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If you started welding many years ago, it is highly likely that your first lesson involved a stick welder. Stick welding has been around for decades and remains the most popular option for home shops. This method also comes in handy for outdoor applications where positions are challenging. It is characterized by the flow of an electric current between the arc-welding electrode and the metal.
The wide range of stick welders available is bound to cause confusion to any user because they vary in terms of price, size and features just to name a few. For this reason, we have compiled a list of the best stick welders and followed that up with an in-depth buying guide.
Best Stick Welder Reviews
Best Stick Welder – Alternating Current
1. Lincoln Electric K1170 AC225S Stick Welder
Versatile use, designed for operation with metals 16-gauge & heavier
Lincoln welders have been among the best for many years now. Stick welders from this brand are not only high quality, but also affordable. Owing to these striking qualities, the Lincoln Electric K1170 AC225S Stick Welder is one of the best sellers from the reputable manufacturer.
A compact welder, the K1170 measures 15 x 19 x 27 inches and weighs in at just 115 pounds in shipment status. Yet, this machine achieves a lot. A good number of features helps weld a wide range of materials 16-gauge and heavier. It allows you to weld stainless steel, steel & cast iron among other metals.
For ease of movement close to the welding project and general ease of use, this product features two handles on top. You could build a cart for it, although it is not very necessary given the low weight. Whatever your choice, moving the machine from point A to point B is a breeze.
Although the Lincoln Electric K1170 AC225S Stick Welder looks simple, it is not the typical run-of-the mill welder. The powerful welder is powered by a 220 volts power source and has 51750 watts. Its power cord is compatible with outlets in most homes and shops.
Regardless of whether you are an experienced user or a novice, this product not only offers unmatched value, but also comes ready to use. Manufactured under a quality system certified to ISO 9001 requirements, the Lincoln Electric K1170 AC225S Stick Welder comes with a 10 feet ground cord and a 15 feet welding cord. Just get the appropriate stick electrodes and you will be good to go.
It is practically impossible to bring every other welding project to the machine. You have every reason to consider owning the Lincoln Electric K1170, as it is built for superior performance indoors and outdoors. From conventional welding in the workshop to use with power generators, you will love the flexibility offered.
Safety for an arc welder is paramount, so we must appreciate the measures put in the Lincoln Electric K1170 AC225S Stick Welder. The machine is designed to stay safe no matter the pressure. The machine also counters delayed power and overheating, and cools sufficiently. Most important, the welder is safely grounded and stays that way as you weld thanks to the secure ground clamp.
2. Ironton Arc 200 230 Volt AC Stick Welder – 200 Amp Output
Welds mild steel up to 3/8in. on single pass
The Ironton Arc 200 230-Volt AC Stick Welder is an ideal choice for stick welding. Operating on a current of 200 Amp, it works without need for much setup. It supports versatile operations together with its ability to use 1/16in.-5/32in. dia. Electrodes.
As Ironton have made this product using the best materials available, you can be sure that it will deliver quality for many years. Suited for heavy and light work, this machine can weld mild steel up to 3/8in. thick on a single pass. It will not hinder usability, as it features amazing portability. An integrated sturdy handle is just one of them. To help you move between tasks even better, the Ironton Arc 200 230 Volt AC Stick Welder comes with a pair of sturdy durable wheels.
What impresses even more is the fact that the machine is ready to use on reception. This means novices and professionals alike are able to draw value immediately. An 8-feet power cord, 10-feet Electrode Cable and 6½-clamp cable are some of the items that make the welder ready for action.
The 230V, 50A power requirement is evidence that the Ironton Arc 200 is serious. The plug that accompanies the power cord is compatible with most outlets so you will enjoy flexibility. Despite the high power, the machine offers impressive control, specifically through the infinite amperage control feature.
You can fine-tune the welder to any amperage between 65 and 200A. The dial adjustment is strategically placed on top of the machine so you can set the amperage measurement to the exact figure.
The Ironton Arc 200 230 Volt AC stick welder is a perfect machine to own if you do a variety of jobs often. While it can weld thick materials as mentioned earlier, it can also switch to thin ones when you dial to the lowest level of 65 Amps. While it can use 1/16in. – 5/32in. rods, the recommended one is 6013 welding rod.
There is no restrictions whatsoever on where you can use this machine. Not even the wind will hinder performance. Being compatible with a generator enables the machine to be applied even in the field. If you are planning to repair some bodywork or repair your vintage car, this machine ensures excellent welds.
No matter how tough or intricate the work, it will always deliver. It comes with an inbuilt thermostat to prevent overheating and a thermal overload protection light to make troubleshooting efficient.
3. Hiltex 10910 Electric ARC Welding Machine
Product includes AC electric stick welder that comes with protective face mask to protect your eyes and brush to wipe away slag
Whether you are a professional or amateur welder, you would want to own a portable stick welder. One of the most exceptional portable welders is the Hiltex 10910 Electric ARC Welding Machine. Portability is one of the features that make this welder ideal for light repairs. It can weld both alloy steel and metal. With a current range of between 40 Amp and 100 Amp, this product is also cool for art projects.
Arc welding may be associated with welds that are not so smooth, but this product will surprise you. It produces smooth and stable welds, allowing you to weld easily on a wide range of materials. Current alternation will not cause the arc to pop out or extinguish thanks to the specific design of the machine. As long as you have set the unit correctly, you can Weld with no worries because the unit comes with a ground prong.
On portability and versatility, this welder scores highly. Since it plugs into the standard domestic power supply outlet of 110 or 220 volt, there is no need for cumbersome gas tank. Furthermore, this stick welder features a convenient carrying handle for portability to different job sites.
A weight of just 26 pounds enhances this even further. Because of this flexibility, you can use this welder for light metal fabrication (mild, low alloy steel) and maintenance and repair, light industrial use or even making sculpture from metal scrap.
Some of the accessories that come together with this unit are protective facemask to protect your eyes and brush to wipe away slag. Others are electrode holder with rod, power supply cord and earth clamp.
While this welder is much better as compared to most in its category, it does have some shortcomings. For example, it does not come with a user manual. A beginner might have to take some time before mastering the machine, especially how to fix the plug.
Furthermore, users have to buy the power cord separately, as it is not included in the set. Although this welder does not work out of the box, it still makes a superb purchase. Its high quality design for the economical price is attractive.
Best Stick Welder – Direct Current
1. Klutch ST80i Inverter-Powered DC Stick Welder
Requires less input amperage, reducing the overall input power requirement by up to 25% when compared to traditional transformer welders
One of the best welders for the beginner, the Klutch ST80i Inverter-Powered DC Stick Welder with TIG Option is tiny but performs exceptionally. It is also expertly built with some eye-catching features. Do not forget that the product also carries a good amount of power.
Specifically, the welder can deliver 75A output power alongside the TIG weld option. So if you are looking for a versatile, powerful and user-friendly DC stick welder, look no further. We will now look more closely at the features.
A striking feature in the machine is the inverter system, which enables smaller transformer to produce high power. Owing to this technology, a welder can weigh 50% lighter than conventional models. You already attest to the fact that the ST80i inverter-based stick welder is compact.
It is super light, but it offers increased power. Thanks to the inverter system, this welder better handles fluctuations in input power for consistent output and better welds.
Versatility is written all over stick welder that is portable enough to work outdoors and around the workshop as well. With 1/16in., 5/64in. or 3/32in. electrodes, you can weld 1/8 inch material with exceptional quality.
Some of the metals covered are mild steel, stainless steel, cast iron, hard surfacing. No matter the material, welding is so easy thanks to anti-stick and arc thrust features. The hot start arc starting system is the secret behind the fast start of the stick electrode.
It is easy to see why this welder is ideal for the beginner. Tiny, portable, easy to set up and equally manageable during operation. Furthermore, it is available a very affordable price. Users looking for an affordable and reliable welder for their projects at home, in the workshop or on the farm will love the Klutch ST80i Inverter-Powered DC Stick Welder.
Overall, this stick welder is amazing considering its size category. A reliable power output guarantees clean welds, while the TIG welding option allows for even more possibilities. As long as you have access to a 120V socket, this machine will handle virtually anything you throw at it.
Of course, it will not give the performance of heavier costlier products, but for portability and the other mentioned capabilities, it is worthwhile to try this machine. You will receive a unit that comprises of a clamp, a ground cable, a welding cable and the inverter stick/TIG welder.
2. Amico ARC-160D 160 Amp Stick Arc DC Welder
300 Amp Electrode Holder and 10 ft. Cable / 500 Amp Work Clamp and 10 ft. Cable.
Your search for the best value for money should pause here; at a very popular product by Amico. Amico is actually an American brand, but it is manufactured in China. Most users have actually been choosing this product, especially those that hate lengthy setup times. Furthermore, this machine is versatile in the sense that it draws power from a standard socket and accepts a wide array of sticks.
The Amico ARC-160D may not be as seasoned as similar products in this category, but it is already proving its worth as one of the best stick welders today. It packs substantial power in a small package that measures 17 x 8 x 12 inches and weighs in at 16 pounds.
It is understood that this product is also highly portable. The machine also comes with a work clamp, which is a crowning for a wide range of light metal fabrication applications. For larger projects, the product will find the going a little bit too hard so you want to restrict it to the shop or home.
With 160 Amp / 23V and machine tested in the USA, this product can weld materials up to ¼-inch thick. While it is ideal for steel, it also gives excellent results on wide range of other dense and hard materials. In a clear improvement to what majority of the market offers, this product features an impressive 60% Duty Cycle. Via a 10 ft. cable, the welder will provide output current of 20-160A dependent on the power source.
Another good with the Amico ARC-160D 160 Amp Stick Arc DC Welder is smooth control promoted by control for over-voltage, over-current and overload. The welder’s ability to start the arc easily, maintain a stable welding ARC, and keep the weld pool deep, results in a beautiful welding shape.
If you are looking to learn the basics of the welding discipline, we recommend the Amico ARC-160D 160 Amp Stick Arc DC Welder. It combines the reliability of the IGBT Module Technology with portability and ease of use, giving excellent results. Just remember not to be rough with this welder as its ground clamp is a bit thin. Note also that this is not an industrial grade machine so treat it accordingly.
3. HITBOX ARC Welder 200A Stick DC 220V
Customer say He use Hitbox ARC200 for 1/2 hour non-stop at 150 amp.
Some welding jobs are simply unmanageable with a small stick welder. You may not build a ship in your backyard, but the HITBOX ARC Welder 200A Stick DC 220V Inverter Welding Machine will help you take care of most projects at home or workshop. If you have any large sized repair works in your compound, consider taking this welder. It is widely applicable in indoor decoration, and high working places jobs.
This complete and ready to use stick welder is small sized, lightweight, special colored and smart in appearance. This is despite its incredible power. A welding range of 10-190A with 40% duty cycle at rated input current 27A leads to a capability of welding 8mm thick metal for 1/2 hour non-stop @150 MAPS.
Furthermore, it enables you to handle as much as you can because it is compatible with stick size from 1.6mm to 4.0mm.
Are the power sockets too far away from the welding project? You can still use this product as it can run on a deep cycle battery connected to a 3000 or 4000 watt generator.
Debate on the better technology between inverter and transformer based power source is still rife, but inverter technology is already taking over. This is mostly because of the versatility of this technology, as opposed to transformer-based machines that tend to be non-receptive to new advances in electronics and software.
Because this welder features inverter technology, you can expect it to offer quality in terms of weld, easy startup and so forth. It features an impressive Welding range of 10-190A with 40% duty cycle.
The HITBOX ARC Welder 200A Stick DC 220V Inverter Welding Machine weighs in at 7.72 pounds, making it one of the most portable products in this category. You can easily carry it around and store anywhere, as the dimensions are also friendly at 8.7 x 3.7 x 5.9 inches. It comes with an ergonomic handle at the top to enhance portability.
What else do you get in this mini portable stick welder set that every family can own? The package includes 1.8m/5.9ft 16MM2 Cable+ Electrode holder, 1.8m/5.9ft 16MM2 Cable+ earth clamp and a green fashion handbag.
For slightly less, you can get the ARC WELDER ARC120 DC Stick 220V MMA Inverter Welding Machine Mini Portable Style 2.5mm Rod Stick Welder with Accessories Earth Clamp Electrode and Tool bag for an almost similar experience.
Best Stick Welder – AC/DC
1. Forney 314 Arc Welder 235FI AC DC
Electrode holder with 10-Feet (304 m) cable and ground clamp with 7-Feet (21 m) cable included
Among the ac/dc arc welders that we have checked so far, the Forney 314 Arc Welder 235FI is probably the best for money value for users interested in a product that is portable and suitable a wide range of jobs. This welder also performs excellently in dirty, rusty and windy environments, making it ideal for outdoor repairs, rusty metal, farm & road equipment and maintenance & repair.
We cannot miss the fact that this welder is strongly built and definitely ready for any tough exposure. The manufacturer claims it can weld half inch of mild steel and there is no doubt about this. First, it features a sturdy scratch resistant metal cabinet. The green finish does add some appeal to this.
The handle is made from hardened plastic, so it should complement the metallic parts reliably. In the unlikely event that any replacement for parts is necessary, Forney provides an impressive 90 days for replacement parts, although this excludes labor.
Portability is an essential feature for a tool meant for a wide range of uses. This welder may not be necessarily lightweight at 108 pounds, but it does feature a wheel and handle kit, which you need to purchase separately. It comes with an electrode holder with 10-Feet (304 m) cable and ground clamp with 7-Feet (21 m) cable.
Even by the appearance, this tool is durable and applicable for various settings. You can use it both outdoors and indoors with good results.
One of the most intriguing aspects of this product is the amount of power it delivers, as it cranks out 185 amps DC and 235 amps AC. This is well over what the thunderbolt and hobart stickmate offers. If you are interested in consistent high performance, this machine is worth a try.
Another important thing about the Forney 314 FI 235 AC/DC arc welder is that it so easy to start. Just flip the switch on the top corner, set the parameters, and you are ready to weld. Its duty cycle of 20-Percent at 230-Amp and 50-Percent at 150-Amp allows for welding mild and stainless steel and cast iron, as long as you use the correct electrodes.
Since there is no mention of a user manual, you may need to learn on the job to perfect your skills on this machine.
2. Lincoln Electric K1297 AC/DC 225/125 Arc Welder
Welds metals of 16 gauge and heavier, welds steel, cast iron, and stainless steel
Richly red colored and presenting a wide range of versatility, the Lincoln Electric K1297 combines ease of use with dc and ac welding. Being an arc-welding device, it works excellently with stainless steel, cast iron and similar metals. It can easily weld sixteen gauge metals. Its applicability ranges from construction to repair to many other applications. You can use it for metal works in the home, farm or shop.
Like with any welder by this manufacturer, you will save money and achieve structurally better welds. Fondly named “tombstone” this welder not only costs less, but also extremely easy to use. Ok, it is quite heavy, but it will only occupy minimal space in the room. Let us look a little bit closely at what this machine can offer.
The reason behind the nickname “tombstone” is the sturdy durable design. It has nothing to do with the age of the machine. In any case, this classic product reliably withstands rough environments in any shop. Its tough metal design will not only ward off dust, but also supplement the powder paint in resisting corrosion for a long long time.
For the newbie user, it is in the settings that the real value of this product comes out. Tweaking the amperage and dialing the settings requires flexibility, something that the Lincoln Electric K1297 Arc Welder offers generously. Switching between DC and AC polarities is so easy that no second will be lost during welding.
DC setting offers smooth welding while AC is ideal for faster welding on larger work pieces. The machine allows you to enjoy two worlds by the simple touch of the switch.
Versatility in welding will always be pleasant. When your projects involve a wide range of metals, you can always turn to the Lincoln Electric K1297 for results. The manufacturer is renowned for smooth arc technology that allows for a broad range of electrodes for both DC and AC applications.
Are you still wondering why owning this product would make sense? Even with the arrival of multi process welders, the versatility of this arc welder is still unbeatable. With the correct settings and rod, you can weld a wide range of materials and you do not even require add-ons to do so. If you are learning how to weld before upgrading, the product will offer an affordable opportunity.
3. ARC Welding Machine, 110V
Mini size but big power, it's not just a welding machine but a work of art.
HOLA CINDY may not be a prominent name in the welding equipment manufacturing industry, but they have delivered the ARC Welding Machine, 110V, 200Amp Power, IGBT AC DC Beginner Welder and raised the bar. Weighing in at only 7.56 pounds, this product is one of the lightest we have reviewed so far. It is designed for the beginner or any user who is looking for a machine that is easy to use.
The tool offers excellent features that will appeal to the beginner and experienced user alike. One of those is the sturdy construction for longevity. An iron shell keeps elements at bay. It is built for welding a wide range of materials including alloy steel, carbon steel and medium carbon steel.
Immediately you look at this welder, you realize that it was designed to be highly portable. This lightweight mini-size product weighs in at a manageable 7.56 pounds. Ergonomic and visually appealing, this welder is also a work of art. This combination makes a machine that is so easy to use and carry around.
As a beginner, you will appreciate the fact that the ARC Welding Machine, 110V, 200Amp Power, IGBT AC DC Beginner Welder is a great energy saver. When you find yourself making several imperfect welds and having to repeat them, just know that the machine minimizes the damage in terms of energy consumption.
Spend the whole day welding all kinds of metals – carbon steel, medium carbon steel and alloy steel amongst others- without worries.
Any time you are welding, you are exposed to a number of safety hazards including electric shock, fumes/gases and fire/ explosions. When it comes to safety, you will note a few handy features on this AC DC Beginner Welder such as Over-heating protection, over-voltage protection and over-current protection.
Safety and convenience go hand in hand so the manufacturer also did look into this area. When using the welder, the LCD display comes in handy, as does the convenient controlling knob. Using this stick welder is quick, safe and simple because of the convenient quick connection.
Best Stick Welder: Buying Guide
There is a good reason stick welding remains a popular type of welding after such a long time. Simplicity, high efficiency, affordability and dependability all define this technology. The other name for this method is Shielded Metal Arc Welding (SMAW).
Involving a flux-coated consumable electrode, SMAW is a manual arc method that has the ability to bond with a metal regardless of its state- dirty, corroded, painted, rough etc.
Virtually every type of user will be comfortable with a stick welder. Construction workers, homeowners, farmers and pipe welders are just some of the few types of users using these machines extensively. Most of them cite portability and general ease of use as reasons behind their choice.
However, the gist of it all is that stick welding makes the most sense when you do not mind so much about the appearance of the item. That is why we would not recommend it for artwork, automotive or other applications where accuracy and precision are priorities.
Now that you have decided to buy one of the best stick welders, you have taken the right step. The only bit remaining is picking your preferred product from among numerous models and types on offer. Since choosing the best stick welder is related to how well the buyer understands the basics, here are some factors to consider.
- Type and Amount of Output Current
The output current is an important aspect of a stick welder (we have based our categories on this). Machines that use direct current (DC) are applicable for a wide range of applications because of their versatility and efficiency. Such a welder is excellent for overhead and vertical welding. Its polished finish is also another benefit you can consider. Furthermore, this machine can use both AC and DC as it features both positive and negative polarities. Often, this type of welder costs more since it is more dependable and robust.
The alternating current (AC) version is mostly for entry-level users so it costs less. This machine may be simple and ideal for the DIY hobbyist, but it carries loads of power. The runs are not as smooth as in the DC machine, although the tool is still dependable and robust.
Finally, there is the AC/DC that combines the quality of both machines. It comes with options you cannot find in either the DC or AC unit. It tends to be the most expensive as it offers the ultimate smoothness and control.
Regardless of the current, it is important to ensure that the amperage will meet the desired welding needs. In other words, you want to take into account the thickness of the metal. The rule of the thumb says that metal 0.001-inch thick should be welded with at least 1 amp of current. This follows that 5/16 inch of metal needs amperage of 200 A.
- Duty Cycle
Everyone thinks he/she understands this term until his or her unit starts to produce the smell of burning plastic. Actually, most questions by users are related to duty cycle. As you choose the best stick welder, you want to understand this concept. The duty cycle of a stick welder is the time the machine will last before shutting down. The percentage you see on the machine is for 10 minutes. That means a welder with 50% duty cycle can only weld for 5 minutes before resetting.
Now, this is an important point to remember: not all stick welders are able to reset. Instead, they burn up in case the duty cycle is exceeded. Reaching the limit of the duty cycle means that weld quality starts to diminish. For the best results, get a stick welder that switches off automatically, not those that could even catch fire.
The metal to be weld and its thickness is the other important consideration for the best stick welder. Almost any welder can weld stainless steel and steel, but some metals can be selective. For instance, you would need a MIG welder for Chromemoly, while DC stick welder is ideal for cast iron. When it comes to thickness of metal, stick welders are capable of welding from 1/8 inch thickness.
- Ease of Use
Preferably, you want all the crucial controls on the front of the machine to make everything easy. Auto-reset and other advanced control features are often in the more expensive welders. Fortunately, most stick welders carry basic control settings that are comfortable even for the first-time user. A point to remember is to change the settings with gloves on always, and to carry the welder using only the recommended components.
Safety considerations for a stick welder are paramount, as overload and other issues are always probable. Welders that have overload protection turn off automatically to prevent overheating. This serves well because you will not be worrying of exceeding the duty cycle, which we already explained in a previous point. Apart from wearing the appropriate protective gear, you should always consult the user manuals that come with the product for all the safety details.
In most instances, a portable stick welder will be the better choice because it offers higher versatility. This is important because stick welders are renowned for their suitability for different environments, including windy outdoors. As you buy a stick welder, you want to make sure it is not only light, but also compact for easy movement and storage. If your concern is weight, then an inverter welder is the ideal choice. Transformer stick welders tend to be too heavy for odd jobs here and there.
Check around and you will realize that stick welders are some of the most budget-friendly welder options. Of course, a multi-process stick welder will demand more investment than a single process welder will, but it could help you save a lot of money in the end.
Whether you are an experienced welder, an inquisitive client or a budding hobbyist, you can always get a suitable stick welder from brands such as Lincon, Miller and Esab. Our coverage of all the above options and the accompanying buying guide is meant to make the selection process easier for you.
You will note that the welders featured present technologies such as IGBT Based Inverter, IGBT Rectifier, MOSFET, and Inverter Based among others, all of which enhance the welding process in different ways. We are elated you were able to zero in on the best stick welder for your needs, but in case you still have questions, we would be glad to assist. Reach us for more.