Reviews

Best Stick Welders: Weld Your Steel Properly

Consider these stick welders for high-quality welding of steel, stainless steel, cast iron, and more.

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BY Heather Fishel / LAST UPDATED ON November 20, 2020

If you need a welder, a stick welder is a great place to start. Stick welding, or shielded metal arc welding (SMAW), is one of the most popular welding techniques. With an electrode and an electric current that can join all kinds of metals, it’s a straightforward and versatile machine. A stick welder uses flux-coated electrodes to form strong, secure metals — and an electric arc takes care of the current to make metal molten. You don’t need a lot of specialized equipment when you start stick welding, as a stick welder is the most important part of the process. There are many different stick welders to choose from, making picking the perfect tool complicated. Check out the following top options in stick welders.

Best Overall
DEKO Pro MMA 160A Arc Welder
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Summary
Summary

This stick welder uses advanced IGBT inverter technology capable of welding steel, stainless steel, and even cast iron. Multiple unique control modes help you tackle any welding work.

Pros
Pros
  • High-intensity body with structural strength
  • High-performance fully mute fan motor with instant cooling and synchronous control system
Cons
Cons
  • Some customers have reported damaged products
  • Make sure to inspect your product upon delivery for any missing or damaged parts
Best Overall
DEKO Pro MMA 160A Arc Welder
Best Value
Zeny Arc Welding Machine
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Summary
Summary

This option is easy to use thanks to a smart design and great versatility. It operates at 115 to 230 volts with a 60 Hz current and includes an electrode holder and a 6.4-foot cable.

Pros
Pros
  • Can tackle stainless steel, mild steel, aluminum, and other metal materials
  • Steel frame and a plastic handle
  • Made with inverters that switch from AC to DC power
Cons
Cons
  • Some customers have reported problems with the consistency. 
  • Some users have found that the welder will not maintain an arc
Best Value
Zeny Arc Welding Machine
Honorable Mention
Forney Easy Weld Arc Welder
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Summary
Summary

This stick welder is the perfect pick for anyone who’s just getting started with stick welding or who needs an effortless welder. It is incredibly easy to use, featuring Easy Start technology that makes arc strikes effortless.

Pros
Pros
  • Operates on inverter power with 120-volt input and 90-amp output
  • Handles a rod up to 1/8-inch
  • Includes an 8-foot electrode holder and ground clamp
Cons
Cons
  • Advanced welders may want to consider a different product for more difficult welding jobs
  • For its premium price point, the welder is not quite as advanced as other models built for professionals
Honorable Mention
Forney Easy Weld Arc Welder
The Best Stick Welder
Amazon

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Benefits of a Stick Welder

  • Affordable price. Stick welders and all of their associated parts and pieces are relatively affordable compared to other welding tools — and that makes working with one quite budget-friendly. You can purchase a stick welder and other accessories for the same price (or even less) than basic MIG welders, which means you get great value for the money you do spend. Since stick welders require little in the way of maintenance, you won’t have to spend a lot over the lifetime of the device either.
  • Increased versatility and flexibility. With a stick welder, you can do a whole lot. This kind of welder is one of the most versatile and flexible you can buy. It’ll work with different types of materials and metals, and you can simply swap out your electrode to tackle different projects. Jumping between different materials is almost effortless. And when it comes to flexibility, you don’t even need different types of gas. With a stick welder, you’re ready for anything.
  • Beginner-friendly. Stick welders are fantastic for beginners. Because they’re simpler and a bit more streamlined in process than other welders, they’re easier for first-time users to master. The more affordable price tag also makes stick welders a good choice for those who are just starting out.
  • More reach. A stick welder offers increased length and gives you more (or easier) access to tough, hard-to-reach spots. The stick electrodes on these welders give you anywhere from 12 to 16 inches of reach, and you can even weld in various positions and angles so you can get a job done regardless of what kind of reach or maneuvering you need to achieve.
  • No shielding gas needed. TIG and MIG welders require cylinders of gas to operate — and each type of metal can require a totally different kind of gas. With a stick welder, however, you can completely forget about gas. This low-maintenance welder doesn’t require any shielding gas at all. A stick welder actually generates its own shielding gas from the electrode, which saves you money, time, and equipment that you need to carry.

Types of Stick Welders

AC

AC stick welders, or alternate current stick welders, are less common and typically only used as a backup option to DC stick welders. AC output can be particularly useful if the available power supply has AC output only. AC output can also be helpful if your welder is having issues with arc blow problems.

DC

DC stick welders, or direct current stick welders, are the most common type of stick welders. DC stick welders are more flexible than AC stick welders, and they can be used on a variety of projects, including DIY projects and professional welding jobs. DC welders are a safer choice, and are better for welding steel, reducing splatter, and are known for more stable arcs.

AC/DC

AC/DC welders can be alternated between AC and DC output depending on the project you are working on. DC output will be used most often, but if you are working somewhere that only has an AC output available, then the stick welder can easily be switched over to AC output.

Top Brands

DEKO

Headquartered in China, DEKO is a reputable tool and appliance brand with customers around the globe. It’s known for producing high-end tools for both regular consumers and professionals. In addition to stick welders, DEKO is known for power tools, hand tools like impact wrenches, lawn and gardening tools, and more. 

Zeny

Founded in 2014 as an outdoor equipment manufacturer of tents and hammocks, Zeny has developed into a reputable company with a wide range of high-quality products. In addition to stick welders, Zeny manufactures desks, kitchen equipment, musical instruments, fitness equipment, outdoor canopies, and more.  

Forney

Founded in 1932 and introduced to the public in the 1940s, Forney has developed into one of the most well-known manufacturers around the globe. The company has an extensive customer network approaching 20,000 retailers worldwide. In addition to stick welders, Forney produces TIG welders, cutting wheels, pressure washer accessories, welding helmets, and more.

Chicago Electric

Chicago Electric isn’t a brand that you’ll find at every retailer, but it’s one that’s growing in popularity. This brand, which is exclusively manufactured for Harbor Freight Tools, offers a product line of affordable electric tools, including an array of different welders and their accessories. Standout choices like the Chicago Electric 225 Amp-AC Stick Welder make investing in this brand’s tools a good idea. 

Ironton

As one of the big-name brands found at Northern Tool, Ironton offers tools that are a fantastic combination of value and performance. The brand’s product line includes tough, capable welding equipment like the Ironton ARC80 Stick Welder, along with an array of different accessories that you can use on the job or well beyond welding alone.

Stick Welder Pricing

  • Under $125: Stick welders in this price range provide excellent value. While these stick welders are budget-friendly, make sure to purchase from a reputable manufacturer to ensure that the welder is high quality.
  • $125 to $175: This is the most common price range for stick welders. Stick welders in this price range are typically high quality, but make sure to read the reviews and do your research before making your purchase.
  • $175 and up: Stick welders in this price range are available at a premium price. These stick welders are typically of the highest quality and include several important safety features.

Key Features

Amperage/Voltage

The amperage and voltage are both critical considerations when choosing your stick welder. The amperage of your stick welder will determine what you can and cannot weld. It is recommended to select a stick welder with 20 to 50 amps more than your work's recommended specs. With regard to voltage, most stick welders are compatible with either 110/120 volt input or 220/240 volt input. The higher the input power, the more powerful your stick welder will work.

Duty Cycle

Another important feature to consider is the duty cycle. The duty cycle of a welder represents the amount of time you can constantly weld before you have to let the machine cool off. A full duty cycle is typically 10 minutes. The longer the duty cycle, the more efficiently the welding machine can accomplish your job. If you are a professional welder or using your device for industrial applications, a higher duty cycle is needed.

Safety

Safety features are another one of the most important factors to consider when purchasing your stick welder. It is very important that your stick welder does not overheat while in use. There are safety features with many welding machines that prevent overloading, over-voltage, under-voltage, over-current, overheating, anti-stick protection, and thermal overload protection. Along with essential features like welding gloves and a welding helmet, a stick welder should be in your safety toolbox.

Other Considerations

  • Material. The type of material you will be welding and the kind of material your welding machine is constructed from are important considerations. While some welding machines come with a premium price, it is important to choose a machine that is built to withstand the test of time. Stick welders can be made from various heavy duty metals, including steel, carbon steel, and steel alloy.
  • Portability. The overall weight and portability of your stick welder can be important considerations, particularly if you will be traveling with your welding machine or carrying it around your worksite. Most stick welders are relatively portable and can easily be carried by one person. Despite its lightweight and compact size, stick welders are still high quality and can be used on the toughest jobs.
  • Warranty. The length and type of warranty are important considerations when choosing your stick welder. Most stick welders are produced by reputable manufacturers who stand behind the quality of their machines. Look for some type of limited warranty to be included with your stick welder. The limited warranty will cover any manufacturing defects or issues with your machine for at least many years.
  • Versatility. While most stick welders are quite versatile already (especially when it comes to welding different metals easily), you should also consider how versatile it is in the types of welding that can be performed. Some — in fact, many — stick welders can also be adapted and used as TIG welders. Others can be adapted into multiple kinds of welders, all in one single device. This extra layer of versatility gives you even more possibilities and options.

Best Stick Welders Reviews & Recommendations 2021

Best Overall
DekoPro MMA 160A Arc Welder

This tool uses advanced IGBT inverter technology to deliver a powerful stick welder capable of welding steel, stainless steel, and even cast iron. Multiple unique control modes help you tackle any welding work. It’s built tough — this stick welder has a high-intensity body with structural strength thanks to a solid frame. It operates with a high-performance, fully silent fan motor with instant cooling and protection via a synchronous control system. It delivers a stable current with a voltage that’s accurate and adjustable to prevent overloading for more efficient welding. And this stick welder is portable too, with a carrying handle and compact, lightweight design. 


One downside is that some customers have reported damaged products. Make sure to inspect your product upon delivery for any missing or damaged parts. If there are any issues, reach out to Deko as soon as possible regarding a possible replacement.

Best Value
Zeny Arc Welding Machine

This stick welder, which operates at 115 to 230 volts with a 60 Hz current, includes an electrode holder and a 6.4-foot cable, a work clamp and a 5-foot cable, and an input power adapter cable and plug. You can use this stick welder on stainless steel, mild steel, aluminum, and other metal materials. Featuring a steel frame and a plastic handle, the unit itself arrives ready to weld. It’s made with "smart" inverters that switch from AC to DC power and incorporates a step-down transformer for the perfect voltage and current. It also includes three levels of protection for overload, over-voltage, and over-current situations. 


Some users have found that the welder will not maintain an arc. If you do run into any issues, reach out to Zeny's customer service team, and they will be happy to replace or refund your purchase if there are any defects.

Premium Pick
Forney Easy Weld Arc Welder

This stick welder is incredibly easy to use because of its easy-start technology that makes arc strikes effortless. It operates on an inverter power system with 120-volt input and 90 amp output, and it handles a rod up to 1/8 inch. The stick welder includes an 8-foot electrode holder and an 8-foot ground clamp. The entire welding unit weighs 9.65 pounds and measures 12 x 5.5 x 10.5 inches, making it perfectly portable for bringing anywhere you need to weld. This stick welder is an excellent choice for beginners, but it’s also beneficial for DIY enthusiasts, maintenance work, and well-versed experts.


One downside is that it is a great product for beginners, but advanced welders may want to consider a different product for more difficult welding jobs. The welder is not quite as advanced as other models built for professionals for its premium price point.

Best High-Tech
YesWelder Stick MMA Welder

This stick welder is powerful, with a built-in hot start feature that makes arc starting easy. IGBT soft switch technology delivers excellent arc stability between 20 and 205 amps, which is especially great for thin workpieces. It includes a 10-foot electrode holder and cable, a 10-foot ground clamp and cable, and a six-foot power cable. This stick welder provides automatic compensation for voltage fluctuation, as well as protection for overcurrent and overload situations. It also offers automatic temperature control, fan dormancy, and steeples amperage control. And this stick welder delivers a flawless weld with less splatter and less cleanup.


One issue some customers have had is with damaged products upon delivery. If there are any issues with your stick welder after receiving it, reach out to the company's customer service team regarding a potential refund or replacement product.

Best Professional
Amico 160 Amp Stick Welder

Whether you’re using this stick welder at home or a job site, it’ll deliver a strong, concentrated, and more stable arc. It’s optimized to deliver a flawless weld, limiting spatter and post-weld cleanup. It has a cellulose electrode with force adjustment, and IGBT inverter technology provides stability, hot start, anti-sticking, and steepled amperage control. You’ll also enjoy automatic compensation for voltage fluctuations, as well as over-voltage, under-voltage, over-current, and overload protection. This stick welder has a wide voltage range of 100 to 250 volts and 50 to 60 Hz for long welding jobs.


Although it is advertised to work with voltages ranging from 100 volts to 250 volts, many users have reported blown fuses with this product. If you have 220-volt outlets, it is highly recommended to only use this welder with those higher voltage outlets to prevent blown fuses.

Honorable Mention
Titanium Stick 225 Inverter Welder

If you can’t get a consistent, reliable arc from your welder, what’s the value in using it? The Titanium Stick 225 Inverter Welder will solve this problem, delivering consistency with every use and every arc. 


This stick welder is designed for power delivered via a lightweight package. It uses lightweight inverter technology to provide users with consistent, reliable, and stable arc starts that are better than the competition. You’ll easily stay in control of your welding work with a set of easy-access controls, which allow you to make precise adjustments. A DC output gives the welder a smoother bead profile too. And when it comes to options, this stick welder delivers them. It offers dual voltage technology, so you can choose a 120-volt or 240-volt input.


When it comes to safety, this stick welder features over-current protection and an indicator light that makes it easy to tell whether your device is on or off. It also includes an electrode holder and ground clamp for a complete package.

Honorable Mention
 AHP AlphaTIG 200X Stick Welder

This welding machine supports both TIG and stick welding. You can switch between these two welding modes very easily. Depending on your project, you can also easily switch between AC or DC output mode and 2T and 4T sequencer modes with the included remote. The 2T mode is perfect for beginners: you will have to use the torch switch cable or connect the foot pedal in this mode. The 4T mode offers four cycles for more experienced welders. This product is fully capable of welding aluminum, mild and stainless steel, iron, copper, and more metals. The maximum metal thickness you can weld is 3/8 inches, and the minimum is 0.040 inches. 


The instruction manual is not as detailed as you may need, so to familiarize yourself with this model and maximize its efficiency, visit the AHP website, read about the product, and watch tutorial videos.

Honorable Mention
Ironton ARC80 Stick Welder

If you’re hoping to bring your stick welder on the go with you, then you’re going to love the design of the Ironton ARC80 Stick Welder. This welder isn’t just slimmed down and small in size. It’s super compact, and packs some impressive functionality into a wonderfully portable little device. The compact and extra-lightweight case lets you pack up and bring your welding equipment on the go.


This stick welder offers a powerful 80-amp DC output that allows you to easily weld materials up to 1/8 inch. It uses inverter technology, which requires less input power, and there’s an adjustable amperage dial so you can choose anywhere from 20 to 75 amps of output. That versatility allows you to use the welder as either a stick welder or a TIG welder. And the built-in cooling fan and thermal overload protection ensure you’re safe no matter where you’re getting down to work.

Honorable Mention
Metal Man Arc 80T 120V Inverter DC Stick Welder

The Metal Man Arc 80T 120V Inverter DC Stick Welder is a device that can really deliver when it comes to options. It’s built to be light in weight and flexible in its uses — and that means you can use this single stick welder in a number of ways.


Featuring a 120-volt, 20-amp input and 75-amp output, this DC-only inverter stick welder delivers impressively smooth performance. Though it’s quite small in size, the welder is consistent and properly powered for a variety of welding tasks. It weighs just 6.6 pounds in total and can be used with a TIG welding torch if you’d like to change things up. Thanks to these features and details, you can easily bring this stick welder anywhere. It’s quick and simple to set up and tear down too, thanks to its quick-connect weld cables and connections.


It’s also worth noting that this stick welder is backed by a two-year warranty, which adds to its initial reliability.

Honorable Mention
Chicago Electric 225 Amp-AC Stick Welder

With the Chicago Electric 225 Amp-AC Stick Welder, you’ll find it easier to start an arc, get less arc blow, and create strong welds. It’s all thanks to the little details that make the performance of this stick welder a real standout. It creates a constant current of up to 225 amps AC to 270 peak amps in total.


That’s not all that makes this stick welder great. It’s designed with a two-way handle, which turns the entire device into a portable model. A 6-foot welding cable and a multi-angle electrode holder also give you flexibility on any job, allowing you to work from anywhere and just about any direction. Thermal overload protection is built right in, as the cooling fan keeps heat under control while you work. 


The results are sure to impress. This stick welder can even handle thick steel easily, going well beyond most basic welders’ capabilities. Even first-time welders report finding this machine an almost effortless one to work with.

Tips

  • Stick welding works best with steel that has minimal sulfur and silicon content. Try to use steel with sulfur content below .035 percent and silicon content below 0.1 percent to prevent cracking when you’re trying to weld.  
  • Make sure to properly clean each joint before welding. Remove any rust, oil, paint, and grease from your metal surfaces before welding a joint. If you cannot remove these contaminants, then you must use an electrode.
  • Make sure to use the properly sized electrode for the type of welding you will be performing. For the best results, try to use the largest electrode that you can while maintaining the quality of your weld.
  • If you are experiencing inconsistent arcs, then you may have a wet electrode. Make sure you always use dry electrodes to prevent issues with your welding arc.
  • If you are worried about cleaning up, then you may want to consider lowering your current. Reducing your current will help to reduce the splatter from your weld.

Best Stick Welders FAQs

Q: Is stick welding stronger than MIG?

Stick welding has a much better metal penetration rate than MIG welding. Maintaining the arc on a stick welder will require additional amperage input for the welding machine.

Q: What is the best 110v stick welder?

There are a number of great 110v stick welders available on the market. Some welders even include multiple voltages. Read our reviews and do your proper research to determine the stick welder that is the best for your needs.

Q: What kind of welding is the strongest?

In general, TIG welding is the strongest and higher in quality than other types of welding. Depending on the welding job, it may require stick welding or MIG welding.

Q: What is the best stick welder for beginners?

All stick welders are actually fantastic for beginners. Stick welders are relatively easy to learn and master, and their ability to work with all kinds of metals without extra equipment or know-how means they’re great to learn on. However, if you’re looking for a quality stick welder that beginners can try and depend on, our top choice, the DEKO Pro MMA 160A Arc Welder, is a great option to begin with.

Our Top Pick

Our best overall stick welder is the DEKO Pro MMA 160A Arc Welder, which features IGBT inverter technology to deliver a powerful stick welder capable of welding steel, stainless steel, and even cast iron. There are several other great stick welders available, so make sure to read all of our reviews to determine if another option is the best choice for your welding needs.

Final Thoughts

For a high-quality stick welder, consider the DEKO Pro MMA 160A Arc Welder, featuring multiple unique control modes, or the Zeny Arc Welding Machine, featuring Easy Start technology that makes arc strikes effortless.