Understanding Arc Welding Open Circuit Voltage

Arc welding is a popular and efficient way of joining two pieces of metal together. It is often used in the fabrication of metal structures, such as in the automotive, aerospace, and construction industries. In order for arc welding to be successful, it is important to understand the basics of open circuit voltage and how it influences the outcome of the weld.

What is Arc Welding Open Circuit Voltage?

Arc welding open circuit voltage (OCV) is the voltage that is measured between the electrode and the workpiece when the arc is not in contact with the workpiece and there is no current flow. This voltage is established by the power source and depends on the type of electrode being used. Generally, the higher the open circuit voltage, the higher the arc voltage when the arc is established.

Factors Affecting Open Circuit Voltage

There are several factors that can affect the open circuit voltage in an arc welding application. The type of welding process and the welding machine settings can both have an impact on the open circuit voltage. Additionally, the type of electrode being used and the shape of the electrode tip can also affect the open circuit voltage.

Benefits of Higher Open Circuit Voltage

Higher open circuit voltage can be beneficial for arc welding applications. Higher open circuit voltage can produce a more powerful arc, which can provide better penetration and fusion of the two pieces of metal being welded. Higher open circuit voltage can also help reduce spatter and improve the quality of the weld.

How to Adjust Open Circuit Voltage

The open circuit voltage can be adjusted on most welding machines. Generally, the open circuit voltage is adjusted by turning a knob or a dial on the welding machine. The adjustment can vary depending on the type of welding machine being used. For example, some machines may have a knob that adjusts the open circuit voltage in 0.5V increments, while others may have a dial that can be adjusted in 0.1V increments.

Safety Considerations

It is important to note that the open circuit voltage should never be set too high, as this can lead to arc blowouts and other dangerous conditions. It is also important to ensure that the welding machine is properly grounded and all safety equipment, such as gloves and eye protection, is worn while welding.


Understanding arc welding open circuit voltage and how to adjust it is an important part of ensuring a successful welding job. While the open circuit voltage can be beneficial for producing a more powerful arc and improving the quality of the weld, it is important to remember to adjust it within safe limits. By understanding the basics of open circuit voltage, welders can ensure that their welding jobs are successful and safe.

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