Do you often work with steel in remote locations? If so, you must have equipment that does not require an external power source.
Welder-generator combos power themselves, and you can even use one to provide power to overhead lights, a plasma cutter, or an angle grinder. These units are especially popular among farmers, auto body repair technicians, and DIY enthusiasts, as you can use them at any location, even if you are nowhere near a power outlet.
It can be a challenge to find a high-quality model with sufficient power and support for the right processes, such as stick, MIG, or a [top rated TIG machine]. There are many products available on the market, and there are many considerations to keep in mind when you shop. You may not know if a unit is right for you.
We researched hundreds of reviews and specifications to help you find the perfect machine for your needs. This article also features an extensive buyer’s guide and up-to-date information. Keep reading to learn more.
|29.9 in. x 21.5 in. x 42.3 in.||11000 W peak,|
10000 W continuous
|35.9 in. x 25.3 in. x 60.0 in.||12.5 kW peak (11 kW continuous)|
3-Phase 240V AC generator power
|20 in. x 28 in. x 40.5 in.||11000 W Peak,|
9500 W Continuous
|26-17/64 in. x 20-3/32 in. x 31-1/4 in.||Single-Phase,|
4.5 kVA/kW (Surge)
120/240 V AC,
|25.6 in. x 21.8 in. x 31.5 in.||5500 W peak,|
4000 W continuous
|36.2 in. x 21.5 in. x 42.3 in.||10500 W peak,|
9500 W continuous
|20 in. x 28 in. x 40.5 in.||12000 W peak,|
10500 W continuous
Reviews of the 7 Best Engine-Driven Welder-Generators
Lincoln Ranger 250 GXT Engine-Driven Welder
- Totally Enclosed Case
- Versatile AC/DC Welding
- 11,000 Watts Peak Single-Phase AC Generator Power
- 23 HP Kohler® Gasoline Engine
- Rugged Reliability
- Stick, TIG, MIG, Flux-Cored, Gouging
The Lincoln Ranger 250 GXT is one of the leading engine products in its category. The 250 GXT is also one of the most versatile units available today. It features both AC and DC output, and you can use it for magnetized metal, aluminum, and thin sheet metal.
Furthermore, the 250 GXT supports all processes, including stick, TIG, and MIG wire feed. The unit’s amperage ranges from 50A to 250A, so you can rest assured that it will meet all your requirements and that it will retain its value in the long-run.
Reviewers like that the 250 GXT runs off gasoline and its fuel consumption and running costs are relatively low. Unfortunately, this unit doesn’t have a tube frame, but the enclosed design allows for optimal component protection.
- AC and DC output
- High amperage for thick metals
- Supports all processes
- The generator has a high continuous wattage of 10,000 Watts
- The unit doesn’t feature a tube frame
Lincoln Electric Vantage 300 Kubota EPA Tier 4 Engine-Driven Stick Welder-Generator
- Stainless steel panels offer added durability
- Select one of five welding process modes
- Plenty of AC Generator power
- Tier 4 Final Kubota diesel engine
The Vantage 300 is quiet and compact, and it is the most suitable choice for industrial and construction workers. There is a lot to love about the Vantage 300. It has stainless steel panels for added protection, it supports five processes, and it produces an abundance of AC power for magnetic steel welding.
The generator has a Tier 4 diesel engine that provides incredible fuel efficiency. One of the features that reviewers like is the access door to the engine that is lockable and removable. If you want, for example, to replace an oil filter, you can do so without having to clear space from the back of your truck.
- A high-quality 4-cylinder diesel engine that runs smoothly and quietly
- Supports five process modes
- Incredibly fuel efficient
- Sufficient AC generator power
- Durable and reliable
- Easy to set up and use
- A relatively high price tag
Miller Electric Engine-Driven Welder, Bobcat 250 Series
- IMPROVED! Quieter and Better Sound
- Accu-Rated™ — Not Inflated Generator Power
- IMPROVED! Smaller and Lighter Design
- Designed for Reliability
- Electronic Fuel Injection (EFI) Option
- Reversed Generator Airflow
- IMPROVED! Easier Maintenance
The powerful engine-driven Bobcat 250 has a rugged design and offers only the best in terms of longevity, versatility, and durability. The Kubota D722 19 HP has three cylinders and delivers DC welding output and 9,500 watts of continuous AC power for welding magnetized steel or TIG welding aluminum.
The Bobcat 250 supports several welding processes, including stick, TIG, and MIG welding. It has a fuel capacity of 12 gallons and, according to several reviewers, is incredibly fuel efficient.
There are several versions available in this series, including LP, EFI, and gas. The Bobcat 250 can be used in severe weather conditions and is a viable option for industrial applications.
- Powerful and fuel-efficient engine
- Offers AC and DC output
- Supports most processes
- Can run up to fourteen hours on one tank
- High-duty cycles at high amperage settings
- Doesn’t include basic accessories
- The price tag is relatively high
Hobart Champion 145 Welder-Generator
- 4,500 Watt surge power; 4,000 Watts continuous power
- Briggs & Stratton 305cc, 10 HP 4-cycle OHV engine
- 40-145 Amp DC weld output
- 6.25 gal. gas tank
- 6-50R 20 Amp, 240V AC outlet and four 20 Amp, 120V AC GFCI outlets provide ample auxiliary power
The Hobart Champion features a high-performing Briggs & Stratton Intek gasoline engine with ten horsepower that produces DC power and 4,000 watts of AC power for magnetic metal welding.
With this welder generator, you also get an infinite amperage range between 40A and 145A that allows you to fine-tune your weld and duty cycle. According to reviewers, the welder produces a stable arc, and the unit is durable and reliable.
The Champion 145 weighs 222 lbs. and is fitted with running gear for added portability. Although it supports stick welding, it has a reasonable price tag and is suitable for general maintenance and repair projects.
- AC and DC welding output
- Delivers an amperage up to 145A
- High-quality and durable unit
- Easy to set up and use
- Excellent value for money
- Not suitable for industrial applications
- Welder only supports stick welding
Lincoln Bulldog 5500
- Low-Lift™ Grab Bars (Patent Pending)
- 1-1/4 in. (32 mm) Diameter Rugged Tube Frame
- AC Welding with up to 1/8 in. (3.2 mm) Stick Electrode
- 5,500 Watts Surge (4,000 Watts Continuous) AC Generator Power
The Lincoln Electric 5500 features a Kohler CH395 8.9 HP engine that is powered by gasoline. The engine produces 4,000 watts of continuous AC power and has an amperage range of 70A to 140A.
The Bulldog 5500 offers several benefits. It has a lightweight and tube frame. It, therefore, allows for optimal mobility while you work.
Furthermore, the gasoline engine is fuel efficient, and you will be able to do a lot of welding before the 1.9-gallon tank is empty. Reviewers who have worked with the Bulldog 5500 for a while like its durability and user-friendliness.
One drawback of this model is that it only supports stick welding. However, it is perfect for general repairs and DIY steelwork.
- Durable and high-quality components
- Easy to set up and use
- High value for money
- Engine is fuel-efficient
- Lightweight and portable
- Only supports stick welding
Lincoln Electric Ranger 305G Multiprocessing DC Welder/AC Generator
- Kohler® Gasoline Engine – 23 HP
- Multi-Process Welding
- Digital Weld Meters
- Superior Arc Performance
- Peak Single-Phase AC Generator Power for Motor Starting
- Stick, TIG, MIG, Flux-Cored
The Lincoln Electric Ranger 305G is engine-driven and supports multiple welding processes, including stick, TIG, MIG, and dual-shield welding. This unit also features Lincoln’s Copper Technology to ensure a stable and accurate arc.
The engine is powerful enough to run multiple welding processes and to power equipment such as grinders and lights at a site. The 305G delivers a DC and AC welding output so you can use it to weld magnetized metal, aluminum with TIG, as well as thin metal sheets.
Furthermore, this unit has an amperage range that goes up all the way to 300A, so you can use this machine for all industrial and heavy-duty applications.
Reviewers love the quality and durability that this unit has to offer. While it doesn’t feature a tube frame, the enclosed design offers optimal protection against the elements.
- High-performing gas engine
- AC and DC welding output
- Support for multiple welding processes
- Durable and reliable
- Suitable for industrial applications
- Doesn’t feature a tube frame
- High price tag
Miller Trailblazer 325 Engine-Drive Welder EFI LP
- Fewer refueling trips
- Auto-Speed™ Technology
- Maximum cost savings
- Electronic fuel injection (EFI) (option)
- More portable, uses less truck and jobsite space
- Cleaner and Stronger Generator Power
- Excel™ power (option)
The Trailblazer 325 features a Kohler ECH730 23 HP gasoline engine with two cylinders and a continuous power output of 10,500 watts.
This unit is designed for professional applications and performs exceptionally well in terms of arc stability and appearance. The Trailblazer 325 also provides ample engine speed adjustability to give you control over power and fuel consumption.
Additionally, this machine supports all processes, including stick, TIG, MIG, flux-core, and even plasma and CAC-A cutting.
According to reviewers, the welder and power producer is easy to configure and use, and although it is on the heavy side, it is easy to mount on the back of a truck.
- High-performing unit
- Engine speed adjustability
- Multi-process support
- Produces a smooth and stable arc
- High price tag
- Heavy weight
Key Factors to Consider When Buying a Welder-Generator Combo
You need a unit that will meet your unique requirements. Buying considerations should include:
- Versatility in terms of functionality and multi-processing
- Power type, namely AC or DC
- Engine type and the fuel you will need
- The noise levels that the model produces
- Generator style as it affects portability and size
Below, we will be taking a comprehensive look at the features of these machines, the options you have, and the advantages and drawbacks of the different specifications.
An engine-driven power producer will use one of three fuel types, namely gasoline, diesel, or liquid propane (LPG.)
Most small and portable units run on gasoline. Gas engines typically yield a relatively low fuel consumption and they start easier to use in cold weather. In addition, gasoline is more affordable than diesel or propane.
Diesel is the more affordable fuel type for jobs that stretch over more extended periods as it is the fuel that provides the longest run-time. If the fuel is supplied at the site, the chances are that you will need a diesel engine.
Despite being the most expensive fuel type, propane offers several benefits. Propane burns cleaner than other fuel types, it can be stored for a long time, and you can use it in areas that are not well-ventilated.
Weight and Design
As a rule, the more powerful a unit is, the bigger and heavier it will be. This is simply the result of the added components needed to increase welding power. The design of the unit can also significantly affect portability, weight, and size.
There are two design types. The first is an open or tube frame and the second is an enclosed casing. Tube frame welders typically weigh less than enclosed ones, and they are also generally more compact. However, enclosed casings offer better protection to engine components than models with open designs and their noise levels also tend to be low.
Portability is an essential buying consideration if you carry out welding jobs at different locations. If you have to haul a powerful unit around, it may make sense to mount it on the back of your truck.
The design of the device can impact portability. Tube frames tend to be lighter and more compact then enclosed cases, and you can easily lift a tube frame with a crane or your hand. Some designs feature compatibility with wheels for added portability.
Enclosed designs usually have carrying handles, and if the machine is light enough, you may be able to carry it with one hand. Pay attention to the weight specifications before buying.
The price tag is naturally one of the most important considerations when shopping for a machine. It should not be the only consideration, however, as you may end up with sub-par quality and limited functionality.
Welder power combos are at a higher price point than electrical machines, primarily because you can use it away from a shop, such as on a farm or somewhere in the field.
You can expect to pay more for products that are powerful, high in quality, and from reputable brands. You will also likely pay more for multiple processing and fuel efficiency. But you will end up saving on running the machine and component replacement costs over the long run.
When it comes to the power output you require, the processes you intend to run are very significant. Welding processes include stick, TIG, and MIG wire feed welding. Some multi-process welding machines can run multiple operations as well as plasma cutters.
In addition, you may want the generator to power equipment, such as a generator or grinder. If, for example, you plan on only doing basic stick welding, there is no need for a 20kW phase. On the other hand, if you need power for multiple processes and additional equipment, you will need a significant amount of power output.
A machine’s duty cycle indicates how long you can run the welder continuously at a given amperage within a ten-minute cycle. If, for example, your welder’s duty cycle is 30% at 200 Amps, you must rest your welder for around seven minutes after three minutes of continuous welding.
Most often, the cycle duty goes up as the amperage goes down. At low amperage settings, you will be able to run the weld for a much longer duration before your machine cuts out.
If your machine supports multiple processes, the duty cycle will be the same for every process.
When buying a new unit, you may need some accessories to support the processes or to make your job easier.
The most common accessories for welder-generators include extension cables for remote control operation, carts or trailers for heavy units, cylinder tank racks and hose assembly for LP gas models, as well as a portable wire feeder, welding gun, and connector kit for MIG wire feed welding.
Accessories for stick welding include electrode hoses and clamps to increase the working radius. If you have a TIG function, you may consider accessories such as a TIG torch and tungsten electrodes, as well as collets and nozzles.
AC and DC refer to the polarity of the electrical current that the machine produces and that runs through the electrode.
DC is electricity that flows in one direction and that has a voltage with consistent polarity. AC, on the other hand, is electricity that switches direction and that has a periodically reversing voltage. With AC welding, the arc is, therefore, not affected by magnetism.
You need an AC welder for welding magnetized materials, TIG welding aluminum, and applications such as machine repairs and seam welding.
DC is the more commonly used power type as it produces a smooth weld and a stable arc. DC machines are also more affordable than AC, and they are easier to use.
Engine-driven units are louder than electric ones. If you are working in a remote setting, say, on a farm, it is no use compromising on power for the sake of keeping the noise level below 100dB. If you live in an apartment complex and you do most of your work on Sunday afternoons, however, the noise level becomes a significant consideration.
If you are working around other homes, stick to a unit that produces a noise level of no higher than 90dB, which is louder than a vacuum cleaner and more or less the same as the volume of city traffic.
Before purchasing a welder, you will want to ensure that the machine and the engine come with a warranty of at least two to three years. Manufacturers provide a warranty for each component, so you will often find that components such as engines and batteries are warranted separately.
Most warranties are pricey, and when there is an issue, most companies will ask you drop your unit off at the nearest service center for a free repair, which may be in Asia if you bought a cheaper model. However, brands like Hobart offer high-end warranties, which may be worth your while.
One of the most significant benefits of welder-power combos is that you are entirely location independent. You can carry out welding jobs anywhere: on rooftops, somewhere in the field, or even roadside.
If you are out of fuel, however, not even a nearby electrical outlet will help you. Therefore, we highly recommend that one of the first multi-process components you purchase is a fuel can to serve as a backup fuel source.
While doing a welding job, you have to move around to reach certain areas. If your oxygen and acetylene hoses are too short, however, you will have to move your welder with you continually. If you have a heavy and bulky machine that is not on wheels, it can waste a lot of valuable time.
High-quality hoses of fifty feet or longer will allow you optimal mobility without the hassle of having to adjust the position of your device.
After spending a lot of time and money on finding and buying the perfect welder, you will want to ensure that your welds are neat and tidy by preventing materials from shifting while you work.
With welding clamps, you can keep metals fixed at specific angles and in the correct position to prevent mistakes. Welding clamps are incredibly valuable accessories for multi-process welding. They are also affordable and readily available.
A Protective Cover for Your Unit
You need sufficient protection for your multi-process welding machine during down times. A weather cover will prevent the accumulation of dust and corrosion, and it will keep moisture out of the unit components.
A protective cover will not only prolong the lifespan of your unit, but it will also ensure optimal performance for longer. Deterioration as a result of exposure can lower the unit’s duty cycle and increase the risk of defects.
If your welder-generator combo produces sufficient power, it may be able to provide power to other tools such as grinders, plasma cutters, and drills.
If you don’t have extension cords with enough length, however, you will not be able to carry out your work effectively in remote settings. Heavy duty extension cords can go a long way to save you time during a project, especially if you are one of two people working together.
If you work alone, moving a heavy machine around requires a lot of energy and can waste a lot of time. High-quality running gear, such as wheels or dolly-type fittings, is a must-have if you have a heavy and bulky welder-generator.
While some units are not fitted with running gear, they have mountings that you can use to attach rollers. Wheels will make transportation and position adjustments effortless and, since you won’t pick up the unit, it will prevent the risk of personal injury or damage to the unit.
As a small construction business owner, DIY enthusiast, or hobbyist, you need a high-quality unit that is capable of producing a neat arc and that is portable and durable.
If you need a welder for general repair work or maintenance, chances are that you won’t need more than a stick welder. There is no doubt that a high-end unit like the Lincoln Bulldog 5500 will be more than sufficient.
When it comes to aluminum or metals that are magnetic, you have to purchase a unit with an AC welding output and support for TIG.
For industrial, commercial, or heavy-duty applications, we recommend the Lincoln Electric Ranger 305G or the Miller Trailblazer 325. These two cutting-edge models have sufficient power and support for all processes.
These models are also fuel efficient and durable, so the high price you pay now will be offset by the low running costs over the long-run.