Engine Driven Welder : A Definitive Guide [2021]

Have you been held back from welding just because you don’t have an outdoor power cable? Engine Driven Welder is the solution you are looking for.

Well, whether welding is your profession or a hobby, it is one of the most tedious, laborious, and tiresome activities. 

For doing your favorite job, knowing the fact that you don’t have an outdoor power supply and this being a hurdle for you which holds you back from welding outdoors is one of the most common problems associated with hobbyists and professionals.

This is exactly why engine driven welding generators have been successful enough to ease your job so that you can work for long hours without any interruption, anywhere, and at any time. 

So what exactly is engine driven welder generators?

A welding generator produces power for stick welding, TIG welding, MIG welding, and flux-cored welding, which incorporates gasoline, diesel, or LP fuels instead of using a power supply. The plant is a self-contained, self-operator motor-generator set consisting of a reverse series winding a DC generator driven by either a DC or AC motor. 

Welder working with a Diesel Engine Driven Welder Generator
Welder Working With a Engine Driven Welder Generator

Benefits of a Engine Driven Welder Generator

  • Assurance of having a continuous supply of power without relying on power mains and electricity. 
  • Acts as a multi-tasking generator.
  • Little handy locomotive machines.
  • Permits portable operation.
  • Can be employed on nearly all ferrous and non-ferrous materials.
  • Can be used for all processes. 

Apart from welding, these machines are capable of performing tasks of a stand-alone generator. 

So, even if you are not using your unit, instead of just using up your space, it can be used to power up other applications as well, saving your money and hustle in operating two different kinds of machines.

It can be used as an emergency powering unit. 

This is like one of the biggest advantages of having an engine driven welding generator.

Not only this but, the machine also acts as a 2-in-1, 3-in-1, and believe it or not even 4-in-1 machine, namely doing the job of a welder, a generator, and a battery charger for 3-in-1 features and being a welder, a generator, a battery charger and a compressor for 4-in-1 features. 

What features make an engine driven welder an ideal substitute for your normal conventional welding routine? 

What are the key factors of considerations to be kept in mind whilst choosing an engine driven welder which is right for your work of place?

For whom do I strictly advise these machines? 

How do you know which welder generator is best for you when you are subjected to so many kinds of welding generators? 

If you are confused and having second thoughts to the ideal engine driven welding generator you should buy, you will love this definitive guide which slides directly to the most suitable powering unit for you and your work. 

The sweetest part of this guide is that it lists ALL the possible options available for different types of people having different types of accessibilities, locations, and working habits. 

Stick around to find out which welder generators I highly recommend. 

Features of An Engine Driven Welder

Fuel Tank

It has a simple fuel tank that would power your welding equipment when in need. 

Hence, these machines become ideal for outdoor work like construction sites, farms, and industries. 

The fuel tanks use up space in the machine but also ensure you continuously uninterrupted extended working hours. 

Generator 

They can be used as a generator saving your space, money, and hustle in running two different machines being easy to operate at the same time.

It is compatible with other appliances and easy to use.

All you need to do is plug-in appliances into its outlets and they are ready to use, so if you don’t even want to use the machine as an engine driven generator, you have other options to use it for and in the same way, it does not restrict your working boundary. 

Eco Welding

This feature allows welding operations at a reduced speed which results in lower noise levels, reduced fuel consumption, and lower emission levels than the conventional welders.

It emphasizes being as much environment-friendly as it can be by using fuel efficiently. 

Slow Down Feature

Most of them have a slow-down feature which automatically reduces engine speed for approximately 8 seconds or more so that there is no load on the engine and then automatically increases it once again as soon as there is welding or an AC generator demand. 

This feature results in less noise, lower emissions, reduced fuel consumption, and extended engine life. It significantly results in lowering the burden on the unit. 

Power Optimizer

Some machines are incorporated with a feature called the “power optimizer”.

This specific control feature aims at preventing the engine overload when working for long hours continuously and also doing its work to its limit.

What this feature ensures is its stability and optimal operation while running and at the same time parallelly exploiting the full power of the engine. 

It namely prevents overloading on the machine. 

Auto-Idle Economizer

The presence of this feature in these machines makes them different from conventional generators as this concept is based on “power on demand”, allowing both fuel saving as well as reduced engine wear and depreciation. 

Multi-Purpose

These machines are capable of performing multi-purpose functions like doing stick, MIG, TIG, and flux-cored welding operations. 

Digital Signal Processor

DSP or Digital Signal Processor, often known as is a feature that identifies the fact that the regulation of the work or welding parameters is performed by the means of a digital technique.

To be more precise, the feature controls reside programs which perform regulation of the different processes. 

Voltage Reduction Device

VRD is a function that is present in most of the machines and is responsible for reducing the open-circuit voltage to a value much safer than before. 

Automatic Voltage Regulation

Voltage Reduction Device and Automatic Voltage Regulation may sound the same, but these two features completely vary from each other. 

AVR is featured on the side of the machine where it regulates AC output successfully avoiding spikes and troughs of power. 

Portability and Transportation

Being able to move the unit from place-to-place with ease make traveling to remote or hard-to-access areas, a non-issue. 

Hence, they are strongly recommended in rural and remote areas where there is not a sufficient amount of electric supply.

Polarity

Engine driven welding generators are available in either AC ( alternate current) or DC ( direct current) outputs.

The polarity of engine driven welders is explained in the topic below.

A Diesel Powered Engine Driven Welder Generator
A Diesel Powered Engine Driven Welder Generator

Engine Driven Welders Outputs

An engine driven welder outputs are either AC ( alternate current) or DC ( direct current). Both of them are discussed below:

AC Output

AC welding is considered to be inferior to DC welding and therefore it is used rarely. 

Uses:

  • Downhand heavy plate welds 
  • Fast fills
  • Aluminium TIG welding 

Advantages of AC Output

  • Welding generators operating on AC output can be used for magnetized metals which is not possible for welding generators operating on DC output. 
  • AC welding provides a higher current level, which allows deeper penetration.

Disadvantages of AC Output

  • Directional instability poses a setback as it results in a lower product yield than DC welding.

DC Output

DC welding is the most commonly used output in a welder generator. 

Uses:

  • Thinner metals 
  • Building up of larger deposits

Advantages of DC Output

  • Having a higher deposition rate than welding generators operating on AC output. 
  • Produces less spatter, making the weld bead uniform and smooth.
  • High product yield.
  • The electrical arc remains constant and stable making it more reliable and easy to work. 
  • Cheap machinery helps cut costs making it more reliable. 

For proper penetration and uniform beading, the right polarity should be operated in a welding generator. Hence it’s your choice to decide on the type of output best suited for you. 

All of these features will have an impact on the choice of device that will meet the needs of a user. 

Application or the welding process can be of many types such as Stick welding, MIG welding, TIG welding, wire welding, arc gouging, plasma welding, and flux-cored welding and an engine driven welding generator should be used according to the process of welding.

Engine Driven Welder: Buying Guide

What are the factors that you should keep in mind while choosing for an ideal engine driven welder? Below are some briefly laid down considerations:

Fuel consumption and Efficiency

What type of fuel does an ideal engine driven welder use? 

It is an obvious fact that you would perhaps want an economically efficient fuel that is compatible with the generator with fewer emissions and greater power generation. 

Generators can be operated in Diesel,Gasoline or LP fuel types, explained below:

Diesel

Pros:
  • Fuel efficient – An engine driven welder generator operating diesel engine offers a better fuel economy than a welding generator operating a gasoline engine. It uses about half of the amount of fuel used in gasoline engine driven welders and provides more power while at the same time using less fuel.  
  • Safety – Diesel fuel does not ignite as easily as gasoline and is auto-igniting. 
  • Refineries almost always require diesel-fueled machines rather than gasoline-fueled machines because diesel is used for meeting long hours of work and in industrial areas restless working hours have to be met.
  • Diesel used in engine driven welding generators gives them the longest running time. 
  • Low Maintenance Costs – welder generators powering diesel promise low maintenance with longer durability.
Cons:
  • Diesel is not to be known as an environment-friendly fuel and is not a good fuel if you are an eco lover. The emissions of this fuel are comparatively toxic and dangerous to the environment as well as to a person’s health when inhaled. 
  • Noise pollution- they produce a considerably low amount of noise while working. 
  • This fuel is more costly than that of petrol. 

Uses:

Rugged industrial and commercial units, Construction and mining sites. 

Gasoline or Petrol

Pros:
  • Cheap – Engine driven generators powering petrol are affordable as petrol is quite cheap as compared to diesel. 
  • Lightweight – petrol is known to be lighter than diesel, and as a result, it makes the whole machine lightweight and easily movable to remote areas. 
  • Cold Weather – Gasoline engines are sometimes preferred in cold weather climates because they start more easily without extra starting aids, such as winterized fuel for colder weather. 
  • Compact – Gas engines are mostly used in small and compact units making them an easy and quick start while consuming relatively less fuel.  
Cons:
  • Volatile – petrol as fuel is more erratic than that of diesel.
  • Depreciation – the fuel works under higher temperatures again as compared to that os diesel, hence it concludes wear and tear of the machine.
  • High maintenance costs – because of excessive wear and tear of the machine its maintenance and repair becomes a continuous problem. 
  • Short lifespan – if you always have to repair your worn and torn machine, then it is an obvious fact that because of continuous mending, the lifespan reduces. 
  • Less working hours – generators running with petrol, offer fewer extended working hours which may be the most significant disadvantage of petrol when compared to diesel. 

LP (Liquefied Petroleum Gas)

  • LPG is much less common but becomes an important choice when diesel and gasoline exhaust emissions are not permitted for indoor applications. 
  • environment-friendly- propane is a more friend of the environment and eases the pollution amount as it emits less residue in the form of CO2(Carbon Dioxide), as compared to diesel and petrol running welder generators. 
Welder Working With an Engine Driven Welder
Welder Working With an Engine Driven Welder

Portability – Weight and Design 

Portability in engine driven welder generators is one of the most important factors to keep in mind while choosing your ideal welding generator. 

If the engine driven welder generator is not easily movable to far off places, it is of no use because welder generators are known to be carried place to place. 

The design of the unit affects the portability, weight, and size of it :

  • Engine driven welding generators installed with tube frames tend to be lightweight and compact making them easy to carry along with you. 
  • While on the other hand engine driven welding generators which are carefully enclosed cases are heavier as compared to tube frame ones because they offer relatively better protection to the unit. 
  • Some welder generators are fitted with wheels, making them movable and portable easily. 

Polarity 

Welding outputs are of two types- AC welding output and DC welding outputs, so accordingly ensure what type of welding output is suitable for your type of welding.

Carefully analyze what might be the best welding output for your particular job as both outputs differ slightly. Hence you will have to get a closer look at your working capacity and processes. 

Power Generation – Welding Processes

Some engine driven welding generators are multi-functional and can run multi-processes, whereas other engine driven welding generators can power specific processes only.

So, you should look for an engine driven welding generator that can power all types of processes and which is not restricted to only one welding process. 

Following are the Welding processes with which you can use an Engine Driven Welder – 

  • Stick welding – It is a two-handed job and is known as shielded metal arc welding. This type of welding is more complicated than MIG welding. 
  • MIG – MIG, also known as a metal inert gas or wire feed welding, is a very common welding process among beginners and is known to be the easiest form of welding. It is better for welding thick metals. The principle behind this welding is using metal arc to weld different types of metals together by using shielded gas.  
  • TIG -TIG, also known as tungsten inert gas, is a type of welding that requires a high level of precision and skill. It is common among professional welders rather than hobbyists and DIY welders.  
  • Flux-cored – This type of welding is a semi-automatic arc welding process. It does not require an external source for providing shielded gas. 
  • Metal Arc Gouging – There is one advantage of metal arc gouging, which is that the same kind of power source can be used for doing multiple tasks, whether it is welding, gouging, or cutting.  

Cooling

Larger generating machines are endorsed with two different options, which are, air-cooled machines and water-cooled machines.

This cooling factor helps to cool down the machine when it is running at its highest limit under considerably higher temperatures. It eases the pressure exerted on the machine. 

  • Air-cooled machines – Generators having the option of air-cooling are smaller and lighter as you can get an idea from its name. The speed with which they run is significantly faster than the other option.
  • Water-cooled machines – Generators having the option of water-cooling are comparatively larger in size and way heavier than the above option. The slow running speed of these engines tends to offer a longer lifespan as the rate of depreciation decreases. This ensures that the machine offers a higher duty cycle due to increased cooling efficiency. water – cooling generators are best suited for warmer climates. 

Noise level 

When it comes to working for long hours, you would not want a lot of noise while you are working nor would the people around you, so it is very important to keep in mind the comfort level of yourself as well as the people around you. 

Engine driven welding generators are way louder than electric ones.

  • If you are working in remote areas, where there is a lot of free space, you can go with an engine driven welding generator producing about 100db of noise.
  • But, if you are working near apartments and in a city, then you should stick with a welder generator producing no higher than 90db of noise.

Choice of Electrodes 

The selection of electrode as to be negative or positive can be based on- 

  • Depth of penetration required.
  • The rate of which the filler metal is deposited.
  • The joint position and base metal thickness.
  • Type of base metal. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

How Many Hours Can A Typical Engine Driven Welder Run?

The number of working hours of the unit depends on the type of fuel you are using.

So if you are powering diesel then the number of working hours can vary from about 3,200 to about 15,000 hours to its maximum.

If you are powering gasoline, on the other hand, the working hours could vary from 2,200 to 3,000 hours to its maximum.

If you want extended working hours then I would prefer you to power diesel. The machine should be engineered with durable, reliable, and heavy-duty parts.

However, if you are looking to use the machine out in the open, it is advised to keep them under some shade or inside welding tents so that it can keep working for longer hours.

Can You Run An Engine Driven Welder on Home Power? 

For generators that don’t require more than 120V, running on home power is not a problem and run just fine on most home outlets.

But for units requiring more than 120V, like about 220V or so, solely relying on home power is not a good choice and you will eventually have to install an external plug-in power source as the domestic power cannot handle such high amperage. 

What is A Good General Engine Driven Welder For A New Business Owner?

According to me, for new business owners Miller engine driven welders would be the best bet.

However, you can look at the top welder brands of 2020 and decide for yourself.

Do I Require A Generator That Has A Long Run Fuel Tank?

Generators are available in standard fuel tanks and long-run fuel tanks. A standard fuel tank can run for about 2 to 3 hours whereas a long run fuel tank runs overnight.

So it is on you whether you are using your unit for welding purposes or as a stand-alone generator as a backup for power cuts.

If you are relying on your machine as a backup then go for the long run fuel tank. 

For example If you are pipe welding or rail welding, you’d require an Engine driven welder with a long run fuel tank, as the power source is limited and the work take quite a lot of time to finish

What Types of Sockets Do Generators Use?

Plug-ins come in varieties like the three-prong and the four-prong.

The three-prong plugs carry 120V only while the four-prong plugs carry about 240V. So based on the type of voltage your machine runs on, the sockets vary.

The 4-prong sockets have become more popular because domestically people have increasingly started to carry 240-volt outlets or appliances.

Should I Use A Personal Power Breakers For Safety Purposes?

Personal power breakers are designed to operate from the mains while generators are configured differently to the mains supply.

A generator has floating earth, appliances electrically connected to the earth that are not connected for the time being, while the mains having earth neutral.

It is advised to not use a personal power beaker from the mains where it is not recommended in a generator. But if you still wish to use a personal-power beaker, then it is necessary to modify the generator so that it is configured to the mains. 

Keep in mind that once the generator has been modified, it is necessary to then always use a personal power breaker and to also transform from earth floating to earth neutral, which connects between the generator frame and the ground.

Since this is difficult to set all this up and requires great skill and effort, it is recommended not to modify and configure the generator and run it without a personal-power beaker. 

Can I Operate Sensitive Equipment From A Generator?

The output of portable generators fluctuates and is not stable enough to operate sensitive equipment.

The speed is inversely proportional to the amount of load. Speed decreases as the load on the machine increases.

The frequency of output voltage is directly proportional to the engine speed and varies with the load and temperature.

Well, most portable generators are designed to cope with these fluctuations and might operate normally, but It is strictly not advisable for operating sensitive equipment from generators. 

Conclusion 

I hope that this definitive guide has been proved helpful to you. 

After a lot of comparison and testing, the features and characteristics of the best ideal engine driven welding generators had been short-listed here keeping in mind a layman’s convenience. 

I have tried my best to make it short but at the same time being helpful to you to get to know a little more about these powerful units. 

There is a common misconception about these small compact yet massively powerful units for not being as helpful but I hope through this guide I have reached out and drawn your attention to the actual advantageous part of these machines for your projects