*** This post was updated on: November 2, 2019 ***
TIG (Tungsten Inert Gas) welding is probably one of the most difficult types of welding there is.
Also known as GTAW (Gas Tungsten Arc) welding, TIG welding requires a high degree of dexterity. The finished weld needs to be clean and structurally sound. And in many cases, welds must meet strict code and standards requirements.
Your welding equipment is only one part of the equation, but quality matters. After all, it's where the rubber meets the road.
In this post, we'll list and review the best rated TIG welders in three popular power categories.
Great balance of performance and value. Can handle up to 1/4" material including steel & aluminum
Top Pick Overall. Great power, intuitive controls, and lots of flexibility. Easily outperforms machines 2x its price.
More power than the 210. Same simple controls and works VERY well on thinner materials requiring a delicate balance.
Table of Contents
While price is ALWAYS a consideration, it's important to look at all sides of the equation when investing in an expensive tool. A budget TIG welder might be great if you're a hobbyist looking to supplement a MIG machine, but it won't have the flexibility and power needed for larger applications.
We'll start by reviewing the best of the most powerful TIG welders available. As we move down the list, we will be looking at less powerful, but cheaper, TIG welders. Every welder on this list is recommended, but they have different intended workloads.
The Everlast PowerTIG 250EX welder is the best 250 Amp TIG welder on the market in 2019. It offers plenty of power and versatility when it comes to adjusting your welding settings.
To take full advantage of all this power you will need a TIG cooler to go along with this welder.
Especially on aluminum, the welder provides a stable and smooth arc that starts very easily. The 250EX TIG welder also works with both single and three-phase power.
It offers both HF and lift start capability and has an impressive 40% duty cycle at 250A. At 200A that jumps to 100%. The pre and post-flows offer a wide range of adjustment. All in all, this is the best TIG welding machine when you need a great deal of power.
The second-place 250 Amp welder on our list is the Longevity Innovator 255i. This is the best multi-function welder that we have reviewed. It incorporates a pulsed TIG welder, stick welder, and plasma cutter all in one.
It allows for easy AC frequency and balance control, pulse control, and up and downslope controls.
Pulse TIG welding makes it easier to weld thin gauge metals along with metals that are highly sensitive to heat.
It lowers the average temperature allowing you to weld thin material by focusing the arc and allowing the heat to be properly distributed. Pulse welding also limits the arc cone diameter to a precise area giving you better control of the arc.
Coming in at number three in this power range is the Everlast PowerTIG 255 EXT Digital AC/DC Tig Stick Pulse Welder.
To be fair, this is probably the most robust and reliable TIG welder in the 250A group, but it is considerably more expensive than both Everlast welders and doesn't offer some of the flexibility of the first two.
That being said, if you're going to buy a TIG welder to build a business around, this guy will offer you performance and reliability that is unmatched.
It's a single-phase AC/DC welder with an amperage range from 3A all the way up to 310A. It can handle steel from 0.012 in. (0.3 mm) - 1/2 in. (12.7 mm) and aluminum from 0.015 in. (0.4 mm) - 3/8 in. (9.5 mm). It offers a 40% duty cycle at 250A and 60% at 200A.
The 250 has AC balance control and several nice memory features to recall your most recent settings, even when switching back and forth between AC and DC. This TIG welder also has a digital readout for amperage and voltage that shows the presets as well as the actual outputs allowing greater accuracy and repeatability.
Everlast builds a quality product. And while the 250DX welder doesn't offer some of the performance, this welder is designed to last forever. If you're looking for the best production/commercial TIG welder this guy is built to handle all you can throw at it.
The best TIG welder in the 200 amp range (and our top pick overall) is the Everlast PowerTIG 210EXT welder. Given its price, this a legitimately one of the best welding machines that you can buy. It comes in at 60 lbs.
It's an AC/DC TIG welder so it can handle steel and aluminum. It will handle up to 5/16" steel on a single pass and 5/8" in multiple passes. On aluminum and 1/4" single pass and 1/2" multi.
It also uses an IGBT inverter and features a high-frequency start.
The 210EXT also offers both 110v and 240v operation so it's got a good bit of flexibility.
The price tag is surprisingly low given the amount of power you get with this welding machine. That said this TIG welder demonstrated incredibly good performance. Arc stability is fantastic.
Heck, it even offers a 60% cycle duty at 240V and 210A, which pretty much blows away everything in its price class. If you're looking for the best budget welding machine, you can't go wrong with the Everlast.
For use with generators, you'll want to ensure they're certified as "clean power". This means that this welder has <10% total harmonic distortion (THD).
When operating on 120V power, you'll need a generator capable of at least 3500 surge watts. For 240V usage, a generator rated for 7500 surge watts or greater is required.
Lincoln has built a solid reputation for quality. The Square Wave TIG 200 welder is a continuation of that tradition.
At just 46 lbs it's fairly portable. It's about 10lbs heavier than the AHP AlphaTIG 200x. It is capable of welding both AC and DC. In addition to TIG capabilities, the welder can also be used for Stick welding applications.
It's a dual voltage capable welder so you can use it on either a 120V or 230V outlet. When using a standard 120V outlet it's duty cycle is 25% at 125A for TIG and 20% at 75A for stick.
When using 230V the duty cycle is 25% at 200A for TIG welding and 20% at 170A for Stick welding.
Setup is pretty straightforward using the intuitive push-and-turn controls on the front of the welding machine.
AC frequency is easy to adjust allowing for a wider or tighter bead when welding aluminum. You can also quickly adjust the AC balance when dealing with surfaces that are less than ideal (or to improve overall penetration)
The Digital Tig 200 from Razorweld is right in the middle between the AlpahTIG and the Miller on price when it comes to TIG welders in this power range. The digital controls on the Razorweld are extremely easy to use.
The welder operates on both 115v and 230v and has a duty cycle of 35% at 200A.
The high-frequency ignition offers pre-gas and an instantaneous Arc ignition just by pressing the switch on the torch.
This leaves no tungsten inclusion and leaves the tungsten electrode uncontaminated.
It is DC only and capable of producing high-quality TIG and ARC welds.
It's not the cheapest welder in this category, but Razorweld is quickly becoming a popular brand among professional welders. This is in part due to its reliable performance and superior customer support. All Razorweld products are produced in the state of Washington here in the U.S.A.
There is a SIGNIFICANT price jump between the Dynasty 200 and the other two welders in the 200A range, but Miller has long been considered one of the absolute best manufacturers out there.
This is the type of welding machine that you can build a business around. It's manufactured here in the U.S.A and is backed by Miller's incredible support staff.
If you're looking for the best 200-Amp TIG welder for everyday use, this one can't be beaten on a performance basis.
The welder has amazing flexibility with an amperage range from 1A-210A. It welds steel from 0.002 in. (0.05 mm) - 1/4 in. (6.4 mm) and aluminum from 0.012 in. (0.3 mm) - 1/4 in. (6.4 mm). The duty cycle is 60% at 210A and it can handle single or three-phase power.
At 47lbs the Dynasty 200 welder is no lightweight but it provides unparalleled performance and durability. It is a SERIOUS investment but should serve you for years to come.
The Forney 322 TIG welder offers the best balance of quality, capability, and price of any of the welding machines that we tested in the sub-200Amp category.
For the money, this class of welder is tough to beat. They're great for beginners, offer both AC & DC capabilities, and some can even handle aluminum. They're perfect for anyone just dipping their toes into TIG welding or if you will only be working with smaller gauge materials.
It's a multi-process welder so it can handle Stick, TIG (requires separate parts), and MIG welds. This puts it leagues ahead of the Miller and the Hobart that came in number 2 and 3 respectively.
While the Forney 322 machine is perfectly capable of TIG welding, you will need to purchase the TIG torch and foot pedal separately. You can find both the torch and foot pedal on Amazon. While this does bump the price up close to the Hobart, you're still getting a great deal more capability at basically the same price.
The Forney 322 welder is NOT designed for heavy-duty fabrication work. While it can MIG weld up to 1/4" material, this requires a great deal of preparation to ensure you get the penetration necessary for a strong weld. This means no dirt or grease on the material and making sure to hit the work area with a wire brush or grinder. A solid ground connection is also a must.
Anything below 1/4" is a breeze. This makes this machine a great welder for smaller welding projects around the house or on the farm.
The Forney is extremely easy to use. It uses "euro" style connections that make switching torches quick and painless. The controls are very simple and intuitive. Simply select the type of welding you want to do, make the necessary adjustments, and away you go.
The EZ TIG 165i is Hobart's entry-level TIG welder and the best TIG welder for the money. It offers both AC & DC functionality and operates at 230V.
Compared to the Miller, this guy is a boat anchor as it comes in at 50lbs.
As far as usability, it doesn't get any more simple than the EZ Tig. There is one dial for adjusting your amperage. This is adjustable between 10 and 165 Amps. And there is a single switch for AC or DC operation.
The EZ TIG 165i welder comes with a foot pedal for easy control during operation. It also offers a high-frequency start allowing for a non-contact arc start. It also incorporates a couple of nice features for extending the longevity of the welder.
The first is a fan-on-demand function that helps to reduce the amount of potential debris that gets pulled into the welder and to aid cooling. The second is an automatic high-temperature shutdown feature.
The duty cycle on the 165i is 20% at 150A. This jumps up to 100% at just above 50A output. Compared to the Miller, the Hobart doesn't offer the same level of performance, but it's still a solid welding machine and comes with several accessories that are extra with other welders (such as the foot pedal).
It will work with materials from 22 gauge to 3/16" in both AC (for aluminum) and DC (for steel, stainless, chromoly).
With it's simple controls and easy switch between 110V to 220V the EZ TIG 165i is a great welder for beginners. It offers both AC & DC welding so you can weld steel and aluminum. Sure it is significantly heavier than some other welders, but flexibility is more important than portability when looking at a starter TIG welder.
This Hobart machine is one of the simplest TIG welders out there. It is an excellent welding machine for those just learning to TIG weld. It offers plenty of power but it is CONSIDERABLY heavier at 50lbs. Still a great machine, just not as portable. Definitely the best TIG welder for the money in this category.
The Miller Maxstar 150 is a DC ONLY TIG welder that comes in at a featherweight 13.5 lbs (compared to 50 on the Hobart!). So while it IS a highly portable welder, it lacks the flexibility of working on aluminum.
It's capable of operating at 110v or 220v with an amperage range of 5A to 150A. It works on steel ranging from 0.020 in (0.5 mm) to 3/16 in (4.8 mm).
The duty cycle is 30% at 150A but jumps to 100% at 100A meaning this little beast can go all day long. Switching from 15V to 230V is as simple as swapping out a plug.
Miller has been making quality welding equipment and plasma cutters for decades. If you're looking for a TIG welder to form the backbone of your operation you can't go wrong with the Maxstar 150. In fact, if you need a portable TIG welder, there's nothing out there better, period. It's simply the best lightweight portable TIG welder available.
While it is only DC, the Miller Maxstar is a great welder if you require portability. Its small size means you can take it anywhere.
Successful TIG welding is all about accurate amperage control and the Miller is as good as it gets. The fact that it weighs in at 14lbs makes it highly portable, and a 100% duty cycle at 100A means it can go as long as you can. If you're looking for the best portable TIG welder you can't go wrong with this one. For more information check out our full Miller Maxstar 150 review.
In the past few years more and more TIG welders are appearing on the scene from overseas. Some of these are quality products, while others are straight-up junk. Here are the most important features, capabilities, and functions you should look for as well as what to avoid.
One of the first specifications to look at on any TIG your considering is the amperage range. Ideally, you'll want the widest possible range for the best possible price. A narrow range will limit the types of materials with which you'll be able to work.
A TIG welder with an amperage range between 5A - 230A will allow you to weld anything from 1/4" aluminum all the way down to 24 gauge steel.
Knowing ahead of time the types and thicknesses of metals you'll be working with will allow you to get the most bang for your buck.
In addition to the welder having a flexible amperage range, stability at low amperage is also very important. Low amperage would be considered anything below 10A. This provides 3 specific benefits:
TIG welding is typically performed on thinner materials. If the starting amperage is too high you risk torching the material or burning clean through. The ability to start the arc without high-frequency or hot starts is an especially important feature when working with these thin materials.
Stability is just as important during welding as it is during the start. When working with more delicate materials the last thing you want is to burn it right off the bat or have the arc dance around on you.
Finally, stability is also important at the finish of a weld. It's common practice in TIG welding to drop the output amperage as your finishing to fill in the weld crater. Stability during this gradual reduction in output is crucial. This is especially true when working with aluminum which can crack if the weld puddle is too thick (concave) or cools too quickly.
Getting a welding machine that is capable of offering both AC and DC output gives you the most flexibility in the types of materials you can weld. To weld hard materials like steel or stainless you'll need DC (direct current).
For metals that are self-oxidizing, such as magnesium or aluminum, you'll need AC (alternating current) capability. As the name suggests, AC alternates between positive and negative. This serves two different but crucial roles while welding self-oxidizing metals. The positive half cleans away oxidation as it appears. The negative half works its way into the metal itself.
The simplest explanation is this: the negative half of the cycle performs the welding, while the positive half cleans the surface of the weld, exposing the base metal beneath.
An absolute must-have for any AC TIG welder is balance control. AC balance control allows you to set the duration of each cycle of the alternating current. This enables you to shorten or lengthen the "cleaning cycle" or the "welding cycle" to suit the metal (more oxidized) and application with which you're working. At a minimum, you should look for a machine that has manual balance control.
Some TIG welders will offer automatic balance control that adjusts with the output amperage. If your budget allows for it, this is the ideal. This will help improve both the look and the overall quality of your welds.
Another critical feature is to be able to accurately control the heat. When working with thinner or more delicate materials too much heat can warp the metal.
Pulse welding is one way of minimizing warpage. When pulse welding, the machine will alternate between a lower and higher peak current. This pulse effect allows the arc to remain stable while reducing the heat applied to the material.
If your budget will allow, this is a great feature to have in a welder.
Duty cycle is a measurement of how long a TIG welder can run at a given output in a ten-minute window. So a 200A machine with a 40% duty cycle could run for 4 minutes at 200A before needing to be cooled.
A less expensive TIG welder will have lower duty cycles (20% or lower) as they have smaller power supplies. Higher quality TIGs will have duty cycles upwards of 60%.
Price plays a large role in this feature. Bigger power supplies or more efficient welders generally cost more. If you're going to need a machine that can reliably run at 60%, don't skimp or cut it close. You'll ultimately be disappointed.
TIG welding, in general, requires a high degree of skill. But that doesn't mean that your machine needs to be complicated. In fact, it should be as user-friendly as possible with controls that are well laid out and easy to learn.
Accessories such as a foot pedal that allows for amperage control is a most definitely a plus. This allows you to increase or decrease the amperage output without looking up from your work.
If you're planning on welding aluminum, having an amperage control foot pedal is a must-have. At the start of the weld, the metal can be quite cool and require more power. By the time you reach the end of the weld, the aluminum will have heated and your amperage will need to be lowered.
Hand controls are fine, but imagine trying to drive your car without the use of your foot accelerator. It would unnecessarily complicate things. If you're serious about welding, invest in a welder that comes with a foot pedal, or buy one separately.
Here are a few of the more common mistakes people make when buying a TIG machine;
Finding the best TIG welder for your needs should be a balance of features and price. We hope you have found our reviews helpful.
We review the top performing tungsten inert gas welding machines
Jason is a work from home dad who has a passion for DIY projects, yard work, and SEC Football. His background is IT, but he's always fancied himself as a part-time ship welder, landscaper, and short order cook. During the week he can be found on his laptop 10 hours-a-day, but on the weekends he escapes to the local DIY Cave to play with REAL toys. You can also find him on Facebook, Twitter, and can contact him via email.