Best Stick Welder Reviews – Buying Guide
Amico Power DC-160A
My experience with the Amico was a very good one, as I found that it did everything I could need it to do without issue.
One of my first reactions, when I picked up this particular welder, was how light it is to carry around and use. The issue you find with a lot of models is that they’re just not suited to extended usage. The heavier weight can hamper what you can do, but I was pleased to find that this was not the case with the Amico.
Regarding power, the welder did not disappoint. I was very pleased to see a generous output was available to me, which gave me all the capacity I would need to weld a variety of materials. It didn’t matter what kind of steel I applied the Amico too; the results were the same; a suitably high standard throughout to reassure me that I made the right choice when choosing this welder. It comes with everything you need to get set up and ready to go right out of the box, which meant that there was no waiting around for this model!
I was delighted with the level of control which was granted to me as well. The LED display meant that I could adjust the output with ease, which made some of the more tricky welding jobs an absolute breeze. I could not have been more pleased with the level of performance which I’ve been getting on a consistent basis.
Hobart 500570 Stickmate 160i
The Stickmate is different from a lot of welders I’ve used in the past, and I say that with a smile. It’s not different in a bad way, in fact, it’s quite the opposite.
When I first came into contact with the Stickmate, I was very impressed with the design and the functionality of the device. It’s a well built and rugged piece of kit, and you can see it in the shape and size of it. However, my expectations of weight were wholly subverted. The Stickmate is a very lightweight model, being easy to carry around and not a strain on the body at all to transport around. This particular model is one which blends functionality with a lightweight design and succeeds at both.
Every time I turned it on, the hot start technology made it so that the welder was ready to go without a massive wait. And go it did! I found that there was plenty of power available for my needs, with it being able to weld 5/32 inches of mild steel. This meant that any task I put the welder too, it performed above my expectations. Obviously, with a welder, you need it to offer a consistent level of performance, and I’m pleased to report that the Stickmate did. Each time I used it, there was a high level of power being put out, and the lightweight nature meant I could be precise in my welding. This ensured that even the more tricky tasks I found myself confronted with were done with ease, leading to one happy owner.
Sun Gold Power ARC
So after a lot of use with my Sungoldpower model, I can safely report that it’s a high quality, well designed and handy tool.
As soon as you first look at the model, you know that it’s been designed for one purpose. To get things done. And get things done it does. It’s a compelling model which is exceptionally heavy duty but isn’t massively heavy to pick up. This makes it a lot of people, myself included, breathe a sigh of relief. Anyone who welds on a frequent basis will tell you that a model which is flimsy and easily damaged is a waste of time and money.
Thankfully, that’s not the case here. Instead, you’ve got something which is easy to use, but powerful enough to cope.
Welding with the Sungoldpower was, quite frankly, a breeze. The welder was designed very well and offers the user enough control to do precise and fine work on anything that requires welding. This sets it apart from other models, which I’ve found to be imprecise and hard to control. When you’re trying to do some of the more tricky welds, you’ll see that this control does come in handy. Thanks to the hot start technology which the welder has built in, I don’t have to wait for it to be ready either. It’s always quick and reliable to start and warm up, so I can get straight to work. This is a model which I would recommend, because not only is it suitable for any task, but it’s also smartly designed for the modern worker.
HYL ARC160A Stick Welder
When I first picked up the Arc160A, I was sceptical. I’d had a lot of welders beforehand, and none of them quite managed to meet my expectations of what a welder should do. However, I soon learned that this welder was everything I needed it to be.
This is something which has been designed to be professional and sturdy. You can feel as soon as you pick it up; this is something which has been developed well. Modern welding technology and a lightweight design have come together here and created something which is suitable for any welding task.
I was very impressed with the level of power which I got from this particular machine. The Arc160A has all the power you could need for the tasks you’ve got in mind, making it suitable for all the different welding tasks I had to get through. Even the more precise and tricky welding tasks which I’d dreaded tackling were no issue at all thanks to this welder. Not only is there a lot of power, but there’s also a lot of control involved too. You’ve got all that power at your command, but there’s also a high level of control available, which makes this a good choice.
And weighing in at only 16 pounds meant that it was lightweight and easy to carry around, meaning I could work all through the day and not feel a strain. In my eyes, this is precisely what a welder should be. It is powerful, reliable and built to last, making it a perfect choice for a long-term tool.
Century Inverter Arc 120 Stick Welder
As welders go, this is one of the good ones. There’s a lot to appreciate here, and I’m now one of the many people who I suspect rely on this welder for all of my needs.
Just looking at the model, I knew that it would be lightweight. And it was. Not only was it easy to carry, but it was also surprisingly durable. It’s stood being knocked around and bashed up a bit, which is just a testament to how well it’s been designed because it still works well.
When it came to using the welder, I was very impressed. It had a lot of power to offer, and this all came with a surprising amount of control too. I didn’t have to worry about not being able to make precise welds because this model offered no resistance when I used it. Even when confronted with tricky angles to weld, I wasn’t disappointed with the level of power and control I got. It was perfect for all of the smaller jobs I had around the house, and it even did well with a couple of the bigger ones too, although obviously, you’ll get a reduced performance if you’re unrealistic about the capability of your tools. However, when I used this for what it was meant for, it was fantastic. It was consistently powerful, started up with no issues every time, and it’s not let me down yet. All the welds I’ve made with this welder have stood the test of time, and I’m confident that it won’t let me down in a hurry.
EVERLAST PowerARC TIG Stick Welder
Everlast has always been my go-to choice for welding tools, and my latest business with them has concluded well for me because I’ve got a great welder in my arsenal of tools.
To begin with, I was first struck by how lightweight this was. As a welder, it is easy to carry around, so you can take it with you for your jobs around the home or put it into a car and take elsewhere. However, that lightweight design was backed up by a very sturdy construction which has stood well, despite the wear and tear it’s been through!
When I started it up, I noticed that it came to life almost immediately. That’s thanks to the hot start technology which you’ll see in a lot of welders, and I was pleased to see that this one was going to carry on the tradition. Regarding power, I experienced no issues when it came to getting my tasks done, and there was no indication that anything was wrong, so that’s another bonus. As someone who’s used welders before, I know what a pain it is for them to cut out and stop working suddenly, but this model has been consistently powerful and reliable. I also got a pleasantly surprising level of control when using the welder, as the convenient LED system makes using it a breeze, with precise alterations to the output allowing for even the trickiest of welds to be no problem at all. It’s a model which I’ll be using for a long time, as it hasn’t let me down yet.
What To Look For When Buying a Stick Welder
Stick welding is one of the most popular types of welding out there today, and with good reason! Stick welders are simple to use, inexpensive, dependable and highly efficient. Also referred to as Shielded Metal Arc Welding, or SMAW, the goal of a stick welding machine is quite basic. Using a manual arc, it uses a consumable electrode coated with flux to lay the weld. Stick welding also has the unique ability in that it can bond metals, even if the metal is rusty, painted, corroded or dirty.
Stick welders can be used by just about anyone. Perfect for farmers, home welders, pipe welders, home welders, construction workers, DIY home renovation enthusiasts, the list is endless. Countless workmen have benefited from using stick welders, no doubt due to its overall ease of use and portability. Stick welding is used when the material’s appearance is not critical; therefore it is not recommended for automotive, art or metal work where precision and accuracy is imperative.
Deciding you would like to purchase one of these impressive and versatile machines is the easy part. The not so easy part is deciding which one to buy! It can be a bit overwhelming, so let's take a look at some features that you will want to consider before you decide to purchase one.
What Will You Be Using it For?
The most important question you will want to consider is what exactly you will be using it for. Additionally, what type of metal, the general thickness of the material you will be cutting, and how much power you will need are also important factors to consider. You don’t want to purchase a stick welder and realise it is unable to cut through your metal! An average DIY home enthusiast doesn’t need the same type of welder as those who are in the infrastructure construction business. You will also want to think about what kind of output current you need. Three types of current are available. They are AC, DC and AC/DC. Let’s take a look at these types in further detail. As with all welding jobs, ensure you are wearing a top rated welding helmet for safety.
AC, also known as alternating current, are considered entry level, inexpensive basic welders. These types of welders are best suited for a DIY hobbyist or those with a minimal workload. Don’t be fooled by this seemingly simple machine, however, as it still is quite powerful. Its current is used when the material becomes magnetised, thanks to friction. The arc blow is the result of this friction. Although electrodes may not run as smooth as compared to their DC counterparts, they are still quite robust and dependable, capable of handling both small and large tasks.
Operating under direct current, the DC welders are the most commonly used units. Efficient and versatile, it can be used in nearly every and any situation. Some of its benefits are that is offers a much more polished finish, is easier to manage, and is more efficient in vertical and overhead welding. Unlike AC, which can only operate under AC, DC has the option of two different polarities of negative and positive. A negative DC will produce less weld penetration but more deposition, whereas a DC positive will provide higher depth fusion and less deposition. Robust and dependable, DC stick welders are generally more costly that AC welders.
AC/DC provides welders with the best of both worlds. The AC/DC stick welder offers options not found on either the AC or DC. The AC/DC unit provides optimal control and smoothness, and tends to be the most costly of the three.
The bottom line is, you need to take into consideration what you will be using the stick welder for. You must also be certain that the unit you choose has enough power to finish the projects you have. Access to a power outlet that can withstand the voltage of your welder is also a necessity. Although you may have a budget, you want to think about the future. Do you see yourself tackling bigger projects where you might need a more heavy duty welder? Will you require a stick welder with more amperage? These are all questions you might want to consider before purchasing.
Related: Welding Mask Respirators
How Much Power Do You Need?
As stated earlier, the amount of welding you will be doing will have a direct influence on which stick welder you decide to buy. You want to keep in mind how large of an electrode you will be using, as a larger rod means more power must be utilised. You will also want to look into the amount of output and input.
Output- The output is measured in amperage or amps. You will want to purchase a welder with an output of no less than 100amps. Anything less, and you are looking at a unit that will require multiple passes. A stick welder with higher amps can do the job in one pass. Although lower amps tend to be cheaper, and that may be tempting to buy, think it over carefully first. You may in the future require a welding unit able to cut through more heavy duty material which would force you to purchase an entirely new welder.
Input – Input is measured in voltage, or volts. The standard is either 110/120V or 220/240v. 110/120V is perfect for hobbyists, DIY enthusiasts and those who have a lighter workload. The 220/240v is the preferred choice of welders with a heavy workload, as welders who choose this option to depend on more power to keep up with their heavier projects. The higher input has a smooth arc, just at a much higher amperage.
Types of Stick Welders
There are two types of stick welders, inverters and transformers. Both of these have pros and cons. The most popular choice between them is the inverter.
Inverter - What makes inverters so appealing if how easily transportable they are. At a mere 9 kg, stick welding machines have never been easier to move from site to site. These welders are the preferred choice for those with a less demanding workload, partly because it requires so little space to set up. Inverters produce top quality welds with a sleek and secure arc. Highly efficient, inverters are much more efficient than transformers, which makes them more expensive. However, the long-term investment is worth it, as it will save you in energy costs.
Transformer - These stick welders are robust and reliable. Known for last a long time (some nearly 50 years!), they are much larger and less mobile than inverters, but their longevity is what makes them unique and still in demand. They are much cheaper that inverters, so if you are on a tight budget and have room to spare, this might be an option for you. They are mighty and are made of excellent quality. Most importantly, they are in it for the long run!
As the world of welding is evolving, many manufacturers are looking beyond selling single functional machines and have produced multi process welders. Nowadays you can purchase a stick welder that also functions as a TIG welder. In some cases, you can find a Stick, TIG and MIG welder combo!
Although you may not require any of the bells and whistles on these multi-purpose models, you might be interested in them further down the line. More and more welding machines are going the combination route, and with technology progressing and demand increasing, it may benefit you to consider purchasing one of these units. Yes, they will be more pricey. However, you will no doubt receive a hefty return on your investment. This option is also useful for those who may want to keep their options open or use a wide variety of different materials.
Ease of Transport
In today's day and age, workers need efficiency. One of the most appealing features about the stick welder and the inverter, in particular, is how easily transportable it is. Many welders who do freelance work must depend on a unit that they can bring from site to site. If you fall into this category and ease of transport is important to you, then an inverter welder is truly the best option. At most 9 kg, an inverter welder is a high-quality machine that is easily portable.
The Duty Cycle is the amount of time you can use a stick welder before it must turn off and cool down. The duty cycle is measured in increments of 10 minutes. For example, if a duty cycle is 50%, that means that you can weld for five minutes before having to give it a rest for five minutes. When deciding which stick welder would be best suited for you, try to choose one with a relatively long duty cycle. This is especially important for those who are doing projects with a deadline. Having to rest every minute can be time-consuming and frustrating.
Ease of Use
The great thing about stick welding is that by nature they are very easy to use. Entry level machines usually just have an on and off switch, a knob which allows you to modify the amperage, and a display showing you what amperage you are at. Moving past entry-level units, and you may find more options will be available. For example, some stick welding machines will warn you if you are approaching the end of your duty cycle. If you have an AC/DC machine, you will be able to turn a switch alternating between A/C and D/C. Some have one amperage adjustment knob; others have more. How elaborate you want your machine to be simply a personal preference. For those that are worried that the machines will become too complicated, fear not. Even with all sorts of gadgets, stick welding machines are quite simple to operate.
There is nothing more important than your safety and the safety of others. Fortunately, you will be hard-pressed to find a popular unit that is deemed as unsafe. Safety ranks as the most important factor in the majority of machines, so you need not worry. There are some features that you will want to be sure are included in the stick welder you purchases. They are not absolutes, and a welder is not deemed as unsuitable is they do not have them, but they could be beneficial for the welder and make you feel more at ease. Thermal Overload Protection will make sure your unit shuts down when it overheats. With this useful feature, you don’t have to worry about continually monitoring your welder, as it will shut down on its own.
Stick welding also makes fumes and can smoke up, which can be burdensome if working in a tight space. Therefore, you will want to make sure you have proper ventilation or are wearing a respiration mask. Welding screens will prevent sparks from hitting you in the face. There are more up to date welding models whose features include splatter reduction.
A few factors will depend on how costly your unit will be. For example, whether it is AC or DC, an inverter or transformer, or how up to date the features are will all dictate the price. It is easy to find an inexpensive machine, but you don’t want to sacrifice high quality for low cost. Consider carefully how much you will use the machine. It is better to spend a bit more and purchase a reliable machine that you can use for many years to come. Unlike other types of welding, stick welding only has one consumable necessary to purchase, which are electrodes. Knowing that you only have one consumable to replace down the line may give you some financial leeway. If you are on a tight budget with no breathing room, then you might be able to do without all the special features. While nice to have, they are not an absolute necessity.
Read our guides on choosing a flux core welder, reviews of welders for beginners, and our buying guide on choosing a plasma cutter.
Best Stick Welder
Stick Welder Reviews
Make sure you have done your research before buying. Maybe trusted colleagues or professionals have units they recommend. If you can try out a stick welder before purchasing, we highly recommend you do so. Always be sure to scan the reviews for the product online as they will give you a good indication of how they perform and how easy they are to use.