Finding the 10 Best Stick Welder Options for 2021 and Beyond

While MIG and TIG welders have surged in popularity in recent decades, stick welding remains the gold standard when it comes to welding at home or on the farm.

Stick welding—also known as Shielded Metal Arc Welding (SMAW) or Manual Metal Arc Welding (MMAW)—uses an electrical current that flows from the welder’s power supply and forms an arc between the welding stick and the metal being bonded. Stick welding offers several advantages over other welding processes, including versatility, predictability, simplicity and the ability to create strong bonds on dirty or rusty metal surfaces.

In contrast, MIG welding offers a quicker, more convenient process, but can’t create quality seams as well as stick welders. TIG welding matches stick welding in predictable performance, but it’s also time-consuming and expensive. For these reasons, stick welding has endured as a reliable option for light repairs in a variety of settings, especially outdoors and underwater.

Factors to Consider When Purchasing the Best Stick Welder

As you weigh your options among available stick welders, use the following metrics to compare models and identify the one that best meets your needs and budget.

Amperage Range

The amperage range of a welder determines which metals it can be used to bond. Most stick welders are capable of fusing a variety of metals, but amperage range sets the limits for what gauges of metal the welder can handle. Some muscular stick welders can easily cut through a thick piece of steel, but are too powerful to use on delicate metals without inflicting irreparable damage. On the other hand, a welder with a low upper amperage won’t be able to fill a joint spanning several inches.

A good rule of thumb is to determine the average amperage requirements of the jobs you’ll be completing with the welder and add 20 to 50 amps on top of that number to be able to tackle unexpectedly high demands. Erring on the side of a high amperage range is preferable to welding cold.

Input Voltage

Most home welders are designed for 110/120-volt input or 220/240-volt input. If your home or workshop isn’t wired for the higher input levels, you may have to factor in the cost of having a professional electrician upgrade your wiring. Before you buy, know what voltage your workspace is capable of handling and shop accordingly.

Functional Versatility

In addition to basic welding tasks, some stick welders incorporate a variety of additional features that add value to your purchase. Powerful stick welders capable of high amperages may be able to gouge welds and other metal components, while other stick welders include plasma cutters that perform the same function.

A few models offer TIG or MIG/flux core welding capabilities, which allow you to complete significantly more tasks with a single machine. While these bonus functions aren’t essential, they should certainly be considered when comparing the relative value of various models.

Quality Construction and Operation

Durable construction and consistent performance are by far the most important features of a stick welder. You want a welder that will deliver a quality bead and predictable product every time you use it, and you want it to last through years of use.

The price tag on a stick welder is often an accurate reflection of the quality and value you’ll get from the machine, but it’s not the only indicator. You should also consider user reviews, warranty length, customer support services and brand reputation when deciding which welder offers the best value for your investment.

Best Stick Welder Options: Our Top 10

Amico ARC-160D Stick Welder

If you’re on a limited budget or are new to stick welding, the Amico ARC-160D Stick Welder is an excellent starter unit. It includes a solid case, covered control panel and dual-voltage inputs, so you can get right to work no matter how your home or shop is wired. From a performance standpoint, it can hang with more expensive stick welders, producing a stable arc, quality bead and low spatter for minimal cleanup.

The intelligent fan control feature kicks in as soon as you start welding to keep the components cool and prevent debris from entering the power source. Protection from over- and under-voltage, over-current and overload are incorporated into its smart design.

Specifications and Features:

  • Input voltage: 115V and 230V
  • Weight: 16 pounds
  • Electrode clamp lead: 10 feet
  • Output range: 20 to 160 amps
  • Duty cycle: 60%
  • Warranty: One year

Pros:

  • Affordable price
  • Adjustable arc current
  • Compact and lightweight design make it easy to transport and store
  • Compatible with all generators

Cons:

  • No additional multipurpose functions
  • Quality may not compare to more expensive welders

C.M.T Pitbull 100-Amp Arc/Stick Welder

The C.M.T Pitbull 100-Amp Arc/Stick welder is ideal for “old school” welders who aren’t looking for a ton of fancy features or the latest technology. This welder is best for light and medium-duty tasks, producing a quality arc in light of its 100-amp maximum capacity. It plugs into a standard 110-volt household outlet, and the comfortable ergonomic handle and sturdy case make it an excellent choice for offsite jobs.

It does require a minimum 20-amp breaker to function at its lower amperage range and a 30-amp breaker to run it at maximum power. It also automatically shuts down to prevent it from overheating, which can make completing longer jobs a frustratingly slow process, but this feature also ensures the welder’s reliability and longevity. For optimal performance, user reviews recommend using 6013 rods.

Specifications and Features:

  • Input voltage: 110V
  • Weight:4 pounds
  • Electrode clamp lead: N/A
  • Output range: 45 to 100 amps
  • Duty cycle: 10%
  • Warranty: One year

Pros:

  • Affordable price
  • Extremely portable
  • Ergonomic case and handle
  • Versatile functionality
  • Reliable

Cons:

  • Limited power
  • Leads and clamp are mediocre quality
  • Overheats frequently
  • Requires 30-amp breaker

Campbell Hausfeld 115 Volt Arc Stick Welder

Like the C.M.T. Pitbull, the Campbell Hausfeld 115 Volt Arc Stick Welder’s strength is in its simplicity, with easy set-up and operation for jobs requiring modest amperage levels. It features just three operational settings—off, low and high—eliminating any guesswork for new welders.

The Campbell Hausfeld welder functions best with 1/16-inch and 5/64-inch welding rods and is capable of welding materials ranging from 18-gauge to 1/8-inch. Contact via the clamps can be somewhat unreliable, and unfortunately they’re challenging to replace due to being hard-wired into the machine. However, for basic household repairs and hobby welding, it gets the job done.

Specifications and Features:

  • Input voltage: 115V
  • Weight: 24 pounds
  • Electrode clamp lead: 6 feet
  • Output range: 50 to 70 amps
  • Duty cycle: 20%
  • Warranty: Five years

Pros:

  • Affordable price
  • Set-up is simple and quick
  • Extended warranty
  • Thermal overload protection

Cons:

  • Limited to two amperage settings
  • Frequently overheats and shuts down
  • Unreliable clamp contact

EVERLAST PowerARC 140ST TIG/Stick Welder

If you have some room in your budget, the EVERLAST PowerARC 140ST TIG/Stick Welder is one of the most flexible and high-performing units in its class. This compact, portable IGBT inverter welder offers both stick and DC Lift TIG functions to tackle home, farm and even light commercial jobs. With dual-voltage capability, the PowerARC 140ST can travel almost anywhere a source of clean power is available.

Between the two welding functions, it can weld virtually any metal except aluminum and magnesium. In stick mode, it can weld 1/16- to 1/8-inch electrodes and can weld up to 3/16-inch plate metal with one pass. Its arc quality is comparable to large, commercial-grade machines, and hot start and auto-adaptive arc force control in stick mode enhance consistency and reliability.

Specifications and Features:

  • Input voltage: 110/120V and 220/240V
  • Weight:8 pounds
  • Electrode clamp lead: 8 feet
  • Output range: 10 to 140 amps
  • Duty cycle: 35%
  • Warranty: Five years

Pros:

  • Compact and lightweight
  • Extended warranty
  • Auto-adaptive hot start
  • Versatile dual-voltage design
  • Performs comparably to larger commercial-grade units

Cons:

  • Expensive

Forney Easy Weld 100ST Arc Welder

This portable, user-friendly machine is an excellent choice for novice welders. It includes a surprisingly well-written manual as well as a quick-start guide to get buyers welding right out of the box. The Forney Easy Weld 100ST Arch Welder packs a respectable punch for such a small unit, and at less than 10 pounds, you’ll want to take it everywhere. With a maximum output of 90 amps, it can weld mild steel up to ¼-inch.

While its range isn’t particularly impressive, it delivers consistently excellent performance within that range—one of the primary reasons it made this list. It also comes with the Forney brand’s legendary quality and longevity, which adds serious value to its mid-level price tag.

Specifications and Features:

  • Input voltage: 120V
  • Weight:7 pounds
  • Electrode clamp lead: 8 feet
  • Output range: 90 amps
  • Duty cycle: 30%
  • Warranty: One year

Pros:

  • Excellent value for the price
  • High-quality construction
  • Very lightweight
  • Simple machine with well-written manual is ideal for beginning welders

Cons:

  • Runs colder than expected
  • Leads could be longer
  • Short warranty
  • Modest amperage range

HITBOX ARC Welder 200A Stick Welder

For more demanding jobs, the HITBOX ARC Welder 200A Stick Welder is an economical choice, offering a quality arc, stable current and minimal spatter. It features a user-friendly LED control panel with precise power control and working status indicator. With an output range of 10 to 190 amps, this versatile unit can be used for anything from minor household repairs to structural fabrication and construction. Hot start and anti-sticking features deliver a solid user experience.

Specifications and Features:

  • Input voltage: 220V
  • Weight:9 pounds
  • Electrode clamp lead: 8 feet
  • Output range: 10 to 190 amps
  • Duty cycle: 40%
  • Warranty: One year

Pros:

  • TIG-capable
  • Provides overheating, overcurrent, under- and overvoltage protection
  • Intuitive control panel with LED display and status indicator
  • Energy-efficient

Cons:

  • Uncertain quality and longevity
  • Website and user manual are difficult to understand

Hobart 500571 Stickmate 210i Stick Welding Machine

Manufactured by one of the top names in welding, the Hobart Stickmate 210i combines dependability, portability and powerful performance in a lightweight package. Hot Start technology delivers quick and reliable arc starts, while DC output minimizes sticking, spatter and arc outages.

Its infinite amperage control feature allows for precise amperage and heat settings, with adjustments in increments as subtle as one amp. With a 210-amp maximum output, you’ll be able to weld up to 5/32-inch mild steel in home, agricultural and shop settings.

Specifications and Features:

  • Input voltage: 220/240V
  • Weight:5 pounds
  • Electrode clamp lead: 10 feet
  • Output range: 25 to 210 amps
  • Duty cycle: 20%
  • Warranty: Five years

Pros:

  • Outstanding quality and reliability
  • Extended warranty
  • Wide output range with precise output control
  • Long leads
  • Adjustable shoulder strap enhances portability

Cons:

  • Very expensive, especially with no multipurpose functions
  • No lower voltage input option

Lotos LTPDC2000D 3-in-1 Stick Welder

The Lotos LTPDC2000D 3-in-1 Stick Welder packs a ton of versatility into a compact unit. This dual-voltage machine includes a 50-amp pilot arc plasma cutter, 200-amp stick welder and 200-amp TIG welder, so it’s likely the only welder you’ll need. Its non-touch pilot arc torch slices through rough, rusty surfaces without touching the tip to the metal, so you’ll enjoy improved cutting quality and extended machine life.

It produces a stable welding arc, deep weld pool and nearly-perfect welding shape and can cut into metal up to a half-inch thick thanks to the 50-amp pilot arc plasma function. The price tag may seem a bit steep, but once you consider all the functionality you’ll get from this unit, it’s clear the Lotos LPTDC2000D is a fantastic value.

Specifications and Features:

  • Input voltage: 110/120V and 220/240V
  • Weight: 43 pounds
  • Electrode clamp lead: 6 feet
  • Output range: 15 to 200 amps
  • Duty cycle: 20%
  • Warranty: One year

Pros:

  • Versatile, with several multipurpose functions
  • Produces consistent, high quality welds
  • Easy to use
  • Excellent value

Cons:

  • Limited warranty
  • Short electrode clamp lead
  • Expensive
  • Heavier than similar competitors

S7 200-Amp Power Beginner Welder

As the name suggests, the S7 200-Amp Power Beginner Welder is a good starter unit for novice welders and anyone looking for a basic, no-frills stick welder at an extremely affordable price point. The S7 offers a powerful output range that peaks at 200 amps, and dual inputs make it versatile enough for a variety of settings. The leads are somewhat short, but installing aftermarket leads is relatively simple, and the price of the machine will leave you plenty of room in your budget for the upgrade.

Specifications and Features:

  • Input voltage: 110/120V and 220/240V
  • Weight:6 pounds
  • Electrode clamp lead: 6 feet
  • Output range: 20 to 200 amps
  • Duty cycle: 80%
  • Warranty: One year

Pros:

  • Affordable price
  • Lightweight
  • High amperage range, especially for the price

Cons:

  • Short leads
  • Welds somewhat cold given its amperage range
  • User’s manual not helpful

SUNGOLDPOWER ARC MMA 200A Welder

With its reasonable price point and solid performance, the SUNGOLDPOWER ARC MMA 200A welder is a good option for welders looking for a broad power range on a small budget. Dual inputs make it easy to use in various settings, and it’s compatible with generator power for remote jobs.

Its LED screen is convenient and easy to read, although some users have reported inaccuracies in amperages when using it in 110-volt mode. The unit is capable of welding mild steel, weld steel, stainless steel and cast iron, and its stable arc and minimal spatter make it pleasant to use. Its overload protection features prevent overheating, over-voltage and overcurrent damage.

Specifications and Features:

  • Input voltage: 110/120V and 220/240V
  • Weight: 15 pounds
  • Electrode clamp lead: 6 feet
  • Output range: 20 to 200 amps
  • Duty cycle: 60%
  • Warranty: One year

Pros:

  • Affordable price
  • Lightweight
  • Dual-voltage design
  • Impressive amperage range

Cons:

  • Starts aren’t smooth or consistent
  • Low-quality leads and clamp

Final Thoughts on the Best Stick Welder

Though not as trendy as MIG and TIG welders, stick welders remain a reliable and affordable choice for most home and hobby welders. The list above represents a quality cross-section of the stick welder market, from basic budget options to fancier units with multiple functions. Regardless of the size and type of welding task you’re hoping to tackle, there’s a stick welder that’s just right for you.

Leave a Comment