Hobart vs Miller Welders: The #1 Difference

by | Comparisons (Tools), Home Improvement

Sometimes you just want to bring on the heat. And you want to do so in a quality way.

In the realm of welders ready for some fiery action, Hobart and Miller are two names that have always stood out.

Now, I don’t want to be Captain Obvious here – but you’ve probably seen it:

There’s some steep price difference between Hobart’s modestly priced welders like the Hobart HH140 and Miller’s fancy dollar tag.

So, what gives? Is there some premium here or something?

Yeah, there’s a fundamental difference in both welder operation and to what extent can you configure/tinker around with the settings. I’ll elaborate more on this later.

If you want a quick summary, here’s the gist of it:

Hobart welders are generally suited for DIY hobbyists or contractors starting out. You can grab one if you want an affordable welder you want to test out some cool ideas on. 90% of the cases, you won’t need anything beyond a mid-class Hobart.

Hobart HH140

THE welder for mid-level DIY and hobbyists. Affordable, sturdy and giving you enough freedom to weld at home. Perfect.

Miller tools are industrial-grade powerhouses. They come with a heavy-duty construction and are a bit more challenging in terms of operation. You won’t need one for general DIY – the benefits kick in with more complicated and demanding projects.

If you do grab a Miller welder, though…well, enjoy the raw power, top class durability and freedom of operational customizations.

Miller 414

The higher grade welding solution. More customizable settings, allows for advanced DIY and contractor work. Heavy-duty stuff.

Hobart vs Miller:
The devil lies in the setting details

So how do we distinguish between a welder that’s hobbyist-friendly, and a fully professional one?

Yes, things like construction and power play a role too.

However, the fundamental difference always lies in how you operate these tools.

What makes Hobart welders user friendly and a breeze to work with are what we call ‘tapped settings’. You just have a set of levels, and each level represent a specific fixed output.

Level #1 would be 10v, Level #2 ramps it up to 20v and so on. You can’t tinker around with the voltage and set it to 15.5v for example.

Sure, this is great for generic projects that don’t require much precision. Just adjust the level and voila – you’re good to go. That’s what you generally do with the Hobart Handler series.

Kevin explains this very well in this video, I recommend you give it a watch:

For more demanding jobs, however, this convenience comes at a cost. That’s where Miller kicks in.

Contrary to Hobart’s tapped settings system, Miller MIG welders feature a more complex ‘infinite controls’ system.

There are no limitations in terms of levels, and you can tinker with whatever intricate voltage outputs you have in mind.

Does this matter that much?

Well, for general use, no, not really. Not only DIYers, but also a lot of contractors stick to Hobart because there’s just too much convenience to be found in their tools.

Let’s be honest, most welding projects don’t require an industrial-grade monster with endless customization.

IMPORTANT: Careful with switching the voltage controls — it is not recommended to do so while you’re welding!

What about the other features?

Both brands take care of quality construction by manufacturing their welders with durable aluminum shells. Miller are definitely a notch sturdier, but in most cases both companies do a significant part of their production process inside the US.

Yes, especially with their higher-end models you won’t see a lot of cheap outsourcing to China.

Aside from that, you’ll see Miller welders having more amperage and more power.

For example, the popular Hobart Handler 140 has a 25-140 amps output. You can upgrade to a Hobart 210 for its dual mode amperage where you can get 25 to 210 amps (on 230v).

Yet they’re both weaker than the mid-range Miller 211 where we’re talking about 30 to 230 amps.

Miller or Hobart welders - and who produces them? Here's an article that answers your questions.

Not to mention the Continuum series Miller have. With them, you’re looking at unmatched power that goes up to 400 amps. Yes, you read that right – 400 amps!

As I mentioned before, for more serious project you’ll want to switch to Miller. Even higher-end Hobart welders will prove to be too weak for real industrial-grade welding work.

But wait…who makes Hobart welders?
I heard Hobart and Miller are the same?

This is a common misconception I’ve seen around. Let’s make things clear:

Hobart and Miller are completely different brands. Their welders are not manufactured in the same facilities, and they don’t follow the same production process.

Both brands are owned by Illinois Tool Works, or ITW in short. This does not mean that ITW lumps them together.

I’ve even seen some people insist that Hobart owns Miller, which is still not true.

It’s a simple matter of brand diversification. Illinois Tool Works just want to hit the lower segment of hobbyists/starting contractors with Hobart. For high-end industrial welding, they just offer the more advanced Miller machines.

Concluding thoughts

In probably more than 90% of the cases, a good Hobart welder is more than enough for most welding work done by contractors and DIYers. I’m almost sure that this also applies to your situation.

You can’t go wrong with a Hobart Handler – any of the 140, 190 or 210 depending on your power needs.

If you feel like trying out a more serious welding toy: Miller will offer you an upgraded experience. Just keep in mind that their tools also come with a more complicated operation that needs you to know what you’re doing!

Founder of ToolingFun. Couldn't even change a lightbulb in my teenage years. Discovered the joy of DIY projects during my 2nd year in college. All about tinkering around, trying fun tools and projects, and giving my opinion on industry brands!