When it comes to the world of welding, beginners often find themselves overwhelmed by the array of choices available. From different welding techniques to various types of welding machines, it can be challenging to know where to start. However, if you’re just dipping your toes into the welding waters, there’s one option that stands out as a fantastic choice for novices – the flux core welding machine.
What makes the flux core welding machine so appealing to beginners is its remarkable ease of use. With just about a half hour of practice and a touch of common sense, you can become proficient in using it. Unlike some other welding methods that require a deep dive into complex details and meticulous preparation, the flux core welding machine simplifies the process. You won’t need to fret about intricate nuances, like ensuring your welding surface is immaculately cleaned before starting or keeping a gas canister on standby.
For amateur welders or hobbyists, these machines are nothing short of a godsend. They offer a user-friendly experience that allows you to focus on honing your skills and crafting your projects without getting bogged down in technicalities. What’s more, even professionals can appreciate the value of these compact wonders for less critical tasks.
Now, let’s dive into a curated selection of the best flux core welders available on the market, all falling within an affordable price range. Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned welder looking for a reliable tool for your workshop, this list will help you make an informed decision. So, without further ado, let’s explore your options and discover the perfect flux core welding machine to kickstart your welding journey.
7 Best Flux Core Welders – Reviews
1. Hobart Handler 140 Flux Core Welder – Top Overall Pick
The Hobart Handler 140 is an amazing, versatile welder good for pretty much any project you can throw at it making it the Best Flux Core welder for both professional quality and amateur work. It is extremely versatile, being usable for both MIG and flux core welding. The MIG portion is great on mild steel (from 24 gauge up to ¼” thickness) as well as cast iron, brass, copper, titanium, and magnesium alloys.
The flux core side of things does all that plus aluminum, making this Hobart 500559 Handler 140 work on everything you can reasonably expect to throw at it. A 5 setting voltage selector allows for smooth welds in any situation. To cap it off, it’s designed to quickly change between MIG and flux core capable welding wires, for great ease of use.
The only real downside in quality is that the unit is heavy, weighing in at around 57 lbs before you factor in the shielding gas cylinder for the MIG welding side of things.
Last thing to keep in mind: the Hobart 500559 Handler 140 is close to 5 times the expense of most other units on this list, so may make amateur or infrequent welders balk at buying it, no matter the quality of the item.
- Amazingly versatile welder. Good for any type of welding.
- Convenient polarity changeover.
- 5 setting selector.
- Welds a large variety of metals.
- Self-resetting motor protection.
- Self-resettng thermal overload.
- Quickly changes between MIG and flux core modes.
- Very bulky compared to most other models. About twice as heavy.
- Not perfect for big projects.
2. Forney Easy Weld 261 Flux Core Welder
Forney makes a lot of great products for beginners, and this is no exception. Forney Easy Weld 261 is made specifically to be easy to use for hobbyists and DIYers. The only thing in its design that doesn’t really speak to that is it’s a bit finicky on what materials to use. The performance suffers if .35” wire is used over .30” for example.
It’s also lightweight (19 lbs), which makes it easy to lug around by hand. This makes the Forney Easy Weld 261 easier to move around for very little cost in performance and safety.
Still, aside that its specs are great. The 120 volt input and 140 amp output are respectable for a machine of this size, though won’t be winning any records for power. It welds 24 gauge steel up to ¼ inch. This makes it great for most do it yourself welding projects, though struggles to produce more delicate welds.
The Forney Easy Weld 261 can use both 2 and 8 pound spools for a bit of flexibility in how you buy your wires, though as mentioned it definitely prefers a certain thickness over any others.
Plus the stainless steel construction is sturdy and durable, so it should last you a long time.
- Easy to use (made specifically for beginners).
- Good power output.
- Good welding on mild steel.
- Self shielded for ease of use.
- Sturdy and durable.
- Only uses one wire thickness.
- Doesn’t weld other materials like cast iron or aluminum.
- Very bulky and hard to move around.
3. Goplus MIG 130 Flux-Core Welder
GoPlus MIG 130 is a lightweight flux core welder that’s as good as you can get for a dedicated flux core only welding machine. It’s pretty lightweight (only 35 lbs) so it’s easy to use and lug around wherever you need it.
On top of that it boasts 4 flow speeds (min, max, 1, and 2), adjustable by simple switch flipping for easy and quick adjustments and 10 wire feed rates, adjustable by a knob, and full safety controls on the welding gun. Since it uses no gas canisters, it’s easier to set up and use than welders that need shielding gas. The machine as a whole is easy to set up and get to work immediately. Not much harder than jumping off a car.
The inert gas inside of the wire reduces oxidation in the weld, leading to smoother welds, and there’s no need to clean the surface of the welding area before welding; the flux core welding process will cut through rust and similar contaminants.
Dual air vents increase heat dissipation for a longer run without overheating. Some simple accessories are included (a basic welding mask and a brush) which is nice, though they are no replacement for higher quality gear.
The top slides open to reveal storage space for accessories and other things you might want to carry with you. Could double as a simple toolbox for the absolute basics, which is more what I recommend using it for than storing the accessories it comes with.
- Easy setup.
- No gas required.
- Four adjustable heating.
- Lightweight and easy to move around.
- Good number of settings.
- Automatic Thermal Safety Protection
- Only does flux core welding, so if you’re looking for a more versatile machine, you’ll want to look elsewhere.
4. Reboot MIG150 Flux Core Welder – Best Value
This Reboot flux welder is very flexible in use, doing MIG, stick, and flux core welding in one convenient package. It welds metal to .8 mm (about 1/3 of an inch), making it a little better than most of these (that do ¼” at most).
Being an inverter model this is very energy efficient. It uses inverted and “stepped down” DC power to produce a steady, efficient AC output. The added price over some of the cheaper transformer models is likely to be outweighed in the long term by energy savings.
Keep in mind, however that inverter technology is relatively untested, being newer on the market than traditional transformers. Stress testing hasn’t quite caught up to the tech yet, so there could be some hiccups in unexpected situations, or there might not. The knowledge just isn’t there yet.
The last feature of note is that this is the lightest model on this list (only rivaled by the other inverter model below), weighing in at just under 12 lbs.
- Extremely lightweight (only 12 lbs!).
- Very flexible, doing MIG, stick, and flux core welding.
- Welds thicker metal than usual.
- Inverter technology is energy efficient.
- Inverters have only really been around for 30 years or so, and only relatively reliable for far less than that, making their use a calculated risk in terms of how long a given machine will hold out under certain conditions.
5. Super Deal MIG 130 Flux-Core Welder
This Super Deal PRO MIG 130 Flux Core Welder has an affordably priced and can get the job done, but cuts corners at a few spots to get that price down.
The positives first. It’s of a decent weight (38 lbs) for easy portability, and compact enough to store anywhere. Its wave form control technology gives it adjustability for different weld requirements. This reduces spatter, increases performance and fusion depth. The copper tip on the welding gun reduces slag buildup and is easy to replace.
It comes equipped with 4 speeds (min, max, 1, and 2) and 10 adjustable wire feed speed with on/off safety control.
It boasts great flexibility on wires: flux cored wires .30” and .35”, and steel or carbon steel wires between .23” and .35”.
Unfortunately some major flaws hold it back. Mostly that it’s made of PVC rather than stainless steel. This reduces durability and actually ends up making it a bit heavier than it could be. It doesn’t help that being 110 v/60 hz only makes it fairly limited as far as these welding machines go in terms of its power output and the projects and metal thickness it can handle, and worse: it’s prone to overheating, or even melting in some cases due to poor heat protection. The largest casualty of the cost cutting. The welder should still be fine for infrequent use, but not as your go to daily welder.
If it weren’t for the flaws it’d be easy to recommend, but as is the major reason it gets a pass is it’s super cheap.
- Wave form control technology produces good welds.
- Easy to replace copper tips reduce mess.
- Good wire feed and weld speed control options.
- Great flexibility on accepted wires.
- Prone to overheating and destroying components.
- Poor power output.
- Less durable construction than most.
6. Hobart Handler 100 Flux Core Welder
A good, cheap intermediate model that’s fine for most purposes, but held back by some truly huge flaws. Primarily the issue is that it only does mild steel, and couples that with a truly terrible duty cycle (20%, which means that after 2 minutes of use, It needs about 8 minutes to cool down).
This makes it fine for small projects, but not great for anything truly practical, being limited basically to spot welding mild steel only.
On the bright side it’s a very safe machine, kept electrically cold until the trigger is pulled. It also has a pretty solid overall design, having a comfortably long cable and running on household current, being compatible with pretty much any US power source.
It’s a tradeoff, but overall not a great machine for the price.
- Welds between 18 gauge and 3/16” thick steel (mild steel).
- Safe to use; wire is kept electrically cold until trigger is pulled to prevent accidental burns or waste of material.
- Generous operating window for wires.
- Wires are easy to change or swap out with a different kind.
- 8 feet of wire length on the gun makes it easy and comfortable to use.
- Runs on household current, making it perfect for use around the home or on farms, without needing a unique generator or adapter.
- Horrendous duty cycle. At 20% you’re looking at 2 minutes of up time for every 8 minutes of downtime, making work, particularly on larger welding projects, tedious and annoying.
- Only welds mild steel. Good for many projects, but can be obnoxious if you need to work on something else.
- Is pricy for something as limited in usage as this flux welder is.
7. Lincoln Electric K2185-1 Easy Flux Core Welder
This is an old, tried and tested model that is proven reliable for both beginners and experienced welders. Unfortunately this also comes with some flaws of its own.
It’s versatile in what kind of wire it uses, being equally fine with standard MIG wire and flux cored wire, though significantly less so in what it works on. It only does mild steel, which was great in the past, but welders tend to be more versatile these days.
On the bright side, the working depth is great, from 24 gauge to 1/8” on mild steel. It’s also a “self shielded” model so no extra gas canister is needed, increasing portability so long as you’re using it with flux core wire (the MIG wire will still need shielding gas). Cold contact technology keeps welding wire electrically cold until trigger is pressed, keeping it safe to handle in both modes.
Unfortunately the cost is pretty hefty, being about twice as much as several other models that work on multiple materials. It’s a tradeoff on whether you need the MIG welding function or not. If not, the price is exorbitant for what it does, but if you do it might be worthwhile.
- Flexible in wire size and type usage.
- Great working depth.
- Self shielded flux core welding.
- Compact, portable and lightweight construction.
- Only does mild steel.
- Very pricey for what it offers.
Our Ultimate Pick: The Hobart Handler 140
When it comes to choosing the finest flux core welder that money can buy, the Hobart Handler 140 emerges as the undisputed champion, setting new standards in terms of power and versatility. However, we understand that budget considerations are a reality for most folks. For those seeking an exceptional balance between quality and affordability, we recommend exploring the options offered by Goplus and Reboot.
The choice between Goplus and Reboot can be a tough one because they both deliver exceptional performance. However, Goplus manages to secure its place as the top choice for those in search of the best pure flux core welder and a fantastic starter welding machine, thanks to its competitive price point.
That said, if your welding needs are more demanding and extensive, but you still can’t justify the investment in the Hobart model, the Reboot becomes a compelling option. While it comes at a price twice that of the Goplus, it more than doubles the utility and capabilities you’ll have at your disposal.
Whether you opt for the Hobart Handler 140, Goplus, or Reboot, you’re on the right path to enhance your welding capabilities. And if you’re interested in learning more about welding helmets for Flux Core, feel free to explore our dedicated blog on the subject.
We hope this information helps you make an informed decision. Thank you for choosing us as your trusted source for welding equipment insights.