looking for a decent welder to do some fab work, and came across a new Hobart handles 140 for $449. Wondering if it is powerful enough. I was planning to get the spool runner 100 to also weld aluminum. Looking for something to weld 1/4" steel, Stainless and aluminum. Was also looking at the Hobart 210 buy it is $820 versus $450.
Well, I could go crazy here explaining many of the differences in welders.
But, suffice to say that, the lighter duty the welder, less capable it will be of producing quality welds in any form of substantial steel or, aluminum for that matter. You mentioned 1/4" steel. Well, unless 120V welders have changed capabilities in the last decade, 1/4" steel is phenomenally stretching that kind of welders limits. Yes, a weld can be produced on and with one of those but, can you DEPEND ON IT? Would you trust your life with it? I wouldn't, that's for sure.
Along with being a 35 year fireman, I've also been welding for close to 50 years. While having 120V welder has some benefits, (limited) and, yes they are by far, cheaper, the limitations to me, far outweigh the cost. I've owed and welded with many welders over the years and, well, it's just worth it for me, to spend more, to get WAY MORE.
1. If you purchase a low voltage, light duty welder, that's basically all you'll be able weld, with any confidence.
2. If you spend more, and purchase even a cheaper, 220V unit, you'll be able to weld, even as much as 1/2", if ever needed. But, the 1/4" that you mentioned, will be child's play for a 220V unit.
3. A 220V unit will do as stated, 1/2" all the way down to 16 ga. or, around 1/16" material. But, you cannot say that for a 120V unit.
It's kind of like building a Jeep. Many ask what to do, to a stock Jeep, to have good fun. But, they say they don't want to do EXTREME stuff, like many of us do. My advice is always the same. If you build it for very limited off road activity, that's what you'll ALWAYS BE LIMITED TO.
If you go for a trail ride with your buddies and, they turn to a more difficult trail, and you KNOW THAT YOU CANNOT PARTICIPATE due to the lack of capability of your Jeep, you'll be wishing you'd have built it to handle higher challenging trails/obstacles.
Well, welding is the same scenario. Sorry for the long winded explanation but, I just wanted you to see where I'm coming from. Good luck.