Hobart Stickmate 160i Review – How Good Is It?

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One of the more affordable welders you can get from Hobart, the Stickmate 160i is a lightweight and durable stick welder with a dual input power option. 

Some of its competitors cost less. But that’s because Hobart makes sturdy machines that last, and they come with a strong warranty.

The Stickmate 160i is intended for DIY hobbyists and welding professionals who need a portable, basic stick welder that runs on 120 or 240 volts.

But, it’s not without its shortcomings. So, we put together this review for you to use. Have a look and see if this welder satisfies your needs.

Overview of the Hobart Stickmate 160i (500570)

The Stickmate 160i is a straightforward machine, but it does come with everything you need to weld right out of the box.

With enough power to weld up to 3/8 in mild steel, this stick welder handles almost all stick electrode types and has enough power for all but heavy-duty and industrial jobs. 

What’s included

  • 10 ft. (3 m) electrode cable with heavy-duty holder
  • 10 ft. (3 m) work cable with a work clamp
  • 6.5 ft. (2 m) power cord with Multi-Voltage Plug (MVP) adapters for both 120 V and 240V
  • User manual and set up instructions

Besides the machine itself, the box content list is small, as you can tell. But this is normal for stick welders. Unlike with MIG or similar processes, stick welding machines need few parts or accessories to weld.

Technical Specifications

Welder Type Stick
Input Voltage Dual voltage 120V/240V
Output Current Type DC
Technology Inverter
Duty Cycle 120V: 65A at 20%, 34A at 100%
240V: 160A at 30%, 88A at 100%
Amperage Output 120V: 20 – 80A
240V: 20 – 160A
Weldable Materials Mild steel
Clamp Cable Length 10 ft. (3m)
Ground Cable Length 10 ft. (3m)
Mild Steel Thickness (Single-pass) 120V: up to 1/8in.
240V: up to 3/8in.
Welder Dimensions (H x W x L) 10.5 x 7.125x 13.375 in.
Weight 15 lb.
Warranty Hobart’s industrial 5/3/1
Weld Guru Rating ★★★★☆
Price Latest Price
Amazon

Pros

  • Quality build, sturdy and built to last
  • Handles rough working conditions
  • Lightweight and portable
  • Hot Start Technology
  • Infinite amperage settings knob
  • Dual voltage input power
  • Built-in adjustable shoulder strap
  • Lengthy warranty
  • Well known brand name
  • It comes with everything you need to start welding
  • High quality ground clamp

Cons

  • Duty cycle on the lower end compared to the other stick welders in this price range
  • The infinite amperage knob does not tell you the exact output setting (you must guess between the known points around the knob)
  • Manufactured in China

Where to buy the Hobart Stickmate 160i

What Happened to the Stickmate 210i?

The Stickmate 210i was discontinued somewhere at the end of 2019. It’s no longer available for sale. You may find it used on the second-hand market, but the remaining batch of new units has sold out in stores.

Miller owns Hobart, and since the Miller’s Thunderbolt 210 competed with Stickmate 210i, Hobart’s welder was likely discontinued to eliminate product overlap and confusion. 

They were identical, but the Miller model costs a bit more. It just comes with a different brand name and paint job.  

But don’t be overly bummed about it. The Hobart Stickmate 210i had some flaws, which makes the Stickmate 160i a better choice. Namely, it didn’t support dual voltage input while offering only 50A more output power. 

What should you know before buying the Stickmate 160i

While this is almost a perfect on-the-go stick welder, it does have a few flaws.

Low Duty Cycle

I don’t understand why the Stickmate 160i was not made with a better duty cycle. This high-quality welder can easily be used for serious welding work; it’s not limited to just DIY or hobbyist applications. 

This is especially true when used with a 120V input. Being able to weld for 2 minutes out of 10 at 65A is not good enough. 

Stick welding is, in general, slower, and the chances are that you’ll have to pause during a long weld to put in a new electrode when running an 80A output with a 120V input.

On 240 volts, it is not much better either unless you use lower than 120 amps of welding output. Only then will you be able to weld without many cooling breaks.

6010 Electrodes Struggle

Don’t take this as a knock on Hobart. 6010 electrodes are notorious for giving all stick welders a hard time. 

The Stickmate 160i will run them, but the arc tends to cut out, especially when welding joints with a root opening.

So, if you have to use 6010 electrodes frequently to weld gapped joints, maybe you should consider another welder.

No Precise Amperage Output Display

I am glad they designed the Stickmate 160i with an infinite amperage control. I only wish they had something more accurate than the knob scale on the front panel.

The infinite adjustment knob has two printed outer rings. One for 120V and a second for 240V. They are dotted with 10A increments. This means you have to guess the exact amp settings between the two specified numbers.

While many people find this annoying, I consider it a bigger issue. Why didn’t they install a basic LED display? Hobart could have used an amperage output display like the one on the Everlast PowerArc 200STI model, which costs about the same as the Stickmate 160i.

Stick Only

While this is a standard stick welder, almost every other brand offers a stick and a basic TIG combo. That’s because the DC inverters used by these machines are also quite capable of handling basic TIG operations. 

That would probably increase the price, but if you are interested in doing TIG welds sporadically with your stick machine, the 160i does not have native support for it.

Review of the Top Things that make Stickmate 160i Great

Every welder on the market has some issues, but the Stickmate 160i has many more pros than cons. 

Hobart manufactured a solid unit with great value, even with the flaws as outlined above. So, let’s take a look at where it shines the most.

Arc Quality and Supported Electrodes

The Stickmate 160i has a beautiful stable arc that will have you burning rods like butter. 

What’s even better is how easy it is to strike an arc. Thanks to its hot start technology, the welder outputs peak current the moment you scratch the metal with the electrode. This results in an easy arc start that will make you look and feel like a pro.

The welder supports pretty much all of the electrodes you would typically use, like 6010, 6011, 6013,  7018, 7024, 308L, Ni-Cl, and others. You’ll rarely experience cold welds with any of these.

Ease of Use

While I complained above about not having an amp LED, some welders like it that way. 

This is one of those old-school units. Plug it in, put the electrode in the holder, attach the ground clamp, set your amps, and weld.

So, this is probably one of the most straightforward welders on the market. While stick welders are generally simple to use, the 160i has a simple and intuitive front panel that doesn’t leave any room for guesswork. 

Portability and Versatility

All I have to say here is 15 lbs. and dual input voltage.

But Hobart’s MVP makes switching between 120 and 240V quick and straightforward. No tools are necessary. You can quickly assemble the proper plug with the included L6-30R twist-lock connector.

The built-in adjustable shoulder strap is also a nice touch, especially since it’s very sturdy and seems like it will outlive the welder and may even become a hand-me-down to his kids. 

Quality

If you are after a welder that can handle rough conditions, the 160i may be the right choice.

You get a premium build with durable plastic back and front, a sturdy metal case, a quality knob, and an excellent electrode holder.

This is more important than most people think. Especially if you plan on doing some heavy work. Sparks, molten pieces of metal, and slag will fall on your electrode holder, leads, and at some point, your front panel.

Poor quality parts will suffer in the long run, and you will have to replace them more often.

Hobart Stickmate 160i vs Miller Thunderbolt 160

Miller’s Thunderbolt 160 is basically a blue version of Hobart Stickmate 160i. The only difference is that the Miller comes with a pouch for the cables and slightly different plug ends. That’s it.

Oh, and the additional $100-150 depending on where you get it. That’s the price of going blue!

The Miller\s version is also made in China, and the leads are the same 10ft. If it had at least 15ft leads, you could consider it as an alternative. 

Otherwise, there is no reason to go with the Miller unless you like blue or the Hobart is not available.

To give you a better comparison here,  the table below compares these two. I also included Miller’s Thunderbolt 210, just in case you need more welding power and you are unsure which to choose.

  Hobart
Stickmate 160i
Miller
Thunderbolt 160
Miller
Thunderbolt 210
Input Voltage 120V/240V 120V/240V 240V only
Amperage Output 120V: 20 – 80A
240V: 20 – 160A
120V: 20 – 80A
240V: 20 – 160A
25 – 210A
Mild Steel Thickness (Single-pass) 120V: up to 1/8in.
240V: up to 3/8in.
120V: up to 1/8in.
240V: up to 3/8in.
Up to 1/2in.
Weight 15lb 15lb 15.5lb
Price $$
Latest Price
Amazon
$$$
Latest Price
Amazon
$$$$
Latest Price
Miller

Conclusion

In the end, I’d like to affirm my position. Hobart did an excellent job designing and manufacturing the Stickmate 160i. I only wish it had some additional features like a basic LED display. A lift TIG, or even scratch start TIG, would be nice, too.

That being said, the straightforward approach probably cuts down on the cost, which allows you to get this highly portable stick welder at an affordable price. 

The Stickmate 160i will be more than enough for most people. But heavy-duty users should consider something with more power and features. 

I hope this information helps you find the welder that suits your needs. If this article helped you, please share it with your friends. Maybe they are considering a new welder, too.

Other Hobart Reviews

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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