Flux core welding and general MIG welding are very similar methods used for outdoor and indoor welding works. However, the flux core is a far more superior way to deal with welding tasks on metals subjected to galvanization, rusting, and others. Therefore, a flux core welder is a far more plausible choice for any hobbyist or a DIY enthusiast.
So, we have brought you reviews of the best flux core welders that you can purchase online. With that, it accompanies a detailed buying guide for some of the parameters you need to consider before making your purchase.
- 1 Why Should You Use Flux Core Welding?
- 2 Our Picks for The Best Flux Core Welder
- 2.1 1. Forney Easy Weld 261 – Great Value For Money
- 2.2 2. Goplus Mig 130
- 2.3 3. Super Deal Black Mig – Our Small & Portable Pick
- 2.4 4. Lotos Mig140 – Great For Amateur Welders
- 2.5 5. Suncoo Mig-130 – Cheap Flux Core Welder
- 2.6 6. Professional Mig 130 – Great Value For Money
- 2.7 7. Hobart Handler 140 – High-Performance Welder
- 3 Essential Things to Know Before Buying A Flux Core Welder
- 4 Which Welder Should You Get?
- 5 Conclusion
Why Should You Use Flux Core Welding?
Flux core is also known as arc welding and collectively known as FCAW or Flux Core Arc Welding. This is a very similar process to MIG welding, also known as the GMAW or gas metal arc welding. In both methods, welding is done through an arc formed between the electrode wire and the target metal. This causes an exothermic reaction that causes both to melt and join together rock solid.
But unlike the MIG welding, the FCAW can be used even without the shielding gas. The MIG uses an inert blend of gases to isolate the electrode from any kind of contamination. This is done to ensure that the bond between the electrode and the target metal is acceptable by standards and has a cleaner finish. A tank supplies the gas in the welding area. That is why the MIG setup is a bit more complicated and challenging to use. Furthermore, the setup is costly and increases the cost of the weld as well.
Flux core welder, on the other hand, is more straightforward and very convenient to use. It uses the flux from the electrode wire to produce the gases needed to cover the weld from contamination. This rules out any need to use gas bottles, and therefore, the setup is cheap and convenient. Those advantages are significant to many welders, either professionals who want high productivity or amateurs who like to weld as a hobby. In theory, the flux core is almost the same as the MIG welder. In fact, they are the same. The only difference is that the flux core doesn’t use external connections for the gas supply. Instead, it uses the flux to create the needed gases.
Are They Good For Beginner Welding at Home
As flux core welders are cheap, there is a huge market for home use machines, i.e., people who don’t weld daily. That is why the specifications are lighter and are not suitable for more heavy-duty applications. In most cases, this means that the duty cycle will be a lot lesser. We are talking about twenty to thirty percent because they are not aimed to fulfill professional welding needs. That is why if you are a home user, you should prefer these instead of going for the expensive MIG setups.
Flux welder setups also have certain advantages over the MIG setups. The flux welding generally has a much higher penetration factor as compared to the MIG. Flux setups also don’t always require gas, making it a fit choice for outdoor DIY projects. It does high-speed welding because of the continuous and consistent gas supply produced by the flux. This welding method is also useful for handling dirty metals because it will simply oxidize any impurities like rust and put them inside the welded metal. Flux welders are also highly efficient and fast in depositing the electrode weld at a much higher rate than the MIG welders, which reduces the time taken in the project manifolds.
Our Picks for The Best Flux Core Welder
1. Forney Easy Weld 261 – Great Value For Money
The very first one to make it to the top of our list is the Forney Easy weld. We chose this welder because this machine is well suited to both the MIG and Flux core wires. It is a perfect choice for flux core welders. It doesn’t use any gas to operate, which is why it is incredibly convenient to use for beginners.
It is probably one of the best choices you can make if you consider doing a DIY project of your own or want a garage tool to help you out with household fixes. This machine will prove to be an excellent investment for those who are although beginners but want a professional feel to their welding.
Why do we say this? First of all, this machine’s setup is effortless for even a child to understand how to operate it. But don’t put this in the hands of your little ones. It uses 120 volts at 125 amps PSUs and can easily weld up to 24 gauges to about one by a fourth of an inch. The machine has the provision to accept both two and ten-pound spools, which means it is very flexible, and a novice doesn’t need to worry that much about the spool types.
Through this welder, you can easily get the high performance just like that of the more premium welders at not so much of a price. The balance between the flux and voltage allows you to have a clean metal finish and a much smoother welding experience. We tested this out on many metals, and it worked fine on just about every one of them!
We also loved the design as it is very user friendly and, therefore, perfect for beginners. The operation is pretty straight forward. There is no complicated setup for wiring, and on top of it, it is very lightweight and thus very easy to move from place to place. If you want consistency in your finishes, you will want to have this lightweight and easy yet strong and high performing welder. It is performance packed in a small package designed to take care of all your welding needs.
- High output range that ranges from 25 to 125 amps
- High duty cycle due to high amperage
- Ability to hold up to 8 inches of spool wire
- Support for two-spool types up to 10 pounds
- Very straight forward design that is beginner-friendly
- Suitable only for light-duty welding jobs
- MIG may not work well with this type of setup
2. Goplus Mig 130
The second one to catch our eye is the Goplus MIG 130. This welder landed on our list because it is fit for both industrial and home use. It is tuned to work well with heavy-duty as well as light day usage. The machine weighs only about thirty-five pounds and fits well in the lightweight category. That is why it is also well suited for beginners.
The body is made of stainless steel. If you want to weld metal objects made out of stainless steel, this is a fantastic choice. The best thing about this welder is that it comes with as many as four modes to adjust current settings. Therefore the machine suggests settings depending on the material that you weld. That is why it is flexible enough to work with a wide range of metals, making it the best value for your money as well.
The welder stays cool partly because it has two air vents to lower down the temperatures. Another notable feature is that it has is thermal protection. In case the machine gets overloaded, it will automatically shut itself down. It doesn’t throttle and directly turns off, ensuring the safety of the user. It rules out the possibility of any potential fire or sparks.
As this can also be used for MIG welding, it is also a good choice for industrial use. It has a sort of a hybrid operation. It doesn’t use gas for the flux core welding, but it will use gas when welding with MIG. The build quality of this welder is impressive, and it should last long enough. When you are using it for flux core welding, it doesn’t oxidize the materials because of metal and inert gases’ self-release mechanism. It is also very convenient to take it from place to place.
So if you are searching for a welder for light steel to heavy iron, this is one of the best choices you can make. It will be ideal for your home usage as well as for use in industrial applications.
- Made of highly durable and strong industrial-grade stainless steel
- Option to adjust current and amperage in four modes depending on your needs
- Dual air vents for efficient cooling vents
- Comes with a protective welding mask and wire
- Protection from oxidation through shielding gases
- Low spool capacity
- Lacks gas operation
3. Super Deal Black Mig – Our Small & Portable Pick
Super Deal made it to the list because it is one of the best affordable welders and is very portable. If you search for a lightweight, portable welder, you can easily go for the Super Deal machine.
Super Deal welder is a very compact and small-sized machine that can be put anywhere easily and used in any position. You can even put it in small areas, making it very convenient and flexible to work with. For example, it will be a fantastic choice for welding pipes in places where bigger machines cannot go.
This machine comes with some excellent features. This comes with a current flow that can be adjusted to four levels, and you can change the amperage based on what you are doing. The wire has a broader range of use, and it comes with a welding spool, a wire, extra tips, and a small 2.5 torch with a wire brush and a hammer used to chip the metal. It also has a temp control mechanism that does two things. It keeps the system cool and allows the user to set the temperature to weld on different thickness levels.
The digital control panel allows the flexibility of control and awareness of how well the welder is performing. This gives you max control over the machine.
The copper tip serves to remove any build-up of slag after continuous use. It also comes with two extra tips ensuring that you are never running out of essential parts. Apart from the vents, this welder comes with a cooling fan, which dissipates the heat and provides protection from thermal overload. If it still heats up, it has got thermal overload protection, after which the welder will automatically stop to cool itself down.
It works on 110 volts and at 120 amps. The weld wires used range from 0.023 to 0.035 inches and can be both steel and carbon steel. It is also very lightweight and can be carried easily. Should something go wrong, you are always protected by the helmet which comes with the package.
Weighing only thirty-eight pounds makes it very portable and a good choice to have this tool essential for your garage. If you love DIY projects, you are going to love this!
- No setup is required as it comes pre-assembled. Just unbox and plug it to start welding
- One of the most affordable welders out there in the market
- Ability to control your current flow in four different modes
- It comes with two extra metal tips
- Best choice for garage DIY projects
- There is no difference between the slow setting and the fast setting
- Some customers complained of faulty units
4. Lotos Mig140 – Great For Amateur Welders
We had an amazing experience with the previous version of this welder. This particular model is an upgrade to the preceding model, and now it comes with a 2T/4T switch. This new design combines two digital displays to give you greater control over the welder. With these digital display controls, you can easily control the feed speed, voltage control, and welding speed. It also has ground cables, which help the user to switch from one mode to another fast.
It is very compact and portable, but don’t mistake its size for its performance. It can pull up as much as 140 amps, which means that it can take heavy-duty tasks at the industrial level with ease. Since it is portable, it will also fit well in your garage. If you are someone who loves DIY projects, then you are going to love this. The welder has a spool gun, which makes it fit for every type of welding, especially aluminum. It runs on 110 volts and comes pre-assembled, which means that you won’t have to do any extra setup. With 140 amps at the helm, this is fit for any kind of metal. It comes with an 18 gauge capacity, which can work for 1.8 inches of aluminum and about twice that for mild steel.
The welder is very easy to install and even more easy to use for any level of user. We would say it is best suited for beginner to intermediate levels. It will work well for all kinds of metals. Even if the metal you have is dirty and has a rusted surface, the flux system will smoothen it out and provide a smooth and clean surface. If you want your job done quickly, then you should consider this option.
- The best option for all type of welding which does its job with the utmost perfection
- 2T and 4T switch design that locks the triggers
- Wire feed system made out of high-quality aluminum which makes it very enduring and strong
- It comes with a gas regulator and a hose to complete the setup
- Very easy to use for beginners
- The wire feed system doesn’t work well for users
- Gets overheated quickly
5. Suncoo Mig-130 – Cheap Flux Core Welder
Suncoo Mig 130 is what defines the gasless flux welders. There is no gas required for its operation, and with the features, it comes with, we can say that it is one of the best you can get under 300 dollars. The welder has an automatic feeding system and has a very compact design with an option for MIG welding, making it a good choice for different kinds of welding and a unique option with versatile features.
With a stainless steel body, we can say that it is highly durable and sturdy in design. It is suitable for heavy-duty DIY projects and is fit for use in many industrial applications as well. As it is a pure flux core welding, it doesn’t require any sort of gas. Instead, it uses self-produced inert gases to secure your weld and prevent any possible contamination.
Because of shielding gases, there is no room for oxidation, and the welded surface stays smooth and free of all impurities. It is also a very portable machine and has a wide range of applications. You can easily weld almost any metal, whether it is iron, steel, or aluminum. It comes with a protective mask that guarantees your safety. You can also adjust the power up to 10 stages to suit your welding needs,
We liked the professional look of this welder, which is why this suits perfectly for industrial applications. As far as the thermal protection is concerned, it doesn’t come with any thermal overload protection, but it has a big air vent that dissipates the heat and keeps the system cool even when you use it for an extended period.
- Four voltage settings for easy switching of modes to suit welding power for different metals
- Comes with a protective helmet
- Very portable and lightweight making it easy to carry
- The wire feeding system is adjustable up to ten stages
- A very poorly constructed user manual that does not provide any useful information
- IT can only penetrate steel up to a 1.4 inch of thickness
6. Professional Mig 130 – Great Value For Money
Professional MIG 130 is a good choice if you want to weld light materials of mild thickness. Although it has high amperage, it has a low duty cycle, so it may not be viable for industrial use. However, if you are looking for something for your garage to do some DIY projects, this will not disappoint you. This is primarily made for doing DIY projects. The build quality is amazing, and we didn’t have any problems using it to weld normal metals.
We liked how well this welder is constructed. The stainless steel build feels premium, and we would say that it is the best choice for household welding tasks. It also comes with a high-quality protective mask and all the necessary tools to get yourself started with welding.
The speed ranges from 80 to 150 amps, and you can define the amperage up to four stages to work with different kinds of metals. The welder works on the standard 110 volts and is great for some mild welding in your garage that is quick, thanks to the flux core mechanism.
Another great feature of this welder is that it is very easy to use as it comes pre-assembled. It is just plug and play, and you don’t need to do complicated setups to use it. The torch has many safety mechanisms, and the machine itself has thermal overload protection, which keeps it from overheating, and you can use it for a long time. It can also be used for MIG welding, but we will not recommend it with this setup type. You can, however, use argon to work with it.
- Automatic thermal overload protection and safety switch for the torch
- Four heat regulators
- Variable wire speeds to have greater control over the voltage and amperage
- It doesn’t have much weight and is thus very compact and portable
- High-quality stainless steel construction
- Wire-speed settings do not work that well
- The lower speed settings are still very fast
7. Hobart Handler 140 – High-Performance Welder
Although the Hobart handler is not a new welder, it is still the favorite of many people. The only reason for this is its ingenious design and originality. The quality materials that they have chosen to manufacture this welder are great. Therefore, it is an accomplished welder that shows its abilities and impress us with its high performance.
The first thing we liked about this welder is how easy it is to use. It is very simple to assemble it, and it is done in minutes. Even if it is a 140 amps welder, it does its job exceptionally well. We read the charts at the back of the machine, and we found out that they were inaccurate. This is something widespread among Chinese machines. Other factors also include current variations in different places and different welding styles that different people use.
This welder is a flux core welder by its design, but it also comes with a regulator and a gas line to set it up like a gas line MIG welding setup. The MIG option works pretty well and melts and joins almost any type of metal with high precision. This machine also has a five-year warranty, which makes it a secured investment. If you are buying this just as a hobby and want to do small DIY workshops, you will love this.
- High amperage which ranges from 25 to 140 amps with a 20% duty cycle performing at 90 amps
- High Wire feed speed ranging from 40 – 700 IPM
- Five-stage voltage selector
- Five-year warranty
- Pure DC output
- The welding chart is highly inaccurate
- Not suitable for industrial applications
Essential Things to Know Before Buying A Flux Core Welder
For flux core welders, there are several factors you should keep in mind before purchasing. Some of them have to do entirely with the machine while others about how to use it.
● Shielding Types
The very first thing you should keep in mind is what type of shielding a welder uses. This is very important because it is one of the key components essential to the working of a welding system. There are two options available from which you can choose – the gas-shielded welders and the self-shielded welders. Both of the options come with a flux filling. They have an external sheet made of alloys and a blend of compound oxidizers that help keep the impurities out of the equation.
The only difference between the two is the electrodes. In a self-shielding welder, the electrode is in the form of a wire, which is tubular. The wire is at the center and is then coated with the shielding powder. Compared to this, a gas shielded unit comes with a gas bottle. This bottle holds the gases used to provide the shielding layer. This shielding layer then coats the area of the weld and protects it.
The self-shielded units are more portable than the gas shielded units. They have a flux wire, which is why they are chosen as the first choice for constructional works like bridge making and structural works like steel welding. On the other hand, gas-shielded wires work best for tasks such as piping, making vessels, and other things that require fabrication. Regardless, both the setups are highly efficient and work well for every type of metal, steel, copper, iron, or other alloys. They are also highly useful to repair already-existing welds to protect from corrosion.
● Electrode Type
Both the MIG and flux core welding systems use the same electrode welding technique. Both use the same type of long electrode. The only difference is that unlike MIG, which uses solid metal electrodes, the flux welding electrodes are tubular. Inside there is a flux, which is then used to produce the gases.
Flux electrodes come in various sizes. The sizes are almost the same as found in the MIG electrodes. The common industry standard is 0.35, 0.52, and 0.625. These wires then further have their own specification according to their make and quality. The American Welding Society regulates these standards. A common thing to look for is its classification. For example, if a flux core is classified as E91T, E will be the electrode having nine as the tensile strength and strength of ten thousand pounds per square inch of the target weld. T tells you that the electrode is tubular. One means that it can go on all kinds of welding surfaces, whether it be horizontal, vertical, or flat.
If you want to look for the classification of the shielding gas, it would be the same. Electrodes will have either a C rating or a C/M rating. Having only C means that it can use carbon dioxide as the shielding gas. The other one means that it can use both carbon and argon gas.
The electrode’s diameter is also critical because it determines how well the electrode will fit on what kind of surface. The most commonly used diameter is 0.3 inches because it is best to weld almost all welding surfaces. However, if you are welding a thicker surface, consider using 0.35 inches, producing more heat to weld easily.
● Duty Cycle
Theoretically, the higher the voltage, the more powerful the welding machine will be. That is because higher voltages generate a lot of heat, which melts the metal faster. If you are working with metals like aluminum, you must use a higher voltage welder. Aluminum, by its nature, requires high amperage. It will need much more of that when it gets thicker. A piece of aluminum requires 1/3 more amperage than a stainless-steel piece of the same size and thickness. This amperage is known as the duty cycle.
Compared to a 110-volt machine, a 220-volt machine will have more duty cycle and yield better and faster results. The duty cycle also tells you how many minutes you can use it for ten minutes. For example, if the machine’s duty cycle is about thirty percent at a time, you can use the machine for a max of three minutes before waiting for another ten minutes.
The duty cycle of the machine is largely dependent upon the amperage. The amperage rating is essentially the highest amperage that a welder is rated to emit. If the specifications of the machine mention that the duty cycle of the machine is at 30 percent at 90 amps and the specs mention that it works from 20 to 120 amps, this means that although you can run the device at 120 amps, it can also be run just as smoothly at 90 amps.
It is really important to look at the duty cycles of the machine you are buying but do remember never to compare the different machines with different duty cycles because they will not give the same expected output results. Before gauging out the machine duty cycle, try to ascertain what kind of amperage you might need. For example, if you need 120 amps, then a thirty percent duty cycle at seventy amps won’t do it. You can go for a cheaper machine with a duty cycle for 60 amps, but these will never give you enough power to do your job.
● Transfer Type
There are primarily two types of deposit materials that are currently used in the industry. For flux core, either the rounded transfer material is used, or spray transfer is used. The spray transfer is used more often, and it works by heating the electrode and spraying the liquid metal onto the target metal. On the other hand, the globular method uses a heated electrode to transfer a glob of material on the target metal surface. This is useful when you are putting together joints. Both methods differ in terms of their speed, gas usage, voltage usage, and heat.
● Overheating Protection
As machines use heat as the sole force to do the work, it must have protection from the heat. Too much heat can deteriorate the performance of any machine. Furthermore, it also affects the lifespan of the machine. So, if you want longevity and efficient performance, look for a welder that comes with thermal overload protection.
Which Welder Should You Get?
Ideal for Home Use
Our top picks for the best welders for home usage are the Forney Easy Weld 299 and the Goplus Mig 130. Both these welders fit well in your garage and are very easy to use. Their build quality and features show they are specifically built for home-usage. The setup of these welders is extremely easy, and even a novice can operate it easily. Although the Goplus Mig 130 also supports MIG welding and can also be used for industrial purposes, we find that it should be best placed in the category it is meant to be.
Ideal for Beginners
The Forney Easy Weld 299 and the Lotos MIG140 are the best choices for any beginner who wants to start welding as a hobby. If you are a novice who wants to try some DIY projects, then you can get no better than these. These welders are cheap and have all the features of a high-end. Ideally, you want to experiment with ease. Although it has a power of only up to 125 amps, it is not a bad first flux core welder. They are cheap, which means that a starter who is unwilling to invest in something he doesn’t know about can invest without worrying too much.
Best Value for Money Machines
The Goplus MIG 130 and Sun Gold Power MIG 150A stands at the top for being the best value welders. They provide the best value as they offer high durability, endurance, and performance at the same time. Their bodies are made of stainless steel, and they work exceptionally well with almost all metals. They are priced a bit higher, but their price to performance ratio is above par from what you can expect at this price. That is why they are very flexible pieces of equipment that you can rely on and be sure that your money is well spent.
Best Under $500
The Forney Easy Weld 299 and the Goplus MIG 130 are the best overall machines under $500. They avail you a lot of options and have the best quality you can get. They use premium quality materials to construct the external body as well as the internal components. The capacitors and coils inside the machine are made to last for more than five years and are classified as close industrial grade. If you have a budget and are willing to spend on something worth buying, these are your best choices.
Best Under $300
Arksen MIG-130 and Sun Gold Power MIG 150A are the best you can get under $300. These are suitable for people who have a reasonable budget but don’t want to burn their pockets. If you want premium features at a reasonable price and want a reliable working machine, then consider giving them a go.
Best Under $200
Super Deal Black Commercial Mig and Goplus MIG 130 are the cheapest options available and are for those who just want a working machine with nothing too fancy. If you want something that can take care of your DIY garage projects at the lowest price, then these are plausible options.
Flux core welders are the best choice for beginners. They just require you to spend an hour with them, and you will get the hang of it. We don’t claim to have picked out the best of the best welders because by the time you will be reading this review, tons of other products will already be launched. However, we have tried our best to make a good list for being a guideline for people who are just beginning to get into welding.
We hope this review was helpful and if you need to make a quick choice go with the Forney Easy Weld 299. It is the most balanced of all and has a high price to performance ratio.