Hobart EZ TIG 165i Review
As far as hobbyist-level welders go Hobart is at the top of their class – the Hobart EZ TIG 165i is no exception.
If you’re just starting to learn the art of TIG welding there’s no better rig to start on than the Hobart EZ TIG 165i. It has three whole controls to remember – power, AC/DC and amperage. It couldn’t be easier – or “EZer” as Hobart would say. Coupled with its high-frequency start capability and automatic high-temperature shutdown, learning to weld on this machine is a blast.
By no means is the Hobart EZ TIG 165i just for beginners though. You can weld anything from aluminum to stainless steel using both AC and DC power. The single knob control allows for infinite adjustments so you can fine tune your setup to your exact specifications.
The Hobart EZ TIG 165i is an outstanding performer that’s both forgiving to beginners and capable for professionals.
- AC and DC output
- Infinite amperage control
- Easy to setup and use
- High-frequency start
- Fan-on-demand technology
- Inverter based
- Automatic high-temp shutdown
- Uses Miller brand parts
- Made in USA
- TIG only
AC and DC output
The Hobart EZ TIG 165i is an all-around solid TIG welder that’s capable of both AC and DC welding. That means you’ll be able to weld a greater variety of materials from aluminum to stainless steel.
Alternating current (AC) – Use AC when welding materials like aluminum or magnesium. It works by alternating the current from posative to negative 60 times per second. The back and forth acts as a cleaner for non-ferrous metals that combats the fast forming oxides that contaminate your weld.
Direct current (DC) – Use DC when welding everything else. However there are two different types of direct current: DC- and DC+. The difference being the direction the current flows.
DC+ : The current flows from the workpiece into the electrode. This is used when welding something very thin and don’t need a lot of penetration.
DC- : Opposite of DC+, the current is concentrated in the workpiece to give much better penetration. This is the most stable and thus most common polarity.
Infinite amperage control
Unlike most TIG welders that rely on increasing or decreasing the voltage through increments of 5 or 10, the Hobart EZ TIG 165i features infinite controls. This allows you to adjust the amperage to fit your specific needs exactly, instead of rounding up or down and assuming it’s good enough.
You might not think this matters all that much but it does. A lot of times you use a TIG welder because you need to make aesthetically pleasing welds. To do this you need to be able to precisely control the amperage rather than relying on ‘just good enough.’
Easy to setup and use
Are you worried about TIG welder is too complex? Don’t be.
The Hobart EZ TIG 165i is a dream to setup use. Whether you’re just learning or have been welding for decades, both welders value the same thing: simplicity. That’s where this machine really shines.
First thing you’ll notice is the front control panel where there are only 3 possible options – power, amperage and AC or DC polarity. All you have to know if the type of material and its thickness then you’re ready to weld.
On/Off – Self explanatory.
Thickness/Amperage – Just turn the knob to the thickness of the material. The amperage adjusts based on thickness.
Polarity – Whether you’re welding aluminum or steel, simply select AC or DC by flipping the switch.
There are three ways to start an arc with a TIG welder – scratch, lift and high-frequency. All TIGs are capable of lift and scratch start but both methods have significant drawbacks in terms of weld quality. Fortunately the Hobart EZ TIG 165i uses the latest technology to allow for high-frequency starts.
What is high-frequency start?
It’s a method of starting an arc without having to touch the tungsten to the workpeice, reducing the risk of contamination. To start the arc simply hover the tungsten over the material about 1/2-inch then press the foot pedal to initiate the arc and start the flow of argon.
How does it work?
With TIG welding an arc is formed when the tungsten is heated to become a better emitter of electrons than the workpiece. Once contact is made an arc is formed. With high-frequency, the current ionizes the air between the tungsten and the work forming a bridge that allows the current to flow through.
Is there a downside?
Sure there is. It’s best to keep all electronic equipment away from any high-frequency signals in the case of electrical interference.
This is a cool feature that should really be on every welder. It’s pretty much what it sounds like – the fan only turns on when it absolutely needs to.
With the fan constantly running, dust and debris is sucked into the machine. You wont notice it at first but over time your rig will start to overheat and you run the risk of damaging the guts of the welder. This will drastically shorten its lifespan.
With fan-on-demand you never have to worry about overheating because the fan automatically starts at the first sign of warmth. In addition, this technology reduces energy costs and limits the amount of noise in the shop.
The difference between a classic transformer and an inverter based unit are many, but for the purpose of this review I’ll focus on two main traits – size and efficiency.
Size – The first thing you’ll notice is the difference in size. Inverter based welders pack a whole lot of power into a small, manageable case. Where transformer welders are heavy and cumbersome and tend to stay in one place forever, inverters are lightweight and designed for portability. Despite its small physical size inverter welders are just as powerful as their transformer brethren.
Efficiency – Using software to store and disperse the energy, inverter welders are much more energy efficient and can save you thousands of dollars in the long run. In addition, because inverters provide a much more stable arc, you’ll spend less on consumables and welding gas.
Automatic high-temp shutdown
This one is pretty obvious but it’s important to note. The Hobart EZ TIG 165i has a built-in temperature gauge that, when it reaches a certain temperature, automatically shuts down until cool again. This is especially important for beginners who sometimes get so caught up in learning that they forget to cool the machine down. Because the duty cycle on the Hobart EZ TIG 165i is just mediocre (20% @ 150A), this feature is particularly useful.
Long clamp and torch
The Hobart EZ TIG 165i comes with some of the longest cables in the industry. While most torch and clamp cables run a mere 8-10 feet long, the cables on the EZ TIG are 12 feet for the clamp and Weldcraft A-150 TIG torch. This is perfect if you have a bigger shop and don’t want to move the welder around everywhere.
Uses Miller brand parts
Can I let you in on a little secret?
Hobart is actually Millers ‘discount’ brand which is why when you open it up you’ll see nothing but Miller parts. Miller is the industry leader when it comes to welding equipment so if you want top quality without paying top dollar consider a Hobart.
Made in USA
Need another reason?
The Hobart EZ TIG 165i is designed and manufactured right here at home in Appleton, Wisconsin.
While the Hobart EZ TIG 165i is a inverter based welder, it’s still much heavier than it needs to be. Considering the Everlast PowerARC 140 is a dual TIG/ stick welder with similar power and weighs half as much I have to wonder why the Hobart is so heavy.
Yes you are going to pay a lot more for the Hobart EZ TIG 165i. However, knowing that you have a quality TIG welder from (one of) the best brands in the industry, coupled with a solid warranty might be worth it to save you the headache.
If you’re looking for a just TIG welder than you can disregard this part as that is exactly what the Hobart EZ TIG 165i is. However, many TIG welders these days are capable of welding TIG and stick. If that is what you’re looking for consider the AHP AlphaTIG 200X or the Everlast PowerARC 140.
From its unique fan-on-demand feature to its single knob control to its inverter based power source the Hobart EZ TIG 165i is a solid rig designed with the serious hobbyist in mind.
The fan technology reduces internal dust build-up by only spinning when it’s necessary increasing the life of the unit by a considerable amount. The interface on this thing couldn’t be easier -there’s just one knob to adjust. That’s it. Furthermore, the inverter based power source ensure its portability and light weight.
If it’s quality and longevity you’re looking for in a TIG welder then the Hobart EZ TIG 165i is the ideal rig.
Specs and Features
Weight: 50 lbs
Size: L17″ x W10″ x H24″
Power Input: 240V
Power Output: 165A
Duty Cycle: 20% @ 150A
Material Thickness: Up to 3/16″ mild steel
Warranty: 5/3/1 year