Which is Best ac/dc stick welder?
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  1. #1
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    Which is Best ac/dc stick welder?

    In the near future I'm planning to expand my welding equipment to include a stick welder and after some reading have decided that an ac/dc welder would be the best choice. First, am I right? There is an ac Lincoln 225 at Lowes for under 300 dollars, but would I be sorry afterwards because I didn't have dc?

    So if the ac/dc is the best route, what's the best welder?

    I did some searches using ac vs dc but didn't come up with anything; I'm sure this has been discussed a million times here but I couldn't (or didn't know how) to find it.

    Any help appreciated.

    Steve
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  2. #2
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    Re: Which is Best ac/dc stick welder?

    i sure like my 330 a/bps for ac/dc stick welding, but it is not very portable at nearly 1000 lbs.
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  3. #3
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    Re: Which is Best ac/dc stick welder?

    Quote Originally Posted by turk View Post
    i sure like my 330 a/bps for ac/dc stick welding, but it is not very portable at nearly 1000 lbs.
    Doesn't sound very cheap and hobbiest oriented either. Thanks
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  4. #4
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    Re: Which is Best ac/dc stick welder?

    Actually they can be had for relatively cheep (about $700) and you will find allot of hobby guys picking them up because they are basically bullet proof and have nice smooth arcs.
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  5. #5
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    Re: Which is Best ac/dc stick welder?

    I always liked the Miller XMT 304's but I don't think they do AC. Then again, you never really should need AC for stick welding. You can also use that welder to drive MIG and TIG processes.

  6. #6
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    Re: Which is Best ac/dc stick welder?

    As far as basic AC only stick machines like that Lincoln, you usually can find them on CL for $50-150 on a regular basis. AC/DC machines are a bit harder but out there also. Old Idealarcs, and Dialarcs as well as Thunderbolts can run you about $400 or so used on CL. Most of these machines are tanks and there is almost nothing that goes wrong with them. If they weld when you buy it, it will probably still be welding when your grandkids get it. There are also any number of bigger machines like the 330 A/BP mentioned that will give you tig as well for $700-800.

    Do you NEED DC? For the average hobbiest.. no. For most projects a hobbiest will do you can do just fine with an AC machine with the right rod selection. However most rods run nicer on DC than AC and almost everyone will run rods on DC if they have the option. Also some rods for special purpose welding will only run on DC. Some hardface rods, alum rods, 6010 and so on. There's thousands of projects, big and small, that have been built with AC only machines over the years. If you have to choose between an AC machine and an AC/ DC one you will have more options with the AC/DC machine. If price is a big issue, go with a used AC only machine and chances are in a few years you usually can sell it for the same $50-150 you paid for it when you upgrade.
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  7. #7
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    Re: Which is Best ac/dc stick welder?

    Thanks for the comments, but one of my origional questions was, do I really need dc as a hobby type if a Lincoln 225 stick welder is available at lowes for under $300.00. If I want to weld, lets say, up to 3/4"would an a/c be ok?
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  8. #8
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    Re: Which is Best ac/dc stick welder?

    The XMT is an awesome machine, and yes it will not do AC. It's not exactly a hobbiest machine however and they are probably out of the price range he's looking at.
    .



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  9. #9
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    Re: Which is Best ac/dc stick welder?

    Quote Originally Posted by DSW View Post
    As far as basic AC only stick machines like that Lincoln, you usually can find them on CL for $50-150 on a regular basis. AC/DC machines are a bit harder but out there also. Old Idealarcs, and Dialarcs as well as Thunderbolts can run you about $400 or so used on CL. Most of these machines are tanks and there is almost nothing that goes wrong with them. If they weld when you buy it, it will probably still be welding when your grandkids get it. There are also any number of bigger machines like the 330 A/BP mentioned that will give you tig as well for $700-800.

    Do you NEED DC? For the average hobbiest.. no. For most projects a hobbiest will do you can do just fine with an AC machine with the right rod selection. However most rods run nicer on DC than AC and almost everyone will run rods on DC if they have the option. Also some rods for special purpose welding will only run on DC. Some hardface rods, alum rods, 6010 and so on. There's thousands of projects, big and small, that have been built with AC only machines over the years. If you have to choose between an AC machine and an AC/ DC one you will have more options with the AC/DC machine. If price is a big issue, go with a used AC only machine and chances are in a few years you usually can sell it for the same $50-150 you paid for it when you upgrade.
    Thanks; I must have posted my last question as you were posting this. I looked on CL and in my area there aren't many used welders. That's because down here most people weld!
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  10. #10
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    Re: Which is Best ac/dc stick welder?

    i think i only gave $100 for my 330 and it came with a watercooled torch and a spoolgun.
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  11. #11
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    Re: Which is Best ac/dc stick welder?

    If you don't already use one try a search engine like Searchtempest. http://www.searchtempest.com/ to look at other CL's around you. I usually set my search to cover about 50-100 miles from my place.
    .



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  12. #12
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    Re: Which is Best ac/dc stick welder?

    I would look into getting a little inverter like the Miller Maxstar 150s or the new one from Thermal Arc the 161s($624 online). The nice thing would be portability and being able to use both 120v and 240v. The Thermal Arc does have lift start for tig and that allows you to have a very basic tig machine. I don't know where the 161s is made but I do have a TA 185 and in stick mode it has 160 amp at 40% duty cycle and will handle 5/32" 7018.

  13. #13
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    Re: Which is Best ac/dc stick welder?

    Yeah, I was kind of being an *** by making the XMT comment. But, with a stick welder, while many units will list AC as a feature, it's really not. Most cheaper welders are transformer welders and their power output starts as AC. Then they pass it through a rectifier to make DC. So to make AC is easy, the welder just bypasses the rectifier. But you can weld for 10 years and never come across a situation that will require AC. Once you break into inverter welders, their primary output is DC and it takes compilicated electronics to change that back to AC. Again, for stick welding you'll never need AC. But, most inverter welders, with some extra controls, can weld TIG and AC is a must for TIG welding aluminum. So, with inverter welders, AC is actually a feature.

  14. #14
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    Re: Which is Best ac/dc stick welder?

    I picked up an Lincoln idealarc AC/DC machine used for $600 Can used from a school. ( with an air cooled tig torch ) the machine is built like a tank. here is a link to the model I have. Payed a little more than a new hobby type lincoln and have one that will still be worth 600 dollars 5 years from now.

    http://www.lincolnelectric.com/Catal...et.aspx?p=2496

  15. #15
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    Re: Which is Best ac/dc stick welder?

    Got my Lincoln AC/DC for $175 on CL. If you go the route of an Inverter, try the Thermal Arc 95s. Cheap as hell, and gets good reviews.

    If you want to weld 3/4", be prepared for grinding, and multiple passes, even with 5/32 rod.

    I like the Inverter type for hobby, compact, and versatile. Can run Lift TIG too.

    AC is ok, If your Tigging Aluminum...
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  16. #16
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    Re: Which is Best ac/dc stick welder?

    I bought a $75 AC tombstone off of craigslist... And i thought it was great until i started welding classes and tried a DC machine for the first time at school. I was pretty much in love. The arc feels alot smoother, its about half as loud, and it feels to me like the rods burn slower, and get better penetration. Two years after i got my tombstone, they are going on craigslist for twice what i paid for mine, so im going to use the crap out of it, sell it for twice what i paid for it, and put the money towards a nice new miller tunderbolt ac/dc. Also, the lincoln buzzboxes done have infinite adjustment. Once you've done some welding, 5 amps will make a ton of difference to you, but the lincoln has notches for adjustment, every 10-15 amps. Its nicer to just reach down and turn the knob a fraction of a turn by feel, as opposed to the notch system. Good luck!! :-)
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  17. #17
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    Re: Which is Best ac/dc stick welder?

    Quote Originally Posted by stevenstilts View Post
    In the near future I'm planning to expand my welding equipment to include a stick welder and after some reading have decided that an ac/dc welder would be the best choice. First, am I right? There is an ac Lincoln 225 at Lowes for under 300 dollars, but would I be sorry afterwards because I didn't have dc?

    So if the ac/dc is the best route, what's the best welder?

    I did some searches using ac vs dc but didn't come up with anything; I'm sure this has been discussed a million times here but I couldn't (or didn't know how) to find it.

    Any help appreciated.

    Steve
    Most of the prefered welding electrodes are run on DC current.
    Some rods can be run on AC or DC.
    It is just a little safer using DC than AC.

    The Miller ac/dc stick welder or the Lincoln ac/dc welder are both good machines.
    http://www.millerwelds.com/products/...bolt_xl_ac_dc/ MILLER
    http://www.lincolnelectric.com/en-us...k-welders.aspx LINCOLN #K 1297
    Last edited by Donald Branscom; 01-12-2011 at 06:18 PM.
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  18. #18
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    Re: Which is Best ac/dc stick welder?

    The original poster should have written "what's the best welder that I can buy without lifting a finger to get a decent deal for myself". In my opinion, that guy absolutely deserves to pay $300 for a tombstone AC welder from Lowe's.

    If he decided to spend a little more time looking, maybe stop by the local technical college and chat with the welding instructors or stick a 'wanted' note up on their bulletin board, spend a few weeks watching his local craigslist, though, he could certainly get an enormously better welder for quite a bit less money. I bought a Lincoln IdealArc 250-250 recently in Seattle for $150, complete with long leads and a bunch of 6010 rod. In the portable buzzbox (also 20% duty cycle) category I like the slightly older Miller Thunderbolt AC/DCs because you can remove the leads to store the machine more cleanly. I used to buy those welders, upgrade the leads to 25', swap the power cord for about 20' of 10SO3 with a proper welding plug, and build a small cage for them with crossbars at the bottom drilled and tapped 1/4-20. I'd bolt the welder down to the crossbars through its bolt-down points. Then I'd make a small plywood table that fit on top, and fit the cage with casters. Made the welder enormously more portable. You can see the little welder in its cage in the background in the pic.

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    Re: Which is Best ac/dc stick welder?

    Quote Originally Posted by stevenstilts View Post
    one of my origional questions was, do I really need dc as a hobby type if a Lincoln 225 stick welder is available at lowes for under $300.00. If I want to weld, lets say, up to 3/4"would an a/c be ok?
    My first question to you is, why do you even think you need AC? Do you encounter a lot of arc blow?
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  20. #20
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    Re: Which is Best ac/dc stick welder?

    Quote Originally Posted by CEP View Post
    My first question to you is, why do you even think you need AC? Do you encounter a lot of arc blow?
    I haven't done any stick welding since high school, which for me was 35 years ago, and just got into welding as a hobby with a mig. It's not that I "think" I need one or the other I'm just trying to make an educated choice about which to buy when I decide to add a stick welder to my shop.
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  21. #21
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    Re: Which is Best ac/dc stick welder?

    Quote Originally Posted by stevenstilts View Post
    I haven't done any stick welding since high school, which for me was 35 years ago, and just got into welding as a hobby with a mig. It's not that I "think" I need one or the other I'm just trying to make an educated choice about which to buy when I decide to add a stick welder to my shop.
    Yes ...Steven ,very smart to ask before spending your money!

    AC machines long time ago were used a lot for welding chain link fences and they used 6011 rods for that galvanized metal.
    Also The 6010 rod was used a lot with AC on farms and ranches where the 6010 could "blow away the horse ****" not kidding.
    The 6010 was also known as the grandfather rod of ship building.
    6010 is a deep penetration rod but does not deposit a lot of weld metal so it was run this way....Up 1/2 inch back 3/8.....up 1/2 inch back 3/8 and so on. It was hard on clothing though. After one afternoon you could hold your clothes up to the light and it had thousands of small holes in it.
    Made your hair smell burned all the time.

    Glad they came up with 6013.
    It was a medium penetration rod and would work in all positions.
    Did not burn your clothes up.

    I really liked the 7024 especially around the deck of a boat because it deposited a lot of metal and left a very nice smooth
    fillet weld that made the deck of the boat easy to clean and rust free when painted.
    Last edited by Donald Branscom; 01-13-2011 at 02:19 AM.
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    Re: Which is Best ac/dc stick welder?

    Quote Originally Posted by metalmagpie View Post
    The original poster should have written "what's the best welder that I can buy without lifting a finger to get a decent deal for myself". In my opinion, that guy absolutely deserves to pay $300 for a tombstone AC welder from Lowe's.

    If he decided to spend a little more time looking, maybe stop by the local technical college and chat with the welding instructors or stick a 'wanted' note up on their bulletin board, spend a few weeks watching his local craigslist, though, he could certainly get an enormously better welder for quite a bit less money. I bought a Lincoln IdealArc 250-250 recently in Seattle for $150, complete with long leads and a bunch of 6010 rod. In the portable buzzbox (also 20% duty cycle) category I like the slightly older Miller Thunderbolt AC/DCs because you can remove the leads to store the machine more cleanly. I used to buy those welders, upgrade the leads to 25', swap the power cord for about 20' of 10SO3 with a proper welding plug, and build a small cage for them with crossbars at the bottom drilled and tapped 1/4-20. I'd bolt the welder down to the crossbars through its bolt-down points. Then I'd make a small plywood table that fit on top, and fit the cage with casters. Made the welder enormously more portable. You can see the little welder in its cage in the background in the pic.

    metalmagpie
    Very nice strong table METALMAGPIE!
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  23. #23
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    Re: Which is Best ac/dc stick welder?

    Quote Originally Posted by Lanse View Post
    I bought a $75 AC tombstone off of craigslist... And i thought it was great until i started welding classes and tried a DC machine for the first time at school. I was pretty much in love. The arc feels alot smoother, its about half as loud, and it feels to me like the rods burn slower, and get better penetration. Two years after i got my tombstone, they are going on craigslist for twice what i paid for mine, so im going to use the crap out of it, sell it for twice what i paid for it, and put the money towards a nice new miller tunderbolt ac/dc. Also, the lincoln buzzboxes done have infinite adjustment. Once you've done some welding, 5 amps will make a ton of difference to you, but the lincoln has notches for adjustment, every 10-15 amps. Its nicer to just reach down and turn the knob a fraction of a turn by feel, as opposed to the notch system. Good luck!! :-)
    Good point LANSE. I had forgotten that point.
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  24. #24
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    Re: Which is Best ac/dc stick welder?

    Steven,
    If money is an issue, go with a used AC unit. If you want a unit that you won't be swapping out in a year or so, find a used DialArc 250 or IdealArc...HF if you think you might want to try your hand at TIG. While there are many reasons to go with a stick welder, these days it usually...and I did say usually...boils down to the ability to provide some serious power at a low price. Second major reason would be to utilize non-standard rod combinations...low hydrogen, nickle for cast, etc. Most of them you could do with MIG but not as easily or as cheaply as buying a handful of rods instead of another roll of specialty wire. Those stick machines don't have a lot of downsides other than being hungry on electrical demand. Most used units will last until your grandkids get sick and tired of moving them around. Start pounding the pavement locally and see what is available used. Sure, most people weld down in your area, but that doesn't mean they don't get short of cash and need to sell their machines or wish to move to a different location...found my DialArc 250 from a guy moving out to Oregon. Personally, unless you are darned short on cash I wouldn't bother with an AC only welder. Fact of the matter...if you're that short of funds I'd just stick with the MIG. For a used machine you are looking at maybe a $100 or so difference...go with a machine that will meet your needs down the road.
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  25. #25
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    Re: Which is Best ac/dc stick welder?

    Quote Originally Posted by WyoRoy View Post
    Steven,
    If money is an issue, go with a used AC unit..
    Money's not that big an issue at this point, however I don't want to spend any more than I have to and I'm not in a hurry. There are 6 Lincoln ac units at the local school board maintenance shop sitting on shelves collecting dust, but they don't have any plans to sell them unless they have a big auction; no telling when that will be. They shut down the welding program at one of the high schools and they're just sitting there. I've been looking in the local area in the for sale ads and craigs list, but so far no luck. Thanks for the advice.
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