Best Arc Welders

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Best ARC Welders

How Does an Arc Welder Work?

Arc welding is an electric arc that uses heat to join metals through melting. Although the science behind the process is rather complex, luckily for us, the actual using of the welder is really quite simple! Arc welding – also known as stick welding – uses a “stick” of electrode to melt the metal and form the weld, while the flux on the outside protects the weld whilst it cools. The main benefit of using an arc welder is that you don’t need the additional gas protection to form the weld, as you would with other types of welder such as a MIG welder. This means that they can be used almost anywhere that you can power them! They are also perfect for when you are working with stronger metals and bigger welds, as they will form secure joints that can withstand almost anything! 

Important Note

Arc Welders are very specialised and advanced pieces of equipment and potentially dangerous in untrained hands. We always recommend you undertake specific training from a qualified instructor before using one.

Best Pick – Sealey 160XT Arc Welder

Sealey 160XT Arc Welder with Accessory Kit, 160Amp, 248mm x 490mm x 340mm
67 Reviews
Sealey 160XT Arc Welder with Accessory Kit, 160Amp, 248mm x 490mm x 340mm
  • Length: 248mm
  • Width: 490mm
  • Height: 240mm
  • Weight: 18kg
  • Supply: 230V

Last update on 2021-08-21 / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API / As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases

Only Got 5 Minutes? 

There are some main features that you are going to need to look out for when purchasing an arc welder. But first, we need to quickly explain to you the different parts of an arc welder so that you know more about the different components to look for. 

Parts of an Arc Welder 

  • Welding machine – this is the main power to the machine that will control the heat that is forced towards the metals that you are working with. These come in either AC or DC. 
  • Electrode Holder – This is the part that holds the electrode and that you will be in control of. Moving the electrode holder along the join that you are trying to create will form smooth joins as the arc melts.
  • Nozzle and arc – Found at the tip of the electrode holder, this is where the electrode and supply filler metal melt together to join the materials that you are working with. 

Arc Welder Features 

There are different Arc welder features that are essential for almost any welding jobs that you are planning on completing. Keep reading for more information on these to help you make your purchase. 

Power 

Different arc welders will offer you different amounts of power, which will in turn affect the size of job and metals that you can work with, so the first thing that you need to ask yourself is what types of jobs are you going to be completing. The power of arc welders is measured in amps, with this ranging from between 150 amps to 400amps depending on the machine that you opt for. Most everyday jobs that you will be completing will need between 200 and 300 amps of power. Obviously this will also depend on the power source that you have available where you are going to be working so it is important to check the input power required for the machine – anything over mains power level and you are going to need an additional power source, but this is only really likely for bigger, commercial models. 

TOP TIP: We would recommend opting for a dual-voltage input option if you can! This will allow you to work with input voltages of both 110 and 220 depending on the jobs that you are completing! 

AC, DC or Both? 

Arc welders can be AC (alternating current) or DC (direct current), plus some of the best arc welders will allow you to switch  between the two depending on the job that you are completing. DC welders will have fewer arc outages and less spatter when you are working, giving you a smoother finish. However, there are occasions where an AC welder might be more suitable, for example if you are working with a magnetised piece of metal, such as steel that has come into contact with friction. The alternating current of the AC welder allows the magnetised parts to be welded, whereas with a DC welder the filler metal would be “pushed” out. 

Electrodes (or Sticks)

The size and type of stick that you purchase will also determine the metals that you can work with. Most have similar lengths of stick so will be consistent in the amount of time you can work with them before having to change the electrode, however there are many varying diameters. A thicker diameter will allow you to work with larger joins that you might be creating, whereas smaller diameters will allow for neater work on small jobs that you might be completing, especially as you might need to chip away at the flux once the job is completed. 

We have provided more information on electrodes below to help you with your purchase. 

Electrode Lead 

All arc welders will have different lengths of electrode leads. This might sound like a small feature but it actually makes a massive difference when you are welding. You will need to be close to a power source to actually use your welder, so a shorter electrode lead will reduce the area at which you can work at ease! If you are working with a larger piece of metal this could mean you regularly having to move the material to complete the weld, which could affect the quality and strength of the finish. 

Electrode leads that we found ranged between 5 and 10 feet, which we’re sure you will agree is quite a difference! 

Duty Cycle 

It is important to check on the product description the ‘duty cycle’ that the welder can offer. This is the number of minutes in a 10 minute cycle that a welder can operate. This will have a large impact on the amount of time it takes you to get the overall job done if you have to keep stopping. Bear in mind as well that you will only have the electrode length to work with before you also have to pause to replace this! 

It is worth considering that a longer duty cycle may affect how overworked the parts are though! We found that many models with a shorter cycle and an automatic shut down lasted longer because the machine can never overheat or be overworked. Yes – the job will take you longer, but it will save you having to buy a new arc welder every few years! 

Size and Weight

The size and weight of your arc welder will have a large impact on not just how portable the machine is, but also where you can use and store the device. There are models that weigh as little as 9lbs, whereas others are upwards of 30lbs, which makes a massive difference if you are planning on transporting your arc welder between jobs. 

TOP TIP: Look out for arc welders that have a handle on the top to make it easier to transport between jobs. Many will also have handy packaway features for you to store the electrode cable etc so that these do not become lost or  damaged. 

Best Budget – Silverline Arc Welder 40

Silverline Arc Welder 40, 100 A
141 Reviews
Silverline Arc Welder 40, 100 A
  • Welds steel up to 2.5mm
  • Heavy duty moving coil transformer offers stepless regulation of welding current
  • Fan-cooled for increased duty cycle & performance
  • Automatic overload & thermal cut-out protection with control light
  • Includes earth cable, electrode holder & welding mask

Last update on 2021-08-21 / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API / As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases

Multi-Purpose Welder 

There are many welders on the market that will allow you to switch between arc welding and other types such as MIG or TIG welding. Whilst arc welding is arguably the easiest to work with for beginners, there are occasions when other types of weld are more suitable, so purchasing an arc welder that allows for this flexibility may be a better option if you know that you have a number of jobs to complete. 

MIG Welding will be faster and easier (once you know how) but requires additional gas to form the weld, which can increase the overall running costs, and affect the areas that you can work in, as the gas won’t be as effective if you are working outdoors. 

TIG welding is a slower process but you will be able to get a very good quality finish, so if the welds you are creating are going to be on show then this might be the option for you. 

As you can see, with the pros and cons to them all – opting for an arc welder with a dual function will dramatically increase the use and flexibility that the tool can offer. 

Electrodes

There are various sticks that you can opt for when you are welding. There are coated and uncoated types, although coated are more common as they cause less spatter and massively reduce the oxides and sulphurs that come off the melting arc. 

Electrodes are given numbers, and it is working checking before purchasing your arc welder which numbers of electrodes they will be compatible with. This is broken down as such:

E = electrode

First 2 (or 3) digits = the tensile strength of the material. Most arc welders will be 60 which means that it will have a tensile strength of 60,000psi. 

The third (or 4th) digit = the position of the weld. 1 is for all positions, 2 is for horizontal and flat positions, 3 in for flat positions only. 

The forth (or 5th) = The type of coating on the electrode and therefore the type of power supply that you will need to use (AC or DC). 

TOP TIP: The most common and easiest electrodes to work with are E6010 and E6013 so we would recommend starting with these if you are new to arc welding. 

Extra Things To Consider

If you are wanting to purchase the best arc welder on the market then here are some extra pointers you should consider before making your purchase. 

  • Temperature – As a general rule an arc welder with a 220 input volt is going to melt hotter than a 110 input volt. However, all of the welders will have different temperatures that they get to. The hotter the temperature the more varied materials and size of projects that you will be able to work on, whereas welding cold will always leave you vulnerable to a weaker weld! 
  • Dials and LED screens – Whether you are wanting a traditional dial or a more modern LED screen, make sure that they are clear and easy to work with. Some make it very difficult to work out exactly what amperage you are working with, which can cause problems if you are just starting out! 
  • Plasma cutters – Some arc welders offer plasma cutters as an additional feature, whereas others have the option for this to be made as an additional purchase. This allows you to cut through electrically conductive materials and increases the value for money that you can expect from your machine. 
  • Pulse operation – This feature is fantastic for if you are planning on working with delicate materials as it will allow you to get a finer weld on the joint that you are completing.
  • Foot pedal control – If you are going to be working with your welder for considerable periods of time then a food pedal may be a better option as this will reduce fatigue when working. 

Best of the Rest

Röhr MINI-220PI ARC 2 in 1 Welder Inverter Gasless 220 Amp DC Anti-Stick Portable Welding Machine Hot Start MMA IGBT 240V AC - Variety of Accessories Included
199 Reviews
Röhr MINI-220PI ARC 2 in 1 Welder Inverter Gasless 220 Amp DC Anti-Stick Portable Welding Machine Hot Start MMA IGBT 240V AC - Variety of Accessories Included
  • 12 month warranty and free to call UK based technical support line
  • Euro torch with a scratch start system
  • Runs off a standard UK 3 pin 13 amp plug
  • Comes with lots of accessories - earth clamp, clipping hammer and wire brush
  • For experienced and DIY users alike with it's intuitive design

Last update on 2021-08-21 / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API / As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases

FERM Arc Welder - Welding Machine - 40-100 A - Thermal Cut-Out - With Scaling Hammer, Steel Wire Brush and Welding Mask
293 Reviews
FERM Arc Welder - Welding Machine - 40-100 A - Thermal Cut-Out - With Scaling Hammer, Steel Wire Brush and Welding Mask
  • Thermal cut-out with control lamp
  • Forced cooling, for long periods of use
  • Forced cooling, for long periods of use
  • Continuous adjustable welding current for optimal welding results
  • complete set: Scaling hammer / Steel-wire brush and welding mask

Last update on 2021-08-21 / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API / As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I need to use preheat before arc welding? 

The only time that you really need to complete a preheating process is if you are working with steel or similar metals before welding, as the preheat process will help to reduce the chance of cracking. 

What warranty will I get with an arc welder? 

Most arc welders come with a one year warranty, although there are some models that offer up to five years. This type of extended warranty is rare but worth looking out for if you can find it! 

  • Performance
  • Features
  • Ergonomics
  • Value
About Mike Jones 192 Articles
I have been a keen DIY enthusiast for over 15 years, I’m constantly tinkering in my garage, taking things apart and building things. Along the way, I seem to have acquired a bit of a tool collection, as you do. The issue I found was that the information online when it comes to finding out what you need to know when buying new tools was somewhat limited. I didn’t necessarily need to know which tool to buy, but more what was important when making that buying decision. Also, a bit like a child in a sweet shop when I see new tools and things I can do with them I find it hard to resist. I started this blog back in 2017 to try and put together some buying guides, not really reviews but more what you may want to know before going and deciding on a new tool. I’m also a keen gardener and if there is a tool or gadget that helps me in the garden I’m going to let you know. I hope these musings and buyers guides are of use to you in some way. All the best, Mike.

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