It is a challenge to choose the right welder, right? First, you need to pick what type you will do for your project. Once you pick one, you must select the equipment you will use. But because there are so many models being sold, this can be a daunting task.
You don’t have to always rely on what the sales clerk will tell you when looking for the best flux core welder for the money. Whether you are a beginner or not, choosing one suitable for your needs can be easy if you let us help you out.
This article will review our top picks and explain why these flux core welders deserve to be part of your workshop.
Are flux core welders any good?
As the process is mostly automatic, you wonder if a flux core welder is good compared to other popular machines. You should know that it is highly reminiscent of MIG and even and stick, which are two of the most popular types.
This method is better known as FCAW. Like the MIG method, you’ll apply filler continuously via the attached filler wire. However, it has a hollowed-out filler wire that contains flux. And just like Stick, no shielding gas is used. Instead, the flux itself does the shielding of the molten pool.
And because of their similarities, both flux core and MIG machines have interchangeable equipment. Certain models allow you to do both. You only need to make adjustments on the machine to switch from one mode to another.
However, TIG welders cannot be said since their processes are completely different. While MIG and TIG are often compared, flux core is a lot different from TIG.
If you are still a beginner, you will find that a flux core is good enough for all your basic needs.
Which is better?
Because of their similarities, people often wonder if MIG is better. After all, it is a favorite of many because you can produce work of good quality with minimal effort on your part. If this is already easy for many craftsmen, flux core arc is even more so. Many consider FCAW to be the easiest method around.
While it is often compared to MIG, its overall result is not as aesthetically pleasing. It produces a slag that you must remove afterward. Not only that, poor preparation and setup will yield unsightly porous results. It is a known issue with FCAW. It is more beginner-friendly than MIG. However, cracking and issues with weld penetration are also common. It is also a bit costlier overall than MIG is.
On the other hand, it is a much more straightforward process than welding. You can even fuse metals without cleaning and preparing the surface first for the weld joint. It also works with thicker metals, unlike MIG. MIG is only suitable for thin to medium thickness metals. And since it has the highest filler deposit rate, you work on materials a lot faster. No gas involved means you can even work outdoors with FCAW.
In some aspects, MIG is better than flux core. On the other hand, the latter also has advantages over the former. But when it comes to the work’s quality, MIG is still better overall. Particularly in creating a clean result.
Best Flux Core Welders
Have you decided to buy your machine yet? You should get one that offers the best value for your money, no matter your budget. And even if you plan to upgrade your equipment in the future, don’t just buy the cheapest one you see. There are inexpensive options around that offer a great experience.
To make your search easier, here are some of the best flux core welders for the money:
Forney Easy 299 125FC
A simple internet search will show that the Forney Easy Weld 299 125FC is one of the top picks of many craftsmen. Designed for beginners, this model is easy to use. The manufacturer claims you can master its use in only thirty minutes. Hobbyists and experts alike enjoy using this for their projects.
Its portable size means you can use it anywhere you want, but do take note that it weighs around 42 lbs. Power users may find it insufficient for their needs because it only has an output of 25 amps, while its input is 120 volts. You can use it to fuse metals ranging from 24 gauge up to 1/4″ inch thick and use 2 and 10-pound spools with it.
Not only is it great for flux core, but you can also use it to learn MIG without the use of shielding gas.
|Catered to beginners and DIYers||Not suitable for aluminum, cast iron, and other complicated metals|
|Easy to use, even for angled metals||Heavy for its size|
|Anyone can quickly master its use||Bigger workpieces can be difficult, if not entirely impossible|
|While it is more suitable for fusing thin metals or of medium thickness, you can still use it for some thicker metals.||The warranty offered depends on the retailer and can range from six months to five years.|
|Plug and play operation||Heavy-duty use is not recommended|
|Not only does it allow you to work quickly, but it also results in contamination-free and clean results. It does not require cleaning up afterward.||Cannot do fine work|
|Inexpensive and portable|
|Can hold 8-inch wire reels|
Hobart Handler 140
Don’t let its name fool you. While the Hobart Handler 140 may seem to cater to MIG, it is one of those models that can also be used for flux core. It does a great job and consistently ranks as one of the best machines around. For its hefty price tag, it should be expected.
While more expensive than the Forney, this is a step up that you won’t regret!
Great for both novice and expert craftsmen, this machine allows you to work on a wide variety of materials. Ready to tackle aluminum? You can do so in both MIG and flux core. It can fuse metals ranging from 24 gauge to 1/4-inch thick and lets you quickly change wires when switching. It is also equipped with voltage control that allows you to choose between five settings. The selectable speed of wire feeding ranges from 40 to 700 IPM.
This portable option also offers an easy operation straight out of the box. You can run it using your existing household current. Not only that, but it is also known as one of the most durable machines around.
- It’s one of the most powerful machines around, even at par with those made for industrial use.
- It can be used for a wide variety of metals.
- It is known for its durability.
- Allows you to easily switch between FCAW and MIG, with the latter allowing you to work with or without any shielding gas.
- Equipped with a 5-setting voltage selector
- It comes with protection against overheating and overloading
- Ships with various accessories so you can start working right away
- Amperage output ranges from 25 to 140
- Not meant for heavy-duty or industrial use despite its build quality
- Inaccurate chart
- Quite bulky despite its compact size
Super Deal MIG 130
The Super Deal MIG 130 is one of the most affordable units around. Because of its low price, it is understandable that it is not as feature-laden as its pricier counterparts. The build quality is affected, as it is crafted using PVC and not stainless steel. Despite its flaws, it is still sufficient for your basic needs.
This is a cheap option and not the right one if you’re getting more serious about your work. But if you haven’t yet found out whether or not you should commit to learning the trade, you can try the Super Deal.
This machine allows you to choose between 4 speed and 10 wire feed settings and is equipped with a safety control. It may not be as powerful as other machines, but you can still fuse metals up to 1/4 inch. But since it is AC-powered, the resulting work is not that neat. Do note that you can do both FCAW and MIG with it.
- Very affordable
- It is capable of both MIG and flux core.
- Compact and lightweight
- Setting up is effortless.
- It is equipped with variable speed settings, including for controlling the speed of wire feeding. It also comes with an on/off safety control.
- Poor built quality compared to other similar models since it is made of PVC.
- The resulting work is not that clean because it is AC-powered
- Reportedly prone to overheating, despite having protection against it
- Not ideal for heavy-duty nor frequent use
- It has only four amperage settings ranging from 50 to 130
- Included flux wire is of poor quality, while the handheld shield is not convenient to use
If light work and some DIY work are all you need to do, the Lotos MIG140 is a great option. This model is often compared to the Hobart Handler 140. It’s because of similarities, especially in input and output power. However, its build quality is not as good.
For the price, the LOTOS MIG140 is a great tool that offers a very stable experience when you’re using it for various work. Reviewers call this the best intro welder for the price.
This machine is also equipped with two digital displays. They allow you to see the current wire speed and voltage. It has a 2T/4T switch that lets you shift between semi-automatic and automatic wire feeding. And aside from FCAW, you can also use it for MIG.
- It’s quite similar to the pricier but top-rated Hobart Handler 140.
- It comes with 2T and 4T settings, as well as dual digital displays.
- It’s capable of producing work that is of industrial quality.
- It works with different metals, including stainless steel.
- It can also be used for MIG.
- Allows you to work on most metals with thicknesses ranging from 18 gauge to 3/16 inches
- It ships without a chart and flux wire.
- The warranty period is only one year.
- The output power is limited to 110v, which can be limiting for some users.
The Reboot MIG150 is sure to be a hit for users who prioritize practicality. It is one of the most reasonably-priced models around. It is also one of the most energy-efficient because it is an inverter model. DC power is used for an AC output. While it is a bit more expensive than some models, you save in the long run because of its energy-saving features.
Most of the models can only offer flux core and MIG. This model also allows you to stick weld as well. It makes it a practical choice for those who want to use different types as well. Not only that, but it can also fuse metals up to 1/3-inch thick. While users are quite satisfied with it, the inverter technology is still relatively new. It means long-term use is still up in the air.
- The most energy-efficient model, being an inverter model
- It allows you to do three types of work: FCAW, MIG, and SMAW or stick.
- Very portable and lightweight
- It can be used with thicker metals compared to most comparable machines.
- The stress test is yet to be done on any inverter type, so its build quality is unknown.
- Risky to use because experts have yet to determine how long it can last on average.
- Unknown future hiccups users may expect when it is in use.
There are other good options out on the market. We reviewed the top pick ones because they give the best value for money, regardless of your budget.
If you also plan to learn MIG welding, you can opt for a machine that offers a dual-mode like most of the options on our list. That way, you get to save more because you no longer need to buy a separate machine.
Is Flux Core Right For You
Flux core may be right for some, especially for people getting started in the industry. It has some limitations that mean it will easily not be everything you need for it to be. You may soon find yourself asking for more.
MIG and TIG are often the two types that pros will use. The specific type depends on the type of work being done. It is more commonly the case that pros use a TIG welder rather than a MIG one. Does that make the technology right for you as well? Not necessarily. It could be the case, depending on your goals.
If your needs are modest, these flux core welders can be right for you.
Suppose you have started looking around the internet. You will also quickly find out that these types come with very different capabilities. Some of them are barely doing the work that a pro would need to do. In contrast, other machines will cost you thousands of dollars. Other machines may also weigh the same as the average motorcycle.
Let’s start by taking a look at some of the differences between MIG & TIG. Let’s start by looking at some of the different types of material that the two processes can handle. You got that right. Not every single type of process will handle every single type of metal.
Will you be working on a specific type of metal? The first thing you should be making sure of is that the type you are choosing can handle it. The best reason why you shouldn’t get started with MIG is that you will quickly run into its limitations.
While both types will work on aluminum, you are better off getting TIG if your needs are many. It will easily let you branch into other types of metal.
There are multi-process welders available on the market that can do this.
Suppose you are looking for an option that can do both flux core and a range of other options. We encourage you to check out the Lincoln Electric POWER 210 MP Multi-Process option. Even if it is more expensive than other models, it’s a great machine.
At a max wire feed speed of 500 ipm, it’s a good machine to get you started if you are willing to spend the money. It’s also very portable, weighing only 40 lbs.
People may be talking about MIG and TIG seemingly interchangeably. That’s wrong. The two are very different processes. They will both use filler metal to melt the various metals together. With TIG, you are holding the filler metal in one hand and the torch in the other hand. With MIG, the filler metal comes out of the torch. It allows for a faster weld, although one of lower quality.
Besides, one of the main reasons people choose TIG over MIG is because of the increased control you have. It makes TIG preferred when working with vulnerable pieces of metal that require more control. Aluminum is a good example of that.
What is flux core welding used for?
If you’re thinking of going industrial with welding of thicker metals, flux core welding is the best option. It is most secure and guarantees the best welding of contaminated and even rusted metals. It is also easiest to master in the shortest amount of time. It does not even require a great deal of dexterity. So it’s used by those who want to start in the skill.
Is flux core welding any good?
Flux core welding is appropriate for thicker materials. It offers greater penetration and a more secure joint. Because of the strength of the joint it provides, it is often used for manufacturing and shipbuilding purposes. It’s also great for joining together rusted metals.
How thick can you weld with flux core?
An average flux core welding machine can weld up to 1/4″ inch of metal. Note that this is almost double of 12 gauge steel that MIG can weld.
Is flux welding good for beginners?
Yes. Since it does not require shielding gas, it is easy to use. This makes it great for beginners in welding. It is also portable and more convenient than MIG welding.
Let’s look at the relatively simple process of flux core welding.
How do you weld with flux core?
- Make sure the machine is set to DC.
Since flux core is a gasless process that runs on the direct current, you must switch the settings to DC electronegative. Otherwise, you will have trouble running the machine.
- Set the machine to an appropriate voltage
You’re going to want to set the machine to the right volts. For a simple fillet joint, you’ll need 18 volts on the machine.
- Put on your safety gear.
This includes your welding helmet or goggles. You can use gloves and a lab coat if you have one. Avoid clothes made of synthetic or polyester fiber.
- Start the welding
Keep your eye right behind the protruding wire when you weld along the joint. Keep an eye on the width of the joint. Oscillate slightly along the welding line. It’s normal for the wire to move off track a little bit.
- Seal it up
When you’re done welding along the line, take the machine back an inch and retrace your weld. This seals the weld perfectly for absolute security. And you’re done with your first flux core weld!