If you want to finish your DIY projects or plan on getting into the construction business, you’re going to need a stick welder.
There are lots of decent welding tools on the market that can help you create high-quality items or repair your equipment. But if you want more than just decent, you have come to the right place. This article reviews some of the best possible options and helps you to decide which model is your personal best stick welder.
Besides the reviews, you will also find the most important information about welding in general, which ought to help you choose the right product for your needs.
Top 5 Stick Welders Reviewed
Lincoln Electric CO K1170 AC225 Arc Welder
- Brand Name: Lincoln Electric
- Dimensions: 15 x 19 x 27 inches
- Item Weight: 96 pounds
- Material: Metal
- Compatible Devices: Hydrogen
- Current: from 40A to 225A
- Voltage: 220V
- Wattage: 51,750W
- Power Source: Corded-electric
- Duty Cycle: 20%
The K1170 AC225 Arc Welder is Lincoln Electric’s bestselling industrial welder ever. It produces an incredibly smooth AC arc which has the power to weld various types of metal. That includes stainless steel, cast iron, carbon, and low-alloy steel. 16-gauge metals and heavier are no problem for the AC225.
That alone makes the Lincoln Electric K1170 AC225 a perfect stick welder for a range of jobs. You can use it for household, farm, workshop, and other chores. This product is also popular with professionals.
The Lincoln Electric K1170 AC225 is a 60Hz arc welder, which is the AC frequency in North America. Based on that, its duty cycle is set to 20%. Duty cycles are often based on ten-minute periods. That means that you can draw this model’s arc for 2 minutes per period, i.e. there won’t be any overheating risks if you use the Welder for 2 minutes or less. To avoid overheating, the manufacturer also advises that you leave the unit “on” during each 10-minute period.
This arc welder has a very easy-to-use amp selector. Therefore, you can set the appropriate welding current every time you weld. The current that you can select is 40A to 225A.
If you decide to order a Lincoln Electric K1170 AC225, you will receive a 3-year parts and labor warranty.
- Smooth arc for easier welding
- 225A AC output
- Compatible with various types of metal
- Reasonably priced
- Requires a 220V outlet
Everlast PowerArc 160STH TIG Stick Welder
- Brand Name: Everlast
- Product Dimensions: 20 x 12.5 x 13.5 inches
- Material: Stainless Steel
- Current Capacity: 140A
- Voltage: 110 or 220V (Dual Voltage)
- Power Source: AC
- Duty Cycle: 35%
Everlast’s PowerArc is one of the most popular series of TIG Stick Welders today. This particular PowerArc, the PowerArc 160STH, definitely lives up to the Everlast brand known for producing high-quality products.
What makes this welding machine stand out is that it supports both TIG and arc (stick) welding. You can switch between those two welding modes in a matter of seconds.
Although the Everlast PowerArc 160STH TIG Stick is easy to use, it is still quite heavy-duty. Thus, it can get even the toughest jobs done. That makes this welding machine excellent for both beginner and seasoned welders.
At 160 amps, this welding machine offers a pretty reasonable 35% duty cycle.
The dual voltage capability is another interesting feature, which is built into all recent Everlast welding machines. You can run the Everlast PowerArc 160STH at 110-120 or 220-240 volts. Needless, you’ll need a 220V outlet if you plan on running this welder at its full capacity.
This welding machine is incredibly lightweight for an industrial machine. On top of that, it features an over-the-shoulder carrying strap. So, if you want to work outside your home or anywhere else, you can easily carry the Everlast PowerArc 160STH with you.
If you order this Everlast welding machine model, you can expect to receive additional accessories as follows:
- Argon regulator
- Electrode holder with DINSE type connector
- Work clamp cable (10ft)
- Everlast 17 series TIG torch (12ft)
- Consumable starter kit
- Impact-resistant carry case
The Everlast PowerArc 160STH TIG Stick Welder is based on an inverter power supply, therefore the light weight. It features IGBT infineon modules.
Everlast offers a 5-year part and labor warranty with the purchase of this welding machine. You can also use the 30-day money-back guarantee if you aren’t satisfied with the product.
- Small, lightweight, and portable
- Dual voltage
- Supports ARC and TIG welding
- Features an IGBT inverter
- 5-year parts and labor warranty
- Doesn’t have an AC output
SUNGOLDPOWER ARC-200S Arc MMA Welder
- Brand Name: SUNGOLDPOWER
- Product Dimensions: 13.6 x 5.5 x 10.4 inches
- Item Weight: 15 pounds
- Material: Iron
- Rated Current Output: 200A
- Voltage: 110 or 220V (Dual Voltage)
- Duty Cycle: 60%
- Frequency: 50/60Hz
The SUNGOLDPOWER ARC-200S Arc MMA Welder is incredibly versatile. You can use it to weld various types of metal, such as medium and low-carbon steel, alloy steel, and more.
This welding machine is lightweight and compact. It has a carrying strap and a handle which makes it very easy to carry around.
It features an IGBT dual voltage advanced control module. That immensely improves this machine’s versatility.
This SUNGOLDPOWER model is also quite durable. The manufacturer has added several features that protect it from the most common welding machine malfunctions. These include:
- Anti-sticking — prevents unit overloading
- Thermostatic control — allows you to check the temperature whenever
- Over-voltage protection
- Under-voltage protection
- Over-current protection
As you can see from the list above, this product is resistant to both voltage and current fluctuations. If you take good care of this welding machine, it will work well for years to come.
Another appealing feature that no one can skip over is its energy-saving feature. Most welding machines are power hogs. However, the SUNGOLDPOWER can keep your electrical bill under control while working efficiently. Besides that, it has a strong compensation capability.
If you order this product, your package will include the following items:
- MMA 200A SUNGOLDPOWER Arc Welding Machine
- Cable joint
- User manual (English)
- Inner hexagon spanner
- AC cable wire
- 2-inch ground camp
- 8-nch Electrode Holder
- With its 50/60 Hz input frequency compatibility, this machine has a 60% duty cycle.
Compared to other welding machines, this SUNGOLDPOWER welding machine is relatively cheap. When you consider all of the features as mentioned above, the SUNGOLDPOWER is definitely worth the selling price.
- Very durable
- Dual voltage
- 60% duty cycle
- Easy to use
- Good value for money
- Advanced IGBT inverter technology
- The puddle isn’t quite smooth
- Shorter cable
Lotos LTPDC2000D Arc Plasma TIG Welder
- Brand Name: Lotos Technology
- Product Dimensions: 17 x 8 x 12.5 inches
- Item Weight: 42.3 pounds
- Input Voltage: 110 or 220V
- Output current: 15 – 220A
- Power Efficiency: 85%
- Duty Cycle: 60%
The Lotos LTPDC2000D Arc Plasma TIG Welder is one of the most innovative welding machines available today. It is a multipurpose machine that allows you to switch between stick, DC TIG welding, and plasma cutting (pilot arc cutting). Because of that, the Lotos LTPDC2000D is marketed as a 3-in-1 welding machine.
This multipurpose welding machine cuts efficiently due to its non-touch pilot arc feature. The pilot arc technology ensures more precise cutting as you won’t be touching the metal while you cut. You can use this machine to even cut through difficult areas such as rust or painted surfaces. Its pilot arc torch produces minimal slag.
What makes the Lotos LTPDC2000D a truly innovative and powerful welding machine is its ability to make half-inch clean cuts. That brings us to its max ideal cut thickness of ½” and max severance thickness of ¾‘’.
Furthermore, this welding machine works on dual voltage (110 and 220 volts) at 50 or 60Hz. As mentioned, the top performance or max current is only possible if you hook it up to a 220V line.
The Lotos LTPDC2000D is quite versatile as you can use it for many different jobs. It can cut stainless steel, alloy steel, aluminum, mild steel, and copper. Regardless of the material, this machine is quite safe to use, or at least as an industrial welder is going to get.
If you’re in a hurry, the Lotos LTPDC2000D will be there to back you up. You can set this machine up within 1 minute and start welding immediately because it features a pre-installed industry type NPT ¼‘’ D plug and an air filter regulator. Connecting the air filter regulator to the air compressor is very easy and straightforward.
To ensure that the plasma cutter performs at its peak, the manufacturer installed a PAPST advanced cooling system.
If you order this welding machine, your package will include the following:
- Power supply
- TIG torch
- Plasma cutting torch
- Stick/MMA clamp
- Ground clamp
- Pre-installed NPT ¼ inch D plug
- Air filter regulator
- Instruction manual
- You will also receive a 3-year warranty should something happen to your welding machine.
The Lotos LTPDC2000D Plasma Arc TIG Welder’s consumables aren’t compatible with the Lotos PCON90 or PCON40.
- 3-in-1 welding machine
- Easy to use
- Easy to install
- Capable of deep and clean cuts
- PAPST advanced cooling system
- Dual voltage
- 60% duty cycle
- Doesn’t always cut up to ½” deep
AHP AlphaTIG 200x
- Brand Name: AHP
- Product Dimensions: 19 x 23 x 12 inches
- Item Weight: 69 pounds
- Power Source: AC/DC
- Duty Cycle: 60%
- Maximum Output Current: 200A (on 220V) and 140A (on 110V)
- Voltage: 110 or 220V (Dual Voltage)
- Pulse frequency: 0.5 to 200Hz
The AHP AlphaTIG 200x is the upgraded version of the original AHP powerhouse, the AlphaTIG 200. With that in mind, the manufacturer (AHP Welding Systems) has made sure that this 2018 model is a clear step up that took care of all previous drawbacks.
First of all, the 200x has been upgraded to 200Hz pulse frequency. Besides that, this 2018 model features an improved welding torch. This is an improvement over the previous model’s welding torch.
The 200x also features some of the most advanced welding technology today. That includes the insulated gate bipolar transistor (IGBT) and inverter technologies.
The inverter power supply works perfectly with pulse width modulation or PWM for short. It’s a switching power supply, which means that this welding machine can operate on either 220V or 110V single phase.
You can use the AHP AlphaTIG 200x for both TIG and stick welding. Switching between these two modes of welding is very easy.
The improved AHP model can be used for a variety of jobs. Depending on the job, you can select the DC or AC output mode. That offers you a decent frequency control range.
Furthermore, this welding machine’s start and end cycles, along with its pre and post flow control, are all programmable. Aside from that, you can switch between 2T and 4T sequencer modes with the remote.
The 2T mode offers two cycles. In 2T mode, you will have to use the torch switch cable or connect the foot pedal. All that you have to in this mode is press the switch while holding it down. The machine will work at the selected power setting for as long as you’re holding the switch. This mode is particularly suitable for beginners.
The 4T mode offers four cycles, ideal for more experienced welders. To use it, you’ll have to press switch number 1, which will start the shielding gas. When you release the switch, the power will flow to the main amps. You can redirect the power to the end amps if you press the switch again. If you release the trigger, the arc will stop working.
One of the huge benefits of the AHP AlphaTIG 200x is its ability to weld various types of metal. This machine is capable of welding aluminum, mild steel, stainless steel, iron, copper, and more.
The maximum metal thickness that you can weld is 3/8 inches and the minimum is 0.040 inches. On 220 volts, this machine will have a maximum output current of 200 amps, which goes down to 140A on 110V.
The AHP AlphaTIG 200x comes with a 3-year warranty.
- Supports TIG and stick welding
- Dual voltage
- A beginner-friendly industrial welder
- Works with various types of metal
- Easy setup
- 3-year warranty
- Short instruction manual
What Is Arc Welding?
Simply put, arc welding is a welding process that uses an electric arc to join and melt various types of metal.
There are several different welding processes. The most common ones are TIG, MIG, and stick welding. Depending on the job at hand, you will opt for one of those three. The welding process will then dictate the welding machine that you’ll have to use.
Welding machines used to support only one type of welding. However, modern welding machines usually offer at least two types of welding. Therefore, you can now use one machine for different jobs.
Types of Welding
Perhaps you’d like to know a bit more about these three types of welding? For one, it will help you determine which welding machine you should get.
MIG Welding (GMAW)
MIG welding, also known as Gas Metal Arc Welding (GMAW), is probably the easiest process to learn. MIG welders use a welding gun which has a continuous solid wire electrode going through it. The wire electrode then goes into the weld pool, where it joins the base materials together.
To protect the weld pool from contamination, a shielding gas is sent through the welding gun as well. Hence the name, Metal Inert Gas, or MIG for short.
As mentioned, MIG welding isn’t that hard to learn and master. Therefore, this process enables artist, farmers, and home-hobbyists to work on different fabrication types and welding repairs on their own. MIG welding works for 26-gauge and up to ½” thick materials.
To sum up, MIG welding is an easy and clean process that can be used on thick or thin plate metals.
Flux-cored arc welding (FCAW) is very similar to MIG welding. The only difference is that FCAW welding doesn’t require a shielding gas to go through the welding gun. That’s because the flux-cored wire itself shields the arc from contamination.
Tungsten Inert Gas or TIG welding uses non-consumable tungsten electrodes. The electrodes transfer current to the welding arc.
The weld pool and the tungsten gas are protected against contamination by way of cooling with an inert gas. Argon is the inert gas of choice for this purpose. Certain welds may require additional protection, in which case filler metals would be added alongside the protective inert gas.
TIG welding is mostly used for welding thinner metals. So, if you need to weld a thin section of stainless steel, alloy steel, aluminum, copper alloy, or magnesium, you can do that with this type of welding.
What makes TIG welding stand out in comparison is the fact that it offers greater control over the weld. Having better control will result in higher-quality welds.
However, this process isn’t that easy to master. It is more complex and involves different elements that the welder needs to have control over. [Read our full Guide on Tig Welding]
Stick welding has a couple of aliases. It’s also known as Shielded Metal Arc Welding (SMAW) or Manual Metal Arc Welding (MMA/MMAW).
This welding process uses an electrical current from a welding power supply. The current can either be direct or alternating, but you don’t have to worry about that for now. The electrical current goes from the welding power supply and runs through a gap between the welding stick and the metal. That’s where the current will form an electric arc due to the difference in potential.
The equipment used for this welding process is rather simple. When you consider that stick welding is quite versatile and isn’t that hard to learn (though it still requires a significant effort), it becomes obvious why this welding process is the most popular.
Stick welding can be used both indoors and outdoors. It is very efficient for welding most joints and alloys. On top of that, this is the most economical welding process, which is also why most welders opt for it.
Stick welding allows you to create a strong and effective bond even on dirty and rusty metals.
However, there are a few downsides to this welding process. To begin with, it can’t weld anything thinner than 18-gauge. Besides that, this process requires frequent rod changing and also results in spatter. Therefore, it requires a lot of cleaning after your work is done.
Among other arc welders (DC, AC/DC), AC is the most economical.
Stick welding machines are an excellent choice for home maintenance chores or farm work.
How to Determine the Ideal Welding Process
There are several key factors that you need to consider when figuring out which welding process fits your needs.
First of all, think about the welding project itself. What type of welding project are you about to take on? After that, think about the materials that you will be using.
An important factor is the metal’s thickness. You need to know exactly how thick the materials are. As mentioned, each welding process is limited to specific metals and thickness.
Consult the table below to get a better picture of the average material thickness.
|Welding Projects||Material Thickness (Average inches)|
|Trailer frames and fencing||1/4 to 5/16|
|Auto body||3/16 or less|
|Thick structural components||More than 3/8|
|Boats, motorcycles, and cars||1/16 to 1/8|
|Bicycles, tube frames, and lawnmowers||1/16|
|Utility trailers and hunting stands||1/16 to 1/8|
|Heavy repair||3/16 to 1/4|
|Farm, landscape, and ranch||5/16 to 3/8|
Don’t completely rely on the table above. Of course, you should only use it as a guide. You’ll want to measure the exact thickness and then compare with what’s listed in the table. If your results match what you see above, you’ve got the measurements right.
The following table shows the types of metal supported by each welding process.
|MIG||Steel, stainless steel, aluminum alloys|
|TIG||Steel, stainless steel, aluminum alloys, brass, copper, chromoly, cast iron, exotic metals (titanium, magnesium, etc.)|
|Stick||Steel, stainless steel, cast iron|
Arc welding is a technique that involves using electricity to join metals together. Other welding techniques offer the same result, the difference is in how you go about it.
This section will show you why you should choose arc welding over some other technique. Here are the advantages of arc welding.
Most arc welding machines are portable, though some more than others. This is extremely important as you’ll sometimes need to get some welding done outside your home. Maybe even in a different city. Since arc welding machines are portable, you can easily carry them with you.
Generally speaking, stick welders are not too expensive. Also, you won’t have to buy additional equipment that could put a strain on your budget.
With arc welding, it’s possible to weld metal even during heavy rain and wind. You can also weld rusty and dirty metals.
Huge Variety of Welding Machines
there are lots of arc welding machines on the market. Anyone can find a perfect fit for their needs.
While its advantages are probably enough to get you involved, you should be familiar with arc welding’s disadvantages as well.
Requires a high level of skill
This doesn’t apply to all welding processes, but most of them do require a high skill level. If you’re new to welding, you’ll have to practice quite a bit before you move on to any real work.
Unusable on very thin materials
Even the best arc welding machines won’t work on very thin materials.
What is Duty Cycle?
If you’ve read the reviews above, you’ve come across the term “duty cycle.” Duty cycle is a very important term that you need to understand before buying your first welding machine.
In essence, this is a percentage that shows the equipment’s specification standard. In other words, it shows how many minutes the welding machine takes to produce a certain current.
Usually, this percentage is based on a 10-minute period. For example, if you own a machine that has a 30% duty cycle and a power of 150 amps, you can use it for 3 minutes tops at the maximum current output. After you’ve used it for three minutes, you can’t use it any more or it’ll overheat. You’ll have to let it rest for the remaining seven. That completes the 10-minute period.
As you might imagine, if you’re not using the welder at its maximum current output, you’ll be able to use it for longer.
Should You Buy A Used Stick Welder?
Generally speaking, buying a used welding machine could be a good idea if you’re on a tight budget. There are nearly indestructible industrial welding machines that can be used for many years. However, you’ll have to be careful about whom you’re buying the machine from. Make sure to check to see that everything works properly before buying.
These machines can easily become damaged if not handled with care.
There are literally hundreds of places where you can order these type of machines online. That includes industrial websites, eBay, etc.
Despite all those options, Amazon remains the best place to buy these products. Not only is Amazon incredibly popular and used by millions of people worldwide, but it has a liberal return policy. You can also get free shipping to some areas.
All of the welding machines mentioned in this article are currently available on Amazon.
Choosing the best stick welder for your needs doesn’t have to be a difficult task. You can use our buyers guide to make the process easier.
On top of that, this article has presented you with some of the best stick welders on the market today. Hopefully, that will be enough to help you find the perfect product.