Ac Vs. Dc Current Flow For Mig Welding

AC and DC are two kinds of electric currents that offer different characteristics, features, and benefits. But it’s tough to decide which stands out in MIG welding, especially when comparing Ac to Dc for Mig welding.

So, this guide is all about their noticeable differences, functions, pros, cons, and which ultimately wins the battle.

AC or dc for mig welding
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What are AC and DC in Welding?

Alternative current, aka AC, and Direct current, aka DC, are known as different forms of electricity utilized in the process of welding.

AC (Alternate Current):

AC refers to the flow of electric charge that periodically reverses direction. In an AC system, the voltage and current alternate in a sinusoidal manner, changing direction at a regular frequency (usually measured in Hertz, Hz). AC is commonly used in homes and businesses for powering various devices.

DC (Direct Current):

DC is the flow of electric charge in a constant direction. In a DC system, the voltage remains relatively constant over time, with the current flowing in a single direction from the positive to the negative terminal.

It is also used in specific applications where a constant voltage is essential, such as in certain industrial processes and some forms of transportation.

For welding thinner objects or materials, most of the welders use direct current (DC), while alternative current (AC) suits high-frequency welding like TIG and heavy-plate welding.

Differences between AC & DC Current Flow in MIg Welding

The differences between ac and dc current flow for mig welding are as follows: 


  • AC MIG Welding: While AC power sources are available for welding, MIG welding is typically performed using DC power sources. AC may be used in some situations, but DC is more common.
  • DC MIG Welding: Direct current (either DCEN – Direct Current Electrode Negative, or DCEP – Direct Current Electrode Positive) is commonly used in MIG welding. The choice of polarity depends on the type of electrode and the specific requirements of the welding process.

Arc Stability:

  • AC MIG Welding: AC can sometimes result in a less stable arc compared to DC in mig welding. This can impact the control and quality of the weld.
  • DC MIG Welding: DC, especially with a constant voltage (CV) power source, tends to provide a more stable arc, improving control and weld quality in mig welding.

Electrode Selection:

  • AC MIG Welding: Certain electrodes are specifically designed for use with AC, but they may have limitations in terms of arc stability and penetration compared to DC electrodes.
  • DC MIG Welding: DC allows for a wider range of electrode choices, providing more flexibility for different welding applications.

Penetration and Heat Input:

  • AC MIG Welding: Penetration and heat input can be different with AC, and the weld bead profile may vary compared to DC welding.
  • DC MIG Welding: DC welding allows for better control over penetration and heat input, which is essential for achieving desired weld characteristics.

Transformer and Rectifier Use:

  • AC MIG Welding: AC welding machines often use a transformer to change voltage levels, but a rectifier may also be required to convert AC to DC if needed.
  • DC MIG Welding: DC welding machines can use transformers, rectifiers, or inverters to provide a stable and controllable welding arc.

In summary, while MIG welding can be performed using AC or DC, DC is generally preferred for its stability, control, and versatility in electrode selection.

Advantages and Disadvantages of AC in Mig Welding


While DC (Direct Current) is more commonly used in MIG (Metal Inert Gas) welding, there are certain situations where AC (Alternating Current) can offer advantages.

Here are some potential advantages of using AC in MIG welding:

Penetration and Cleaning Action:

  • AC can provide better penetration in certain applications compared to DC. The alternating current causes a dynamic arc that enhances the cleaning action, helping to remove oxides and impurities from the welding surface.

Welding Aluminum:

  • AC is often preferred when welding aluminum with MIG. Aluminum oxide, which forms on the surface of aluminum, has a higher melting point than the base metal. The alternating current (AC) helps break down this oxide layer, improving the weld quality.

Reduced Heat Input:

  • AC welding can sometimes result in lower heat input compared to DC welding. This can be advantageous when welding materials that are sensitive to heat, helping to minimize distortion and heat-affected zones.

Electrode Options:

  • AC allows for the use of a variety of electrodes, including some specialized ones designed for specific applications. This flexibility in electrode selection can be an advantage in certain welding scenarios.

Versatility for Different Materials:

  • AC can be more versatile when welding different materials with varying thicknesses and conductivity. It provides the welder with the ability to adapt to different conditions and materials. For mig welding thicker metal AC is best choice.

Avoidance of Arc Blow:

  • In some cases, AC welding may help reduce or eliminate arc blow, a phenomenon where the welding arc is deflected by magnetic forces. This can be beneficial when working with large or complex workpieces.


While AC (Alternating Current) has its advantages in certain MIG (Metal Inert Gas) welding applications, it also comes with some disadvantages. Here are potential drawbacks

Stability and Control:

  • AC welding may have less arc stability and control compared to DC welding. The constant change in direction of the current can make it challenging to maintain consistent welding parameters, potentially affecting the quality of the weld.

Electrode Sticking Issues:

  • AC welding can sometimes lead to electrode sticking, where the welding wire fuses to the workpiece due to the alternating nature of the current. This can result in interruptions and affect the efficiency of the welding process.

Reduced Efficiency for Some Materials:

  • While AC is advantageous for welding aluminum, it may not be as efficient for certain ferrous materials. DC welding is generally preferred for carbon steel and other ferrous metals due to better control and stability.

Limited Electrode Options:

  • While AC allows for a variety of electrode options, some specialized electrodes may not perform as effectively as they would with DC. DC welding offers a broader range of electrodes optimized for specific materials and applications.

Complex Power Supply:

  • AC welding machines are often more complex than DC machines, as they require additional components such as transformers and rectifiers. This complexity can lead to higher maintenance requirements and potential issues.

Transformer and Rectifier Costs:

  • AC welding machines often require both a transformer to change voltage levels and a rectifier to convert AC to DC when needed. This can result in higher initial equipment costs compared to simpler DC welding machines.

Limited Applicability in Some Industries:

  • Certain industries and welding applications may prefer the stability and control offered by DC welding, making AC less common in those settings.

Advantages and Disadvantages of DC in Mig

Just like the AC, the direct current also has some pros and cons. Let’s check them out –


Using DC (Direct Current) in MIG (Metal Inert Gas) welding is a common and preferred choice for various applications due to several advantages. Here are the advantages of using DC current flow in MIG welding:

  1. Arc Stability:
    • DC welding provides a more stable and controllable arc compared to AC. The consistent flow of current in one direction contributes to smoother welding operations, enabling better control over the welding process.
  2. Reduced Spatter:
    • DC welding tends to produce less spatter than AC welding. Spatter, which is the undesirable splattering of molten metal during welding, can be minimized with the stability offered by DC.
  3. Improved Penetration Control:
    • Direct current allows for better control over penetration depth, making it easier for welders to achieve the desired weld profile. This is especially important when welding materials of varying thicknesses.
  4. Easier Electrode Ignition:
    • Electrodes ignite more easily with DC, reducing the likelihood of sticking and improving the overall efficiency of the welding process.
  5. Better for Ferrous Materials:
    • DC welding is particularly well-suited for welding ferrous materials, such as carbon steel and stainless steel. The consistent current flow enhances the overall performance and quality of welds on these materials.
  6. Electrode Options and Specialized Applications:
    • DC allows for a wide range of electrode options, including both consumable and non-consumable electrodes. This versatility makes it suitable for various welding applications, from general fabrication to specialized processes.
  7. Easier Polarity Control:
    • DC power sources allow for easy control of polarity, enabling welders to switch between electrode negative (DCEN) and electrode positive (DCEP) configurations. This flexibility is beneficial for different welding tasks and material types.
  8. Simpler Power Supply:
    • DC welding machines are often simpler in design compared to AC machines, resulting in lower maintenance requirements and potentially lower equipment costs.
  9. Reduced Risk of Arc Blow:
    • DC welding is less susceptible to arc blow, a phenomenon where the welding arc is deflected by magnetic forces. This can be advantageous when working with large or magnetically sensitive workpieces.


While DC (Direct Current) is widely used and preferred in MIG (Metal Inert Gas) welding for its numerous advantages, there are a few potential disadvantages to consider:

Limited Cleaning Action:

  • DC lacks the inherent cleaning action that AC provides. In certain applications, particularly when welding materials with surface contaminants or oxidation, the cleaning effect of AC may be more beneficial.

Aluminum Welding Challenges:

  • While DC is suitable for welding aluminum, it may require specific techniques and equipment. AC is often preferred for aluminum welding due to its better ability to break down the aluminum oxide layer.

Transformer and Rectifier Complexity:

  • In some DC welding systems, a combination of transformers and rectifiers may be required to achieve the desired output. This complexity can lead to higher initial equipment costs and maintenance requirements compared to simpler DC systems.

Potential for Greater Heat Input:

  • In some cases, DC welding may result in a higher heat input compared to AC, which can be a disadvantage when working with materials sensitive to excessive heat.

Electrode Deposition Imbalance:

  • DC welding can lead to an imbalance in electrode deposition, with more metal deposited on one side of the weld than the other. Proper electrode and polarity selection can help mitigate this issue.

Higher Initial Equipment Costs:

  • While DC welding machines are generally simpler than AC/DC machines, high-quality DC welding equipment can still be relatively expensive, especially if additional features are required.

Limited Dynamic Adjustability:

  • DC welding may have limited dynamic adjustability compared to some advanced AC welding systems. Certain applications may benefit from the specific characteristics provided by AC, such as variable polarity.

Electrode Wear:

  • DC welding can result in increased electrode wear, especially in electrode positive (DCEP) configurations. This may lead to more frequent electrode replacements and higher consumable costs.

AC or DC, Which One Is Suitable for Mig Welding & Why?

As you can see, both AC and DC have their own unique specialties, pros, and cons. So, deciding which one stands head and shoulders above the rest is a bit tough.

However, considering some key aspects, I’d like to share my personal view on which one is more suitable for MIG welding.

Overall, the direct current or DC has more advantages or benefits than AC in terms of Mig welding.

Ask me why?

Because it tends to produce less spatter yet let you achieve smoother welding output.

Moreover, the direct current is able to weld multiple types of materials, including thinner metals, to get your job done. And yes, this will penetrate more deeply, along with ensuring a quick deposition rate for Mig welding.

But if you want to weld aluminum through Mig welding, then don’t be a fool to choose the direct current instead of the alternative current.

Besides, if your budget is extremely low yet needs to MIG weld thick materials, then you can simply rely on the AC. But that isn’t going to be your best decision if you have enough budget and welding experience; keep it in mind.

How to Set Mig Welder in DC Mode?

To be honest, very little authentic information is available for setting Mig welder in DC mode.

So, for your convenience, here are the 5 effective steps to set up your MIG welder in DC mode –

  • Step-1: Cable Observation

First off, ensure each cable connection isn’t loose and is totally free from damage by checking out your welding equipment.

  • Step-2: Electrode Polarity Setup

As you know, the mig weld needs the direct current’s positive electrode (+). You can find a polarity connection right inside the machine.

  • Step-3: Gas-flow Setup

Let’s switch on the shielding gas in terms of setting the overall flow rate. This should be around 20-25 CF/hour.

  • Step-4: Tension Observation

You may end up with the worse wire feeding in case the tension appears too little or too much. So make sure to adjust it following the users’ manual.

  • Step-5: Consumables Experiment

From each contact tube, feel free to take off the additional spatter you notice. And if the liners or contact tips appear worn, replace them as soon as possible. It is okay to cast away the wire if you find it rusty.

Last Words

The battle of Ac vs. Dc Mig welding was quite head-to-head. As each has its own unique benefits and drawbacks, you can’t consider any of them the “Best”.

However, I’ve found the DC more suitable for MIG welding due to its smooth welding output, deep penetration, and quick deposition rate.

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