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Mastiffman

Harbor Freight welders! Pretty Thorough review and Test!

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Looking to get my first welder and start learning and building. Came across these younger gentlemen purchasing a complete Harbor Freight 90amp welder setup on sale. 

They gave some decent recommendations for prep and use of the welder and gave a good test to the weld that they made... Check it out to the test!

 Pardon the their language... Sorry. 


 Pretty reassuring that the HF Mig welders can get the job done in a pinch I guess. 

 

For the video, go to YouTube and search fo "Ultimate Budget Welding setup", link removed due to language violation.

 

Edited by nylyon
Removed video for language

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I have the 90 amp.  The only good thing to say is that it is very portable because it operates on 115 volts.  The major issue is that it welds using alternating current.  I just ordered parts to upgrade the welder to DC.  There are youtube videos showing this upgrade, some better than others.  If you have 240 volts available, and don't care about portability, I suggest spending the money on the next higher model.

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Thanks for chiming in. I wasn't going to get the 90amp. They do have a 120amp for sale now that is $99. I don't have a 240v outlet in the garage at the moment. Only in the utility room. 

It really seems that the Duty Cycle and Amperage are the main factors here. Ultimately considering the amount of penetration into the steel making the difference. This is all new fairly new to me as I will be getting my first welding setup soon.

 

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We bought an off-brand gas/flux core welder many years ago, similar to HF but not HF.  First time it came to change tips, we discovered they were staked in.  Complained to the mfg, and a gun with std Tweeco tips was supplied under warranty.  Welded OK on-off for 10 years, not great but OK. Learning the duty cycle was a big key to productivity.  10% was optimistic.   After not using it for a year,did an exhaust and had nothing but trouble.  After 2 pipes it quit, late on a Sat PM.  Lowes, the only place still open, had one choice - a Lincoln Electric.  I needed the truck for Monday AM, so we bought it.  HOLY COW!  I was not the worst welder on the planet.  The Lincoln worked great!

 

On a do over, I would buy a Lincoln or Hobart from the git-go, and not struggle with the shortcuts of an off-brand.  The sweetness of a low price is soon forgotten....

Huntznsam

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Yeah I'm starting to think this. 

The new 120amp CE Mig FC Welders are 20% Duty Cycle. But I might want to get something that is dual Mig. FC and Gas Shield capable. 

 

 Was the lincoln from Lowes a 120 or 240v?

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I have the HF 90amp its good for small repairs and sheet metal work. Take the specs and cut them almost in half and thats pretty much what you can expect to weld with it. If i had it to do over i would buy the bigger version and be good to go.

Edited by slammer302
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Mastiffman,

Thanks for asking.  Our 240V is dedicated to the air compressor, so this this was 120V.  I'm not sure - it may be reconfigurable to 240V.  Welders, like most tools, justify spending more upfront vs disappointment later

Thanks

Huntz

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Okay. So I mustered up about $250-$300 to spend.... best suggestion? Should I just go with a 240v? Or stick with the best 120v Mig welder in that price range? I can disconnect the utility rooms supply (its old wire anyhow) and run an outlet to the garage as the breaker panel is in there.... Ill use the 240v 45amp breaker thats in the panel. 

 

Thanks!

 

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I looked at the HF website, and it appears the 90 AMP has been raised to 120 AMP.  It is still an AC welder and that causes much more spatter than DC.  Price now is $87.99.

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What Mig welders are DC output?

 Looks like HF has a 170amp-DC welders. Yes, 240v but I could easily run that in my garage...

 

Edited by Mastiffman

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Just my 2 cents guys- but I have struggled with this decision earlier in my life- and have owned many welders. Started out with a Lincoln "Tombstone" 225 amp stick then with the advent of personal Mig welders got a $2000 Snap On Mig with gas, etc. Later on as my scope of repairs slowed down I picked up a Century 70amp Flux Core Mig, very good for the price @ Quality Farm & Fleet. I still have it & the Tombstone today. I replaced the roll on wire from it (Lincoln brand) with a roll from Harbor Freight-WOW- such a difference! Much better. Quality seems now days to be where you find it, not necessarily linked to a "Brand" name. I have friends that have the Harbor Freight 170amp mig- they swear by it-if you are just a weekend welder, flux core is OK. If you want cleaner welds- get one with Gas. (Except outdoors in the breeze).  My advice- for the money you have- Harbor Freight is hard to beat- get a warranty- and understand its limits and you will be Happy!- Good Luck!- Al

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Save 500 and get the Hobart handler 140 mig. It uses a regular outlet and it's made by miller. Don't go cheap on something like a welder. You'll regret it later. 

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Just curious what the difference is as long as it penetrates the metal properly and lays a good bead.

 Seems like it all boils down to (in no specific order I'm saying it):

-Mig, Tig or Arc

-Duty Cycle

-Amperage rating (affects max weldable steel thickness penetration)

-AC or DC output (Affects Splatter-i.e. DC is lower)

-120vAC or 240vAC power supply

- Little bells and whistles 
- Wire feed consistency on Mig which is based off the where the power supply for the feed motor is drawn from, etc..

Obviously their are plenty of Chinese made parts inside of all of them. Which I'm sure will affect some voltage load sag in some machines... 

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Yes, the video you posted is one of the better ones.  I used his ideas for the most part.

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well I sold some stuff this weekend so now I have more money to use. So I'm probably looking at 300-400 for a welder.

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If you want simple , reliable and good resale value - look for a used Lincoln or Miller 140 ...

A buddy just bought one for $300 with regulator , cart and extra consumables - less than half what it costs new...

Sarge

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Nice! That sounds like a good deal. What is considered to be "too used" of a unit? As electronic components do degrade over time.

 

 How are the units that can be switched from 120v to 240v? I'm looking for a Dual MIG (Gas/Flux Core), 150+ Amp DC output and decent duty cycle...

 

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Never buy a used welder without being able to run it for at least a couple long beads to check for overheating , ect . If it looks abused - probably the case and avoid those . Newer inverter machines are actually pretty tough if you stick with good known brands - it's also a good idea to research parts availability before you buy , especially consumables & guns/liners ect...

 

Dual voltage machines are fine - my Dynasty 200DX will from 115VAC/20A 1PH to 460VAC 3PH with the proper wiring . Newer Millers and other brands are now using a special plug setup that allows the wall end of the cord to swapped for different power sources - I had the Dynasty converted for that Multi-Plug system a few years ago for working remote jobs . I can go somewhere and run 115VAC single phase 20 amp circuit and still run 120 amps output DC stick/tig and forget what the AC stick/tig rating is now . It also has plugs to run off the common 30a generator safety plug as well as the standard 220VAC 50P welder plug . I've made appropriate adapters as well for converting dryer and cooking stove 3-blade plugs too - I can weld almost anywhere since the unit has it's own incoming power balancing/stabilization . Granted , the Dynasty 200DX is not a beginner level nor cheap welder but that same ideal has trickled down to the lower level units - even the little 140A 110VAC migs .

 

Best to look around at what's available , research it to death and even check out some YouTube rating videos - that kind of info is a great tool for researching before you drop the coin on something .

 

Sarge

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Okay so Im kind of liking this unit and Im at the point where I feel that itd be better to get a machine with better quality now. Its a Lincoln Dual MIG 180aDc... 

 

What do you think?

http://m.lincolnelectric.com/en-us/equipment/Pages/product.aspx?product=K2698-1(LincolnElectric)

 

Thanks!

 

Edited by Mastiffman

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i bought an Eastwood 175 amp 120/240 mig welder with an included spool gun for aluminum and a regulator for 500, i seen its on sale for 479. does everything i need it to do except Tig , but thats another Tool that needed to fill my tool locker. still a chinese machine but has a 3 year warranty. worked for me cause i could pick it up locally. bonus to a larger amp welder is the duty cycle is longer , but this unit will still work on 110 current. i also have it setup to work off my sportsman dual fuel (homedepot) 7500 watt generator

 

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Sam and I think you will appreciate the quality long after the price is forgotten.  We cussed our cheap welder every time we touched it; it worked, but marginally and never let us forget we got it for cheap.  We have had zero issues with our Lincoln and that one is nicer than ours.

Thanks

Chuck & Sally

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Fixed the link.

 

Okay good. So Im making a good choice. 

 

Question: Why does this unit say 208/230 1 phase 60hz? Instead of 220v or 240v?

 Is it the Same Reason that some Welders Say 110v , 115v or 120v But can all be used on the same circuitry?

 

Found my answer. it's good to go!

 

Edited by Mastiffman

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Okay, so I placed my order for the Lincoln Electric Easy MIG 180dc 2698-1, 

 Should be here next week! 

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