If you have welding to do, either at home, on the road, or on a building site, you’re going to need power.
If there is no power, wishing really hard is not going to get you anywhere – though it may well give you a pounding headache. Unless you’re a very special individual, you’re not going to get very far with the mind-welding.
What you need in that case is a couple of painkillers and a welder generator combo.
That’s exactly what it sounds like – it’s a welder with its own power generator attached, so you can take it anywhere, even away from traditional power supplies.
With a welder generator combo, you can weld till the end of time – or at least until the end of your fuel supply.
But how are you supposed to go about choosing the best welder generator combos? It’s not as if there’s an impartial web page that’s tested a whole lot of welder generator combos and can lay the best five at your feet…
Oh, wait. Want to see our top 5 best welder generator combos?
In a hurry? Here’s our top pick.
OUR TOP PICK
That’s the first important thing you need to know about the Lincoln Ranger 225. It has a 12-gallon fuel capacity. That translates into 14 hours of welding. That’s really quite a lot of welding.
After all, if you were offered a steak dinner, you’d be thrilled, probably (Insert delicious meal of your choice, we’re going somewhere with this).
But if it then turned out you had to eat the same meal continually for 14 hours, the thrill would probably dim, no?
So even if you love welding, having almost two full day-shifts worth in the tank has got to be good enough to trip your welding happiness buttons.
Sure, some people say it’s not about how long you can go, but the power you can get into it. Well, the Ranger 225 gives you 9,000 watts of power, so there’s hardly a welding job you can point at that should be beyond you.
Which do you prefer? AC or DC? Doesn’t matter, the Ranger 225 has you covered coming and going, with both power types ready to go.
That means you can plug in other power tools and generate all the power you need to interrupt your usual welding as necessary.
You’ll probably use this most for its capacity as a stick and Tungsten Inert Gas (TIG) welder though. And why not? We would.
And in that capacity, as we mentioned, you have a lot of welding power and a more than adequate amount of welding time for your money with the Ranger 225.
People who we suspect think even longer and harder than we do about welding might say “Ah yes – but it doesn’t have the Chopper technology of the Daddy in the range, the 305!” And they’d be right.
Smug, but right.
And yes, it’s also true that the price differential between the 225 and the 305 is not exactly vast, so if you want Chopper capabilities, you should feel entirely free to pay Chopper dollars for that extra smooth stability that the more expensive unit offers.
It’s a free country, we won’t try to change your mind.
All we will say is that for us, there’s something primal about the whole business of welding, something that demands an eye and a skill to be ‘real’ welding.
That’s why for us, it’s worth paying Ranger money for a superlative welder generator combo, with its whole double-leaded, stick-shift human error-prone element.
For us, the 305 is a heck of a great welder generator combo – but the Ranger 225 has it beat on delivering a satisfying welding experience.
- A 12-gallon fuel tank delivers you up to 14 hours of continual welding
- 9,000 Watts is plenty of power to get even the hardcore welding tasks in your life completed
- Whatever kind of welding you’re doing - flux-core, TIG, MIG,etc - the Ranger 225 can cope
- It doesn’t have the Chopper technology to deliver smooth, stable welds
- The price is nearly as high as that of the 305, which does include that stabilizing technology
The Miller Electric Bobcat 225 gives you 9,5000 watts of welding power in a no-mess, no-fuss welder generator combo that costs significantly less than, say, the Lincoln 305, with which its performance is comparable.
Obviously, with that kind of power and a hefty 12-gallon fuel tank, the Bobcat can give you hours of TIG welding and stick welding, but if you want to try your hand at something a little technically more straightforward, it will give you some good MIG welding, too.
Features like an idle lock and joyfully reduced sound levels mean you can make the welding environment more comfortable, both for yourself and for anyone else with ears.
The ability to use both AC and DC makes it a multifunctional generator, too.
- The raw power of 9,500 watts put this welder at the top end of the market, able to weld anything it can see
- AC/DC options mean the Bobcat can help power both welding gear and a host of other plug-in power tools, boosting its versatility as a combo, as well as giving you access to TIG, stick, and MIG welding
- Miller Electric is a respected name in the industry, and has been since 1928, so you can be sure of an effective after sales operation
- It comes very close to delivering the capabilities of the Lincoln 305, without costing anything like as much
- Close, but no Chopper. The Bobcat may cost significantly less, but the 305 comes with Chopper technology for smoother welding, absent on the Bobcat
- Weirdly, when spending this much money on a welder generator combo, the leads to make it go are sold separately. This seems both alien and a little cheap in the 21st century
We’re back with Lincoln and – spoiler alert, it won’t be our last time – with the 330MPX.
The 330MPX is for people who want a powerful welder generator combo that can deliver all the power and the versatility of some of the others on our list, but who want it a little bit smaller, and quite a lot quieter, than all the bigger, more ostentatious machines.
In fact, this is the first machine on our list that does feature the Chopper technology that helps you deliver smooth and stable welding, whichever version of the art you’re about.
And with a running wattage of 10kW, available power is really not something we need to discuss, because the 330MPX just has it.
Where it really comes into its own though is in those elements of diminution. It’s around 20 percent smaller and 25 percent lighter than the average welder generator combo in its class.
But while that’s impressive, the fact that it reduces the average noise generated by up to 60 percent is what really makes the 330MPX worth looking at – and indeed, listening to.
- This is an extremely quiet welder generator combo in its class, reducing the average noise by up to 60 percent Super-Quiet
- The 330MPX has a footprint that is 20 percent smaller than the average for its class, and a whole 25 percent lighter. That makes it significantly more portable and more efficient for its size
- The Chopper technology gives you a smooth start, boosts the quality of your beading work and reduces the subsequent splatter, for an easier, more effective welding experience all around.
- Let the record show, this is the welder generator combo that millionaire contractors would use. It is eye-wateringly expensive, despite being of an extremely high quality
- Like the Bobcat, the leads for the 330MPX are sold separately
- Oddly, but in common with the 305 model, the 330MPX lacks the tubular frame you might expect. Instead, it is an enclosed case generator. While this lightens the load, there’s no escaping the mental dissonance of a generator this powerful lacking the tubes
The Champion Elite is one of the most powerful welder generator combos you’ll find anywhere.
We’ve seen 9,000 watts, we’ve seen 9,500 watts. Hobart turns things up to 11, giving the Champion elite a peak wattage of a cool 11,000 watts.
Just in case you need them.
With a 225 amp capacity, it lets you do all the welding jobs you just can’t safely do at lower wattage, and a 12-gallon fuel tank to keep you welding till the break of day.
Oddly then, this super-powered welder generator combo is fairly compact, and relatively easy to use, too.
An especially neat feature is that the generator will shut down if and when the oil pressure falls below its design limit – meaning it saves you from the potential danger of running the generator on nothing but fumes and a prayer.
Ultimately then, the Champion Elite is a heavy-duty welding performer, in a body smaller than you’d expect.
Be aware though that smallness of size does not necessarily equate to lightness of weight – the Champion Elite is almost absurdly dense and weighs in at over 500 pounds, so if you had any plans of bench-pressing it, be advised, you’re in for a harder time than you may have thought.
On the upside, it’s also backed by an impressive 5-year warranty, so if anything goes wrong with it during that time, you’re covered.
- 11,000 watts of power puts the Champion Elite in a league that justifies its otherwise pretentious name
- An amp capacity of 225 means it can deliver all the power you need to various plug-in power tools, as well as giving you the finesse for all types of welding
- A 12-gallon fuel tank means you’re not about to stop constantly to bring the machine up to par
- A neat safety feature protects you from running the generator dry and damaging the machine
- It comes with a commendable 5-year warranty
- It’s practically as dense as a dwarf star, weighing in at 514 lbs, which means the one thing it is not is easily portable. Park it up and bring your welding to it if possible
Ohhh, look who finally decided to show up. Mr Lincoln Electric Ranger 305, complete with Chopper technology.
In all seriousness, the 305 is a master machine in this market, and it only comes this far down our list due to a combination of pricing and performance factors.
Let it be understood that if you choose a 305, you will not be disappointed, compared to any of the other machines on our list.
12-gallon fuel tank? Check. Wattage of a gorgeously powerful 9,500? Check. TIG, MIG and stick welding? Check, check and double check.
AC/DC, so you can switch between the two as the need arises, plugging in a host of other power tools? Mm-hmm.
And then… we know there’s something else, but what could it be? Oh yeah – the Chopper technology, that steals a march on every other welder generator combo in our list bar one.
It gives you smooth, easy starts to your arc, precise beading, and much less splatter than any of the “freehand” welders on the market.
Want to get technical for a moment? The 305 has a duty cycle of 100 percent at 305 amps at 29 volts (hence its name – the 305).
What you have here is one of Lincoln’s most stand-out welder generator combos.
We may have given the laurels to the 225, because we’re quirky like that and we genuinely believe in encouraging the skill of welding by doing things the hard way until you don’t need to anymore.
But if you’ve done your time and you could do it the hard way if you wanted, but who the heck has the time and the patience, then the 305 will likely be the welder generator combo of your dreams.
And when we get that proficient, it will probably be the combo of our dreams, too.
- 9,500 watts of welding power is quite enough for the hardest welding jobs you care to name
- Lincoln has a strong reputation for quality and detail, and the 305 is an ambassador product for that reputation
- The 305 cares not at all for your quixotic welding needs. If you wake up and decide to do 3 hours of TIG, a little MIG, and a touch of flux-core, the 305 will be there, ready to deliver across the board
- There’s no tubular frame here, which usually makes welder generator combos lighter to transport.
- The price tag for the 305 tends to make people wince when they read it. Sometimes, they cry real tears
Best Welder Generator Combos Buying Guide
When you’re shopping for a welder generator combo, there are a handful of things it’s useful to keep in mind before you click the “Buy” button.
Bottom line, be honest about how much wattage you need. What level of welding are you going to be doing? Can you be content with the cheaper options at 9,000 watts, or do you need the more powerful machines at 9,500 or even 11,000 watts?
Don’t at any point sell yourself short – if you do, you’ll end up not being able to effectively do the welding you need to do. But there’s also no need to spend the money on more watts than you will ever possibly need.
There are two schools of technology at play in quality welding.
There’s the “freehand” school, which is cheaper but does not come with the Chopper technology, and the “precision” school that demands better beading, smoother start-up, and altogether less mess and less fuss.
Evaluate how important that technology could be to your welding career, and buy accordingly.
Honestly, anything that involves carrying a 12-gallon fuel tank around, as all of these welder generator combos do, is not going to be super-duper portable.
But take some elements like the density of the machine and the presence or absence of a tubular frame into consideration, as they will have a bearing on where you weld, and, more importantly, where it’s more hard work than the worth of it to carry on your welding.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Much Wattage Do I Need For A Welder Generator Combo?
That depends on the welding you want to do. 9,500 watts is a threshold between standard welding and super-duper welding, though some go up to 11,000 watts.
That said, we got perfectly great results with the Lincoln Ranger 225 – so much so, we put it right at the top of our list of best welder generator combos.
What Dize Of Fuel Tank Will I Need?
Honestly, that depends on the price of fuel where you are – which is always subject to fluctuation.
All the options on our list take a hefty 12-gallon fuel tank, which delivers around 14 hours of constant welding (if not also powering other tools in between).
Is The Chopper Technology Worth Paying More For?
That depends on where you are in your welding journey.
We’d suggest that you learn and perfect your welding skills on a freehand welder like the Lincoln 225, but by all means upgrade to the Chopper technology when you feel ready for a neater welding life.