Last updated: 04/21/2020

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Welding is one of the most complex tasks, and few things are more important than having quality equipment. That way, welders can do their job to the highest standards and under any circumstances. If this is your case, we will tell you everything you need to know about wire welders in the following article.

Wire welders are high-capacity machines designed for the hardest and most demanding soldering tasks. They work with wires of different metals and gases (inert or active) that act as shields. If you want to change your old welder or are starting out with this tool, read on.

Key Facts

  • Until recently, their price relegated wire welders to the industrial field. It was very difficult for domestic users to purchase this very sophisticated and expensive equipment.
  • You should know the bits you can sharpen and those you can’t. Any metal or wood drill is easily sharpened, for instance, while the design of wall and rock drills prevents you from doing so.
  • Pay close attention to the power of your wire soldering iron, as this is a crucial factor. As a reference point, a 90-amp model allows welding up to 12 millimeters in width – the higher the amperage, the wider the weld.

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

Wire welders are highly specialized equipment originally reserved for professional purposes. Luckily for us, manufacturers have launched high-quality and affordable models for domestic use. In the section below, you can discover our selection of the best wire welders currently available on the market:

Best Wire Welder: Amazon’s Choice

The Easy Weld 261 by Forney is an affordable, durable, and efficient wire welder to complete all your soldering tasks. Designed for gasless or flux-core welding, it offers a 140 Amp output and operates with wires ranging from 0.30 to 0.35 inches in diameter. This compact tool only weighs 19 pounds, making it ideal for DIY projects at home or for taking on the go. This product comes with a 12-month warranty.

Best High-End Wire Welder

If you’re looking for something more powerful for your soldering jobs (professional or otherwise), then you will certainly find interest in Hobart’s Handler 190. With an input voltage of 230 volts and a maximum amp output of 190, this is one powerful tool you’re getting your hands on – its price is more prohibitive. You can weld materials up to 5/16 inches in a single pass while adapting the output voltage to your needs of the moment.

Best Budget-Friendly Wire Welder

Now, getting the right power tools for your home shouldn’t necessarily be so expensive if you’re looking to perform more casual tasks. SUPER DEAL’s MIG130 welder is ideal for keeping your budget in check. You can have this tool for less than $100, and it comes with a reel of welding wire and a protective mask. In addition, you can adjust current flow and wire feeding speed via the controls on the welder. High quality, low cost!

Best Dual-Voltage Wire Welder

Versatility is often key when it comes to power tools, especially for DIY lovers who take on various projects throughout the year. Delivered with a torch, flux-cored wire, and a mask and a brush, it offers an incredible duty cycle of 60% and two voltage settings – 110V and 220V. This allows you to get the power right for every new soldering job. The MIG-140 welder is compatible with wire spools of 2 and 10 pounds.

Shopping Guide: Everything You Should Know About Wire Welders

These tools are the best option when you have to weld metals that do not require high levels of melting. Their simplicity of use and high operating efficiency make them extremely useful. In the following section, we explain everything there is to know about wire welders.

Arc welding is the most productive form of soldering.
(Source: Sorapol Ujjin: 68994307/ 123rf.com)

What is a wire welder exactly?

This sophisticated piece of welding equipment allows you to perform arc welding, a process that uses a shielding gas and a consumable electrode. The arc is produced through an electrode formed by a continuous wire and the pieces to be joined. It can be protected by an inert gas (MIG) or an active gas (MAG).

Arc welding is the most productive form of soldering. The use of solid and flux-cored wires can increase the efficiency of this type of welding by up to 95%. These tools are particularly recommended for working on stable and heavy structures where high-strength welding is required. Note that argon is the most commonly used gas.

Wire welders are much more precise and powerful than other soldering irons.
(Source: Sornranison Prakittrakoon: 123728415/ 123rf.com)

What is a wire welder designed for?

Wire or arc welding is the most versatile form of soldering and allows metals to be deposited in any position at high speed. This is why it is ideal for thin to medium materials, such as aluminum alloys and steel structures. It is also very comfortable for more elaborate manual tasks.

In addition, wire welders are especially useful for heavy-duty work. This is the type of soldering used on ship and aircraft plates, as well as structures that require high resistance or that are particularly heavy.

What are the advantages of wire welders?

Wire welders are much more precise and powerful machines than other soldering irons. Compared to heat fusion or electric welding, this method offers better and more durable results, with a more efficient metal contribution. It is most often chosen by professionals for its high resistance and endurance capacity.

While they remain more expensive and harder to find, wire welders offer many advantages to the experienced user. Here is a list of some of their benefits:

  • You can weld in any position.
  • They offer the best finish and prevent material splashes.
  • You can create beautiful manual finishing.
  • Little formation of polluting and toxic gases.
  • You can weld metals with a thickness ranging from 0.7 and 6 mm without preparing the edges.
  • The process can be executed automatically or semi-automatically (it doesn’t depend on the skills of the user as much).
  • High productivity.
  • You can deposit large amounts of material – up to three times more than other types of welding – and still obtain excellent results.

These sophisticated tools allow you to perform arc welding.
(Source: Monika Wisniewska: 123389222/ 123rf.com)

What kind of gases do wire welders use?

The shielding gases used in MIG and MAG welding processes are divided into two categories: inert and active. Argon and helium are the most commonly used inert gases, as well as argon-helium mixtures. Carbon dioxide and argon-oxygen mixtures are the most popular active gases and generally offer the best results.

The qualities of the individual gases are often exploited by using their mixture as gas shielding. In that regard, you can find argon-oxygen, argon-oxygen-CO2, and argon-CO2. Adding active gases to inert ones improves the stability of the arc and the transfer of the wire metal.

Argon (Ar) Helium (He) Carbon dioxide (CO2)
Type Inert Inert Active
Origin From the air (with impurities) From the subsoil (less affordable) From the air and subsoil
Stability Good stability and arcing Less stability but greater penetration Unstable with splashing
Thermal conductivity Low Higher conductivity requiring more quantity Good thermal conductivity

Which wire material should I choose?

You should evaluate various factors before choosing the right wire for your tool. You won’t need the same to weld on a greasy and polluted surface and on a clean one. You should consider three main criteria: homogeneity, slag formation, and material.

  • Homogeneity: The chemical composition must be homogeneous throughout the wire coil. If that’s not the case, you won’t be able to create the optimal parameters to work with, and you will obtain poor results.
  • Slag formation: Look for wire coils composed of aluminum, manganese, silicon, titanium, and zirconium. They facilitate the removal of excess oxygen, forming an easily removable slag.
  • Material: You should always use the right material for each type of welding. Aluminum wire is best to work with aluminum, for example.

Wire welders are particularly useful for heavy-duty work.
(Source: Sunan Jannopparat: 78176120/ 123rf.com)

What is the best material for each type of welding?

Welding wires are marked by a series of letters and numbers. ER70S-3 and ER70S-6 wires, for instance, are used to join carbon steel parts but aren’t suitable for stainless steel parts. ER70S-3 wire works for steels that have been adequately degreased and cleaned, while ER70S-6 is used over dirty metal.

Special wires are available for welding without argon gas (or argon-carbon dioxide mixtures). However, they feature a flux core and are therefore more expensive. They also tend to produce more spatter and make it difficult to visualize the material puddle correctly, making welding less reliable.

Type of wire Applications and considerations
ER70S-6 For CO2 or CO2-argon mixture.

It offers greater penetration with CO2.

For indoor use.

You can weld thin sheets.

E71T-GS It doesn’t require gas.

For outdoor welding.

You can weld on dirty, rusty, and painted surfaces.

It reaches higher temperatures than the rest, making it suitable for 1.5 mm sheets.

ER4043

ER5356

For argon and argon-helium mixtures.

The ER5356 is more rigid and allows for better welding.

ER308

ER308L

Use with argon, helium, and CO2 mixtures.

You can weld all types of stainless steel.

What is the best diameter for a wire welder?

This is a vital factor because homogeneity in the wire diameter provides better results and more compact welding. Any change in size can cause sudden variations in current, compromising the end result.

Arc welding requires a certain level of expertise and knowledge of the process from the user. This is why you should know the right wire diameter depending on the material you are working with. Find this information in the table below:

Thickness of the material to weld 0.6 mm / 0.023 in 0.75 mm / 0.030 in 0.9 mm / 0.035 in
0.8 Yes Yes No
1 Yes Yes No
1.25 Yes Yes Yes
1.5 No Yes Yes
2 No Yes Yes
3.25 No Yes Yes
4.75 No Yes Yes
6.5 No Yes Yes

How many feet of wire are there in a wire coil?

This is a common question when choosing the most suitable wire coil for your needs. As we mentioned earlier, you should evaluate both the material and the diameter. But how many feet of wire do you need? The answer will vary, depending on the material you want to weld:

Weight (lbs) Diameter (in) Steel Stainless steel Aluminum Copper
1 0.023 720 695 2,057 623
2 0.023 1,420 1,390 4,114 1,246
10 0.023 7,200 6,950 20,570 6,230
45 0.023 31,240 30,580 90,508 27,412
1 0.03 423 407 1,210 367
2 0.03 846 814 2,420 734
10 0.03 4,230 4,070 12,100 3,670
45 0.03 18,612 17,908 53,240 16,148
1 0.035 312 300 890 270
2 0.035 624 600 1,780 540
10 0.035 3,120 3,000 8,900 2,700
45 0.035 13,728 13,200 39,160 11,880
1 0.045 190 180 5,380 165
2 0.045 380 360 10,760 330
10 0.045 1,900 1,800 53,800 1,650
45 0.045 8,360 7,920 236,720 7,260
1 0.06 105 100 300 92
2 0.06 210 200 600 184
10 0.06 1,050 1,000 3,000 920
45 0.06 4,620 4,400 13,200 4,048

Buyer’s Guide

If you have paid attention to our guide so far, you should know everything about wire welders and their main characteristics. In addition, you will be more familiar with shielding gases and welding wires. In the following section, we will delve into the main shopping criteria. We guarantee you will make the right purchase if you take them into account.

Power

The energy source will determine the power of your wire welder. Conventional models have a constant voltage supply, which is responsible for keeping the arc length continuous during welding. This means that the user must set the voltage using the power speed control.

The power source is connected to the mains voltage – be it single-phase or three-phase. It consists of a transformer between 15 and 40 volts with a current ranging from 20 to 500 amps, depending on the tool. Here is a quick guide to help you figure out the power you need:

Maximum amperage (A) 90 110 130 150 180
Maximum steel thickness (butt welding) 0.078 in 0.098 in 0.12 in 0.15 in 0.2 in
Maximum steel thickness (double-sided groove welding) 0.12 in 0.15 in 0.18 in 0.23 in 0.3 in

Type of Shielding Gas

Wire welders work in conjunction with shielding gases, which can be inert or active. They are essential to protect the displacement of oxygen during welding. Think about the gas you want to use before opting for a specific tool, as this will affect the results.

In that regard, you should consider the material to be welded, as well as the thickness and type of transfer metal of the filler metal (the wire). To help you in your decision, we have prepared the following table in which you can see the most recommended gas compositions:

Gas mixture Carbon steel Stainless steel Aluminum Copper Nickel
Ar+CO2 Thickness inferior to 0.4 in
Ar+CO2 Thickness inferior to 0.6 in
Ar+CO2 Thickness inferior to 0.6 in, spray transfer
Ar+CO2+O2 Thickness inferior to 0.23 in, spray transfer
Ar+O2 Spray transfer
Ar+He+CO2 Spray and short-circuit transfer
Ar+He+CO2+H2 Austenitic steels and short-circuit transfer
Argon Pure aluminum and alloys Sheets and plates, thickness inferior to 0.35 in Sheets and plates, thickness inferior to 0.35 in
Ar+He Thickness inferior to 0.35 in Thickness inferior to 0.23 in Thickness inferior to 0.35 in

Casing

You should evaluate the casing and all its elements before purchasing your wire welder. The best tools are tough, resistant, and well built, while remaining lightweight or integrating handles and wheels for easier transportation. The latter are particularly useful considering the weight of welders.

On the other hand, the back racks for gas cylinders will allow you to have all the equipment components together. This is a vital complement for gas welding, although you can do without it if you plan to work with a non-gas welder or with non-gas wires.

Torch

When it comes to the torch, we always recommend buying a wire welder that includes it. Although this is most often the case, there are still models that do not have it, and you will have to buy it separately, increasing the total cost of your tool. If your wire welder comes with a torch, it should be easy to change since this part will deteriorate over time.

If you plan on using your wire welder intensely and for a long time, it is best to look for models with a SCART connector. This is the universal connection system for torches. If your tool features this element, it will be easy to find and change, as well as being more affordable.

Summary

If you want to set up your own workshop, or already have one but are still using an old wire welder, the time has come to get a new one. Throughout our article, you have learned everything there is to know about wire welders, from their main advantages to their operation.

Remember all this information before choosing your tool. Don’t forget to evaluate aspects such as power and energy, torches and their connection, the type of gas, and the best wire for the material you want to solder. The ball is in your court to choose the right tool for your needs.

If you found our shopping guide on wire welders interesting and helpful, feel free to leave us a comment in the section below. You can also share this article on your social media so that others can also purchase the best wire welders on the American market.

(Source of featured image: Katarzyna Dedek: 95201030/ 123rf.com)

Why you can trust me?

Thibault Perinet Freelance Writer & World Traveler
As a literature and translation licensee and avid traveler, language has always been at the heart of my daily life. A freelance writer since 2014, I love to delve into a variety of topics that contribute to my professional and personal development. My favorite things in life? Maté in the morning, soccer with friends, and old school hip hop.