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Welding requires massive amounts of electricity. There are many situations where welding needs to be done at a worksite with no power.
Traditional welders are great when there is a dependable power supply. However, when you are repairing oil rigs and building fences, you need an engine-driven welder that can be used in remote locations.
Welder Generators fill this gap by combining a welder with a generator. These systems use fuel to produce electricity for welding. Additionally, the power from the generator can be used for other things, from running work lights to powering sump pumps.
5 Best Welder Generators
Hobart Champion Elite – Zach’s Top Pick
Hobart comes through again with a heavy-duty welding machine at an affordable price. It can weld cast iron, steel, and stainless steel. If you power a Mig or TIG welder with it, you can also weld aluminum.
It comes with a powerful, 23 horsepower Kohler engine drives the welder. This gas engine is similar to what the more expensive models use and is designed to run all day long without stopping. This is a critical point, as there are many cheaper generators out there, but this one is designed for those long-running days in the hot sun. It produces 9,500 Watts of continuous power with 11,000 surge watts, with easy to use the electric start.
That’s enough power to serve as an emergency backup for the average American home. Or you could plug in a plasma cutter and air compressor simultaneously for remote cutting.
This is an AC/DC welder. It comes with both a 225 Amp DC welder and 260 Amp AC welder and is backed by Hobart’s 3-year warranty. It comes ready to stick weld, and unlike the Lincoln Electric Models below, it does not offer any external wire feed units.
That said, you could easily plug in your existing MIG welder.
At 41 inches long, 20 inches wide, and 28 inches high, it is a little smaller than the Lincoln Electric models. It’s still a pretty heavy machine that weighs in at about 500 pounds. X 28in.H. It doesn’t come on wheels, but a lot of people weld up a little trailer to make it easier to move around.
Most of these welders only offer stick welding and then require you to purchase additional accessories for the other features. This one could be purchased for the generator capabilities alone, and it would be a good deal. The MMA welding feature is a nice extra feature.
Lincoln Electric Ranger 305G Welder Generator – Best Professional Welder
Lincoln Electric is a well-known manufacturer of welding machines in the US. You can pick up their products at virtually any local farm store, hardware store, or welding supply. This makes them one of the top brands to consider. It means that if you have a problem with this welder generator, you can always find a nearby repair shop or warranty center that stocks Lincoln Electric parts.
This heavy-duty multi-process welder does just about everything, including Tig, Stick, and Mig welding. Whether you are doing pipe welding, fixing a tractor, or doing semi-truck repairs on the side of the interstate, this is the tool for the job.
It can do both AC and DC welding processes. If you are doing TIG or Stick welding, it should work pretty well as a stand-alone tool (TIG will need a high-frequency box that you can connect the argon to). For MIG welding, you need to invest in a wire feeding unit.
It comes with a 12-gallon fuel tank that takes gasoline. You might need to use the RV fill station at your local truck stop if your truck requires diesel. This can let you fill up both your tools and your truck at the same pump. The fuel supply works out to about 1 hour per gallon, so you should get 12 to 14 hours of performance out of one tank — more than enough for a long day on the job. If you are using it as a generator instead of a welder, that timeframe decreases as the amperage draw when welding tends to be more intermittent and, therefore, lighter.
The built-in welder has Lincoln’s “Chopper” technology. This is designed to give you the same arc control as you would get with inverter technology. If the engine bogs down, it will “open” the current flow to increase the output to eliminate fluctuation.
This Chopper technology results in smoother welds and provides a more stable arc for a dependable “bacon sizzle”. This gives you a more consistent welding patter with less spatter and a smaller bead size, reducing the amount of cleanup you have to do between passes.
At 300 Amps of power, you have more welding capabilities than many of the commercial shop machines. In fact, many folks, opt for the smaller Lincoln Electric 225 series, since this one is so powerful.
This one is 42.3″ (depth) x 21.5″ (width) x 36″ (height) and is going to take up a good deal of room in your truck bed, and with a nearly 500-pound weight, you will need a cherry picker to load it.
There is a reason why you generally see the Lincoln Electric Ranger series on the back of trucks. Plus, with 10,500 watts of peak AC power and a 75 dB generator, you’ll be the life of the next tailgate party.
Miller Electric Bobcat 250 Engine Driven Welder Generator
This heavy-duty electric start engine-driven welder sits nicely between Lincoln Electric’s 305 and their 225.
It is both an AC and DC welding machine, which makes it more of a competitor to the larger Lincoln Electric Ranger model in performance features. As with the competitor’s models, this one comes ready to arc weld, but if you want to use the MIG or TIG features, you need to buy the added accessories.
In order to do MIG or Flux Core welding, they have this handy suitcase welder that is compatible. Of course, with the massive generator, you can always just plug in your external TIG welder. Or get their affordable HF-251 TIG box.
In this age or EPA regulations, it can actually save money to have a slightly smaller welder. Instead of dragging a 300 or 400 amp welder to the job site and paying all of the emissions charges, running a slightly smaller welder generator combination can let you get the job done for less money.
Miller has a lot of features that make it a favorite. When you compare the internal wiring with the Lincoln’s, it tends to use a heavier gauge of wire. Additionally, the engine’s ability to ramp up and down based on load help decrease fuel use and noise pollution.
Lincoln Electric Ranger 225 Engine Driven Welder
The 305 G takes up too much room in the back of a pickup, and it also delivers more power than most folks need. This slightly smaller 225 offers 225 amps of stick and tig welding power, with 200 amps of power for MIG and wire welding.
The generator is just slightly smaller, with 9,000 watts of continuous AC power, but more than enough for most welding jobs. You can also run your other power tools such as a plasma cutter into it. It’s also enough power that you could use it in the event of a power outage at your house.
This is a DC-only tool, making it popular among those who need a good tool for doing steel welding. Once again, it is going to do tig welding and stick welding really well and then will also do MIG or Flux Core welding if you purchase the added wire feeding unit.
The upside of this tool is that you get more welding capacity than you will generally need. You can get welds in 3/8 inch thick metal with a couple of passes from this. It also takes up less room and costs less than 305. You’ll see more of the Ranger 225 models being used on farms and ranches.
However, you also are giving up the extra “chopper” technology with this model. The welds seem smooth enough, so there probably isn’t anything to worry about with this, but it does seem that the 305 provides a little more control over your arc.
Tomahawk 2,000 Watt Generator
Ok, so if you are a small farm that needs a portable arc welder, this little Tomahawk might just become your new favorite tool when working far from a power source.
This one only produces 2,000 watts of power, so it doesn’t have the ability to power external generators, and it is too small to run anything but smaller hand tools (like a grinder).
That said, this little machine can produce up to 200 amps of DC output with a 60% duty cycle. This rating makes the Tomahawk a good tool for welding metals up to 3/8 inches thick. The onboard inverter helps to smooth the arc, creating a consistent weld.
The 7-gallon fuel capacity is enough to keep you running for a few hours. This 15 horsepower engine isn’t as efficient as some of the more expensive models we’ve talked about, but for doing small jobs around the property, you won’t notice the additional fuel use.
The electric start makes it easy to get it going. You are going to be impressed by its ease of use and welding capability. And, considering how affordable this option is, you’ll be pleased with how quickly you can get your money back out of it.
All of these welders are going to come to you as a stick welder. You’ll need to buy the added adapters to unlock their MIG and TIG welding capabilities. With the exception of professional welding, most of our readers will be purchasing these welders for their superb generator capabilities and will use that power supply to run their existing welding equipment.
The Tomahawk is the cheapest generator welder combo, while the Lincoln Electric Ranger is one of the most revered professional models.
Situated perfectly in the middle is the Hobart with its ample power supply and excellent pricing. If you were buying one for Zach’s birthday, he’d hope that it was the Hobart.
All of these welders us a gas generator, although there are some diesel and LPG generators available.