The 7 Best TIG Welders for Home Use


Tungsten inert gas, or TIG, welding, is a versatile method that makes attractive welds. In the past, it has been considered one of the most difficult welding methods to learn. New developments in welding technology have made TIG welding more accessible for home welders than ever before.

Here are the 7 best TIG welders for home use:

  1. Lincoln Electric Precision TIG 225 Welder
  2. Hitbox TIG Welder 200A Dual Volt Inverter TIG Welder
  3. Miller Multimatic 215 Multiprocess Welder with TIG Kit
  4. Mophorn 200 Amp TIG / Stick Welder
  5. Lotos LTPDC2000D 3 in 1 Combo Welder
  6.  MTS-205 MIG/TIG-Torch/Stick Arc Combo Welder
  7. Hobart 500551 EZ-TIG

If you are thinking about a home TIG welder, you can make a better decision if you understand some TIG welding basics before choosing a welder.

TIG Welder Features

TIG welders come with a variety of features and specifications that can be confusing. Understanding these terms can help you make the best decision about which welder is right for you.

Amperage

The units used to measure the output of a welder are called amperes, or amps for short. Higher amperage means more heat to your weld. Higher heat is good for welding thick material; for steel, you need about one amp per .001 of the thickness of metal. A 100-amp welder can weld steel up to 0.1 inches thick, while a 250-amp machine can weld stock as thick as 0.25 inch.

You need even more heat to weld other metals. Because they dissipate heat quickly, aluminum and copper require higher amperages to weld than steel. If you know you will be working with these metals, definitely look for higher amps. However, higher amps usually mean higher costs.

On the other hand, if you are welding very thin material like auto body panels, you want very low amperage. If you set the amperage too high, you can blow holes in sheet metal. If you know that you will be doing lots of sheet metal welds, look for the lowest amperage you can find.

Power Input

TIG welders are rated for power inputs of 110 volts, 220 volts, and sometimes even more. Higher voltage means more amperage. Home electrical circuits are 110 volts so that these machines can be plugged straight into the wall outlet in your shop or garage.

220-volt machines offer more amperage, but 220-volt circuits are limited to ovens, dryers, and HVAC systems. If you don’t have a spare 220 outlet, you can have one added to your shop. This requires calling an electrician to add the outlet. It is worth the cost to get the extra power, but it adds to the startup cost of a new TIG welder.

Duty Cycle

The duty cycle tells you how many minutes your welder can run without overheating. It is the percentage of time your welder can be on and off at a given amperage setting. The calculation is:

Minutes on / (minutes on +minutes off) = duty cycle %

A welder with a 20% duty cycle can run for two minutes, then needs eight minutes to cool (2/[2+8]=20%). This is a low-power cycle. Duty cycles of 40-50% are medium, while duty cycles of 60-80% are high. There are machines with 100% duty cycles, but they are heavy-duty industrial machines. Factories need machines that can run non-stop for eight hours, but home welders don’t.

Current Type

Polarity refers to the direction of the current flow. Direct current, or DC, runs from the welder through the electrode to the workpiece back to the welder. Reverse polarity DC runs from the welder to the workpiece to the electrode then back to the welder. Alternating current, or AC, flips quickly between polarities….usually 60 to 120 times per second.

DC is the best current for welding steel and iron. DC can be made to work on other metals, as well. AC is preferred for aluminum because it has a scrubbing effect on the surface needed for the best bead on aluminum.

DC machines are less expensive, but AC/DC machines rock any kind of metal. They are more expensive, but AC/DC welders are more flexible and useful.

Arc Start

For years, scratch starting was the way to get an arc. The electrode is scratched lightly across the workpiece, then lifted to get an arc. This can damage or contaminate the electrode tip, resulting in lower weld quality.

High-frequency start pulses more amperage very briefly to get an arc, then reduces the current to what you set it at. This is a more expensive feature, but it keeps the electrode clean and is easy to use.

Other Functions

Some welders are TIG-only, while others are multi-function machines. Combo TIG welders might have the ability to perform stick welding, MIG welding, or even include a plasma cutter. These other features might help you do a broader range of welding, or they might just be added cost that you don’t need.

Stick welders let you work on metals that are rustier or dirtier than TIG and give you the ability to weld outside. MIG welders are the simplest welders to use. Having a plasma cutter included with your welder can be a significant cost saving – plasma cutters can cost as much as a new welder.

The Best TIG Welders

There are lots of TIG welders available, at price points from budget-friendly to arm-and-a-leg. We have reviewed some of the best to help you decide which one is right for you.

Lincoln Electric Precision TIG 225 Welder

The Precision TIG 225 from Lincoln Electric is a fantastic machine for home use. With variable amperage from 5 to 230 and a 100% duty cycle, this welder will run all day. You can get just the welder with torch and gas feed or opt for the package deal that also comes with a pedal to control the amperage on the go.

Things we liked:

  • Enough power to weld thick steel and aluminum
  • Easy-to-use controls allow for maximum versatility
  • AC Auto-Balance feature lets the machine make adjustments to current when welding aluminum for the best balance of cleaning and penetration
  • Also capable of stick welding

Things we didn’t like:

  • Most expensive machine reviewed; has capabilities most home welders don’t need
  • Requires accessory purchase for stick welding
  • 230-volt input isn’t compatible with any home circuits, including dryer circuits. Will require a visit from an electrician

The bottom line:

This welder is the big dog. Lincoln Electric has a reputation for making great welders, and this is no exception. It has the amperage and duty cycle to weld anything you can get into your shop, and the price to match. This is the welder for someone who wants to TIG weld all day, every day, and can make that pay.

Hitbox TIG Welder 200A Dual Volt Inverter TIG Welder

The Hitbox 200 amp dual-volt TIG welder is a great entry-level machine. It puts out up to 200 amps and has a 60% duty cycle. It comes with a torch and gas flow gauge and valve.

Things we liked:

  • Very affordable machine. It’s a great way to get started with TIG welding.
  • Accepts 110V and 220V inputs, so you don’t need to call an electrician to get going.
  • A good way to get started TIG welding

Things we didn’t like:

  • TIG-only machine. There is no way to use any other welding processes with this welder.
  • No option for AC welding, so the ability to handle aluminum is limited.

The bottom line:

This is a good starter welder at a nice price. It’s not a machine to put in a production machine shop to weld all day, but it is great for weekend warriors who want to learn to TIG weld. It’s also light enough to be portable, so you can take it to your buddy’s house and weld stuff for him, as well.

Miller Multimatic 215 Multiprocess Welder with TIG Kit

The Multimatic 215 from Miller isn’t just a TIG welder. This machine comes with everything you need for welding with TIG, MIG, and stick. It operates at up to 215 amps; duty cycle is 20% at 190 amps and 40% at 140 amps.

Things we like:

  • Flexibility. The Miller 215 can weld TIG, MIG, and stick right out of the box.
  • Simple to operate. It is pre-programmed for many common welding tasks. You just have to tell it what you are welding, and the machine sets up all the parameters.
  • Able to run on 110 and 220-volt current.

Things we didn’t like:

  • Limited capacity as a stick welder. Since the settings are pre-programmed, there are some types of stick it can’t handle.
  • Expensive. All that capability costs money.

The bottom line:

If Lincoln Electric is the Cadillac of welders, is Miller is the Lexus. This is a top-end machine that will do everything. This is the machine for a shop where you never know what will come through the door. You can TIG weld in the morning, stick weld in the afternoon, and come back tomorrow for MIG welding. This is a great welder for professional shops that do a little of everything.

Mophorn 200 Amp TIG / Stick Welder

The 200 amp TIG/stick combo welder from Mophorn is a very flexible little machine. For TIG welding, the amperage can be set from 20 to 180. It is rated for a 60% duty cycle.

Things we like:

  • TIG torch and stick clamp are included.
  • Runs on 110V and 220V power.
  • Nice price

Things we don’t like:

  • It doesn’t run AC, so the ability to weld aluminum is limited.
  • It doesn’t come with an argon regulator, so you have to do some shopping before you can TIG weld.
  • It can run on 220V power but doesn’t come with a 220V plug or adapter.

The bottom line:

This is a starter machine for those who just want to learn TIG welding without breaking the bank. It lets you run TIG and stick so that you can practice both types. It’s another lightweight machine that is easily portable.

Lotos LTPDC2000D 3 in 1 Combo Welder

If you are just setting up a metal shop, the Lotos LTPDC2000D should be on your shopping list. It will weld TIG and stick, and it can also serve as a plasma cutter. With a 60% duty cycle and 200 amps of output, it is a solid choice for a home TIG welder.

Things we like:

  • TIG/stick combo machines are nice, but adding a plasma cutter makes this a real all-in-one welder.
  • The package comes with TIG torch, stick clamp, plasma torch, air regulator for a plasma cutter, and argon regulator. All you need to start welding is filler rods and metal.
  • Accepts 110v and 220v power.

Things we didn’t like:

  • DC-only. No AC option for welding aluminum.
  • It lacks some of the fine controls and features of high-end TIG welders.
  • 110-volt compatible, but no 110V plug supplied.
  • Some users report limited durability.

The bottom line:

This machine is fantastic for beginners. It’s more expensive than the other entry-level machines, but it costs less than buying a TIG welder and a separate plasma cutter. This combo welder will have you ready to work from day one.

MTS-205 MIG/TIG-Torch/Stick Arc Combo Welder

The 205-amp combo welder from MTS is a real do-it-all machine. With a max output of 205 amps and a 60% duty cycle, this welder is a reliable workhorse. This welder is ready right out of the box to weld TIG, MIG, flux core, or stick.

Things we like:

  • Able to weld with any process right out of the box
  • Can TIG weld DC and AC, so you can TIG weld aluminum easily
  • Able to handle steel, cast iron, copper, and aluminum
  • At only 25 pounds, easily portable

Things we didn’t like:

  • TIG requires scratch start instead of the easier high-frequency start
  • No pedal for easy TIG amperage control

The bottom line:

This is another weld-it-all machine like the Miller, but at a better price. This welder is best for someone who welds a wide variety of projects but isn’t a pro. You can do anything with it, but it probably won’t run every day for years like expensive welders will.

Hobart 500551 EZ-TIG

The Hobart 50055 EZ-TIG welder  is a serious machine. It runs at up to 165 amps and has a 20% duty cycle. It comes with all the equipment needed for TIG welding, including a pedal. The controls are designed to be easy to use. Instead of dialing in amperage, you set a switch to the metal type and a dial to the thickness, and the machine is ready to weld.

Things we liked:

  • Dedicated TIG machine with high-end features at a lower price.
  • Easy-to-use dials make setup easy and eliminate guesswork.
  • Automatic cooling fans help control heat

Things we didn’t like:

  • Not as flexible as less expensive machines.
  • Limited amperage and limited duty cycle, not a machine for thick material or heavy use.

The bottom line:

This is a pricy machine for dedicated TIG welders, but it’s not quite the price of the Miller or Lincoln welders. This is a good welder for a serious hobbyist who does lots of welding but isn’t quite a pro. Don’t buy it if you are just starting, but give it a serious look if you have worn out a bargain-priced welder.

Recommendation

If money is no object, or you will be welding all day, every day, go for the big Precision TIG 225 from Lincoln Electric. It can handle thick material, and you will overheat before it does. This welder will turn your garage into a heavy-duty machine shop.

If you are on a budget, check out the Lotos LTPDC2000D. It is not the least expensive welder reviewed, but the added plasma cutter is a great bonus. You are going to need a metal cutter to be a welder, so you might as well get one combined with the welder.

Where to Buy TIG Welders

All of the welders reviewed here are available on amazon.com. You can find most of them at online welding supply houses, as well. If you are just starting, check out the selection of welders available at your local metal and welding supply house. Those folks talk welding all day, every day, and they are happy to help a new welder out. They may even have package deals that include a welder, safety gear, and everything else you need to get started.

Used welders are sometimes available if you know where to look. Sites like eBay and Craigslist usually have a variety of welders available, although it can be hit or miss when it comes to specific processes and features. Pawnshops and other used tool dealers can also have good deals on used welders.

If you are considering a used welder, stick to established brands that are known for service. Lincoln and Miller’s welders dominate the used market. That’s because those welders are built to last, and the companies offer excellent service and support. You probably won’t find cheap imported welders in the used market, and you should steer clear of them if you do.

Other Equipment You Need to TIG Weld at Home

In addition to the welder, you will need some other equipment to get started welding. Very few homes or general shop tools are adequate for the kind of heavy-duty metalwork that TIG welders needed.

Personal Protective Equipment

With temperatures approaching 6000°, welding produces conditions that are harmful to the body. You need protective equipment to keep safe while welding.

  • Welder’s mask. The mask has a very dark eyeshade that keeps the arc from burning your eyes (literally). Never look at a welding arc without shielding your eyes. Using a mask rather than goggles protects the skin of your face from heat and sparks, as well. Auto-darkening masks let you see through the mask, then darken when you crack an arc.
  • Welding gloves. Ordinary garden or work gloves don’t offer enough heat protection for welding. Specially made welding gloves have layers of insulation to keep you from burning fingers on red-hot metal.
  • Welding jacket. Welders throw off lots of sparks, so a heavy leather jacket is suitable for protection. At the very least, you need a flame-retardant cotton (never nylon) shirt with long sleeves.

Pro tip: make sure to button the top button on your shirt or jacket to protect your throat. If you don’t, you can get sunburned from the arc in a hurry.

  • Long pants and boots. You also need heavy jeans or canvas pants to protect your legs and boots for your feet. 

Pro tip: professional welders prefer cowboy or wellington boots to lace-ups. The sparks from welding will eventually melt the laces out of other boots. The sparks will also melt mesh panels in hiking boots or sneakers. Thick leather boots with no laces are the way to go.

Metal Cutting

If you are doing much welding, you will probably want some kind of power tool to cut and shape metal.

  • Plasma cutters use a jet of high-intensity plasma to cut metal. The cuts are smooth and clean, but the cutters are expensive.
  • Oxy-acetylene torches use a jet of fire and oxygen to melt through metal. They are cheap and very flexible but don’t make the prettiest cuts. You also have to buy bottles of oxygen and acetylene to feed the torch.
  • Chop saws are cheap and make straight cuts at precise angles. They don’t do anything besides straight cuts, though.

Other Tools

Some other tools that come in handy include:

  • Bench grinders are useful for shaping and cleaning small pieces. They can also be used to sharpen the tungsten electrodes required for TIG welding.
  • Angle grinders do the same work as bench grinders, but you can carry the angle grinder around. They help clean surfaces on big pieces before welding. Angle grinders can also be pressed into service to do some cutting.
  • Vises and clamps are nice for holding things still while you weld on them.
  • Square for laying out projects. Once you weld a joint, it’s together. A good square helps you get the layout right before it’s too late.
  • A metal welding table is an excellent way to set up your workpiece and make sure it’s connected back to the welder. You attach the return lead from the welder to the table, then put your workpiece on the table and start welding. If you don’t already have one, a metal welding table should be one of your first welding projects.
  • Soapstone and holder. Soapstone leaves white marks on metal that shows up quickly. They can be wiped off, but it takes a little effort. Soapstone is the best way to mark up metal before welding or cutting.
  • Welding gasses. You will need argon (or sometimes helium) to TIG weld. Cutting torches require oxygen and acetylene, while MIG welders (if you have one) need carbon dioxide or argon. Welding gasses don’t ship well, so that you will need a local source for this. Many metal supply houses also sell welding gasses along with project parts.

The Home Shop Setup

Since TIG welding requires a flow of shield gas over the arc, it is best to weld inside so that the wind doesn’t blow the shield gas away. Wind and drafts are the enemies of good TIG joints. However, you also need to have good airflow in your shop. Some metals give off gasses that can be toxic in high concentrations, and the shield gas itself can be a problem if it builds up too much. Make sure your shop has a steady but calm airflow.

If you choose a welder that requires 220V, you will need to have a 220-volt outlet available. It is best if the outlet is near the breaker box. The high voltage draw can quickly heat up long electric cords. This can be a fire hazard if you don’t have the right cord feeding current to the outlet.

In addition to hot electric cords, welding puts out hot sparks and leaves metal extremely hot after welding. Make sure that any flammable chemicals in your shop are safely stored away from the welding area. This includes gasoline, paints and stains, paint thinners, and various automotive fluids. These should be stored in a closed metal cabinet while you are welding.

Practice Projects for the Home TIG Welders

TIG welding has a reputation for being difficult. It isn’t that hard, but it requires some practice to get the perfect “stack of dimes” appearance for the bead. One way to practice is to get a small metal plate and run bead after bead across the surface. You could do that, but where is the fun in that? A better way to practice TIG welding is to make shop projects.

Welding Cart

An excellent practice project is building a cart to hold your new welder and all of the equipment that goes with it. Welders aren’t light, and they require lots of other equipment. Having a wheeled cart to hold the welder, accessories, gas bottles, and other equipment will make all your welding projects much easier. It also keeps your shop tidy.

Welding Table

Once you have a cart for your welder and gear, try making a welding table. You have to connect your workpiece back to the welder to complete the circuit and get an arc. If you don’t have a table, that means clamping the piece itself to the return wire. If you build a metal welding table, you can connect the table to the welder, lay the workpiece on the table, and you are ready to weld.

You can even get fancy and build a shielded welding table. A table with walls on three sides will let you TIG weld outside without the wind interfering. Being able to work outside opens up some new opportunities for you as a welder.

Storage Rack

Once you have a cart and table, think about fabricating a storage rack for extra metal. Your shop will stay much cleaner if you have a single place to put additional pieces of metal that you don’t need. Plus, you can start referring to the extra metal as “inventory” instead of “scrap.” It sounds much more professional to tell people that a project was built from inventory instead of scrap….

Get Welding!

Once you have set up your TIG welder and built a few shop projects, you should have the skills and confidence to tackle just about anything. You are a real welder now, and the sky is the limit. Flip your mask down, crack an arc, and get welding!

Alexander Berk

A bit about myself: I am a certified international welding engineer (IWE) who worked in different welding projects for TIG, MIG, MAG, and Resistance Spot welding. Most recently as a Process Engineer for Laser and TIG welding processes. To address some of the questions I frequently got asked or was wondering myself during my job, I started this blog. It has become a bit of a pet project, as I want to learn more about the details about welding. I sincerely hope it will help you to improve your welding results as much as it did improve mine.

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