Best Stick Welders under $500 – Reviews of Cheap Picks

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As a welding pro, there’s nothing as important as stick welding skill.

Every other electric welding skill depends on arc welding knowledge and experience.

Because of this, you have to have a good stick welding machine to keep your skills sharp.

That can be hard to do unless you’re able to find a solid machine you can afford.

So we’ve put together six cheap stick welders for under $500 that are great for daily work while keeping you sharp.


A Quick Comparison

Product
Image Product Details
Best sticker welder under $300
YesWelder YWA-160
YesWelder YWA-160

Easy digital display with auto & manual settings

110V/220V input power

Small, light easy to carry

Industry Favorite
Hobart Stickmate 160i
Hobart Stickmate 160i

Under 20 pounds

120/240-volt input

Dealers nationwide

Ultra portable stick welder
Eastwood ARC 80
Eastwood ARC 80

Super portable

120V only

Excellent value

Classic transformer based stick welder
Lincoln AC225
Lincoln AC225

Best selling Lincoln ever

Super durable transformer

Auto Arc Control

Best stick welder under $200
ARCCAPTAIN 200A
ARCCAPTAIN 200A

Synergic Controls

110V/220V power input

Simple controls, easy to use

Affordable Quality
Forney 180 ST
Forney 180 ST

TIG and Stick

Dual 120/240 input

14-pound lightweight

Best Stick Welders Under $500

We looked everywhere to find you five cheap stick welders for less than 500 bucks.

1. YesWelder YWA-160 IGBT Inverted Stick Welder

YesWelder YWA-160 IGBT Inverted Stick Welder
  • 120V or 220V power input option
  • Easy Digital Display and Control
  • DC TIG weld capable
  • Light and portable
  • Built-in Hot Start

Pros

  • Really easy to use digital display
  • Excellent value for money
  • 6010, 6011 & 7018 rods capable
  • Can also DC TIG weld
  • Small and light, easy to transport
  • Automatic & manual welding current
  • Built-in hot start
  • 1 Year warranty

Cons

  • Current display shows high
  • 120 power with 220 adapter

Overview

Welding can be expensive, and that can keep some from jumping in and learning. But the Yeswelder YWA-160 is excellent value for money under $300. But the low price does not mean you get little to no features.

For starters, you get a digital display to help you set precise parameters, and the control panel is minimal and easy to understand. You can also run this unit on 120V or 220V. Combined with the small form factor and lightweight, this machine can go with you wherever needed.

Plus, you get adjustable arc force, VRD, and hot starts. For the price, that is surprisingly good and helps you be safer and make better welds.

Also, there is an option to TIG weld with this unit, but the torch is missing. So, you must pick one up separately. But having the option with a meager entry price makes this welder more versatile and valuable to small shops or DIYers should they want to add the TIG torch later.

Some of you may be thinking inexpensive can often mean cheap and flimsy. But this unit is robust enough for the average handyman or small shop, and you get a 360-day warranty.

You rarely find consumables in the box at this price point, which is the case with the YA-160. So, plan on buying some consumables and adding that to your budget.

So, if you want or need an inexpensive stick welder for your DIY or small shop, this option brings enough power and features to get you started on your welding adventure without devasting your budget.


2. Hobart Stickmate 160i Arc Welder

Hobart Stickmate 160i Arc Welder
  • Dual input 120 volts or 240 volts
  • Output current 160 amps
  • DC stick welder
  • 5-year warranty
  • Hot start technology

Pros

  • Weighs under 20 pounds
  • Welds 1/4-inch steel plate
  • Infinite amp settings control
  • 20-160 amps output current
  • Shoulder strap included

Cons

  • This is one Hobart not made in America
  • Stick welding process only

Overview

Hobart welders are known and respected for industrial quality construction that’s rugged and durable. The Hobart Stickmate 160i keeps this tradition going, with great reviews of its performance by owners. Most buyers looking for an American brand expect it to be made in America,.

This welder is made and inspected to Hobart specifications, but it’s manufactured in China, which means it can’t meet the requirements of the Made In USA certification required for many government jobs.

Unlike most Chinese welders, however, the Hobart Stickmate 160i benefits from the nationwide network of Hobart dealers and service centers. So if you don’t need the Made In USA certification, this welder appears to be up to Hobart’s tough standards, based on its 5-year warranty.

The Stickmate 160i weighs less than twenty pounds, light enough to move around with the included shoulder strap. It can run on 120 volt or 240 volt power and weld 3/8-inch steel. With an infinitely adjustable dial for the current settings that can make adjustments in 1 amp increments, the Hobart Stickmate 160i arc welder features Hobart’s Hot Start technology.


3. Eastwood ARC 80 Stick Welder

Eastwood ARC 80 Stick Welder
  • Process: Stick
  • 120V input
  • Weighs 7.5 lbs.
  • 80 Amps
  • Duty Cycle: 20% at 80 amps

Pros

  • Infinite amperage control knobs
  • Super small and light
  • Simple to use
  • Takes up to 3/32 electrodes
  • Hot starts
  • Anti stick feature

Cons

  • Only stick welds
  • 80 amps are too low for heavy work
  • Will not run 6010 electrodes

Overview

If you want a stick welder that you can keep with you no matter where you work, look to the Eastwood ARC 80. It’s small (12.5 x 9 x 4.7 in.) and light (7.5 lbs.).

But that means you can keep it on your truck as part of your standard tools and not take up too much valuable space. While no one would call this an industrial welder or suggest it will handle heavy-duty use, it will allow you to make repairs and tackle unexpected problems on the fly.

This is a very basic SMAW welder. No extras in the box, and it only stick welds. But it does allow you to have a welder with you at all times without breaking the bank.

That said, the ARC 80 runs on 120 volts and will take power from a household outlet generator. This small unit fits the bill nicely for shops that only need to weld occasionally or operations like farms and ranches that need to do random or temporary repairs from time to time.

Also, DIYers use this welder for projects, including automotive repairs and restoration, and some trades keep one of these little gems around for the few times they need to weld something in a pinch. So, this is the best basic stick welder if you don’t need to weld every day with it or if you want an inexpensive backup welder.


4. Lincoln AC225 Stick Welder

Lincoln AC225 Stick Welder
  • Classic “tombstone” arc welder
  • Transformer stick welder
  • All time best selling Lincoln welder
  • AC stick welder
  • 40 to 225 amp output
  • 240 volt power

Pros

  • 16-gauge sheet up to 1/4-inch steel
  • Lincoln Smooth Arc technology
  • 10-foot ground clamp cable
  • 15-foot electrode cable
  • Certified to ISO 9001 standard

Cons

  • It's very heavy
  • Old bulky design
  • Lacks features of more modern designs

Overview

The Lincoln AC225 is a legendary and durable welder and one of the best under $500. It holds the distinction of Lincoln’s greatest-selling welder of all time. Lincoln AC225 stick welders from the 1970s still pulling all-day duty daily in fabrication shops across the country. Lincoln backs the AC225 with a 3-year warranty.

AC welding takes a little more skill to master than DC, and transformer power sources weigh much more than inverter machines. Old-fashioned transformer technology is the main reason these machines last so long. Compared to circuit boards, semiconductors and digital processing chips, there’s not a lot to go wrong with a big chunk of copper wrapped in wire.

Durability and classic style are great, but how does the AC225 weld? There’s a reason this welder is often mentioned as the best one ever built. There aren’t a lot of bells and whistles, but this old tombstone will weld just about anything you put in front of it. The Lincoln AC225 comes with Lincoln’s Smooth Arc technology for easy starts and automatic arc maintenance while you’re burning.


5. ARCCAPTAIN 200A Arc Welder

ARCCAPTAIN 200A Arc Welder
  • 200A of power
  • Two welding processes
  • Dual input voltage
  • Clean control panel w/ digital display
  • Simple to use for beginners w/ synergic control
  • Small and light
  • Inexpensive

Pros

  • Digital Display and Synergic Controls
  • Stick and Lift DC TIG processes
  • 110V and 220V power input options
  • Only weighs 13. 4 lbs. and includes shoulder carrying strap
  • Budget Friendly
  • 30-day money-back guarantee and 2-year warranty

Cons

  • TIG torch not included
  • Not a well-known brand
  • Online support is minimal

Overview

Welding can be intimidating and hard to learn, but the ARCCAPTAIN ARC200 is an easy-to-use, inexpensive machine, perfect for beginners. You simply enter the welding mode you want (stick or TIG), the electrode thickness, and the “function” button.

Press the function button once to adjust the output amperage or twice to adjust the arc force. It sounds more complicated than it is and most users will be setting up and welding in minutes, if not seconds.

The large digital display shows you precisely what your settings are. For beginners, this is much better than knobs with an arbitrary scale. This precision gives beginners an understanding of the welder’s settings and gets them started right, preventing bad habits.

Also, many safety features, including VRD, keep you from getting shocked. With a small, light welder that may be used in harsh environments, these built-in features will help protect you.

The ease of use makes the welder a great choice for weekend warriors or those who need an easy-to-move-around welder that is easy to use, like farms and outdoor maintenance. The included features are perfect for a light-duty, beginner’s machine that will serve well in DIY and other small shops that don’t weld daily.


6. Forney 180 ST Stick Welder

Forney 180 ST Stick Welder
  • Lightweight at 14 pounds
  • Highly portable
  • DC stick and DC TIG
  • 5-year warranty
  • IGBT inverter power

Pros

  • Dual purpose arc welder with TIG ability
  • High frequency lift arc
  • 10-180 amp current adjustment
  • Includes regulator and accessory case
  • Welds from 18-gauge sheet to 1/2-inch steel

Cons

  • Can't connect a TIG foot pedal
  • No gas regulator

Overview

The Forney Easy Weld 180 ST is a lightweight 14-pound dual-purpose stick welder. This is a DC arc welder with TIG capability included. It runs on 120 or 240 volts input, delivering 10 to 180 amps of DC current. It accommodates generator power, tolerant of “dirty power” frequency fluctuations that often make it hard for welders to work on standard generator power.

This is a powerful machine that can run single pass welds on 1/2-inch steel and at 10 amps lower limit, it also provides fine TIG quality on sheet metal as thin as 24 gauge steel. That’s fine enough to weld on auto-body sheet metal with a stick welder. If you want to use the TIG side of the machine, it doesn’t ship with a TIG torch or a gas regulator, so those items need to be purchased separately. This particular machine doesn’t accept a TIG foot control pedal.

The stick welding side gets great reviews for smooth and easy-starting arc welding. The Forney Easy Weld 180 ST maintains Forney’s high standards of industrial quality build and comes with a 5-year warranty.


Buyer’s Guide

Because stick welders have a much simpler design than other welding machines, they are much more durable and rugged than other types of welders. This makes them suitable for primitive field conditions, where cost is a factor.

As the most basic type of welding skill, it’s easy to master arc welding at the beginner level, though, like most types of welding, there’s always a new trick to learn.

However, if you don’t currently have welding skills, stick welding is the fastest type to learn, and you can be immediately productive, making repairs and fabricating parts effectively within a few days’ worths of practice.

There are a few things to keep in mind when shopping for a stick welder, and because of the simplicity of design, you can get a lot of machine for less than $500.

What Kind of Work Are You Doing?

Like many tools and especially with technology-based machinery like arc welders, the single biggest factor in your decision should be finding the most appropriate solution to the work at hand.

If you need to weld sheet metal, you need a machine that can provide low amperage levels, or you’ll blow through the metal. In this case, you need to find something that can reach down to 10 amps to run smaller-diameter rods or go with a multi-process machine that offers MIG or TIG capability in addition to stick.

At the other extreme, if you expect to be welding on trailer frames, truck suspension, backhoe buckets, or farm tractor implements, you’re going to need a lot of juice to get the kind of penetration you need to weld steel that’s as much as ¼ to ½ inch thick. That will take at least 140 amps, and more is even better.

Like many tools and especially with technology-based machinery like arc welders, the single biggest factor in your decision should be finding the most appropriate solution to the work at hand.

If you weld sheet metal, you need a machine that can provide low amperage levels, or you’ll blow through the metal. In this case, you need to find something that can reach down to 10 amps to run smaller-diameter rods or go with a multi-process machine that offers MIG or TIG capability in addition to stick.

At the other extreme, if you expect to be welding on trailer frames, truck suspension, backhoe buckets, or farm tractor implements, you’re going to need a lot of juice to get the kind of penetration you need to weld steel that’s as much as ¼ to ½ inch thick. That will take at least 140 amps, and more is even better.

Where Are You Welding At?

Depending on where you plan to use a welder, you may need to consider the power source and whether your leads or power connection are long enough to reach your work. On a construction site or in a fabrication shop, there are a lot of impact hazards like falling tools, being kicked, or bouncing around on carts and in truck beds.

For heavier, more industrial work or on a commercial site, you need a machine that can use 240-volt input power. So it should accept dual 120-volt/240-volt connections or just a straight 240-volt power source. Alternatively, if you do not require a 240v power source, opt for a dedicated 110v sticker instead – this will save you money.

Another issue is the durability of the welder.

Is it rugged enough to take a beating and keep working? It may also need to be made in the USA to meet certification standards for certain government contracts. The Lincoln AC225 meets both of these conditions in great style.

The Last Word

We covered a wide range of stick welders, and one should meet most users’ needs.

The Yeswelder YWA-160 comes with a lot for the price. At under $300, you get a well-designed, easy-to-use control panel. It can run on 120V and 240 power inputs and is small and light.

But you also have features like adjustable arc force, VRD, and hot starts with the YWA-160. These help keep you safe and make better welds. So, you get a lot for the price, and many users will find this Yeswelder machine hits the sweet spot.

If you want a classic stick welder and don’t mind a heavy machine, the Lincoln AC225 unit we presented might be to your liking.

Beginners will like the simplicity and ease of use found in the ArcCaptian ARC200. It’s a powerful machine for the price and includes synergic settings that make set up a breeze.

But the Fourny EasyEasy Weld 180 ST is worth a look if you are looking for quality on a budget. You get a unit that packs a punch and can run single-pass welds on 1/2-inch steel. But it can go low, too, and handle sheet metal.

The Hobart Stickmate 160i provides what you want if the industry’s best warranty from a well-known manufacturer is important to you.

Need the ultimate in portability, then consider the Eastwood ARC 80.

You get the idea. It all comes down to your work and your shop’s requirements. Our list covers a wide range in the hope one of these units will fit your particular needs and wants.


About Jeff Grill

Jeff Grill hails from Long Island, a 118 mile stretch of land that starts just off the coast of Manhattan and stretches deep into the Atlantic ocean. He has always been interested in welding from an early age and has the cuts and bruises to prove it as he set out to work with a variety of metals.


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