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No matter which welding process you’re using, a ground clamp is essential. As the electrode pushes electricity into the metal, it must flow back out to the machine. The ground clamp facilitates this and allows for one big current loop. This is the only way that a weld is even possible.
The cool thing about ground clamps is that they are interchangeable between different processes. Stick, TIG and MIG welding operations can use the same ground clamp. So, the choice is really yours when it comes to ground clamp preference.
There are some considerations when selecting a ground clamp for your machine. Amperage is the main thing to look at. Different clamps have different amperage ratings, and it is important not to overload the clamp with too much amperage.
Smaller ground clamps will only allow you to weld up to a certain amperage. Whereas larger, more robust clamps can be used up to 300 amps or more.
This guide will cover our favorite ground clamps on the market. From lightweight to heavy duty, there are options for everyone.
Keep in mind that some welding machines will already come with cables and a ground clamp. Especially the lower end machines – but you might want to upgrade the components as you progress with your welding skills.
Cheap ground clamps tend to wear out, and the springs can even break at some point. The good news is that even a nice clamp isn’t too pricey – it is a small item that is relatively affordable in our opinion. By using a better, more robust clamp – you can ensure that your welding operations will be safe. Having a ground clamp “short out” or arc can be very dangerous for welders.
HZXVOGEN Ground Clamp (C-style)
This is the style of clamp that we run on most of our machines. It is unique in the fact that it actually fastens on to your metal. This means that it won’t slip off while you’re welding, and you can set it and forget it.
This comes in really handy while welding smaller tubing and other odd pieces of metal. Fasten it down and strike an arc – it won’t go anywhere.
This is in stark contrast to other clamps that are spring loaded. While those models are strong, they can slip off during the course of a work day. They are especially prone to slipping off when trying to attach them to tubing or pipe.
This clamp also has one of the highest amperage ratings on the market. It can withstand up to 500 amps! We have never even welded at such extreme amperages, but this clamp is capable of holding that current. For extremely heavy duty operations, you may want to consider this clamp.
The 2.3″ jaw opening allows you to clamp on to thicker material than normal. Other clamps don’t open quite as far, which can limit your grounding options.
Made of solid brass and weighing 1.65 lbs, this clamp is about as heavy duty as it gets.
Hobart 400 Amp Ground Clamp
This is the style of clamp that you will see most welders use. It is super easy to install on your lead, and it grips very tight due to its industrial style spring.
As long as you are grounding on to flat pieces of metal, this clamp does great. However, it does struggle when you clamp it onto round tubing or round bar. If you bump your lead by accident, it can slip off.
We have used this style of clamp for a long time, and we have found that they hold up for years on end. Due to the simple construction, there really isn’t a whole lot that can go wrong.
With its 400 amp rating, you’ll be able to do just about any project without overloading it. The highest amperage that we have welded at is about 350 – which is well below this clamps rating.
If you’re looking for a reliable ground clamp that can stay on your rig for years to come, this Hobart model is worth checking out.
This is the most high tech ground we have seen. It allows you to ground to just about anything. Due to it’s magnetic properties, you can get a good ground connection on any project.
Despite its small size, this clamp has 90 lbs of magnetic strength. Once you set it up, it won’t move at all throughout the course of your project.
This clamp also saves time because you don’t have to search for a good grounding location. You can even mount it overhead if you have to. The 90 lb rated magnet makes it safe for overhead attachment, whereas most clamps may fall on your head.
The newer design keeps this clamp cooler throughout the course of a project. It won’t heat up on you as easily as other models due to its insulation.
Coming in at only .6 lbs, this clamp is a small little powerhouse. Although it is generally pricier than other models, we think it offers much more than any other clamp. Once we tried the magnet ground, we were seriously impressed.
If you’re looking for a high end ground clamp that will turn some heads on the job site, the Magswitch is worth a look.
Tweco 200 Amp Magnetic Ground Clamp
Similar to the Magswitch model, this Tweco ground uses magnetic properties to adhere to steel. Tweco is one of the industry leaders for welding accessories, and they have been around for a long time.
We found that this magnet performed quite well. The cool thing about this ground is that it only weighs .35 lbs. As far as we know, it is one of the lightest ground clamps that is currently on the market.
This model is also available in a 300 amp version (for an additional charge).
Tweco is the most trusted brand for electrical welding accessories. If you’re looking for a top notch, name brand ground clamp – this is a great contender.
Lincoln Electric 500 Amp Ground Clamp
This style of clamp is most often seen pre-installed on welding lead sets and welding machine kits. It is easy to use and offers solid clamping properties.
Although it is a very common style – Don’t be fooled. This ground is capable of withstanding up to 500 amps of current. This makes it a worthy contender for any machine with any welding process.
The only downside is that the jaws don’t open quite as far as other models. This can make it hard to clamp it to thicker pieces of material. If you tend to weld thick walled steels, this clamp may not be for you.
The simple design of this clamp allows it to last a long time. It can hold up to abuse (drops etc.) and provide multiple years of service.
Lincoln makes quality products and they have for many years. This clamp is no exception.
Lissam 300 Amp Heavy Duty Ground Clamp
If you’re looking for a clamp with maximum spring pressure, this model is a good bet.
It will stay gripped on just about any piece of material, and offers a 300 amp rating which will cover most jobs. This clamp is great for ironworkers and structural welders who need a heavy duty ground that won’t fail on them.
If you’re looking to weld over 300 amps, this isn’t the best choice as it will overheat – this can be dangerous. However, anything under that will be just fine.
This is a lesser known model, but it is gaining popularity due to its rugged construction made completely out of copper.
We really see this clamp lasting for years or even decades. It is built for the harshest environments – especially outdoor welding and ironworking.
Multiple Amperage Generic Ground Clamp
This is a nice compact model that offers a range of amperage options. If you’re looking for a smaller clamp that can run on any machine, this is worth looking into.
It offers 300, 500 and 600 amp options. The different options come with separate styles of clamps. The spring is very heavy duty.
For welders on a budget who are putting together a set of leads, this clamp does the job for a lower price than other models.
Keep in mind that the higher amperage models come at an additional cost. They cost more to produce, so the price is reflected from that.
Brass A-Shaped Ground Clamp
This is an interesting spin on the A-Shaped ground clamps on the market. Usually they are made of thin materials and can be too light weight.
This one is made of solid brass, which is very nice to see. It is definitely built to last for the long term, and we are confident that any welder could benefit from this clamp.
With this being said, it is a smaller clamp that only runs to 260 amps. This is usually plenty, but not for every welder. If you are consistently welding in the 300-400 amp range, this ground clamp is probably not for you.
We think this model is great for hobby welders who need a high quality model, but not one that is too big. If you enjoy welding in your garage or around the house, this model is worth checking out.
Keep in mind that most budget machines aren’t even capable of 260 amps! So for most welders – this clamp can get the job done.
It features high end components and will grip your lead very well. The bolt is great quality, and the spring is solid as well.
When you’re starting out, you may only be welding around 100 amps. However, as you progress with your skills, you may want to jump into higher amperage applications. Think dual shield flux core, 5/32″ stick welding, heavy wall TIG, etc.
Having a ground clamp with a high amperage rating will allow you to run different processes. We still have ground clamps from years ago that still work well. It is an item that will generally last a very long time.
Even if your welding machine came with a ground clamp, it may be worth looking into nicer models. The included clamps we see nowadays continue to get worse. They are usually made overseas with subpar materials. This isn’t to say that they don’t work, but long term – they will definitely wear out.
With this being said, name brands such as Miller and Lincoln often include good clamps with their machines and kits. It is often the lower end kits that are including subpar clamps.
Welders often think of the machine as the most important aspect of their welding, but the accessories are important too. You want your entire electrical setup to be up to the task. If your leads, stinger or ground fail – you could be in for some trouble. Always inspect your setup to ensure that it is up to par. Ground clamps tend to get dropped and abused over time, which can make them faulty.
Featured image credit : Wikimedia Commons