How To Hook Up Stick Welding Leads

When it comes to connecting the leads of a stick welder, it is pretty simple for the experienced. If you are a novice, it will appear as pretty complex and confusing to you. Many cannot understand where to connect, which leads.

To understand the basics of stick welding leads, it is a cable to transfer the electrical current to the ground. It also conducts it to the stinger component. A stick welding lead stays protected within a rubbery insulator. It contains an electrode lead and a ground lead. In this article, we will talk about the different hooking up system for a stick welding lead.

Types of Stick Welding Lead connections

There are three types of stick welding lead connection systems. Each is for a different range of activities. They are the-

  • DCEP connection
  • DCEN connection
  • AC connection

Stick Welding

Well, if you are a novice, you may not know about stick welding much. It is a type of welding that runs on electricity to melt its application. The process also melts down its electrode rod, which stays protected by flux to avoid mixing with any particle.

For stick welding, we use these parts-

  • Welding machine that runs on electricity
  • Welding leads
  • Electrode holder to grip the electrode
  • The electrode
  • Ground clamp to engage the workpiece with the ground

Observe this diagram to have a better idea of this set-up

Welding Lead size

It should obviously be mentioned that you must take the right size of welding lead. Thicker welding leads can transfer more electric current for heavier-duty jobs. Meanwhile, you should not use that for light-duty welding, or the workpiece will overheat. Getting a perfect size is mandatory. Also, if the amp draw is low enough, the machine may not run properly.

To avoid those issues, look at this chart below. It includes the welding lead size requirement for different applications. Compare the amp ratings with the size of the cable to find the suitable cable for your next project-

Hooking Up the Stick Welding Leads

Now, let's show you the basic process of hooking up stick welding leads. Read it carefully, try it later, and you will find out that it is simpler than you thought.

Attach the cables to the right polarity- Connect the electrode cable to the welding machine's positive terminal. The ground cable will go to the negative terminal. However, you may need to do it reversely for certain applications that we will talk about later.

Attach the ground clamp- Afterwards, connect the ground clamp to the workpiece. It conducts the electricity to the ground. You can also connect the ground clamp to the table if it is metallic and directly connected to the workpiece. However, in that case, do not touch the table while working.

Plug the welding machine- Finally, connect the welding machine to its electric source using the plug. Before switching on, make sure everything is okay. Also, set the voltage and current to the required level of the application.

In some cases, you may need to change the polarity of the electrode and ground cables. You must definitely turn off the machine before doing that.

Three Different Types of Stick Welding Leads Connection

Since we have talked about the basic connecting system of stick welder leads. Now, we will talk about the three different welding leads connection types based on their polarities. We mentioned above that you could also connect the leads to the opposite polarities. Well, that is when you go for a different connection type.

DCEN Connection

The direct connect electrode negative or DCEN, is also called the straight polarity by many. In this connection, the ground cable is connected to the positive while the electrode cable to the negative terminals. As a result, the electron travels from the electrode to the positive workpiece polarity.

DCEP Connection

It is the direct connect electrode positive or also known as the reverse polarity. It is how it sounds, where the ground cable goes to the negative and the electrode to the positive polarity terminals. It is the most common connection style. Opposite to the DCEN, the electron goes from the workpiece to the electrode.

See the diagram to understand the difference between the straight and reverse connection

AC Connection

A welding set-up connected to an AC electricity source has no polarity. As a nature of alternate current, the electricity path changes every 0.0084 seconds. It normally requires a 60 Hz frequency. In this connection style, the heat gets shared between the workpiece and the electrode properly.

The diagram below will help you understand the AC connection better-

The usefulness of the Straight and Reverse Connection

We are not going to go for the hard descriptions. Just know that the DCEP connection gets much of its heat (2/3rd) in the electrode. They are good for heavy piercing. Meanwhile, the DCEN connection gathers much heat on the workpiece. It is good for thin metallic sheets.

Final Note

After all these discussions, now we should be clear that you must choose your connection type carefully. Try all the connections for their suitable applications, and you will get used to them.  Never forget to stay careful during the hooking up processes. Since DCEP is the most required connection, try it several times first.

Last Updated on 2 years by Richard Boyer

  • June 8, 2022
Richard Boyer

Richard Boyer has been a professional welder for over 27 years of his life, and now he is a trainer and blogger providing critical information to anyone interested in welding. He is helping out both hobbyists, novice and professional welders to learn newer and better techniques. Read more about me

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Max G

Pictures on this article does not come up, can you fix it.


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