Earlier this month I wrote up a detailed article on duty cycle for Westermans.
For the hobby welder I've really not found it to be an issue. There are a few reason for this. Firstly, I work in smaller sections of steel so only use low current. This means I am well within the rating of my machine. The second reason is that the items I've been making have effectively just been tacked together so no long seams to weld. The last is the nature of the items I've been building, taking the garden obelislks as an example, they required each end of a bar to be welded into place. Between welding each bar there was time taken with moving the frame and fitting the next part into my simple jig. So the welder had plenty of cooling time.
Often the little transformer based arc welders "buzz boxes" that can be bought from discount supermarkets will have very low duty cycles. However, if all you plan to use it for is to weld the hinges back on your gate, then that will be fine.
So as a DIYer or hobby welder you might find youself like me and can live with a lower duty cycle.
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