Best Engine Driven Welder Generator Reviews 2017 – Buying Guide

The best engine driven welder generator uses gasoline, diesel or propane to power the welder instead of electricity. These behemoths are usually transported on a truck or trailer, making it the only real option for rugged outdoor welding like pipeline and other hard to reach areas where electricity is scarce.

Welder generators aren’t just used for welding though. The electricity it generates can be used to power everything work related from fans and pumps to air compressors and power tools. An engine driven welder generator is a must have for anyone who works outside at distant job sites.

A welder of this magnitude is a huge investment for anyone, which is why I’ve made a list and reviewed some of the best engine driven welder generators on the market today.

Best Engine Driven Welder Generator: Top 3

Hobart Champion

5/5

Engine

Type: Kohler

Size: 23 HP

Speed: 3600 RPM

Power: 11,000 W

Amperage: 40-225

Duty Cycle: 100% @ 225 A

Processes:
Stick/TIG

Tank Size: 12 gal.

Size(LxWxH): 41 x 20 x 28″

Weight: 490 lbs

Warranty: 5/3/1 year

 

Lincoln Ranger

5/5

Engine

Type: Kohler CH 730

Size: 23 HP

Speed: 3600 RPM

Power: 11,000 W

Amperage: 50-250

Duty Cycle: 100% @ 250 A

Processes: Stick/TIG/MIG/FCAW/Gouge

Tank Size: 12 gal.

Size(LxWxH): 42 x 22 x 30″

Weight: 602 lbs

Warranty: 3 year

 

Miller Bobcat

5/5

Engine

Type: Kohler CH 730

Size: 23.5 HP

Speed: 3600 RPM

Power: 11,000 W

Amperage: 40-250

Duty Cycle: 60% @ 250 A

Processes: Stick/TIG/MIG/FCAW/Gouge

Tank Size: 12 gal.

Size(LxWxH): 41 x 20 x 28″

Weight: 501 lbs

Warranty: 3 year

 

5/5

Engine

Type: Kohler

Size: 23 HP

Speed: 3600 RPM

Power: 11,000 W

Amperage: 40-225

Duty Cycle: 100% @ 225 A

Processes:
Stick/TIG

Tank Size: 12 gal.

Size(LxWxH): 41 x 20 x 28″

Weight: 490 lbs

Warranty: 5/3/1 year

 

Hobart Champion Elite

Combining an 11,000-watt AC generator with a 225-amp DC welder, the Hobart Champion Elite is the perfect rig for general outdoor maintenance.

The Hobart Champion Elite is capable of both stick and scratch-start DC TIG welding while simultaneously producing power with its 9500 watts of continuous flow. Furthermore, Hobarts innovative technology ensures a smooth arc start with minimal sticking.

Despite its immense power, the Champion Elite is actually quite small compared to similar units. However, that doesn’t seem to affect its performance in the least. With a 100% duty cycle at 225 amps, this rig is an absolute beast. It boasts a Kohler CH730 gas engine with a 12 gallon fuel tank which puts out a whopping 23 HP at 3600 RPM for a stable, uninterrupted flow of power.

If you need the best engine driven welder generator that’s durable and capable of both stick and TIG welding then check out the Hobart Champion Elite.

5/5

Engine

Type: Kohler CH 730

Size: 23 HP

Speed: 3600 RPM

Power: 11,000 W

Amperage: 50-250

Duty Cycle: 100% @ 250 A

Processes: Stick/TIG/MIG/FCAW/Gouge

Tank Size: 12 gal.

Size(LxWxH): 42 x 22 x 30″

Weight: 602 lbs

Warranty: 3 year

 

Lincoln Ranger 250 GTX

The Lincoln Ranger 250 GTX is a remarkable feat of engineering in terms of both the technical aspect and pure ruggedness. This unit really does it all both AC and DC – MIG, TIG, stick, flux-cored –  you name it, the Ranger can handle it.

Including both AC and DC capabilities the Ranger puts out a solid 250 amps for the welder and a continuous 10,000-watts for the generator with a peak of 11,000-watts. This thing is truly a behemoth. Featuring a Kohler 2 cylinder, 23 horsepower air-cooled engine and a 12 gallon tank means you’ll have hours of power to last throughout the day.

The Lincoln Ranger is a rugged as they come. Weighing just over 600 lbs, the engine is fully encased in stainless steel, allowing you to take it over rough terrain without having to worry about getting it caked with mud or banged around.

If you’re looking for the best engine driven welder generator for the money then look no further, the Lincoln Ranger 250 GTX has everything you could possibly want and more.

5/5

Engine

Type: Kohler CH 730

Size: 23.5 HP

Speed: 3600 RPM

Power: 11,000 W

Amperage: 40-250

Duty Cycle: 60% @ 250 A

Processes: Stick/TIG/MIG/FCAW/Gouge

Tank Size: 12 gal.

Size(LxWxH): 41 x 20 x 28″

Weight: 501 lbs

Warranty: 3 year

 

Miller Bobcat 250

Miller is known as an industry leader within the welding community but how do their engine driven welder generators compare? If the rest of their lineup is anything like the Bobcat 250, they’re giving Hobart and Lincoln a run for their money.

Boasting the ability to run most welding applications – MIG, TIG, stick, flux-core – the Miller Bobcat 250 is a dream to use. Available in gasoline, diesel or propane models, there’s an engine type for whatever you need. Using a 12 gallon fuel tank the Kohler CH 730 puts out a steady 23 horsepower while running at 3600 RPM to put out a whopping 250 amps for the welder and 11,000 watts for the generator.

Common sense suggests such a powerful engine would produce a lot of noise but thanks to Millers redesigned internal configuration the Bobcat is up to 33% quieter than its competitors.

With Miller you always know you’re getting a great piece of equipment which is why the Bobcat 250 ranks among the best engine driven welder generators on the market today.

How to Choose the Best Engine Driven Welder Generator

Advantages

Powerful

They don’t make small engine driven welders – these things are meant for power. The smallest you’re likely to find is around 200 amps  while the biggest span into the 800 amp range. That’s some serious juice.

When it comes to the best engine driven welder generator, typically, the more power the better. Think about it, if you have the type of job that requires a welder generator you likely work in an area that has little or no access to electricity.

The more power you have the more tools you can use the more dynamic you become.

rugged welder

Rugged

The best engine driven welder is meant to be lugged around from job to job so durability is one of the most important factors to consider. It needs to be rugged enough to withstand the harsh environment of pipeline welding while being portable enough to get it to the site in the first place. In addition, it needs to be able to work through unpredictable weather and taken through rough, uneven terrain, being bumped around the whole way. That’s a lot to ask.

Fortunately, if you stick with one of the big three – Miller, Lincoln and Hobart – you will get a high quality welder generator that will be able to withstand years of abuse. This is the one time I recommend sticking with a trusted, known brand. If you’re in the market for an engine driven welder you’re likely someone who can’t afford the risk of having a low-quality machine break down on the job. Spend the extra money and get quality.

Portable

Engine driven welder generators are not, ironically enough, very portable by nature. They’re heavy, bulky and extremely cumbersome. That’s why any extra portability offers a huge advantage. Tube frame generators win almost every time in this department because you can just grab the frame and haul it wherever you need. However, there is an option for enclosed engine driven welders which is the most convenient of all – a wheel kit.

A running gear wheel kit is basically a set of wheels and a handle that you attach to your rig that allows you move around with ease. The wheels are big enough to withstand the roughest terrain and the handle is tightly secured to the frame for easy mobility.

best engine driven welder generator lincoln 250 gtx

Versatile

Back in the day if you wanted to weld with MIG or TIG or stick or cut with plasma you’d need four separate machines and tens of thousands of dollars. Today, thanks to rapidly advancing technology, you can do all of that with one rig.

Ideally you want one machine that does it all – MIG, TIG, stick, gouging, plasma cutting, whatever. Luckily a lot of welder generators do all that and more. Just make sure to do your proper research before deciding because some generators are limited in their capabilities (can only weld TIG and stick for example) while some are capable of all types of welding.

Provides Electricity

The whole point of an engine driven welder generator is to be able to weld in distant areas that have no access to electricity like pipeline or oil rig welding. That said, look for a machine that has enough electricity to not only power the welder but to power any additional tools like lights or air compressors. Any rig worth the money will be able to generate at least 11000 watts during peak performance.

The best engine driven welder generator will not only provide you with options on the job site but could also be a life-saver in a power outage situation.

best welder generator

Disadvantages

Heavy

While the whole point of an engine driven welder generator is portability they haven’t quite figured out how to make them weigh less. You’re looking at a weight of at least 300 lbs on the low end and 2000+ lbs on the high end.

If portability is a key feature make sure there are optional carts or wheel kits available. If you need a really powerful rig, make sure you have access to a fork lift or crane.

Expensive

Expect to fork out at LEAST $1500 on the low-end, $3000 – $5000 for mid-range and $10000+ for the best engine driven welder generator on the market. While they certainly aren’t cheap, they often offer a complete all-in-one welding setup, providing you with everything you need to be a one man operation.

Loud

If there’s one thing to say about welder generators is that they are loud. While advancements in technology are working to reduce noise it still sounds like what it is – an engine. If you’re working at a job site you probably already have hearing protection in anyway so this may or may not be an issue.

What you Need to Consider

Multi-Process

The best engine driven welder generator will be able to perform a multitude of tasks including MIG, TIG, stick, flux-core, plasma cutting and gouging.Not all of them do however, so if you’re looking for an all-in-one setup it’s important to know if it’s capable, before dropping several thousand dollars. Typically the more process-heavy the welder is, the more it’s going to cost, so if you want an all-in-one rig you’re going to have to fork over the cash. Conversely if you know you only need to stick weld then go for the more affordable single process option.

Both the Miller Bobcat and the Lincoln Ranger are capable of all welding processes while the Hobart Champion Elite can only weld stick and TIG. It all comes down to your individual needs.

best engine driven welder generator

Power

Before going to far into the extra features you need to determine what type of power you are going to need – alternating current or direct current.

AC – Rigs with Alternating Current output capabilities are generally priced lower than their counterparts. Because the current doesn’t need to be converted, AC machines are lighter and more portable than DC. They are great for equipment or field repair and works best for stick welding. In addition, AC is the preferred output for powering tools such as grinders and drills.

AC/DC – Direct Current engine driven welder generators require more internal components to convert AC to DC making them much more cumbersome and thus, more expensive. The trade off, however, is versatility. With a DC welder you can weld MIG, TIG, flux-core and stick. You can use it to plasma cut and gouge. And you can use it to power almost anything from lights to power tools. DC is usually preferred because of its smooth and stable arc delivery on a wide range of materials.

Engine/Fuel Type

There are three main types of fuel that can be used to power an engine driven welders – gas, diesel and propane. All of them have their own unique characteristics and reasons for using.

Gasoline -The vast majority of consumer engine driven welder generators are fueled by gasoline. It’s cheap, abundant and it does the job – what more could you ask for in a fuel source?

Diesel – When you want to output a lot of power for a long time then you would use a diesel generator. Diesel is typically reserved for heavy duty machinery or for freezing-cold working conditions. These units tend to be more rugged but cost a lot more.

Propane – Under certain circumstances propane is used instead of gas or diesel. Although it provides less energy, propane offers a clean burning alternative for when work site ventilation is restricted.

best engine driven welder generator

Run Time and Tank Size

How long it’ll run and how big the tank is are two things to keep in mind when choosing the best engine driven welder generator. Typically the bigger the tank the longer it’ll run but not always. You also have to keep in mind the amount of power it’s outputting and the type of fuel it’s using. For example, a 10 gallon tank filled with diesel is going to run much longer than a 10 gallon tank filled with propane.

Tank sizes range anywhere from around 6 gallons to 25+ gallons so it’s critical that you know what type of welding you’ll be doing and for how long you’ll be away from fuel access.

Tube Frame VS. Enclosed

Next you have to decide what style of generator you want – tube frame or enclosed.

Tube Frame – These tend to be smaller – in weight and power – and are more portable than their enclosed brother.

Enclosed – The vast majority of engine driven welders are enclosed. They are more durable, have better technology, can hold up better to abuse and are much more quiet. Enclosed is almost always preferred.

Durability

The big three welding companies know that, if nothing else, a welder generator needs to be durable. It needs to be able to withstand inclement weather, bumpy roads, mud, accidental drops, frustrated tradesman and much, much more.

Fortunately these days the best engine driven welder generator is built to take a beating.

Engine driven welder generators come in two case types: enclosed and tube frame. Enclosed machines are preferred over tube frame generators simply because the engine isn’t as exposed making it less likely you’ll accidentally get something stuck in it. If you want something that’ll last a lifetime, enclosed is the way to go.

Noise Reduction

The loud noise of the engine is something you’re going to have to get used too. Thankfully manufacturers have taken some steps to try and reduce the noise level down to a more manageable level.

Take Millers new Bobcat lineup for example: they redesigned their entire lineup by rotating the engine toward the front to create more efficient airflow resulting in a 33% reduction in sound.

If you work in a residential or business area, the less noise there is the earlier you can start and the later you can finish.

Easy Controls

The best engine driven welder generator is complicated enough without tons of knobs and numbers so the easier the control panel is the better.

Fortunately these days most generators are dead simple to operate. The knobs should be big enough to be able to adjust with gloves on and the numbers should be big and clear enough to be able to read from a distance. Every machine is slightly different so it’s important to familiarize yourself with the specifics of the control panel before you start.

Portability

One of the main reasons for getting an engine driven welder generator is portability. Unfortunately they haven’t quite figured that part out yet.

Because of weight and handle placement, tube frame generators tend to be much more portable than their counterparts out of the box. However, many enclosed welders have the option to attach a wheel kit to the case, making it far superior in terms of portability.

best engine driven welder

Tips for Choosing the Best Engine Driven Welder Generator

Research – Before you invest thousands of dollars on a piece of equipment, make sure you know exactly what you need. You should know what type of welding you’ll be doing, what environment you’ll be in, how much power you’ll need and a thousand other things.

Lincoln has a good guide to help you select the best engine driven welder generator for your needs.

Buy Used – If you can’t justify the hefty price tag of a new machine, you can often find amazing deals on Craigslist or your local classified ads. Some people just want to get rid of their stuff and will sell at ridiculously low prices so make sure to keep checking regularly

Rent or Borrow – If you still haven’t decided if you need one yet consider borrowing one for a weekend or renting one from a shop. A few full days of use should let you know if it’s what you’re looking for.

 

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