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We have listed here a selection of what we consider to be the top arc welders on the market. Our top 5 choices include:
- Forney Easy Weld 298 100ST
- SUNCOO 160A
- LINCOLN ELECTRIC CO K1170 AC225
- Forney 314 235FI AC DC
We have reviewed each of these machines for their benefits and negatives, and hopefully, you will be able to find out which is the best option for your needs.
Best ARC Welder (Our Top Choice)
Forney Easy Weld 298 Welder 100ST
- Good brand and really affordable
- Lightweight at 13.74 lbs (6.2 kg)
- Perfect for small jobs around the house
Updated: 06/03/2020 (Added newer models and relegated older models to the end of the article)
One of the oldest welding processes, this type of welding remains popular among hobbyists and professionals alike.
For one, it is very cheap as you don’t need to have a lot of equipment. You can get one for a low price.
But the top choice isn’t always the cheapest. There are other things to look for in shopping for an arc welding machine.
Although you can’t weld thick metals with stick welders, there are other advantages that offset this limitation.
One is that Stick welders are available in AC/DC, aside from AC and DC. Stick welders can be used both indoors and outdoors.
It’s also more suited for welding metals that are at least 3 mm thick. These inherent advantages make it very popular among DIYers, farmers, and pros.
NOTE: We have reviewed many older models that don’t seem to be sold nowadays, so we have just updated this article to be more representative to those that are available on the market, today.
Recommended Product Reviews
Forney Easy Weld 298 Welder 100ST
Really nice little portable stick machine that is ideal for small odd jobs around the house.
Forney is a well-known brand and this no exception. There are some downsides as I will go through in the pros and cons section, but on the whole, this is one of our top-rated stick welders.
Some of our readers have notified us to let us know that it is a little breathless on lower averages, but once turned up to at least 90A, those issues soon went away.
All in all, this machine is worth a look in if you are looking for something well made and won’t leave you out of pocket.
I would argue that this is the for the money.
Pros and Cons
- Affordable and high quality
- Forgiving machine for learning how to weld
- Can be used with low voltage input
- A little breathless on the lower amp number
Somewhat of an unknown entity, I had to do a bit of digging to find out about this interesting choice.
It isn’t really the most handsome looking machine, nor is it the sturdiest.
What it is, however, is a very affordable arc welding machine that just works and does the job it is supposed to be getting on with doing!
It is a great stick welding machine for beginners and it is quite possibly the best cheap arc welder on the market, right now.
Pros and Cons
- Impressive functionality for the price
- A brilliant option for those just starting out
- Impressive penetration and duty cycle
- Doesn’t seem to overheat with intense usage
- An unknown brand might cause concern for some
SUNCOO 160A Welding Machine
Again, this is somewhat of an unknown entity, but by all accounts it is a great little energy saving stick option.
Disclaimer: I have not actually used this particular machine, so instead I got in contact with some of the users. This review is based on their own thoughts about it, (shout out to Jeoff who gave me loads of valuable info).
Essentially, it is a cheap and cheerful arc welding machine and the build quality is far from the bigger brands in terms of fit and finish.
However what sets it apart is the cost and also that it actually functions very nicely, with great heat dissipation.
It is an AC arc welder and extremely portable for throwing in your truck and doing the odd jobs around your house or for neighbors.
I think it is safe to say that this up and comer is the top choice for home use when you factor in the price and ability.
Pros and Cons
- “Won’t believe it until you see it” price point!
- Rated duty cycle of 20%
- Super easy current regulation from 90A to 160A
- Excellent heat dissipation even after moderate to heavy usage
- Perfect for light duties
- Only 22 lbs (9.9 kg)
- Not a well-known brand, (at least not yet as I think this will become quite popular in time)
LINCOLN ELECTRIC CO K1170 AC225
Here is the big boy of this review article!
With looks that kind of hark back to older Lincoln models such as the Lincoln SA 200.
Personally I quite like the retro aesthetic, but each to their own and I have some friends who really like modern and easy to use models.
Anyway, this model is actually really heavy and by far the heaviest on this list at 115 lbs (52kg), so you can pretty much take away portability from the list of things this is good at. It is so heavy that if you decided to purchase it, you should consider a decent welding cabinet and cart to move it around.
It is powerful though. Able to be used with metals 16-gauge & heavier, this means that it is quite versatile when it comes to using cases.
This could be chosen for some pro welders out there looking to get another 100 amp arc welder (among other amp ranges) for the house.
Pros and Cons
- Lincoln brand, well known for its pedigree
- The output range of 40-225 Amps AC
- Can weld a decent range of metals and thicknesses
- Can weld a decent range of metals and thicknesses
- Expensive (compared to others on this list)
Forney 314 235FI AC DC
Forney, Forney, Forney! You might think we are being sponsored by them or something because we do feature them a fair bit on Pro Welder Guide.
However it just happens that they produce some of the best stick welders in the business. You might disagree, but I have used many in my time and while they are certainly not the very, top notch super duper pro best machines for pros, they are good enough for most people and the price is always right.
Its sturdy, great for more than simple home use, (although can be used in a home workshop no problem), but mainly for semi pros looking to upgrade from an old home use model.
As of writing, it is the most expensive on this list, but if you are shopping around for one of the top choices for your business, this might be worth a look into.
Pros and Cons
- Can be used with a wide array of electrodes
- The duty cycle of 20% at 230A and 50% at 150A
- AC/ DC power source
- Great for more than home use
What to Look for and What they are Designed to Provide
There are many variables that can affect your buying decision, but I feel these are the four most important factors to consider in choosing one:
Today’s machines are available in either DC, AC, or AC/DC. The classic machines are run on AC. But the disadvantage of AC is that the stick often adheres when the voltage drops. It can be frustrating if you’re trying to learn arc welding.
If you don’t want to be hassled by that, you can opt for DC arc welding units. These machines result to easy arc starts, aside from the electrodes not sticking. DC also minimizes spatter and leads to good looking welds.
But if you covet versatility, AC/DC is the most practical choice of power source.
For inverter machines, an output of 140 amps is at the limit of a 13 amp 240 volt supply.
With this output, the use of 3.2 mm rods would be allowed. An output of 100 amps would be needed to run 2.5mm rods, while rods smaller than that would necessitate more skills.
You’d like to use thicker rods as this will decrease the number of passes needed to weld thicker materials.
This is a welder specification defining the number of minutes within a 10-minute period that a welder can produce a welding current.
To be more specific, a 140 amp welder that has a 30 percent duty cycle can be used for 3 minutes and then cooled off for 7 minutes.
Avoid welders with low duty cycles as you would be spending a lot of time cooling off the welder.
These cheap welders also won’t be able to burn a rod before thermal cut out.
Thermal Overload Protection
Buy a machine with this feature, which automatically cuts the output power to the torch once the circuit inside begins to overheat.
Other cooling mechanisms particularly the fan will run to disperse the heat in case the machine has been left turned on.
Other Things to Consider
- Open circuit voltage: Buy one with at least 70 volts. These are unlike those that have a 50-volt OCV which are notorious for being hard to start. Moreover, you won’t have to be hassled by an unstable arc or avoid using special rods.
- Size: Opt for a lightweight and portable unit
- Display: A very useful feature especially for beginners. With it, you can accurately set the amps.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the best stick welder for home use?
Lotos LTPDC2000D 3-in-1 Stick Welder
EVERLAST PowerARC 140 TIG / Stick Welder
Amico ARC-160D Stick Welder – Best Value
Hobart 500571 Stickmate 210i Stick Welding Machine
HITBOX 160A Inverter Arc & Stick-Welder
Forney Easy Weld 298
What is the best 120 volt arc welder?
In our rundown, we have awarded the Forney Weld 298 as our highest rated 120-volt best stick machine
Which welder is best arc or MIG
Arc welding is better for thicker metals as it can penetrate deeper to create a stronger weld.
There are many on the market, thus you may be overwhelmed with the choices. But I have listed five highly recommended units to help you in shopping:
Legacy Arc Welding Machines
Designed for shielded metal arc welding, this unit weighs 50 pounds. It measures 15 x 12 x 20 inches.
Included in the package are chipping hammer, torch, wire brush, face mask, and cable ground. For easy portability, there are two handles in this unit.
The current range of this welder is from 60 to 250 amps.
This is a dual voltage machine so you can practically use it anywhere. You can plug it into a 120 or 240-volt circuit. If you feel you will need an extension cord for this, the most practical choice would be the 120-volt plug as you can move the unit around the house.
Its welding cable features a multi-angle rod holder. There’s also a cooling fan that protects the unit against thermal overload.
The problem with this welder is that it has a very low duty cycle. At moderate amp settings of 150-160, it only has a 25 percent duty cycle. That means you can only weld for 2.5 minutes then wait for 7.5 minutes before welding again.
Pitbull Ultra-Portable 100-Amp Electric
If you are looking for a portable and lightweight stick welders, then this could be the one for you. It weighs just 28 pounds.
It measures 18 x 13 x 1 inches. This is a very compact machine that you would want to have in your garage or shop.
It operates on a 110 volt single phase cover. It is ideal for home maintenance and repairs. The amperage range of 40 to 100 amps would let you work on mild steel and stainless steel projects. It can weld up to ¼ inch of mild steel.
This is also very user-friendly. It has a slide reading where you can see the settings and a knob on the front which you can use to dial up the settings. And because it is very lightweight, you won’t have problems storing this welder.
You just need to bear with some flaws like the incoherent user’s manual and the lack of welding sticks.
Lincoln Electric K1170 AC225S Stick Welder
This is a lot different than the Pitbull Ultra portable. One major difference is that it isn’t portable at all, weighing a hefty 113 pounds.
It is a big unit that measures 26.4 x 18.8 x 14.8 inches. Its AC output range is from 40 to 225 amps. The design is very classic, like the old welders you see in welding shops.
But don’t be intimidated with the size of this welder. It is user-friendly that you should have no problems operating it. It allows quick set-up, and guarantees a uniform arc. It can weld various materials like stainless steel, steel, and cast iron. It can weld metals that are 16 gauge and heavier.
Like most units, this unit is very noisy while in operation. But that’s probably the only thing you would hate about this welder. Simply put, it is a very functional welding machine that you can pass on to your children and grandchildren.
Forney 298 100ST
If you consider yourself an inexperienced welder, then this is the unit that you can invest in. It is suited for novice workers. It is very easy to use.
The output of 90 amps would enable you to work on small home repair and even automobile repair jobs.
Operating on a 110 volt single phase power, this unit is ideal for home use. It can handle up to a 1/8 inch welding rod. It is capable of welding materials from 16 gage up to 5/16 inches thick.
Plus it weighs just 7.9 pounds so you can take it practically anywhere. It measures 15 x 7 x 11.5 inches.
It’s a bit disappointing, though, that this unit comes with a short 6-month warranty against defects. The electrode holder and work clamp aren’t the sturdiest, too, although you can upgrade them with aftermarket ones.
Hiltex 10910 100 Amp 110/220V Electric
This is another portable arc welder that you can use for light home repairs. It weighs just 26 pounds and measures 16.9 x 9.1 x 11.8 inches. Current range is from 40 to 100 amps.
Included in the package are electrode holder with rod, power supply cord, earth clamp, welding mask, and brush. It plugs into a 110 or 220 volt outlet, so you can practically use this anywhere.
While it is a very attractive option particularly to budget-constrained welders, it does have its own share of shortcomings. For one, there is no owner’s manual in the package so you basically have to learn how to use it, as well as how to wire a plug on it.
This particular type remains a fixture in welding shops and garages because of their inherent advantages. For one, arc welding machines are more affordable than other types of welding (MIG and TIG welding units). They are also very portable and can be used for welding common metals and alloys.
When choosing one, you don’t only look at the price tag of the unit. You will also have to consider other factors like the duty cycle of the unit, as well as its amperage range, thermal protection, and output signal.
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