By Jayden Mark
Tungsten Inert Gas (TIG) welders are considered by many to be the king of welders. This is the welding process of choice in the manufacturing industry. The reasons for this are numerous. TIG welding produces the cleanest welds, with no slag or splatter. TIG welders can be used on any type of metal, they don’t require welding rods or wire. TIG welders are the best for thin metal and very precise.
Many home users shy away from TIG welders because they take some time to master. While TIG welding may not be the easiest, there are certain metalworking tasks where a TIG welder is the best way to go. For the DIY or hobbyist metalworker, combination TIG stick welders can be the perfect solution. You have the ease of a stick welder for more common repair jobs; yet have the option of a TIG welder when a more delicate approach is needed.
If you’re in search of a good TIG welder for your professional or home shop, or simply want the best TIG welder for the money, we’ve compiled a selection of the best, top-rated, TIG welders in their respective classes.
Many of the top welders in this review are chosen for their value for money, the best budget TIG welders. Others have been singled out as the very best for the professional, or the DIY metalworker who does more than the occasional hobby project or repair. Whether it be about price, or performance, all of the products in this best TIG welder review, have something to offer. Something separates them from the crowd.
No matter what your TIG welding needs may be, I’m confident you’ll find the ideal machine amongst those chosen for this review. We’ve done the research based technical specifications, brands, and the opinions expressed in customer reviews and the general opinions of people who have used these welders. This should give you a good deal of confidence when buying a new TIG welder.
Of the seven best TIG welders chosen for this review, I’d sum them up as follows :
The first three TIG welders I’ll be reviewing, can be considered amongst the best for the price. While their specifications may differ in some areas, they are all reasonably priced TIG welders. These machines can be seen as the best for most home shops and small professional shops. These are good quality TIG welders costing well under $1,000.
Number four on the list of TIG welders being reviewed is the only cheap TIG welder that we’ve chosen. It’s not easy to find an inexpensive TIG welder that’s worth buying. While the Amico Power TIG welder that we’ll be reviewing is certainly not an industrial grade machine, it is a perfect entry level TIG welder for beginners and occasional metalworkers. This is one of the few TIG welders under $500 that is of a reasonable quality standard.
The last three TIG welders feature amongst the very best 200A TIG welders. While these are the most expensive options amongst those under review, they are not the most expensive that you can buy. In that sense, they are still easy on the budget for this class of professional grade TIG welder. Home users, looking for a high quality TIG welder at a more reasonable price, will appreciate this. They can also hold their ground in a professional environment where a more industrial grade TIG welder is required. In this class of TIG welder, you can expect to pay anything from a little over $1,000, up to around $2,000.
1. PRIMEWELD TIG225X 225 Amp IGBT AC DC TIG/Stick Welder
The Primeweld TIG225X 225A TIG/Stick welder is probably the closest rival to the APH Alpha that we’ve just reviewed. In terms of price, they fall within a few dollars of one another. Placing them both on an equal footing as far as value for money goes. At 90-pounds, the Primweld is a good 20-pounds heavier than the Alpha. This seems to suggest that it may have a stronger transformer. Though this is pure speculation, the slightly higher 225A maximum rated power output is another indication that the inner workings of this welder may be slightly more capable than its competitor.
Though, in just about every respect, the Primeweld and AHP TIG welders are just about equals. The Primeweld TIG225X has a similar design as a robust, impact resistant unit. All the pipes, cords and welding torches also seem to be of a similar, good quality standard. Even the less than desirable ground clamp appears to match that of the ALPHA. In both cases, I’d replace the ground clamp soon after buying either welder. It also has a great, powder coated metal foot pedal.
Primeweld have chosen to throw in a fairly cheap looking welding mask and chipping hammer wire brush combo. Neither of which would make me think that I’m getting too much extra for my money. Any welding 101 guide will tell you to buy a quality welding helmet as your number one priority. Flimsy welding masks are okay when you’re learning to weld, you can use it to observe what the other guy is doing. Further than that, I can’t see much advantage to the additional extras.
For the beginner, the controls on the Primeweld may be a bit daunting. There’s a total of 10 control dials which give great, and very precise settings, but are not all that easy to understand if you don’t know what you’re doing. Though, you do have wonderful functionality, with infinite control dials and pulse settings up to 200 Hz. Precise welding for aluminum and really thin metals will be a breeze once you get the hang of this machine.
The Primeweld can be used with either 120V or 240V input current, offering a maximum 225A output at 240V, and 140A max output at 120V. Compared to the Alpha, duty cycles may not look that good at first, but remember this one has a higher maximum output. At 50% output, you actually get a better duty cycle with the Primeweld. Using the maximum output at 240V, you get a 40% duty cycle @ 225A. At the same voltage, the duty at half output is pretty good, 100% @ 155A. This is for TIG welding. MMA stick welding obviously has a lower amperage for the same duty cycles – 40% @ 180A, 100% @ 76A, when using a 240V input. It’s pleasing to see that this TIG welder can accommodate water cooling, which will help. Like most of the 120V/240V TIG welders, an adapter is provided for 240V outlets.
Even though the controls fitted to the Primeweld TIG225X may seem a little complicated at first, they are actually really great and precise. It has a digital display, and superb welding abilities for every type of metal, regardless of how thin the material is. This is a heavy beast but has a strong carrying handle, which helps for portability. It even has a 3-year warranty to match that of the AHP Alpha 200A TIG welder. All this makes it a pretty tough decision deciding which is, in fact, the best TIG welder. The Alpha may be the best choice for beginners, it’s simpler to understand, but the Primeweld has a slight advantage when it comes to performance and accurate settings.
2. AHP AlphaTIG 200X 200 Amp IGBT AC DC TIG/Stick Welder
The AHP Alpha TIG 200, seems like the best place to start this review. This is a full-function AC/DC TIG and stick welder with a state of the art PWM, IGBT inverter. This gives you all the versatility you could possibly ask for. Pulse welding for aluminum, plus all the ability for every other type of metal, and the option for MMA stick welding. In this mid-range class of 200A TIG welder, quality is something to consider closely. Let’s face it, you’re not buying a $2,000+ Miller Multimatic.
At the same time, you’re parting with a pretty hefty sum of cash, you want to know that you’re getting a decent product. As for the basics, top marks go to the Alpha. This is a robust, 69-pound machine with an impact resistant frame, a good inverter, and all the functions for TIG and stick welding.
The kit includes a metal foot pedal, along with all the pipes, regulator and so forth for inert gas bottles. You get pretty good quality TIG and stick welding torches and all the fittings you need to get started. I’m not all that impressed with the ground clamp, especially when you consider the 200A rated output. However, a ground clamp is easily replaced. At this price, I’d be more than happy to spend a little on a higher quality clamp. The bottom line is that you’re getting a TIG welder with the goods to do a superb job and should stand the test of time. A three-year warranty, at this price, is certainly a good sign.
Control dials are great and quite easy to understand. This is probably one of the easier TIG welders for beginners to come to grips with the complications of precise TIG welder settings. I’m suitably impressed with the 200 Hz maximum frequency for pulse welding. A digital display (3 digits) also helps you with accurate settings.
Input power has the option for 110V, providing a maximum 150A output, or 220V which gives you the full 200A rated maximum output. A power adapter is provided for 110V/220V receptacles. Duty cycles are way better than I’d have expected for a TIG welder in this class. Crank this baby up to full (at 240V) and you get a pretty impressive 60% @ 200A. You’ll achieve a 100% duty cycle at 150A. The current is not specified, I’d expect these duty cycle specs to be for DC TIG welding. Either way, this really isn’t bad when compared to just about any other TIG welder in this price range.
When it comes down it, the AHP Alpha 200A TIG stick welder is pure common sense. Great quality where it counts, a fantastic warranty, and the performance to knock the socks off most of its competitors. For less than 800 bucks, this is money well spent. Ideal for the more discerning home welder and quite competent for a smaller professional shop.
3. Weldpro Digital TIG ACDC 200GD
Of the three TIG welders in this review, costing less than $1,000, the Weldpro Digital 200GD is the cheapest. I can’t see that you’re getting any less for your money, making this TIG welder excellent value. All the basics are pretty much the same as the other two TIG welders reviewed this far. The Weldpro 200GD is an AC/DC 200A inverter TIG/Stick welder with the option for both 120V and 240V input voltage.
The main thing that separates this model from the others, are the digital controls. You’ll either love this or hate it. Old-school guys may find the absence of dials, switches, and knobs a little disconcerting at first. Personally, I really like the touch pad digital control functions. You’ll need to spend a little time with the manual, going through menu and toggle functions. But, once you come to terms with the modern technology, it’s plain sailing from here on. Precise, digital settings, with the aid of a numeric display are a breeze and wonderfully accurate.
I like the rocker style foot pedal, and all the other fittings (pipes for inert gas, gauges, welding torches, etc.) appear to be on an equal footing with others in this price range. Again, I feel that the ground clamp is not quite up to scratch. For the rest, this a good, tough, TIG welder with a superb IGBT inverter. The weight of 60-pounds is what I’d expect. A good balance of heavy-duty metals and a solid transformer, whilst remaining quite portable. This is aided by a strong carrying handle.
Duty cycles are within the normal range for a good quality inverter TIG welder, perhaps better than most. Using maximum settings at 240V, the Weldpro duty cycle for AC TIG welding is 40% @ 200A, DC TIG welding is a little better, 60% @ 200A.
At around a hundred bucks less than equivalent TIG welders in this class, the Weldpro Digital 200GD is a real bargain. It has the same abilities for aluminum welding and thin material. It’s a robust machine that should give you years of faithful service and has above average duty cycles. What more could you ask for? For most, the digital controls should be a plus factor, though this is very much a matter of personal preference.
4. AMICO POWER ATIG1852018
The Amico Power ATIG1852018 stands alone, being the only cheap, entry level TIG/stick welder in this review. Although quite a lot cheaper than all the others, it has pretty much the same technology. An IGBT inverter with automatic voltage fluctuation control and all the other benefits of this technology, is great to have at this price. It has a slightly lower output, 180A max at 230V. Like the others, it can also be used with 115V, with a reduced output. This is also TIG and MMA stick welder.
The good news is that this is a full function inverter TIG stick welder. The not so good is that it is far from being a heavy-duty machine. At only 19-pounds, you can be sure that this little welder cannot match the long-term durability of the more expensive TIG welders, all weighing in excess of 60-pounds. They’re relying mostly on the IGBT capacitors and resistors, without the ruggedness of a large transformer. At least, that’s my guess when looking at the weight. A heavy welder always has a large transformer, and this is proven to be the most reliable and durable way to go. With that said, you can’t ignore the wonderful price tag. If you only use a TIG/stick welder for occasional welding jobs, there’s no sense in spending big bucks on something that is going to spend most of its life standing in garage.
It has everything, except a foot pedal, and the controls are very basic. A single dial with up down digital toggling to select your parameters can be time consuming when setting up the machine. You have a 3-character LED display to guide you and that’s it. It will take some time getting used to this.
Everything is a bit on the cheap side. But that’s what I’d expect from an entry level TIG welder at this price, light-duty materials. As for welding performance, it has a very acceptable duty cycle, better than I’d have expected from a welder of this class. At the maximum 230V input, you’ll achieve a DC TIG welding duty cycle of 60% @ 180A. Really not bad for a lightweight welder like this.
You may not get 100% accuracy when setting up the Amico, you also won’t be able to work this machine too hard, if you expect it last. However, as an exceptionally cheap TIG and MMA stick welder for beginners and occasional use, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better deal anywhere.
5. Everlast Power TIG 200DV 200amp
Now we’re entering the big leagues. The Everlast Power TIG 200DV, and the two models to follow are, in my opinion more professional grade TIG/stick welders. Of these, the Everlast Power TIG is the cheapest. While all the functions and features are quite similar to the cheaper TIG/stick welders reviewed here, this is likely to last longer when using it on a regular basis. The Everlast Power TIG 200DV can easily find its way into a professional metal shop and hold its own alongside more expensive inverter TIG welders.
Like all the welders in this review, the Everlast Power utilizes an IGBT inverter for both TIG and stick welding. It has the ability to run on either 120V or 240V input power and has automatic voltage detection. Maximum rated output is 200A, using 240V input power, and 125A for 120V input for TIG welding. Maximum ratings for stick welding are 160A @ 240V, and 100A @ 120V. Duty cycles are up there with the best: 60% @ 200A for 240V TIG welding, reaching 100% duty cycle at 160A. TIG welding at 120V (input) are 60% @ 125A (max), and 100% @ 100A. Stick welding, at maximum output, is 35%, this would be at 100A/24V, using 120V input, and 160A/26.4V, when using 240V input, 100% duty cycle is achieved at 60A/22.4V (120V input), and 100A/24V (240V input).
Control functions are just about perfect, a combination of dials and touch buttons, offer a perfectly logical and simple way to set up the welder. Pulse frequency can be set up to a whopping 25 Hz and it has 4-digit LED display. LED indicator lights give you easy access to critical information.
The unit is contained in a tough metal housing with an excellent handle to manage the 60-pound weight. The foot pedal and remote control are great, as are the pipes and cords. All of these have an extended reach of 10-feet. It’s clear by the brass fittings and high-quality welding torches, that is no Mickey Mouse welder, it’s made to work. You also have the option for water cooling in more hardworking environments.
In the realm of more industrial grade TIG welders, the Everlast Power TIG 200DV is wonderfully priced. They’ve achieved a good level quality vs price. With a 5-year warranty, you have a lot reassurance that this machine is going to serve you well for many years.
6. Lincoln Electric Square Wave TIG 200
The Lincoln Electric (K5126) TIG 200 would be my number one choice for home users and beginners. Lincoln has the uncanny ability to offer lower priced options amongst their really expensive models. This Lincoln welder falls into the more affordable category and is, in my opinion outstanding value for money. There are those obvious signs of Lincoln professional grade quality, but at a price that is more acceptable to the home user. Make no mistake, this is not a cheap TIG welder.
I should point out that I like the fact that this is an affordable Lincoln TIG stick welder, but it is probably one of lowest in performance specs in this price range. So, yes, in a way all this is a bit of a compromise. But Lincoln is one of the top welder brands and this kind of quality cannot be overlooked.
The square wave inverter appears to be lacking when compared to the modified sine wave that is more common in the industry. This gives the Lincoln TIG 200 duty cycles that are not that impressive. This would be the only area where I can fault with this welder. The Maximum output TIG welding duty cycle is only 25% @ 200A, reaching 60% @ 130A when used with a 230V input. At 120V, maximum output current is reduced to 125A with a 25% duty cycle, 60% @ 85A. Stick welder duty cycles are, as to be expected, at a lower output amperage: 60% @ 65A (120V input), and 60% @ 100A (240V). Maximum stick welding output is 75A using a 120V input, and 170A for 240V. In both cases, you’re looking at a 20% duty cycle.
With duty cycles so far behind all the others, you may be wondering why I rate the Lincoln so highly. The answer is simple: exceptional build quality at a price that is more affordable than those of comparable brands. Many consider Lincoln, Hobart, and Miller to be the top US welder brands and I concur. Amongst similar offerings from the other two brands I just mentioned, the Lincoln is remarkably cheap. Placing high-end quality within the reach of home users.
The Lincoln has basic, easy to follow user functions. You’ll need to spend some time with the manual to understand the programmable electronic controls, but they are pretty logical. A beginner, using a TIG welder for the first time, should find these controls pretty easy to master. This was designed to make first-time TIG welding easier.
When you look at the ground clamp, welding torches, foot pedal, and gas kit, you come to realize that this is a true Lincoln product. All of the components are made to last, that’s why this brand is so popular amongst seasoned welders.
While the Lincoln can’t match the duty cycle of most inverter TIG welders, it is a Lincoln, and that means genuine, heavy-duty durability. For this price, I don’t think you’ll find a more rugged TIG / stick welder.
7. Miller 951674 Multimatic 215 Multiprocess Welder
For those who aren’t too concerned about the budget, we end this review with, what many consider the king of multi-function TIG welders. The Miller Multimatic TIG welder is revered by professionals and home users alike. Though not many are up to paying north of 2,000 bucks, even it is for the very best 200A TIG welder. Read just about any 200A TIG welder review, and the Miller Multimatic will probably the top choice.
The Miller Multimatic 215 Multiprocess TIG, MIG and Stick welder was designed as an all in one multipurpose welder for home welding and hobbyists. By combining Miller industrial-grade design with an intelligent computerized, fully automated interface, they’ve created the ultimate welding machine, that’s super easy to use.
A color LCD screen, with computerized controls, makes it easy to use, without any skill needed. You can input the type of welding, metal type and thickness, then let computer make all the settings for you.
Although, the Miller Multimatic 215 doesn’t offer AC welding, it has the ability to perform all types of DC welding. So, unlike the others in this review that only perform TIG and stick welding tasks, the Miller does all these, and allows you to do MIG welding. The kit includes a wide variety of high-quality accessories for MIG and stick welding. The TIG torch is available as an optional extra, and you also have the option of buying an Autospool aluminum welding gun. The only downside to not have an AC TIG welder is that you can’t perform TIG welding tasks on aluminum.
Build quality is of the highest standard. Hey, it’s a Miller product, we wouldn’t expect anything less. The cast aluminum wire feed has two grooves for multiple wire thickness and is as easy to use as it is indestructible. That follows through every aspect of this machine, down to the superbly capable inverter. Miller Smoothstart technology allows the beginner to weld like a pro, eliminating splatter and the arc remains incredibly stable, even when you your welding tip is far from where it should be.
No duty cycle specifications are provided, though Miller is usually ahead of the pack in this regard. I’m not too sure how this one compares to other Miller welders. It is intended as a non-professional machine and this may affect duty cycles. I’m surprised to see that this machine weighs less than 30-pounds. That’s great for portability, but what kind of transformer are they using? With that said, I trust these guys to build the very best. I doubt they would make an inferior product, just to reduce the weight. It’s more likely that really clever technology lies hidden inside this little wonder machine.
At a pretty hefty price, Miller has brought the ability of the professional to the novice TIG welder. It’s a remarkable feat, as only Miller can do. You should have no doubt that you’re buying one of the best quality multi-function welders ever made. It’s backed by one of the most respected names in the business and an exceptional 3-year warranty.
What to Look for in a TIG Welder
If you’re new to TIG welding, it’s all going to be a little confusing at first. You really need to gain some experience from someone who knows about TIG welding before start to understand all the settings and functions. It is the very nature of TIG welding settings that makes this such a precise and perfect welding method.
If you’re using your TIG welder as it should be used, you’ll be making precise settings for various types and thickness of metals. You’ll probably be making fine adjustments as you go. So, you want logical and easy to manage control functions. Dials are the conventional way of doing things, but electronic controls are becoming more common. In most cases, the new digital TIG welders make things easier and more accurate. If you’re starting out, it’s probably better to get used to digital controls. This is the future of TIG technology, so why start learning to use equipment that may soon be outdated?
A foot pedal is not essential but really makes the whole process more user-friendly. Starting and stopping the welder with a foot pedal, allows you to use both hands to hold and line everything up, this is an obvious advantage.
Inert Gas attachments are a necessity for TIG welding. It’s the gas that protects the weld from contaminants in the air. Most TIG welder will have only one gas kit for Argon gas. Though you may want combination gas kits that allow you to use a variety of inert shielding gasses.
TIG welding tips come in variety of metals types, mostly Tungsten and Tungsten alloys. You’ll need to familiarize yourself with which is the best tip for the metal that you intend welding.
AC/DC Welders: most TIG welders have both AC and DC output currents. Some may have only DC. DC TIG welding is fine for most types of welding. But, if you intend to TIG weld aluminum, you’ll need an AC output current.
Power and Duty Cycles
Regardless of what type of welder you buy, the two most important specs will be the output current (Amperes) and the duty cycle.
Maximum output current is the maximum power provided by the electric arc and will range from as low as 60A up to several hundred amperes. If you don’t need to weld particularly thick metal, or harder metals, amperage isn’t too important. Though, as a rule of thumb, more amps is better. You never know what materials you may need to weld in the future.
Duty cycle indicates how long you can weld for at a certain power output, before the welder needs time to cool down. It also gives you an indication as to how long you’ll need to wait before the welder has cooled sufficiently for you to continue welding. A better duty cycle will obviously improve productivity.
Duty cycle is calculated as a percentage of 10-minute cycle, at a rated amperage. If you see a duty cycle spec of 60% @ 200A. This means you can weld for 6-minutes at an output setting of 200A, then wait 4-minutes for the welder to cool, 6 + 4 minutes completes the 10-minute cycle with a 60%: 40% ratio.
TIG welders have different duty cycles for AC and DC outputs. For combination TIG stick welders, stick welding will have a separate duty cycle rating and the peak output amperage will vary too.