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Flux core welding is great for beginners. You can pick it up with about a half hour of practice and a little common sense, and don’t need to worry about the more sophisticated details of other types of welding or fiddly bits like making sure your welding surface is properly cleaned before welding or keeping a gas canister handy. For an amateur welder or hobbyist, these things are perfect, and even make great small welders for professionals to use for less sensitive jobs.
Here’s a small selection of the ones I like within an affordable price range.
In a Rush? Here is Our Top Choice
Hobart Handler 140
Our Favorite Flux Core Welders On The Market
7 Best Flux Core Welder - Reviews 2019
1. Hobart Handler 140 Flux Core Welder - Top Overall Pick
An amazing, versatile welder good for pretty much any project you can throw at it. Both good for 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 unit 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 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.
2. Goplus MIG 130 Flux-Core Welder - Top Choice for Home Use
This lightweight flux core welder is about 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 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.
3. Reboot MIG150 Flux Core Welder - Top Budget Choice
This Reboot 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.
4. Forney Easy Weld 299 Flux Core Welder - Best for Beginners
Forney makes a lot of great products for beginners, and this is no exception. 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 a bit bulky (42 lbs), which makes it hard to lug around by hand.
Still, aside that its specs are great. The 120 volt input and 125 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 projects, though struggles to produce more delicate welds.
It can use both 2 and 10 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. It requires no shielding gas to work (a “self shielded” model). This makes it easier to move around for very little cost in performance and safety.
Plus the stainless steel construction is sturdy and durable, so I should last you a long time.
5. Super Deal PRO MIG-130 Flux-Cored Welder - Under $200
This unit is 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 speeds 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 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.
6. Hobart Handler 100 Flux Core Welder - Top Choice for 110V
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.
7. Lincoln Electric K2185-1 Flux-Core Welder - Top Choice for 120V
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.
Our Top Choice
Hobart Handler 140
If we’re going by pure quality, Hobart’s model hands down wins this race, blowing everything else out of the water with its power and versatility. However, that’s only if money is no object, so for everyone else I’d suggest either Goplus or Reboot’s model. They’re so close in quality I have a hard time picking, but Goplus’s lower price point wins out for being the best pure flux core welder and starter welding machine out there. If you find you’re doing a lot of work (but not enough to justify the Hobart’s price) though, consider the Reboot, at twice the price but more than twice the utility.
We also reviewed welding helmets for Flux Core. Check it out if you are interested.