Hobart vs Miller Welders: The #1 Difference

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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.

Hobart HH140

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

Miller 414

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

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.

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.

Let’s dig deeper into this, shall we?

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:

Hobart HH140

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

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.

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.

Miller 414

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

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!

8 thoughts on “Hobart vs Miller Welders: The #1 Difference”

  1. I have owned both miller and hobart machines for years – this post is meaningless and not well informed.

    Miller and Hobart parts are very interchangeable. The handler 190 and 210 are used regularly in structural and misc iron work shops across the country and are aluminum capable with the spool gun. I have used miller tips, sheaths, … you name it on hobarts and vice versa. Yes they are for smaller jobs and generally require multiple passes on anything greater than 1/2 inch. However, anytime we need more we are looking at a 3 phase machine or a stick on a generator. The hobart line is geared generally for small to midsize with greater emphasis on their mig line which makes sense based on when one would apply mig. For greater thickness penetration in the field we use stick and for precision tig – both of which are limited in the hobart line and that is where miller makes their money. A Hobart 190 or above is an industrial grade machine for 1/2 inch and below and welds beautifully. Additionally, what this post doesnt tell you is that there is virtually no functions on comp mig machines in the miller line that change things up. The Hobart Tig is a diff story as it is minimal and does not support dc negative nor pulse which means aluminum is out and tungsten goes to crap faster. However, if you want all that on a tig go with an AHP and you will get all the miller high end tig features for 600 dollars. Mig machines (which is the focus of hobart) are meant to be simple and fast – that is why mig is popular – no one that welds for a living relies on anything beyond what the 190 or 210 will give you to do mig or flux mig welding. Also if you buy a miller – buy used and get an older machine with a transformer. These machines are better than the new machines on the market since they can be tinkered with and the voltage can be changed – miller at the time used the same transformer for multiple models of the same machine and just wired them differently allowing welders to change voltage and in some cases even move from single to three phase. That is what made them popular. Transformers make the machines much heavier than the new machines. However, anyone that knows anything knows that the old machines can be fixed by anyone in about 10 minutes and worth every penny unlike many of the new machines. If you want new and high end tig featurres go chinese so when it dies you wont care. If you want a nice mig machine go hobart, and if you want a machine that will last 50 years get a used Miller.

    1. Jared,

      First, thanks of all for that great comment. I appreciate all of the remarks and insights you’ve included here.

      Whenever I have time in the near future, I’ll revamp this whole post. Actually it’s been on my to-do-list among my not-well-fleshed-out-articles, but alas not enough time…

      I agree re: buying used/older/refurbished machines. As long as the quality is there (and with these two brands it is), it’s the best bang for anyone’s buck.

      Hope you’re staying safe in these troubling times and thanks again.
      Best,
      Alex

      1. Thanks Alex – and sorry for my bluntness – I know I come off rough =). I think your site is great and important to consumers, which is why I posted. There is a lot of guys and gals that do wood work that fear working with metal and I think having the info out there is important.

        Also, just to add to the fray – an absolutely terrific machine to look to buy is a miller econotig from the late 90’s. They weigh around 150 lbs and there are 3 versions – all run on the same transformer. Often people put the 460 volts for sale because they think they are broken because they cant understand why they wont run on 3 phase or single phase. You can get them cheap – and the 460’s are in fact single phase – they were designed for dual 230 commercial hookups. For 10 dollars on a plug and a simple 10 gauge wire tap you can convert it to 230 and run it nicely. They usually run around 400-700 used.
        These machines are stick/tig and can do both aluminum and steel nicely at a commercial level. Just a great example of what is out there.

        1. Hey there, Jared!

          Not coming rough of at all, don’t worry about it! I appreciate bluntness – moreover, you expanded on the topic in a very eloquent, insightful way.

          Do you mind if I quote you when I edit the article in the near future. Should I refer to you as Jared, or do you have any other specific preferences? I’d edit the article with ET’s notes below too — whenever possible I update the articles where customers leave their own experiences. As much as my time allows for that, lol.

          Cheers and take care — sorry for the late reply, used the good weather to escape a bit in the mountains.

          Best,
          Alex

  2. Thank you Jared for excellent add on information to what Alex intended to say. I’ve owned a Millermatic 135 for 13 years now on recommendation from a professional welder. He particularly mentioned the difference between Hobart and Miller and told me to buy Miller (because I could afford it and wanted quality and reliability).

    My career in product development confirms the model where a parent company (ITW) would own both companies, gearing each to serve a particular market segment.

    Having interchangeable parts or parts that are alike but upgraded for service duty allows the parent company to leverage volume buys from suppliers.
    Thanks Alex for an OK website. Yes get that narrative upgraded.

    1. ET,

      Thanks for the comment too!

      Absolutely, this diversification of brands under one ‘mothership’ happens across many industries. One of my favorite examples – which I’ve talked about on my site, is how Tenneco diversifies their shock absorbers. Offroaders get Rancho, while your regular/casual driver benefits more from the Monroe classics.

      Will definitely get the post updated in line with the feedback, and if you don’t mind, I’ll also refer readers to your comment as a happy owner of a Millermatic 135. 13 years is a long time — even though proper machinery like these welders survive for decades if taken care of properly.

      Take care and be well!
      Alex

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