Harbor Freight is a warehouse store that sells quality tools, toolboxes, welders, air compressors, generators and so on. It has over 7,000 different tools and accessories available for purchase. The family-owned business has been around since 1977. There are always lots of discounted prices and sales going on all the time.
You can look at their website to see coupons that you can use, they also usually have a section in the local newspaper (if you have a Harbor Freight in the area) that tells you about recent deals.
Some of the brands of welders and welding materials that Harbor Freight sells are Chicago Electric, which is one of their exclusively sold brands, Vulcan and Titanium. Those three are pretty much the only welding brands they offer for welders, there are additional brands for cables and other essential welder accessories.
The three welders we will be focusing on are the:
- Chicago Electric 170 Amp MIG/Flux Wire Welder
- Vulcan MIGMax 140 Industrial Welder
- Vulcan ProTIG 165 Welder
Alternative to Harbor Freight Welders
The alternative to Harbor Freight Welders? Have you checked YesWelder?
YesWelder hasn't been around as long as Harbor Freight. But their products are nearly identical. YesWelder is primarily an online shop. As Harbor Freight has the overhead costs of running physical stores, YesWelder prices tend to be quite lower. In many cases, free shipping is included!
Chicago Electric 170 Amp MIG/Flux Wire Welder
Chicago Electric is one of the welding brands that is exclusively owned and sold by Harbor Freight.
This Chicago Electric welder is a beginner welder, as are most of the smaller Chicago Electric welders. It’s a great welder to use if you are inexperienced. It’s best for small to medium-sized projects. You can use it to weld on mild or low carbon steel or stainless steel; old metal is easy to weld too. It is not, however, capable of welding aluminum. It can do MIG or Flux-cored wire welding.
The small size will make it easy to travel with. It weighs 56 lbs. and only stands about 21 inches tall.
The voltage input is 240 V, and there is a 20% duty cycle at 110 Amps. Some of its other features are a wire feed speed control and thermal overload protection. It comes with 6-foot cables, so you might consider buying longer ones for more convenience while welding.
This is a very reliable welder that will last you a long time and will help you build your welding skills further than they’ve ever been before.
Vulcan MIGMax 140 Industrial Welder
The Vulcan MIGMax weighs an average of 42 lbs. It stands 16 inches tall, 11 inches wide and 21 inches long. It has a 120 V input and a max Amp output of 140.
This is a MIG welder, but it can work without the shielding gas as well. If you want to use a spool gun on it, you will have to buy that separately. Spool guns are used for welding on aluminum. Without the spool gun, the welder does well on steel and stainless steel.
It should last you a long time. The drive system is made out of industrial-grade cast aluminum, and it has thermal overload protection to keep things running smoothly. You can use it for any size project, but most people have said that it’s great for large projects or vehicle restorations.
They are sold at a reasonable price, and once you buy one, it is ready to use out of the box. Any additional set up is easy as well.
Vulcan ProTIG 165 Welder
This is one of the welders at Harbor Freight that is made for DC TIG welding and DC stick welding. It is ideal for working in the field or on the go, although you can take it almost anywhere for any type of project. The tig welder only weighs 20 lbs. so it’s very light and hassle-free to carry. The handle on top makes it easier to carry as well.
It runs with a 120- or 240-Volt input. The power cords needed for the input power comes with the welder.
The Stick welder uses 1/16” to 1/8” electrodes, and the TIG uses 0.04” to 5/64” tungsten electrodes.
This vulcan welder is affordable and convenient. It’d be better if it had a readout screen of some sort, but that doesn’t affect how well it functions, that’s more of a convenience thing. A downside is that this welder doesn’t come with the filler wire, safety wire or shielding gas. All of those items are bought separately. This is the case for most welders, especially the shielding gas, which is almost always sold separately. Other than a few minor setbacks, this welder works great.
We now would also like to include the Chicago Flux 125 Welder to the list of our favorite Harbor Freight Welders.
This is the perfect welder for a beginner welder. It literally has everything you need right in the box. Shielding gas is NOT required, so you won't have to worry about the added complexities of buying gas bottles or regulators. It's a bit heavier at 38lb than the 20lb vulcan reviewed above, but a 38lb welder is still on the light size.
Oh and don't forget the continuous wire feed speed control actually works pretty solid as well, and one of the primary reasons we decided to add this flux core welder to the list.
If you are doing small sheet metal projects. This Harbor Freight welder is a solid choice.
- Shielding gas NOT required….no need to buy gas bottles or regulators
- Trigger activated gun prevents accidental arc flash
- Compact, portable and lightweight…weighs just 38lbs!
- Continuous wire feed speed control for optimal welding performance
- Built in overload protection to prevent overheating
The welders offered by Harbor Freight are all high-quality brands. Some of the brand options are Chicago Electric, Vulcan and Titanium. Chicago Electric and Vulcan are the best ones out of those three brands. Chicago Electric can only be found at Harbor Freight, plus some websites that are authorized to sell the brand, such as Amazon.com.
We went over the details, specifications, and review of each of these three welders, Vulcan ProTIG 165, Chicago Electric 170 Amp MIG/Flux and Vulcan MIGMax 140. Beginners should go with the Chicago Electric welder; it is the easiest to use, especially if you have little to no experience with welding.
The Vulcan MIGMax and ProTIG are both good for big welding jobs done by experienced welders. The MIGMax is designed for MIG welding, and the ProTIG is for DC TIG or DC stick welding.
Carefully choose the welder you are going to use based on what kind of welding you are going to be doing most of the time, how big your welding jobs or projects usually are and how much you want to spend. The high-quality brands are always going to be more expensive so make a decision on what you value in a welder and how much you are willing to pay for it.
Sometimes it’s a better investment to put more money in first for the better welder, rather than starting with a crappy one and then putting way more money into the repairs on that welder. You want to get a welder that will last a long time without failure. Some of the best welders can last for up to 20 years!