arc vs gas welding

If you are a beginner at welding and have taken it up as a hobby, it doesn’t hurt to do your research and educate yourself in every aspect of welding. The two main types of welding are arc welding and gas welding. Both of these are used for joining together metals depending on the nature of the job

Today, we are going to compare the difference between gas welding and arc welding and which method suits best for what application. To get more information about this, continue reading.

What is arc welding?


It is the process of joining together metals using electricity. To keep it simple, while welding the electricity creates an electric, the arc itself produces high heat that melts base metals with filler wire allowing to fuse them into one solid piece.

If you are looking for a new arc welder, you can check out this post

What is gas welding?


Some people confuse MIG welding with gas welding because in Metal Inert Gas Welding, a shielding gas is used which covers the weld and protects it from the oxygen. This is so that the metal does not get oxidized creating porosity.

By gas welding, I mean oxy acetylene welding. Oxy-fuel welding usually uses propane and as the name indicates oxygen to create the heat necessary to melt or to weld the metal. In fact, thanks to the oxygen, you are able to even cut metals with the right torch, and I mean thick plates of mild steel.

Gas welding came around at the beginning of the 20th century and it is the ancestor of modern-day welding. It was the only method available to create high-quality welds. The process itself, however, is very time consuming and it requires a very high level of skill to produce good welds. Basically, you use a torch to heat the metals to be welded, creating a shared pool of metal and then adding filler metal, but since you use a torch and gas, you need to really precisely aim and heat the metals before adding filler wire into the mix.

The difference between Gas welding and Arc welding

  1. Heat generation
    Arc welding uses electricity to generate heat used to weld metals together. Whereas, in gas welding, flammable gases are used to generate heat. This is the basic difference between these two processes.
  2. Resultant temperature
    Arc welding generates higher temperatures as compared to using gas welding. The resultant arc temperature is around 6000C whereas gas welding produces only around 3600C. Due to this, your metals will melt quickly as well as have a strong bond and better penetration.
  3. Resultant joint
    Arc welding creates a stronger joint as compared to gas welding. Even the bond on dirty surfaces is stronger in the case of stick welders. This is because of the high temperatures at which the metals melt and there is a smaller chance or ruining the weld if you are a beginner.
  4. Filler wire
    Arc welder uses a filler metal combined with the shielding gas whereas, in gas welding, a filler rod is used separately if need.
  5. Risk factors
    Due to the high voltage, the risk of explosion is high. Whereas, the risk of explosion in gas welding is because of the high pressure. There is risk involved with both of these processes, but I would say that gas welding is more dangerous. You need to take precautionary measures while welding no matter what method you are using.
  6. Speed of welding
    The speed of welding is high of arc welding whereas gas welding has a low production rate.
  7. Setup cost
    The initial cost of arc welding is high whereas it is comparatively less expensive to set up a gas welder. But in the longer run, arc welding is much cheaper as compared to gas. One of the reasons for this is because you don’t have to buy a gas cylinder very often if at all. Arc welding necessarily does not use a shielding gas which saves a lot of bucks.
  8. Efficiency
    When all the factors are factored in, arc welding is more efficient than gas welding but both have their own advantages and disadvantages.

These are some of the major difference between arc welding and gas welding. Although there are more these are the prominent ones that can make you decide which one works best for you. These will help you decide the type of welder that fulfills your requirements.

The biggest drawback of gas welding:

One of the major drawbacks of using a gas welder is that it tends to create welds that in most cases are not up to the standards today. The finished welds are not aesthetically pleasing since a lot of times the heat from gas welding wraps the base metals because of the high heat distribution which makes the joint appear rough. But to some, the appearance might not be so important.

Advantages of arc welding over gas welding

The modern-day arc welding can not be beaten by oxy-acetylene in my opinion. There are just so many advantages that technology bring to us, but still, I will list a few.

If there is something that is worth to mention about gas welding method, it’s the fact that it’s really versatile. You can braze metals, you can cut metals, you can weld a larger variety of metals than with arc welding, but the process itself is a headache.

The main use of the acetylene torch in today’s day and age should just be cutting metals if you can not afford plasma cutter and you can use it for brazing, other than that, it is easier to use an arc welder

Some pros of arc welding methods:

  1. Easier process to master
  2. Better penetration
  3. Less chance to ruin the weld
  4. A lot faster
  5. More precise
  6. Less heat means a smaller chance of getting burned

Final Verdict:

In terms of efficiency, arc welding is more efficient. If you are in a buying phase and want to know which one will work best for you, you need to look at your work requirements. Do thorough research on both types of welding and see what do you need and which one fulfills your requirements. This decision is in your hands and you can make this choice. The article gives you enough information to make that decision easier for you but I must say, in my opinion, there is no reason to go back to the stone age, so all matters considered I would just buy a regular GMAW welder to do my projects as a beginner.