Welder generators are versatile pieces of equipment that every workshop, farm, and fabricator will find very essential to have. A welder generator is a generator and welder combo. The welder is able to power itself through the generator–meaning a welder that does not require an external power source.
BUT WAIT! This is not all a welder generator does. The modern welder generators have many more features packed in that they can be used as standalone generators, battery chargers, or even run your Plasma Cutter.
This review will focus on the top 5 multi-functional and high power output generators that are great value for your money.
MILLER BOBCAT 250
The Kohler engine under the hood has a 12 gallons fuel tank to ensure the generator can run for a long time. With this big a tank it is possible to run for 14 hours on low power output.
The generator is multipurpose producing both AC and DC. The engine has a 23.5HP rating with an output of CC/AC 250A, 25V at 60% duty cycle and CC/DC 250A, 25V at 100% duty cycle. The ampere range for this generator is from 40 – 250.
The Bobcat 250 is quieter than previous models providing a safer and better working conditions.
The generator can be used for Stick, MIG, TIG and flux cored welding. The TIG torch can be attached easily to the generator. Also, it has 120V sockets where plasma cutters can also be added.
This machine is therefore highly multi-functional. It is made into a compact yet fairly small package that is still fairly portable.
Maintenance is easy since the interior is easily accessible. It is not only power oriented but also ease to use. The generator comes with a number of knobs, lights and other gizmos that make it a breeze to use, even for newbies.
HOBART CHAMPION ELITE
The generator has a fuel capacity of 12 gallons–enough to power it for long periods.
All of the sockets come with circuit breakers to prevent the connected equipment whenever there is a surge.
With such high power output, this generator can be used for a wide range of functions and different types of welding jobs. The amperage range for Stick/ TIG welding is between 40 and 225A, 25V at 100% duty cycle.
The generator is highly portable. The design is compact and it weighs in at 493 pounds which is less than most competitive units.
There are enough receptacles to connect your peripherals and Hobart plasma cutters for multitasking. You get four 120V GFCI 20A sockets, one 240V, 50A socket and one 120/240V, 50A socket. You can therefore carry out simultaneous tasks and connect items with different power ratings to the generator with ease.
The machine comes with an electric start which makes it easy to get up and running. For power savings, the Hobart Champion Elite has auto-idle capability which saves power when you are not using the welder.
LINCOLN ELECTRIC RANGER 225
Under the hood is a 23HP Koehler gas engine that produces 10,500 watts peak power and 9000 watts continuous power which is enough for lots of functions.
The engine runs smoothly and quietly, thanks to the totally enclosed case which also provides total protection. To make accessibility to the engine easy for maintenance or repair purposes, the case has three access doors.
The amperage range for welding is from 50 – 225 amps, 25V at 100% duty cycle.
The rated output of the engine is 225V DC/CC, 25V at 40% duty cycle, 210A DC/CC 25V at 100% duty cycle and 200A DC /CV 20V at 100% duty cycle. This means the engine can meet many different power needs that you could possible encounter.
To ensure extended run times, the engine comes with a 12 gallon fuel tank. There is an oil drain extension for easy oil changes when the time comes. With the compact design this wielding generator is also ideal where portability is a desire.
MILLER BLUESTAR 225
The Miller Bluestar 225 operates with a 13HP Kohler engine that runs on gasoline. The fuel tank capacity is 6.25 gallons. It might seem limited but it can keep the generator running for long duration since the peak power is also not very high.
The generator produces 6500W of peak 1 phase power and 6200W continuous power.
The rated power output is CC/DC 185A, 25V at 20% duty cycle and CC/AC 185A, 25V at 20% duty cycle. This generator is ideal for TIG welding.
You can control the welding amperage from 60 – 195 amps.
The Bluestar 225 just like other Miller generators produces accu-rated power which is efficient and guaranteed even when in high usage.
The generator comes in a tube frame design that makes accessibility to the engine for maintenance quick and easy.
This is the ideal generator for those that are not looking for too much power especially when you want to use it as a standalone generator.
LINCOLN BULLDOG 5500
This is the choice for those looking for a lower power generator. It is only ideal for stick welding allowing you to weld 1/8 inch thick plates. However, with some extra equipment you can carry out wire welding.
The Lincoln Bulldog 5500 comes with an 8.9HP engine that is only good for 5500 watts peak power and 4000 watts of continuous power.
The fuel tank capacity is small at only 1.9 gallons.
This wielding generator includes several receptacles to allow multipurpose use and versatility. It comes with four 120V/ 33.3A sockets and one transitional 120 – 240V outlet. The welding amperage range is between 70 and 140 amps. The welding generator produces 125A, AC/25V and a 30% duty cycle and a 100A, AC/25V at 60% duty cycle.
The Lincoln Bulldog 5500 welding generator comes in a tube frame design that allows the engine to cool and makes maintenance easy. The frame also has the low lift bars which provide leverage when lifting the generator on or off the truck.
The tube frame is also thick and sturdy with ruggedness that’s ideal for outdoor use. While it may seem like low power generator, this one holds it’s own.
What are the Uses of a Welding Generator?
A welder generator has its own power source and therefore it doesn’t require an outlet from the electrical system to get power. This makes it a great power source for powering tools and machines where the electricity is not available.
They can be used in the construction industry, especially where steel and other metals are used for frames. They are also ideal for those extremely serious DIY enthusiasts who regularly have to join metals.
For farm owners, welding generators are a must have because they help in repairs of wagons, trailers, trucks, in constructing cattle fences and many more purposes. With a welding generator, a farm or ranch owner is able to save a lot of money that he could use for hiring professional welders.
For the high power welder generators, they can power an average sized home just like a standalone generator would do. Welder generators are portable and therefore ideal for use in areas where power is not always available and also when natural disasters knock the power out.
What to Look for in a Welding Generator
Just like any other machines out there, welding generators come with a wide array of specifications and capabilities. However, there are some basic features to look for in order to determine whether the welding generator will serve you well or not. Here are some of the considerations to have in mind.
Starting Mechanism – the generator can come with either an electric start or a pull start mechanism.
An electric mechanism is preferable because it is highly convenient. The electric mechanism will turn your generator on or off by just pushing the switch.
With the pull start mechanism, you have to pull a cord to kick start the generator. This takes some force for many people and may not be ideal for people who have injuries on their shoulders and back. It is also problematic to use when the generator is on the truck.
Fuel Type – the welding generators can operate from gasoline, diesel or LPG type of fuel. For those that use Liquefied Propane Gas (LPG), you will need an extra tank for the gas. LPG is also not as effective as gasoline or diesel even though it burns cleanly. Diesel run welder generators are in high demand because they are very efficient.
In a diesel engine, the fuel and the air are introduced separately so that only the air is compressed. This ensures less fuel usage. In the gasoline powered engines, the fuel and air mixed together and compressed meaning more fuel is used in the process.
The availability of the fuel could also highly influence which generator you choose. Gasoline is more readily available than diesel in most areas.
Fuel Tank Size / Run Time – the size of the fuel tank is important to extend run time. You do not want a generator that you have to keep refueling. Welding generators come with different fuel tank capacities. The higher the capacity the better it will be for you because you can work without distractions. Go for a generator that provides long run time.
Portability and Weight – do you travel from job site to the other or have to make repairs all over? If you will be carrying the generator from one place to the other for work, then you need one with a portable design and a weight that is easier to carry around. If you will only be using it in a workshop or mounted on your rig, then weight and size of the generator might not be an issue provided you have the space.
Frame Design and Usage Conditions – the frame design can either be a tube frame or an enclosed case. The tube frame design is usually lighter and highly portable than an enclosed case design. The tubes offer good leverage when lifting the generator and also it is easy to lift by crane than an enclosed frame design.
On the other hand, the enclosed frame offers total protection to the engine. Thus, keeping it safe from damage during use, transportation or in harsh weather conditions. It is therefore important to know the conditions under which you will be using the generator so you can decide on the most suitable frame.
Output Wattage – the rated output wattage is important because it determines what you will be able to do with the generator. Consider the type of welding you will be doing and the thickness of the metal plates you will encounter. Also consider the tools, work lights and other equipment you might need to use simultaneously. Some of the generators have enough power output to run an average sized house so they are also helpful when power runs out. Make sure to calculate your required power consumption if you use multiple tools at the same time.
Noise Level – the level of noise that comes with these powerful generators is not trivial. However, all the manufacturers with careful designs, reduce the noise a bit. None-the-less, you may also have to consider hearing protection.
The lower the noise the generator puts out, the later into the evening you can work in a residential area. Zoning laws are usually quite strict when it comes to how much noise you can make and what time you can make the noise. So keep in mind where you most often have to work and keep in mind the zoning restrictions.
Other Accessories You Might Need
There are many accessories you might need for your welder generator depending on what it can do and what you want to use it for. Here are some that will enhance functionality for any kind of welder generator.
Moveable Welding Cart – the movable welding cart enhances mobility of the welding generator making it possible for one person to move the generator around.
Extra Long Cables – the extra-long cables increase your reach in areas that are not easily accessible or for areas that are hard to reach.
Wire Feeders – some high power generators do not have built-in systems for feeding the wire so you will need to purchase a dedicated wire feeder. There are different types you can choose from depending on the type of welding you will be doing.
Welding Cable Reels – to enhance use of the extra-long cables you need welding cable reels. The reels will contain the cables well and make it easy to move the cable. The reel also makes the work site neat and reduces chances of tripping over the cables.
Conclusion for the Best Welder Generator
A best welder generator is a versatile piece of equipment suitable mostly for professional use. They are great where you need a multi-functional power source that will allow you to weld, power other tools, power working lights, and have a standalone generator you can use to power your house when need arises.