The TIG welder was first developed in the 1930s as a way to weld lightweight magnesium for the aircraft industry. These machines can produce very neat welds, particularly on thin metal sheets, and have the versatility to weld a variety of materials. As a result, TIG welders are popular with engineers, automotive technicians, and craftspeople.
TIG welding demands good control from both the operator and the equipment. For those new to TIG welding, selecting the right machine can be particularly challenging. This article discusses the key features to consider and suggests which would make the best TIG welder for everyone from the novice to the experienced professional.
- BEST OVERALL: AHP AlphaTIG 203Xi 200-Amp IGBT AC DC TIG Welder
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: S7 HF 200-Amp Dual Voltage TIG/Stick/Arc Welder
- UPGRADE PICK: PrimeWeld TIG225X 225-Amp IGBT AC DC TIG/Stick Welder
- BEST PROFESSIONAL: Lincoln Electric Square Wave TIG 200 TIG Welder
- BEST FOR BEGINNERS: Eastwood Elite 200-Amp LCD Digital AC DC TIG Welder
- BEST PORTABLE: Everlast PowerArc 140STi 140-Amp TIG Welder
- BEST DUAL VOLTAGE: Weldpro Digital TIG 200GD AC DC 200 Amp Tig/Stick
- BEST FOR ALUMINUM: Lotos TIG200 AC DC 200-Amp TIG Welder with DC Stick
- BEST TIG PLASMA CUTTER: PrimeWeld 50 Amp Plasma Cutter, 200A TIG/Stick Combo
- BEST MULTI-PROCESS: Hitbox HBM1200 140-Amp 3-in-1 Mig Welder
Before You Buy a TIG Welder
TIG’s versatility allows for the welding of a greater variety of metals than any other process. It is possible to produce very neat welds that need little or no further finishing. The best TIGs can work on both thin and thick material.
However, of all the different types of welding, TIG is the most difficult to learn to do well. It requires good coordination and patience since it is typically a slower process than other welding methods.
TIG welding is not usually recommended for beginner welders, and it is certainly easier to achieve success with MIG or stick welding. It is almost impossible to TIG weld outdoors. That said, there is no better weld for the accurate joining of thin sheets or small components, and many novice TIG welders persevere for this reason. TIG welding machines can be expensive, though we have found some affordable models ideal for occasional users and hobbyists.
How We Chose the Best TIG Welders
I am an engineer by profession, and I also like to tinker with old vehicles in my spare time. I have worked with a variety of welders, and although I haven’t used TIG welding often, I understand the techniques. The Bob Vila team augmented my experience with market research to ensure we had all the relevant, up-to-date information.
Performance is key, but rather than compare a range of high-end models, we have tried to find tools that meet all needs. We set out to find a good TIG welder for aluminum (because it is one of the materials at which TIG excels for welding), but we also looked for the best TIG welder for home use, pros, or certain features.
Durability is a major factor, and we largely chose brands that are recognized within the industry for long-term reliability. That said, we also considered small TIG welders for those with a modest budget, provided there was sufficient user feedback to warrant their inclusion.
Our Top Picks
The following products have been categorized to provide quick and easy reference for a variety of users looking for the best TIG welder for their workshop.
- AC/DC: Yes
- Amperage: 10A to 200A
- Duty cycle: 60 percent at 200A
- IGBT inverter technology and pulse width modulation (PWM) for precise use
- Powerful duty cycle can weld everything from ¼-inch aluminum to ⅜-inch mild steel
- Foot pedal included for hands-free adjusting while welding
- Fairly heavy; may not provide the best portability
- The ground clamp could be improved
Choosing a single best TIG welder from the many options available is a considerable challenge. However, the AHP AlphaTIG consistently takes top spot in independent reviews for its combination of performance, versatility (it includes a stick-welding function), and value for the money.
Amperage control from 10A to 200A offers the flexibility to weld a wide range of metals, from ¼-inch aluminum to ⅜-inch mild steel. IGBT inverter technology and pulse width modulation (PWM) provide more efficient energy use and precise control over output. Contactless HF (high-frequency) start means the electrode doesn’t need to touch the material to be welded. This is particularly useful for aluminum, where sudden contact heat can burn through. A 60 percent duty cycle offers a longer working period than many rivals. The welder includes a foot pedal.
At 40 pounds, this model is heavier than many, and the ground clamp could be more substantial, but this is a great tool for the professional or enthusiastic amateur looking for a high-quality all-around welder.
Get the AHP AlphaTIG welder at Amazon or The Home Depot.
- AC/DC: DC only
- Amperage: 10A to 200A
- Duty cycle: 85 percent
- Operates as a TIG, stick, and arc welder for various material thicknesses
- Suitable for use on copper, cast iron, stainless steel, alloy steel, chrome, and more
- Lightweight construction and built-in handle allow for easy portability on jobsites
- Budget price point compared with similar options on the market
- DC only, so this model should not be used on aluminum
- Poor instructions included with the unit; may take some time to learn how to use properly
The low-cost S7 TIG welder offers a surprisingly good feature set. It is a dual-voltage machine with an easy high-frequency start that is capable of welding steel, cast iron, copper, and other nonferrous metals. However, with no AC, it can’t weld aluminum. Its duty cycle is an outstanding 85 percent, though maximum material thickness of 3/16 inch is a factor. Typically, more powerful machines that can weld thicker sheets produce more heat, which results in shorter duty cycles.
The S7 TIG welder nevertheless provides good versatility thanks to the stick function, which is particularly good for outdoor work. At 19 pounds, the tool is also light and maneuverable.
This is the best budget TIG welder on our list, with controls that are clear and easy to use. However, the instructions are poor. While it is an inexpensive tool for small project work, and users can find more detailed instructions online, it is perhaps not the best TIG welder for beginner use.
Get the S7 TIG welder at Amazon.
- AC/DC: Yes
- Amperage: 10A to 225A
- Duty cycle: 40 percent
- Operates as a powerful TIG and stick welder; capable of welding steel of up to ½-inch thick
- Inverter with pulse frequency and modulation control allows for precision while welding
- Face mask and foot pedal included with purchase for safety and user-friendliness
- Heavy construction at 41 pounds; may not be as portable as some comparable units
- Somewhat complex to use; may take users some time to master its intricacies
The powerful dual-current PrimeWeld TIG225X is capable of welding up to ½-inch steel, plus a full range of other metals. Inverter technology reduces power consumption, while pulse frequency and pulse width modulation (PMW) provide exceptional weld control.
A welding mask and foot pedal are part of an extensive set of accessories, which includes the CK17 flex head torch and CK hose. These are preferred by many professionals for the flexibility and freedom of movement they allow. There is HF start hand torch control, and 2T/4T welding modes, which allow trigger-free welding if preferred.
The PrimeWeld TIG225X is a very good machine and difficult to criticize. However, it does weigh 41 pounds. It is also quite a complex machine that’s best suited to the experienced welder.
Get the PrimeWeld TIG225X TIG welder at Amazon or Walmart.
- AC/DC: Yes
- Amperage: 10A to 200A
- Duty cycle: 60 percent at 130A, 40 percent at 160A, 25 percent at 200A
- Capable of both stick and TIG welding for excellent versatility
- Suitable for welding aluminum, steel, stainless steel, chrome alloy, and nonferrous metals
- Foot pedal included with purchase for easy adjustments while welding
- Expensive compared with some other options on the market
Lincoln Electric has long been one of the leading welder brands, recognized for high-quality, durable, professional-grade machines. The Square Wave TIG 200 uses technology that crops the top and bottom of a standard AC sine wave.
This provides a more uniform power flow, which increases weld cleaning and heating for stronger welds.
The Lincoln Electric is rated for 3/16-inch aluminum, up to 3/8-inch steel, and will weld stainless steel, chrome alloy, and nonferrous metals such as copper. Stick welding is also available. The included foot pedal is notable for its smooth action.
Despite the solid build, the Lincoln Electric Square Wave only weighs 46 pounds. It is renowned for being remarkably intuitive and easy to use, and it might rank as the best starter TIG welder if not for the high price.
Get the Lincoln Electric TIG welder at Amazon or The Home Depot.
- AC/DC: Yes
- Amperage: 10A to 200A
- Duty cycle: 20 percent at 200A, 100 percent at 89A (240V); 20 percent at 120A, 100 percent at 54A (120V)
- Operates as an AC/DC TIG or stick welder for versatility; perfect for beginners
- Large LCD screen allows the user to choose between the 5 customizable preset settings
- Dual operation modes of 120 or 240 volts; can make welds of up to ¼ inch
- Comes with either finger or rocker foot pedal controls to suit multiple users’ preferences
- High price point compared with other options on this list
- May not work well for single-pass welding jobs
Made for beginners as well as professionals, this TIG welder from Eastwood Elite delivers excellent performance and has its fair share of user-friendly features. One of the most notable features of this model is its large and intuitive LCD screen that easily adjusts the model’s five customizable preset settings, which is an ideal feature for those who are new to TIG welding.
This model also comes with the ability to operate on 120 or 240 volts to make welds of ⅛ inch to ¼ inch on aluminum, steel, and stainless steel with the included flex head torch and gas lens kit. The operating modes can also be controlled with either finger or rocker foot pedal controls.
The Eastwood Elite operates as an AC/DC TIG and stick welder and has a pulsed TIG. However, it is only capable of running at 20 percent at 200A (240V), which means it may not be the best option for quick welding on thick metal varieties. Plus, it comes with a premium price tag.
Get the Eastwood Elite TIG welder at Amazon or Walmart.
- AC/DC: DC only
- Amperage: 10A to 140A
- Duty cycle: 35 percent at 140A (240V), 35 percent at 80A (120V)
- Compact, lightweight at only 10 pounds, and easy to move around if necessary
- Made with an automatic adaptive hot start and adaptive arc force control
- Comes with a range of accessories as well as a hard case for easy transport and organization
- No foot pedal included with purchase
- DC power only; not suitable for use on aluminum
The Everlast PowerArc offers several attractive features in a compact and lightweight package. It weighs 10 pounds and comes with a tough plastic case for accessories, making it very easy to carry around. Although the 140A maximum is lower than some other models, the IGBT inverter provides stable power with low energy consumption. It is at its best when welding steel up to ⅛-inch thick, which is typical for hobby and DIY projects.
This TIG welder uses a lift start, which isn’t contactless but requires only a light touch against the metal. It is much cleaner and more controllable than a traditional scratch start, particularly for those new to TIG welding, with a hot start and adaptive arc force control.
The Everlast PowerArc comes with a basic welding mask, though not a foot pedal. Although it won’t weld aluminum, the low cost, portability, and ease of use make it arguably the best home TIG welder in this selection and among the best small TIG welders available.
Get the Everlast TIG welder at Amazon.
- AC/DC: Yes
- Amperage: 5A to 200A
- Duty cycle: 40 percent at 200A, 100 percent at 110A
- Capable of welding a wide range of materials including aluminum, aluminum alloy, steel, stainless steel, and more
- Can be controlled with the easy-to-use control panel as well as the rocker-style foot pedal
- Comes with a variety of accessories and tools for various welding tasks
- Heavier than some; may not provide the best portability
Dual-voltage tig welders are among the most versatile options on the market due to their ability to weld aluminum, aluminum alloy, steel, stainless steel, and more. This Weldpro is no different. This AC/DC dual-voltage model is capable of welding carbon steel, stainless steel, copper, and many other ferrous and nonferrous metals.
While the duty cycle is a relatively short 40 percent at full power, the tool can run continuously when welding at 110A. This Weldpro is also capable of running at 60 percent when the AC TIG function is operating. The overall amperage range is 5A to 200A, but each process has different parameters depending on voltage.
The Weldpro 200GD will weld compatible metals of up to ½ inch using TIG. The dials on the control panel are also easy to use and quick to set, and the included rocker-style foot pedal can provide hands-free adjustment. The unit is somewhat heavy at 31.5 pounds, which may be cumbersome when transporting.
Get the Weldpro TIG welder at Amazon.
- AC/DC: Yes
- Amperage: 10A to 200A
- Duty cycle: 60 percent at 150A (110V); 60 percent at 190A (220V)
- Square-wave control provides precision and stable control while welding
- Renowned welding machine manufacturer for peace of mind, solid build quality, and durability
- Competitive price point compared with similar options on the market
- Suitable for use on steel, stainless steel, aluminum, cast iron, and nonferrous materials
- Foot pedal could be smoother when in operation
- Heavy at 58 pounds; not as portable as other models available
Welding aluminum is a challenging process. While the metal is soft and melts easily, if power isn’t evenly supplied, the weld will be inconsistent or weakened by contamination. The Lotos TIG200 combats this with an energy-efficient inverter machine that uses square-wave technology to deliver very precise and stable control.
Lotos is one of the world’s leading welding machine manufacturers, and the TIG200 offers the brand’s proven build quality and reliability. While often chosen as the best TIG welder for aluminum, it is also capable of welding steel to ⅜ inch, stainless, cast iron, and nonferrous metals. It also has a stick-welding capability.
A foot pedal is included, though the action isn’t as smooth as it could be. While the weight of 58 pounds is not unmanageable, it is heavier than others.
Get the Lotos TIG welder at Amazon.
- AC/DC: DC only
- Amperage: 50A plasma, 200A TIG
- Duty cycle: 60 percent for all processes
- Terrific versatility; operates as a TIG, plasma, and stick welder
- Can weld steel, stainless steel, cast iron, magnesium, and other nonferrous materials
- Integrated IGBT inverter technology provides stability and control while the unit is in use
- Good portability; compact and lightweight unit weighs just 32 pounds
- Foot pedal is sold separately
- DC construction can cut aluminum but cannot weld it
Plasma cutters offer rapid cutting of steel, cast iron, and most nonferrous metals and can be used both indoors and out. The multi-process PrimeWeld three-in-one machine can slice through steel plate up to an impressive ½-inch thick, and it changes quickly and easily to TIG welding with a maximum weld of ⅜ inch. A stick-welding capability is also included, and IGBT inverter technology provides good welding stability.
For all its versatility, the PrimeWeld weighs just 32 pounds, which is light enough to transport from home to jobsite if required. A foot pedal is available, but it costs extra and is quite expensive. This is a DC machine, so while the plasma cutter can pierce aluminum with ease, it cannot weld it. Despite those small drawbacks, the PrimeWeld plasma cutter offers tremendous value for the money.
Get the PrimeWeld CT-520D TIG welder at Amazon or The Home Depot.
- AC/DC: DC only
- Amperage: 15A to 140A
- Duty cycle: 60 percent
- Provides MIG, TIG, and stick welding for excellent versatility
- Light and compact design; unit weighs less than 18 pounds pounds for excellent portability
- Controls are simple to use; switching between functions should be easy
- TIG torch is sold separately; may not be ideal for some users
- DC-only capability is not made for welding aluminum
At first glance, the Hitbox 3-in-1 seems like an impressive multi-process welder, and it will certainly appeal to those who need a budget-friendly machine for light-duty MIG, stick, and TIG welding. It weighs less than 18 pounds, offering great portability.
Using the MIG function, which is particularly attractive to beginner welders, the Hitbox can weld up to ¼-inch steel plates. With the TIG function, this is limited to 3/16 inch. However, that is still competitive for a welder in this price range. Its duty cycle is also reasonable at 60 percent. Changing the Hitbox 3-in-1 from one process to another is straightforward, and the controls are easy to use.
The drawback is that this is primarily a MIG welder, with TIG as a secondary function. As a result, the TIG torch will need to be purchased separately. While these need not be expensive, it does affect the otherwise low price, and it takes the total cost above that of some comparable TIG welders.
Get the Hitbox TIG welder at Amazon.
What to Consider When Choosing a TIG Welder
TIG stands for tungsten inert gas and is also often referred to as gas tungsten arc welding (GTAW). When done well, it produces immensely strong precision welds in a wide variety of metals. The TIG welding machine and associated equipment can be complex, so there are a number of key features that need to be considered when making a purchase.
Type of Project
A TIG welder can weld various steels (including stainless), cast iron, brass, aluminum, copper, magnesium, and titanium. It can be used to join very thin materials, but depending on a particular machine’s performance, it can also weld considerable thicknesses.
Originally introduced in the aviation industry, TIG welding’s precision has become increasingly popular for aerospace, medical, electronics, robotics, and military applications. Appearance is a key benefit of TIG welds, so it is often the go-to method if the finished weld is visible.
TIG welding is also popular with the auto repair industry because of its neatness and because it is better for welding aluminum, which has become widely used on modern vehicles. Craftspeople and artisans also appreciate the performance of this welding method for fabricating delicate pieces or large sculptures.
Not surprisingly, the welding electrode (the part of the torch that melts the metal) on a TIG welder gets very hot—so hot, in fact, that the electrodes need frequent rest periods or they will overheat. Most TIG welders include a warning light as a safety precaution, and some will turn themselves off if this is ignored. It can be very frustrating in mid-weld, so it’s a good idea to be aware of this safety feature.
The period of time that a TIG welder can operate before it needs a break is called the duty cycle. The figure is usually given as a percentage of 10 minutes. So, if a particular machine has a duty cycle of 50 percent, for example, it means it needs to rest 5 minutes for every 5 minutes worked.
Usually the duty cycle is given when operating at maximum amperes. However, it is often possible to run the TIG welder at lower amperes (cooler) for longer. Manufacturers may provide more than one figure, such as 45 percent at 200A and 70 percent at 160A. Bear in mind it is not unusual for duty cycles to be as short as 25 percent, particularly on low-cost TIG welders.
Voltage and Amperage Range
Many TIG welders can run at two voltages, either 110V off a household supply, or 220V from a generator. While both can technically produce the same amperage, a 220V supply will produce a hotter weld, and one that penetrates thick materials more effectively. It can still be turned down for delicate welding. That flexibility makes 220V the preferred option among many pros.
Amperage (sometimes just called amps) varies depending on the thickness of metal being welded (low amps for thin material, high amps for thicker material). It’s difficult to give precise figures because the type of material also affects amperage.
Many TIG welders, but by no means all, offer AC and DC welding. This is important for those who want to weld the widest variety of materials.
DC (direct current) is fine for mild steel and stainless steel. However, AC (alternating current) is required for aluminum. While normally considered a soft metal, aluminum can oxidize readily. This oxidation absorbs heat without melting properly and can result in poor welds. A DC TIG welder only provides a single stage current, whereas an AC TIG welder supplies both positive and negative electrons. Use of both positive and negative currents “cleans” off the oxides and produces heat for a better weld.
With the exception of machines dedicated to welding aluminum, the best TIG welder is seldom a single-purpose tool. In other words, they are usually capable of performing more than one type of welding. These machines are often called multi-process welders.
Stick welding (also known as MMA, or manual metal arc) is a common alternative built into some models. It is particularly good for outdoor welding. MIG, considered by many the easiest type of welding to learn, is another alternative. Plasma cutting is an option as well, and it uses the welding torch to cut through metals rather than join them together.
Professionals will generally want a machine that’s as focused as possible. Hobbyists and craftspeople might enjoy the versatility that a multi-process welder provides, and it need not be expensive. In some cases, TIG is a secondary process of a MIG welder, so it is important to check what is included. While the machine might be capable of TIG welding, the TIG torch might involve extra cost.
Weight and Portability
It is almost impossible to TIG weld outdoors, because even a slight breeze disturbs the protective gas bubble formed around the weld. As these tools are unlikely to be moved great distances on a regular basis, weight isn’t really of primary importance. However, it is still a consideration if you need to move the welder around the workshop, or from home to the workplace.
Depending on the model, a TIG welder can weigh from under 20 pounds to more than 90 pounds. Handles are invariably provided.
It’s also worth checking the length of the power cord and electrode holder (torch) cable, as well as the ground clamp. These factors will affect the amount of movement available to the operator.
If there is too little amperage, the metal does not melt properly, and the weld is not correctly formed. Conversely, with too much amperage, the welder can burn a hole right through the material. An experienced welder can set up the machine with a high degree of accuracy at the start, and so a foot pedal may not be necessary.
However, a foot pedal on the welder allows the user to vary the amperage while working. This feature often is recommended for beginners because of the increased control a foot pedal offers. Many professionals argue that they also increase productivity.
The foot pedal cord length can restrict movement, however. Cordless foot pedals are available, but the machines they work with are expensive. Additionally, it is very difficult to use a foot pedal if welding while standing.
It is important to make this decision at the outset. Some TIG welders include a foot pedal, but many do not, and it might not be practical to add one later.
The information above provides a comprehensive look at the many features offered by these machines and suggests the best TIG welders to suit different users or tasks. While many questions will have been covered, during our research we came across several that deserve further attention. The answers to those are provided here.
Q. What is the difference between a TIG welder and other welding machines?
A TIG welder generally offers greater precision, particularly when welding thin sheet metal or small items. You can read more in this article about the four main types of welders.
Q. Can you TIG weld without gas?
No. Gas protects the weld from contamination and is often also used to cool the welding torch. If gas is not used, the consequence could be a completely burnt torch, thus making the welding tool unusable.
Q. Can I TIG weld at home?
Absolutely. We have recommended some compact and affordable TIG welding equipment above. Although a little more challenging to learn than other welding methods, it is ideal for small projects, home auto repair, and creative welding.
Q. How long does a TIG welder last?
The torch and other components will wear eventually, but as long as users care for the welder according to manufacturer recommendations and avoid damage from dropping it, a TIG welder should last many years.
Why Trust Bob Vila
Bob Vila has been America’s Handyman since 1979. As the host of beloved and groundbreaking TV series including “This Old House” and “Bob Vila’s Home Again,” he popularized and became synonymous with “do-it-yourself” home improvement.
Over the course of his decades-long career, Bob Vila has helped millions of people build, renovate, repair, and live better each day—a tradition that continues today with expert yet accessible home advice. The Bob Vila team distills need-to-know information into project tutorials, maintenance guides, tool 101s, and more. These home and garden experts then thoroughly research, vet, and recommend products that support homeowners, renters, DIYers, and professionals in their to-do lists.