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post #1 of 30 Old 11-14-2018, 11:25 AM Thread Starter
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Best value flux core welder?

I'm hoping this is the right place to post this topic, but if not, Mods - please feel free to move it!

I would really like to be able to do a minor amount of welding, and while I lust for a nice (read: expensive!) MIG setup, I'm becoming realistic in my wants vs. needs, and a $1000+ MIG setup with bottles is out of budget. We're talking about something I might use 2-3 times a year for doing repairs and maybe a fun project, so that is the other reason that investing big money doesn't seem to make sense.

There seems to be lots of dedicated flux core welders out there, anywhere from $100 to a couple hundred, then there are MIG welders for several hundred that can be run as flux core (for now) with the flexibility to go to MIG with shielding gas if I ever wanted to invest.

There are many brands out there, some that I've heard of (Lincoln, Hobart) to obscure names from Harbor Freight and the internet in general (https://www.cromweld.com/best-flux-core-welders/). My baseline requirement is simply that I am able to plug into a standard household 110V outlet. I don't have 220V service in my garage or shop (on list of To Do's) but keeps getting pushed down the list, so I don't know when that may happen.

So I'm just curious if there are any recommendations on a flux core unit that would be recommended?

Thanks!
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post #2 of 30 Old 11-14-2018, 12:30 PM
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Re: Best value flux core welder?

Go to Tractor Supply and buy something there. They have sales very often. The 110v units are good for sheet metal and very small stuff.

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post #3 of 30 Old 11-14-2018, 12:50 PM
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Re: Best value flux core welder?

That 170 amp harbor freight unit is decent at $170 or so. Flux/MIG. Only thing is itís 220v. It might motivate you a bit more to get the wiring done... Itís a fair bit more capable than 110v.
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post #4 of 30 Old 11-14-2018, 01:17 PM
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Re: Best value flux core welder?

Be aware all the "flux core" welders ,unless they state they can be converted to use the argon/co2 gas,are NOT "MIG Welders"...they are Wire Feed ARC Welders...

A MIG with the gas kit, is far superior to a wire feed ARC welder to weld thin metal..

I have a 90 amp Harbor Freight wire feed ARC welder,and in my opinion,its barely worth the $30 I paid for it,I bought it mostly for the brand new cart it was on,which was well worth that price..
A guy not 3 miles from my house was selling it on Craigslist--he decided it was not the right tool to use on his restoration of a '49 Pontiac..he showed me some of the "welds" he tried making with it,they were ugly blobs,he said trying to "run a bead" was impossible,it would blow holes ,even set on "low",so he had to resort to doing a spot weld every inch,then grind it down..
..then he showed me his new Lincoln MIG and the beads he ran with that,and they looked perfect..
The HF welder still had 3/4 of its original spool of wire in it,that is how little he used it!..

I had no success trying to weld 16 gauge sheet metal with it--even on "low" it blew big holes almost instantly ,I have done better with my arc welder,set on DC,with 3/32" rods..I tried it on some 3/16" steel ,set on high,and it seemed to weld OK,but the bead didn't penetrate well,and bending the metal broke it in two at the weld..
The wire feed on the HF welder seems jerky and makes it tough to run a decent bead..

You will need a 20 amp 110V outlet to properly run a 110V welder,and if you lack one,adding one with 12 gauge romex might cost almost as much as running a 220V line to your shop...I'm not a big fan of 110V MIG welders--some do weld good,others suck..
There is no comparison to a 220V MIG with the gas setup..they rule,and then you can weld anything from 22 gauge to 1/2" thick steel..

I know its expensive to buy a 220V MIG and the gas,run the wiring to it,etc,but its worth it in the long run..
I only use my torches maybe half a dozen times a year--but after suffering with none,and then buying the smallest "pouch" torches and being less than thrilled with their ability to cut thick stuff (and not run out of O2 in 20 minutes!),I ended up wishing I'd spent the $300 on "real" full sized tanks and torches..I now own both!..and they are worth it..


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post #5 of 30 Old 11-14-2018, 03:14 PM
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Re: Best value flux core welder?

Iíll agree the wire feed on the HF is jerky and inconsistent, but if you want a good welder, youíre going to parting with A LOT more cash for a new or even good used one. It didnít take me long to convert it to MIG. After that, my weld quality greatly improved.

So far my HF one hasnít broken, but it could any day judging from the reviews I read. When it breaks, Iíll get a decent replacement for it, now that I know what iím doing more than I did before. I also own my gas tank . That was more expensive than the welder itself and all the tools I bought for it (decent mask, wire brushes, slag hammer, etc) combined.
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post #6 of 30 Old 11-15-2018, 08:01 AM
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Re: Best value flux core welder?

I have a 110 Sears mig that I got about 20 years ago.. You really want one that can be converted to gas. really the gas MIG is so much nicer, and less effort! With 110 you really cant do that thick of steel.. but it works well on the thin stuff. As for brand... I really dont have much to offer, unless you find a name brand you can afford.. personaly I would get the nicest one you can afford, and the power you have.. then spend money getting a good sheld, and scrap for pratice... once you get some time under your belt you will have a better idea what you want/need...

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post #7 of 30 Old 11-15-2018, 09:58 AM
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Re: Best value flux core welder?

I have a Lincoln 140(I think) 110v wire welder that I enjoy using. It came from Lowe's and is just what I need for the occasional welding job. It says it will weld up to 1/4" steel. With more passes, I have welded much thicker metal. I am by no means good at welding but most of my welds hold. Whatever you get, practice, practice, and practice some more.

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post #8 of 30 Old 11-15-2018, 12:06 PM
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Re: Best value flux core welder?

I would not count on a Lincoln 140 welding thicker steel than 1/4 inch. A buddy and I were building a trailer attached ice chest and rod holders for using on the beach. I welded the thick hitch part with several passes using a 110v Lincoln welder. I did not feel like it was solid enough. I rewelded it using my 220v rig later on. It held for the first beach run but I did not like it.


My buddies Lincoln was from a welding shop 10 years ago. I think it was a 140 but it might of been a 130 or 135. I can't remember as it was 10 years ago. We started with mixed gas then switched to flux to get better penetration. We changed the unit's polarity when we switched to flux. It worked better than gas in the heavy steel. Once I got my 220v wire restrung at my house I rewelded the hitch part. 220v worked much nicer.

If you want to learn to weld, the community colleges offer classes.

I guess I should add, we tripped a 20 amp breaker several times running the welder wide open.

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Last edited by coxhaus; 11-15-2018 at 12:17 PM.
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post #9 of 30 Old 11-18-2018, 12:37 PM
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Re: Best value flux core welder?

There are a ton of like new Harbor Freight ones available on CL, practically being given away...like all tools from that place, they are just not very good at all
You want either a Hobart, Miller or Lincoln...and a decent one is going to be a couple of bucks ...and as already said, capable of gas...you do also want to check duty cycle...a lot of the cheapo nes are only about 20%....you do need 220V to get full time duty cycle...I have not seen or heard of a 110V that is more than about 60%...but that is fine for farm or home use, but don't really need 100% unless you are building a pipeline or a boiler...something where the welder is being paid by the hour
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post #10 of 30 Old 11-18-2018, 01:01 PM
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Re: Best value flux core welder?

My Herbor freight one is 220v and still only 20% duty cycle

You guys are making me want to go shop for a new welder
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post #11 of 30 Old 11-18-2018, 01:03 PM
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Re: Best value flux core welder?

One of the reasons for buying a bigger unit is because you get a higher duty cycle when running at lower amps. I have an older Hobart 250 amp welder out of a college bought at an auction for cheap. When I run .030 wire, I can basically run non-stop and not worry about the duty cycle. .035 wire slows me down but my duty cycle is still good where I don't have to wait a lot.


I still like stick welding. If you want the cheapest setup for welding thin and thick steel then you need a small mig Hobart, Miller, or Lincoln for thin steel and a cracker box stick welder for thick steel. Stay with the main brands for stick welding also.

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post #12 of 30 Old 11-18-2018, 02:25 PM
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Re: Best value flux core welder?

I bought a Cambell Hausfield mig at Lowes 16 years ago for $100 it is convertible to a mig but I used it as a fluxcore. I welded too much stuff to remember with that thing. 110V and did a great job until I got my https://www.google.com/search?q=mill...6cQ8qDdPBDymM:

This thing even in 110V mode is a wonder! it can be used off 220 also with the switch of the plug end to weld heavy stuff. I then bought a spool gun for aluminum and a bottle for it. WOW it is so worth the money spent.

My dad bought a HF flux and hates it. he bought the HF TIG kit too and hates that. being a welder "on the side" you can not do a good job with 1/2 good equipment.

It is all in what you want to do and how much you want to spend.
Personally the money I spent on the 211 miller was well worth it. I can weld ANYTHING now. But I have $2.5K into everything. I do body work on the side so it has paid for it's self more than once and the ability to weld aluminum is awesome!

If you don't want to spend what I did, look into a Hobart at tractor supply https://www.tractorsupply.com/tsc/pr...c-toolmate-100, Lincoln make a good one too that you can get at Lowes https://www.farmandfleet.com/product...iABEgLPcvD_BwE.

Any of these you can use as a fluxcore and change over when you have the cash to get a bottle. personally I love my Miller and would recommend it to anyone. 110V or 220V flux or gas, awesome unit. https://store.cyberweld.com/mi211mig...SAAEgI8ifD_BwE

I would spend the cash on this. but I am a little bias.

sorry I went off the deep end but............... you asked!

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post #13 of 30 Old 11-18-2018, 03:41 PM
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Re: Best value flux core welder?

Yeah, I also bought a Miller 211 (older version which was taller), only use it with flux-core, but it works fairly well for the majority of stuff I do. For this stuff (below 1/8") it doesn't work great for me, and for larger stuff (longer welds where the pieces are over 1/4") I'll use a old buzz-box stick welder.

I have to get a bottle and try welding some thin stuff with solid wire, as it's supposed to weld better.
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post #14 of 30 Old 11-19-2018, 02:14 PM
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Re: Best value flux core welder?

I bought a bottle with C25 years ago. The C25 makes pretty welds. I am now thinking of getting a CO2 bottle. I think it will be cheaper to run and buy. I am no pro welder so I have no experience using CO2 but from what I read it has better penetration with a little more splatter. Anybody know?


The other thing I have figured out is with C25 you cannot spray weld. You need C10 to spray weld. Any comment.


So give your bottle buying some thought. There seems to be a lot to it which I did not realize when I bought my bottle.

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post #15 of 30 Old 11-19-2018, 02:41 PM
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Re: Best value flux core welder?

Quote:
Originally Posted by steddy View Post
Iíll agree the wire feed on the HF is jerky and inconsistent, but if you want a good welder, youíre going to parting with A LOT more cash for a new or even good used one. It didnít take me long to convert it to MIG. After that, my weld quality greatly improved.

So far my HF one hasnít broken, but it could any day judging from the reviews I read. When it breaks, Iíll get a decent replacement for it, now that I know what iím doing more than I did before. I also own my gas tank . That was more expensive than the welder itself and all the tools I bought for it (decent mask, wire brushes, slag hammer, etc) combined.
there is hope for this welder. I am talking about the 90 amp flux core model

Look into this conversion. I did it and it makes NEW MACHINE out of it.

There is a You Tube series on it (actually several)

There is also a lot of write ups on it on the various boards

I would not buy one just to do the conversion on it, but since you already have one as i did its well worth the effort

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