The Millermatic 255 is a relatively new offering from Miller Welders. In late 2019, Miller introduced this multi-process MIG and Pulsed MIG welder. It is certainly a professional grade welding machine with the latest Millermatic technology, fantastic power, and a duty cycle to match. This review should help you determine if the Millermatic 255 MIG welder is the right machine for you.
Whether in a professional metal fabrication shop, or the garage of die-hard auto restoration enthusiast, I think the Millermatic 255 is bound to impress the most cynical of tool and welding nuts. It’s certainly not the cheapest welder that you’ll find. Heck, this is a Miller welder, and one of their top models to boot. Anyone in the know, would expect to pay top dollar for welding equipment of this magnitude. I believe it will be money well spent.
If one look at the Millermatic 255 price leaves you gasping for air and a little feint, perhaps the Hobart Handler 190 will be more to your liking. This is an accomplished DIY MIG welder and is much cheaper than the mega-impressive Millermatic 255. As a cheaper alternative, I’ll be reviewing the Hobart Handler 190 MIG welder alongside the Miller. Though you can never see this as a comparative review between these two welders. They are as alike as cats and dogs. Let’s just say Millermatic 255 vs Hobart Handler 190 is really about what you’re prepared to pay and what type of welder you’re expecting to get for your money
I’d recommend the Millermatic 255 as one of the most admirable MIG welders of its kind. For those who’ll settle for nothing short of the best, regardless of the price, the Millermatic 255 is going to draw your attention and keep it. The Hobart welder is a cheaper machine for the casual hobbyist metal worker. It is nowhere nearly as sophisticated as the high-end Miller welder, it’s just a lot more affordable. When it comes to peace of mind, the Miller 3-year True Blue warranty and professional aftersales service is quite remarkable.
Millermatic 255 (951766) MIG Pulsed MIG Welder – with EZ-Latch Running Gear
- Millermatic 255 with 10 ft. (3 m) power cord
- 15 ft. (4.5 m) 250-amp MDX™-250 MIG gun w/ Bernard® AcuLock™ S consumables for .035/.045 in. (0.9/1.2 mm) wire
- 10 ft. (3 m) work cable and clamp and 50mm Dinse-style connector
- Flow gauge regulator and gas hose for argon or AR/CO2 mix
- Extra Contact tips
- .035/.045 in. (0.9/1.2 mm) reversible drive rolls
- Chain to secure gas cylinder
- Material Thickness Gauge
- EZ-Latch™ Running Gear
- Easy to use digital interface with 7” color display
- MIG, Pulsed MIG, and Flux Core Welding
- MDX MIG gun with AcuLock S consumables
- AutoSet will automatically select optimum settings based on material type, thickness, wire type, and gas.
- Programmable memory functions
- Lightweight, only 84-pounds.
- Auto-Line inverter power supply for single phase 208 – 240V power supply.
The Millermatic 255 is a combination MIG and pulsed MIG welder that runs on single phase power (208 – 240V). At 240V, you’re looking at a maximum rated input current of 74.6A (86.9A at 208V). This means you need supply conductors with the following AWG rating: #8 up to a maximum length of 73’ (240V) or 54’ at 208V. I’d recommend a 100A breaker to prevent tripping under maximum load conditions. Miller has developed some of the best inverter technology used for welding machines and this makes the Millermatic 255 an incredibly easy and powerful machine to use. Especially for its size and weight.
Rated output is mighty impressive: 230A, at 25.5V with a 60% duty cycle. This means for every 6-minutes working, the welder will require a 4-minute rest period. At the rated 260A, 27 volts, duty cycle is a reasonable 40%. The maximum open circuit voltage is 87VDC. Output amperage ranges from 20 -350A. The Millermatic 255 is great for welding aluminum (18 gauge), mild steel (24 gauge), and stainless steel. The wire spool mechanism is superb, as with any of the range topping Miller welders. It accommodates a 12” spool with a feed rate of 50 IPM to 800 IPM (inches per Minute).
- Aluminum 0.035 in 0.047 in
- Flux Cored 0.03 in 0.045 in
- Stainless 0.023 in 0.045 in
- Solid Steel 0.023 in 0.045 in
The standard kit includes the 250-amp MDX250 MIG gun, which has a convenient 15’ reach. I find this gun to be really easy to use with an excellent grip. You also get a high-quality ground clamp with a 10’ work cable, and a gas kit comprising hose and flow regulator with pressure gauges. Gas kit is for Argon or AR/CO₂ mix. Inside the spool compartment door, you’ll find a detailed chart for settings using different wire types, materials, and thicknesses. Though this has become mostly redundant, considering how accurate the Millermatic automatic settings are.
This brings me to the more exciting stuff. There are two things that really grab my attention when comparing the Millermatic 255 to any other high-end MIG welder. The first would be the amazing digital control panel, something many have come to appreciate on some other Miller welders. This has been vastly improved over the years and the Millermatic automation is also fantastic. The second great evolution is pulsed MIG welding. I’m going to discuss all of this in some detail, starting with the fantastic control panel.
It doesn’t take much to get on top of how the Millermatic 255 intuitive digital controls function. A large 7” color display provides all the information you could possibly require, in a an easy to follow format.
At the top right of the panel, you have a basic on/off switch, that’s pretty self-explanatory. At the top left is a USB port which is used for software updates and collecting error codes. Although using the touch pad controls is quite easy to comprehend, I’d recommend spending a little time with the owner’s manual to gain a full understanding. This machine has a host of magnificent functions that you might not be fully aware of at first. Take note that you need to calibrate the spool motor for the spool gun that you’re using. If you change the gun, you’ll need to recalibrate. The manual explains this quite logically and you can save settings for future use, simplifying things immensely.
Just above the screen, is the Auto-Set button which will change the on-screen display for your auto-set options. These options will be, by default for regular MIG welding. If you select the PULSE option, adjacent to Auto-Set, you will find the display options for Pulse MIG welding. I go directly to the Auto-Set function as this makes everything so easy and I find it to be wonderfully accurate. You always have the option to fine tune voltage (MIG) or Arc length (pulse MIG) using the turn dial on the left. The right turn dial allows you to adjust the wire feed speed with incredible accuracy.
When using the Auto-Set mode, it’s child’s play. The right two touch pads allow you to toggle through material and gas options. The center button selects the wire diameter, and the right two buttons let you select material thickness. There’s a bulls-eye icon that indicates when you have your settings spot on. At the top left of the screen is an icon indicating when the weld output is on and one to indicate incorrect weld polarity. In other words, you need to swap the work and electrode cables.
Because I’m a self-taught DIY welder, I find the auto-settings to be perfect. Sometimes, I might fiddle the voltage knob in a trial and error type fashion or, occasionally, adjust feed rate with the right knob. You don’t need to be a scientist to get it right, just look at the Bulls-eye, which will let you know you’ve got the right setup for the task at hand.
To find out more, I also asked a few pro welders what they thought of the Millermatic 255 auto-set functions. I was surprised to find that even most professionals go directly to auto-set. It saves a lot of time. You don’t have to go through the chart each time you configure the welder for use. It’s easy enough to make manual changes if you’re not entirely pleased with the way the machine has decided to do things.
The second reason why I’m blown away by the Millermatic 255 is the Pulse Weld option. This is of particular value if you do a lot of aluminum welding. MIG pulse welding is also much easier for beginners to grasp. For the experienced professional, using the Millermatic 255 pulse weld function will improve productivity in a big way. There are several, less obvious advantages to using MIG pulse weld, I’ll explain these. Though, we should start by understanding how pulse weld works.
Conventional MIG welding involves a constant current supplied through the wire to the material. A short circuit between the positively charged wire and the negatively charged material causes a short circuit, resulting in an arc. Heat from the electric arc melts the wire and the molten droplets fuse the metal pieces together. Because the current is constant, the resultant heat produced is also constant. When welding softer materials, like aluminum, excessive heat can be a problem. With thinner sheets, this can easily result in burn through. A constant current MIG welder will also produce more splatter, requiring a lot of cleaning up and grinding.
Pulsed MIG welding involves switching between peak and background current. This means the welder produces a high current, which deposits a droplet of molten wire. Power is then lowered to a point where it maintains the welding arc but does not produce sufficient heat for metal transfer. The pulsed current control occurs 30 to 400 times per second. At no point during the pulse weld process does the wire make contact with the puddle.
A major advantage to pulse welding is easier control over the weld puddle and bead control. For less-skilled welders, this means improved weld appearance. In general, welding is faster using a pulse process.
Because the weld pool is cooler, there is less splatter. This also reduces warping and material burn. Using a pulse weld setting allows for thicker wire and faster wire speeds. This is an obvious advantage, speeding up the welding process and increasing productivity.
To conclude I’ll provide a summarized list of MIG pulse welding advantages:
- Improved appearance with uniform bead formation.
- Easier operation.
- Allows for thicker diameter wire for faster welding.
- Reduced splatter makes for easier cleaning.
- Reduced burning and warping.
I’ve chosen to review the Millermatic 951766 option which includes the EZ-Latch running gear. You can go for the cheaper option (Millermatic 907734) which is just the MIG welder, without the running gear. Though, if you don’t mind the additional expense, I can wholly recommend the EZ-Latch addon. Like all Miller welding gear, this comes at a cost. It is, however, the best welding caddy I’ve seen. It’s built to withstand the rigors of a busy metal shop, which is something we expect from the brand. I’m really impresse with expert and practical design. Lift the Millermatic 255 welder onto the running gear and fasten it with four finger release clips. It takes less than a minute to attach or detach the welder and it glides around the shop like a swift gazelle. You also have heaps of storage in a large compartment at the bottom.
A skilled metal worker, with years of experience, doesn’t need a particularly sophisticated MIG welder to achieve perfect results. With that said, the Millermatic 255 makes things much easier, for professionals and novices alike. Even if all the easy to use features on this model are not, strictly speaking needed for some, it will help you work more efficiently.
Whether you run a professional metal shop, where time is money, or don’t have all the skill needed for a perfect weld, the Millermatic 255 will give you the edge. I’ve used some pretty shoddy welders in my time. I’ve also had the privilege of using some of the very best welding machines. One thing’s for sure, the Millermatic 255 is not only one of the easiest to use, it is also a truly professional grade machine. High quality and incredible engineering make this, like most of the top Miller welders, a superb product. The only reason why some may shy away from the Millermatic 255 would be the price. Though, if you’re used to buying high-end professional tools, this comes with the territory. As they say, you get what you pay for.
Hobart Handler 190 MIG Welder (500554)
- 10 ft. (3 m) HR-100 MIG gun with ergonomic, rubber-padded handle
- 10 ft. (3 m) work cable with clamp
- Power cord with plug
- Built-in gas solenoid valve
- Dual-gauge regulator with gas hose
- 030 in. (0.8 mm) contact tips
- Quick Select™ drive roll for .024 in. (0.6 mm) or .030/.035 in. (0.8/0.9 mm) solid wire, and 0.030/0.035 in. (0.8/0.9 mm)
- Flux-cored wire Sample spool of 0.030 in. (0.8 mm) self-shielding flux-cored wire
- Material thickness gauge
- Welds 24 gauge to 5/16in. steel in single pass
- Powerful and Professional Results. Operates on 230V power
- 25 to 190 output amperage
- 7 voltage selections, enhanced magnetics and infinite wire feed speed control offers easier fine control of the output parameters for improved arc performance with less spatter
- 30% duty cycle @ 130 Amps
Like the Millermatic 255, the Hobart Handler 190 is a single-phase 230V MIG welder. Though, here the similarity ends. As I said in the introduction, the Handler 190 cannot be compared to the Millermatic 255. The Hobart 190A MIG welder is nowhere nearly as powerful as the Miller machine. The duty cycle cannot compare, nor does it have any sophisticated technology. This is, essentially, a DIY and medium duty shop welder, not a professional grade option, like the Miller alternative.
So why include the Handler 190 in this review? Well, I know many of our readers, while in awe of the Millermatic 255, are looking for a more affordable MIG welder for less demanding tasks. I chose the Hobart welder because it is a mid to low priced option with a pretty outstanding reputation for good quality and reliability. Whenever I look at cheaper products for my reviews, I’m always aware of price vs quality. It’s no good going for the absolute cheapest machine when it will ultimately end up being a disappointment.
Let me start by pointing out why the Handler 190 cannot be considered in the same league as the Millermatic 255. Power is an obvious one. The Hobart handler is rated for a 25A – 130A welding current. The Miller welder is streaks ahead (20A – 350A). The difference is striking, and you will never be able to weld the same thickness material with the smaller Hobart machine. Duty cycle is also not too impressive. This is more of an average home, or small shop, welder in terms of productivity with a 30% duty cycle at 130A. At this output, the Millermatic 255 will achieve 100% duty cycle with ease.
The Hobart only has manual settings. No fancy stuff, like Millermatic Auto-Set. Though, this is not a deal breaker for me. Automated settings are really cool. Though, like any reputable MIG welder, the Hobart Handler has a settings chart inside the wire spool door. You just end up spending a little more time setting the machine up. The Hobart Handler does not have a pulse weld function. This is not unusual, few MIG welders do.
Now let’s move along and look at the reasons why I’d wholly recommend the Hobart Handler as one of the best value MIG welders. I’ve always had a great deal of admiration for this brand as being both affordable and durable. In my book, this is real value for money. It’s not always too easy to find clues indicating a higher level of quality in a MIG welder. At first appearances, they all look pretty similar. For one hidden clue, look at the spool feed mechanism. This is always hidden behind a door and not one of the first things we look at. I reckon, if the manufacturer pays enough attention to this seemingly insignificant, often overlooked detail, then they’re pretty serious about attention to detail and quality. For me, the Hobart Handler 190 wire spool compartment speaks volumes to the overall quality of this machine.
A picture paints a thousand words. Just look at the expertly engineered aluminum and brass components. The sparse use of plastic is encouraging. This is the kind of stuff that really floats my boat. The Quick Select grooves in the drive roll are perfectly machined to accommodate various wire sizes, including flux-cored wire. The hub assembly allows you to use 4” or 8” spools.
When it comes to using the Hobart Handler, everything is pretty simple and self-explanatory. A 7-pot voltage selection dial offers great power versatility and is certainly not complicated to understand. Above this knob, is an infinite dial for easy wire feed settings from 40 IMP to 740 IPM. This model is ready for the Hobart SpoolRunner 100 spool gun, which is an excellent optional extra for guys who do a lot of aluminum welding.
The general technical specifications are pretty standard, nothing jumps out at me as either exceptional or greatly disappointing. As I’ve already mentioned, duty cycle is pretty average for a light to medium duty MIG welder, 30% at the rated 130A (21.5 VDC). Maximum input current is a very convenient 20.5A at 230V, a 25A breaker will suffice. I think the 100A breaker required for the Millermatic 255 would be a problem for most home shops, even some smaller commercial ones. If you don’t need all that extra power, the Hobart Handler 190 has a more universal appeal. The machine weighs a manageable 68-pounds.
The Hobart Handler 190 is a brilliant medium duty welder for DIYers, Auto body welding, and the like. It offers a pretty reasonable thickness capability for most types of MIG welding – mild steel, aluminum, and stainless steel. There are no complicated setup procedures, and this is a pretty smooth, easy machine to use. Weld quality is certainly of a high standard, without any real effort on the part of the user.
Hobart quality is commendable, even if the warranty is a little complicated to understand. On Amazon, they advertise a 5-year warranty, which is partially true. On the Hobart website, they advertise a 2-year warranty, which looks more like an average. I’ve included the Hobart Handler 190 warranty in the PDF downloads for your perusal, if you wish. This is a 5/3/1 year warranty. I’d guess for an inverter welder, the 5-year bit only covers diodes. Most components would fall under the 3-year section of the warranty, with the gun and gas connections at only 1-year. All things considered, this is a pretty fine warranty. Better than anyone would normally expect for a cheaper product. Another indication of great value for money, which is what this welder is all about. If you want the best (or one of the best) MIG welders, the Millermatic 255 is a real winner. If you’re more frugal in your spending, and don’t need a top-rated welder, the Hobart Handler 190 is a wonderful, reasonably priced machine.