The 5 Best Flux Core Welder For The Money – FCAW Reviews 2018
If you’re just starting to weld, flux core welding is a great place to start. These welders are essential for a variety of tasks since they can easily handle metals of varying thicknesses and they tend to be a lot less hassle than when you’re working with some other welders.
After carrying out reviews of five of the best flux core welders on the market, I wanted to highlight those welders features, efficiency and build quality. Below I have shared my findings to hopefully shed some light on the often-confusing process of choosing and buying the welder for your needs.
(The next time that old welding job needs doing, you will be prepared!)
Table Of Contents
- 5 Best Flux Core Welder 2018 Reviews
- 1. Super Deal Black Commercial MIG 130 AC Flux Core Wire Automatic Feed Welder Welding Machine
- 2. Goplus MIG 130 Welder Flux Core Wire Automatic Feed Welding Machine w/ Free Mask
- 3. LONGEVITY Migweld 140 - 140 Amp Mig Welder Capable Of Flux-Core And Aluminum Gas Shielded Welding
- 4. Forney 309 140-Amp Welder
- 5. Hobart 500559 Handler Wire Welder
- The Purpose of the Flux Core Welding Machine
- Flux Core Welding Machines: Buyer’s Guide
- Do you need gas when welding with flux core?
- Flux core welding settings
- Final thoughts
5 Best Flux Core Welder 2018 Reviews
1. Super Deal Black Commercial MIG 130 AC Flux Core Wire Automatic Feed Welder Welding Machine
As the cheapest entry level flux core welder in this line-up, this 110 V / 60 Hz Single Phase welder easily met our expectations. The Super Deal Black Commercial MIG 130 AC Flux Core Wire Automatic Feed Welder is very easy to use and is of decent quality for the relatively low and affordable asking price.
This is an excellent MIG welder for beginners who are looking for an entry level machine to use occasionally at home, welding mild steel and stainless steel. This welder has automatic overheat protection built in.
The variable auto feed for the wire works well and we liked the more convenient top loading mechanism, which for a change is not stuck on the side.
Once you have selected the correct heat setting from the 4 heat adjustments available, it does an outstanding job producing nice clean welds, welding 1/8" steel with ease. On the downside the flux wire it came with was of poor quality. This was easily rectified with new higher quality Lincoln .035 flux wire. After this I ran a bead up a 1/4" steel, which was very Impressive.
It also comes with a not very helpful hand-held shield, which we found somewhat awkward to use (we suggest you buy a proper welding mask you can wear.
Lastly, the instructions for this welder are not the best. However, if you use the manual instead of the confusing quick start guide to setup, then you should be up and running pretty quickly.
2. Goplus MIG 130 Welder Flux Core Wire Automatic Feed Welding Machine w/ Free Mask
For just under $100, this welding machine is the second cheapest Flux Core Welder in this review and is superb value for your money.
By adjusting the buttons four settings of current flow and the rotary knob to set wire feeding speed, you can control how fast or slow the wire is fed through the torch.
This hasn’t the infinitely precise control found on more expensive welders, but suffice to say, welding speed can be easily adjusted.
It’s great for around the house DIY and small welding projects, although the wire can be a bit hard to feed through it at times. It comes highly recommended for someone just starting out, as a way to get into welding without a high entry cost.
The kit also comes with a brush/tap hammer and a hand-held mask, so you’ll be good to go right out of the box (yes, once again, we recommend you buy a proper welder’s face mask for around $15, to free up both your hands.
This Goplus welder features an easy carrying handle, light weight, and convenient compact design. Great for easy transportation and storage. Highly recommended.
3. LONGEVITY Migweld 140 - 140 Amp Mig Welder Capable Of Flux-Core And Aluminum Gas Shielded Welding
For a little bit more money, the Longevity Migweld 140 makes a great mid-priced entry into the welding world. If your new to welding, this might be one of the best flux core welder for beginners. Impressively, it welds steel, aluminum and exotic metal.
Very impressively, we found this unit can weld mild steel up to 3/8” thick! It can do a capable job, both welding with flux core and MIG. The Rheostat amperage control gives very precise adjustment of your arc’s power, fine-tuning power for each application with ten different settings.
The many configurable options of the arc and the ease of use of this welder make it an ideal machine for beginners, allowing them to easily develop their welding skills.
We liked that the instructions that came with this aluminum welder were very easy to follow. It was up and running quickly and in no time at all, was laying professional beads repeatedly. On the down-side, this welder was a larger, bulkier and heavier unit than expected.
4. Forney 309 140-Amp Welder
The Forney 309 is easily one of the best flux core welders presently for sale. A great machine to upgrade to after learning the basics on a welder.
This powerful and capable machine will take care of nearly all your steel welding needs, welding ¼ inch mild steel with ease. We were impressed with the high build quality of this, giving the impression, its built to last.
The transformer has four different steps, allowing you to use the precise level of current to suit each job (this is very good, but not as precise as the 10 settings available on the LONGEVITY Migweld 140).
There is quite a wide range of adjustment over the wire feed and its drive system is aluminum instead of plastic, which makes for a reliable, long lasting setup.
Since this welder is 120V you can use it anywhere, but be aware it draws 20 amps, so you do need to be sure the wiring and outlet where you intend to use it is heavy enough to handle it. At 64 pounds in weight this is a bulky, heavy machine, so factor this into your considerations!
5. Hobart 500559 Handler Wire Welder
If you’re looking for high power and fantastic build quality, then this heavy-duty Hobart Welder, which comes complete with Welding Mig Accessory Nozzle Gel, could be for you. Usefully, this is one of the most powerful welders to operate off 115V household current, feeling a step above other ‘hobby’ welders.
It has a huge range in amp capabilities, from 25 all the way to 140 amps! Combined with the versatility of flux core or gas welding, this welder checks all the boxes.
If you are a homeowner who doesn’t have 240v power sockets, and you don’t want to weld anything over 1/4 inch then this welder is one of the most powerful and capable at this price point and highly recommended.
It is able to use up to 24-gauge wire, handling up to ¼” of steel with ease. This heavy-duty welder has four different options for the arc setting. You’re sure to be impressed with this one. Right out of the box, this awesome Welder will produce extremely high-quality flux core welds, bead after bead.
We found this very solid unit to be hands down, the best build quality of all the machines in this review, which means it will last for a long time to come. Weight is very reasonable at 35lbs.
The Purpose of the Flux Core Welding Machine
The purpose of Flux Core Welding is to provide quality outdoor welding which, due to no gas being needed, is not so affected by the wind. Flux Core Welding also benefits from being a cost-effective type of welding which yields increased productivity.
Flux Core Welding uses a tubular composite electrode, continuously fed into electrically generated heat which melts the electrode into a welding bead. Shielding gas from an externally supplied source may or may not be used during deposition of material in to the weld joint.
The electrode is a metal sheath with an inner core of mineral compounds and metal powder. After the weld, the bead is covered in a melted and solidified flux (slag), which protects and shapes the resulting weld. Upon completion of the weld, this is then removed. Flux Cored Welding combines MIG welding’s high productivity using a solid electrode with its ability to weld on more contaminated metal.
Flux Core Welding Machines: Buyer’s Guide
Flux core welding is a great place to start If you’re just started welding. You won’t need Argon or other inert gas’s, and all these welders can also be used for MIG welding in the future if it takes your fancy.
All things being equal, when it comes to Flux Core Arc Welders, it’s best to just buy the best one you can afford, so which welder you go with should mostly depend on your budget. But it is worth pointing out, if you’re just starting out, or you only plan to use it rarely for occasional/ small projects, it might be best to start out with a value for money cheaper model.
However, if you’re already sure your plans are more serious and long lasting, then you’d be better off starting out with the Hobart 500559 or the Forney 309 140-Amp MIG Welder. These welders have the best very build quality in this line up and are also two of the more capable and powerful. Of course, they are also the most expensive in this line up.
The more powerful the welder, the thicker the steel you will be able to weld, hence the reason why power is an important consideration. Flux Core Arc Welders (FCAW) are superb if you’re just looking to work on fixing cars or iron art projects. Speaking of power, the amazing LONGEVITY Migweld 140 actually managed to weld mild steel all of 3/8” thick, which, hands down, beats the other five welders in this line up.
Another thing you’ll want to consider is how fine your power control is on your welder. While most welders have only four options, welders with finer controls can be found which allow for more precise welding as you gain more experience.
Therefore, due to being the most powerful welder with the most precise adjustment of current in this line up, the LONGEVITY Migweld 140 gets our ‘HIGHEST RECOMMENDATION’. It is also excellent build quality and ships with clear instructions.
Whichever welder you decide to go with, make sure to use gloves and a mask, and all necessary safety equipment required for safe welding. If you have the best welder for your needs and the right safety equipment, then prepare to enter an exciting new world of welder use and be sure to have a good time!
Do you need gas when welding with flux core?
The question is often asked if it is always a prerequisite to use gas shielding when welding using a fluxed core welding wire. The answer to this question lies in how gas ARC and flux ARC welding produce their resultant welds. While they can both achieve good welding integrity, there are some factors that should be taken into account when choosing the most suitable option for the task at hand. These should include but by no means be limited to metal thickness, correct shielding gas, the speed of the wire feed, voltage settings and where the work site is located.
Pros and Cons of MIG or flux Cored
The bottom line is that good quality welds can be obtained using flux cored wire in the absence of shielding gas but both MIG and flux core weld in different ways.
Things such as wind can have a debilitating effect on MIGs used in outdoor settings while flux core methods leave more wastage (slag) on the surface and this can impede the quality and appearance of the welds.
The flux approach does facilitate quicker solidification of the welds and this can be advantageous in awkward access areas or when welding from underneath the material.
Flux core welding settings
Welding standards have become much stricter over the last few decades and many jobs are now “coded” and that calls for welding within fairly tight parameters if operatives are to conform. This coding system also offers guides about current and other factors but that isn’t much use if the job isn’t coded or you don’t weld professionally or at least not as your primary occupation.
Setting up the welding plant
Setting up a flux core welding plant is as much a matter of wire speed control as it is voltage settings but there is no doubt that types and thicknesses of material will also affect what works best for each welder. Using the same machine regularly is likely to help any welder whether they do the job occasionally or weld for a living.
Using data sheets
Another useful aid is to search the site of the company that manufactured the wire and download the spec sheet for the specific wire you are using. Even in instances where the brand is unknown, specifications can be matched to the spec of wire such as E71t-8 or whatever its designation may be. These data sheets will give the voltage needed for the number of inches the wire is fed per minute.
Making a start
A common rule of thumb would be to start with something like two hundred and fifty inches of wire feed per minute with 23 volts and work upwards as the metal (and wire) increase. When welding aluminum box and tubing it is also prudent to adjust to suit. It is also likely that there will be slight variations due to metal mixes and qualities along with the peculiarities of each specific machine.
What you ultimately choose will depend on your budget and what you want in a best flux core welder. Are you looking for a cheap and cheerful welder, with known limitations (and the risk of needing to upgrade again soon), or do you wish to start as you mean to go on, investing in the quality and capability of one of the more expensive welders?
In any event the choice is yours; we do hope this Flux Core Arc Welder Line up has been helpful assisting with your decision process. The fun world of cost effective, creative welding awaits!