Best Arc Welder For Beginners in 2021 (Reviews and Comparison)

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You’re beginning your journey in a high-paying skilled trade of arc welding. You should get the best equipment to bring you the best welds and be easy to work with. Everything from the power generator all the way down to the arcs should be the best for what you do. When you don’t properly do your research, you will not pair the right equipment together. 

Electrodes transmit electricity depending on the material that makes them. That difference will change how they allow electricity to pass through them depending on the welding machine, electrode holder and electrode cables.  

This article handles all the hard parts for you. We have found and reviewed the equipment you’ll need to get started so that hopefully, by the end of this, you will know which is the best arc welder for beginners.

COMPARISON CHART

IMAGE PRODUCT

LOTOS MIG140 140 Amp MIG Wire Welder, Flux Core & Aluminum Gas Shielded Welding with 2T/4T Switch Argon Regulator, Metal Wire Feeder, Black/Red

Lotos CT520D
  • Process Type: TIG and stick, arc (MMA)
  • Amperage Range: 10-200 Amp
  • Duty Cycle: 60%
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Hobart 500559 Handler 140 MIG Welder 115V

Hobart 500559 Handler 140
  • Process Type: MIG (GMAW) / Flux Cored (FCAW)
  • Amperage Range: 25-140 Amp
  • Duty Cycle: 20%
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Amico TIG160 ARC Stick Welder

Amico TIG160 ARC Stick Welder
  • Process Type: TIG and stick
  • Amperage Range: 5-160 Amp
  • Duty Cycle: 80%
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ESAB Rebel EMP 215ic MIG/Stick/Tig Welding Machine - FREE TIG & WELDING GLOVES

ESAB 120/230-Volt
  • Process Type: MIG, TIG, and Stick
  • Amperage Range: 10-130 Amp
  • Duty Cycle: 25%
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Stanley Power 119

Stanley Power 119
  • Process Type: Stick
  • Amperage Range: 5-80 Amp
  • Duty Cycle: 80%
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LOTOS MIG140 140 Amp MIG Wire Welder, Flux Core & Aluminum Gas Shielded Welding with 2T/4T Switch Argon Regulator, Metal Wire Feeder, Black/Red

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LOTOS MIG140 140 Amp MIG Wire Welder, Flux Core & Aluminum Gas Shielded Welding with 2T/4T Switch Argon Regulator, Metal Wire Feeder, Black/Red

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LOTOS MIG140 140 Amp MIG Wire Welder, Flux Core & Aluminum Gas Shielded Welding with 2T/4T Switch Argon Regulator, Metal Wire Feeder, Black/Red

Specification

Process TypeTIG and stick, arc (MMA)
Amperage Range10-200 Amp
Duty Cycle60%
Input VoltageDual Frequency (110 V/220 V 50/60Hz)
Weight32 lbs
Dimensions17” x 8” x 14”
Size & TransportabilitySmall and easy to transport

The LOTOS brand is an affordable producer of welding equipment. The CT520D is a multi-purpose unit that can do a variety of welding and cutting functions. It can cut all types of metal up to 1/2 inches thick with the 50 Amp plasma cutting function. At about 32 pounds, this setup is portable and can easily be carried and operated by one person. With this tool, you must also buy a pigtail to use the standard household current because it is not sold in the box.

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Hobart 500559 Handler 140 MIG Welder 115V

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Hobart 500559 Handler 140 MIG Welder 115V

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Hobart 500559 Handler 140 MIG Welder 115V

Specification

Process TypeMIG (GMAW) / Flux Cored (FCAW)
Amperage Range25-140 Amp
Duty Cycle20%
Input Voltage115V
Weight57 lbs
Dimensions19” x 11” x 13”
Size & TransportabilityEasy to transport

The Hobart Handler is a specialty product for just MIG welding. It’s slightly more expensive by a few hundred dollars. Its welding thickness and smoothness can be managed with its 5 position voltage control. Operating at 115V, it can be powered by the average household current without any issue. It is slightly bigger being 19 inches tall and 13 inches long but at 57 lbs, it also is portable and can be handled by one person.

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Amico TIG160 ARC Stick Welder

Specification

Process TypeTIG and stick
Amperage Range5-160 Amp
Duty Cycle80%
Input Voltage120v
Weight15 lbs
Dimensions16” x 7.5” x 11.8”
Size & TransportabilitySmall and easy to transport

The Amico is a TIG welding machine. The dual-voltage machine operates on direct current power output. It’s one of the lightest machines and with good reason. The system is small enough to be easily transported to weld directly at the source. There are only two sticks provided so you will have to purchase more for larger projects. Compact and extremely lightweight, it provides great weld performance with minimal to no splatter. Unfortunately, it cannot TIG weld without gas, doesn’t include a regulator or foot pedal and can’t weld aluminum.

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ESAB Rebel EMP 215ic MIG/Stick/Tig Welding Machine - FREE TIG & WELDING GLOVES

Specification

Process TypeMIG, TIG, and Stick
Amperage Range10-130 Amp
Duty Cycle25%
Input Voltage115 V with flexible automatic input voltage compensation
Weight18.2 lbs
Dimensions15.8” x 6” x 10.4”
Size & TransportabilitySmall and easy to transport

The ESAB is a quality project. A little on the pricier side but it does have multi-welding purposes. This system is equipped for MIG, TIG, and Stick welding. If you already have other equipment, you can easily hook it up to this source. As a three-in-one MIG welder, it’s great for multitasking and has excellent power output.

Stanley Power 119

Specification

Process TypeStick
Amperage Range5-80 Amp
Duty Cycle80%
Input Voltage120 V
Weight8 lbs
Dimensions‎13.7” x 4.9” x 6.1”
Size & TransportabilityUltra-light and compact

The lightest tool on the list, the Stanley Power is great for versatility. At 8 lbs, you can hold this in one hand and weld with the other. This system is great for home maintenance and small jobs. One of the issues is because of how small it is, it isn’t as durable as the other machines. Best if only welding sparingly.

What is Arc Welding?

Arc welding is the combining of two metals with an electrode. Electrodes melting as the power runs through them creates an arc. That arc is what causes the fusion of the metal. The arc melts and combines the two (or more) metals together. Because of the face mask, you have to be sure that your metals are properly lined up. 

Once the welding has begun, if done properly, the metals will not be able to come apart. Science protects you, so try not to be scared of molten metal popping everywhere. The combination of nitrogen and oxygen mixing with the melting electrode minimizes the splatter, almost immediately cooling to solid form. 

Remember to always wear personal protective equipment because you can still be burned by hot metal or blinded by both the illumination and some metal splatter in your eyes.

What Process Best Fits Your Needs?

Metal Inert Gas (MIG) welding is one of the processes for arc welding that involves the constant feed of a thin metal wire. After the wire melts, it cools down in the gap of whatever you’re sealing together. Because the electrode rod is automatically fed through during welding, it is an easier technique for beginners to learn. It removes the step of having to manually lower your electrode rod as you weld. 

Flux-cored arc welding  (FCAW) is similar to MIG as it has an automatic electrode rod feeder but this process does not require a shielding gas. The flux-core is beneficial in outdoor weather conditions and on dirty surfaces. Speed and transportability make it one of the top weld processes for construction workers.

Stick/Shielded Metal Arc Welding (SMAW) is the most consuming of the welds. SMAW requires frequent changes of the stick and works well with most alloys and joints. Being the most economically friendly, this process is the most popular for at-home welders. SMAW can create great bonds on rusty and dirty metals. This process is more difficult to learn because of having to strike your stick and maintain the arc until you find your weld. You have to manually lower the stick as it gets consumed. One thing to consider is the thickness of the metals being welded. Your metal can not be thinner than 18 gauge and works best on metals 1/16 inch or thicker.

Tungsten Inert Gas (TIG) welding doesn’t consume the electrode. The power conducted through the electrode heats up the metal to melt into place. This process best works with thin sheet metals that melt easier or multiple pieces of metal so you can melt more without sacrificing structural integrity. TIG welding is the slowest and most complex process to learn.

What Power Source is Best?

The best power source for welding depends on what the weld is for. Yes, you can buy any power source if this will be a once-a-month activity but if you plan on welding frequently, make sure the quality matches the desired output. A power source needed for a robotic engineer is completely different from a hobbyist that just enjoys making tiny metal knickknacks. Here’s some of the recommended equipment.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What Type of Metal am I Welding? 

The type of metal you’re welding depends on your project. Most common metals welded are: aluminum, cast iron and steel. Depending on the process you are working with, the metals can change drastically. TIG welding has more versatility so you can weld with a lot more metals. SMAW welds work best with cast iron and steel. MIG is best with steel, aluminum and most thing metals.

  1. What is the Required Power Output? 

Each process requires a different output. Thicker metals require higher power output. If you are welding for industrial work, aim for higher power output but be aware that you need a special setup. Most at-home outlets can handle outputs in the 100s. Some power sources give you the option to switch between alternating current (AC) and direct current (DC). DC can handle hotter temperatures and deeper weld penetration. AC reverses the current at regular intervals. AC machines are more expensive as it allows for working with self-oxidizing metals.

  1. What Is My Budget? 

Your budget should match the amount of work you’re putting into welding. Your power source, tools, personal protective equipment (PPE), and metals you’re welding all factor into your budget. The most expensive will be the power source. Make sure you get a long-lasting power source. It’s more expensive to constantly replace a power source than to just buy a pricer one in the beginning.

  1. What Consumables Are Required? 

Cored wire, solid wire, and rod electrodes are the consumables required. Depending on the type of weld, is what consumable you use. MIG requires the wires, SMAW uses the electrode rod, and TIG is the process that does not require a consumable because the melted metal is the filler necessary for the weld.

Conclusion

While the best arc welder for beginners is all about what you want to accomplish as a welder, the Lotos CT520D is the best option for all-around for beginner welders. Factoring in all things discussed in this article, the Lotos CT520D is budget-friendly and simple to learn. For light to intermediate use, the longevity in the Lotos CT520D is great.

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