Flux core wire feed welders have changed everything for the DIY welder and small shops
These inexpensive, yet powerful machines let you weld everything from auto body sheet metal to serious steel plate.
There are so many machines out there, it’s easy to miss out on great features or pay too much for not enough power.
We’ve done the homework so you don’t have to. Check out these five great little flux core welders.
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Best Flux Core Welder with Reviews
Here are 5 of the best flux core welders your money can buy.
1. Hobart Handler 210 Flux Core Welder
- 120 or 240 volt input power
- 24 gauge sheet metal to 3/8-inch steel
- Has 7 power level settings
- 30 percent duty cycle
- 210 amp output
- Quick change drive roller
- 10-foot MIG gun
- Accepts 4-inch or 8-inch spools
- Built-in gas solenoid
- Includes gas regulator
- Doesn’t include a spool gun
The Hobart Handler 210 is designed to be easy to use and it’s built to industrial standards by one of the top names in welding machines. Hobart designed the Handler 210 with a solid metal wire feed drive for precise control and includes a gas solenoid and dual-gauge regulator to convert to full MIG operation with gas shielding.
The Handler 210 is designed for dual input voltage, either 120 or 240 volts and it comes with an adapter that lets you switch power sources simply by changing the connector. With 7 power level settings and 10 wire feed speeds, the Hobart Handler 210 can weld thin 24-gauge sheet metal for auto body work. Turn the heat up and increase the wire speed and you’re ready to weld 3/8-inch steel plate.
Hobart machines are favorites among steel workers and fabrication specialists because they have a strong reputation for reliability. User reports for the Hobart Handler 210 MIG and flux core welder are no exception. This machine comes with 10-foot leads, handles both 4-inch and 8-inch rolls and is backed by Hobart’s 3-year warranty.
2. Forney 140 MP Welding Machine
- Welds 24-gauge sheet to 1/4-inch plate
- Wide 10 to 140 amp output range
- 30 percent duty cycle at 90 amps
- Built-in live fan
- 3-year warranty
- 10-foot MIG gun
- Takes 4-inch and 8-inch spools
- Weighs only 19 pounds
- Infinite adjustment on voltage and feed
- Runs MIG, wire, TIG and stick
- No TIG torch
- No regulator or hose
The Forney Easy Weld 140 Multi-Process is a 3-in-1 machine (Stick/MIG/TIG). It’s lightweight at 25 pounds and easy to use. The adjustments for current level and wire feed speed are infinitely adjustable. The current level ranges from 10 to 140 amps. You can weld thin auto body sheet metal from 24-gauge thickness on up to 1/4-inch steel plate.
This machine is gas MIG capable, although you have to buy a gas hose and regulator separately. One thing that users didn’t like was that the TIG process on this machine isn’t compatible with a foot pedal. It does use a standard 25 series TIG torch. Unfortunately, the TIG torch is another accessory you have to buy separately.
This review is about flux core welding, however. In that regard the Forney Easy Weld 140 MP gets stellar reviews from users. It uses Forney’s Easy Start technology for scratch-starting the arc and produces clean, beautiful welds with great penetration. This machine accommodates both 4-inch and 8-inch wire spools, features a metal drive and is backed with a 1-year warranty.
3. Goplus MIG 130 Flux Core Welder
- 4 power level settings
- 120 volt input power
- AC welding process
- 130 amp output
- Weighs only 35 pounds
- 10 wire speed settings
- 18 gauge sheet to 1/4-inch steel
- Integrated Storage Space
- Overheating protection
- Compact size
- No gas capability
- Not spool gun capable
The Goplus MIG 130 is pretty amazing for is price range. It includes an integrated storage compartment in the top and an overheating management system that shuts down the machine if it gets too hot. This is one of the most popular machines in its class and the value vs cost ratio is a big reason why. Users say it welds well and given the price range, they’re impressed with the quality.
Goplus Corporation does offer a 6 month warranty on this machine. It uses 120 volt input power, allowing you to plug in with household current and start welding. The Goplus MIG 130 isn’t actually MIG-capable as there’s no gas hookup and no spool gun capability.
What it does have is 7 power level settings and 10 wire feed speeds. You can weld from 18-gauge sheet metal. You can weld up to 1/4-inch steel in a single pass with 130 amps output power. There’s a lot to like and for this price range you can pick up one in yellow and one in black for different parts of the shop.
4. Lotos MIG140 Wire Feed Welder
- 1-year warranty
- 2T/4T trigger lock
- Double display
- Welds 18 gauge up to 3/16-inch
- Will run gasless flux core or gas MIG
- Solid aluminum wire feed drive
- Variable wire feed speed dial
- Loads 4-inch and 8-inch wire spools
- Spool gun ready
- Includes gas hose and regulator
- Owners report wire feed issues
The Lotos MIG140 offers a solid aluminum wire feed drive that mounts 4-inch and 8-inch spools. This machine is designed to run on 120 volt input power, which lets you plug in just about anyplace. Lotos includes a gas regulator for true gas MIG capability in addition to the wire feed flux core welding ability.
This machine also has the ability to run a spool gun with aluminum wire for MIG welding aluminum. It’s got dual digital displays, one that displays the wire speed an the other one shows the current level. The Lotos MIG140 incorporates a 2T/4T switch that functions as a torch lock.
On 2T, the MIG gun operates normally. Flip it to 4T and you can press the trigger once and the MIG140 keeps welding without needing to hold down the trigger. This can be really nice if you’re welding floor pans or quarter panels onto a car body. With 140 amp output, the Lotos MIG140 can weld up to 3/16-inch steel and the 10 amp minimum limit will get you down to 24-gauge sheet metal. Lotos warranties the MIG140 for 1 year.
5. Hobart Handler 140 Flux Core Welder
- MIG or flux core
- Runs on 120 volts
- 25–140 amps
- Handles 24 gauge sheet to 1/4 in mild steel
- Wire speed 40 to 700 IPM
- Solid metal wire drive
- 5 power level settings
- infinitely adjustable wire speed
- Includes a Miller regulator
- Comes with a 10-foot Miller gun
- Need a wrench to adjust spool tension
The Hobart Handler 140 combines professional quality and convenient home shop features. With an output current range of 25 to 140 amps, it’s able to run welds on 24-gauge sheet metal and also weld 1/4-inch steel in one pass. This machine can be converted from straight gasless flux core to full gas MIG welding. Hobart includes a high quality Miller gas regulator.
Because the Hobart Handler 140 runs on 120 volt input power, you can plug it in anywhere you go. It will run on a 4000 watt generator. It can use either 4-inch or 8-inch wire spools and you’re able to select different gauges of welding wire. Hobart equips the Handler 140 with a solid metal wire feed drive. One thing users didn’t like about this machine was that it takes a wrench to set the spool tension. A wing nut here would have been a better idea.
With a lot of power for a 120 volt machine, professional build quality, compact size and weight with a 3-year warranty, the Hobart Handler 140 is Hobart’s most popular welder and a great choice for craftsmen.
Flux core welding machines open up a whole world of welding to beginners, amateurs and professionals alike.
Some can be multi-purpose machines like the Forney 140 MP that can run MIG, flux core, TIG and arc welding.
Others only offer wire feed welding, but are still great workhorse welders.
What is Flux Core Welding?
Gas shielded welding allows for clean welds without oxidation or impurities by keeping oxygen out of the welding process. With MIG welding, an inert gas is fed to the welding process by a hose and it flows around the metal wire electrode, forming an atmosphere that doesn’t let oxygen into the weld.
If you’re welding outside and there’s a breeze, it can blow the shielding gas away and leave your weld susceptible to oxidation and porosity. The way engineers have solved this problem is by creating a welding wire that has a hollow core and filled it with a flux mixture. This flux core wire works the same way the flux on an arc welding stick electrode works. When the metal gets hot and melts, the wire melts the flux core, which turns to gas and shields the weld.
So in some ways, flux core welding is actually better than MIG welding, because a breeze won’t ruin your weld the same way it will with a MIG machine. Of course, with too much wind, you just can’t weld, but flux core welders can give great results in breezes that won’t let a gas MIG machine produce good work.
Do You Need MIG or Can Flux Core Work?
One thing about flux core welders is that MIG machines can run flux core, but not every flux core welder can run as a true gas MIG machine.
This point can be confusing because many flux core machines that run only as wire feed welders are labeled using the word MIG in their model names, like the Goplus MIG 130 in this review, but aren’t actually a true MIG machine. This is an important detail to pay attention to if you want to try MIG welding later on.
How Thick is Your Metal?
The thickness of the metal you’ll most often weld is the single biggest factor in choosing your best flux core welding machine.
If you’re going to be welding nothing but metal that’s 1/4-inch thick or less, you only need 130-140 amps.
If you want to weld anything thicker, you’re going to need a machine like the Hobart Handler 210 that can weld up to 3/8-inch steel with over 200 amps of output. It can also be converted to a true gas MIG machine if needed.
Input Power Sources
A 120 volt powered welder can only deliver about 140 amps maximum. That’s only going to get you up to 1/4-inch steel. If you’re mostly going to be welding sheet metal or thin plate like gate hinges, a 120 volt machine will serve you well.
If you will need to weld thick metal for trailer frames, pipe fencing or equipment repairs, you’ll need a lot more power.
You’ll have to move up to a 240-powered machine in that case, or buy a dual input welder that runs on either 120 or 240 volts to be able to generate enough current for thick metal.
Some welders can run on generators, provided there’s enough wattage to produce the current needed. Also, some flux core and MIG welders need so-called “clean” energy with a low distortion rate in the current output. Some welders are able to run on “dirty” power sources so that’s a feature that makes it easier to run on generators and might be desirable.
Wrapping it up
We’ve selected the Hobart Handler 210 for our top machine in this guide because of its outstanding quality, industrial ruggedness, dual voltage input power, high output current and it can be run as either a MIG or flux core welder.
The Goplus MIG 130 is an outstanding value in its price range and if you don’t need to weld metal thicker than 3/16-inch or want true gas MIG ability it should serve your needs well.