Last Updated on January 2021
The invention of arc welding helped the Allied Powers to victory in both World Wars by allowing shipbuilders to do away with heavy rivets for steel plates. Nowadays, arc welders are used by both professionals and people who need them for ‘round-the-house chores, so if you are looking to buy a quality arc welder, you’ve come to the right place.
We aim to help you gain all the info about arc welders and welding processes you need, right after our selection of the top 5 models that money can buy.
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Top 5 Arc Welders Reviewed
- Dimensions: 12.5 x 9 x 22″
- Weight: 18lbs
- Input Power: 115/230V 60Hz
- Output Range: 5-160A
- Duty Cycle: 60%
Amico’s Power is the first machine in our review, and it shows quite a lot of promise regarding performance and versatility. It’s sleek, small, and lightweight, making it ideal for daily use. What’s more, it features selectable power inputs – you can switch between 115V, 230V, and 60Hz, and its duty cycle is estimated at 60%.
Amico also provides a set of complementary features with its Power model – you’ll be able to benefit from an electrode holder, a 10-foot cable, a work clamp, and a power adapter. To top it all off, it doesn’t cost much – it belongs to the affordable price point category, and it sports a considerable value for your buck.
Read our full review and find out more.
- Selectable power levels
- Compact, lightweight design
- 60% duty cycle
- Very affordable
- Somewhat unbalanced (the bulk of the overall weight sits in the back)
Amico Tig Welder
- Dimensions: 16.6 x 7.5 x 11.8″
- Weight: 15.5lbs
- Input Power: 110/230V 60Hz
- Output Range: 20-200A
- Duty Cycle: 60%
Here’s yet another marvelous product from Amico – the Tig Welder. TIG stands for tungsten-inert gas. It’s one of the finest non-consumable electrode welding machines that money can buy, boasting 200 amps of pure power and optimized to perform flawless work in the blink of an eye.
This tool is suitable for welding stainless steel, mild steel, cast iron, copper, alloy steel, and chrome; however, if you’re looking to weld aluminum, you should look elsewhere. Just like with our previous pick, Amico provides a vast array of free features, including a 13-foot cable, an electrode holder, and a convenient little work clamp.
The TIG Welder is quite pricy – in fact, its price is nearly twice as high when compared to the Amico Power model. Nevertheless, it’s a good value for the money.
- High-power TIG welding machine
- Works on alloy steel, copper, chrome, cast iron, stainless steel, and alloy steel
- Comes with numerous gratis accessories
- Exceptional value for the buck
- Can’t weld aluminum
Forney Easy Weld
- Dimensions: 24.6 x 12.6 x 18.5″
- Weight: 32.6lbs
- Input Power: 120V 60Hz
- Output Range: 125A
- Duty Cycle: 20%
Next up is Forney’s Easy Weld arc welder. Sporting 120-volt performance, it’s ideal for light- to medium-duty operations.
Some of the benefits Forney’s model has over similar models within its price range are that it features a small, lightweight design, it can weld nearly all kinds of metal, and it’s TIG capable. The transformer is, however, sold separately.
This little dynamo is pretty inexpensive, easy to handle, and will get the job done, although we recommend Amico’s Power if you’re looking for more versatility.
- Sleek, compact design
- Incredibly easy to use and handle
- 90 amp output
- Not suitable for heavy-duty work
- Dimensions: 12.4 x 5.3 x 10.5″
- Weight: 9.5lbs
- Input Power: 220/240V 60Hz
- Output Range: 10-160A
- Duty Cycle: 40%
The Hitbox ARC160A is a powerful, versatile machine – it features a 60Hz input and boasts digital control via MMA stick, VRD, or Lift TIG. Its duty cycle is measured at 60%, and its output power is rated at 160 amps, which is more than enough for medium, possibly even heavy-duty work.
You’ll get an electrode holder as well an earth clamp as complementary features, but that’s not all – even though ARC160A appears as unwieldy, it’s actually pretty small and nearly weightless. Its actual weight is 4.3 kilograms (9.5 pounds), and it’s packing size measures 317mm by 136mm by 268mm.
As for its price, the Hitbox model is neither too expensive nor too cheap. It’s just a tad more pricy than Amico’s Power and Forney’s Easy Weld, but it’s significantly cheaper than Amico’s TIG welding machine.
- 60hz input power
- Digital mode of operation
- Electrode holder and clamp as complementary features
- Lightweight, yet robust design
- No major flaws whatsoever
Lotos Combo Welder
- Dimensions: 18 x 8 x 11″
- Weight: 32lbs
- Input Power: 110/220V 50/60Hz
- Output Range: 15-200A
- Duty Cycle: 60%
The last tool in our review is the Lotos Combo Welder – one of the most versatile, powerful, and valuable machines on the market today. Essentially, this is a non-touch plasma cutter with 50 amps of power combined with a TIG welding machine with selectable power in the range between 15 and 200 amps. It’s also a Stick welder with the same amount of selectable power.
For a 3-in-1 machine, it’s only normal that the Lotos costs quite a bit. Its price is three times higher than that of the Hitbox Arc Welder, but look at the bright side – you won’t need to buy a better wending tool in your lifetime.
- Three-in-one combo
- Suitable for all welding purposes
- Plenty of power
- Robust construction
- Very expensive
- Fairly hard to use
What Is Arc Welding?
Most people refer to arc welding as a technique used to weld various metals using electrical heat. There are numerous types of arc welders; hence there are several types of techniques and methods to use them.
Some of the most common types are SMAW (shielded metal welding), otherwise called manual welding, and GMAW which is sometimes referred to as MIG (metal-inert gas), which further refers to semi-automatic welding. Among the less popular are FCAW (flux-cored), which is a variation of GMAW, and SAW (submerged welding).
The aforementioned technique types are labeled as consumable electrode techniques, but there are also two non-consumable electrode types – GTAW (gas-tungsten welding) and TIG (tungsten-inert gas), as well as plasma welding, which instead of using electricity relies on plasma gas. The least known techniques, which nevertheless deserve some recognition, are atomic hydrogen, carbon, electroslag, and electro gas welding.
How To Choose A Great Arc Welding Machine
Normally, a person who has little or no experience with these tools would do best to ask questions about the machine itself before buying it. As we already mentioned, there are several stick welder types, each being suitable for different type of welding, so it would be easier if you narrowed down your search in accordance with your personal needs.
Secondly, you should decide on your budget – there are good models to be had under $200, but people who require heavy-duty work might need to spend $400 – $500. That being said, it’s quite easy to deduce that stick welders require a bit of an investment.
Once you’ve decided the type you need and your budget, it would be great if you had extra time to prolong your search and cross out those models that come without any accessories. Some machines come outfitted with free accessories such as electrode holders, cables, work clamps, and power adapters.
Advantages Of Arc Welding
Joining metal using electricity is what arc welding is about, so when compared to other techniques, it comes with a set of benefits, such as cost-efficiency, portability, and convenience. First and foremost, most people compare arc welding to gas-based metal joining techniques, so let’s talk about the former’s advantages.
- Cost – stick welders themselves are generally not too expensive, but the reason why it’s more cost-effective than gas welding is that you won’t need as much equipment.
- Portability – some of these tools are portable by design, making them easy to move and transport (although most models are quite heavy).
- Convenience – you can weld metal during rainy and windy weather, and you won’t have any problems working with dirty metal.
Disadvantages Of Arc Welding
While there are lots of advantages arc welders have over similar platforms, there are several drawbacks which might dissuade you from using them.
- Low overall efficiency – the worst problem with these machines is that they produce the highest amount of metal waste when compared to other metal joining platforms. In the case of heavy-duty work, your material costs might end up being so high that they exceed your profits.
- High level of skill is necessary – arc welders are not easy for beginners to use. A person who wishes to operate this electric titan needs to have passed rigorous training and tests, as safety hazards are present during the entire process.
- Virtually unusable on thin materials – using these tools on thin metals might prove to be impossible.
- Proper alignment of the electrode is imperative – this simple task can fall hard on novices, and even on people who have some experience with arc welding.
The duty cycle represents an equipment specification standard defined as a percentage of minutes for which the tool should produce the particular current. The given percentage usually refers to a maximum ten minute period. Therefore, if the machine boasts a power of 150 amps and has a set cycle of 30%, you could use it for at most three continuous minutes, after which you’ll need to let it rest for seven.
If you intend to do the welding yourself, you can imagine the machine as if it were a human being – the stick welder exerts the “muscles” over time (during the cycle), so it needs to rest, lest it overheat itself. The stress put on the machine might lead to malfunction of the mechanisms, so letting it rest for the required time is an important consideration when you plan your work.
If you are hiring a professional, either inquire about the duty cycle of your expert’s equipment or try to strike a deal that’s based on results rather than pay per hour of work.
Should You Buy A Used Arc Welder?
There are two logical yet conflicting opinions on whether or not you should buy a used arc welder. The first one is positive, based on cost-effectiveness, and the second one is negative, based on the risks of injury and safety hazards.
If you are low on cash, buying a used machine could be good. Generally, these contraptions aren’t too risky to use if you know what you are doing, and it’s a fact that most high-quality models cost an arm and a leg. Employ extra care and stick to the rules of your model’s duty cycle, and you should be just fine.
On the other hand, even new machines aren’t fault-proof, which means that an accident can occur at any given time. Dabbling with electricity is dangerous, so if you aren’t too confident in your abilities, you should consider buying a brand new machine.
Best Place To Buy An Arc Welder Online
There are numerous places where you could order one of these machines online – eBay, industrial sites, etc. Additionally, there are always people who post their offers on tech sites which might or might not be related to whatever you are looking for. However, these machines aren’t toys, food, or something you should take too lightly – buying one will always be a costly investment, not to mention the risk of purchasing faulty equipment.
That being said, the safest place where you can order this tool online is Amazon. Apart from being the most popular and reliable online service, this online market has a strict set of rules that apply to users on both ends: vendors and buyers. They also provide free shipping to some areas.
One of the best things about Amazon is that you are entitled to use their return/refund policy. People ship their items overseas all the time, and even if your vendor is in the near vicinity, an accident can occur at any time, and your package might be delivered to you in a damaged condition – that’s where return policies come into play.
Finding the best stick welder isn’t too hard – all you have to do is follow our comprehensive buying guide, and you’ll find the model which is perfect for you in a matter of minutes. In case you don’t have the time to scrounge through the market, knowing that it’s filled with machines good and bad, we’ve added a list of our top 5 arc welding machines for your convenience. We hope you find what you’re looking for, and we wish you all the best!
Disclosure: We make a small commission from Amazon whenever you purchase products following our links (at no additional cost to you). This will never affect our evaluation of products. You can find our full disclosure here.