Welding is a job with many unique challenges, and one you might encounter is a construction site without electricity (or at least unreliable power that requires you to have a backup plan).
Conventional generators are good and nice, but they’re used for a whole range of other things, from your work lights to the power tools of other workers, and sharing (and balancing) can be a pain.
Fortunately, welders have another option: a welding generator that supplies its electricity in exchange for fuel. Having a good welding portable generator that meets the needs of a welder ensures that you can weld just about anything, anywhere.
Today we will look at a few best generators for welding that will serve you well in any situation.
Top 7 Best Generators for Welding – Our Top Picks in 2020
Lincoln Electric Ranger 305G Welder Generator
This is a great general-purpose generator specifically made for welding. It’s one of the best generators for welding and works with everything you can throw at it: Stick, TIG, wire, and tube welding. In addition to welding, it also has enough power for all other tools you might need at work.
It has a fuel tank of 12-gallon and runs on gas (not diesel). The lifespan of a generator varies from a generator to generator, but this means a life of about 12 to 14 hours, a little less if you apply a lot of pull on it. It delivers an output 9500 watts (10, 500 starting watts), i.e. almost twice the output of a standard generator with 5000 watts.
On the welding side, Lincoln’s “chopper” technology is used to smooth weld (as well as reduce the size of spatter and bead), and there’s a downward welding mod for pipes that you can also slap on it. This welder can weld steel, cast iron, and stainless steel making it suitable for most purposes, and can make 5/32 welds on its bar welder.
It is also inverter-compatible, so it can also supply all inverter welding machines that you may have with you.
Remember that it’s a rather bulky device, 42.3inches (length) x 21.5inches (width) x 36inches (height), so make sure you have enough room to carry it when you buy it.
- Compared to the standard generator it has a high power output
- It has a great welding technology
- Good fuel capacity
- The CC-stick mode is optimized using the E7018 low hydrogen electrode for general bar welding
- Downward pipeline welding mode
- Oblique rotor design
- Bulky and heavy; difficult to move on a construction site. Truck-bound
Hobart Champion Elite Engine Driven Welder Generator
It’s easy to use and easy to set up, with 120v and 240v sockets and easily resettable circuit breakers. The generator itself is an electric starter and it produces a constant AC power of 11, 000 watts, a bit more than most of these devices.
It’s also perfectly compatible with DC welding and is primarily designed for stick (scratch start) as well as flux-core and TIG welding.
It has a standard fuel capacity of 12 gallons but is slightly lighter than the most device of this size. On the whole not much (about 20 to 30 pounds less), but enough to get it under a few less generous weight capacities.
This generator has excellent performance that offers 23 horsepower, as much as Lincoln’s 305, and a lot more than most other units. If you’re looking for a device with the performance of the 305 and much lower cost, the Hobart Champion Elite is just the thing for you, as long as you don’t miss Lincoln’s “Chopper” technology.
- High power output
- Easy to use sockets and breakers
- Portable, motor-driven solution
- Electric start
- Many of the features that some other welders offer that would make it from ‘good’ to ‘great’ are missing.
Miller Engine Driven Welding Generator
It has been designed to produce a steady current that doesn’t jump up and down like most generators, so the welds are even. This gives you a much higher accuracy in welding compared to conventional welding generators.
It also operates with a duty cycle of 100% at full amps to ensure you have steady maximum available power. The machine is highly resilient to withstand years of use even at this high running rate.
It’s a heavy machine, but Miller has significantly reduced its size compared to older models to make it easier to carry. It would be nice if it were equipped with welding gear, but with what it offers, the price does not tolerate additional equipment.
We recommend this quality machine to anyone who wants the best welding generator at a lower price than lots of other options.
- Average price
- Peak power of 11,000 watts
- 9500 watts AC continuous power
- 100% duty cycle at 250 amps
- 5” x 29” x 23” dimensions
- Three-year guarantee
- Current intensity during welding: 40 to 250 DC
- 5 horsepower
- 12-gallon fuel capacity
- Can connect MIG welding device
- Can TIG welding
- Smooth, non-spiked power
- Contains no welding lines
- Weighs 501 pounds
Lifan WeldPro Engine-Driven Welder Generator
The Lifan’s WeldPro AXQ1-200a of Pro Series from Lifan is a 200A welding machine generator that’s a bargain for its price. It operates at 4000 watts continuous AC power and can weld at 200A with a 50% duty cycle, which is impressive for the size of the motor it has.
It’s much easier to transport a machine that weighs only 210 pounds, and with a three-year warranty, you can be sure that it’s made of quality parts. Although it has a fuel tank of 6.5 gallons, it runs much longer than most other welding generators of its size.
- Low price
- 50 to 200 DC amperage during welding
- 200 amps at 50% duty cycle
- 28” x 23” x 23” dimensions
- Weighs 210 pounds and 4000 watts of continuous AC power
- Contains no welding leads
- 5 gallons of fuel capacity
- 15 horsepower
- 4500 watts of peak power
Lincoln Electric Ranger 225
The Ranger 225 is the small sibling of the Ranger 305 and has many of the same specifications.
It delivers 9000 watts of power (instead of 9500) but retains the same surge power of 10, 500 watts. It is an electric starter that allows easy starting and maintains the same 12-gallon fuel quantity for a similar operating time of 12 to 14 hours.
While it supplies DC power as standard, it can also supply AC power to drive other power tools and is primarily intended for Stick or TIG welding.
The main disadvantage compared to Ranger 305 is the lack of “chopper” technology that smooths your welds and offers several other advantages that simply don’t have.
However, the advantage is that you can get this welding machine generator cheaper than the Ranger 305, which probably make it tempting to compromise. If for whatever reason you don’t need this technology (downhill tube welding technology), this is the same generator that costs less, which you can save.
- Good performance
- Suitable for MIG, flux-core and TIG welding
- DC and AC power generation
- Fully closed case with 3 service access doors
- Good fuel capacity
- Great price
- Lack of “Chopper” technology
Duromax XP12000E 12000-Watt 18 HP
One of the best generators for welding, this generator is powered by a 457 cc (18 HP) DuroMax OHV 4-stroke engine. It delivers 120/240V, runs on petrol and has 9500 Watts running wattage and 12000 Watts peak wattage.
With a noise level of 72 dBA (just a little louder than a shower), the generator has a conventional pull starter and also an easy-to-use electric starter (including battery).
The XP12000E 8.3 gallon fuel capacity allows it to run for approximately 9 hours at 50% load with a full tank (fuel consumption approximately 0.92 GPH). Powering sensitive electronic equipment with the XP12000E is not recommended due to its relatively high distortion factor (<12%).
With dimensions of 40 (Length)x 29 (Width) x 27.5 (Height) inches, the traditional, open frame construction of the DuroMax XP12000E provides stability and allows the generator to be lifted above the ground. The design presented is ideal for the outdoors and all harsh environments.
Because the generator weighs 255 pounds, it can be difficult to move it or transport it manually, although it’s technically considered “portable” (movable). Its wheel kit and its folding handle solve its challenging mobility, which makes it easy to move it once it’s on the ground.
The control center of the XP12000E has a practical voltmeter, which you can always easily monitor the power output at all times to help you with monitor status and activity.
Also, an indicator light shows you whether the oil levels are insufficient. A built-in fuel gauge allows the fuel level of the generator to be checked quickly, easily, and conveniently.
As far as safety measures are concerned, the unit has an automatic shutdown when the oil level is low and an overload protection (circuit breaker), so that you can use it with a peace of mind.
In addition to the standard documentation and a user manual, which are helpful for prompt commissioning of the device, the DuroMax XP12000E also includes the following accessories: funnel and tool kit, 5 AC outlets on the control panel:
2 – 120V 20A standard sockets
1 – 120V 30A twist lock
1 – 120V/240V 30A twist lock
1 – 120V/240V 50A high power socket
It also has 1 DC socket: there’s a 12V-8A output with which you may charge your batteries with ease.
Even though this DuroMax generator isn’t fully RV-compatible, thanks to its L5-30P socket it still enables simple RV connection via an L5-30P to TT-30R adaptor.
- Many different outlets
- Great for all power requirements
- Oil alarm shutdown
Lesser running time than most
CAT RP12000E Welder Generator
The unit features a 670 cc OHV V-Twin engine housed by Cat RP12000 E that delivers 120V/240V, consumes gasoline, and delivers 12000 running wattage along with a peak power of 15000W.
This CAT RP12000E offers the possibility of starting the unit through a convenient and easy-to-use electric starter (battery included). With a fuel capacity of 13.2 gallons, the RP12000 E can run for about 11.7 hours with a 50% load and a full tank (fuel consumption about 1.13 GPH).
Since the RP12000 E generates a clean sine wave with a <5% THD, sensitive electronics can be safely connected to the AC outlets.
With its dimensions of 35.7 (Length) x 32.7 (Width) x 35.8 (Height) inches, the open frame conventional design of the Cat RP12000 E provides stability and allows the generator to be lifted above the ground. The unit was designed for harsh environments and demanding outdoor use.
Although technically, this generator is considered ‘portable’ (i.e. it can be moved), its 350 pounds make it incredibly difficult to be lifted and transported manually. Nevertheless, its wheelset and folding handle, once on the ground, can easily solve the problem of low mobility and allow the unit to be moved easily.
Moreover, the unit is equipped with a lifting hook at the top of its frame, which provides additional safety during the loading, unloading, and transport of the generator.
To make it easier for you to monitor the status and activity of the RP12000 E, its control panel is equipped with a practical measuring device that displays voltage, frequency, and life hours. The control panel is equipped with LED lighting, to give you even more control and easy operation during night time.
A built-in fuel gauge enables the fuel level of the generator to be checked quickly, easily, and conveniently. As far as safety measures are concerned, the device has overload protection (circuit breaker) and automatic shutdown when the oil level is low, so you can use it with confidence.
In addition to the classic documentation and a user manual so that you can get started right away, the Cat RP12000 E also comes with some accessories: funnel, oil, tool kit, battery charger, and 8 AC outlets on the control panel:
4-120V 20A outlets (sockets for household use)
2-120V 30A outlet with twist lock
1-120V/240V 30A outlet with twist lock
1-120V/240V 50A outlet with twist lock
Also, it has 1 DC outlet: there’s a 12V 8A (cigarette lighter socket), which makes it easy to recharge your batteries.
Although this Cat generator is not RV-compatible, its L5-30R socket can be used for a simple RV connection with an L5-30P to TT-30R adaptor. Besides, since the RP12000 E is equipped with a twist-lock L14-30R connector, its switch ready: in the event of a power failure, you can easily connect it to a breaker box and supply your household with power.
- Protected outlets
- EPA compliant
- 4 120V sockets
- Electrical start
- Short running time for the required gas quantity
What Are the Uses of a Welder Generator?
All welding machines needs a power source. Most machines depend on an external power source such as a socket in a welding workshop or the home garage. A welding generator has an in-built power source. This is very practical for cases where there’s no electrical connection.
Farmers can make use of a good welding generator for metal repairs l on combines harvesters, tractors, and other agricultural equipment; irrigation pipes, seed drills, and spreaders; metal components and frames on fences, pens, and barns, hitches, and trailers.
A welding generator is very useful on a ranch for building fences and pens, wagons and trailers, and the different types of equipment used on a ranch. A worker in the construction industry would use a welding generator for steel structure and steel columns on buildings.
Any industry or trade that uses welding in areas where no external power source is available will need a welding generator to construct or repair metal structures, equipment, or object with a metal component.
Welding generators are not only useful for welding functions. They also offer many advantages in emergency power situations.
A welding generator is constructed with a fairly large fuel tank so that it can run under continuous wattage for many hours under without having to refuel.
Some welding generators can deliver up to 12,000 watts of power, which is sufficient to cover the power requirements of a house or small business. Many welding generators can deliver peak power to start the engines of large appliances such as air conditioners, water heater, or furnace.
What to Look For In a Welder Generator
Many welders are interested in welding machines that can perform several types of processes. Most well-known generators can perform MIG, TIG, and Stick welding processes, and many can also operate a plasma cutter.
The more power your welding generator has, the more processes it can process. Therefore, one of the most important criteria for a welding generator is how much power it can supply.
The more demanding the type of projects you do regularly, the more current you will need. The fuel capacity or the size of the welding generator’s fuel tank determines how long the generator will run for.
Some welding generators can be portable and lightweight. However, most welding generators are much larger than a stand-alone welding machine and can be fairly heavy.
They often need a truck or trailer to transport them to and from construction sites. The size of the truck or trailer depends on how large and heavy the welding generator is?
Fuel Efficiency in a Welder Generator
The type of fuel you need will depend on the model of welding generator you purchase and other factors that depend on the way the generator is used. Most welding generators are powered by an engine and can run on either petrol, diesel or liquid propane.
In economic terms, gas will generally be the most cost-effective alternative. However, the price of fuel is not the only consideration when choosing a particular type of fuel.
In general, gas offers lower fuel usage and is cheaper than diesel or propane. Smaller, portable welding generators run on petrol. Gas engines also start more easily in cold weather. However, the use of petrol requires a ventilated area as it’s prone to ignition.
Jobs, where the fuel is provided on-site, require the use of diesel fuel. Diesel offers a longer running time than gas or propane. It may, therefore, be an economical choice for work that requires a long run time.
Diesel doesn’t ignite as quickly and easily as gasoline, so it can be a more attractive option when used near other spark generating devices.
However, diesel emits pollutant emissions and is not well suited for indoor use. It can be more difficult to start in cold weather conditions and may require extra starting aids.
PROPANE OR LPG
Propane can be stored forever because it doesn’t go calcify, while petrol does. It can also be used in none well-ventilated areas or where exhaust emission is not allowed.
Propane burns cleaner than gas or diesel. Propane is not widely used because it is the most expensive of the three fuel options.
A welding generator is an essential device for welding requirements when an external power source is not readily available or when you need a reliable, durable power source.
As a small construction company owner, handyman or hobbyist, you need a high-quality device that is capable of generating a clean arc and that is durable and portable. Also, welding generators offer the possibility to carry out several welding functions from one machine.
If you need a welder for general repair or maintenance work, you probably do not need more than a one-rod welder. There’s no doubt that a high-end machine like Miller (Bobcat 250) will be more than adequate.
If you’re dealing with aluminum or magnetic metals, you need to buy a device with an AC welding output and TIG support.
For industrial, commercial, or high-performance applications, we recommend the Lincoln Electric Ranger 305G. This is one of the best generators welding featuring state-of-the-art options, with ample power and support for all processes.
These models are also fuel-efficient and durable, so the high price you pay now is offset by the low long-term operating costs. Any of the welding generators presented here would be the best choice for your needs.