Folks just getting into the magical yet complex world of welding, you must be racking your brains wondering about what’s the right welder and welding method for you. Since you have stumbled upon this page, I can safely assume that you are considering stick welding as an option.
Well, let me assure you that you are going in the right direction. Stick welding, which we nerds call Shielded Metal Arc Welding (SMAW) is one of the easiest arc welding techniques to master. Starting out with a 110V welder is a really good idea as it comes with only the most essential settings to fiddle with. Hence, figuring out the nitty-gritty of welding will be a lot easier with it.
Some 110v stick welders also offer dual voltage operation. This kind of welding machines literally grows with the welder, giving him the opportunity to upgrade his skills without heading out to the market in search of a new machine.
Now, the real issue here is that choosing a 110V welder that you can count on for years isn’t a cakewalk. There are very few brands that do it right. Most manufacturers deduct many vital components and functions from the machine to keep the production cost low. So you need to pay extra attention to the details and analyze the reviews with a fine-tooth comb to end up with the right model for your specific tasks.
As you might have already guessed from the title, I have done the hard part on your behalf to cut your work in half. After downing countless cups of espressos and tiring out my eyes curating data from various welding-related forums and websites, only 5 models made the cut.
I could have featured 10, 15, 20 models in my list but I raised the bar very high for this article and I prefer keeping it that way.
Now, you can either straight up jump to the review section or read my dummy’s guide to stick welding. I thought I should explain the art of stick welding in layman’s words for my pumped up but slightly nervous rookies who are not fully sure how this welding process works out.
For you and anyone who doesn’t mind brushing up their theoretical knowledge, here’s everything you need to know about stick welding:
- 110 Volt Stick Welders Comparison Table
- An Amateur’s Guide to Stick Welding: Process and Applications Explained
- Reviews of Top Five 110 Volt Stick Welders in 2021
110 Volt Stick Welders Comparison Table
|Model||Max Amp||AC or DC||Weight||Price|
|Forney Easy Weld 298||90||DC||13.74 lbs|
|Lotos LTPDC2000||200||DC||42.3 lbs|
|Lotos TIG200ACDC||200||Both||58 lbs|
|ZENSTYLE Arc||160||DC||17.88 lbs|
|2020 Weldpro||200||DC||30.4 lbs|
An Amateur’s Guide to Stick Welding: Process and Applications Explained
Stick welding is one of the easiest-to-learn and most prolific arc welding methods we have today. While it’s mostly reserved for welding thin gauge mild steel, stainless steel and iron, you can weld thin sections of aluminum and copper alloys as well with stick welding.
The method requires a flux coated wire or stick (geek term: electrode) as filler material. You strike the arc using either AC or DC power which melts both the electrode/stick and the base material, forming a molten pool (weld pool) which fuses the filler material to the base metal. When the weld pool cools down, it forms a joint. Tada! Stick welding done right.
During the arc striking process, the heat of the arc turns the flux coating of the stick into vapor which acts as a shielding gas to protect the molten pool from oxidation and atmospheric contamination. Hence, you don’t need external gas supply to stick weld which makes the process not only cost-effective but also perfect for teeny-weeny DIY jobs around the house, garden, and garage.
The only major investment on your part would be the stick welder machine. For small-scale repair, maintenance, fencing, and structure construction 110v machines will work out just fine.
However, you will have to look for a dual voltage stick welder if you are up to some heavy-duty construction and fabrication in an industrial setting, e.g in shipyards, power plants, building construction sites, automotive repair shops, etc.
The ground clamps and electrode holders generally come with the welder itself. So the only remaining thing left to buy is an appropriate flux-cored rod/electrode for the type of metals you’re working with.
Here’s one pro tip from this old man that will help you get deep penetration on ⅛” or thicker metals with your humble 110v stick welder: preheat your welding metal using a propane blowtorch before igniting the arc. This is a tried and tested method that has allowed me to achieve surprisingly good penetration even with a low amperage (80-200 amps tops) stick welders.
Let’s hope the fundamentals of SMAW are as clear as daylight to you now after reading this simplified explanation of stick welding. Now is the time to introduce you to five 100V units that are as good as they come.
Reviews of Top Five 110 Volt Stick Welders in 2021
The dead-on combination of lightweight (this bad boy weighs merely 13.74 lbs), simplicity of use and versatility is the main reason why I have put this welder on top. The “Easy Weld” bit in the model name makes sense if you consider that even a teenager who has never seen a welder before can efficiently do some very basic welding work with it.
It’s a 120-volt plug and play machine. You don’t need to wire it to a circuit breaker safely to operate this welder. Just plug it into your household power outlet and start welding. As simple as that.
It comes with all the accessories i.e an 8” ground clamp and 8” electrode holder to get you started right away. The max amp output of this 120-volt machine is 90 amps which is just about sufficient for striking a stable and smooth arc.
It supports a wide variety of electrode diameters ranging from 3/32” to 1/8 “. Having said that, running ⅛” electrodes on it would be pushing the welder too far. Unless really necessary, try running 3/32” electrodes on it for strong and neat welds. Yes, it will cause some spatter and clean up but the quality of the beads will be worth the effort. I can vouch for that.
The golden rule of stick welding is to choose thicker rods for fusing thicker metals due to their higher melt-off rate. If you want this machine to work consistently for years to come, limit your applications to welding ⅜” to ¼” steel.
With the right rod selection and some practice, you can also weld light aluminum with it. I have tried running a size ⅛” aluminum brazing rod on DCEP and got decent results. There’s a switch on the welder which lets you change the welding method to TIG. The torch, gas hookups and other accessories required for TIG welding don’t come with the product, not that I was expecting them either.
If you want to hone your skills and do some basic TIG work with DC output, Easy Weld 298 would make a great entry-level DC TIG machine for learning the ropes. You just have to buy a TIG torch and Forney’s gas bottle adapter to DC TIG weld with this device. However, when you’re ready to commit, you will need a dedicated higher amperage TIG welding machine for your tasks.
Moving on to other core specs, Forney Easy Weld 298 is an inverter welder which means you get a greater control over the welding voltage. This, in turn, will help you maintain your desired arc length and stability. The simplicity of this welder is arguably one of its biggest selling points.
There are only three switches (power button, amp setting, and welding process selector switch) to deal with. You will also find a convenient thermal overload LED indicator which is a must-have safety feature in any welding machine.
As far as duty cycle is concerned, Forney has yet again managed to hit home and how! It yields a 60% duty cycle @56 A and 30% @ 80A for SMAW and 60% @ 60 A and 30% @85 A for TIG welding. In short, the duty cycle is phenomenal for a low-budget, low-amperage stick welder like this.
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand that a 120V 90 amp can only do so much. I think it’s biggest downside is the absence of dual voltage support. If Forney somehow manages to include it in its next upgrade, Easy Weld 298 will be unbeatable by its similar price competitors.
This welder is a TIG, Stick welder and a plasma cutter rolled into one device. I did some extensive digging to find if there are better dual voltage (110v and 220v) 3-in-1 machines than this and found only one model that could challenge Lotos LTPDC2000D. Funnily enough, that one also belongs to Lotos and is the next product I’m going to review in this segment.
Moving on, Lotos LTPDC2000D is a feature-rich, mechanically-sound welder that does a lot more than many pricier stick/TIG-only welders in its price range.
Top core specs include non-touch pilot arc torch that lets you get precise and clean cuts without actually touching the base metal. While you technically can run this machine on 110v, a welder as capable as this one should be run on 220v to reach its full potential. Call your electrician to set up an LS-30 safety circuit.
The pilot torch is a holy-grail equipment that lets you plasma effortlessly cut half an inch of steel in one pass at 50 amps and up to ¾” metal with a little bit more effort. I loved the fact that you can use the torch on rusted, painted or dirty surfaces as well without affecting the arc quality.
You will need to hook up a compressor (not included) to the included regulator for plasma cutting. Ideally, you should be using an 8-9 CFM air compressor with it. But if you are on a tight budget, you can also make it work with a humble 4-5 CFM compressor or a nail gun pancake compressor.
Stick welding mild steel and stainless steel up to ¼” with ⅛” 6010 electrode is a snap with Lotos. I have also welded 3/16” square tubings with it and believe it packs enough punch to fuse to weld 5/16” steel as well.
I observed it tops at 200 amps for stick welding, meaning you can easily expand your skill set by welding a wider range of metal types and thicknesses. It’s a perfect 110-220v machine for continuous welding due to its incredibly high duty cycle for the price.
The duty cycle maxes out at 60% at 200 amps and, wait for it, 100% at 95 amps. Although you will be mostly running this machine at max amp, 60% duty cycle is not a bad deal, considering you will need 4-5 minutes anyway to readjust the electrode, realign the joints and brush off the slag.
For TIG welding, the machine is equipped with three sizes (4,5, and 6) of gas cups along with three sizes (1/16”, 3/32”, and 5/64”) of collets. For better efficiency, I’d suggest swapping the cups with a gas lens which consumes less argon than cups.
You should also get yourself a 3-way ball valve so that you don’t have to change hoses every time you switch between air for plasma cutting and TIG gas. The pilot arc features shine again by preventing tungsten burn-through or warping or while you attempt to strike the arc.
If you will be TIG welding a lot, I’d recommend getting a WP17 torch which is compatible with several other TIG machines and accepts a wide range of consumable electrodes.
Being an inverter welding machine, it’s pleasantly lightweight (32 pounds) and allows optimum control over the volt/current output. All the controls are streamlined, hence, easy to figure out for an amateur. The guide sheet included with the machine will come handy for amateurs who want to learn the ideal electrode, voltage, metal thickness combinations for different welding methods.
My only beef with this amazing 200 A 3-in-one welder is regarding the size of the leads. They are painfully short for my taste.
This one is basically the MIT-educated, sophisticated, smart and stout built cousin of the previous Lotos 3-in-1 welding machine. I’d gladly recommend this AC/DC stick/TIG equipment for anyone who needs to do a lot of aluminum welding on a regular basis.
This one belongs to the rare breed of affordable AC/DC machines that actually delivers without ever missing a beat. It would make a great starting point for point beginners who want to learn the fundamentals of AC TIG welding without spending a couple of big ones on a high-end machine right away.
The box includes a WP17 TIG torch, cups, collets, 1/16” thoriated tungsten, ground clamps, food pedal, gas regulator, and rod holders. So you are getting pretty much everything to set up the unit and start welding in roughly 2 minutes. AC TIG welding up to ⅛” aluminum is a fantastic experience with this smartly engineered multipurpose welder.
Stick welding ¼” to 5/16” still at 110 A and 196 A respectively is a breeze too. You just have to choose the right rod diameter for the job, that’s it. It ran both ⅛” 6011, 7018 on 110 amps and 5/16” 7018 electrodes on 5/16” on 200 amps helped me effortlessly hold a tight arc and lay down aesthetically-pleasing dime-sized beads.
What further makes it a befitting choice for both beginners and professional welders are the choice of settings offered. Like most dedicated TIG welders, it features a “Clearance Effect” option, a term most amateurs might not be familiar with. I know you are going to Google it anyway but let me still give you a rough idea about what it does. Clearance Effect comes to use while TIG welding on AC output.
It is a variable that impacts the balance between penetration depth and cleanup requirements. The default Clearance effect is set to 0. If you set to a negative value, -3 for example, it will result in higher penetration and less mess. In simple words, use the Clearance Effect to increase the negative value on the digital display.
The higher the negative value, the greater the penetration and lesser slag for you to clean up.
It’s a dual voltage machine that employs a 200 amps AC/DC square-wave inverter which ensures precise voltage output for a consistent, high-quality arc and less spatters during the process.
You can control the heat using the included foot pedal. However, I’m not super impressed by the foot pedal function as it does not throttle the amperage when you depress the switch, at least not according to the digital read-out on my unit.
It took about 5-7 seconds to completely stop the arc after I lifted the pedal. Not intuitive at all. Simply unplugging the pedal and using the hand controls instead will save you the headache.
The included food pedal is neither intuitive nor convenient. Also, it’s a little annoying having to completely shut off the machine every time you want to switch from stick welding to TIG or vice versa.
Here’s another basic but high-performance DC-only stick welder for hobbyists as well as professionals who need a lightweight and inexpensive backup welder for small-scale repair and fabrication tasks. This dual voltage (110v/230v) unit uses IGBT module technology to maximize energy efficiency by reducing power consumption.
Manual Metal Arc welding, a popular form of stick welding, is a breezy affair with this welder, thanks to its simple and streamlined controls that let you switch from AC to DC and adjust voltage in a snap. In fact, after the above-listed Lotos welders, this is the next best reasonably priced AC/DC dual voltage stick welder I came across in my extensive career spanning over 18 years.
The included accessories are very basic but they are all you’ll need to get started right away. You will be getting an electrode holder, ground clamp, input power adapter, plug along with a 5ft electrode holder cable and a 6.7 ft clamp cable.
According to the manufacturer, the unit supports 1.6 mm, 3.2 mm and 4.0 mm rod. I have gotten neat and consistent dime-shaped beads with 3.2 mm rods. If you wish to run a size 6010 ⅛” rod on it, you better plug this baby to a 220V socket to get a smooth arc and prevent thermal overload. The duty cycle of 60% is great if you take the small price tag into account.
If you decide to plug it into a 110-volt domestic power outlet, that will do a fine job too as long as you choose the right electrode for the job. On 110 v, the unit maxes out at 105 amps which is ideal for welding 16 gauge steel sheets, and ⅛” to ¼” mild steel. With a little practice and some tweaks here and there, you can weld light aluminum on DC Reverse Polarity using this welder. You can also run this on 115v with the help of a portable generator if needed.
The ground clamp cord and electrode cords are too small. A minor inconvenience but definitely not a deal-breaker for sure.
Weldpro dual voltage (110 V/230V) that can perform MIG and Flux-cored Arc Welding (FCAW) with a separately purchased spool, other than stick and TIG welding. This is the first and only 4-in1 welding equipment on this list and is a steal for both its price, flexibility and rich features. You just need to install a 30 amp circuit breaker to use this machine at higher amperage for thicker metals.
Speaking of metal thickness, you can TIG weld metals as thin as 25 gauge, MIG Flux-core ⅛” mild steel and stick weld up to ¼” steel at 110V without any hiccups. If you want to run a 6010 electrode, you will have to plug it to a 240-volt outlet which is not a big problem for this 230v compatible dual voltage unit.
Like any mainstream MIG welder, it supports both solid and flux-cored wire and comes with amperage and wire feed speed controls to help you accurately strike the arc and produce neat welds. You can easily tweak these settings on the bright and easy-to-view dual digital display on the welder body.
I really wish it had the option to connect to a foot pedal for convenient hands-free heat control during lift TIG welding. Not a biggie but it still stung me a little, given the not-so-modest price tag. I am not saying it’s an expensive machine. It’s rather a very modestly priced unit considering the host of specs and advantages it offers.
It is also equipped with a thermal overload protection to keep your welder operating safely even if you accidentally exceed the recommended duty cycle for your specific task. The space-saving and lightweight (30 lbs.) welder comes with a host of accessories including 10 ft. MIG torch, a 13 ft. TIG torch, gas hose, input power adapter, ground clamps, 3050 welding cable quick connector and 10 ft cords.
It doesn’t come with a foot pedal, that’s the only negative I deemed worth highlighting here.
How to Choose the Best 110V Stick Welder That Fits Both Your Budget and Needs?
I told you right at the beginning that there’s going to be a short but no-detail-spared buying guide to nudge you in the right direction. Here it is. Be it your first ever welder purchase or an upgrade, you need to know what you are signing up for.
110V stick welders do come with several limitations, this fact is already established. However, if you manage to find a 110-volt stick welder that can do a lot more than just stick welding light metals, you will get more than your pennies’ worth, which is exactly what we are trying to achieve here.
So here’s a quick summary of key aspects to think over while buying a 110-volt stick welder:
The best-in-class stick welders seamlessly do double duty as TIG welder. Sure they are on the pricier side but in the long run, when you’d want to upgrade your skills and expand your horizon, this kind of Stick/DC TIG welders will save you the cost of buying a brand new machine.
Some top-end models (like the ones from Lotos) even allow MIG, Flux-cored Arc welding as well as plasma cutting up to ½” steel with a single pass.
However, TIG welding is much harder to learn and isn’t absolutely necessary in a home setting. So, if you are on a tight budget, don’t hesitate to buy a stick welding-only machine. It will serve the purpose and ultimately, that’s the only thing that matters.
Duty Cycle and Amperage
Being a small and low-priced welder, most 110V stick welders suffer from the inevitable low duty cycle issue. For those who don’t know, duty cycle is the actual welding time in a span of 10 minutes. For example, if a welder is rated for 50% duty cycle, you can weld for 5 minutes max and then let it cool down for 5 minutes before you can resume welding.
The rule of thumb is, the lower the amperage, the higher your duty cycle will be. Most premium-branded 110V dual voltage stick welders yield a duty cycle of 60% 200 amps.. The amperage setting primarily depends on the size and diameter of electrode you’re using.
For example, if you want to run a 7018 3/32” electrode, you will need at least 200-200 amps. ¼” to ⅛” electrodes or flux-cored rods require about 120-130 amps.
AC or DC Current
DC or Direct Current is perfect for most stick welding applications on a wide variety of material types and thicknesses. Since direct current flows in one direction, it lets you strike a stable arc quicker and finish welding with minimal spatter.
DC positive polarity is ideal for welding steel for the great depth of penetration it provides. DC negative polarity is more preferred for thin gauge sheet metals as it ensures high filler melt-off rate and less penetration which consequently prevents burn-through.
While it’s very much possible to perform SMAW on AC output, especially if your applications are limited to light welding. The most commonly used electrodes for AC-only machines include E7018 AC, E6013, AND E6011.
More often than not, running large electrodes (E7024 and E6027 for example) on higher amperage can trigger arc blow problems. Since my machine allowed for it, I switched to AC to see if it can fix the problem and guess what? It worked!
However, you shouldn’t attempt to stick weld thin metals with AC as the arc resulting from AC generally fluctuates more, resulting in less smoother arc and more spatter.
Bottom line, unless you are constrained by budget and need a welder only for small, non-intensive applications, you should ideally go for a DC-only or AC/DC stick welder.
Weight, Accessories, and Manual
110-volt stick welders are best known for their portability which makes it ideal for outdoor projects. Look for a 20 pounds or even lighter model if you need to fit your welder in your car’s boot and dash off to the worksite.
As I said before, all the best 110V stick welders support TIG welding as well. So if you can get your hands on a model that comes with a TIG torch and gas hookups, you are basically buying two machines at the price of one. The box should also include bare minimums like ground clamps, adapters, and rod holders to get you started right away.
Most top manufacturers print the instruction manual at the back panel door of the welder which lucidly explains ideal voltage, electrode, material type, and thickness combinations to help you churn out spot-on results at every attempt. It’s even better if your manufacturer provides a hard copy of the manual in the box too, just in case the print on the panel door gets washed off over time.
The Bottom Line
In conclusion, 110V stick welders are one most versatile and high-performance welding machines we have today, not just for beginners but also for professionals looking for a portable system as their backup. You can carry it anywhere without torturing your back and arm muscles, making these welders ideal for outdoor projects.
I am quite confident that the products I chose for you will be up to the task and be your loyal friend for years to come. I have this uncanny attachment issue with machines. I just hate it when a machine stops working and I have to replace it with a new one. So I take my time and pay a great deal of attention to every damn detail, critical or minor, before buying any machine.
So rest assured, I have spared to effort in drafting this product recommendation list. I did my part, now it’s your turn. Follow my guidelines to the T, compare, weigh the pros and cons and most importantly, listen to those wise guts of yours. They are almost always right.