Welding is a job with a lot of unique challenges, and one you might come across is a work site with no power (or at least unreliable enough power you need a backup plan). Traditional generators are all well and good, but those are going to be used for a whole lot of other things, from your work lights to other workers’ power tools, and having to share (and sometimes trade off) can be a pain.
Thankfully welders have another option: a welder generator, which supplies its own power in exchange for fuel. We’re going to look over a few good ones today that will serve you well in any situation.
In a Rush? Here is Our Top Choice
Lincoln Electric Ranger 305 G
Top Engine Driven Welder Generators
5 Best Engine Driven Welder Generators - Reviews
1. Lincoln Electric Ranger 305G Welder Generator - Top Pick
This is a great all purpose generator, made specifically with welding in mind. It works for everything you can throw at it: Stick, TIG, wire, and pipe welding. Besides welding it also has enough power output for any other tools you might need on a job as well.
It has a 12 gallon fuel tank, and runs on gas (not diesel). While life varies for any generator, this translates to roughly 12 to 14 hours of life, a bit less if you put a lot of draw on it. It provides 9500 watts of power (10, 500 surge watts), or close to double your standard 5000 watt generator.
On the welding side, it uses Lincoln’s “Chopper” technology to smooth out welds (plus reduce spatter and bead size), and has a downhill pipe welding mod you can slap on it as well. This welder can weld steel, cast iron, and stainless steel so should serve most purposes for you, and can do 5/32 welds on its stick welder.
It is inverter compatible as well, so can power any inverter welders you might be packing with you as well.
Keep in mind this is a fairly bulky unit, 42.3” (height) x 21.5” (width) x 36” (height) so ensure you have enough space to haul this if you buy it.
2. Lincoln Electric Ranger 225 Welder Generator Combo
The Ranger 225 is the Ranger 305’s smaller sibling, and shares many of the same specs.
It outputs 9000 watts of power (instead of 9500), but keeps the same 10, 500 watts of surge power. It is an electric start, making it easy to start up and keeps the same 12 gallon fuel capacity for a similar 12 to 14 hours of operating capacity.
While it provides DC power by default, it can also provide AC power for powering other power tools, and is primarily meant for Stick or TIG welding.
The main drawback over the Ranger 305 is the lack of the “Chopper” technology smoothing out your welds and providing a number of other benefits that this one simply doesn’t.
The advantage though, you can get this generator welder cheaper than the Ranger 305, making it a likely tempting to trade off. If you don't need that technology (downhill pipe welding tech) for whatever your reason is, then this is the same generator that cost less, which you can save.
3. Hobart Champion Elite Engine Driven Welder Generator
This is a great generator if you can get your hands on it.
It’s easy to use and no hassle to set up, with both 120v and 240v receptacles and easy to reset circuit breakers. The generator itself is electric start (always a plus, I hate rip cords) and it generates a steady 11, 000 watts of AC power, a good bit more than most of these.
It is, of course, also perfectly compatible with DC welding and is designed primarily for Stick (scratch start) as well as flux core and TIG welding.
It has a standard 12 gallon fuel capacity, but clocks in a little lighter than most units of this size. Not by much in the grand scheme (about 20 to 30 lbs less) but enough to squeak it in under some less generous weight capacities.
This thing has excellent power output, giving you 23 horsepower to play around with, as much as Lincoln’s 305, and quite a bit more than most other units on this list, which clock in at between 15 and 20 HP for the most part.
If you’re looking for a unit with the power of the 305 and a lot less expensive, the Hobart Champion Elite has you covered, so long as you don’t miss Lincoln’s “Chopper” tech.
4. Miller Bobcat 3 Phase Engine Driven Welder Generator
This is a powerful engine driven welder. It outputs 9,500 to 10,000 watts of continuous power, with an 11,000 watt surge power limit.
This puts it slightly above the Lincoln 305, but unfortunately slightly above the price as well.
This is mostly for DC stick and TIG welding, but good for AC MIG and non-critical Stick and TIG welding, making it pretty versatile.
It has a 12 gallon fuel capacity and some good quality of life features, including a fuel readout gauge, stud covers, an idle lock, and reduced noise levels to help your concentration on the job.
Overall a good package, but it runs a bit too steep for me to call it my first choice, but a great option if you are primarily a TIG welder in places without power, since it’s probably the best DC welder generator out there. Otherwise might be best to give this a pass over the Lincoln 305, which has a lot more specific welding technology backing up its chops as a generator.
5. Tomahawk TWG210A 15HP Engine Driven Welder/Generator
The Tomahawk is a great budget option for welder generators, costing about a quarter what the top of the line models cost, while still being a quite respectable generator.
The main rub here is it only has a 2000 watt power output, meaning it’s really only going to power one, maybe two things. That makes it perfect for smaller jobs, like farm work, where welding is going to be an infrequent but occasionally critical task that needs to be done far away from a power source.
Keep in mind this is an inverter generator, which makes it fairly energy efficient, but may be less reliable than traditional transformer generators.
Still, for what it is (and especially for the price) this generator is great, It comes with a TIG welding starter kit and is compatible with all welders (MMA, MIG, Stick, TIG, and flux core). It is an electric start (push button) generator, making it easy to get up and going without any finicky clutch and pull string systems.
A 7 gallon fuel capacity rounds things out, giving it a roughly 7 hour operating capacity; maybe a lot more, it’s hard to tell with generators with less than 5000 watts of output since fuel to power output to longevity isn’t quite a linear function.
Our Top Choice
Lincoln Electric Ranger 305 G
Lincoln’s Ranger models are far and away the best of these under most circumstances, unless you find the Hobart in stock and can snap it up when it’s available. Even then, the Ranger 305 is well worth the expense for the Chopper technology alone.
The other two are good, but more niche. I’d get the Tomahawk if you don’t need to weld too often but need something on hand when you do need to, but it’s hard to recommend the Bobcat over any of the other four save on price.
Read more here if you are looking for reviews of safety accessories like welding helmets.