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Old 11-03-2011, 10:23 AM   #1
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Home welder recommendations

I'm looking for a small MIG welder that will work for fairly thin metal like exhaust and etc. Only occasional use for house hold chores and stuff so it does not need to have a outrageous duty cycle . Preferably 110/115v input as I already have two dedicated plugs at 20a in my garage. I plan on running argon/co2 mix, so I would also prefer a gas ready MIG. Because it will be for light duty, I would like to stay within the $300 to $400 price point as I know will need to spend more for a cylinder.

Currently I'm looking at:
Hobart Auto Arc 130 amp MIG
Lincoln Handy MIG
Hot Max 125 amp

Now I've never heard of Hot Max before and I would normally stay away from unknown brands but what caught my eye with it is the Infinite voltage control.

Any thoughts on the three above or is there anything else I should look at?

Thanks.
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Old 11-03-2011, 10:27 AM   #2
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Lincoln electric is what I have. Can't speak for the others you listed, but light duty the Lincoln is all I needed. Wire speed and amps are adjustable too.
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Old 11-03-2011, 10:58 AM   #3
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I have a Miller 110v unit and love it for small projects, but I also have a 220v miller also for heavier jobs. Bought the 110v unit a long time ago so I don't remember the cost.
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Old 11-03-2011, 11:19 AM   #4
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i got the lincoln from home depot. works great.
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Old 11-03-2011, 11:22 AM   #5
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I believe I read somewhere that Hobart is made by miller. I looked at Miller but the price point on them are fairly steep considering it will only be used occasionally. I currently have a cheap flux-core only welder. I recently used it to weld in some glasspacks on my sons truck. I was able to get it done without blow through by stitch welding it...but the weld sure is UGLY!!!!
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Old 11-03-2011, 12:45 PM   #6
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I have a Hobart handler 140. Works great and comes with all the gas connections although I use flux core for most everything. Functions on 110 and has simple adjustments. Hobarts are made on the same line as Miller; very nice quality and easy replacement part availability. For a beginner welder infinite voltage control could be more complicated to adjust instead of being a bonus. On the hobart wire speed is infinitely adjustable but there's a few voltage presets and it works great. I've welded up to 3/16" although its at the limits of 110 voltage. It claims to be able to do 1/4" but I wouldn't recommend it unless you can weld it from both sides otherwise it won't get the penetration I'd feel comfortable with. Even with both sides I'm not a fan and would borrow a 220. For thin stuff it'll handle anything you throw at it as long as you size your wire properly.
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Old 11-03-2011, 12:48 PM   #7
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Also when you compare duty cycles and parts availability I would NEVER buy one of the off-brand ones. They like to eat tips, trip your breaker, and give crappy welds.
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Old 11-03-2011, 02:30 PM   #8
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Buy one of the three named so far, there all good, don't try to save $100 and get a non name brand, all three of the company's named have been around a long time and will be here for a lot longer.
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Old 11-16-2011, 10:20 AM   #9
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Well, after much research and debate I decided on an Eastwood MIG 135. I know it's not one of the top three (Miller, Lincoln, Hobart), but that being said, I could not be happier with the purchase. When reading reviews about the Eastwood I quickly realized that there are some Miller snobs out there. These are people who believe that if it's not one of the top three than it's just crap even though they never actually tried one out. Reviews done by people who actually used an Eastwood gave it good reviews to include an independent review by popular mechanics who compared the Eastwood with Miller, Lincoln and the like. The popular mechanic's review was not specific to the Eastwood but was more a review of a class of welders. The Miller did take top honors but the Eastwood faired very nicely given the company it was in and was ranked right there with the Lincoln.

At a $300 price point, the Eastwood fit my needs. It has infinite voltage control between 25 and 135. It has infinite wire speed control. It can do both Flux core (gasless) and Solid Wire. It ships with everything needed for Gas (e.g. Regulator and gas hose). The Eastwood uses an industry standard tweco style torch and all consumables can be bought at any welding supply store. The Eastwood also has 3 Year Warrantee. Customer service was responsive.

I currently have it set up with flux core and it performed very well when I built a new welding cart for it from an old bed frame I had. It also performed very well on some thinner exhaust tubing I had laying around. I can't wait to go get a bottle of 75/25 and try it out with gas.
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Old 11-16-2011, 11:38 AM   #10
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Glad you got one you like.
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