I have a ~$300 Cambell Hausfield from Lowes
. I've had it about 4 years and love it. It's a 110v wire-feed flux core one. I've welded sheet metal to replace a radiator support in a Corolla lots of 1/8" angle iron (from bed frames), and whatever shopping carts are made of (chromoly?
). Also lots of exhaust work. It's nice having 110v since I can toss it in the truck and take it to a friend's house as needed and not worry about not having a 220 hook up. It's definitely more efficient with a short distance from the breaker box, but I routinely run in my barn off a 100ft extension cord. And the barn is hooked up via a 100ft single 120v line from the house (yes, I need to rewire the barn with a dedicated 220v circuit, but it does the job).
The only thing I regret is not having the gas option. Flux core is better (apparently) for welding outside since shielding gas can blow away and affect the weld. Since I weld outside or with the barn door open that's better for me, but the option to do aluminum would be nice.
One thing I recommend is buying 10lb spools if you go wire fed. I used to use the 2lb ones figuring "well, I don't weld *that* much...." But those damn things cost $20 unless you find a 2-for-1 or 2 pack special whereas the 10lb ones are typically under $50. So you could save $50 buying the 10lb versus 5 2lb ones over time. (not to mention nothing sucks worse than getting halfway through a project, run out of wire, and realize it's Sunday so no one that sells welding wire is open!