Best Stick Welder - Guide and Review

If you’re looking for a welder that you can use for tasks like general construction, home repair, farm and ranch applications, among others, then you should consider a stick welder. A stick welding machine is effective for welding alloys or joints. The best stick welder can also be used indoors, outdoors, and even enclosed areas.

Stick welding can weld thick metals like cast iron and stainless steel. It is also a welding technique that is appropriate for windy conditions. But like other forms of arc welding, it does have its disadvantages. For one, it results in much metal spatter. You also have to replace the rod quite frequently. And you have to clean the welds afterwards.

Despite those disadvantages, many novice and expert welders alike continue to opt for stick welding. If you’re one of them, you’re likely planning to invest in a stick welder. This article will help you find the right stick welder machine for you.

How to Choose the Best Stick Welder

There are many factors that will come into play when you are shopping for a stick welder. But perhaps the most important of them are:

Types

There are DC inverters, AC welders, DC transformers, and AC/DC inverters. Each type has its pros and cons.

If you are a novice or beginner welder, you should go for DC inverter welders. These are light, small, and portable. AC/DC inverters are also a good option, but these are very costly.

If you need a welding machine for long usage at high amps, then a DC transformer welder is what you need. It can last for a long time, aside from being affordable. But the downside is that it is very expensive and noisy.

AC air cooled welders feature 50 volt and 80 volt options. These are heavily built and can last for many years. But these aren’t portable and aren’t the easiest to use.

Duty Cycle

Look for a good quality stick welder that has at least 30 percent duty cycle at 70 amps. Avoid the cheap stick welders that have 10 percent duty cycle because it would make your work longer.

As you may know, the duty cycle indicates the duration for which the unit can weld in 10 minutes. Thus if a welder has a 10 percent duty cycle, that means you’ll be spending 9 minutes cooling it down and just a minute for welding.

Ease of Use

This is very important especially if you are a novice welder. The good news is that most of the modern stick welders today are easy to install and use. You will need less time to set them up and learn how to use them.

You must also get a stick welder with a digital amp read out so you can set the amps correctly. Another feature to look for is the start current. A good stick welder can temporarily increase output current during the start of a weld so that the arc can be ignited quickly and safely.

Input Power Requirement

Welders can operate on an input power of 110 to 220 volts. Basically, the higher the power input is, the more powerful the unit is. However, machines needing higher power would not be able to run on normal household circuit and necessitate special power circuits. So you should consider the power available in your garage or home when buying a stick welder.

Other Considerations

  • Safety— buy modern units with safety features such as anti-sticking
  • Open circuit voltage— this affects arc stability and ease of start. Look for a unit with an OC of 70 to 80 volts. Avoid those with 50 volts OCV because those units are tough to start.
  • Stick welding electrode— the unit you should get supports the rod that is appropriate for the material to be weld. For example, a 6011 welding rod is suited for repairing a steel tool, while 7018 is for repairing and piping steel welding.
Stick Welder

Recommended Product Reviews

I am aware that shopping for a stick welding machine can be overwhelming especially for novice welders. If you’re a neophyte welder, the following products should be good enough for your welding requirements:

Lincoln Electric K1170 AC225S Stick Welder

If you’re looking for a portable machine, then this one isn’t for you. But if you’re shopping for a unit that is very durable and powerful, then the Lincoln Electric K1170 is something you ought to consider buying.

Weighing more than 90 pounds, the K1170 may likely stay in your garage or shop. But that’s fine because this stick welder more than makes up for its size.​

This jukebox-sized unit can handle most jobs, from welding low alloy, carbon, and stainless steel. It offers an extremely smooth arc, and best used for home repairs and light fabrication.

It’s the type of unit that can last for many years. And in case it breaks down, don’t worry as sourcing replacement parts will not be a problem at all.

While it is not the most affordable in this list, you can be assured of the quality and durability of this welding machine.

Goplus® MIG 130 Welder Flux Core Wire Automatic Feed Welding Machine

This is a highly versatile welding machine. It is not only a stick welder but a TIG welder as well. It can switch between the two functions very easily.

It can also cut various metal types up to ½ inch in thickness with its plasma cutting function.

This is a relatively lightweight device at 32 pounds. It is very portable and reliable, with a duty cycle of 60 percent at max amps of 200. This means you can work faster because of the high duty cycle of this unit. Speaking of amps, this Lotus unit has a range 10 to 200 amps for welding and a lower range of 10 to 50 amps for cutting.

Lotos LTPDC2000D Plasma Cutter Pilot Arc 50Amp Dual Volt 200A TIG/Stick Welder

Similar to the CT520D, this is a three-in-one machine. You can save money if you buy this model as it can perform the function of three different units.

It works as a stick welder, a TIG welder, and a plasma cutting unit. And like the CT520D, maximum amperage for the welding functions is 200 amps while the limit for the cutting function is 50 amps.

There are a lot of things about this item that will impress you. One is that it is made from Robust Infineon IGBT Power Drive matrix, which simply means that it provides superior cutting power and long life span.

Moreover, getting started with this unit is easy. Simply flip the switch, set the current, and you can start welding. You can weld materials like steel and alloys with this unit.

However, you may have to do some research on how to operate it as there is no user’s manual included in the package.

Lotos Technology TIG140 140 Amp DC TIG/STICK Welder

Lotos is known for its versatile machines, and the TIG140 is a good example. Like the previous Lotos units discussed in this article, this one is a combo machine.

It not only works as a stick welding machine but also as a TIG welder.

You can weld copper, stainless steel, and ferrous materials on this machine. And with 120 and 240 volt capabilities, you can operate it almost anywhere. You can even plug it in a generator if needed.

It’s a fairly good unit for small tasks, although you should not expect it to have a fitting for its tig torch. Also, the mask and chipping hammer included in the package aren’t exactly superiorly built.

Stanley 41118U IPER E169 120-volt 100-Amp Stick Welder

For small welding tasks, this is another stick welder that you can depend on. Perhaps its greatest trait is its portability.

It weighs around 25 pounds, so you can maneuver it easily for minor domestic repair jobs.

Despite its frame, this is a pretty good stick welder. It can weld mild and stainless steel up to 1/8 inches thick with a single pass. And it has an automatic shut-off feature to prevent overheating.

You just have to live with some of its imperfections such as its cheap ground clamp. But overall, this is a pretty good stick welder.

Final Verdict

A stick welder is a good investment, whether you’re a novice welder or an intermediate one who’s bent on improving your skills. Sure, stick welding has its disadvantages such as the noise the machine makes, and the need to replace the rod every now and then. But it is still cheaper than MIG or TIG welding. And unlike TIG welding, it is relatively easier to learn.

If you are to buy a stick welding machine, consider the factors such as the type, ease of use, duty cycle, and input power requirement. It won’t hurt if you buy a unit that can also cut metals but at the end of the day, the best stick welder is one that can help you weld materials in the quickest, most efficient way possible.

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