With all the welding machines and welding methods available on the market, it can be hard to pick one that’s right for you. If you want something that you can just pick up and weld nearly anything with, then the Hobart Handler 210 is the welder for you.
The Hobart Handler is a versatile and easy-to-use welding machine. Its simple control scheme means that there are no fiddly switches to worry about, and since it’s a MIG welder, you can use it on nearly any welding project and still get excellent results. It’s even dual-voltage, letting you use it either on standard 115V or on 230V for additional power. Whether you’re new to MIG welding or need something that’s reasonably priced but still performs well, the Handler 210 is an excellent purchase that you can use out of the box. It can even perform flux-cored arc welding, letting you weld outdoors.
In this review, I’ll expand on all the points I’ve made above to give you a full picture of the Hobart Handler 210’s capabilities and what it does well. Read on so you can decide whether or not it’s the welder for you!
Let’s start with the basics. The Hobart Handler 210 MVP is a welder capable of MIG and flux-cored welding. It’s a compact welder with dual-voltage capability, and because it’s a MIG welder, it’s fit for welding jobs using steel, stainless steel, and aluminum. It’s one of Hobart’s best-selling and highest-rated welders.
I recommend it for novice welders just getting their start in the industry for several reasons. One, it’s ready to weld right out of the box. Two, MIG welding is always an option for most welding jobs, so you don’t lose any jobs from that qualification alone. Three, it’s specifically engineered for ease of use, without any traps that can trick an inexperienced user.
It ships with a standard array of items in the box. You get the welding machine itself, a 10-foot MIG gun, a 10-foot work cable with its clamp, a gas solenoid valve and regulator with a gas hose, the owner’s manual, a welding guide, and a material thickness gauge. Power is supplied by a 10-foot power cord with a switchable plug (more on that later). For welding supplies, you also get a spool of 0.030-inch self-shielding flux core wire and two 0.030 inch contact tips.
Now let’s get into what it does and why it’s so good for beginners.
Ease Of Use
The first thing you’ll notice about the Hobart Handler 210 MVP is that it’s all about ease of use. There are only three controls to worry about: the power switch, a voltage knob, and a wire speed control knob, and nothing else. All you need to do to start welding is to find the right settings for the material you’re working with, which is where the included guide comes in.
The welding guide lets you reference the material of your workpiece, what wire you’re using with it, and what thickness the material is. Given those factors, it then provides a recommended voltage and wire speed setting. No more guesswork involved, just measure your workpiece, load up your wire, turn the knobs, and you’re in business. Also included is a material thickness gauge that you can measure your workpiece with.
Best of all, it’s usable right out of the box. As long as you have the appropriate safety equipment, you can start welding just minutes after you unbox the Handler 210. I still recommend that you have shielding gas on hand, but it does come with a spool of self-shielding filler wire. It’ll do well enough for a few jobs if you don’t have any gas or steel filler wire just yet.
Power Supply And Duty Cycle
Normally, a welder this strong would run off 240 volts of power. This is difficult to supply at home, but Hobart has you covered. The Handler 210 is dual-voltage, and all you need to do is switch out the plugs. Everything else is handled inside the unit, with no need for any further user input.
The 230V setting is the high-power one, outputting up to 210A, and with that, you can weld up to 3/8 inch (9.5mm) steel. The 115V setting lets you run off an easier-to-find power supply at the cost of sheer power, as output only maxes out at 140A. That still lets you effectively weld up to 1/4 inch steel (6.35mm).
The duty cycle depends on the power setting that you’re using. On the higher-power 230V setting, you can weld for 3 minutes out of 10 and spend the other 7 cooling down. That’d be expressed as a 30% duty cycle. The 115V setting is lower-powered with only a 20% duty cycle, so that’s 2 minutes welding and 8 minutes resting. This is a typical duty cycle for a device of this class and will do for the light duties that the Handler 210 is intended for. It’s the heavy jobs that need more constant duty cycles.
What The Hobart Handler 210 MVP Can Do
So I’ve talked a lot about its power, but what does that look like on the working end? What can you do with that?
As I detailed in the last section, how much you can weld depends on what power setting you’re on. 115V lets you weld up to 1/4 inch steel, while 230V lets you handle up to 3/8 inch steel (6.35mm or 9.5mm, respectively). Beyond that, you’re getting into heavy-duty territory.
This much power lets you handle just about any job you can think of that needs welding. Most light repair, automotive or boat work, or light fabrication generally call for a material thickness of 3/16 inch to 1/4 inch. Adding the capacity for 3/8 inch lets you take on slightly heavier jobs, but your main stock in trade with the Handler 210 will be below that thickness, so the extra power lets you get done faster. Overall, you’ll have a wide range of possible jobs to sharpen your skills on.
All that has been assuming steel, which the Handler 210 handles with excellence whether it’s carbon steel or stainless steel. If you’re welding aluminum, this still applies, but with a caveat. I highly suggest also getting a spool gun to go with the Handler 210. Feeding aluminum wire through a 10-foot hose of a MIG gun is just about impossible. A spool gun solves that problem, and the Handler 210 is spool gun compatible. Hobart advertises their SpoolRunner 100 as the companion spool gun for the Handler 210.
Flux-Cored Welding Capacity
Another useful feature of the Handler 210 is that it’s also capable of FCAW, flux-cored arc welding. This is a welding process that’s similar to MIG, and all you have to do is put in the correct filler wire. The spool that comes with the box is flux-cored wire, so you can use that to see how it compares to a standard MIG setup.
FCAW has some advantages compared to MIG welding, most notably that it’s a lot more stable. A lot of flux-cored wire is self-shielding, so there’s no need to bring any gas. The stability and the lack of a gas tank make flux-cored welding more convenient and overall better for outdoor welding. And whether it’s indoors or out, FCAW joins thicker materials better than MIG does.
It’s not all sunshine, though. Flux-cored welding is a lot uglier than MIG, producing a lot of smoke, slag, and spatter. You’ll spend a lot more time cleaning up after FCAW as compared to MIG. It also isn’t good for thinner materials. As a rule, if it’s under 20 gauge, don’t use FCAW. Lastly, it’s steel and ferrous alloys only. Flux-cored doesn’t work on aluminum.
Warranty And Safety Matters
In case something breaks down on your Handler 210, Hobart has your back. They back all their products with a 5/3/1 industrial warranty that’s well-known in the welding business. That means 5 years for the main transformer unit, 3 years for the electronics, and 1 year for the MIG gun. You can trust the Handler 210 to hold up well under use, and build quality is good enough that you might never need to invoke the warranty.
The device itself is also well-equipped with safety features. For everyday use, the Handler 210 has a built-in contactor that keeps the wire cold up until you depress the trigger on the MIG gun. There’s no chance of accidentally hurting yourself or another person on the business end of your welder.
Inside the device itself, the transformer has self-resetting thermal overload protection. That means you don’t need to worry about the welder melting itself down in case of overheating. The wire feed also has overload protection, so there’s no need to turn the whole device off and on again to restart the feed and resume work after overheating.
Concerns And Downsides
One negative that everyone feels is that it’s heavy. 210 amperes of power is not easy to stuff into a portable housing, and to do that, the Handler 210 weighs a chunky 79 pounds (35 kilograms). You’re much better off having a cart to move it around with. If at all possible, try and make the work come to you so that you won’t have to move it around much. Otherwise, either get your cart ready or prepare to face a bit of lifting.
Another concern is the cable length. Most of the cables that come in the box are on the short side and coupled with the Handler 210’s weight, this means you may face some difficulty getting it in the right position so that everything can reach where it needs to.
Its focus on being an entry-level beginner’s device also means that a more experienced welder won’t get as much out of the Handler 210 than other welding machines. It doesn’t have the productivity or the duty cycle for heavy-duty use, and it’ll struggle with industrial jobs. If you’re already familiar with the basics and are looking for something with the potential to expand further, you may want to look elsewhere.
Who Should Use It?
I especially recommend the Hobart Handler 210 for welders just starting in their career, or for someone who may need to weld a few things occasionally, but don’t plan on making welding a major part of your life.
It’s an excellent and easy-to-use device, and its largest flaws only come out to experienced users or in high-volume work. And if you’re handling those kinds of jobs, you’ve progressed past the need for the Handler 210 already.
But while you’re still starting, it can handle almost any job you can think of in that category. Since it’s a MIG welder, it’s easy to use while still producing excellent results on just about any job, and the price is quite reasonable for its class. MIG welding is also easy to learn, so you can get used to the fundamental principles of welding while you have the Handler 210. Plus it’s a welding process that’s applicable to a wide range of projects, so you can meet even unexpected needs without any trouble.
You can also use the Handler 210 to get some experience in flux-cored arc welding and thus widen your repertoire of welding skills. FCAW has its uses, and it’s got the bonus of not needing any shielding gas. Once you know its ups and downs and where it serves best, that’s a skill and a process you can apply to appropriate welding jobs.
On the whole, there’s a lot you can do and learn using the Handler 210. Once you have a tank of shielding gas and a spool of filler wire, you’ve got a wide range of welding jobs open to you.
It’s a heavy little thing, but don’t doubt its power, its versatility, or its ease of use. If you’re a new welder or someone who has regular welding needs around the house, the Hobart Handler 210 MVP is an excellent device. It’s just the thing to learn both MIG and flux-cored welding with. It provides solid performance without throwing any headaches your way, while still having enough power for the occasional big job that you might get. For the novice, there are no real downsides to the Handler 210.
If you want to make a career out of welding, you’ll move on from it eventually. But every journey begins with a single step, and for that first step, there’s nothing better than the Handler 210 MVP.