Welding is not an activity for everyone, and for this reason, I took the starting article very seriously.
As you probably know our practices, first of all we will offer our recommendations, for those who are in a hurry and do not have time – or need – to read the whole guide.
On the 1st place, we recommend Velt MMA 160 , a very efficient inverter, with 80% efficiency and functions for MMA arc efficiency.
It can generate currents of up to 160 amps and supports electrodes from 1.6 to 4 millimeters in diameter.
If you want a good, affordable inverter with higher amperage (250 Amps), then Almaz 250A is for you.
Our Editor Choice's
5 Best Welding Inverter [ 2021 Edition ]
If you do not want to buy a used inverter welding machine and you are interested in first hand products, here are our reviews with reference to the best selling such devices at the moment.
Each of them was selected both by popularity and as reviews posted online, to maintain a balance in our own ratings:
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Rank # 1: Velt MMA 160
This Velt welding inverter is created for quite demanding needs, from professionals who require reliable and efficient devices. It is designed for MMA welding, with electrodes from 1.6 to 4 millimeters, generating a maximum welding current of 160 Amps. Its construction allows the cooling fan to operate continuously, so that the risk of overheating is minimal.
It has an intensive working regime, with an efficiency of 80 percent, and the Arc Force function optimizes the transfer of droplets between the electrodes and the welded parts, thus reducing the chances of the arc extinguishing. In the package, there is also a welding mask, cables , brush with hammer, for slag, and the device weighs only 4.5 kilograms.
As disadvantages, the cables and pliers that come with the package may not satisfy the more demanding craftsmen, but overall it is a very efficient welding installation.
Rank # 2: Almaz 250A
To give a recommendation of a fairly resistant welding inverter, we decided on a Russian product. With a solid construction and delivered with an electronic mask and protective gloves, we can say that this is one of the best offers of the moment. It is very well protected from overheating, with fans, but also with overload protection.
It is also recommended for MMA welds, being compatible with all types of coated electrolyte, with diameters from 1.6 to 4 millimeters. Its low weight is another advantage (only 3 kilograms), and as an output amperage, you can select any value from 20 to 250 Amps.
The package also includes cable clips for grounding and electrode holder, hammer brush, slag, Romanian manual, electronic mask and gloves, but also a simple mask. This welding inverter, at a good price, is therefore recommended for both hobby and professional users.
Rank # 3: Telwin FORCE145ACX
This welding inverter, at a good price, from Telwin, is part of the category of semi-professional products, with selectable amperages ranging from 10 to 130 amps. It is very well protected against overvoltage, overcurrent, undervoltage and overheating, and the welding current remains very stable if the supply voltage varies.
Regarding the diameter of the compatible electrodes, it can be from 1.6 millimeters to 3.2 millimeters, and the recommended welding process is MMA. Relatively short cables are one of the objections to this product in online reviews, but they can be easily replaced (the included cables are less than 2 meters long).
The device is quite compact (it weighs 5.5 kilograms) and a special bag is included in the package, for transport without the danger of splashing.
Rank # 4: Velt MIG / MMA 250
We could say, from the beginning, that this product is not part of the category of welding inverters, cheap and good, as it is an advanced model for professional needs, with appropriate performance. It is bulky, weighs 19 kilograms, designed for MIG / MMA and MAG processes, and the setting options are numerous, for every welding need.
You can use electrodes from 0.6 millimeters to over 3.2 millimeters, depending on the process, and the selectable amperages on the control panel go up to 250 amps, a fairly high current, good for a professional device.
The device is delivered in a kit containing the inverter, 2 meter electrode holder cable, 2 meter ground pliers cable, MIG / MAG gun, slag wire brush, conical nozzle, 1.0 mm nozzle and 0 nozzle , 8 mm and gas hose. Overall, if you are not just looking for a cheap and good welding inverter, and you are interested in performance, we can’t really guide you to a better equipped kit.
Rank # 5: Steinhaus PRO-IW160M
The best welding inverter of the moment, in the semi-professional and hobby category, is difficult to choose, but the kit here might meet quite well the criteria necessary for granting this title.
To present its technical capabilities: it generates between 25 and 160 Amps, it is compatible with MMA electrodes from 1.6 to 4 millimeters, coated (basic, stainless steel, or rutile), it is equipped with an efficient cooling fan, and the circuit The transformer is protected against undervoltage and overvoltage. Includes mask, power and electrode cables, two meters each, cable with pliers for the table, with a length of 150 centimeters and a welding mask.
In short, it is a kit recommended especially for those who are looking for an efficient product, but who do not want to perform high performance work. At this very attractive value for money, the only disadvantage is the relatively small length of the cables.
Rank # 6: ESAB Buddy Arc 180
Located somewhere in the middle of the price range, this ESAB welding inverter is aimed at users of all kinds, except those professionals with very demanding requirements. As a process, it is designed for manual welding with coated electrodes (MMA), but also for the TIG (WIG) technique.
Includes Arc force and Hot start functions, to maximize welding efficiency, forcing the generation of electric arc even during current fluctuations. The LiveTig function, for the TIG gun, will electronically control the starting current, for a safe and efficient starting of the spring.
The package also includes an electrode holder with three meters of cable, a table pliers with three meters of cable and a power cable of the same length. It can generate up to 180 Amps, and the diameter of the electrodes compatible with the inverter can be from 1.6 to 4 millimeters.
Rank # 7: Little Farmer LV 250 Blue
Let’s say you need to weld something, on a small scale, and your budget is not very large. You can opt for a used inverter welding machine – cheaper, but at the same time a risky purchase – or you can focus on new, affordable products, such as this Little Farm welding inverter, which we present here.
It is for MMA technique but also TIG, with the start of the electric arc by contact, with a welding cycle of 60 percent. It can generate between 10 and 250 amps, and the diameter of compatible electrodes is from 1.5 to 3.2 millimeters. In the package, you will also receive the hammer with brush, for slag, welding cables with table tongs and electrode holder, and a mask.
Even if the professionals will tell you that it does not even compete effectively with more expensive models, such as a Telwin welding inverter, for hobby works it is really one of the best offers you can find.
What is the difference between a welding machine and an inverter?
There is no difference between the two tools, one of the names being synonymous with the other and vice versa. The only notable aspect that is worth mentioning is that the inverters are newer devices, with which you can practice all types of welding, but which are more robust and portable.
How much does it cost to buy a used welding inverter? Is it reliable?
As a guide, you have a good chance of finding new versions of the devices even at less than half of their price in the store. To give you an important advice on buying a welding inverter, second hand, we can say that it would be good to check if the model is still on store shelves. If so, it means that it is recent and that you do not risk too much if you choose to buy such an inverter, which has already been used.
Otherwise, we can only warn you that there are chances that the second-hand devices have hidden defects, which even the seller does not know exists. Therefore, it is best to have the opportunity to go home to the seller and test the device, with all its functions, before making a purchase.
We also have a second hand welding inverter recommendation: this is a suitable option when looking for a source of spare parts. You just have to find a model similar, or even identical, to the one you have. Thus, if a component breaks down, you will be able to replace it with the one from the device bought second hand, provided that it has it in good working order.
Where can I find Edon, Stanley or Proweld inverter welding? Are these brands appreciated?
At specialty stores, but also on online stores. Yes, Edon, Telwin, Stanley and Proweld are quite well-known brands among amateurs and professionals in the field.
Opinions on which one is best can be divided, so we won’t get into such disputes – for example, if you search the web for “Telwin Force 130 welding inverter reviews” you may find some posts that they say it is very good, but others categorize it as weak.
However, we can also add that the specialized forums offer both professional models and light tasks, therefore it is worth exploring their posts carefully.
Short user manual for welding inverters
The next section here is not a welding tutorial – this activity is complex and involves a lot of instruction, practice and official qualifications, so we will not address such a broad topic here. Instead, we will provide some general ideas to familiarize readers with the general principles of using welding inverters.
Whether we are talking about a welding inverter, at a good price, or about high-performance models, all these devices work with electricity at high amperages, therefore you will have to wear protective gloves and avoid touching the components under voltage.
In addition, the electrodes generate high heat and very intense light, so do not forget to use welding masks, with the appropriate degree of protection for the process used. In addition, it does not hurt to use headphones to protect your hearing, especially if you weld for a long time, and the space where you work will need to be ventilated, so as not to inhale the gases resulting from combustion.
When you start using the inverter, you will have to follow some rules: first of all, all its ventilation holes must be free and clean, so that the appliance does not overheat.
Use large cross-section cables for both grounding and extension cords – this will also prevent power outages. Grounding is done according to the instructions of each model.
If the connection is not good, the electric arc will be unstable, which can compromise the work. If such problems occur, you can also try to change the polarity of the connection.
When you start the job, if you are equipped and all the connections have been made, you will have to press the start button and adjust the device to the desired output current value for the task in question. The intensity will be proportional to the diameter of the electrodes, in the case of an MMA welding inverter, at least.
Avoid using the inverter in windy or strong air currents, in corrosive working environments, in environments with conductive dusts or with gas concentrations. Avoid in any form the risk of rain or other liquids reaching the work equipment. Do not overload the inverter, as you risk damaging it or shortening its life.
To protect and store the device for a long time, it is recommended that it be kept in a dry place, with temperatures between -10 and +40 degrees Celsius, protected from sunlight and weather.
Periodically clean it of dust by blowing or with a jet of compressed air. Check the electrical circuits at regular intervals (at least once every two months) and avoid water or steam entering the place where the inverter is stored. Be careful not to place mice or rats in the storage area, as they often bite the cables or other elements of the electrical appliances.
What do we do when the inverter fails?
It is best to take it to a service center, especially if you do not know exactly what the device has when it does not turn on or when its operating mode is inadequate. We do not encourage you to make repairs yourself, even if they seem simple. Also consult the manual with which you bought the inverter, because it contains information that could help you understand what happened and what to do in case of failure.
Many opinions about the best welding inverters say that only experts in this business can make the optimal choices. We believe that no reader should ignore the basic principles of these particulars, even if he or she does not have a welder’s certificate. Therefore, we present the ABC about inverters, in the following shopping guide:
Device category :
we will divide the products into two groups: those for amateurs and those for professionals.
In the first group, you will find welding inverters, at good prices, which are suitable for occasional welding operations, with basic techniques. As expected, you won’t even have to pay much for such equipment.
In the second category, you can find expensive, high-performance devices capable of generating high current (over 200 amps) for a long time. They are compatible with electrodes of various diameters, for various welding techniques. If you really want the best welding inverters, you can find very good devices in both product groups, therefore we can not necessarily say that the professional ones are above those intended for amateurs.
Welding type :
welding processes are quite many and we should write a whole guide of a few good pages just to make a proper introduction to this true art.
There are detailed courses on each technique, but also world championships in which the best welders compete in mastery. But let’s get back to the topic: each model specifies what kind of technique it was designed for:
SMA, MMA, MIG or TIG are just two of the most common examples of technique.
SMA and MMA involve melting both the electrode and the metal, which will generate a pool of molten metal that will stick to the parts. It is a simple process for most metals and alloys.
MIG , or inert metal technique, involves the emission of inert gas, which protects the molten material from nitrogen and oxygen in the air, which leads to very strong welds, but it is a difficult process to perform if it is windy.
TIG is a similar technique, but cleaner and finer, the gas used being tungsten. It is one of the most advanced techniques, with very aesthetic works, but it is necessary that the work surface is extremely well cleaned in order to be successful.
We will mention in the product descriptions what kind of techniques can be used with them, as it is one of the most important elements for an inverter welding machine.
Maximum welding current (intensity) :
the intensity of the maximum welding current affects both the consumption (power) of the device and the welding technique or the diameter of the electrode to be used.
Cheap and good welding inverter models that can be found on the market will have a variable amperage, from a low value (eg 20 A) to even over 200 A.
it is always important to be careful when overloading a house or apartment electrical network in the block, so know that too much intensity can lead to the burning of the fuses on the panel.
if we still talked about safety, it is important to discuss the protection measures that the circuits of these devices have. Whether you opt for a professional or amateur welding inverter, the equipment will need to include protection systems against short circuit, overload, overcurrent or overheating.
If these situations occur, the appliance will either stop or lower its operating mode, or will sound alarms or turn on emergency cooling fans. As a rule, the more powerful and expensive a device is, the better equipped it will be against these unwanted events.
depending on the needs, the electrodes can be thinner or thicker. Of course, the thin ones will be used for fine work, and the massive ones, for situations where a better gluing of metal pieces is necessary. Any type of professional inverter welding machine should be compatible with as many electrode diameters as possible, and semi-professional models usually support at least two types of electrodes.
Special accessories :
nozzles, cables, spray guns, wire brush for slag, cables with pliers, case hose, all these can be included in some offers of professional or semi-professional inverter welding machine, depending on the model and even the shop where to buy it.
Some offers include masks or welder gloves, two mandatory accessories for anyone using such equipment. We will also mention the presence of all the parts in the kits included in our product presentation, as these can be the element that determines the decision of some potential buyers to buy a product.
here too, as in other fields related to construction or industrial equipment, the brand matters quite a lot in the eyes of many users. To list a number of leading names in this sector, we can start with Lincoln, Miller, Edon, Proweld, or Stanley, Telwin or Esab.
Of course, if you also like to explore the emerging producers, we do not discourage you to try the Little Farmer devices, at the same time whitewashing you to try the various inverters produced in the East. For example, many recommend models of Russian welding inverter, favorable opinions about these machines existing on many specialized forums.
Now that we have completed our short shopping guide, we can recommend you to read more about welding on various specialized sites. This activity is quite complex, and if you want to know more, we also direct you to the frequently asked questions sections, in which we approached the most frequently asked ones on the net. Also, after that we will present a very short user guide for these devices: