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Inexpensive inverter mig welders

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Ron Laden23/05/2021 09:29:08
2236 forum posts
443 photos

Morning Guys

I would appreciate any thoughts good or bad on the small inexpensive (£50 - £75) inverter type mig welders, does anyone have or use one and if so their experience with it.

I guess I,m asking are they any good for light work say up to 3mm or are they a waste of money and best avoided. I am a beginner when it comes to welding so I suppose that needs taking into account.



jaCK Hobson23/05/2021 10:03:09
216 forum posts
76 photos

That sounds cheap for Mig! Are you sure that isn't stick?

My most used welder was £50 from B&Q but it is old transformer tech. Anything works for stick if you use small enough rods. I use it to stick long handles on lumps of metal.

pgk pgk23/05/2021 10:08:02
2295 forum posts
293 photos

A quick look on ebay found one brand new from china including post for £15.59 includng chipping hammer, flux cored wire and wire brush and a helmet. Obviously a quality item.

I did buy a Lidl cheap stick welder a few years ago that does work but sadly tthe duty cycle is so low that any serious attempt to do anything is tedious although it did allow me to (patiently) learn how to run a half-decent straight bead...


Dave Halford23/05/2021 10:27:17
1669 forum posts
19 photos

It depends (as usual)

Most of the cheapies have a poor current spread, you need 30A to 40A for car body work not 50A so they very easily blow holes. My Cebora 130A mig (same as the Snapon and BOC 130) had poor penetration on 3mm.

Visit the Mig welding forum they have some good how to guides.

What PGK say about duty cycle is true, expect 5 mins weld and 10 to 15 cool down

Edited By Dave Halford on 23/05/2021 10:29:44

Ady123/05/2021 10:39:16
4685 forum posts
713 photos

Got a cheapo gasless MiG from Lidl and put my cheapo stick welder away

You get far better welds once you figure it out

and buy every reel in the shop, they are 3 quid a pop at lidl

pgk pgk23/05/2021 12:37:55
2295 forum posts
293 photos

One of my local farmer friends also works as a mig welder for a local steel frame barn/building firm. I'm seen some of his welds on plate I';ve bought from the local scrappy - a smooth single ribbon wwith none of the ripple effect we generally see - but then it;s probbaly soem huge industrial welder.

Back to duty cycles...Local scrappy sold me some 4.5mm steel 'planks' salvaged from the local bank when they closed which we used to make a new bed for my tractor trailer. Apart from longer welds at the ends we just made notches to each 'plank' as they crossed sub-beams and filled those with a stick puddle. My little welder did a few minutes and then had to cool for 30 mins whereas Scrappy recently bought a ROHR welder from ebay with a claimed 60% duty cycle and that kept going with the only rests due to positioning the planks or changing rods. They do a range of mig (with MMA) that'll go way above the standard 13amp socket allowance - another thing to check/be aware of - but for under 200 notes you do get into the 60% duty cycle so long as you don't dial up too much power and trip your circuit (or put in a higher current line).

(He did blow the fuse on one extension lead before we dialed his welder down to sensible)


Ady123/05/2021 13:11:33
4685 forum posts
713 photos

Tack welding can give you better penetration if you don't need it to look pretty

Cheapo welders are great for getting you started and deciding whether to get more serious, plus you can make bigger bits from scrap, I've just made a motor support for my Drummond from old gas pipes

Edited By Ady1 on 23/05/2021 13:23:47

Paul Lousick23/05/2021 13:29:04
1840 forum posts
659 photos

If you decide to get one of the cheaper welders, buy it from a reputable dealer that offers a guarantee in case anything goes wrong. I found out the hard way and threw it in the bin and bought a better brand, second hand.(Lincoln Electric with no problems).


Nicholas Farr23/05/2021 16:39:56
2959 forum posts
1335 photos

Hi, it's not just the welder you need to consider, most of the DIY welders will do what they are basically designed for, which is usually light work and short duty cycles. The other important thing to consider is the power supply feeding it and they very often need a large inrush of amps to get them started, so therefore a 13A plug in one won't always live up to expectations and will probably work better off a dedicated 16 or 30 amp supply either wired in or plugged into a 30A industrial type socket. My stick inverter welder is a brilliant thing and will weld quite thick steel, it's a 110V / 230V, supply but it has to have a 30A supply rating on 230V to even strike up a arc successfully on it's lowest setting with even a small welding electrode and it's duty cycle is; 35% @ 130A, 60% @ 115a and 100% @ 105A welding current. My old transformer SIP MIG welder worked better from a 16A supply but it was still a bit limiting as to metal thickness that it could weld as it is more or less designed for car bodywork. I did however, extend the duty cycle on my really old transformer stick welder, by adding a fan beneath the air vents in the bottom of the casing, but I don't really use that one much now although it can come in useful for a bit of light TIG work on aluminium but even that is better on a 16A supply.

SIP welder


One thing to remember is the thicker and/or heavier you want to weld, the higher the power supply will be needed.

Regards Nick.

Edited By Nicholas Farr on 23/05/2021 16:41:13

Andrew Tinsley23/05/2021 16:58:38
1460 forum posts

I have had an Oxford oil cooled arc welder for nigh on fifty years. No problems like duty cycles and nothing to go wrong, beats all the modern stuff.


Colin Heseltine23/05/2021 17:13:04
606 forum posts
218 photos


I have an identical SIP welder which I used to build car transporter trailer. It would cut out after around 10 mins heavy welding. I fitted an aluminium cowling on the rear and fitted a Expelair fan. Could then run well over half an hour before having to let it cool for a few minutes.


Nicholas Farr23/05/2021 17:13:22
2959 forum posts
1335 photos

Hi Andrew, used a few of the 300A 3 phase ones in my day jobs, I think it was a small 240V single phase one that I borrowed from my brother once many moons ago.

Regards Nick.

jann west23/05/2021 17:19:22
82 forum posts

Big question is are they "gasless"? because that significantly limits their use. Inverter mig welders that can use shielding gas are very useful within their dutycycles ... gasless not so much, It depends on your application. If you are learning to weld, and want to "learn" to weld you might be better learning on an inverter stick welder (heat control and and all that). If you just want to stick a few bits of steel together a gasless inverter mig might work for you. If you want long term versatility mig with a shielding gas might be a better option.

My advice is, if it's gasless, skip it unless you know your current and future applications works for this method. Gasless mig adds a bit of the small amount of convenience and ease of stick, while loosing the many benefits of full shielded mig - without being as robust as stick.


P.S. also, no, not good for thin material!  

Edited By jann west on 23/05/2021 17:21:48

Nicholas Farr23/05/2021 17:19:58
2959 forum posts
1335 photos

Hi Colin, I think your times are about the same as I get with mine with the fan and the fan will cool it down faster as well, after it cuts out. I actually bought mine after winning £50.00 from my National Bonds, never got anything from them since though.

Regards Nick.

Nick Clarke 323/05/2021 17:27:30
1247 forum posts
49 photos
Posted by jann west on 23/05/2021 17:19:22:

Big question is are they "gasless"? because that significantly limits their use. Inverter mig welders that can use shielding gas are very useful within their dutycycles ... gasless not so much, It depends on your application.

Gasless produces messy welds but if you are lying on the drive mending an old car it produces a shield that is less likely to be blown away by the wind than that from a gas bottle, so horses for courses!

noel shelley23/05/2021 18:04:06
711 forum posts
19 photos

Hi Ron, IF you can not weld DO NOT buy a cheap machine ! The price you quote for a mig welder is not likely to get you anything that will weld well OR safely ! If it's an inverter unit there is lots to go wrong, and a transformer will be aluminium wound ! Do you really mean a MIG welder, if it's gasless it is not MIG. For the price it sounds more like a MMR machine. For welding 3mm a stick welder is what you need and 2 or2.5mm rods to spec 6013. For very little money you can buy a GOOD secondhand oil cooled stick (MMA) machine. Pickhill, Cytrigan, Oxford, Lincoln are some names to look for. They are a simple transformer unit, and BOMB PROOF- there's almost nothing to go wrong. For a 110A you will just about get away with a 13A plug, for 160 or 180A units you will need a 30A supply. I have 2 cheap MIG units, both given to me by people who found them all but useless.Even I struggled to use them after 50 years of welding. A secondhand Migatronic 160A or if you can find the Holy Grail - a BOC Autolynx 160 you will never regret it, I bought one for £35 with a 15Kg reel of wire. Or the Big 3Ph 400A for £25, this will go down to bodywork thickness.There are some real bargains out there if your patient. Good Luck, Noel

Nicholas Farr23/05/2021 18:33:31
2959 forum posts
1335 photos

Hi, I had a gasless one once, was not at all impressed with it, I traded it in for a song, to a second hand trader as part payment for something he had, that I wanted.

Regards Nick.

Ron Laden24/05/2021 09:17:46
2236 forum posts
443 photos

Thanks guys for the advice, appreciated.

I have been watching and reading beginners guides and reviews on the small inverter type welders, it seems to be a real mixed bag. Some units seem to be ok (ish) and others not very good to the point of been dangerous, one review on a "new" welder (cost £83) found there to be no fuse in the 13amp plug but a piece of thick copper wire soldered across the fuse connectors.."scary"

I am thinking of going with a stick welder to make a start and following Noels advice and finding a second hand older type welder. I have had a quick look and there seems to be a fair number of them for sale at very reasonable prices. I dont have the space for a large unit so it will have to be smallish to medium size if I can find one.

I appreciate that whatever type of welder I go with it is going to take some practice and learning to become anything like reasonable and able to produce a decent weld, should be fun though.

Thanks again for the advice.


Ron Laden24/05/2021 09:18:11
2236 forum posts
443 photos

Sorry double post.

Edited By Ron Laden on 24/05/2021 09:19:51

jann west24/05/2021 09:58:57
82 forum posts

Hyundai make (rebadge? from China?) a selection of inexpensive welders - I have purchased their 200 amp stick welder recently (but haven't yet had a chance to use it in anger - so I can't offer an informed review yet!).

Hyundai also offer a local UK warranty - so if it breaks, you should be OK.

If I was you I'd consider one of these (teamed up with an auto-darkening helmet) as a good place to start.

The inverter welders are amazingly small and light for their duty cycle. Older style transformer models are rock solid, but heavy - and 2nd hand has no warranty.

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