If your projects require a lot of outdoor welding or you find yourself in challenging positions, then a stick welder might just be the right equipment for you. With a stick welder, you won’t need to worry about gas at all. You’ll still receive a great penetration with your metal, especially if you are using structural-weight steel. There aren’t any wind concerns to worry about either.
The best stick welder reviews will help you find the right equipment to take on your next project, no matter how nasty the conditions might happen to be.
Here Are the Best Stick Welders in One Chart
Stick welders are very simple to use, offer more portability than other welding disciplines, and are highly reliable. Even inexperienced welders can put together a pretty good weld using this equipment. These are the top-rated welders in this category that will help you to get the job done quickly and effectively.
|Amico Dual Voltage Welder|| 4.9 ||160|| $$ |
|Campbell Hausfeld 115V Arc/Stick Welder|| 4.0 || $ |
|Everlast PowerARC Lift Start Welder|| 4.3 ||140|| $$$ |
|Hobart 500502 Stickmater Welder|| 4.2 ||205|| $$$ |
|Century AC-120 Stick Welder|| 4.4 ||90|| $$ |
|Sun Gold Power Digital Display Welder|| 4.0 ||200|| $$ |
|Century Inverter Stick Welder|| 4.7 ||90|| $$$ |
|Klutch ST80i Stick Welder w/ TIG Option|| 4.5 ||75|| $$ |
|Longevity Stickweld Dual Voltage Portable Welder|| 4.3 ||140|| $$$$ |
|Everlast 2016 PowerARC Stick Welder|| 4.7 ||200|| $$$$ |
What Is Stick Welding and Why Should It Be Considered?
Stick welding has a name that is a little more formal: shielded metal arc welding, or SMAW for short. If you’re looking for “expert online welding advice,” you might find a lot of debate about the advantages and disadvantages of SMAW welding.
In the shop, you’re talking about stick welding. Always.
Stick welders use a consumable rod to create a bead. Some may use an electrode. The end of the rod or electrode is then short-circuited to create heat at its tip. This heat melts the end of the rod into droplets, which then create a welding puddle or pool that melts into the base of the parent metal.
Some rods are able to penetrate into the metal itself, fusing the pool deeper into some metals than others, creating a more formidable weld. This allows for your welds to benefit from these specific advantages.
- Stick welders can go just about anywhere. All you need to do is carry your leads and consumables and then have access to a power source.
- The equipment for stick welding is highly affordable. It’s often cheaper than MIG welding and is cheaper than TIG welding or multi-process welders.
- Stick welders can be used in all positions, in virtually all conditions, and either indoors or outdoors. The wind must be blowing strongly in order for it to affect the weld pool that is created.
What Are the Benefits of Stick Welding?
First and foremost, stick welders are great for those times when you need to work in a tight spot. MIG welders require a wide working area with their guns. TIG welders have filler and electrode issues. Stick welders have a narrow presence that is perfect for edges and corners.
Stick welders are also a good option when you need to have portable welding capabilities. There are some lightweight options with the best MIG welders or the best TIG welders being manufactured today, but nothing beats what a stick welder is able to do. It’s light enough to carry around and you don’t need to tack-on some shielding gas just so you can work.
This welding discipline also has lower prep times than the other options that are available. It provides an efficient weld, especially for those times when the getting the weld finished is more important than creating a perfect joint. This efficiency can help to bring down the costs of your consumables as well.
There’s also the benefit of having a variety of electrode choices available to you with stick welding. You can use rods that give you more penetration, that burn through rust, can help you with a smooth weld, or work in an awkward position. Downhill welding is especially easier when you’re working with a stick welder.
You literally connect electrodes to the welder, much like the buzz boxes of old. It might be an old-school approach to welding, but there’s a reason why virtually all welding projects in the past were completed with this discipline.
Common Issues with Stick Welding and How to Solve Them
Stick welding might be one of the easier disciplines to learn, but that doesn’t mean there are some key disadvantages which must be looked at. For starters, stick welding requires more consumables than most other welding disciplines. Even when you have solid penetration, you can only weld a few inches at a time before needing a new stick or electrode.
This also means that the ends of the stick or electrode will be wasted.
It does take a good bit of skill to produce a sound weld. It’s a good option for home and hobbyist welding that doesn’t need to be perfect. For professional welders, however, stick welding can be very unforgiving. You need to have a certain amount of skill present to complete the project.
Many of the sticks or electrodes will have low penetration levels, even when they are rated for the metal that you’re using for your project. More of your work involves fusing the metals together into a good joint instead of penetrating the metal to forge a weld.
It is also somewhat common to deal with arc blow when using a stick welder on a direct current. You need to adjust your settings sometimes continuously to avoid this common issue with stick welding.
Pricing Options for the Best Stick Welders
Stick welders are very competitively priced in the market today. Most welders are going to be able to find the equipment they need for $250 or less. It is not unheard of to find stick welders from brand names selling for $100 or less, especially if you’re looking for a model with very few features.
Even professional welders can find a stick welder that suits their needs for less than $500 in virtually every circumstance.
Real Life Reviews of the Best Stick Welders
It is a 140-amp stick welder which operates on 110/220v inputs. It also features a lift TIG operation so you can connect a TIG torch if you wish. Weighing just 13 pounds, the power plugs and the power-switching adapter is included in the box so that you can get the best possible results out of this equipment. This welder does an excellent job of pushing 6013 and 7018 rods without an issue. Both 1/8 and 3/32 rods work just fine with this welder, as do the SS 308-309 rods.
This welder can work with 1/16-5/32 stick sizes so that you can achieve a consistent weld. You can still achieve 160 amps out of a standard household outlet, but there needs to be a higher amperage rating in the circuit to do so. We found that a kick-out tends to occur in the 90-115 amp range otherwise. We found it tends to work the best on ¼-inch materials and it works fine right out of the box. We used both 6011 and 7018 rods during the testing period with the welder and it performed without hesitation.
Positioning is pretty easy to do with this welder thanks to its overall design. Overhead welding wasn’t an issue at all. The hands got a little warm in the gloves during an enclosed space weld, but that was the only real issue of note when using this Everlast equipment. It is important to note that there isn’t a foot pedal control that comes with this welder. You’ll want to check on the accuracy of your gauges on a regular basis so you’re not spending more on the argon gas you need to complete your project.
This welder comes with a clamp cable length of 10 feet. The electrode cable length is 15 feet, while the power cord is just 5 feet in length. You may wish to invest into one of the best welder extension cords to improve the portability of this unit because of this design. It has #4 gauge, 600-am leads, with the stick lead about 3-feet longer than the other. We found the design to be useful for most small-to-medium projects. If you have overhead projects that need to be touched up, you may need to look at a different setup.
The unit, as a whole, is pretty lightweight and comes with a secure carrying handle at the top of the case. It has an 85% rated efficiency, features a 1.2m grounding cable, a 1.8m welding holder able, and a protection grade of IP21. You can vary the current from 20 amps up to the max amperage, with a rated duty cycle at the full amperage of 60%. For most small-to-medium jobs, it is going to work effectively – even if you haven’t fully prepped your materials. It also offers an automatic hot-start, which is quite useful.
The best stick welder reviews will help you improve your productivity, even in hard to reach places, by helping you find the right equipment. Choose your welder today and start tackling those welding projects that have been lying around.