Best Stick Welders (Arc Welders) – Reviews and Top Picks

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Stick welding is the single most important welding skill.

Because it’s so basic to the industry, you better be able to do it well.

But to be a good arc welder, you’ve got to have a great stick welding machine.

It’s got to have deep penetration, controllable arc characteristics and an easy touch.

Check out these real world arc welders and burn some metal the old school way.

In a Rush?

Here's 3 products we picked out that thought you would be interested in depending on your budget...

Best Pick
Lotos LTPDC2000D
The Lotos LTPDC2000D is not only a 200 amp stick welder, it's also a 50 amp plasma cutter and a 200 amp TIG. This machine does it all, able to weld from 16 gauge sheet to 1/2-inch steel and cut up to 1/2-inch steel.
Best Value
Hobart Stickmate 160i
The Hobart Stickmate 160i is a lightweight, reliable inverter based arc welder with dual 120 and 240 volt input power. Although it's made in China, it's backed by Hobart's 5-year warranty and delivers high-quality welds.
Best Budget
Amico ARC160D
Amico's ARC160D stick welder packs a lot of machine into an incredibly low price range. LCD display, 160 amp power, 120 volt convenience, lightweight inverter power, 10 foot electrode holder and DC welding.

Best Stick & Arc Welder with Reviews

Here's a list of some of the best stick / arc welders we found on the market:

1. Lotos LTPDC2000D Multiprocess Stick Welder

Lotos LTPDC2000D Multiprocess Stick Welder
  • Stick, TIG and plasma cutter
  • Cuts up to ½-inch steel
  • Welds up to 1/2-inch steel
  • Arc output up to 200 amps
  • Dual voltage input - 120 or 240

Pros

  • Duty cycle 60 percent
  • Multiprocess machine
  • 13-foot cables
  • Wide current range fro 15 to 200 amps
  • High frequency arc start

    Cons

    • Doesn't include a TIG foot pedal

    Overview

    The LOTOS LTPDC2000D is more than a 200 amp stick arc welder. It also has the ability to do 15-200 amp TIG work and includes a 50 amp plasma cutter that can go through 1/2 inch of steel. It’s got dual input voltage, which lets you plug in at home or in a commercial setting with either 120 volt or 240 volt input power.

    This multi-process triple threat is designed with high frequency arc starting that lets you get the arc going easily. The stick welder portion includes “soft arc” technology for easy starting. The high frequency arc starting also delivers a pilot arc feature on the TIG welder and plasma cutter.

    That means no touch arc starts, saving on consumables because the TIG torch never touches the surface, eliminating the main cause of tungsten electrode contamination. One drawback is that this welder doesn’t come with a TIG heat control pedal.

    Both the stick and TIG modes can push 200 amps, which is enough power to weld 1/2 inch of steel. The Lotos LTPDC2000D is backed by a 1-year warranty.


    2. Hobart Stickmate 160i Arc Welder

    Hobart Stickmate 160i Arc Welder
    • Welds up to 1/4-inch steel plate
    • Runs on 120 and 240 volt input
    • 160 amp output power
    • DC arc welding
    • 5-year warranty

    Pros

    • Weighs less than 20 pounds
    • Hot start technology
    • Infinitely adjustable amperage control
    • Wide 20-160 amps output range
    • Adjustable shoulder strap

    Cons

    • Respected American brand, made in China

    Overview

    Hobart is one of the oldest American welding brands, venerated for rugged construction and great performance. The Hobart Stickmate 160i delivers good performance, but it should be pointed out that this one is built in China. Hobart assures customers that the machine meets Hobart’s exacting standards. Some buyers point out that you can buy a Chinese stick welder for half the price of the Hobart. What a Chinese brand can’t offer is a nationwide network of dealerships and service centers.

    Users praise the Hobart Stickmate 160i for smooth performance. The long warranty shows Hobart’s confidence in its quality. Inverter power keeps the Stickmate 160i under twenty pounds, light enough to move around the work site with its included adjustable shoulder strap.

    The Hobart Stickmate 160i has an infinitely adjustable current dial, which can adjust the output in increments as small as 1 amp. Able to run either 120 or 240 volts, the Hobart Stickmate 160i is convenient and powerful. It’s capable of welding up to 3/8-inch thick steel, and the wide range of current options gets down to 20 amps.


    3. Amico ARC160D Stick Welding Machine

    Amico ARC160D Stick Welding Machine
    • LCD display
    • IGBT inverter power
    • 160 amps output
    • Welds up to 5/16-inch steel
    • Weighs only 15 pounds

    Pros

    • 10 foot cord on electrode and work ground
    • Arc control corrects voltage fluctuation
    • Can run on a 7500 watt generator
    • Wide 20 to 160 amp range
    • Current adjustment in 20 amp steps

      Cons

      • Can be hard to start the arc

      Overview

      The Amico ARC160D is an inexpensive and lightweight arc welder that offers an LCD digital display. This is a DC stick welding machine with a wide 20 amp to 160 amp output range. There’s an easily adjustable current control on the front panel that’s incremented in 20 amp steps.

      The inverter power makes for a very lightweight machine that only weighs 15 pounds. The Amico ARC160D arc welder comes with two 3/32-inch 7018 electrodes and two 1/8-inch rods. It ships with a 10-foot electrode clamp and a 10-foot grounding clamp. 10 feet lets you put this welder just about any place you want, especially considering the 120 volt power supply can be plugged in anyplace.

      There are some reports of hard arc starting with this machine, with Cellulosic rods reported to be very tough to start. That issue seems to rule out 6010 rods for this machine. Users who’ve had problems with the stick welder have had no issues with exchanges or refunds.

      Amico designed the ARC160D stick welder to compensate for fluctuations in voltage, a thoughtful feature that lengthens the service life of this welder.


      4. Forney Easy Weld 180 ST Arc Welder

      Forney Easy Weld 180 ST Arc Welder
      • Lightweight and portable
      • IGBT inverter technology
      • DC stick and DC TIG
      • 5-year warranty
      • Weighs 14 pounds

      Pros

      • 18-gauge sheet up to 1/2-inch steel
      • Dual purpose arc welder with TIG ability
      • Lift type arc starting
      • Includes regulator and accessory case
      • Wide 10-180 amp output

      Cons

      • Not compatible with TIG foot pedal

      Overview

      The Forney Easy Weld 180 ST is a lightweight, inverter powered DC stick welder that also offers DC TIG welding capability. It’s designed with generator power in mind, tolerant of “dirty power” fluctuations that are common in generator power sources This is a dual input voltage machine that can be plugged into either a 120 volt or 240 volt power source.

      Forney designed the Easy Weld 180 ST arc welder with a high frequency lift-type TIG torch start to minimize contamination of the tungsten element and reduce consumable consumption. Unfortunately, you need to buy the TIG torch and gas regulator separately if you want to do TIG welding. This machine isn’t compatible with a foot control pedal.

      This arc welder/TIG offers a very wide 10 to 180 amp current output. The Forney Easy Weld 180 ST is capable of welding up to 1/2-inch thick steel even though it weighs only 14 pounds. The fine 10 amp minimum limit is great for welding as thin as 18-gauge sheet metal for auto body work. The Forney Easy Weld 180 ST is backed by a 5-year warranty.


      5. Everlast PowerARC 160STH Stick Welder

      Everlast PowerARC 160STH Stick Welder
      • Lightweight and portable
      • IGBT inverter technology
      • 160 amp DC stick and TIG
      • 5-year warranty
      • Weighs 14 pounds

      Pros

      • 18-gauge sheet up to 1/2-inch steel
      • Dual purpose arc welder with TIG ability
      • Lift type arc starting
      • 8-foot electrode cable
      • Wide 10-180 amp output

      Cons

      • TIG torch and regulator sold separately

      Overview

      The Everlast PowerARC 160STH is a powerful and lightweight DC stick welder offering both arc welding and DC TIG features.

      This machine has dual voltage input that lets you plug in either on home shop 120 volt power or use heavier duty 240 volt outlets. This machine comes with a shoulder strap to make it easier to move around at the work site, leaving your hands free to handle cables and accessories.

      The Everlast PowerARC 160 STH comes with an 8-foot electrode clamp as well as a 12-foot TIG Torch and argon regulator. However, one disadvantage of this machine from a TIG standpoint is that it’s not compatible with a TIG heat control foot pedal. Instead, Everlast’s proprietary SV17 TIG torch comes with an adjustable hand operated variable heat control.

      With a very wide 10-160 amp output range, the Everlast PowerARC 160STH is quite versatile, able to weld thin sheet metal from 18 gauge all the way up to 1/2-inch thick steel plate. There’s a carrying case included for the TIG torch and accessories. Everlast provides a 5-year warranty on the PowerARC 160 STH.


      Buyer’s Guide

      Stick arc welding machines are the most basic of all welding technology. The machines are generally durable and long-lasting as a result.

      A skilled and experienced welder can produce high-quality welds at a rapid rate, matching any MIG welder for productivity and even keeping pace with many flux-core operators.

      And for underwater welding and quick jobs, they’re still unmatched after over a century on the job.

      Here are some of the criteria you should check when shopping for an arc welder.

      Type of Work Being Performed

      As with any other welder purchase, the most important consideration is the type of work you expect to do with the welder. Thin sheet metal, thin plate and thick plate all have their own things to watch for.

      Some welders perform better when pumping out high amperage for thick welding tasks. Others are better at the bottom end of the output range, more suited to thin plate or sheet metal.

      What Kind of Environment?

      If you’re going to be using a stick welder in a production or shop environment, you need an arc welder that runs on 240 volt power, with a proven track record of durable performance like the Hobart Stickmate 160i arc welder.

      Some types of work lend themselves better to DC welding than they do to AC. You may have some work of each type and need a machine that does both.

      Input Power Source

      When you only use your welder at home and you don’t need to weld anything thicker than 1/4-inch steel, a 120 volt welder is cheaper, lighter and smaller. You can carry it around your place easier and fit it into places like closets, ducting and under the car.

      But if you’re needing to repair backhoe buckets, field plows or semi truck wheels, you definitely need 240 volt power to generate enough current to weld thick pieces like these.

      Output Current Requirements

      In some ways, it’s easier to figure out how to get thick chunks of metal welded than it is with thinner stuff. For that broken bucket mount on the tractor’s front loader, you know you need just about all the juice you can get your hands on. In those cases, clearly you’ve got to get ahold of a 240 volt machine wih 200 amps or more.

      But if you need to repair a rusted out panel on a washing machine, modify your home’s climate control ducting or work on your project car’s body, then it becomes a little more tricky.

      While you want a machine that can dial the amps down to 20 or less, arc welders that run on 240 volts have far more flexible and delicate control overall than do 120 volt stick welders. On the other hand, 120 volt machines usually offer lower limit current settings that are less than the 240 volt arc welders.

      So this might require a compromise. Do you go with easier to use 120 volt lower limits, or have you got the skill to make use of higher quality and finer controllability offered by 240 volt machines? Will a dual voltage machine get the job done either way? The Everlast PowerARC 160 STH offers 120/240 volt versatility and gets down to 10 amps.

      Do You Want Extra Features?

      While we haven’t covered them much in this article, some stick welders offer arc welding combined with another process such as MIG, TIG or plasma cutting. A multiprocess machine might be the answer to your needs, bringing modern technology solutions to some jobs while keeping the simplicity and proven performance of arc welding for other projects.

      Other Stick Welding Guides

      Our Top 5 stick welder picks under $500

      In Our Judgement

      Based on every consideration including price and feature set, we’ve chosen the Lotos LTPDC2000D Multiprocess Stick Welder as our Pro Pick for this guide.

      This modern multiprocess machine adds TIG and plasma cutter processes to its core arc welder function to create a real workshop treat. This machine offers just the right mix of simplicity, durability and usability.

      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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