Every now and then a Miller machine comes around that impresses me.
It’s pretty rare
Like every professional welder
I have my preferences
And certain welders I just don’t like
Can be as something as simple as a design flaw
Or just a little something that gets under my skin[toc]
It’s kinda like the famous rivalry in baseball
I mean both are great teams
Everyone has a favorite.
I’m sure you have some favorites too
And sometimes the competition really impresses you
You have to hand it to them
The Millermatic 252 is a lot like that
It does a lot of things well.
So let’s talk about that.
In this Millermatic 252 review, you’ll learn
- Pro’s and Con’s of the Miller 252
- Who this welder is perfect for – and who should avoid it
- Other welders I recommend and why…
- Why I recommend the Miller 252 for a Fab shop or Heavy DIY user.
- One part that is prone to breaking on the Miller – everyone breaks this!
I really love reading all the specification on welders…
Now I know you may judge me by the stickers on my hood
Or the fancy snips I use
Or the fact that I toss gloves as soon as they have a little hole
I love researching all types of welders
Because I get to hide from my wife!
Once I read over the facts
I know who I should recommend the welder to…
Who would love it…
And who would hate it?
All by the spec’s that tell me
What the welder is capable of.
And here’s the rub
Most people who hate a welder never take the time to
READ about their machine
And when it doesn’t perform
They want to throw it off a cliff.
And I get that!
Video Review and Unboxing of the Millermatic 252
So let’s get to the nuts and bolts of our 252:
- Professional machine. It’s heavy duty
- 15 ft MIG gun included
- The cart has some nice space for your tank
- Can fit a 44lb roll of wire
- Two leads for MIG or flux core
- Cast Aluminum drive
- .030 and .035 wire included with the machine
- The spool is loose when it sits in the spindle
- The aluminum drive is not angled – like in the Miller 211
- Cheap clamp Included
- Front clip drawer feels cheap and will most likely break over time
- Duty cycle : 250AMP @ 40% DC and 200 AMPS @ 60% DC
- Wire burn back
So with the pro’s and con’s balanced out, why then do I have to hand it to Miller on this machine.
When I bought my metal fabrication shop
I had several of these machines
Since I hate blue I sold them all
I found a dusty dented one under some plywood
In our “carpentry” section of the shop
Since I had a huge project I just took on
I decided to dust this thing off and give it a go
And you know what?
I beat this machine
And it performed flawlessly.
It dropped consistent welds all day.
Bacon was sizzling in the shop
I was using 8 gauge
And the machine didn’t sweat.
And I didn’t have to mess with the settings.
Once I calibrated for my wire thickness I was good to go
And that’s what I like
A machine to make me money.
Now this doesn’t mean that the 252 is perfect
Far from it
Remember I was using this on 8 gauge sheet metal
But I was in the fab shop
Naturally, I drop a weld
And move my workpiece around
Weld some more
Bang on it with my hammer
And weld some more
If I had to have a continuous arc on this guy it would die
Because the Duty cycle is very limited
Remember the duty cycle is based on 10 minutes
So if I could only weld for 4 minutes before the welder needs to rest for 6…
I would have an issue.
Miller 252 Testimonials
I love the Millermatic 252. I’ve seen them in over 10 different shops being uses – so I know they are professional grade. I’m a heavy diesel mechanic and I think it’s great, but would also be good for a hobbyist too!
Click here to read the original testimonial from kc
I think this is a great welder – in fact, probably the best welder ever made. I can weld ½” material all day and the Miller 252 doesn’t skip a beat. I just used it to build a trailer, all with single pass welds.
Click here to read the original testimonial from jake
In my fab shop, the welder is really good. I had no issues with the DC.
I did, however, hate the cheap clamp that was on the machine.
It was the standard junk miller likes to include…
I don’t know why they cheap out on the accessories…
But anyway – I bolted on a new awesome clamp
And was good to go.
Oh – and my 44 lb spool was crazy loose.
Apparently, Miller designed the machine like that.
I haven’t found a solution for that…
Except I bought some duct tape
Wrapped the spindled with it…
Now I’m good to go.
I didn’t want to over tighten the machine
And put a strain on the motor
Because like most machines
The drive isn’t angled – so if you tighten the spool too much your kill your motor
Over time of course.
And the front drawer thingy …
I totally broke that.
It’s not essential.
It just has your setting information in there
But it’s cheaply designed.
Which reminds me…
I just cleaned out the fab shop
And needed a pressure washer – I read this article here
And it was pretty helpful
It really is…
I’ve used it in the shop for 10 hour days no worries.
But that doesn’t mean it’s for everyone.
If your a heavy DIY user, great. Buy this machine
If you have a fab shop – it’s solid and will not let you down.
If you’re a beginner, go with something like this.
If you need something portable I would go with this Miller.
I know I know…
I hate Miller, but this is a seriously good machine for the novice
And if you do buy this machine …
You’ll thank me.
Also.. keep an eye out. Sometimes Miller has a good rebate program
And you’ll get back like two hundred bucks.
Hobart Ironman 230 vs Miller 252
Every time I walk into my local welding supply I think to myself….
So many welders so little time.
I bet you ask yourself that question too
How do I know the right welder to buy?
Or which is best one for me?
Do I really need that new Dewalt Cordless Drill?
Is it better than the Rigid?
I know.. My mind does wander went it comes to tools
But read the review on those drills here…
Back to our competing welders…
You might also ask…
Which machine offers the best value?
Those are all good questions
As your friendly professional welder
Allow me to explain
Both machines are great
Since the same company makes them
you might think they are the same machine
Stop right there!
There are a few differences that really set these two welders apart.
In this article, we’ll discuss
- The Pro’s and Con’s of both welders
- Why you would choose the miller 252 or the Hobart Ironman 230
- Where each model performs best
The Miller 252
I’ve never really been a fan of miller products. In fact, when I took over my fabrication shop a few years ago I sold my Millers and replaced them with my favorite ESAB, a Lincoln and a Hobart Ironman 230.
And I recently bought a new hood
Which is the best hood I ever owned?
And a good hood is important no matter which welder you like
Back to business
- Millers retain their value over Hobart Machines
- The 252 has pre and post flow
- Longer duty cycle then the Hobart
- Infinite voltage control
- Highest AMP output in its class @ 300 max, range 30-300
- Aluminum drive for smooth wire delivery
Now, these are all some really great features.
The arc control keeps spattering to a minimum, so no need to buy gel
You can buy some fancy stickers with the cash you save.
I like the fact that this machine has more AMPS
That means I can weld thicker metals
The limited cycle means the machine will have to rest
The there is one thing that sets the Millermatic 252 apart
And that is
The infinite voltage control.
You either the Millermatic 252 or hate it.
I Definitely have my opinion on that…
Remember what happened to my Miller machine?
That’s the reason I sold it
And I’ll explain more about that in a bit…
But that reason helps me explain the…
- Way more expensive than the Hobart machine
- Digital readout on the AMPS and VOLTS
- Infinite voltage control
And these are some big reasons why I avoid the Miller 252 over the Hobart Ironman 230.
The infinite voltage control is a double-edged sword.
Let me explain
The Millermatic 252 really shines here-
If you really want to dial in your welder and spend time adjusting it
Then this the machine for you
Or your constantly working with different metals of various thickness
Then this machine is great!
Or you need to weld some heavy gauge metals like 1” thick-
Buy the Miller.
If you’re looking for production
I mean cranking out units
Like we do in my shop
On ½ steel and lighter stuff
Then the Miller might now be the best choice
When those digital readouts break…
You’ll cry when you see the bill
Let’s jump into
The Hobart Ironman 230
Now ITW markets the Hobart more for the DIY crowd
As opposed to Miller
Whom they market to the professional
I find the opposite is true
And specifically for my production fab shop
So here’s the breakdown
- Analog dials – yes, actual knobs
- Price – was more affordable than the Miller 252
- Stepped voltage – 12 settings
- Variable wire setting
- The settings will not be as precise as the Miller 252
- Lower resale value compared to Miller
- Lower max AMP’s @ 250
When you look at the Pro’s and Con’s of the Hobart compared to the Miller
You might just ask why I prefer the Hobart Ironman 230
And that’s a great question
Because the Miller can handle thicker metals and weld
The Hobart beats the Miller in some key areas for me.
It’s cheaper priced
The 230 is simple to use
I can dial it in quicker with the limited settings
When I train new welders they find it easier to work with the Hobart
I get clean welds
And if the knobs break
I slap them back on.
So the Hobart shines in my fab shop
And that what works for me
I crank out units all day
And have no worries about maintenance on expensive digital readouts
Spending more time with my new welders
Helping them dial in their machine.
And I’m not the only one who loves their Hobart
Hobart Ironman 230 Video Rundown
Let’s explore some common questions and answers
Question: Will The Hobart 230 accept a 44lb spool of wire?
Answer: Yes. A 12″ spool of wire will fit and work just fine.
Question: How long are the welding leads on the Miller 252? Also, does this welder come with the gas gauges?
Answer: 15 ft on lead and yes mine came with gas gauges.. if you haven’t welded with this machine you will fall in love…
Question: what is the various duty cycle percents?
Answer: I think what you are asking is what the duty cycle is. It all depends on the heat setting you are using at the time. The duty cycle at about 140 amps is close to 100% and drops to about 30% at 250 amps. I don’t know what you will be welding, but even on pretty heavy iron (3/8″ or so) using .035 solid wire and co2/ argon gas, I seldom ever use more than 125, to 140 amps, so I never exceed the 100% duty cycle. But I also very seldom have long enough welds at a time to matter. The welder I had before I bought the Ironman 230, was just a 150 amp with about a 30% duty cycle at 120 amps, and it was still going after nearly 30 years, and I used it for some pretty big projects.
Both the Millermatic 252 and the Hobart Ironman 230 are awesome machines.
There can be only one winner
I like the Hobart if you want a simple to use
Cheap to repair
Cheap to purchase
Easy to use the machine.
The Hobart has never let me down.
Unless I need to weld some 1” plates
The Miller really shines.
But it will cost you more
If those digital readouts break –
It will be expensive to repair
You’ll only really need the infinite voltage control if your welding different types of metals
And different gauges of metal.
So really it’s your money
Would you want to choose the machine that delivers more value for your money?
I bet you do
use the money you saved by not buying the Miller for some good gear!