Best Flux-Core Welders of 2020

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Categories Welding
Go gasless with a flux-core welder.

Flux-cored welding is a great way to learn the art of welding. The equipment is easy to use, and after a few hours of practice, you should have the technique mastered. Flux-cored welders are simple to set up and work well with rusty metals and other impurities.

Here is our take on the best 6 flux-core welders money can buy.


What Is Flux-Core Welding?

Flux-core welding is a process that uses a hollow wire electrode packed full of flux, fed through a welding gun into the joint to weld two pieces of metal. As the wire heats, it melts and releases a gas that protects the weld from oxidation.

It is very similar to MIG welding in style and process, but unlike MIG welding, which requires gas to protect the integrity of the weld, flux-core welding is performed without such gas. It also differs from MIG because the electrode is hollow.

Is Flux-Core Welding Easy?

Flux-core welding is easier to master than TIG or stick welding. MIG is the easiest method to learn, but alongside that, flux-core takes a couple of hours to understand.

What makes it beginner-friendly is the lack of shielding gas. This is a huge advantage because it means you can perform flux-core in almost any setting and weather condition.

Are Flux-Core Welders Any Good?

It depends on what application you are using your flux-core welder for. This welding method is super-effective when you work with carbon, stainless or low-alloy steels, but it does not work on non-ferrous metals like aluminum.

Flux-core welders also generate a lot of heat, so thinner materials like sheet metal and car body panels are also not suitable for this welding method.

You might think that as MIG and flux-core welding are similar in so many ways, that there would be no distinction between when to use MIG and when to use flux-core. All MIG welders can perform the flux-core function. All you do is swap the electrode and turn off the gas.

So, why buy a dedicated flux-core welder? The first reason is that they can penetrate deeper and they are better suited to thicker material. A multi-process MIG welder might be better suited to general welding.

The second reason is that flux-core welding is suitable for any welding position, so it is more versatile. And the third reason is that when speed is crucial, a flux-core welder is much faster.

There are subtle differences between MIG welders that offer flux-core capabilities and dedicated flux-core welders. The thickness of the wires plays a role. Most household and lighter-duty MIG welders have a wire diameter of 0.03 inches, whereas if you want to work on substantial material, you need a thicker wire.

Also, check out the reel sizes, because most MIG welders have a 6-inch wheel, which won’t last that long when you are using the flux-core application. Look for an 8 or 10-inch reel to keep you welding for longer. This is important because a MIG welder deposits about 8 pounds of wire per hour compared to a flux-core welder at 25 pounds per hour.

What Can I Weld With Flux-Core?

Flux-core welders are great when it comes to machinery repairs in outdoor conditions. The lack of shielding gas means they can operate almost anywhere. Flux-core is a favorite method of the building industry, as well as transport and large-scale infrastructure projects.

You can weld carbon, mild, stainless and other alloy steels with a flux-core welder. You cannot weld aluminum or other non-ferrous metals.

How Thick Can You Weld With Flux-Core?

In general, using a 115-volt welder, you should reach a penetration level of about 0.25 inches. This increases if you up the amperage, with some 200-amp machines hitting depths of 0.375 inches.

This does vary on different materials. Plus, if you add shielding gas to the mix, you might increase the depth of weld.

How To Choose the Best Flux-Core Welder

Before taking the plunge and buying a flux-core welder, decide how you want to use it, and on what materials. Here are some basics to watch for.

Metal Thickness

Flux is better suited to thicker material, so if you are getting a welder to repair a classic car’s bodywork, think again and go for a MIG welder. Flux-core is generally not suitable for sheet metal because it operates at a high-heat and you risk melting the body panels.

Most average flux-core welders will happily penetrate to 0.25 inches, making them ideal for machinery repair on farms and ranches.

Multi-Process or Single-Use Machines

Most MIG welders will act as a flux-core welder because they can accommodate the hollow wire. However, the reverse cannot be said for flux-core machines, even when they state they are MIG devices. They are specifically designed to take hollow and not solid wire.

Also, if you want the option of adding gas to the weld to prevent oxidation, a MIG welder is a better fit.

Type of Metal

Flux-core welders have limitations when it comes to the types of metal they can weld. They are great at welding stainless steel and other steel varieties, but not for aluminum or other non-ferrous metals.

Having AC or DC capabilities will help. They weld steel better in AC, but as a rule, flux-core welders are not good at operating in AC. The quality of your welds may suffer, so consider switching to DC for a better outcome.

Length of the Lead

It may sound minor, but the length of your lead makes a huge difference to your welding experience. A longer lead of about 10 to 24 inches and a ground lead of around 12 inches means you can move around the weld without having to drag the welder closer.

Reel and Wire Size

Most wire reels are 6 inches, which is fine for MIG and TIG welders, but because flux-core is faster, it feeds more wire. A typical MIG welder deposits 8 pounds of wire every hour compared to 25 pounds for a flux-core welder. Look for a reel of 8 inches and try and get a welder with thicker diameter wire. The standard is 0.03 inches, but 0.035 inches would be better.


The Best Flux-Core Welders of 2020

1. Hobart Handler 140 MIG Welder

Best Flux-Core Welder for Sheet Metal

Hobart 500559 Handler 140 MIG Welder 115V
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It’s worth pointing out that in general, flux-core welders are not the best option when it comes to working with sheet metal. However, this Hobart Handler is by far the best for thinner materials.

It has 5-position voltage control that gives the user complete power over the smoothness of the arc and adjustments for the thickness of the sheet material. It means you can fine-tune your welder to cater to thinner material or work on 0.25-inch thick metal at the other end of the spectrum.

It has an industrial-grade, cast aluminum drive system and a heavy-duty work clamp to give the Handler industrial performance capabilities. It operates from a domestic power supply, and the wire feed is an impressive 40 to 700 inches per minute.

Why We Love It

Industrial-Grade Quality

Encased in stainless steel makes this a robust and reliable welder. It certainly meets the demands of the construction site. It is the type of welder that will last for years.

Superior Voltage Control

Working with different grade and gauge metals requires a welder with adjustability. 5 voltage settings mean you have all the control you need to switch between metals and depths.

Only Weighs 57 Pounds

This welder has a large handle that folds neatly away. It also weighs just 57 pounds, making it the ideal welder to pack into your car and take on the road. You can also store it away easily in the garage or workshop.

Easy To Use

If you want a welder that is simple to operate, this could be a perfect choice. It has two dials on the front, one for voltage and the other for amperage. Find the setting you want, and you are ready to go.

Keep In Mind

High Price Tag

It isn’t the most expensive welder available, but it is certainly not a budget option. If you are a beginner, it may be beyond your price range. It is a quality welder, but there are others in the same class that are cheaper models.

20 Percent Duty Cycle

This welder only has a 20 percent duty cycle. It means that for every 2 minutes spent welding, you will need to rest this welder for 8 minutes to let it cool down.

Additional Specs

Weight (pounds) 57
Dimensions (inches) 19 x 11 x 13
Multi-process MIG, flux-cored
Voltage 115
Max amps 140
Duty cycle 20 percent
Price $$$
Warranty 5-year

2. LOTOS MIG175-Amp Wire Welder

Best 220-Volt Flux-Core Welder

LOTOS MIG175 175AMP Mig Welder (2 Versions - With or W/out Spool Gun) Both Include Mask, Solid wires, Argon Regulator, Standard MIG Gun
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This flux-core welder is versatile. You get an aluminum spool gun for good measure and a host of accessories. It has a rated output of 175 amps, so it welds stainless steel to a depth of 0.25 inches.

The transformer technology ensures that no matter what the demands on this machine, it can take it. Transformers are better suited to heavy applications and less prone to damage.

The accessories include an argon regulator, a spool gun, a gas hose, spare contact tips and a welding mask. It has everything you need to get flux-core welding. If you use it in the MIG application, you need to factor in the cost of the gas.

Why We Love It

Reliable and Durable

Transformers are old school and robust. They have been used in welders for generations because they are effective and long-lasting. Why mess with a winning formula?

Aluminum Spool Gun Included

Flux-core welders cannot weld aluminum. But this kit comes with an aluminum spool gun to give you that option. It increases your flexibility and enhances the number of applications you can do.

Accessories Galore

The regulators, gas hose, spool gun and face mask enables you to get flux welding straight out of the box. MIG requires shielding gas, so you may have to factor that in if you want to switch applications.

Keep In Mind

Very Pricey

Be prepared to pay a lot to get this welder. It is easily one of the most expensive flux-core welders available. It might put off beginners and occasional welders.

Old Transformer Technology

We can sing the praises of transformers for being robust, but they are older technology, and inverters are more efficient and save you energy usage through better control.

Additional Specs

Weight (pounds) 85
Dimensions (inches) 18 x 12.5 x 10.5
Multi-process MIG, flux-cored
Voltage 220
Max amps 175
Duty cycle 20 percent
Price $$$
Warranty 1-year

3. VIVOHOME Portable Flux-Core MIG 130 Welder

Best Portable-Flux Core Welder

VIVOHOME Portable Flux Core Wire No Gas MIG 130 Welder Machine 110V Black
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If you want portability, look no further than this VIVOHOME welder. It costs a fraction of the Lotos model’s price, which puts it within beginner’s budgets. So, how good is this welder, and just how compact is it?

Unsurprisingly, it is a MIG welder, as so many seem to be, but it’s flux-core credentials are excellent. It weighs 37.2 pounds, so it is indeed light, and thanks to the large carry handle on the top, it is easy to pick up. The dimensions are 20.47 x 15.2 x 12.44 inches, so it is compact, making it easy to maneuver and store away.

It’s a no-reaction welder, so you don’t need shielding gas, and it has a maximum output of 120 amps, so it will tackle lighter tasks rather than heavy-duty applications.

Why We Love It

Easily Affordable

You could buy 3 units at this price and still have change from the cost of a high-end model. If you are welding for the first time, this might be a great option.

Only Weighs 37 Pounds

At 37 pounds, it is a lot lighter than some of the high-end models. This could be down to the construction materials (more plastic than metal), but if you want a compact welder, this unit is easy to store away and maneuver.

No Gas Needed

This welder has an electrode with a flux-cored wire that produces shielding gasses during the welding process. It means that you don’t need to worry about your welds; the flux-cored wire sorts that out.

Keep In Mind

Build Quality Issues

For such a well-priced welder, you won’t be surprised to learn that the quality of the components is not as high as the expensive models. You get what you pay for!

15 Percent Duty Cycle

This welder has a very low duty cycle. For every 1.5 minutes of welding, you need to rest the welder for 8.5 minutes. That is going to hamper your work rate. You’ll spend most of your time sipping coffee while you wait to go again.

Additional Specs

Weight (pounds) 37.2
Dimensions (inches) 20.47 x 15.2 x 12.44
Multi-process MIG, flux-cored
Voltage 110
Max amps 120
Duty cycle 15 percent
Price $
Warranty 1-year

4. SUNGOLDPOWER MIG 150A Flux-Core Welder

Best Flux-Core Wire Feed Welder

SUNGOLDPOWER MIG 150A Welder Flux Core Wire Automatic Feed Welding AC Welder Gasless Machine Free Mask NO Gas
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Thanks to the automatic wire feed, this welder gives you one less thing to worry about. It has a range of 80 to 150 amps, and it has feed speed control, so you can adjust the rate that the wire feeds automatically. This is a considerable advantage when flux-core welding because the feed rate is over double that of MIG welding.

It also has on/off safety controls, thermal safety protection and 4 adjustable heat settings. It is ideal for welding mild, stainless, carbon and other alloy-based steels. It even comes with welding wire and a protective mask to get you started right out of the box.

This welder is also an incredible price. If we compare it to the LOTOS, you could buy three of these and still have change for the taxi home.

Why We Love It

Great Price

The price is one of the first things to grab your attention. It was a contender for the budget model, and when you compare and contrast the pricing structures of flux-core welders, you see what great value this is.

Automatic Wire Feed

Automating the wire feed is genius. It allows you to set the correct speed for the application, and the machine does the rest. Flux-core welding uses a lot of wire rapidly, so this is a real bonus feature.

No Gas Required

No gas means you can take this welder outdoors and weld almost anywhere. The gas comes from the filler inside the hollow wire, so you still get a weld with high tensile strength, no matter where you are working.

Keep In Mind

Cheaply Made

The components inside this welder are not the same quality as the high-end models. It shortens the life expectancy of the welder, which means you could end up replacing it at some point.

AC Only

Home hobbyists are the likely audience for this AC welder. Most commercial applications are DC because it produces neater welds with far less spatter. DC is also easier to control.

15 Percent Duty Cycle

A 15 percent duty cycle is going to seriously hamper your rate of work. Imagine resting the machine every 8.5 minutes. That’s what you have to do every time you use this welder.

Additional Specs

Weight (pounds) 39.4
Dimensions (inches) 20 x 13 x 11
Multi-process MIG, flux-cored
Voltage 110
Max amps 150
Duty cycle 15 percent
Price $
Warranty Not stated

5. Forney Easy Weld 299 125FC Flux-Core Welder

Best Beginner Flux-Core Welder

Forney Easy Weld 299 125FC Flux Core Welder, 120-Volt, 125-Amp,Green
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When you call your welder “Easy weld,” it has to be simple for beginners to use. Unlike others on the list, this is not a multi-process welder. It welds to a depth of 0.25 inches, and it has a 120-volt input and a 125-amp output.

These models are built with beginners in mind. The controls are simplicity itself. One dial and two switches are all you have to contend with. If you are a novice, spending less time fathoming how your welder works and more time practicing welding is a good thing.

Why We Love It

Beginners in Mind

It is a welder that has everything stripped back to make it functional and easy to master. It doesn’t TIG or MIG, it flux-cores, and that’s it. Period.

10-Pound Spools

During flux-core welding, the feed rate is way faster than other forms of welding, so having a machine that accepts 10-pound reels of wire is a winner. It keeps you welding for longer and doesn’t slow you down.

Thin Plate Setting

If you are working on sheet material, set the welder to “thin plate,” and it feeds the wire faster to make it possible to weld car body panels and other thinner material.

Keep In Mind

Not Multi-Process

It’s great that this is a dedicated welder for beginners, but when you graduate onto bigger and better things, you will need an upgrade. That means buying a new welder at a considerable cost.

Lacks Power

It states that 0.25-inch depths are achievable, but in truth, this welder struggles. It might restrict the types of work and applications you can do.

Additional Specs

Weight (pounds) 51
Dimensions (inches) 12 x 18 x 24
Multi-process Flux-cored
Voltage 120
Max amps 125
Duty cycle 20 percent
Price $$
Warranty 6-month

6. Goplus MIG130 Welder Flux-Core Wire

Best Budget Flux-Core Welder

Goplus MIG 130 Welder Flux Core Wire Automatic Feed Welding Machine
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The Goplus welder also has an automatic wire feed. This welder can handle lighter duties like car body panel work and sheet material, and it has 4 adjustable current levels to cater to different applications.

It has safety features like overheat protection and two vents to keep the machine cool. It’s lightweight, weighing just 35 pounds, so it is the ideal home and workshop welder for smaller tasks around the home.

It comes with accessories, including a chipping hammer to remove hardened slag and a welding mask.

Why We Love It

Stainless Steel Construction

The stainless steel body protects the welder from damage and the rigors of daily use. It is a feature typically found in more expensive welders rather than budget models.

Adjustable Current Flows

Adjusting the current flow gives you greater flexibility to weld thinner or thicker material. It makes it possible to do repair work on car body panels without the fear of melting the sheet metal.

Weighs 35 Pounds

This welder weighs 35 pounds, so getting it to and from the welding site is easy. It also makes it simple to store away in the garage or workshop.

Keep In Mind

Cheap Components

This machine has such a low retail price that the quality of the components are not as good as the high-end models. It all adds up to a higher risk of a malfunction, with the possibility of seeking a full replacement.

Lacks Power

This welder tackles the lighter duties, restricting the types of metals you can work with and the applications.

Additional Specs

Weight (pounds) 35
Dimensions (inches) 14 x 8 x 12
Multi-process Flux-cored, MIG
Voltage 110
Max amps 130
Duty cycle 20 percent
Price $
Warranty 3-month

Flux-core Welder Comparison Chart

Product Best Weight Dimensions Multi-process Voltage Max amps Duty cycle Warranty
Hobart Handler 140 MIG Welder Sheet Metal 57 lbs 19 x 11 x 13″ MIG, flux-cored 115 140 20% 5-year
LOTOS MIG175-Amp Wire Welder 220-Volt 85 lbs 18 x 12.5 x 10.5″ MIG, flux-cored 220 175 20% 1-year
VIVOHOME Flux-Core MIG 130 Welder Portable 37.2 lbs 20.47 x 15.2 x 12.44″ MIG, flux-cored 110 120 15% 1-year
SUNGOLDPOWER MIG 150A Welder Wire Feed 39 lbs 20 x 13 x 11″ MIG, flux-cored 110 150 15% N/A
Forney Easy Weld Flux-Core Welder Beginner 51 lbs 12 x 18 x 24″ Flux-cored 120 125 20% 6-month
Goplus MIG130 Flux-Core Wire Budget Pick 35 lbs 14 x 8 x 12″ Flux-cored, MIG 110 130 20% 3-month
Jump to the Full Flux-core Welder Reviews

Flux-Core Welders FAQs

Is MIG Welding Better Than Flux-Core?

MIG is more versatile for general applications, but less effective when it comes to working outdoors. Flux-core is the go-to method on farms, ranches, and repairs to transport and building infrastructure, thanks to its ability to work in almost all conditions.

They need no gas, and so produce high-quality welds out in the field.

What Can I Weld With a 125-Amp Flux-Core Welder?

You can weld 18-gauge mild steel to a depth of 0.188 inches.

Can You Weld Stainless Steel With Flux-Core?

You can weld stainless steel with a flux-core welder as long as you use the correct wire. Type 309 will weld stainless steel rated from 300 to 309, while type 316L wire will weld 316 stainless steel.

Is Flux-Core Reverse Polarity?

Flux-core works with DC Electrode Negative (DCEN) or straight polarity rather than reverse. Reversed polarity creates a lot of heat on the electrode because electrons flow from negative to positive.

Do You Push or Pull Flux-Core Welding?

You always drag (pull) the welding gun away from the completed weld. Flux-core welding creates a lot of slag which needs to be removed. You’ve probably heard this before, but if there’s slag, you drag.


Go Gasless

Flux-core welding has its limitations, and it isn’t for everyone, but if you work in the field and need a speedy welding technique to make repairs no matter what the conditions, flux-core is for you.

There are so many instances where gasless welders are useful, so the next time you need to make a repair, try using a flux-core welder.

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About the Author

Mark Weir

Mark spent 24 years working in real estate, so he knows his way around a home. He also worked with contractors and experts, advising them on issues of planning, investments, and renovations. Mark is no stranger to hands-on experience, having renovated his own home and many properties for resale. He likes nothing better than seeing a project through to completion.
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