Stick welding AC or DC?

I often get questions about this all the time:  Do your stick welders weld AC or DC?   Actually in the last couple of months, I’ve received more than the usual amount.  I am not quite sure about the source of these questions, other than it must be some debated topic on an internet forum somewhere espousing armchair advice.    AC stick welders are a result of really old technology transformer welders.

They are cheap to make and can create an arc. A few rods are specially made for AC welding, and the rest just work ok or even not at all. 

In fact, the rods made for AC welding usually perform better on DC.   AC is much louder and offers a more violent arc which can cause inclusions and slag in the weld. Generally it isn’t for X-ray quality work.  Yes, it does offer one advantage. The advantage comes into play when a phenomenon called “arc-blow” becomes an issue.   If you are having issues with magnetism creating  arc blow, then the AC can help stabilize the arc and bring things back in line.  But for most other applications, AC is not needed.  Even without AC, and dealing with Arc blow, there are ways of dealing with Arc blow without using AC.  

DC offers a smoother, quieter welding experience. In general, less amperage needs to be used.  A lot of our customers report that the arc feels hotter than their buzz boxes.  In fact, there is truth to that as DC tends to penetrate more.   Our stick welders, the PowerArc units specifically, are DC only.  The inverter does a fine job of creating a stable DC arc allowing high quality welds to be made with little trouble with rod sticking and spatter.


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