Hobart Stickmate LX235 AC/DC Review
If you’re in the market for a reliable transformer based stick welder look no further than the Hobart Stickmate LX235.
It has both AC and DC output capabilities for optimum versatility. The easy-to-use controls feature Hobarts patented Accu-Set amp control which allows you to adjust the output by 1 amp increments.
The Stickmate is equipped with fully varnished magnetic coils which extend the already impressive lifespan of the unit.
Sound interesting? Keep reading.
- AC and DC capable
- Two AC settings
- Infinite amperage control
- High duty cycle
- 15-foot electrode holder
- Forced-draft cooling
- Simple controls
- Varnished magnetic coils
- Low quality ground clamp
AC and DC capable
This Hobart Stickmate LX235 is unique in that it gives you the option of welding with either Alternating Current (AC) or Direct Current (DC) depending on the situation. Being a transformer based welder (more on that later) it’s capable of outputting a lot of power: 225 amps for AC and 150 amps for DC.
Alternating Current (AC)
With AC output the welding current alternates between positive flow and negative flow – 60 times per second. Because the current is alternating, there is a brief moment where there is no output. This often causes the arc to extinguish which wastes time trying to strike another one. A solution to this problem lies within the composition of the electrodes you are using. For AC, E6027 and E7024 are preferred.
Why use AC then?
There are a few reasons you’d need to use AC output. The first is if you have no other option. There are plenty of cheap welders out there that only allow for AC. Typically these are low cost and low quality. Try to avoid if you can.
Another reason to use AC would be to fix arc blow problems. I wont get into that on this review but you can watch this informative video to help you better understand.
Direct Current (DC)
DC output is by far the most common and best method for stick welding. The advantages for DC output are numerous. It allows for fewer arc outages, less sticking and spatter, better bead control and smoother welds. However, within the direct current there are different polarities: positive and negative. Both have their own distinct uses.
Typically the most common is DC+ polarity. It allows for a solid bead with a higher level of penetration. Preferred on thicker materials.
DC- offers less penetration and a higher rate of electrode melt. It’s commonly used on thinner metals to prevent burning through the material.
Two AC settings
The Hobart Stickmate LX235 also features two distinct AC output ranges, giving you total control over the amount of power being used.
This is useful if you’re constantly switching from high amp to low amp output. Instead of having to crank the dial back and forth through the full 40 – 235 range, trying to get it just right, you simply turn the knob from high to low.
Infinite amperage control
Hobarts patented Accu-Set infinite amperage control (say that 5 times fast) is one of the most convenient amp controllers on the market.
The highly robust hand crank – instead of a tiny knob or button – makes it incredibly easy to adjust the amperage output while wearing gloves. It may not seems like a big deal but if you’re welding all day, you don’t want to be constantly taking your gloves on and off.
Infinite control means you can adjust the output by 1 amp increments so you can set it to your exact specifications.
However, as great as this unit is, it does lack one important feature – an LED display. So while the infinite control is great in theory, it’s only as accurate as you can line it up with the arrow.
Before moving away from the control aspect of the Hobart Stickmate LX235 I just need to point out that, while they aren’t perfect, they are very straightforward and easy to familiarize yourself with. Even if you’ve never welded before, you can be up and running within minutes.
There are only 3 things you need to know:
On/Off – I don’t think this requires any more explanation.
AC/DC Polarity – Depending on the type of material you are welding you have 4 options.
- High power AC
- Low power AC
- DC negative
- DC positive
Accu-Set Infinite Control – See above.
High duty cycle
Here is where the Hobart Stickmate LX235 really shines.
Just as a refresher. Duty cycle refers to the amount of time the unit can actively weld before needing to take a break so it can cool down. It’s listed as a percentage of 10 minute increments. For example if the duty cycle is 20% at 225 amps, that means you can weld for 2 minutes before having to rest for 8.
The Stickmate has a 100% duty cycle at 100 amps AC and 100% at 65 amps DC. So if you are only using this rig at half its power you can keep welding without ever having to take a break – lucky you.
However if you want to weld with full power you’ll have to give it plenty of time to rest. It has a 20% duty cycle at 225 amps AC and 20% duty cycle at 150 amps DC.
15-foot electrode holder
While many units lack in this department by providing short leads, Hobart knows that versatility of movement is key when welding.
They provide a 15-foot replaceable industrial strength electrode holder. This is important – especially with the Hobart Stickmate LX235 – because the unit is not easily moved.
However I do have one complaint. The work clamp lead is only 10-feet long. If they are going to make the electrode holder 15-feet, it just seems obvious to make the clamp lead 15-feet as well.
Which brings me to my next point.
Maybe you agree and want to immediately replace the 10-foot clamp with a 15-foot one. Or maybe 15-feet isn’t long enough and you’d prefer a 20 or 25-footer. Thankfully you can.
Hobart has made it easy to replace both the work clamp cable and electrode holder. Simply unscrew the front panel where the cables are attached, remove the old ones and plug in the new ones.
Newsflash: Welders can get really hot!
But thanks to Hobarts forced-draft cooling, you can weld all day without your rig overheating.
The fan runs continuously while the unit is on, forcing a stream of cool air inside. This helps tremendously to extend the life of the machine.
Long life expectancy
Since the Hobart Stickmate LX235 is a transformer based welder, naturally it has a longer life expectancy.
Equipped with fully varnished magnetic coils, you can expect the Stickmate to last for a long time.
Because the Hobart Stickmate LX235 is a transformer based welder, it can be a real pain when trying to move it around.
Weighing a massive 104 lbs with a size of L18″ x W13″ x H19″, this thing is huge.
If you plan on being mobile you either need a cart or consider a different welder altogether.
Compared to inverter based welders of similar power the Stickmate is definitely more expensive.
But on the flip side, with the Hobart you are getting a trusted brand name that’s known for high quality.
Not to mention their impressive 5/3/1 year warranty.
Low quality ground clamp
Remember above when I wrote about the replaceable cables? Good, because the ground clamp that comes with this unit leaves something to be desired.
It’s made of flimsy metal that works, but will quickly degrade in quality with use.
The Hobart Stickmate LX235 is an impressive piece of machinery but for the price I would expect a lot more.
It has plenty of power, is able to weld using both AC and DC output and is backed by a highly trusted brand name.
But it’s also heavy and expensive. It doesn’t have an LED display which leaves you guessing where to set the amperage and can only run using a 230 volt outlet.
If you have the money and want a brand name welder it’s a fine unit. But if you don’t need a brand name there are better, less expensive options out there.
Specs and Features
Weight: 104 lbs
Size: L18″ x W13″ x H19″
Power Input: 230V
Power Output: 235A/160A
Duty Cycle: 100% @ 100/65A
Thickness: 1/2″ Mild steel
Warranty: 5/3/1 year