • Includes a flowmeter and hose
  • Great arc control ability for better use and results
  • Great arc control ability for better use and results

Pros Cons
Multi-purpose welder that offers 3-in-1 welding functions Does not feature DC capability which makes it unsuitable for heavy-duty use
Offers very good arc control for better results  The after sales support isn’t great
Powerful machine that performs well
Pros
Multi-purpose welder that offers 3-in-1 welding functions
Offers very good arc control for better results
Powerful machine that performs well
Cons
Does not feature DC capability which makes it unsuitable for heavy-duty use
The after sales support isn’t great

Lotos CT520D Welding Machine

The Lotos CT520D welder is another machine that performs more than one function. You can do both TIG and stick welding and can also be used for cutting. It has 200 amps of power, and the plasma cutter makes quick work of any project. However, it doesn’t have AC capability and can’t be used with aluminum. While it’s not suitable for all types of steel, it’s still great value for money. The Lotos CT520D, even with its limitations, is a great buy.

 

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Main Features

  • Offers different functions including TIG and stick welder and cutter and comes with a 50A air plasma cutter
  • Can be used with stainless steel, copper, alloy steel, and mild steel
  • It has a 1-year limited warranty and a 30-day money back guarantee

Pros Cons
Powerful welder and cutter for steel Only operates with direct current, which makes it unsuitable for aluminum
Features strong 50A plasma cutter There seems to be an issue with the wiring, which could be as a result of the shipping
Easily switches between functions
Pros
Powerful welder and cutter for steel
Features strong 50A plasma cutter
Easily switches between functions
Cons
Only operates with direct current, which makes it unsuitable for aluminum
There seems to be an issue with the wiring, which could be as a result of the shipping

Everlast Power ARC 140 Welder

The Everlast Power ARC 140 is the right welder for you if you’re after power and portability. It gives you great arc control and makes finer welds a breeze. It’s compact and light and can be easily moved from one location to another. It’s an affordable machine for smaller welding jobs around the house and craft projects.

 

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Main Features

  • Offers excellent arc control for the best results and functions with 140 amps of power
  • Comes with automated hot start to improve the quality of welds
  • Lightweight and portable machine for use anywhere

Pros Cons
Very good arc control for best results Only DC capability
Comes with an automated hot start feature Some users had issues with the lift arc TIG circuitry
It is portable and lightweight for easier use in any location
Pros
Very good arc control for best results
Comes with an automated hot start feature
It is portable and lightweight for easier use in any location
Cons
Only DC capability
Some users had issues with the lift arc TIG circuitry

Buyer’s Guide

Trust us, there’s no shortage of welding machines available, but knowing which one to choose is where it gets a little challenging. Whether you need one for your workshop or just for jobs around the house, there are a few important features to look out for.  These include current capability, portability, and power.

Our buyer’s guide highlights which features you need to consider and why. Together with our reviews and comparison table, you’ll be able to make the best possible decision to suit your needs and budget.

Amperage/Power

The amperage range indicates the machines’ power and versatility. What you need to know is the bigger the range, the more versatile and powerful the machine. Ideally, you want a welding machine that performs well at a low amperage, which will allow you to weld different types of material, from steel to aluminum and everything in between. Without it, you’ll struggle to weld thinner materials.

AC/DC Capability

The AC/DC capability of the machine determines whether you’ll be able to cut or weld aluminum and other thin metals. If, for example, you want to cut only steel, a machine that offers only DC capability will be more than enough. However, if you want to cut thinner materials, you’ll need a machine that also offers AC capability. The AC of the welder allows it to clean the oxidization on the steel material while welding it.

Cost

Cost, for most of us, is always a deciding factor. Some machines, like the Maxstar, are expensive, while others, like the Forney and Lotos, are a lot more affordable. A good idea is to look at the features while comparing the prices. We would advise though that you get the best machine your budget allows.

Heat Control

The heat control on a welding machine allows you to cut through thinner materials without burning through them. It’s an important consideration if you want to weld and cut steel materials like aluminum.

Duty Cycle

The duty cycle will matter more if you’re buying a machine for industrial use. A good cycle will allow the welder to work for longer regardless of the amperage.

Portability

Portability determines how easily your machine can be moved from one location to another. There are also models available that work on battery power, which means they can be used anywhere.

Conclusion

A welding machine is an essential tool in any steel worker’s arsenal and is also handy to have around the home. Because of the wide range of welders available, there’s one to suit your needs. But before you invest in one, figure out what you’re going to be using it for. Also, know what features to look for; a professional welder’s machine is going to be different to someone who uses it for craft projects at home.

Have we hit the nail on the head with our top 5 products? Let us know in the comments section below.

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