The Eastwood MIG 180 is an entry-level welder with more punch than the average beginner’s machine.
Possessing many helpful features and a quality build, this unit provides an excellent price to quality ratio.
This review will present the pros and cons and detail the included features to help you decide if this MIG welder is right for you.
|Output Current Type||DC|
|Amperage Output||30A –180A|
|Duty Cycle||30% at 180A|
|Weldable Materials||Mild steel, stainless steel, aluminum|
|Weldable Mild Steel Thickness (Single-pass)||Up to 5/16 in.|
|Wire Feed Speed||80 – 551 IPM|
|Accepted Wire Sizes||.023″ /.035″ V-Groove Roller|
.030″ /.035″ V-Knurled Roller
|Price||Best Price Here|
- Performance: 4.5/5
Eastwood’s entry-level MIG welders have above-average arc quality thanks to the well-designed IGBT inverter. The only brand offering a better arc in an entry-level welder is Hobart, with significantly higher prices.
- Power: 5/5
Having a maximum output of 180A and a 30% duty cycle makes this machine more than suitable for all hobbyist-level applications.
- Features: 5/5
This entry-level machine supports a spool gun, which places it above most inexpensive welders. But having 2T/4T, tack welding, and dual voltage input features provides plenty of versatility for welding hobbyists or enthusiasts.
- Portability: 5/5
Weighting just over 25 lbs, this Eastwood unit makes an excellent choice for people who often weld on the go.
- Price: 5/5
Many welders offer similar features and welding power, but the build and arc quality impart this welder with an excellent price-to-quality ratio.
- Manufacturer support: 5/5
Eastwood is a USA-based brand with a long history. Their support is top-notch, and their technical manuals go above and beyond to illustrate everything for a beginner. The 3-year warranty is better than average and in line with the guarantee that more expensive brands provide.
Overall Verdict: 5/5
If you are looking for an affordable, entry-level welder that can satisfy most beginner needs, the Eastwood MIG 180 is an excellent choice. While there are many competing models, this unit provides a well-built, versatile option that epitomizes build and arc quality at a low cost.
- High-quality build
- Enough welding power for welding hobbyist applications
- Higher than average maximum wire feed speed
- Decent duty cycle
- Lightweight and portable
- Native support for a spool gun (plus a significant discount if purchased with the unit at the same time)
- Dual-voltage inputs
- Tack weld feature
- 2T/4T settings
- All metal wire drive
- Recently updated to include the latest inverter technology
- Runs on generator power
- MIG gun supports readily-available Tweco-style consumables
- Everything included to weld right out of the box
- 3-Year warranty
- A digital display is missing
- The leads could’ve been longer
What to Know Before Buying the Eastwood MIG 180
As an entry-level welder with one of the best price-to-quality ratios you can buy, the MIG 180 doesn’t have many shortcomings. Even so, there are a couple of things to remember to keep your expectations in check.
Analog Front Panel Controls
Many competing models offer analog controls only, even those MIG welders on the high end of the price spectrum like the Hobart Handler 190. Still, many affordable brands like YesWelder, Everlast, and WeldPro have a digital display for easier, more accurate adjustments.
However, the Eastwood MIG 180 provides better quality than most affordable MIG welders. So, this is not necessarily a flaw, just something to keep in mind. This unit costs less than it should when you factor in its arc and build quality. Eastwood probably stayed analog-only to focus on the build and arc quality, and it worked.
The Eastwood MIG 180 includes a MIG gun lead of 8.5 feet and a ground clamp with a cable of 9.5 feet in length. This is slightly below what many competing models provide. Still, for hobbyist applications, that’s good enough. But when working on-site or doing more complex jobs requiring maneuverability around the work, it’s good to have at least 10-foot leads.
Best Features of the Eastwood MIG 180
If the missing display and shorter leads are not a dealbreaker, you’ll enjoy many features found in the Eastwood MIG 180. So let’s explore some of these features in more detail to help you understand this welder better and see if it’s right for your intended work.
Spool Gun Support For Welding Aluminum
Many hobbyists and beginners want to try their hand at welding aluminum, but not all entry-level MIG welders allow them to do so. Affordability and native support for a spool gun are rarely found together in starter MIG welders.
The Hobart Handler 140 is not spool gun compatible while costing more than this Eastwood unit. While the Handler 190 supports a spool gun, it costs significantly more than Eastwood’s MIG 180. Additionally, Eastwood offers a significant discount if purchasing a spool gun with the MIG 180 at the same time.
Welding aluminum on a budget is possible, but with Eastwood’s arc quality and strong spool gun performance, it becomes something you will want to do often. Hobbyists and DIY enthusiasts can lay some good beads and incorporate aluminum into their builds, whether they are making metal art, welding furniture, or working on some paid gigs.
The Eastwood MIG 180 provides some of the most critical arc qualities you can find in the affordable price range. It’s stable, with little spatter, and doesn’t cut out. While the Hobart Handler 190 has a better arc, many people consider that welder too pricey.
If you wish to buy a welder to learn on that provides an experience similar to more professional machines, this unit does that well. This is an important point for a beginner. If you learn how to weld with an erratic arc, it takes some getting used to when moving up to a better machine with a stable arc.
A substantial advantage for this Eastwood unit is its quality, recently updated IGBT inverter technology. Not every cheap inverter welder has a good mainboard design. Inverters rely on sensitive tiny components similar to microchips, and if the circuits/components are poorly designed, you get poor performance. It’s rare for an affordable welder like the MIG 180 to do this well because you are mostly limited to unknown brand import machines that cut corners.
Compared to much more expensive machines like Lincoln 180, the Eastwood 180 provides more helpful features.
The tack weld mode allows consistency in tack weld appearance, heat input, and penetration. It may be one of the more useful features. This setting will enable you to apply the same welding power precisely, tack after tack, regardless of how long you squeeze the trigger on the MIG gun. This feature is especially helpful when working on car auto body and sheet metal welding.
2T/4T modes allow you to keep the arc going by squeezing and holding the trigger (i.e., “2T”) or by pressing and releasing to start and stop the arc (i.e.,” 4T”).
The 4T feature is useful when welding long welds since you only press and release to start or stop the weld. In between, you don’t have to hold the trigger. It prevents hand fatigue and the resulting trembling, making for better, more accurate welds. But it’s also good to have when you need to weld in a tight corner where you can’t physically fit both the gun and your hand, where you can’t actually hold the trigger.
Infinitely Adjustable Settings with Displayed Values
The ability to fine-tune the wire feeding speed and the voltage output allows you to dial in the arc perfectly in any welding situation. For example, sometimes, the metal piece may be cold if stored outside. That requires a bit more voltage input than the recommended settings suggest.
That’s why fixed-settings welders like the Hobart Handler 140, 190, or 210 that provide up to 7 fixed voltage output values cannot always provide a perfect output. Many brands offer infinite adjustability nowadays, but Eastwood has gone one step further with its dials.
Brands like Hobart, Lincoln, and Miller offer entry-level welders with arbitrary output value ranges like 1-7, which doesn’t mean much. But Eastwood printed the actual unit values around their infinite adjustability knobs. This lets you know exactly what wire speed (in inches per minute, “IPM”) and voltage you are using.
The Hobart units offer a slightly better build quality, but this Eastwood welder still ranks high in regards to construction quality. The welder is ready for a demanding work environment with a sturdy sheet metal body and quality plastics.
An all-metal wire feed system is included with the unit incorporating a well-made wire spindle. A cast aluminum body houses the wire feed parts with a brass gun-to-wire connector for maximum electrical conductivity. The cast aluminum enclosure is a nice touch at this price because it’s a one-piece design, meaning that the housed parts don’t experience micro-misalignments from wear.
The welder’s front panel is well made, and the two infinitely adjustable knobs don’t feel cheap. The print on the front is done on a textured background, which provides a more appropriate finish to improve the durability of the print.
The MIG gun uses Tweco-style consumables commonly available throughout the states. This is not the case with many cheap welders, which require you to use brand-specific consumables. That’s not a good practice because they may become unavailable, or they can be hard to find. But even if you find them, they cost more and take longer to arrive. Plus, you must rely on shipping since no local hardware store is likely to have them.
- Eastwood MIG 180 welder
- MIG Torch – 8.5 feet cable
- Ground clamp – 9.5 feet cable
- NEMA 5-15P to NEMA 6-50R Adapter Cord (240v to 120v) – 2 feet
- 0.030 in. nozzle and a contact tip installed
- Gas regulator with a hose
- Contact tip wrench
- Beginner face shield
- Welding brush/hammer
- Additional contact tips 0.030 in. and 0.035 in.
- MIG Wire Spool 0.030 (0.8mm), 4 inch (2 lbs)
- Instruction Manual
Eastwood MIG 180 Compared
We compared the Eastwood MIG 180 with more expensive brands like Hobart and Lincoln to provide a more efficient comparison. It’s much closer to them in quality than to the cheap brands typically found in the same price range as the MIG 180.
This Eastwood welder costs significantly less than competing the Hobart Handler 190 and the Lincoln MIG 180 while offering more features, similar arc and build quality, and the same 3-Year warranty. This makes the Eastwood MIG 180 a good choice for people looking to maximize their available budget when choosing a starter MIG welder.
Eastwood vs. Lincoln vs. Hobart
The Hobart Handler 190 and Lincoln MIG 180 require 220V input. They can’t be used with a standard 120V home receptacle, unlike the dual-voltage Eastwood MIG 180. That makes the Eastwood more versatile, especially if you don’t have 220V available in your shop.
Eastwood offers a better duty cycle with 60% at 130A, while both Lincoln and Hobart are rated 30% at 130A. So, Eastwood’s unit doubles your possible welding time.
Also, the competing models are transformer-based, while the Eastwood MIG 180 is an inverter welder. That’s why the Hobart weighs almost three times as much as the Eastwood unit, while the Lincoln welder is a bit lighter than Hobart’s. But the Lincoln welder is still much more difficult to move than the Eastwood unit.
With infinite adjustability knobs, tack welding, and 2T/4T features, the Eastwood MIG 180 provides more versatility than the competing models. Overall, Eastwood’s unit offers a much better value for the money, especially considering the arc and build quality between all three units are very close to one another.
|Input voltage||120/240V||240V only||240V only|
|Duty-cycle||60% at 130A||30% at 130A,||30% at 130A,|
|Weldable Mild Steel Thickness (Single-pass)||up to 5/16 in.||up to 5/16 in.||up to 3/16 in.|
|Wire Feed Speed||80 – 551 IPM||40 – 740 IPM||50 – 500 IPM|
|Weight||25.3 lbs||68 lbs||56 lbs|
When it comes down to it, it’s difficult to find a dual-voltage and affordable MIG welder that’s better than what Lincoln and Hobart offer.
However, Eastwood’s prominent features and arc quality give both competitors a run for their money. The blend of performance and solid build quality position the Eastwood MIG 180 as the best welder in this price range.