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The Hobart Handler 140 MIG is the best welder.
With 18 years of experience behind me, I am a mechanical engineer. I was a member of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (Pressure Vessels and Piping Division).
I wrote this article after researching the most popular brand of welders.
Everyone needs to fix things, and a welder saves professional fees.
Continue reading to find the best welder.
If you wish to know about MIG welder selection and FAQs, go to the end of the article.
My criteria for selection
- Brand reputation and history of delivering value
- Customer reviews
Our Overall Best
Our Best Welders
Which product is right for you? Find below.
The natural progression of a stick welder is the flux core.
Hobart 140 uses a transformer-type power supply and no fancy digital gadgetry.
It comes ready for flux-core welding, but spatter is everywhere, and difficult to weld thin metal.
Switching to MIG (shielding gas) requires a polarity change and gas cost.
You can weld mild steel or stainless steel.
Its rated power is 90A at 20%. If you work at increased amperage or higher thickness, it reduces to 8% at 140A. A duty cycle is a balancing act. A marginal improvement is possible by ventilation or reducing the extension cord length. This welder is unsuitable for a continuous run.
Runs on 115V
Working on a 115V increases versatility while the DC output deposits good welds.
Genset will work, but use one that can run continuously at 3500W.
Hobart keeps things simple. Open the hood, use the set-up selection chart as a guide, and operate from the front.
To understand more about the Hobart 140, refer to the Owner’s manual.
Good Warranty (5/3/1)
- 5-year warranty on transformers, rectifiers, etc.
- 3 years on the electrical system (PC boards and drive systems).
- 1 year on guns and torches.
- The consumables are outside warranty.
The one problem you can run into is the circuit breaker trip, and to avoid it, have a dedicated 15-20 amp circuit.
The drive roll has three grooves.
- 0.024 V-Groove for solid wire
- 0.030 – 0.035 V-Groove for solid wire
- 0.030 – 0.035 (0.8-0.9) V-Knurled Groove for FCAW
You can use 4-inch or 8-inch spools.
Long torch and ground lead
You get 10 feet (3 m) long MIG Gun and work clamp cable.
Buy the other sizes (.024 inch or .035 inch), but it will not accept .045 inch.
Not ready for an Aluminum spool gun
The specification says aluminum welding is possible (by pushing the aluminum wire through the MIG gun). It is difficult, and there is a thickness limitation as well. It does not have a separate provision for a spool gun.
It weighs 57 lbs. (26 kg) with a gun. You’ll need a cart as it is convenient and provides space for the gas tank.
Hobart didn’t spare pennies to put the 140 together. And it’s visible in the build quality as every component is top-notch, from the flawless feeding mechanism (durable cast aluminum material), gas regulators, steel clamp, and down to the packaging. ITW owns both Hobart and Miller.
I recommend Hobart 140 for the weekend hobby and light-duty welder.
This little welder comes at a small price. It takes little space (approx. 16x8x12”), so keep it plugged in one corner, and you can fix welds in minutes.
Portable and cheap
It’s light (19 lbs), portable, and great for people who do not weld in one place, do not want to carry a gas cylinder, and do not want to blow $$$ on shielding gas.
It works on a 120 V outlet and gives 140A output. Forney recommends a 20A breaker for .030” wire or 30A for 0.35” wire.
Or you can use a 6000W (minimum) generator with a THD (Total Harmonic Distortion) of 5% or less.
If you need an extension cord, use at least one with three conductors #12 gauge or large, but avoid lengths beyond 25’.
FCi stands for flux core inverter. The welder is set to DCEN as it is a flux-core unit.
It can run both wires, but Forney recommends .030” (so does the setup chart in the machine).
Compared to MIG (with shielding gas), flux-core welds are not pretty, and then there’s an extra step of slag removal.
The Rated duty cycle is 30% @ 90A. Manufacturers measure duty cycle around 104°F. Your workshop will be at a lower temperature, and your performance will exceed the rated one.
Two knobs at the front (voltage and wire speed) have numbers from 1 to 10. Infinite voltage and wire speed mean that the knob doesn’t have fixed set points, and you can stop the knob at any point between 1-10.
In FCi-140, there is no provision to change the gun unless you contact Forney. It’s a standard Euro-Connect MIG gun that uses Standard Tweco-style consumables (available on Amazon).
The MIG gun works by pressing the trigger; no foot pedal is possible.
The ground clamp matches the gun length (both 8’) and is stout.
You won’t like the 173.2 IPM wire feed speed (max), but Forney 140 FCi wants to make a beginning with beginner welders. There are others with a higher wire speed.
Apart from mild steel, you can use it for welding over galvanized steel because the flux is tolerant. You can weld up to 1/4″ (in multiple passes by beveling the edges) or 3/16” (or less in a single pass). Even spot welds are possible, but you can’t weld stainless steel, alloy steel, or aluminum.
The analog display is not much of an issue, but the 1-year warranty is a setback.
The Forney 140 FCi is a perfect little buddy for minor work.
Hobart 100 offers better quality but less power than Forney 140.
Hobart 100 can weld mild steel from 18 ga to 3/16” (1.2 to 4.8 mm). You can weld ¼”, but you are pushing the limits. At 3/16”, you can’t weld long due to the duty cycle. For e.g., its rated output at 80A/18V is 20%.
You can use 4” or 8” spools to run .03 or .035” (0.8 or 0.9 mm) flux core wire on metallic feed wheels.
It is a flux core welder. Expect a mess when the flux core wire burns. You spend extra time with the grinder and extra money on spatter spray.
It runs on a regular household supply 120V, so use a 20A dedicated breaker. The wiring is for DC constant voltage output, electrode negative. The generator must be a 5,000W (minimum) continuous output.
This transformer tap-based system (44 lbs.) is made in China by a Hobart partner.
The warranty of the Hobart 100 is excellent 5/3/1, the same as other Hobart products.
Handler 100 gives you a .030 tip and 1-lb. spool. If you want to weld with .035”, you must buy it. It can hold a 2- or 10-lb spool of wire but buy flux-cored self-shielding wire.
It has a limit; you can do one thing well. It doesn’t support a spool gun and cannot weld SS (requires shielding gas).
You see the quality when you open the box.
The Lincoln Handy comes in handy if
- You weld thin gauge mild steel or stainless steel but don’t weld aluminum.
- You are a beginner on a low budget (around 300$)
Key deciding features of Lincoln Electric Handy MIG welder
- It is ideal for auto work or light gauge sheet metal where heavy-duty welders are unsuitable.
- Welds mild steel from 24 gauge to ⅛ inch.
- Both FCAW and MIG are possible (For MIG, use shielding gas and solid wire for better welds but check polarity)
- The duty cycle (20% at 70A) is less.
- The 3-year warranty covers manufacturing defects or failure.
Find my detailed Lincoln Handy MIG review below.
- transformer type power supply
- 115V Input, use 20A breaker.
- 35-88A DC output
- 8′ welding leads (welder to torch tip).
You can spot-weld thin materials.
- 26 lbs. Weight
- Size 12” H x 8” W x 18” D, approx.
- Analog display
- Welder, gun, cable assembly, clamp with cable—one each.
- Nozzle (for Gasless and Gas)
- Gas regulator and hose (for MIG)
- spool (flux-core and solid wire)
- 0.035” and 0.025” contact tips, three nos.
- Operation manual Lincoln Electric Handy Mig Manual (online)
You don’t get (or what you need to buy)
- an auto-darkening helmet. You get a cheap handheld welding shield.
- a bottle of shielding gas (for MIG)
- a regulator with a pressure gauge on top (to know “low gas”)
- a nice welding cart
Why didn’t I choose other welders?
- Harbor Freight 125A has a warranty of just 90 days.
- Hobart Handler 125 is costly and unavailable on Amazon.
If you need the firepower to fire your next welding project, look at the Firepower FP-200 MIG/Flux Cored Welding System. I chose this welder for the 200A category.
Key Features of Firepower FP-200
- ESAB designed
- MIG/flux core welder
- welds MS, SS, and Al from 3/8 inch or 9.5 mm
- Duty cycle
- 90A @ 40%
- 200A @ 15%
- 120/230V (dual)
- 3-year warranty
- 30A to 200A Current
- weighs 29 lbs (13 kg).
- MS and SS
- It runs .024 – .030” (0.6 – 0.8 mm) wire
- Aluminum or flux core
- runs .030 – .035” (0.8 – 0.9 mm)
- Buy Tweco Spool Gun 160 A
The welder uses the TWECO Velocity series consumables available in Firepower part numbers. You can purchase consumables at Amazon.
Key Features of Millermatic 211
- Welds 24 ga to ⅜” in 1 pass.
- 120V or 240V
- MIG (GMAW) & flux core (FCAW)
- Not capable of stick or TIG
- 3-year warranty
Designed and manufactured in Appleton, WI, the Millermatic 211 is the most popular Miller MIG welder.
But what makes Miller 211 popular?
The Smooth-Start feature provides a smooth start without spatter.
Millermatic has a popular AutoSet feature that lets you select the wire size and material thickness; the welder chooses the rest.
The inverter-based power source makes it lightweight (38 lbs) and compact. If you fear anything digital, then know that the inverter unit clears the same reliability tests as the transformer one.
Miller 211 auto detects the Aluminum spool gun, and the feeding starts from the spool. (Use either Spoolmate 100 or 150)
- 20A circuit breaker
- NEMA 5-15P plug
- 230 V
- 30A breaker circuit
- NEMA 6-50P plug
- Mild Steel
- 24 ga. to 3/8 in. (0.5 to 9.5 mm)
- 110 V, ⅛ inch
- 230 V, 18 ga. to 3/8 in. (1.2 to 9.5 mm)
- 150 A at 21.5 VDC, 40%
- 115 A at 19.8 VDC, 20%
- SS, MS, Al, and silicon bronze.
- It can hold 4″ or 8″ spools.
- At 230V input, it welds 3/8″ steel in a single pass (both gas and gasless MIG)
- Short circuit metal transfer. No pulse capability.
Recommended generator (both continuous)
- 115 V – 4,500 W
- 230V – 10,000 W
Gas hose fittings
- 5/8″ UNF-18RH fittings.
Recommended shielding gas
- Miller recommends 75% argon. If you change it, AutoSet settings won’t be accurate.
Buy on Amazon or Miller’s website.
Key Features of TOOLIOM 200M MIG
- Multi-process welder
- Welds mild steel up to 5/32 inch (4.0mm)
- 110V or 230V power
- 1-year warranty
Tooliom acknowledges it’s not the best. But can you resist buying when its price tag is a fraction of the Hobart or Miller?
Here is my Tooliom 200M MIG Welder Review.
- This welder comes flux core ready
- For GMAW (MIG), purchase a regulator and shielding gas
- .030/0.8mm contact tip is present
- Stick weld with E6011, E7018
- Lift TIG, but you need to buy a torch.
- MIG Torch with 10′ (3m) cable
- No provision for a foot pedal
- Change the torch liner from steel to Teflon for aluminum welding.
- 2T/4T Operation
- 110V or 230V (to utilize the full 200A capacity, you must have 220V)
- Inverter type
- Materials and Welding
- Wire Size
- Solid core – up to .030″(0.8mm)
- Flux core – .035″ (0.9mm)
- Welds mild steel up to 5/32 inch (4.0mm)
- Wire Size
- Adapter Cord
- Shielding Gas Hose, Electrode holder with Cable (3m or 10’ each)
- The combined metal and plastic casing weigh 32.6 lbs.
- Made in China
- Even with a digital display, novices/beginners will find a tricky setup.
Key Features of Lincoln Power MIG 210 MP
- Multi-process welder
- 3-year warranty
- up to 5/16” mild or stainless steel
- up to 3/16” aluminum
- Duty Cycle suits light to medium fabrication work
- MIG, 120V
- 100A at 40%
- MIG, 230 V
- 200A at 25%.
- DC stick and DC TIG: Refer website
It has four welders compacted in one. It won’t match a dedicated welder, but you can weld reasonably well.
What strikes you when you see the power MIG is the color LED screen, showing the welding process and parameters.
The welder guides you. Just turn the welder on, input the thickness, and the welder will automatically set the wire feed speed and voltage. Better than conventional charts.
You can even set the spot weld time or how long the arc will last.
The welder recalls your last settings when you turn it off and on again.
Here is my Lincoln Power Mig 210 review.
- Runs 0.025 to 0.035” wire
- Recommended spool gun Magnum 100SG
- Spool guns are not mandatory. You can use the same MIG gun but take precautions. Keep the torch line straight and use one size larger tip.
- 20A breaker
- 50A and 30A breaker
- Both 110V and 230V cords fit in the same welder socket
- Magnum PRO 175L Gun (10’ or 3.0m) with liner
- Runs wire from 0.025″ to 0.045″ (or 1.2 mm).
- Input Cables for both voltages
- Clamp with cable
- Electrode Holder and Lead Assembly
- Adjustable Gas Regulator and Hose
- Nozzles, Wires, and contact tips
- Spindle Adapter
- cast aluminum wire feed assembly with steel rollers
- 40 lbs (18.14 kg) – weight
- Lincoln Power Mig 210 Mp Manual. (online)
DC TIG (Add the Tig Kit)
DC Stick welding
- up to 5/32 in. stick electrodes.
- Flux Cored or MIG
- You can weld up to 1/2 in. mild steel in a single pass.
- Welds Mild Steel, Stainless steel, and Aluminum
- Works on 240 V
- 60% @ 200A, 24 V duty cycle
Simplicity is Ironman’s biggest selling point.
The Ironman knows that wire welders provide two things: proper voltage and proper wire speed.
So it uses dependable technology and avoids the digital control board (the one in the Miller) because if it fails, the cost of a new board is equivalent to an IronMan.
- Transformer-based power source, Analog display
- Works on 240V, 60Hz (not 50 Hz) 1φ only.
- You can use a 12,000W continuous generator but expect decreased performance.
- 60A breaker.
- NEMA 6-50P plug
This feature slows the wire speed automatically to a pre-set speed to improve arc initiation. As you press the trigger, the motor lags (or starts slow) for some seconds and then runs at the parameter speed leading to a better arc start and less spatter.
Some people complain about the run-in technology, but there is no alternative to remove it. The welder is trying to help.
Length of cables
- 15’, 200A gun cable
- 10’ work cable with clamp
- 5’ gas hose
The drive roll has two grooves for two different wire sizes (.030/.035”). To use the other size, remove and reverse it.
It does not come with flux-cored drive rolls. Refer to part numbers followed by roll size (in inches).
- 132958 .035
- 132957 .045
You must purchase SpoolRunner 200 Spool Gun separately. With a wire size of .030–.035”, it can weld 16 gauge up to 1/2 in. (1.2 – 12.7 mm) aluminum. It comes with a 20 ft. cable. The spool gun goes into the same place as the MIG gun; you would use one or the other. Use 100% Argon for your gas with Aluminum through the gas valve on the back of the unit.
Storage: -22 to 122 °F (-30 to 50 °C).
- Spray transfer starts at around 24 volts for mild steel with a 90/10 shielding gas.
- Pulse MIG is not possible.
- To know more about metal transfer in MIG, refer to my article.
Weight – 186 lbs.
Why I didn’t choose other welders
- I bypassed the Eastwood 250A because it is out of stock and will be back after three months (voluntary withdrawal by the contestant).
- Lincoln MIG 260 is costly, and so is Millermatic 252.
You get what you pay. With IronMan, you get much more.
Fix requirements before buying—brand name, warranty, weldable thickness (minimum and maximum), welding process, etc.
My overall best is the Hobart Handler 140 MIG which balances price with utility.
What is the duty cycle?
The duty cycle is the time the welder can weld uninterrupted without overheating, let’s say, in 10 minutes. If the duty cycle is 30%, the welder will run for 3 minutes and rest for 7 minutes. Welding thick material for a longer time requires a higher duty cycle.
A lower temperature increases the duty cycle. Knowing the measurement temperature helps decide.
I only saw ESAB Firepower mention the test temperature. Even Miller was silent in their specification, but when I inquired, they emailed me 115°F. Some manufacturers measure the duty cycle at 104 °F.
What is the difference between a transformer and inverter-type MIG welders?
The traditional transformer type is heavier and reliable. An inverter is light and efficient due to its electronics. EU and UK are eliminating transformer-type welders by 2023.
What is the minimum warranty?
A higher warranty means a confident manufacturer, a better product, and few returns.
Let’s see some statistics. Harbour Freight 125A has a warranty of just 90 days. Unpleasant things happen on the 91st day. Ironically, one of their welders, Harbor Freight MIG 140, has a 4-year warranty.
Forney has good reviews, but its warranty is just one year.
Good manufacturers provide a 3-year minimum warranty.
Some of the Hobart welders have a warranty of 5-3-1. I have explained the 5-3-1 in the Hobart review.
What is the difference between 2T and 4T?
In 2T, you press the trigger to start and release to stop. Most people are used to it.
4T is for long-duration welding. Once you press it, the trigger remains active until you press it again to deactivate it.
How to select a MIG welder?
- What are the minimum and maximum thicknesses I need to weld?
- What is the material?
- What power supply does my electric utility supply?
- Do I weld for pleasure or profession?
Most MIG welders have a number associated with their name that is the maximum current. E.g., the Millermatic 252, TOOLIOM 200M MIG Welder.
If possible, look for a longer warranty. However, welders with less warranty come cheap.
Spare part availability at a reasonable cost
A lot of welding gets done by people who feed America, i.e., farmers. The spare parts must be available at a reasonable cost. It doesn’t make sense to lose money in buying costly spares.
Type of power supply
Selecting a transformer or inverter is your choice, and I have covered the pros and cons.
MIG versus FCAW
The portability of a MIG welder is less because of the gas cylinder, whereas the flux core welder is easy to work outside. On the other hand, the problem with FCAW is slag removal and spatter, whereas the bead aesthetics are excellent in MIG.
Then comes money. MIG welders that use external shielding gas are more expensive than flux core units. Flux core units are cheaper as you don’t have to purchase gas.
Multi-process or single-process MIG
Some welders are multi-process, like the Miller Multimatic 200 Multiprocess welder or the Hobart Multi-Handler 200. If you wish to know more about MIG and flux-cored welding, refer to my MIG article.
One last question before I go. ‘Can these welders weld a horse shoe?’
‘Yes, anything to do with steel.’