Among the major three types of welding methods, MIG (GMAW) would be the one to start with if you’re working indoors mostly. The MIG welding method is a versatile way to join complicated metals, including stainless steel and aluminum alloys. If you’re planning to get started with MIG welding as your first welding method, you’re on the right track. However, choosing the right MIG welding machine can be confusing because there is a lot to consider while shopping.
The first question you want to ask is, what size mig welder do I need while shopping because it’s the most important thing to consider. It will impact your welding experience based on what you’re welding and how you’re doing it. Stick to the article to know how does a MIG welder work and which welder you should go for.
What size mig welder do I need?
Liquification of metals and fusing them together to make a single piece; that’s what welding is. For different types of welding jobs, you need different levels and types of MIG welders. Here are the most important things to know if you’re wondering what size mig welder do I need:
Decide how much Volts you need
The first thing to consider while choosing your first MIG welder is the power input option. First, check how much voltage your home or shop current outlet delivers for you. Most of the regular houses in a residential area would be 120 Volts, where the industrial areas have 240-volt outlets. For regular welding jobs like sheet metals, a 120-volts MIG welder is just fine. If you’re working on thick metals and more industrial usage, you should consider getting a 240-volts machine. If you don’t have a 240-volts line already, get one before you start melting metals.
The inevitable Amp (Power) war
The machine runs on the Volts you draw from the outlet, but it welds with the amps it produces. It entirely depends on what type of metal you’re working on; the thicker the meal is, the higher the amps would be. The principle here is, a 140 amps MIG welder that runs on 115 volts can weld up to 1/4″ thick steel. With a 220-volts MIG welder, you can produce 200 amps to weld up to 1/2″ thick metal. Check for some mig welder under $300 to get you the maximum Amps with a higher duty cycle.
Don’t forget about the duty cycle
The duty cycle is the time the welder is spending to weld metal at a certain amperage bounded within 10 minutes. You’ll notice the duty cycle indication with the percentage in the welder’s specifications you’re getting. If you can see a 30% duty cycle at 90 amps, it means you can weld with this welder for 3 minutes in a row after resting for 7 minutes. A 40% duty cycle means you have to give it 6 minutes of resting time before continuously welding for 4 minutes. However, if you use it with the highest amps, the duty cycle decreases drastically.
Dual welding method is a good thing
MIG welding is a great welding method to work on various types and thicknesses of metal. However, the gas shielding is not suitable for outdoor works, and not every time you can use a gas shield. If you have a MIG welder with a dual welding method, you can use it with or without a gas shield. Welding with a flux core electrode without using a gas shield can help you weld cost-effectively and possibly outdoors as well.
What size of a MIG welder is good for beginners?
So, the big question altogether is, what’s the size you’re looking for in the MIG welder you’re getting the next time! Well, the answer depends on some criteria you’ll consider before going shopping. If you’re planning to weld thin sheet metal and mild steel, getting a 120-volts, 140-amps machine is just enough. However, if you have occasional bigger projects or planning to scale up, a 240-volts machine will be the safest option for you.
How does a mig welder work?
Now that you know what size of the MIG welder you’re going after, let’s get you through the working process a MIG welder has:
The MIG welding process is pretty simple. You have a machine with two wires connected to the inner circuit, one is positive, and another is negative. You connect the negative cathode to the base metal you’re working on, and the mig gun is a positive anode requiring polarity negative. Together, they create an arc and melt the electrode, fed through the liner and the tip on the MIG gun.
The arc also heats the base metal while it’s depositing the filler electrode to join them together. During the process, the machine feeds the wire, and you can control the speed of the wire along with the Volts and amps you need for higher or lower penetration.
Frequently asked questions
Here are the most frequently asked questions about MIG welding that you might find interesting:
Do gasless MIG welders work?
Can I stick weld with a MIG welder?
Can I use my MIG welder without gas?
A lot of folks come into welding and have no idea where to start, which welding method to start working with, and how it matters. MIG welding is the go-to option for various welding capabilities that can confuse a beginner, especially while selecting the size.
If you’ve also been wondering what size mig welder do I need, I hope you know what you’re looking for. In a nutshell, consider the input and output power, the feeding’s speed, and metal consideration. Using the right MIG welder can get you the best welding experience with a professional look to the final output.