5 Best Welder Generators – Make Your Welding Tools Really Portable!
Last updated: Apr 30, 2020
59Hours of Research
If you’re a welder or need welding as part of your work, it’s more than likely that you’re eventually going to come across a situation where there’s no power supply on hand. In that case, a welder generator offers a portable power supply that can support the high demands of professional welding equipment.
In order to help you find the best welder generator for your needs, we looked at 14 of the most popular products on the market today. The Lincoln Electric Eagle 10,000 Plus welder generator won our Editor’s Choice award thanks to the fact that it can handle any type of welding. It also comes with a massive 12-gallon fuel tank, so you don’t have to worry about low fuel interrupting your work. We also gathered up four other high-quality welder generators that are worth a closer look.
Top 5 Welder Generators Review 2020
In order to help you find the right generator for your welding projects, we considered a number of different features. We looked first at power output, since that affects what types of welding tools and styles you’ll be able to run. We also looked at the reliability of the engine – a heavy-duty generator is a big investment, after all. Finally, we considered whether there were extra outlets that you can use to power work lights or even your home. You’ll find all five of our top picks in the table below, followed by detailed reviews of each generator. Continue reading for our buying guide, which covers everything you need to know about picking the best engine-driven welder generator for you.
The Lincoln Electric Eagle 10,000 Plus handily took our Editor’s Choice award. This welder generator is beloved by users, and for good reason – it comes with just about everything you could need for a seamless experience.
To start, the generator is built around a 23-horsepower Kohler motor. It’s extremely reliable, with many users reporting back that their generator is still working after several years of regular use. Even better, this engine is surprisingly quiet given that it’s capable of putting out 9,000 watts of power continuously. It’s rated at just 76 dB, so it won’t bother your neighbors if you’re working on projects in the garage.
The generator turns on with a recoil starter or electric push-button start. You can adjust the power output to suit your welding project using both a three-position range selector and a fine output control knob. The DC welding is designed for a standard arc or stick welding tool, but you can also add MIG, flux-cored, and TIG welding tools (sold separately). The DC output is impressively smooth, and the generator comes with a grounding output and clamp so you don’t need to worry about electrical safety while working.
Helpfully, you can use this generator for more than just welding. It’s equipped with a pair of standard 120-volt AC outlets and a 120-volt/240-volt 50-amp outlet to run heavy-duty tools like an air compressor. Given how much power this welder generator has to offer, it’s fairly easy to use it to run an entire worksite without making any compromises.
Another thing to note is that Lincoln built this generator with a 12-gallon fuel tank. That gives you a full day of runtime for most welding projects. You can also monitor your remaining fuel and power output thanks to the built-in LED hour meter.
The only things to dislike about this generator are the weight and cost – they’re both high. But, that’s not surprising for such a reliable generator with a massive amount of power.
This burly welder generator from Hobart is a close competitor to the Lincoln Electric Eagle 10,000 plus. To start, it features the same 23-horsepower Kohler engine inside and is built with a massive 12-gallon gas tank so that you can get the most out of your welding projects. It also matches the Lincoln in adjustability, as the Champion Elite has a three-position range switch and an adjustment knob for further fine-tuning.
One important thing to note about this generator is that it only comes with an electric start function, not a recoil starter. That’s not a huge knock, but it can leave you in trouble if the onboard battery ever dies for some reason. Without it, there’s no other way to start the generator.
The Champion Elite supports a 100% duty cycle at 225 amps, which is pretty great. That means you don’t need to take a break from your welding at any point when running through light- and medium-duty jobs. It’s designed primarily for stick welding, but you can also set it up for TIG and flux-cored welding tools.
Another reason this generator stands out is that it’s packed with additional outlets. You get four GFCI-backed 120-volt AC outlets, plus two 50-amp outlets. That allows you to power other tools at your work site, including a plasma cutter if you need that for metalworking jobs.
The Champion Elite is lighter than most of its competitors in this size class, but that’s not saying much – it still weighs around 500 pounds. Hobart sells an optional wheel kit to help with portability, which is nice.
If you’re looking for the best small welder generator, the Tomahawk TWG210A is it. This generator is built around a 15-horsepower Tomahawk Power engine that supplies up to 2,000 watts. Interestingly, it’s an inverter generator. That pushes up the price somewhat, but it also means that you get much steadier sine waves and more consistent output to your welding electrode.
Another nice feature to this generator is that the amperage dial is much larger than what you’ll find on most other welder generators. That gives you truly fine control over how much current you’re drawing for any welding project. Even better, the welder generator comes with stick leads and TIG torch, and you can also run MMA welding tools off of this unit.
The biggest downside to this generator is the duty cycle. It’s limited to a 60% duty cycle at 210 amps – the unit’s maximum current output – so you’ll be forced to take frequent breaks in your work. This is fine for smaller jobs, but it can be problematic as the amount of welding work you have lined up increases.
Running additional tools off this generator while welding can also be an issue. The generator is equipped with two 120-volt, 20-amp outlets that can handle most power tools or work lights. However, since the generator is limited to 2,000 watts of output power, you’re likely to find yourself running up against power limits if you run multiple tools at once.
Still, there are other advantages that come with having a smaller engine and overall build. This is by far the lightest engine-driven welder we looked at, and it’s mounted on never-flat wheels for simple portability. Even then, it doesn’t skimp on peripherals – it has a built-in digital hour meter to keep an eye on the seven-gallon gas tank and an electric start function.
The Bobcat 250 from Miller is one of the most powerful and versatile welder generators on the market. It offers a massive 11,000 watts of surge power and 9,500 watts of continuous power. It’s built around the same reliable 23-horsepower engine as the similar Lincoln and Hobart offerings. However, the main reason that this generator doesn’t rate more highly for us is that you’re paying significantly more for that same engine.
Still, there’s something to be said for the range of situations you can use this engine-driven welder in. It has a current range of 40 to 250 amps, which you can control with a six-position range control and a large fine-tuning dial. Importantly, this welder generator also lets you switch between stick, TIG, AC MIG welding, or wire power. It’s also suitable for flux-cored welding and plasma cutting.
A nice thing about this generator is that you never have to take a break from your work. The 12-gallon fuel tank ensures that you can get a full day of welding in without having to stop and refuel. It also offers a 100% duty cycle even at the maximum 250-amp output.
As for additional outlets, this generator is closely matched with its competitors. It features four 120-volt, 20-amp outlets to power small tools and a 120-volt/240-volt outlet for more heavy-duty applications.
It’s also worth noting that the Bobcat 250 is available in diesel and liquid propane versions. That gives you a bit more flexibility when it comes to choosing how you want to power your welding or your jobsite as a whole.
Massive 11,000 watts of surge power
12-gallon fuel tank
100% duty cycle at 250 amps
Supports stick, TIG, and flux-cored welding and plasma cutting
Available in diesel and propane versions
Expensive compared to welder generators with the same engine
This small welder generator is a budget-friendly choice for the occasional metalworker. It lacks the power of more heavy-duty, professional-grade welder generators, but don’t let that fool you. This generator is portable, user-friendly, and packed with useful features.
The DC welder is capable of putting out up to 145 amps. That’s controlled by a single tuning knob, and Hobart has conveniently printed an amperage guide right on the front of the generator. At full power, you can power weld with DC stick electrodes up to 5/32” in diameter. Keep in mind that, given the maximum 4,000 watts of running power this generator provides, it’s not suitable for TIG, MIG, or flux-cored welding jobs and won’t work with most plasma cutters.
Helpfully, this welder generator is good for more than just welding. It comes with four 120-volt, 20-amp outlets that you can use to power a variety of smaller tools or even appliances in your home. All the outlets are covered, which is nice if you need to work even when the weather is less than nice outside. There’s also a 50-amp outlet, which you can use to power an air compressor or another heavy-duty tool.
Perhaps best of all, this generator is reasonably lightweight and portable. It comes mounted on a frame with wheels, so you can easily roll it out of the garage to wherever you need it. Just beware that the wheels are a bit more cheaply built than the rest of the generator, so they can struggle in mud or on uneven ground.
Supports stick welders up to 5/32” diameter
Four 120-volt outlets
Comes mounted on frame with wheels
Can’t be used for heavy-duty welding styles
Limited power to weld and run other tools at the same time
Wheels are cheaply built
Now that you’ve read more about our five favorite welder generators on the market, how do you decide which one is right for you? Some welder generators are designed for professional welders and contractors, while others are better suited for hobbyists and occasional welding jobs. In our buying guide, we’ll help you understand the difference and get the best welder generator for your needs.
Advantages of having an engine-driven welder generator
The number one advantage to having an engine-driven welder generator is reliability. When you get to a new job site, you don’t have to worry about sharing power with other workers or tools and compromising on the consistency of your welding power. Instead, by plugging into your own welder generator, you know exactly how much power you can expect and focus on all the other aspects of your job.
That’s doubly important if you find yourself needing to weld in areas that don’t have power. Farmers and ranchers often face this problem because they’re fixing equipment or fences out in the field, away from any power outlets.
The other big advantage to having a powerful welder generator is that you can handle whatever type of welding you need. Most generators aren’t designed just for stick electrodes – they can also handle TIG torches, MIG welding, or even plasma cutters for slicing cleanly through metal. A welder generator ensures that you can use the tools that are best for the job, without compromising because of power availability.
Welder generator features to consider before you buy
Welder generators can differ a lot not just in the power they offer, but in what types of welding processes they support and how versatile they are for different situations. So, it’s important to understand what the important features of a welder generator are and how they can affect your work.
DC welding and processes available
Most basic welding jobs rely on stick or TIG electrodes, which operate on DC current. But, there’s a lot more to think about when it comes to current and processes.
To start, you need to decide what types of welding styles you need the ability to do. Stick and TIG are important, but so is the ability to run a flux-cored welding tool. If you want the ability to use MIG welding, you’ll also need AC power outputs that have enough current to power that electrode.
The amount of current is also important to consider. The more current you have, the larger diameter welding torch you’ll be able to use. On top of that, having more current can be important for wire welding and for increasing your process speed. Professional users may need upwards of 200 amps, like the Lincoln, Hobart Champion Elite, and Miller welder generators provide. Hobbyist welders may be okay with much lower currents, in the range of 150 amps or less.
AC power output
Having AC power output isn’t strictly necessary for welding unless you want to use MIG welding. However, most of the rest of the power tool world runs on AC power, so it’s essential if you want to use your generator for anything other than welding.
Ideally, you’ll have enough wattage to run a welding tool and, say, a drill or power saw at the same time.
All the welder generators we reviewed have AC power outputs, but it’s important to keep in mind the total wattage available as well. You’ll be able to run much more heavy-duty tools with the Lincoln Electric Eagle 10,000 Plus, which offers 9,000 running watts, compared to the Hobart Champion 145 with its 4,000 watts of running power.
The outlets you have available for AC tools also matters. Smaller power tools may be able to run on standard 120-volt, 20-amp outlets – the same kind that you have around your house. However, heavy-duty power tools may require 240-volt power or outlets that are capable of delivering currents up to 50 watts. The Lincoln, Miller, and Hobart Champion Elite models all come with 240-volt power outlets for this purpose.
A welder generator is a serious investment, usually in the thousands of dollars. So, you want to be certain that the engine that your generator is built around is itself built to last. Not just that, but you might be in big trouble if your generator’s engine starts acting up in the middle of a big job.
All the welder generators that we reviewed were picked to a significant degree for their reliability. The Lincoln, Miller, and Hobart Champion generators all use the same 23-horsepower Kohler engine, which is extremely well-respected among welders.
Welding generators are by nature noisy, especially if you get one that has a massively powerful engine. However, you can find specific models that are built to minimize noise as much as possible.
The Lincoln Electric Eagle 10,000 Plus is a good example of this – it’s muffled so that it produces just 76 dB of noise. That’s loud, but not so loud that you’ll get complaints from your neighbors.
Welding accessories included
You can save some money down the road if your welder generator comes with essential accessories. These include things like a stick electrode cable or TIG welding torch, as well as a grounding cable and clamp. Some generators, like the Miller Bobcat 250, even come with welding gloves and goggles so you can get to work as soon as you take it out of the box.
Of course, these accessories aren’t essential. In many cases, you’ll want to spend the money to get high-quality accessories as you build out your welding kit.
Dimensions and weight
Welder generators are large and heavy – unfortunately, there’s not much way around that. However, the size and weight of your generator will depend a lot on the size of the engine and its overall power output. The 9,000-plus watt generators that we reviewed, for example, weigh around 500 pounds, while the much smaller Tomahawk generator weighs just 200 pounds. The Tomahawk and Hobart Champion 145 welder generators come mounted on wheels already, but you can also buy wheel kits for some of the larger options we reviewed.
A warranty gives you peace of mind that you’re protected in case anything unexpected happens to your new welder generator. Most of the generators we looked at come with warranties of three years of more. Hobart stands out for offering five-year warranties, while the Tomahawk generator is below the industry average with a two-year warranty policy.
Yes, as long as your welder generator has AC outlets (all of the ones we reviewed do). Keep in mind that you will need a transfer switch to hook up your welder generator to your home’s electrical circuits. Otherwise, you’ll have to plug in appliances one-by-one directly into your generator.
You cannot run multiple processes simultaneously. Different processes have different current requirements, but welder generators require that you set a specific current for output to your welding tools. So, you’ll have to stop and adjust current settings before changing to a new welding process.
Welder generators can power most welding tools, depending on current output. However, they can also be used to power anything that runs on AC power, like lights, small power tools, and even home appliances. As long as your welder generator has AC outlets available, you can use it just like any other non-welding generator.
The Tomahawk is a great choice for hobbyist or occasional welders. It’s small, portable, and fairly affordable, but still works with stick, TIG, and MIG welding processes.
The Hobart and Lincoln welder generators compete fiercely for the title of overall best welder generator. Both are built with a 23-horsepower Kohler engine, a 12-gallon fuel tank, and four 120-volt outlets. The Hobart unit comes with an attractive five-year warranty to boot. However, we feel that the Lincoln Electric Eagle 10,000 Plus is the better generator for welding because of its more natural user interface, backup recoil starter, and versatility for any welding job.