Hot start, Arc Force & Anti-Stick in Welding

Hot start, Arc Force & Anti-Stick in Welding

Table of Contents > 1. Inverter Stick Welders
2. Stick Welder Hot Start, Arc Force, and Anti-Stick Features Explained
    2.1 Hot Start In Stick Welding
        2.1.1 Hot Start Settings
        2.1.2 When Should You Use a Hot Start in Stick Welding?
    2.2 Arc Force In Stick Welding
        2.2.1 Arc force Applications
        2.2.2 Arc Force Settings
        2.2.3 When Should You Use an Arc Force in Stick Welding?
    2.3 Anti-Stick Feature In Welding
        2.3.1 Anti-stick Settings And Applications
    2.4 Bonus Feature - VRD (Voltage Reduction Device) In Stick Welders
        2.4.1 When Should You Use a VRD in Stick Welding?
3. Final Thoughts
🧐Hot start, Arc Force & Anti-Stick in Welding FAQ

Despite being one of the oldest welding methods, Stick/Arc welding continues to play a crucial role in modern industries worldwide. Its enduring popularity is a testament to its reliability and adaptability, which have been enhanced through numerous technological advancements. 

Manufacturers have introduced features such as hot start, arc force & anti-stick to address the challenges of Stick welding. Today, we'll delve into these features, explaining the science behind them and how they can be helpful in your everyday Stick welding applications. 

Understanding how each works is crucial in making an informed choice, so let's dig in.

Stick Welding with 6010 Rods

Stick Welding with 6010 Rods

Photo by @datboimiggz (TikTok)

Inverter Stick Welders

If you browsed the welder market, you probably saw nearly all machines, especially those for home, hobby, or DIY users, use an inverter power source. Inverters are much smaller, lighter, and power efficient, and it is not a surprise they are so widely used.

However, there are specific challenges linked to inverter Stick welders. Shielded Metal Arc Welding (SMAW) or Stick welding is often performed at high amps or requires high voltage and OCV (open circuit voltage) to start and maintain the arc. In those tasks, there is no better solution than good old transformers.

How does stick welding work?

Despite their many advantages, inverter Stick welders can encounter specific issues. For instance, using the aggressive arc E6010s with these welders can lead to inconsistent arc, sticking, or even arc extinguishing. These issues can persist even if the welder is operated correctly, as the internal components may struggle to stabilize the aggressive arc.

To address these issues and prioritize your safety, Stick welders today provide a hot start, arc force, anti-stick, and VRD features. You can find these features in YesWelder YWA-160 Stick welder, and we'll explain what they can do for you.


YWA-160 IGBT Inverter Stick Welder


YWA-160 IGBT Inverter Stick Welder

Stick Welder Hot Start, Arc Force, and Anti-Stick Features Explained

If you are buying a new Stick welder, there is a high chance it features a hot start, arc force, or anti-stick. Even though these features have been out for a while, many still need to understand how they work.

Since these features can significantly enhance your everyday welding applications, we strongly recommend getting a Stick welder with hot start, arc force, and anti-stick. We've made sure you can find them in YesWelder Stick welders, empowering you to take your welding operations to the next level.

Hot Start, Arc Force, and Anti-Stick Features in Stick Welding


Hot Start In Stick Welding

A hot start is quite a helpful feature to have in your Stick welding arsenal. This feature boosts the starting amps, ergo the name hot start. But why would you want a boost of amperage at the beginning?

The hot start feature provides a surge of amperage at the beginning of your weld, and it is a powerful tool in your Stick welding arsenal. It helps establish the molten weld pool on the cold plate, preventing the electrode from sticking. 

This feature is handy when starting the arc with poor-condition electrodes or when working with rusty or dirty metals. Its effectiveness can give you the confidence to tackle any welding task, and you can get it with our YesWelder Arc-205DS Pro.

YesWelder Arc-205DS Pro

YesWelder Arc-205DS Pro

Hot Start Settings

Depending on the level of your Stick welder, you can set the intensity and duration of the hot start. The intensity of a hot start is typically dialed in the percentage of primary amperage. For example, a 20% hot start means your welder will start with 20% more amps than primary amperage, and this value can even go up to 100%.

The duration of the hot start sets up how long the current boost will last. Typical values are 0-1 second, depending on the specific applications you are using the hot start initially.

When first using the hot start, you want to start slow. If you notice an arc starting issues, start with 0.25-0.5 duration and 10-30% current boost, and observe the results. The more is not, the better, so tune up the boost values until you get the desired arc-starting characteristics. If you overtune it, the initial burst of current can create a keyhole or burn through the pieces.

Overtuning hot start may cause a keyhole or burn-through due to excessive initial current.
Overtuning hot start may cause a keyhole or burn-through due to excessive initial current.

However, keep in mind that DIY and hobby machines will typically have a built-in hot start with default values. This means you can not fine-tune the settings, but you will still benefit the most from the advantages that Hot Start provides.

When Should You Use a Hot Start in Stick Welding?

We recommend using the hot start in the following applications:

  • When you notice an arc starting issue (the arc won't start or the electrode immediately sticks to the base metal)
  • When welding a cold plate that needs a bit more heat to form a solid weld puddle
  • When using difficult-to-run electrode types like 7018s
  • When your electrodes are in poor condition (damp)
  • When trying to start an arc on dirty or rusty base material
Stick Welding on rusty metal
Stick Welding on Rusty Metal
  • When continuing the previous welds; to re-melt and unify the previous and following weld.

You should avoid using a hot start if:

  • Your arc starts just fine in the given applications
  • Welding thin pieces in which a high initial current can burn holes
Welding thin pieces in which a high initial current can burn holes

Arc Force In Stick Welding

An Arc force, Dig, or Arc control is another helpful feature in Stick that addresses most issues that occur due to voltage fluctuations. The internal components sense the voltage fluctuations and boost the current to prevent the electrode from sticking or completely extinguishing. 

Compared to a hot start, which also provides a boost of current, the arc force works differently. Instead of boosting the amperage only at the beginning, the arc force works throughout the entire weld, but only if there is a need (voltage fluctuation).

What is arc force in Stick welding?
What is arc force in Stick welding?

Arc force Applications

Arc force can be useful in various situations that include operator errors, hard-to-run electrodes, or Stick welding thin materials. Arc force is an excellent feature for beginners who are still learning how to maintain a proper arc length. Moving the electrode too close or too far from the joint will cause voltage differences, and the machine will boost the current to maintain the arc.

What is Arc Length

In addition, many welders use Arc force when Stick welding with E6010s. As noted, inverter welders and 6010s don't mix well due to aggressive arc, which requires big inductors to stabilize. The arc force does precisely that, as it stabilizes the arc and deals with significant fluctuations to ensure a smooth welding procedure.

Some experienced welders even use Arc force when welding thin materials to reduce the heat impact on the pieces and avoid distortion and warping. To do so, welders lower the primary current but increase the arc force. This results in an overall colder procedure but with enough penetration and a lower risk of burn-through or other defects.

Arc Force Settings

Unlike hot start, arc force lasts throughout the welding operation, so you can only set the intensity of arc force. Like a hot start, the intensity is represented in percentages (0-100%) or 1-10 dials.

When first using an arc force, start with the lower values of factory defaults. If the arc forces metal into the puddle and the electrode doesn't stick, your arc force is sufficient. If it still sticks, increase the Dig a bit.

Electrode sticks while welding
Electrode sticks while welding 
Photo by @bernardosanchez388 (TikTok)

However, you can also over-tune the arc force. If you set values that are too high, the arc can get extremely harsh. You'll notice a lot of spatter and inconsistent results, so you'll want to tune it down for 5-10% until you are in the sweet spot again.

When Should You Use an Arc Force in Stick Welding?

To harness the power of arc force in stick welding, you should use it in the following situations:

  • When you are still learning how to control the arc length in Stick welding
  • If the electrodes often stick to the plate or arc extinguishes
  • When using E6010 electrodes that have a highly aggressive arc that needs to be stabilized
Stick Welding with 6010 Rods
Stick Welding with 6010 Rods

Photo by @datboimiggz (TikTok)

  • When trying to hold a tight arc without extinguishing or struggling to hold a tight arc
  • When welding thin pieces and you want to reduce the overall heat

Avoid using the arc force if:

  • You don't have any arc issues or voltage fluctuations during welding
  • You notice excessive spatter and harsh arc due to too high arc force
Stick Welding under 100% Arc Force
Stick Welding under 100% Arc Force

Anti-Stick Feature In Welding

Judged by the name, many think that the anti-stick feature in stick welding prevents electrodes from sticking to the base metal. Unfortunately, sticking typically occurs due to poor welding technique (arc length, angle, or position), welding parameters (amperage and voltage), or contaminated metal. The anti-stick feature will only help you unstick your electrode more quickly, while you'll have to work on other parameters to deal with sticking.

To understand how this feature works, we'll first have to ask what happens when the electrode sticks. Once the electrode sticks, it short-circuits itself to the base metal. At that point, the high current passes through the electrode, which becomes heated and bent, the coating falls off, and it becomes hard to remove and impossible to use again.

What happens when the electrode sticks

What happens when the electrode sticks
Photo by @kingsiriwelding (TikTok)

The anti-stick feature in the Stick welder detects the short-circuiting or electrode sticking and automatically reduces the voltage and amperage to zero. This stops the current from going through the electrode, which prevents the following heating and damage to the electrode and allows you to remove it from the workpieces effortlessly. In addition, you can use the electrode again after unsticking it.

Anti-stick Settings And Applications

Compared to other features, the anti-stick feature does not have any fancy setting options. You can either turn it on or off or adjust it over time. If you are new to Stick welding, you probably had your fair share of electrodes stuck to the base metal, so there is no reason not to use this feature.

What is Anti-stick in welding

However, its reliability depends on the manufacturer's solutions. The last thing you want is a faulty machine turning off voltage and amperage during the welding. That's why we recommend buying welders from trustworthy manufacturers such as YesWelder, and we guarantee for our machines.

Bonus Feature - VRD (Voltage Reduction Device) In Stick Welders

VRD, or voltage reduction device, is another modern feature you can find in new inverter Stick welders. While previous features mainly impact the stick welding arc and performance, VRD is a valuable safety feature that reduces the open circuit voltage when not welding.

What is open circuit voltage

Unlike other welding processes, such as MIG welding or TIG welding, Stick welding turns up the voltage as soon as you start your welder. This voltage is known as open circuit voltage, and it can present a specific hazard when you are not welding. Touching the electrically hot electrode and grounded base piece can cause electrical shocks.

The primary issue with Stick welding is that OCV can be exceptionally high, typically 50-85 volts. Some electrodes simply require high OCV for the arc to start. While in dry conditions, this voltage is generally safe, moisture or sweat can create conditions for more serious electric shock. 

That's where VRD kicks in. This device automatically reduces the open circuit voltage when not welding to promote safety. When you touch the base metal, the machine senses the change in resistance and turns off the VRD to provide enough voltage for the electrode to start an arc. Once you finish welding, the lack of resistance turns back VRD on, so the risk of accidental shocks is minimal.

How VRD affects open-circuit voltage.
How VRD affects open-circuit voltage.

When Should You Use a VRD in Stick Welding?

Like other features, you can turn VRD on and off when needed, and it doesn't always have to be beneficial. We recommend turning VRD when welding on a field or in damp or humid conditions. Humidity and sweat can lower the skin's resistance, intensifying the shock, and you should also use them when working in confined spaces or off-ground levels.

Stick Welding Process after Rainy
Turning VRD when welding on a field or in damp or humid conditions is recommended.
Photo by @datboimiggz (TikTok)

However, VRD also has its drawbacks. This device can delay turning back the OCV, which can impact the ability to start an arc. Paired with low-hydrogen or cellulose electrodes, which initially have hard arc-starting characteristics, VRD can make arc starts a nightmare. Therefore, like with other features, you should be careful when using it.

Final Thoughts

Hot start, Arc force, and Anti-stick in welding, paired with VRD, are precious features that can enhance your everyday welding operations, adding value to your work. When used properly, they can overcome most drawbacks related to Stick welding, specific applications, and inverter power sources.

Arc force and hot start are excellent features that boost the amperage at the beginning or during the welding operation to compensate for voltage drops or add more heat to the cold plate. Anti-stick will help you remove stuck electrodes, while VRD promotes safety and protects you from possibly harmful OCV of Stick welding.

Still, each of these features has its minor or more significant drawbacks. So, it is essential to understand the science behind each, and the sole purpose of our article was precisely that.


🧐Hot start, Arc Force & Anti-Stick in Welding FAQ

1. What is Hot Start in Stick welding?

A hot start is a feature in Stick welding that increases starting amperage to quickly establish a molten weld pool on cold metal, preventing electrode adhesion. It's beneficial for initiating welds on cold plates by providing an initial amperage surge.

2. How to set up Arc Force for Stick welding?

Arc force, unlike hot start, is an ongoing feature in welding that should be set to a suitable intensity, typically indicated by a percentage or dial. Start with the lower factory default settings and adjust up if needed to prevent electrode sticking. Avoid over-tuning, as it can lead to excessive spatter and inconsistent welds; if this happens, reduce the setting by 5-10% to find the optimal balance.


👏 You may be interested in the following:


Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

    1 out of ...