What Welder to Buy For Beginners? (Here Is Why)

what welder to buy for beginner

Have you ever wondered what welder you should buy as a beginner? Well, we got you covered.

Many welding contractors buy their equipment, while others exclusively rent. Nowadays, it’s becoming increasingly more common in the welding industry for welders to rent their equipment. However, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t perks to buying and owning your equipment.

Do welders need their own equipment? No, welders don’t need their own equipment. Some welders rent their welding equipment. Most welders figure out their budget to determine if renting or owning equipment is better for them.  Depending on what company you work for, some employers supply equipment.

If you decide to buy your first welder as a beginner, please consider how often you’ll be using the equipment, how much gear you need, what your jobs require, and your finances. After we discuss that, we’ll talk about welding equipment must-haves. However, MIG welder is most recommended for beginners, it is much easier to use as MIG is a semi-automatic or automatic process. 

Best MIG Welder For Beginner

When it comes to selecting the best MIG welder for beginners, there are some factors to consider such as the specific type of welding, budget, and level of experience.

MIG welding is an excellent choice for beginners due to its ease of use and versatility. The Weldmark MIG 25-140 and the Lincoln SP 140T are two highly recommended MIG welders for home use.

The Weldmark MIG 25-140 is a well-built and portable welder capable of welding up to 3/16” steel in a single pass, while the Lincoln SP 140T offers a wide 30-140 amps output range.

How Much Does a Beginner Welding Setup Cost?

The cost of a beginner welding setup can range from $1300-$2500, depending on the type of welding and the equipment needed. For beginners, MIG welding is a good choice due to its ease of use and versatility.

The cost for a MIG welder starts at $250, but cheap machines may have problematic wire feed mechanisms, so it’s important to invest in a quality machine. In addition to the cost of the welder, consumables such as welding wire and shielding gas should also be considered, with prices starting at $70 or more per unit.

Do Welders Need Their Own Equipment?

When figuring out whether you should rent or buy your equipment as a welder, you’ll want to consider a few key points. We’ll cover those points in detail below. Some employers provide equipment, while others don’t. It all depends on your status with the company, and whether you’re working as an independent contractor or not. Typically, independent contractors must purchase or rent all of their equipment.

Related reading: Arc Welding Tools and Equipment List | Buyers Guide

How Often Will You Use Your Equipment?

You’ll need to consider how often you’ll use your equipment, and what equipment you’ll need for any given job when trying to figure out whether you want to rent or own your welding equipment. Ask yourself how often you use specific equipment.

Do you need your tools monthly, daily, and all-day each day? Also, consider whether you need the correct equipment to be ready right away, and how necessary that might be for your project.

Related reading: Where Do Welders Work?

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For instance, if you cannot perform a specific repair without a generator available to you, you might disrupt your scheduled needs. If you tend to use your equipment often, meaning you have a high level of equipment utilization, then you may want to consider purchasing your equipment.

However, if you have a low level of equipment utilization, and you won’t need your tools once your task is done, then renting might be the better option for you.

Companies usually have core products that they use daily, and always bring with them to job sites. If you’re a welder working for a particular company, then you may be supplemented by your company with rental equipment (for example renting from Homedepot) for a specific project need.

That’s a more regular process when work is transient, and jobs can be spaced great distances apart from each other. Some welders find it easier to rent equipment in various cities rather than figuring out how to move tools from job site to job site.

Also, if you wind up owning a massive number of tools, like a fleet of a hundred welders, then you’ll also need to consider the following:

  • The maintenance of your equipment
  • How often those tools need repair
  • Transporting your equipment from the job site to the job site as needed.

Considering those factors, owning too many of your tools can wind up becoming a relatively costly endeavor, since the following costs money when dealing with equipment?

  •  Maintenance
  • Repair
  • Transport

On the other hand, if you rent, you may wind up with more flexibility and a more convenient schedule. You also won’t be responsible for maintaining, repairing, or transporting that equipment. So, if you like things to be more portable, then renting may be the best option for you.

Related reading: How to Start & Grow A Welding Business In 11 Steps

Welding Power Sources

Another factor you’ll need to assess when trying to figure out whether you should rent or buy your equipment is the amount of welding power sources that will be necessary when you are at a job site. For instance, if your welding company needs to build a power plant or work on a scheduled plant shutdown, that type of job may need one hundred to three hundred welding arcs.

When you need to meet a demand increase like this, you may need to rent your equipment so that you don’t wind up with the monetary burden of buying a massive fleet of tools. Whether you decide to rent or buy, remember that many projects require:

  • Several welders
  • Running one inverter machine
  • Running a generator

Making sure you have this type of equipment will help reduce your overall costs and also bring down the problem of job site congestion. You can also consider using diesel engine-driven welders, which can make it easier for you to bring a standard fuel to each job site instead of multiple types of energy.

Considering the use of a rack of plug-in welding power sources can help if you plan before you wind up in a job site that has a confined area. A four or six-arc rack that supplies inverter welding power sources only needs one power cord ran from a generator to a power outlet. That helps bring down the cost of installation, and also reduces job site noise if you compare that to using four individual welders that are engine driven.

Related reading: Portable Welding Machine Buyer’s Guide: 5 Things to Look For

What are Your Welding Technology Requirements?

If your employer doesn’t offer equipment, you’ll need decide whether you want to rent or own your welding equipment. Think about the welding technology you’ll need to finish the job quickly and effectively. You don’t want to limit what you can do by owning or renting tools that you don’t need or that doesn’t allow you to increase your productivity at the job site.

For example, if you only need one engine drive with a stick or carbon arc output, you’ll be able to rent and find that type of equipment easily. On the other hand, it may better to purchase your equipment if you often work with welding tools that are more specialized like:

  • Lightweight, portable welding equipment
  • A premium multi-process arc
  • A strong power generator

Most rental houses and welding supply distributors realize the necessity of offering the most recent welding technology to help their customers work with efficiency. As a result, there is generally a lot of welding equipment that you can rent from a rental distributor.  Most welding supply distributors will offer several different types of equipment, including:

  • TIG welders
  • MIG welders
  • Multi-process welders
  • Engine-driven welders
  • Cutting equipment.

Related reading: 9 Different Types of Welding Processes & Their Advantages

Welding technology is always evolving, and changes in the industry often happen quickly. Renting  can be an excellent way to try out the latest and greatest technology at a low cost. For instance, ArcReach technology, designed by the Miller Electric Manufacturing Company, is now offered in many welders, including:

  • Engine-driven welders
  • Engine-driven generators
  • XMT 350 FieldPro inverter welders

Using this type of welder can allow you to modify the welding process as well as the parameters so that you can easily get to the right spot of the weld remotely or using a wire feed. That way, you eliminate the need to walk back to your power source each time you need to make adjustments to something. Walking less, means you’ll save more time on the job site, and that will also save you a lot of money.

As long as you select an up-to-date welding supply distributor or rental house to work with, you’ll be able to obtain some experience and knowledge of new equipment before you purchase it. That way, you can make comparisons before you spend your money. Some rental companies will also allow you to lease your equipment if you want to stay in line with the most recent technological developments in the welding industry.

You’ll also need to remember that trends in the welding industry also often dictate equipment needs. We’ve seen a lot of experienced welders retire recently, and that means we see less skilled welders in the workforce nowadays. However, the good thing about those less experienced welders is that they already learned about the new technology in school. That means other welders will need to have access to that new technology to compete with the younger generation.

Financial Considerations

Most contractors will look around and then compare the purchase and rental costs of the particular tools that they need. However, what’s typically forgotten in this process is the overall cost of managing that equipment. For instance, if a company located in Chicago successfully bids on a project in St. Louis, they’d then have to consider the logistical management of that assignment and how much it will cost to transport their welding equipment across three hundred miles.  

On the other hand, if a company is proficient at managing its fleet, or has a department that’s dedicated to this, then buying the welding equipment can typically cost less. However, if you do decide to rent your tools, that can be written off as a business expense. Or you can simply add the cost of renting into the total job cost and recoup your expenses. Many welders already do this.

Several financial factors need to be considered when factoring in the cost of managing your equipment. Those factors include:

  • Capital expenses
  • Your utilization rate of the equipment
  • The interest rate on the equipment if you are financing or leasing your tools
  • Costs for safety incidents
  • Depreciation of the equipment if you own it
  • Costs of transportation
  • Costs of storage
  • Cost to maintain the tools, including parts and labor
  • Rental rates, if you are renting the tools
  • Any tax incentives you may receive if you buy the equipment

If you are planning on renting your tools monthly, those monthly rental costs can range anywhere from one hundred to five thousand dollars. Of course, that all depends on the kinds of tools you need and what you’ll be renting. At the same time, the costs for buying the equipment can vary depending on the tools you plan to purchase, and the seller that you are purchasing the equipment from at that time.

If you are considering renting your tools, you’ll get the benefit of being a more agile company. By renting the equipment, you can then swap out gear as the tools you need for each job change. That prevents you from wasting money if the demand for certain types of equipment decreases. However, you will have one disadvantage because you won’t own the equipment so that you won’t have as many assets with value.

Related reading: Do Welders Make Good Money? | Highest Paying Welding Jobs

Should You Rent or Buy?

In the welding industry, there is always pressure to increase your team’s productivity and efficiency. So, many welding companies take the time to analyze how they can set themselves apart from the rest of the competition. The desire to improve productivity is even more important nowadays because many welding companies are currently experiencing a skilled labor shortage. Put simply; there just aren’t enough new welders around to meet the demands in the welding industry.

Before you make your next bid, you need to take a close look at your equipment costs and analyze that against your needs. You’ll also need to consider trying out any new welding technologies that might help you and your team become more proficient as you complete jobs.

The decision to rent or buy will depend on the types of jobs you perform, and how often you need certain types of equipment. Some welders even use a combination of owning tools they frequently use, while renting others that they don’t use as frequently. If you know you need to be flexible because you travel far distances, then renting might be better for you. However, if you use certain tools all the time, you may just want to purchase them. The choice is up to you.

What Equipment Will You Need?

Now that we’ve covered the benefits of both renting and buying your welding tools, we’ll review some of the types of equipment you’ll need to always bring with you to any job site. If you are new to welding, don’t worry. We created this list with both newbies and the experienced welder in mind. Most of the tools listed below you’ll frequently use in your welding projects, which means you may want to consider purchasing them merely. However, the choice is up to you.

Related reading: Personal Protective Equipment for Welders – PPE | List, and Requirements

Welding Magnets

Welding magnets are an essential tool that you’ll need for all of your welding projects because they are very versatile. With welding magnets, you can:

  • Hold just about anything in place
  • Create 90-degree angles for your metal pieces.

Welding magnets are great to use when building things like

  • Welding frames for tables
  • Firepit grates, etc.

Speed Square

Another tool you’ll need for every welding project is a speed square. For example, if you are working on a long piece of square tubing and you need to remove twelve inches from it, you can grab your speed square and use it on that piece. With your speed square, you’d make a mark on your tubing, indicating your cut. You’ll then have a 90-degree angle cut measured out and ready to go.

You can also use your speed square to make a 45-degree angle cut on steel tubing. To do that, you just move your speed square until you see it hit the 45-degree angle mark. Then, you’d mark where you are going to cut, and cut the piece.

An Angle Glider

Angle grinders are another versatile that you’ll probably want to own because you’ll use it on numerous welding projects. Angle gliders work well whenever you need to

  • Grind your weld
  • Smooth your weld
  • Cut a piece of metal

Angle gliders are also an affordable tool, so it makes sense to purchase one. You can typically buy one for about fifteen dollars.

MIG Pliers

MIG pliers work well for several functions, including:

  • Removing the hot nozzle from your gun.
  • Removing the contact tip from your gun.
  • Clipping your wire.
  • Cleaning weld spatters off the interior of your MIG nozzle.

MIG pliers are such a versatile tool, and you can use them for so many things, you’ll wind up using them on every job. So again, it makes sense to purchase this item.

Sheet Metal Gauge

At every welding job site, there will come a time when you need to figure out how thick the metal you are working with is. Many welders also bring along a chart that tells them what setting they need to use to weld metals of different thicknesses. However, it can be challenging to eyeball how thick a piece of metal is. That’s where your sheet metal gauge will come in.

To use the sheet metal gauge, you simply slide the openings over your metal workpiece. After you’ve done that, the indicator gives you a reading. A sheet metal gauge works as a handy tool when you have a lot of metal lying around your workspace, and you don’t know how thick each piece is.

A sheet metal gauge will help you improve your efficiency and productivity by letting you instantly know the thickness of your metal and taking all of the guesswork out of the equation. That leaves you with far less time for error, which can set you back hours, or even, days.

Recommended Reading

How to Test a Welding Transformer in 10 Steps

How to Cut Metal with a Welder in 8 Steps

What is a Multi-Process Welder, and When do You Use It?

David Harper

David is the Co-Founder and Senior Editor at weldingtroop.com. David's an experienced fitter and tuner/welder who's passionate about helping others develop in life through new skills and opportunities.

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