Hobart Handler 190 MIG Welder Review

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Since its introduction in 2011, the Hobart Handler 190 MIG welder gained popularity and established itself as a straightforward, dependable unit sold by a well-known, respected brand. 

So, it would not be unusual if at some point you asked yourself if this unit meets your shop’s needs.

This article contains all the necessary information about the Handler 190, as well as what some actual users have to say, to help you assess if it is right for you.

Quick Overview

What’s Included

  • 10 ft. (3 m) HR-100 gun
  • Owner’s manual
  • 10 ft. (3 m) work cable with clamp
  • Built-in gas solenoid valve and dual-gauge regulator with gas hose.
  • Sample spool of 0.030 in (0.8mm) self-shielding flux-cored wire
  • 0.030 in. (0.8mm) contact tips
  • Quick Select™ drive roll for .024 in (0.6mm) or .030/.035 in. (0.8/0/9 mm) solid wire, and .030/.035 in. (0.8/0.9 mm) flux-cored wire
  • Power cord with plug
  • Welding guide and material thickness gauge

Technical Specifications

  Handler 190
Welder Type MIG, Flux Core
Input Voltage 220/230/240 V
Duty Cycle 30% @ 130 A (21.5V)
Amperage 25 – 190A
Voltage Control 7 Positions
Wire Feed Speed Control Infinite
Weldable Materials Mild Steel, Stainless, Aluminum
Mild Steel Thickness (Single-pass) 24 gauge to 5/16 in.
Wire Thickness

0.023 – 0.035 in. solid wire
0.030 – 0.045 in. flux-cored wire

Wire Feed Speed 40-700 ipm (under load)
Wire Spool Sizes 4-in. and 8-in
Spool Gun Ready
Welder Dimensions (H x W x L) 12.375 in. x 10.625 in. x 19.5 in.
Weight 68 lbs.
Warranty 5/3/1 years
User Rating ★★★★★ 4.7 stars (155 ratings)
Price See Best Deal Here
Northern Tool

(free shipping)

Pros

  • Simple setup appeals to first-time welders
  • Triple groove, Quick Select™ drive roller
  • Built-in automatic wire drive motor and thermal overload protection, no fuses or circuit breakers to reset
  • Spool gun ready
  • Comes with a handy stock thickness gauge
  • Cast aluminum housing for the wire drive mechanism
  • Wire electrically cold until the trigger is pulled for safety
  • Auto thermal and wire drive motor protection
  • Can be run a generator
  • Strong Warranty

Cons

  • 230V input voltage only
  • Voltage selections limited to the 7 taps
  • No thermal overload light
  • Regulator not recommended for use with C100 gas
  • Heavy compared to competing units

Where You Can Buy the Hobart 190

The Hobart Handler 190 is a well-stocked welder with multiple retailers, so you should not have any problems. 

Each retailer runs its own sales from time to time, so it’s worth checking the ones below:

What You Should Know Before Buying the Handler 190

Rookie Welders

This welder is one of the simplest to set up and use. Because of this, many welders feel the Handler 190 makes a good first welder. 

It allows new users to learn without being bogged down by complex controls. Plus, the arc and wire feed is good enough to let new and experienced welders put down some nice beads.

Input Power

This welder uses a 240v input power supply only. So, if you need to run your MIG welder on 120 volts, this is not your welder. Be sure you will have a 240v outlet protected by at least a 30 amp circuit breaker available.

The other option you do have to power this welder is using a generator. The Handler 190 can be powered with a 7000-watt continuous generator to get the full output capacity. To get a 130 amp output, you will need a 5000-watt continuous generator. 

Related read: How big of a generator do I need to run a welder?

Weldable Stock Thickness

The Handler 190 puts out 25 to 190 amps and can MIG weld mild and stainless steel in the 24 gauge to 5/16 inch thick range. That is usually all a beginner or welding enthusiast needs. But if you intend to deal with the more industrial, thicker stock, you will need a bigger unit.

Aluminum

The Handler 190 comes spool gun ready, but you have to get the spool gun separately. That means you must evaluate your aluminum welding needs to make a decision. You can buy a spool gun separately in the future when it is needed or purchase a bundle now that includes it

The bundle saves you money compared to buying the welder and spool gun separately. But the base unit without the spool gun offers the lowest initial cost if you do not intend to take aluminum stock in the foreseeable future. 

However you decide to do it, once you have a spool gun, you will be able to take on aluminum from 16 gauge to 1/4 inch thick. 

C100 Gas

While you do get a gas regulator in the box, it is not recommended for use with C100 gas. This is because the frosting action of carbon dioxide gas can damage a regulator not designed for its use.

However, many welders do like to use C100. If you are one of them, be prepared to supply your own regulator for pure carbon dioxide if you decide to buy the Handler 190.

Weight

The unit weighs 68 pounds. So, the core unit is light enough for you to move the welder around if you must.

But there are lighter options on the market today if you want a more portable unit.

Consumables

For the most part, Hobart includes what you need to get you started (except your gas for MIG welding). But it is not enough to keep you going for long.

So it is a good idea to add consumables to your order if you purchase the Handler 190.

What Makes The Hobart 190 Great

Control Panel

Hobart designed the Handler 190 to be simple to use. One look at the control panel, and you can see that they indeed designed a clean, straightforward machine: two knobs and an on-off switch. No lights or digital displays to confuse things. 

To make things even easier, the settings chart is printed on the inside of the wire compartment door. Just look up the settings for your weld, turn the two dials to the right settings, and you are ready to weld. Many users consider this welder a good choice for new welders for this reason.

Weld Quality

Users find the Handler 190 lays quality beads with relative ease. The welder’s simplicity, combined with a smooth arc and reliable wire drive, makes it easier than many competing welders.

Triple Groove Wire Drive Roller

Since its initial introduction, Hobart has made few changes to the Handler 190. But one of them was to upgrade the roller from 2 grooves to 3.

Now, the Handler 190 includes a triple grooved roller that lets you run solid or flux-cored wire. So, you can run 0.023 to 0.035-inch diameter solid wire and 0.030 to 0.045-inch diameter flux-cored wire with the one roller as supplied. 

This feature is not usually found on competing units, and it is easy to use. Simply push in the roller and turn so that the retaining pin “pops” into the right slot for your wire size and type.

Spool Gun Ready

Not all “beginner” MIG welders accept a spool gun. But the Handler 190 comes with internal circuitry so your welder is ready whenever you decide to take on aluminum. 

Once you have the gun, plug it in and flip a switch inside the wire compartment to set up. It is easy and quick to switch over to aluminum from steel and vice versa.

Wire Feed Mechanism

Users find the wire feed with the Handler 190 smooth, which helps to lay quality beads. It is also simple to set up and reliable. Plus, the Quick Select roller makes changeovers toolless and effortless. 

The wire feed mechanism is one of the welder’s strong points. Even experienced welders appreciate the dependable performance and ease of use.

Wire Feed Motor Protection

Your wire drive motor works hard, and it can burn out. To address this problem, the Handler 190 does include electronic protection. If the motor becomes overloaded, the circuitry will cut off the motor. Simply release the torch’s trigger and wait for the circuitry to reset itself automatically.

Thermal Overload Protection

Just as with your wire drive motor, the transformers in a welder can be damaged. To protect against this, Hobart includes a thermal trip that shuts the unit down if it gets too hot. If it does trip, just wait for the unit to cool down, and it will automatically reset when cool enough.

Cold Wire Safety Feature 

With the Handler 190, your wire is electrically “cold” when not in use. So, you do not need to worry about accidental shorts starting an unexpected arc. The wire does not become “hot” unless you pull the torch’s trigger.

Warranty

Hobart has been in the welder game for a long time. One of the things they are known for is their warranty. There is a reason for that. The 5/3/1 warranty is one of the best you will find.

The transformer, stabilizers, and rectifier are warranted for 5 years; the generators, PC boards, and drive systems for 3 years; and the MIG gun for 1 year.

Package Bundle

The Handler 190 is a good choice for new welders. But the spool gun is extra, which drives the price up. 

If you know you will work with aluminum, then you can save some money by picking up the Hobart package deal, including the welder and the spool gun. Everyone likes saving some money.

Alternative Consideration

For those who like to consider all their options, you may want to look at the Eastwood MIG 180i. It compares to the Handler 190 specs pretty well.

But it is also inverter-based, lighter, costs less, has a better duty cycle, runs on 120v and 240v, and comes with additional control features. So overall, as a newer unit, it is a better package, in my opinion.

  Handler 190 MIG Eastwood MIG 180i
Power Input 240V 120V or 240V
Output Amps 25 – 190A 30 -180A
Duty Cycle 30% @ 130A 30% @ 180A
Technology Transformer Inverter
Voltage Taps 7 Infinite
4T Mode
Tack Weld Setting
Polarity Change Inside wire compartment Plugs on front of unit
Weight 68 lbs. 26 lbs.
RRP 💲💲💲
See Best Deal Here
Northern Tool
💲💲
See Best Deal Here
Eastwood

You can find a full rundown review of the Eastwood MIG 180 here.

Conclusion

The Handler 190 appeals to new welders because of its simplicity. It is dead simple to set up and use. In addition, the wire drive mechanism and arc are both smooth, which helps to make the creation of nice beads easier.

But the ability to handle 24 gauge to 5/16 inch thick steel also makes it a practical choice for any maintenance/repair, auto body,  DIY, farm/ranch, or metal sculpture shop, as long as they do not take on heavy or industrial work. 

While not the cheapest welder you can buy in this category, the Handler 190 is manufactured by a reputable company. Plus, Hobart includes a strong warranty. So it is worth the price for those that need the peace of mind that comes with a brand name and a good guarantee.

So, if you want a no-frills, time-tested unit that is easy to use, you may be willing to pay a little more for the Handler 190 MIG. It is a solid welder that allows the beginner to expert welders to lay quality beads. Just keep in mind, it is limited to light to medium duty steel and aluminum tasks.

About Jeff Grill

Jeff Grill hails from Long Island, a 118 mile stretch of land that starts just off the coast of Manhattan and stretches deep into the Atlantic ocean. He has always been interested in welding from an early age and has the cuts and bruises to prove it as he set out to work with a variety of metals.

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