Lincoln Electric Handy Core Review | A Solid MIG Welding Machine at a Fair Price

You've started to love welding. It feels amazing to hold so much power and to know that you've fabricated something fabulous. It is time to invest in a new machine, and you're looking at the top welders for beginners and may pick up a quality TIG welder. Your hunt for the right welder for your needs has brought you to this Lincoln Electric Handy Core review.

We will go over a lot of great features that the Lincoln Electric MIG welder has to offer. We even compare this Lincoln flux core welder to two strong competitors when it comes to being the best wire feed welder on the market: the Miller Electric MIG welder and the AHP AlphaTIG 200X

Lincoln Electric Handy Core Review

Lincoln Electric K2278-1 Handy CoreLincoln Electric K2278-1 Handy Core

Let’s dive right in and see what the Lincoln Electric K2278-1 Handy Core has to offer! Like most Lincoln MIG welders, the Handy Core comes packed with tons of features that are great for home welders.

While it's not as awesome as the Miller in a head-to-head battle, it is an excellent welder nonetheless and is stronger in some categories. It certainly exceeded my expectations and outperformed the AHP AlphaTIG welder in nearly every category. 

What Can You Expect to Use the Handy Core for?

Ideally, the Handy Core is best suited for doing repair jobs with mild steel. It’s well suited to working around the home garage and workshop, rather than in an industrial space. This welder can handle light repair work on farms, small art projects with metallurgy, repairing the exhaust on cars, and other such tasks with the voltage settings on low so you don’t blow through the metal because of the temperature.

It is not capable of handling structural jobs and repairs that will need to be able to hold a ton of weight. It also isn’t great at handling dirty repairs or areas with tons of gaps because it isn’t as high powered as the Miller welder.

Just make sure that you clean your joint weld before welding with the Lincoln Electric welder. If you have gaps, you will need tons of filler metal and multiple passes with this, so it might be better to grab the Miller or AHP for those jobs. 

Lincoln Handy Core Features

One of the awesome things about the Lincoln Handy Core is how many features it comes with right out of the box! With different ranges and settings, intuitive and user-friendly controls, and accessories included, it’s clear to see why people love this machine.

The Miller still has way more features and options than the Lincoln Electric. If you’re looking for more than just very light duty options, then you may need to consider ruling out the Lincoln Electric in favor of the Miller, which packs a lot more power and versatility. 

Duty Cycle and Welding Output Range

The Handy Core has a duty cycle of 20% at 70 Amps, so you can tell right away that this is a light-duty welder. This is a pretty low voltage and 20% is usually standard for higher power amps. By contrast, the Miller Electric has a 40% duty cycle at a much higher voltage output, giving you much more time to work per cycle. The clear winner in this category is the AHP AlphaTIG welder, with a 100% duty cycle at 150A. 

The output range of the Handy Core is 35 amps at the lowest setting and 88 amps at the highest setting. When your welder is set to the highest option, you will also get less than the 20% duty cycle listed since that was for a 70 amp rating. 

As you can tell by the output range, the Lincoln Electric Handy Core is an extremely light-duty welder. By comparison, the Miller Electric welder blows it out of the water, with a range that starts at a mere 30 amps but runs all the way up to 230 amps at the high end! Even the AHP can't compare to that range. 

Minimum and Maximum Metal Gauges Welded

Lincoln Electric knows this welder can’t handle 3/16 or 1/4 inch welds, so you will need to have enough skill to prepare and bevel your joint before handling such large projects and be prepared to make multiple passes. What it can do is handle from 18 gauge to 1/8 inch mild steel.

The AHP AlphaTIG can handle a lot of different materials thanks to the inverter technology. They can handle aluminum, steel, and precision welding with thinner gauge materials.

The Miller wins again, with the capacity to handle 24 gauge thickness up to 3/8 inch for mild steel and also 18 gauge up to 3/8 inches of aluminum.
Stainless steel can be 20 gauge for up to ¼ inch. 

Powering the Handy Core at Home

The Handy Core can be a bit finicky. If you don’t want to constantly trip the fuses in your house, you’ll need a minimum of 20 amps for your outlet. The outlet also needs a great ground connection. This welder is a 115-volt welder with a traditional 3 pin plug. To use its maximum amperage, you need to make sure nothing else is powered on in the same circuit. This is pretty annoying at times.

By contrast, the Miller welder can run on a variety of options. It’s compatible with household sockets and doesn’t require everything else to be powered down in order to weld properly. It’s also not going to trip your fuse box.

For tougher jobs, the Miller welder also comes with a different plug that allows it to be plugged into the more powerful 220-volt sockets. This is really convenient when the home power just isn't quite enough to get the job done, or when you're working in a heavier industrial setting and you’ve got a generator but not a traditional circuit. 

Handy Core Controls

The Handy Core has a few different controls. The wire feed comes with a dial to set the speed in a range from 1 to 10, so you can slow down for precision or speed up once you learn better technique. The wire feed speed runs from 0 to 300 inches per minute.

It has 2 additional switches for the voltage output settings. These are simply low/high and ½ switches. It also has an on-off switch. It's also got an integrated cold safety feature that will keep your welding wire cold until you press the button to begin welding. This is a nice feature for beginners, so you don’t have to keep laying down the MIG guns between welds and end up with unwanted arcs.

The Miller has a couple of different control settings. On top of all the standard knobs and switches for spool feeds, voltage, and ampere settings, it has a great feature for beginners. Until you’re ready to manually control your settings, you can use the advanced auto-set feature. This lets you preset your wire diameter so the machine can automatically configure your optimal wire speed and bottom knob settings. This keeps your welds accurate!

Conclusion

The Lincoln Electric is a great starter welder. If you're just beginning your welding journey and work mostly at home on lightweight jobs, chances are you won't need to spend the extra money for the Miller welder. This one can handle your needs.

If you want a welder you can grow into, that is easy enough for a beginner to handle but packs the raw power you will need for heavier jobs, then I highly recommend going for the Miller. Although the AHP AlphaTIG is a great option, the Miller is far more versatile overall, and a better grab for beginners and professionals alike. 

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About the Author Gregory

Hi, my name is Gregory! I have been welding practically all of my life and love it. As I have gotten older I have started to weld less and less, so in order to continue my love for welding I created this website. I like to write about my experiences and help you all become welders. I hope that you enjoy the site!

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