Last updated: 04/22/2020

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Welding is one of the most common tasks in the construction sector and for DIY enthusiasts of different levels. In fact, you may even need to weld something for domestic purposes. The world is continually evolving, and tools are no different. Inverter welders have come to revolutionize conventional soldering.

The reliability in the workplace was strongly questioned when this type of welder first appeared on the market. Doubts often arise when new technologies are introduced, but inverter welders have established themselves as efficient tools over the years.

Key Facts

  • Inverter welders have revolutionized a task that is fundamental in the construction and do-it-yourself sectors. These tools have even positioned themselves as a more efficient and, above all, a lighter alternative to their conventional counterpart.
  • If you’ve never had the idea of doing welding work on your own, it is probably because you thought it was reserved for professionals, or you didn’t want to invest in a large tool. Nowadays, the vast array of inverter welders on the market means that anyone can solder.
  • There are always vital criteria to consider to determine the overall quality and intended use of a tool you purchase. In the case of inverter welders, these aspects will include power, electrode size, and technology used.

Our Selection: The Best Inverter Welders on the U.S. Market

If you have never used welding tools or equipment, we know just how difficult it can be to choose the right product. This is why we have selected the very best models currently available on the market just for you. You can learn more about these inverter welders and why users love them in the section below.

Best-Selling Inverter Welder

DEKOPRO’s MMA160A is an Amazon Best Seller and a truly versatile inverter welder that will satisfy your soldering needs. Capable of welding various types of steel, as well as cast iron, it features adjustable amperage ranging from 10 to 160 A. Simply turn the knob to the desired amount. Its construction is particularly sturdy, so you can take it anywhere with you. In addition, this model has a duty cycle of 60%.

Best Inverter Welder on a Budget

if you’re looking to get your hands on an inverter welder for domestic or DIY purposes but don’t want to spend that much on it, then this product is perfect for you. For less than $100, you can purchase this portable dual-voltage tool that weighs a mere 5 pounds. With a duty cycle of 60%, it is compatible with 1.6 and 3.2-mm electrodes and comes with an electrode holder, an earth clamp, and an adapter cord.

Best Inverter Welder: Amazon’s Choice

Why has Amico’s ARC-160D become Amazon’s Choice in the category? With dozens of positive ratings and quality reviews, this tool offers a maximum amperage of 160 A and features an LCD display for increased ease of use. Designed to operate with acid or basic electrodes, it includes various protective functionalities. This model also has a duty cycle of 60% at 230 volts. Note that 4 electrodes are delivered with the tool.

Best Mid-Range Inverter Welder

Last but not least, this inverter welder by ZENY is a good compromise between quality, versatility, and affordability. Like other tools on this list, this heavy-duty model has a duty cycle of 60%, combined with a power efficiency reaching 90%. The 20-160A MMA stick welder is ready to use straight out of the box, in which you will find an electrode holder, a work clamp, and an input power adapter cable.

Shopping Guide: Everything You Should Know About Inverter Welders

Basic knowledge is essential when it comes to tools: what they do, how they work, and what types are available. This is the absolute best way to evaluate the market and find the model that best suits your needs. In the following section, we have answered the most frequently asked questions regarding inverter welders to steer you in the right direction.

Inverter welders use sophisticated silicon-based technology, unlike copper or aluminum transformers and rectifiers.
(Source: Andrei Lavrinov: 115052518/ 123rf.com)

What are inverter welders exactly?

These relatively new and innovative tools offer a number of advantages that the conventional welders most of us know cannot. Unlike copper or aluminum-based transformers and rectifiers, inverter welders use sophisticated silicon-based technology.

One of their biggest perks is that they are small, compact, and portable, so you can easily carry them like a light suitcase. They require much smaller transformers and are, therefore, stylish and lightweight. This is a massive change from conventional soldering irons that are notoriously sturdy and cannot fit into tight spaces.

What is the difference between an inverter and a traditional welder?

There are often several types of the same tool, which means that each one has distinctive characteristics that tailor it to specific uses. This is why it is essential to compare the main differences between an inverter welder and its predecessor, the traditional soldering iron. You can find them in the table below:

Inverter welder Traditional soldering iron
Technology used Based on silicon Based on aluminum and copper transformers
Current type Direct (DC) Alternating (AC)
Weight and size Light and compact Heavy and large
 Mobility Portable Fixed
Power From 55 to 250 A From 55 to +250 A.
Energy consumption Low High
Output adjustment From 10 to 100% Up to 3 settings
Durability Medium Long
Components Upgradeable Not upgradeable
Cost of repair High Low

What are the most commonly used welding processes today?

Since the invention of this tool and throughout its history, a variety of welding processes have been used. As you can imagine, some are more popular and more widely used than others. In that regard, we can identify 4 main processes: MMA, MIG, TIG, and FCAW welding.

  • MMA welding (known as SMAW): It uses a flux-coated consumable electrode to place the weld into the original material.
  • MIG welding (known as GMAW): This method uses a wire electrode on a reel that is automatically fed at a preselected and constant speed.
  • TIG welding (known as GTAW): This arc welding process uses a non-consumable tungsten electrode to solder.
  • FCAW welding: Similar to MIG welding, it requires a wire feed process that differs in that it doesn’t need a shielding gas.
MMA welding MIG welding TIG welding FCAW welding
Suitable environments: Dirty, dusty, or outdoor Indoor and clean Indoor, controlled, and clean Windy and dusty exteriors
Suitable materials: Thick, dirty, and rusty Thin metals Fine aluminum and non-ferrous materials Thick metals
 Speed: Moderate to high High Low Very high
Difficulty of use: Moderate Very easy Difficult Easy

Which type of welder best suits me?

This is undoubtedly a hotly debated topic among professional welders, and it’s all about picking the best welder for your personal use. That means that our best answer is that it depends. How you plan on using the welder, the conditions in which you will do so, and even your personal taste all influence your decision. The following table can help you get an idea of which type of welder you should go for:

Inverter welders are more suitable if: Traditional welders are more suitable if:
You want to solder with different existing processes with the same machine (MMA, MIG, TIG or FCAW). You only need one process to solder.
You need to move your tool from one place to another frequently. You don’t need to move the machine at all.
You need to solder different materials or types of metal. You make the same welding every time.
You need to adjust the power you are going to work with very precisely. You only require a maximum of 3 levels of adjustment.
You like the modern look, touch screens, and adjustment parameters. You like the simplicity of a tool with two or three knobs.
You mostly solder in indoor and controlled environments. You solder outside in dusty or dirty environments.

Can welding be dangerous?

Welding tasks can present various risks, both to those who perform it and those standing in the vicinity. This is why it is vital that you are familiar with the risks and dangers posed by soldering. That way, you will know the necessary protective measures to take, which we will look at in a moment.

  • Electrical shock: This is the most severe danger of welding and can lead to serious injury and even death, either from direct discharge or from a fall from height after a discharge. You also run the risk of secondary electrical shock if you touch the welding circuit or electrode at the same time as you touch the metal you are soldering.
  • Noise risks: You will be exposed to loud and prolonged noise while welding. Any noise above 85 dB (decibels) is considered loud, and welding activities such as flame cutting and air arcing can produce sounds over 100 dB. Regular or immediate exposure to them can cause permanent hearing loss.
  • Exposure to UV and IR radiation: Staring at the intense UV light produced by welding, without adequate personal protective equipment (PPE) or suitable welding curtains, can lead to a corneal burn. The severity of the injury will vary depending on the distance, duration, and angle of penetration. Long-term exposure to arc flashes may also cause cataracts and loss of vision.
  • Exposure to fumes and gases: Welding will expose you to invisible gases, including ozone, nitrogen oxides, chromium and nickel oxides, and carbon monoxide that can easily penetrate your lungs. The resulting damage can be very serious, depending on the gas or fume, the concentration, and the duration of your exposure.
  • Burning: The combination of high-temperature welding arcs, UV rays, and molten metal means that you are exposed to severe burns when soldering. These potentially serious burns can affect the skin or eyes and can happen in an instant.

Inverter welders are ideal for indoors and controlled environments.
(Source: Yuri Minaev: 123846281/ 123rf.com)

What are the advantages of inverter welders?

Many people still doubt that these tools have such great benefits and have totally overtaken conventional soldering irons. That being said, inverter welders have become the preferred choice of users because of the advantages they offer. You can compare the pros and cons in the table below:

Advantages
  • Small, compact, and portable
  • Sophisticated and lightweight silicon transformer
  • They use high-volume solderable gate IGBT transistor
  • They consume less energy
  • Standard household couplers are compatible
  • They operate with lower voltages
  • Electronically adjustable output power
  • The power adjustment range is very wide
Disadvantages
  • The maintenance is more expensive
  • More complex structure
  • More electronic components

Buyer’s Guide

The use of power tools involves various complex systems or circuits to achieve quality results. Since inverter welders can be tricky to start with, it is essential that you master some of their most basic criteria. In the following section, we will delve into the main aspects and functionalities of these tools to help you get started right away.

Process Type (Technology)

The type of welding you want to perform is the very first criterion that you should take into account. You need to be clear about the technology to use depending on the material you want to solder, as well as the conditions in which you are going to work. Consider the characteristics of each process to make your final decision.

The most affordable inverter welders are usually designed to use MMA technology. That being said, you can find various models that operate using different technologies, depending on the range, manufacturer, and sophistication of the tool. Keep in mind that these inverter welders tend to be more expensive.

Inverter welders are small, compact, and portable tools.
(Source: Sasin Tipchai: 39640722/ 123rf.com)

Amperage & Adjustable Power Level

The amperage of the device will determine the power that your machine works with. While this isn’t always the case, you can generally assume that a more powerful tool will provide better performance. The amperage of inverter welders ranges from 100 to 250 A, and it affects the power levels that you can adjust.

These tools often have a minimum amperage they can operate with, starting at 10 A and up to the maximum amperage allowed. If you need to work at various intensities and levels, we strongly encourage you to opt for an inverter welder with a broader range – 20 to 200 A, for instance.

Duty Cycle

The duty cycle is a crucial aspect, as it defines the number of minutes during which a tool can safely produce weld current over a 10-minute period. For example, a 140 A welder with a 60% duty cycle must rest for at least 4 minutes after 6 minutes of continuous soldering.

Pay very close attention to the specifications of the model you plan on buying. Many manufacturers of welding equipment will classify their products based on their ability to generate maximum possible power, even though they can only produce that level of power for a short period of time.

Inverter welders use normal household couplers.
(Source: Wirapong Samlee: 62612382/ 123rf.com)

Electrode Diameter & Types

The electrode creates the arc, protects the molten pool, and joins the molten material of the base metal when consumed, thus constituting the weld. They come in standardized diameters, the most common being 1.6 mm, 2.0 mm, 2.5 mm, 3.25 mm, 4.0 mm, and 5 mm. You are advised to choose a tool that allows a wide range of these diameters for increased versatility.

The types of electrodes are identified based on their coating: cellulose, rutile, iron powder, or mineral silicates, for instance. Note that some inverter welders are not to be used or do not perform well with specific electrodes. It is essential that you pay attention to these aspects before making your purchase. In that regard, your best option is to choose a tool that can handle as many types as possible.

Accessories

The accessories included with the tool can be a deciding factor if you end up hesitating between two equivalent inverter welders. These tools often come with a protective case for easy and safe transport, as well as cables and clamps. Some even include protective gear and a brush, among others.

Summary

Like most new technologies, inverter welders arrived on the market with their share of issues. However, they have become capable and reliable tools over the years, and many professional welders now prefer them over other types. This is in great part due to their numerous advantages and overall versatility.

Welding is a process that presents many dangers and risks. You must be aware of them and use the appropriate protective gear and precautionary measures. Throughout our guide, we have given you the basic knowledge you need to get started with these tools. However, we invite you to investigate further if you plan on dedicating or spending a lot of time on this activity.

We hope that you have found this shopping guide useful and informative. If that’s the case, feel free to share it on your social media so that your friends and family can also learn more about inverter welders. You can also let us know your opinion in the comments section below, and we will be happy to get back to you!

(Source of featured image: Canoness: 20961175/ 123rf.com)

Why you can trust me?

Rebecca Campbell Construction & Home Remodeling Expert
Rebecca is a real hands-on type of girl. She took over her father’s small company that specializes in construction and home remodeling. Not only does she manage all the projects her company takes on, but she also loves to get her hands dirty.