Are you looking for the best 120v welders out there?
Look no more we got you covered.
If you read any review of a welder, chances are it will mention its voltage level, which makes sense. After all, this is one of the most important elements of the welder for many reasons.
That being said, while we tend to focus on bigger, more powerful welders, we all too often overlook welders that are instead at the lower end of the power spectrum.
Once you get to about 220 to 240 volts, you’re dealing with a reasonably powerful welder.
With a 150 to 200 volt unit, you’ve got something that’s about middle of the pack.
Then there are units that offer far fewer volts – but does that mean they offer a lesser experience?
Not at all. A 120v welder can be quite useful – as long as you know what you’re getting into, which is what we’re here to discuss today.
Below is a quick list of all our top products. Keep scrolling to learn more about 120v welders.
Top 6 Best 120v Welders for beginners:
1. Hobart 500559 Handler 140 MIG
Our Overall #1 Rated Pick
In a Rush? Here you can find our Overall #1 Rated Pick.
The Hobart 500559 Handler 140 MIG is the best 120v welder.
Purchase: I really like the Hobart 500559. It’s not terribly expensive but gets amazing reviews. If you are interested in this, then just follow the link to Amazon where you can see current pricing.
+ Professional grade
+ Spool gun capable
+ Includes regulator
So, without further ado, let’s take a look at what makes a good 120v welder, and how you can choose which one is right for you.
What to Expect From a 120v Welder
The point is, while tastes vary and not all that food is equally fresh or “good for you,” it would be unfair to say that you’re “wrong” to like fast food over French food, or vice versa.
Likewise, there’s nothing inherently “bad” about a less powerful welder. In fact, there are plenty of reasons to want one.
For one thing, you’ll find costs often go up exponentially with power levels.
It isn’t a perfect correlation, but it does mean the less powerful the unit, the less expensive they tend to be, making 120v options on average a lot more affordable than their 240v counterparts.
✔️ For another, these units are often lighter and a lot more accessible.
These factors combined make them a lot easier to work with for newbies and hobbyists than a heavy and hugely-expensive 220v-plus machine.
If you buy a 120v welder expecting to weld thick steel or do some of the most advanced welding work out there, you’re setting yourself up for disappointment, as they don’t have the power necessary for that.
✔️ So let’s be clear – 120v welders are not meant to handle heavy-duty jobs.
They can weld thinner pieces and can handle smaller, more hobbyist-oriented projects, but you shouldn’t expect them to melt huge slabs of steel or deal with professional-grade projects.
In fact, a dead giveaway as 120v welder limitation is the fact that this is about as much as your average home power socket can handle.
Read also: How Many Amps Do I Really Need for a MIG Welder?
Anything above that and you are working with voltages that cannot be supported by an average power socket.
✔️ Naturally, one doesn’t think of these sockets and associate them with the kind of big, industrial-scale welding work that you might expect from other, bigger models.
As such, it is fair to say that 120v models are best suited for projects that can be done at home and are thus definitely more in the DIY/hobbyist camp.
A final nice thing about 120v units is that, while higher voltages tend to skew more toward high-end MIG and TIG welders, these welders can work with MIG, TIG, Stick, and Flux Core.
Now, without further ado, let’s take a look at six of the best 120v welders on the market today:
1. Hobart 500559 Handler 140 MIG
One of the best-regarded brands in the industry, Hobart has made its name on models that are much more powerful than this, so it’s interesting to see them make a foray into the 120v – and a pretty successful one.
+ Professional grade
+ Spool gun capable
+ Includes regulator
✔️ Part of that comes from the fact that this unit offers a great deal of control, which isn’t something you find with a lot of lower powered units.
Most of the time, the lower the power levels, the more streamlined the unit. However, this unit from Hobart offers five positions that you can alter to control the flow of the arc.
✔️ This unit also has a weld gauge of up to 1/4”, which isn’t bad for a 120v welder. It also allows you to weld different stainless steel and aluminum alloys – again, not bad for a unit at just 120v.
In terms of the processes used, this model is compatible with Flux core as well as MIG. It has a 20% duty cycle at 90 amps, and an amperage range of 25 to 140, which is about right for a unit of this size.
Speaking of which, this model is on the compact side, which is definitely a plus for a hobbyist-centric model such as this. It also cools pretty easily with good air vents located on the side.
✔️ This model is also reasonably affordable at around $670. There are far less expensive options on the market and on this list, but for the good performance and great portability and overall utility you get with this product, you get what you pay for and a whole lot more with this model from Hobart.
2. Arksen MIG-130
One of the most important things to look for in a unit this low-powered is how compact it is.
After all, one of the tradeoffs of higher-powered models is how they balance power and weight.
+ Flux-cored wire-no Gas welder
+ Adjustable welding speed
+ Portable design
All that weight has to come from somewhere, and it usually translates in bigger batteries and a heavier model.
By contrast, this model is comparatively lightweight at around 36 lbs, and it measures a compact 19 x 11 x 17”.
✔️ Adding to its portability, this model comes with a carrying handle.
The outer casing is durable, and the unit itself rates highly in terms of its overall lifespan.
It is an all-around solid MIG welder for the power level, able to take on stainless steel with ease. It also features a Flux Core option, allowing you to weld outside as well.
✔️ This model offers 10 levels of wire feeding speed selection, allowing you to go as slow or fast as you want.
What’s more, you can also adjust the welding speed via knobs, giving you a lot of control over the pace at which you work.
✔️ In addition to stainless steel, this model does a good job with iron. Really, as long as you stick to slender pieces, it can do a good job with a lot of metals.
It also features two air vents that can help with heat dissipation.
As for the price, you’ll find a lot of variation here, with listings ranging as low as $99 and as high as a few hundred.
Either way, it is certainly one of the most affordable 120v welders on the market.
3. Lotos Technology TIG140
As you can tell from the title, this is a TIG unit, which means you can expect it to be more complex than a more streamlined MIG welder.
This also means you’ll be able to weld with a lot of different metals. On the whole, this is a highly versatile welder.
✔️ For a TIG welder, it is also reasonably affordable, costing “only” a few hundred dollars.
That may not sound like a lot, but high-end TIG welders can often cost upwards of hundreds or even a couple thousands of dollars, so this is definitely a bargain option in that regard.
✔️ It is also incredibly rare among TIG welders in that it is reasonably lightweight.
Again, TIG welders tend to be able to take on more heavy-duty welding, and that often comes at the expense of unit weight, making them among the heaviest on the market.
However, the exact opposite is the case here, as IGBT technology helps make this model from Lotos quite lightweight at just 12 lbs while measuring 11.8″ x 6.5″x 9.8″.
✔️ It also features a new cooling system, which can make it easier to deal with the 100-amp output.
This is also the rare model on this list that can crank things up to a higher level and work at 220v.
We still list it as a 120v model as you can use it at that level with ease, and it is priced accordingly and fits in with the others on this list, so think of that 220v setting as an extra hidden superpower for this model that can enable it to work with a broader range of metals and thicknesses than other options on this list.
That said, its leads are a bit shorter than other options listed here.
Still, with all those upsides, there’s a good chance you won’t mind.
4. Everlast PowerARC 140
Compared to the Arksen and Lotos, this model tends to be a bit pricier, costing a couple hundred dollars more than either of them.
+ Lift TIG function with standard 17 series gas valve torch
+ Simple easy to use
+ Auto adaptive hot start
That said, for that extra money, you get an arguably better duty cycle that runs at 35%, allowing you to weld for longer without stopping.
✔️ It can create and sustain a smooth, high-quality arc with ease.
What’s more, this unit is highly portable at just less than 25 lbs and measuring 20 x 12.5 x 13.5”.
That makes it a lot more accessible than some of the other, larger models on this list, and can thus make it a better option if you are looking to take your welding hobby on the road.
✔️ It also features an auto start function, which can get the model going more quickly and easily for newbies while reducing the risk of electrodes sticking.
This model also features a clear, easy-to-read digital display,
✔️ As for the welding power itself, this is another versatile option that can weld thinner options while also coming with a more stripped down TIG and DC setting that allows you to weld stainless steel.
It isn’t on par with a more “professional” TIG welder, of course, but while this model may be more expensive than others on this list, it is also more affordable than many TIG options.
Add to that a handle on the torch for extra grip and a manual gas valve, and there’s a lot to like about this multifaceted welder.
5. Alpha TIG200X
Yet again we come to another TIG welder, though this time it comes with a Stick option as well.
In fact, if you are looking for a budget Stick welder, especially one at this starter level of 120v, this may be one of the best models to choose.
+ Advanced Inverter Technology with PWM (Pulse Width Modulation) Using IGBT technology
✔️ It also comes with a foot pedal, which is an absolute godsend when it comes to changing temperatures on the fly while welding.
This unit may be compact at just 19 x 23 x 12”, but don’t let that fool you – it’s an absolute behemoth at 69 lbs. Needless to say, this is not a portable option.
That said, as mentioned above, extra weight can sometimes mean extra power, and that’s the case here, since this unit can indeed be plugged into an external generator and be switched over from a 120v to a 220v machine, allowing you to do some much more intense welding.
✔️ That said, this unit is at its best when working within those 120v limits and on thinner pieces of metal, hence its place on our list.
6. Forney Easy Weld 298 Arc
As with Hobart, Forney is a name that has won respect in the industry for a long time.
This model is another good Stick welder, and is also TIG capable, though you need to buy separate attachments for that.
+ Great price range
+ Generator friendly
+ Ultra lightweight
✔️ On the one hand, this model is at the low end power-wise even for this list, with just 90 amps output. On the other hand, it also has a good duty cycle of 30% at that level, so you can weld longer.
However, it does not come with a foot pedal either.
All of this helps underscore why this unit is relatively inexpensive at just under $200.
It is lower-powered and doesn’t come with some vital accessories, but that’s because it’s targeted at those looking to learn on a less powerful and costly unit.
✔️ If that’s you, this model can be a great introduction to a fantastic welder brand, and as you become more familiar with welding, you can purchase those TIG and foot pedal add-ons to heighten this unit’s capabilities.
TIG Welder Performance at Low Amperage
We always focus on how much amperage a welding unit can put out but what about the other end of the spectrum? Sometimes a little goes a long way, and that’s definitely true with low amperage welding.
That said, when welding at lower amperages (think less than 10 amps), stability is very important. Welding at these levels can offer many benefits, including:
👉 Superior stability and control over your arc
👉 Ease of starting the arcs
👉 Better cater fill ability
When working with thinner materials while MIG or especially TIG welding, a high starting amperage risks warping or burning clean through the metal in question.
You need the ability to start your arc with a slow burn and high stability, high-frequency approach. That’s where low amperage welding comes in.
Also essential is the ability to start an arc without high-frequency (or “hot”) starts as this is what can cause your torch to burn right through thin material.
Finesse is key to handling these delicate pieces of metal, which is why arc stability is so important.
You need a light touch, such as it takes to thread a needle, rather than sledgehammer-esque brute force.
That’s why it’s essential that your arc is stable and dependable from start to finish.
A common technique is to start with low amperage, gradually increase it, and then drop the output amperage as you gradually fill the weld crater and finish the piece. This prevents the metal from cracking or filling too quickly.
Done this way, low amperage welding can help you achieve your highest of delicate TIG welding ambitions.
Simple Operation and Ergonomic Design for TIG Welders
TIG welders require a high degree of skill to use. That being said, while these machines are complex, using them doesn’t have to be complex.
On the contrary, a user-friendly layout is essential for any welding machine, TIG welders included.
👉 That’s why your unit has a slot for and, preferably, comes with, a foot pedal.
This can help control the amperage and heat used and emitted by the unit more easily and quickly, allowing you to do so without stopping or looking up from your welding.
That naturally allows for a more fluid welding process. The same holds true for accessible touch panels designed for that purpose as well.
👉 This is especially useful if you are welding something delicate, such as aluminum or thin pieces.
A foot pedal is especially helpful for performing the minute adjustments necessary for welding fine pieces and softer metals.
While hand controls can do the job as well, it isn’t as easy, for the same reason that it’s obviously far easier to regulate the speed of your car’s gas and brake functions with your feet than your hands. Welding works the same.
For those who are serious about welding, sensitive heat controls and foot pedals, in particular, are more than accessories, they are necessities.
Essential Criteria for Assessing Overseas TIG Welders
The past few years have seen a wave of TIG welders make landfall from overseas.
On the one hand, it’s wonderful to see more interaction among the international welding community as welders in different countries share their passion, techniques, and tools with one another.
On the other hand, however, while some of these overseas welders are wonderful, others are… well, not.
So how can you tell the good from the bad?
Things to Consider
When considering overseas TIG welders (or any welding units, for that matter) some of the most important factors to consider include:
That last one is especially key and you’ll want to take care to distinguish between welders that operate below 200 amps, mid-range models, and those that can crank it up to amperage levels topping 250.
👉 In addition, you’ll want to distinguish between features that are optional (such as foot pedals and add-ons for other nozzles) and those that are essential (the TIG nozzle itself and settings themselves).
In terms of price, you get what you pay for but this doesn’t mean that you want to pay an arm and a leg either.
Your price range should ideally reflect your intended uses.
👉 If you plan on using this model for DIY and hobbyist fun, a budget option with MIG add-ons might be a good choice.
On the other hand, if you’re using this for professional ends, a dedicated, more powerful, and likely more expensive unit is probably prudent.
This is one of the most important things to consider when choosing a TIG welder, overseas or otherwise.
How much power do you need? Wherever possible, a wide amperage range is preferable.
Measuring this against your price range is the key consideration when choosing any TIG welder.
👉 For example, a TIG welder with an amperage between 5 and 230 amps can take on everything from 1/4” aluminum to 24-gauge steel.
Last but not least, reputation matters so check and see what welders in the US and abroad think of both this model and the company selling it.
Following these tips can help you find great TIG welders “Here, There, and Everywhere.”
Best 120V Welders FAQs
Let’s close out this page about 120V welders with answers to some of your most frequently-asked questions about them!
1. How Portable Is the Unit?
Given the fact that we are working with models that are 120v in nature, and thus units that tend to be smaller, portability is probably a big factor in your decision.
With the exception of the Alpha, all of the units on this list are relatively portable, with the Lotos and Everlast deserving special mention for their low weight.
You also want to look out for carrying handles, as those can make it much easier to haul a machine around.
That said, durability counts as well. You don’t want a portable machine to break apart as it rattles around in your car.
Look for models with sturdy exteriors, which you’ll find with options such as the Hobart.
2. What About the Duty Cycle?
This is essential for allowing you to weld for longer periods of time before the model overheats.
The higher the percentage, the better. On this list, the Everlast wins the crown with a 35% duty cycle, though the inexpensive Forney with its 30% duty cycle bears mention as well.
Read also: What Is a Welder Duty Cycle?
3. What Projects Are 120v Welder-Friendly?
Again, these welders are typically designed with thinner metals and more hobbyist-friendly, casual projects in mind.
Things such as welding for sculpting or DIY projects, more than industrial joints for supporting entire structures, are the projects best suited to a 120v welder.
So after all of that, which of these 120v units are best for you?
Well, to return to our earlier point, it’s all about your expectations.
The Alpha is, in fact, “the alpha and the omega” here in terms of raw power, though that’s cheating somewhat.
It offers the most power by far as well as great Stick options, but this list is for what these models can do at 120v.
On that basis, the Hobart, Everlast, and Lotos can all lay claim to being incredibly versatile, well-rounded, and highly portable choices.
The Everlast and Lotos also have good cooling features and duty cycles to keep them cooler for longer.
The Forney, meanwhile, is a great option for anyone looking to use their 120v unit as an affordable beginner’s tool.
There are plenty of things to look for in these models, because there’s a lot a 120v welder can accomplish.
As long as you know what to expect, these models are like David defeating Goliath – big things coming in smaller packages, underdog units worth rooting for and welding with.
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