Best Flux Core Welders 2020 – Reviews & Top Picks
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Flux-core welding is far superior to general MIG welding for outdoor use and welding metals with coatings such as galvanizing, rust, or other impurities that make MIG welding difficult. A flux core welder is the easiest welder to set up and is a useful addition to any workshop or for any DIY hobbyist working with metal.
We’ve worked hard to create these reviews of the six best flux-cored welders online and a buying guide to shed light on the vast world of welders, so you can have help sorting through the best options available and why.
We have done our best to find the top six flux core welders, and have ordered them from our most to least favorite. Let us know your own experience in the comment section after the reviews.
A Quick Glance at our Favorites of 2020
6 Best Flux Core Welders – Reviews
1. Hobart Handler 140 Flux Core Welder – Best Overall
Sometimes a product goes the distance due to the choice of quality materials put into an ingenious design. The Hobart 500559 Handler 140 keeps convincing us of that. It’s no new welder on the shelf, but it seems to continually impress us with its timeless quality and effective process.
When this welder turns up, it’s simple to put together. It has everything it needs, and welds exceptionally well for a 140 gasless MIG. Unfortunately, the welding chart on the side isn’t very accurate in displaying what settings are needed for running the welder at its peak for the process. This is often the case with welders, due to the variance in electrical currents from location to location, along with people’s welding styles. The Hobart Handler 140 also comes with a regulator and gas line setup in case you want to do some MIG welding.
The MIG option of this welder fuses almost any metal, including aluminum, which is handy to have available. The five-year warranty this welder comes with is rare to find in other welders, making it more than sufficient for hobbyists and even a good option for light workshop jobs.
2. Lotos MIG140 Flux-Core Welder
We also found the Lotus MIG140 to be a great welder for DIY and light workshop use. The 2T and 4T switch is a useful design to transition between manual and semi-automatic wire feeding. It runs just as nice a weld as the Hobart Handler 140; however, it lacks the quality.
They run the same electrical input and output, with a 20% duty cycle at 90 amps, and produce an identical weld. However, the shell of the Lotos MIG140 is larger and a bit flimsier. Both leads are not that long for either option, yet the Hobart is more durable and more pleasant to use.
There is a regulator and gas line setup you can add to the Lotos if you want to use it for MIG welding. The MIG option also fuses almost any metal, including aluminum.
Overall, they are similar welders and will give you the same results, but we prefer the Hobart purely because of the quality it comes with.
3. Forney Easy Weld 299 Flux Core Welder – Best Value
The Forney Easy Weld is not a multi-purpose welder like the Hobart Handler 140 and the Lotos MIG140, but it’s a good option for an economical flux-core welder. It says it will weld up to 1/4″, which is true, but it struggles in the process, so we recommend it for welding 3/16″ sections and less.
Its size, weight, and accessibility are convenient for small jobs outside and onsite, or even for a beginner welder interested in getting set up for light welds in their garage. It holds up to eight-inch spools. It runs best on 0.03″ wire, and with the right settings, it produces some tidy welds.
For the price it comes at, it’s a good deal. It costs less than other welders and offers more, but it’s definitely a light-duty welder, so don’t expect it to crank out too much heat.
4. ARKSEN MIG-130 Flux-Core Welder
The ARKSEN MIG-130 is similar to the Forney Easy Weld 299 125FC. It also has a low price range, but it doesn’t run as much amperage. It’s a lighter and more compact machine; however, it hasn’t been made with the same quality. The stainless steel body is impressive, but the actual welding gear is on the lower end of the scale.
For a light DIY home welder, it’s quite good. You can’t expect too much for this price, but you can still run a quality bead on anything less than a 1/4″ plate. Be mindful that this is only a flux-core welder and doesn’t have any gas options for MIG welding.
5. Ironton 115V Flux Core Welder
You don’t get much with the Ironton Flux Core 125, but it actually lays a decent bead for what it’s made for. It maxes out on 3/16″ plate, which is not enough for many people. Nonetheless, if 3/16″ is all you need, then it’s a good option.
This is not a multi-purpose welder, and the lead is permanently fixed to the machine, so you can’t replace the small six-foot torch lead with a longer version. We didn’t really like the torch on it, and the dual amperage range is a minimal design for welding options.
You can get more for your money than this welder, and a DC output will run a better weld. AC outputs, which this welder has, aren’t designed to fuse stainless steel. But if a 3/16″ and less steel plate is all you need to weld and you don’t mind the minimal amperage settings, it will serve you well.
6. Super Deal MIG 130 Flux Core Welders
What’s great about the Super Deal PRO MIG 130 welder is the price you can buy it for. There is almost no other welder at this price, but it’s a bit of a gamble. The quality of the welder is definitely on the lowest end, and Super Deal isn’t very good at following through with warranties.
However, it may last you, and if it does, it can weld up to 1/4″ and has four amperage settings between 50 and 130 amps. Because it runs an AC output rather than DC, it will never weld as cleanly as the DC flux-core welders. However, if price range is your primary consideration and you don’t mind taking a slight risk to save some money, the Super Deal PRO MIG 130 is a worthwhile option to consider.
Before buying a flux-cored welder, determine what your purpose for it will be to ensure you’re buying exactly what you need. Every MIG machine can run flux core wire, if you simply turn the gas off. However, sometimes people run gas with the flux-cored wire to give extra shielding to their weld.
Most of the time, this is not necessary, so a basic MIG welder or a specific flux-core machine will do the job. The following details are useful to consider before purchasing any new flux-core welder.
Being realistic about the plate range you’ll be welding is an excellent guide to the type of welder to buy. You don’t want to buy a machine designed for just fusing your maximum plate gauge. It may weld it, but most likely not as well as a welder capable of welding thicker material would.
If you ever need to weld something a bit thicker, you will struggle and may wish you had something with a bit more grunt to get the job done. As a general rule, the higher the amperage range, the thicker a plate you can weld. However, not all welders are made the same. It helps to get a good overview of one’s capabilities before concluding it can weld thicker than another just because it has a higher amperage range.
Single or multi-purpose usage
MIG machines weld both gas and gasless operations; this is a multi-purpose usage. If you don’t ever want to worry about using gas with your coil welding, a single-purpose flux core welder will be all you’ll want.
If you want the option of using gas to produce a cleaner weld, buy a multi-purpose MIG machine that welds both flux-cored and fluxless wire. Consider something like the Hobart Handler 140 or Lotos MIG140, as they weld very well in both gas and gasless operations.
Type of metal
The type of metal you’re welding is essential to know as well. Specific welders are better suited for different material types. No flux-cored welder can fuse aluminum. However, multi-purpose machines generally have aluminum capabilities, or they can easily be modified to suit aluminum welding.
Whether the welder has an AC or DC output will make a big difference. Overall, AC outputs are not so good with flux-core welding. They weld steel better than stainless steel, so if you’re only welding steel, it may be acceptable. If you want to fuse some stainless steel or are concerned about the quality of your welds, a welder running a DC output is the best option.
The quality of your lead makes a huge difference in the welding experience. The thickness and durability of your lead will change its life expectancy, and give you far more confidence the higher quality it is.
The length of your ground or torch lead may seem like an insignificant detail, but it changes the welding experience significantly. The longer the lead, generally the more enjoyable an experience you’ll have. We prefer 10′ to 24′ torch leads and 10′ to 12′ ground leads. Not all stock leads come at this length, but the longer they are, the more you can move around to weld without needing to drag the welder closer.
Wire differences to consider for your welder include both the wire diameter and the reel diameter. Most household or light workshop welders run a standard 0.03″ diameter wire and come with a six-inch wire reel. If you want to lay thicker beads, it will be useful to ensure your welder can feed 0.035″ and thicker diameter wire.
Six-inch reels are quite small and don’t last long. They may be all you need, but having a welder that holds eight-inch reels is handy, so you can buy more wire for less and have it last longer before needing to replace it.
We hope you’ve enjoyed our reviews of the six best flux-core welders online in 2020. We found the Hobart 500559 Handler 140 Flux Core Welder to be the best welder on the market with its vast capacity of welding options, along with superior quality exemplified in a five-year warranty.
The Forney Easy Weld 299 125FC Flux Core Welder is the best deal price-wise. It’s one of the most affordable welders available. Although some other welders offer a similar range of specs, the life expectancy, and weld quality surpass the rest at this price.
Thanks for stopping by. Be sure to leave your comments below or reach out with any questions, as we’re always glad to hear from you.
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