Using a stick welder is one of the most commonly used welding methods by beginners and professionals. It is the best form of welding for those that find themselves working outdoors or within difficult positions.
The best stick welder is the Amico ARC-160D, which uses an advanced IGBT DC inverter and a range of automated safety features.
Stick welding is also known as Shielded Metal Arc welding, which uses a manual arc and an electrode coated with a binding agent to lay the weld. It is fairly robust and has the benefit of bonding metals regardless of how rusty or dirty it is.
Table of Contents
- Best Stick Welder
- Stick Welder Buying Guide
Best Stick Welder
|Stick Welder||Combo||Duty Cycle|
|Amico ARC-160D||Stick Only||60% @ 160A|
|Everlast PowerARC 140||Stick & TIG||35% @ 140A|
|HitBox ARC 160A||Stick & TIG||60% @ 160A|
|Lotos LTPDC2000D||Stick. TIG & Plasma||60% @ 200A|
|Campbell Hausfeld 70A||Stick Only||20% @ 50A|
Stick welders are available in two types that include a inverter or transformer welder. The inverter setup is the best type as they more efficient and much lighter, which helps improve the portability of the unit.
Below is a list of the best stick welders that are available as inverter or transformer type and are suitable for beginners or professionals.
Amico ARC-160D Inverter Stick Welder
The ARC-160D by Amico is a highly rated stick welder that uses the latest IGBT inverter technology. This ensures that it is optimized to deliver efficient and splatter-free welds with superior arc stability.
To reduce the unit running at high temperatures, it features an intelligent fan control that not only keeps it cool but also reduces contaminants being drawn into the unit.
Other features of the Amico ARC-160D include:
- Hot start and anti-sticking
- Works with a welder generator
- Automatic compensates for voltage fluctuations
- Dual input voltage (115/230V)
- 60% duty cycle @ 160A
- Includes equipment to get started
The ARC-160D is a safe stick welder that is ideal for beginners or those that need a lightweight and compact unit. It also offers great value for the money along with superior performance when compared to similar priced alternatives.
Everlast PowerARC 140 Stick Welder
Everlast are a big brand in the welding industry with many models available. The PowerArc model is a 140 amp TIG and stick welder that is dual voltage (120/240V). It also uses the desirable IGBT inverter for maximum efficiency.
Included with the welder are a stick electrode holder and cable, 17V torch, 6 foot work clamp, wire brush and heavy duty carrying case.
Other features of the Everlast PowerArc 140 include:
- 35% duty cycle @ 140A
- Automatic hot start
- Digital display
- Adaptive arc force control
- Low power consumption
Overall, it is a high performing stick welder with the ability to perform TIG welding too. If you require additional welding power, Everlast have a range of larger units and smaller alternatives that are cheaper.
Hitbox Arc 160 Stick Welding Machine
For those looking for an affordable alternative, the Hitbox Arc 160 is a great option. It has a DC voltage input and has a 60% duty cycle at 160A. One of the best features of this stick welder is that it weighs just 9.5 LBS for maximum portability.
Other features of the Hitbox Arc 160 include:
- Intuitive interface with digital LED display
- Hot start and anti-sticking
- All round protection
- Compact and lightweight design
- 10 to 160A amperage range
- Includes earth clamp, cable and electrode holder
The Hitbox Arc 160 is the best cheap stick welder for beginners that has the desirable digital display and an easy to use interface. With the ability to TIG and stick weld, it can be used for a variety of welding projects.
Lotos LTPDC2000D Combo Welder
For those looking for a welding machine that offers everything, the Lotos LTPDC2000D is exactly that. Not only is it an excellent stick welder but it is also provide TIG capabilities and acts as a portable plasma cutter.
It does come with a premium price tag but when you consider the functionality and reputable brand, it is worth the money.
Features of the Lotos LTPDC2000D include:
- Non-touch plasma cutter
- 200A TIG and stick welder
- 60% duty cycle at 200A
- Dual voltage capability
- Includes argon regulator
- Digital display
If you are looking for a versatile welding machine, this Lotos unit is the best option. Although expensive, it is much cheaper than purchasing separate units for each form of welding that you require.
Campbell Hausfeld Transformer Stick Welder
Campbell Hausfeld produce a variety of welders but this stick welder is one of the most popular units they produce. It is designed for home and shop use with a transformer design that provides a smooth arc and easy starting.
In terms of the performance of this stick welder, it has a maximum output of 70A and a duty cycle rating of 20% whilst operating at 50A.
Other features of the Campbell Hausfeld WS099001AV model include:
- Durable metal construction
- Ergonomic carrying handle
- Dual heat settings
- Welds 18 gauge up to 1/8 inch
- Thermal overload protection
- Easy to use control panel
Overall, the Campbell Hausfeld WS099001AV is an excellent all-round stick welder that uses a transformer instead of an inverter. It is built to last and for peace of mind, the brand back this unit with a 5 year limited warranty.
Stick Welder Buying Guide
As technology has improved over the years, so have stick welders. Many of the inverter based units are lightweight and produce high quality welds with ease.
Most manufacturers are also producing multi-purpose welders that include a stick, TIG and MIG combination. This makes them more versatile and the perfect choice for tackling a range of welding projects.
To help you make an informed buying decision, we have produced the below guide regarding stick welders.
Using a stick welder allows you to work with a wide range of metals, which include:
- Mild steel
- Stainless steel
- Nikel based alloy
- and much more
However, it is worth noting that it is not the best option when used with aluminum. We would recommend that you avoid stick welding for auto body panels but they are great for using elsewhere on the vehicle.
AC or DC Power
The majority of stick welders will use a DC power supply and it is fairly rare to find one that uses AC. As with TIG welding, using a stick welder requires a constant voltage as the amperage may fluctuate depending upon the length on the arc.
In terms of the power requirements of most units, they will either need 110V or 220V inputs. For more tasking welding projects, the larger 220V welders are able to weld thicker materials and produce better quality results.
The output of a stick welder is measured in amps and usually ranges from 5 to over 250A depending on your budget. It may be tempting to choose a low powered unit but this may limit your welding abilities.
The majority of stick welding tasks will not require over 200 amps, therefore we advise that you avoid the high powered units unless it is a requirement.
All welders will have a duty cycle metric that is expressed as a percentage of time (usually 10 minutes) at a certain amperage. For example, if a stick welder had a 30% duty cycle at 100A, this would mean it can weld continuously for 3 minutes before needing to cool down.
Hot Start and Anti-Sticking
In order to prevent the electrode sticking to work pieces during welding, a burst of output current is required at the start. This functionality makes it easier to form an electric arc and prevents overloading the machine.
Transformer vs Inverter Types
An inverter stick welder is the more modern of the two types and offers many benefits. These include a much lighter unit that is make transportation much easier. They are also far more efficient, which has the effect of using less gas whilst welding. However, the only drawback is that they are more expensive than the transformer alternative.
Transformer stick welders are far more robust and are known for being long lasting, which is great for industrial use. Another benefit is that they are often cheaper than the inverter alternative but it does have some drawbacks. These include the fact that it is far heavier, which means it may only be suitable for work shops and not mobile use.
Ease of Use
Most modern stick welders are far easier to use than they once were. Many include intuitive interfaces with controls on the front that make it simple to adjust the settings. Unless you opt for a more premium alternative, the majority of stick welding units are fairly basic compared to the alternative methods.
If you are beginner looking to begin stick welding, GoWelding.org state that you could learn it in as little as 5 hours.
Other Equipment Required
If you are a beginner getting into welding, you will require the essential welding equipment to get started. We highly recommend that you get the best welding helmet you can get your hands on due to the risk of injury. You will also need other safety clothing such as stick welding gloves and other items.
Standard equipment that you require with a stick welder include:
- Constant voltage
- Stick electrodes
- Ground clamp
- Rod holder
The majority of manufacturers will include it within the package but you can always upgrade the additional equipment to suit your requirements.
Stick welders have improved massively over the years with the integration of an inverter. They are more efficient and lightweight for transportation of the unit from job to job. Although stick welding is not ideal for auto body panels, it is great for the underbody, trailers, garage doors and much more.
All of our recommendations are suitable for a range of budgets and skill levels. If you are a beginner, many of the cheap units are perfect and include basic features that allow you to get started with ease.