Aluminum can be a foe for any welder out there. Aluminum is easy the most difficult material for a welder to work with. It can be tricky because, when it comes to welding aluminum, there are a lot of factors that come into play and you need the right machine.
First, aluminum is always coated in an oxide film that has a melting point three times higher (3762° F) than aluminum. When welding, the oxide melts and will cover the weld pool you are working with on the aluminum body, making it difficult to fuse. Secondly, aluminum has a high level of thermal conductivity. This means welding aluminum requires a higher current than when welding steel.
To get the best results, the machine you choose will have to be the best welding machine for aluminum. It will bypass these two main obstacles and allow you to create a beautiful beaded seam. Both TIG and MIG welders are capable of the job, but it still must be the right machine for the specific welding process. Here, we will lay out all of the best welders for aluminum to help you make that smooth fusion that any welder is looking for.
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Why is the Hobart Handler 140 the #1 pick?
The Hobart Handler 140 tops our list as the best welder for aluminum in 2020. It has gained a huge following amongst hobbyists and professional welders. The versatility makes it a great multi-purpose welder that can bust out top-notch aluminum welding and move on to steel with no problem. The variability in choice for voltage allows you to control power easily, making all different materials manageable for industrial sites or in your shop at home. No doubt about it, this is the best aluminum welding machine available today.
7 Best Welders for Aluminum (TIG & MIG)
1. Hobart Handler 140 – Best MIG Welder for Aluminum
Here, aluminum welding is made simple. The Hobart Handler 140 is easily Hobart’s most popular model, and for a good reason. This machine is filled with versatility so it isn’t only for welding aluminum at home. It can be taken on to an industrial job site and perform on thicker steel and other materials.
It is designed to deliver smooth arc performance on every material as well as a five-position voltage control to fine-tune the arc. Switching from different voltages is a simple turn of this knob, bringing the power to not only weld aluminum but many other metals. It can handle up to 24 gauge, ¼ inch mild steel.
With the Hobart Handler 140, you can easily switch between MIG welding and flux-cored. The build quality on this machine is top-notch and will last a long time, additionally is backed by a three-year warranty from Hobart. For any beginners, the Hobart Handler 140 comes out of the box and is a simple setup getting you straight into quality use.
Features: Five different voltage settings for versatile power, 57-pound construction with the best build quality, Wire feed speed between 40-700 inches per minute (ipm), 25-140 amperage range
- 3-year warranty for reliability
- Easy power versatility for use anywhere
- Superior build quality
- More portable at only 57 lbs
- Safety gear must be bought separately
- Requires minor adjustments for a different spool of wire
2. AHP AlphaTIG 200X – Best TIG Welder for Aluminum
A large duty cycle of 60% paired with easy arc control and dual voltage make the AHP AlphaTIG 200X a beast of a machine for those looking to put in some serious work. It will stand up to ¼ inch aluminum and ⅜ inch mild steel, which not a lot of these aluminum welders will do.
The AHP AlphaTIG 200X comes from a newer company, which can be worrying but does not show in the quality of this product. They have included a square wave inverter for welding aluminum as well as a pulse welding frequency feature. It utilizes both IGBT technology and power width modulation to give the right amount of power you need for any job.
High frequency TIG start combined with the IGBT AC DC TIG welding capabilities makes this the best TIG welder for aluminum out there.
The company is still learning, however, and there are some downsides. The foot pedal is reportedly uncomfortable, and the flow meter can read inaccurately. Aside from these two minor inconveniences, the AHP AlphaTIG 200X could not be more highly recommended if you are looking for an AC DC TIG stick welder.
Features: Dual voltage of 110V and 220V for versatility, High frequency TIG start, IGBT AC DC TIG technology, 60% duty cycle allows welders to work for long periods of time
- An incredibly high duty cycle of 60%
- Easy arc control and adjustability
- Dual voltage
- High-frequency TIG start and IGBT AC DC TIG technology
- The new company isn’t time tested
- Uncomfortable foot pedal
- Inaccurate flow meter
3. LOTOS MIG175 – Best Price Value
The LOTOS MIG175 is another MIG welder that will perform great when welding aluminum. The spool gun was made for welding aluminum and only requires a short amount of time for setup and connection to a 240V outlet. With the spool gun, you can weld 3/16 inch aluminum or even thinner.
The LOTOS MIG175 is a great multi-purpose welder that can easily switch over to 18 gauge, ¼ inch mild/stainless steel. The price for this aluminum welder is a bit lower and comes with everything you will need to set it up and have it running in no time. There is no additional purchasing of a spool gun or safety equipment, it’s all included in the price.
Even when looking at a lower price tag, there is still a high build quality behind it. If you are looking to get into aluminum welding as a hobby but don’t want to fork over loads of cash, this is a great alternative to the much more expensive options.
Features: Aluminum wire spool included for up to 3/16 inch aluminum, easily connects to a 240V outlet for industrial and home use, 175A output
- Easy setup and use for aluminum welding
- Ability to use with several different materials
- Comes with everything you need for use
- Lacking some features that more expensive models have
The LOTOS TIG200ACDC 200A welder is packed with features that make this a top pick for welding aluminum. A whopping 80% duty cycle allows you to virtually never need to take a break from putting together the pieces of your project. This 200A AC DC aluminum welding machine is a great choice for any AC DC aluminum TIG welder.
PAPST advanced cooling technology is also featured in this machine. It keeps the plasma cutter stable, which results in optimal performance while welding aluminum. Automatic dual voltage is installed as well, meaning there is no fuss when switching between different power sources. A square wave inverter ensures reliable and effective aluminum welding that can perform on up to ⅜ inch aluminum as well as steel and stainless.
Overall, this machine has a great capacity to perform at a professional grade but doesn’t take the professional knowledge to run. It comes with everything you need, including an easily-understood instruction manual. The only downside is that this is a machine for at-home welding, not built for the rigorous demands of industrial welding.
Features: Automatic dual-voltage makes switching power sources simple, PAPST advanced cooling technology, 80% duty cycle
- Automatic dual-voltage for ease-of-mind
- An immense duty cycle for long periods of welding
- PAPST advanced cooling makes for top performance
- Easily used for thicker (⅜ inch) aluminum welding
- Not build for industrial work
Hobart gets features again on our list with the Hobart EZ-TIG. This is a higher grade welder that can also precisely and finely weld aluminum with better voltage control. This is an AC DC TIG welding machine that will allow for different outputs for different materials. DC will guide you easily through welding stainless steel while the AC will bring aluminum together seamlessly.
Right out of the box, this is ready to use. It’s in the name. This is an aluminum welding machine that is easy to use. Once you have your gas supply it only requires starting up and jumping straight into the process. The whole machine is designed for ease-of-use with an easy-to-read control knob which makes this a great choice for those just looking to get into aluminum welding.
The inverter power source will help to save money by efficiently controlling power usage. That combined with the price tag makes this a more affordable option. Not the cheapest, but not too far of a stretch to push beginners away.
Features: Easy use features such as single knob for all control, inverter power source to regulate power usage, ACDC output for different jobs and materials
- Easy to use for beginners and professionals
- AC and DC TIG capabilities
- Inverter power source saves on energy bills
- Not for heaviest industrial jobs
Lincoln Electric brings the Square Wave TIG 200 to the aluminum welding game. It is both a TIG and stick welder that has loads of features that can make the difficult task of welding aluminum a little bit easier.
AC frequency control, pulse TIG power, and dual voltage all contribute to this welding machine’s high-quality aluminum welding capabilities. For low-grade shops and hobbyists, this machine will fit perfectly into the shop. Lincoln delivers reliable welders with the premium build quality it has always had. Adding the pulse TIG option to the machine makes this another great choice for welding aluminum.
The Square Wave TIG200 does however have a low duty cycle of 25%. This means that you will need to be working in bursts and never running the machine for longer than 2.5 minutes in a ten-minute span. For the price, this machine should have a higher duty cycle.
Features: TIG and stick welding compatibility, dual voltage for any power source, AC frequency control, Pule TIG to perform at higher quality on aluminum
- Pulse TIG power for control of process
- Dual voltage for at home and on-site
- Loads of control with versatility
- Pulse locked at 20 pps, could be adjustable
- 25% duty cycle
If you want to weld aluminum, but don’t have much experience and are just looking to dip your toes in the weld pool, then the SUNGOLDPOWER 200 is a great place to start. It comes with a wide array of versatile options including 110V and 220V compatibility along with a power inverter to manage efficient use of power.
This machine has a switch to easily move between MIG torch welding to a wire spool gun for fine aluminum welding. Although the spool gun is not included, it is worth the purchase if you want to weld aluminum with this machine. It has an output range of 20-180A to fine-tune aluminum welds.
Moving between gasless flux core welding and solid wire MIG welding is easy with the SUNGOLDPOWER 200. It is capable of welding cast iron, stainless and mild steel on top of its high performance with aluminum sheets. On top of it all, it is capable of running with a 60% duty cycle. It is a great machine overall and deserves a place on our list.
Features: Easy flip of a switch between MIG torch welding and spool gun, dual voltage paired with power inverter technology for efficient and versatile power usage, 60% duty cycle for long run time
- Easy to move between different types of welding
- Dual voltage and power inverter technology means efficient power usage
- High duty cycle
- Compatible with a spool gun
- Not industrial grade
- Spool gun for welding aluminum is not included
Buyer’s Guide for Aluminum Welders (TIG and MIG)
When looking for the best aluminum welder, there are a lot of obstacles to be crossed and variables to be considered. As we mentioned earlier, aluminum is a difficult metal to weld because of its physical and chemical properties. Fortunately, technology has come a long way to help make it a bit easier and in 2020 we are seeing the best aluminum welders we ever have.
The decision for the best aluminum welder will come down to a few different areas. These include the type of welder (MIG or TIG), your budget, the duty cycle, build quality, what power source you are using to operate, and how versatile/portable you want your welder to be. In this buyer’s guide, we will outline and quickly run over each area to help clear the mucky air of difficult aluminum welding.
Type of Welder
Welding machines come in so many different forms today that it can be hard to choose between the variety of welding techniques. For welding aluminum, the key choices are going to be between MIG and TIG welders.
MIG is the optimum welding method for welders just starting out. It uses metal spools inside the welding machines that come out of the torch which then has a current run through it to fuse that metal wire with the base material. It is going to be the cheaper option when purchasing a machine and the easiest to use. MIG welding aluminum is a lot easier to figure out and create a beautiful work piece than TIG.
A TIG welder is as versatile as they come but are much more difficult to operate. It uses a tungsten electrode to turn the base metal into a molten weld. Thinner metals, such as aluminum or sheet metal, will only require a lower amperage setting. If you are wanting to weld aluminum with a TIG welder, you must make sure it is an AC DC TIG welder. You may also like our guide on the best pulse MIG welder on the market.
Unfortunately, welding can be an expensive hobby. At the same time, it can have a high payoff if moving into professional welding jobs. This list ranges from expensive and high-end machines, like the Square Wave TIG200, to much cheaper but still high-quality machines, like the LOTOS MIG175 175amp MIG welder.
Remember to keep your price range in mind. Many of these welders come with everything you need, but some will require additional purchases to function at their peak performance.
The duty cycle refers to how long a welding machine can operate at full output safely in a ten-minute span. When it reaches this limit, you need to allow the machine to cool down before continuing to operate. Larger projects can require a mass amount of welds but smaller ones can often be done in short bursts. Get an idea of the kind of work piece you want to do, then pay a lot of attention to the duty cycle.
The build quality of a welding machine is of utmost importance. If this is forgotten, you may be looking for a new machine less than a year from the first purchase.
High build quality will ensure that your welder will be around for the long haul. It can stand up to the rigors of construction sites and never break down on you. The more it can put up with, the safer it will be to operate in all conditions and for a longer time.
A dual voltage power source is going to allow you to operate the welding machine anywhere. Some machines will be single voltage and won’t allow the machine to be taken from home to the worksite or vice-versa. If you are looking for a versatile option, opt for a dual voltage machine. This way you can ensure that even if you start as a hobbyist, you can move on to bigger projects one day if you please.
If you are sure that aluminum welding is only going to be done at home, a 110 or 120V compatible welder is required. The safest option is to go for a dual voltage machine so you never get caught in a tricky power situation. The market for welders today is full of versatile options without pushing the price too high. See our recent post on the best lathe mill combos to buy.
When welding aluminum you are faced with a lot of different challenges. The difficulty of working with aluminum is a tricky thing but is made easier with the best welder. If you instead pair the difficult task with the wrong machine, disappointment is the only thing guaranteed. If you are partial towards either TIG or MIG welders, then there is an option for you on this list. Use this to make that purchase just a little bit easier and improve the power of your shop.
Hobart Handler 140
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AHP AlphaTIG 200X
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