Stick welding for a beginner - Part5
A stick welder has nearly unlimited applications in a home shop or small repair facility. But I would be remiss if I didn't mention that it does have a few draw backs. A couple of things that most people quickly realize is that most stick welders, at least the transformer kind, take up a considerable space, and weigh a lot. This can be remedied with an inverter type welder, such as the Everlast PowerArc series welder.
Inverters have a small foot print and are typically less than half the size and weight of it’s transformer based cousin that is rated for the same output. Another issue with stick welders is the fact that they are power hungry. A typical transformer welder with 225 amp output can pull nearly 50-60 amps from the wall. This may be a problem in smaller garages where wiring is limited. Inverters also do offer improved efficiency and reduced amperage draw for the same output. For some of the smallest shops, this may still prove to be more than a 20 amp breaker can handle. One more issue that is frequently seen as a problem for guys wanting to do “everything” with their stick welder is the fact that low amp control is practically non-existent. Few stick welders drop below 40 amps, and low end arc capability isn’t that stable. Again, inverter stick welders prove to offer and advantage with many dropping as low as 10 amps or even lower for the low end.
The question is then, is if you can find a small enough welding electrode to run successfully on thin metals. The flux can become an issue as well. Low amp welding with a stick welder just isn’t that feasible. However, most common sheet metal thicknesses around the garage can be welded, given the right welding rod, such as a 6013. If you have a need to weld the thinnest of the thin gauge material consistently, look for a TIG machine. Finally, even though they manufacture aluminum welding electrodes for stick welders, it can be difficult to manage, and you certainly won’t have as clean results as with TIG. But, if a quick spot repair or small project is all that you ever intend to do, then it is likely that you’ll find it satisfactory for this task when the time comes.