Harbor Freight Tools raises the bar for affordable pro-grade welding equipment.
Rarely a day goes by at HOT ROD when we aren’t overwhelmed by new product press releases, but one we got from Harbor Freight Tools stands out as having the potential to be a game-changer for a lot of DIY hobbyists. Harbor Freight Tools is mostly known for importing inexpensive products from Asia; what isn’t commonly known is that this Calabasas, California-based company has an impressive campus for product development and quality control testing. That interesting fact is the reason HFT has come out with their upscale Vulcan Master Welder Series.
The Vulcan line has the sophisticated features and performance of high-end pro gear, but at the significantly lower price we’re accustomed to from HFT. It turns out that one of the interesting benefits of being HFT and having such huge buying power with Asia for so many years is that they’re in a position to dictate to the factory the level of manufacturing quality, and the volume means doing so at a very favorable price point. HFT’s lab facility in Calabasas, California tows the quality line by regularly testing tools to their limits; we know from piling on the abuse to HFT stuff over the years that this approach works. Now with the Vulcan Series, HFT has benchmarked the features and performance of the newest products from top welding competitors and this line-up is the result.
One of the biggest breakthroughs is that HFT’s next-generation of welding products use what they claim is best‐in‐class inverter technology. This would allow for better arc control, higher efficiencies, and a lighter welder. They are clearly designed for extreme portability with contractor-grade dual handles, making them easier to transport. If you’ve never compared the weight and durability of an inverter-style welder versus a transformer-powered unit, you’ll be duly impressed.
One of our early favorites in the Vulcan line is the flagship OMNIPRO 220. It isn’t exactly cheap at $799.99, but man is it packed with the good stuff, and it’s a bunch less expensive than comparable units. The OMNIPRO 220 is a rugged all‐purpose welder designed for TIG, MIG, stick, and flux welds, and is ideal for contractors and small fabrication shops. It’s got dual-voltage technology capable of 120v or 240v input and a duty cycle of 200 amps at 25 percent. With a larger 4.3‐inch LCD display, it includes 132 pre‐loaded welding programs and an exclusive memory feature that allows for instant recall of critical welder settings.
Just under the OMNIPRO 220 on our list of favorites are twins: the MIGMAX 140 MIG ($499.99) and MIGMAX 215 ($599.99). They’re super affordable MIG units with an industrial‐grade cast-aluminum wire feed system. Both are spool-gun ready with no adapter required, and both have advanced arc-starting technology for smooth, spatter‐free starts—perfect for the home hobbyist just beginning to weld. They also feature a tool‐free design for easy process or wire changeover. The MIGMAX 215 MIG also has dual-voltage technology (120v or 240v power source ok) and an advanced sensing feature that sets parameters automatically. It’s hard to touch those features anywhere else at this price point.
If you’re more of a TIG person and want to try your hand at crafting nice stainless steel or aluminum welds, HFT’s Vulcan PROTIG 165 unit will impress even a seasoned pro. At a price of $599.99, this lightweight (20 lbs!) inverter-based unit has dual-voltage capability (120v or 240v), high-frequency arc starting, and built-in pulsing—features we’ve come to rely on in other high-end brands. We think this is the perfect welder to throw in the trailer for the racetrack.
There’s a bunch more stuff in the Vulcan line-up than we don’t have room for here, so we suggest you check out the rest of the series at www.HarborFreight.com, or visit one of their 800 stores nationwide.
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Source: Hot Rod
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