Miller Maxstar STL 150 Review
If you’re looking for welder with dual TIG and stick capabilities the Miller Maxstar 150 STL may be just what you need.
Featuring patented Miller technology and an inverter based design, this rig is at the top of its class when it comes to power, convenience and portability.
Sound like something you could use? Keep reading.
Types of Welding Processes
Although welding is, at the end of the day, all abut joining materials together securely, there are a number of options available to tradesmen for accomplishing this goal safely and effectively. The three main approaches are known as MIG, TIG and stick welding respectively.
MIG welding is widely recognized as the easiest form of welding that a beginner can use and it utilizes relatively cheap materials as well. All that is needed besides the welder itself is the right gauge of wire and gas to protect the electrode’s arc from the atmosphere as you weld.
TIG welding, one of the options supported by this welder model, involves the use of both hands at once to manipulate both the electrode and a filler rod simultaneously as you join metals. This process is significantly more precise than MIG welding and produces excellent results.
Stick welding is similar to MIG welding in that only one hand is needed to handle the job. However, this form of welding uses flux-covered rods to weld surfaces more effectively and these burn down, making it more complex of a process to maintain a proper working distance.
- TIG and Stick capable
- 120V/240V with Multi-Voltage Plug
- Weldcraft A-150 TIG torch
- Simple controls
- Remote fingertip control
- Lift-arc start for TIG and hot start for stick
- Lightweight and portable w/ carrying strap
- Fan-on-demand technology
- Thermal overload protection w/ indicator
- Includes case and lots of accessories
- DC only
- No high-frequency start
TIG and Stick capableIf space saving and versatility are a priority for you than look no further than the Miller Maxstar 150 STL. With the ability to produce strong high-quality beads as a stick welder and visually appealing welds as a TIG welder it’s no wonder this machine is a top choice for welders around the world.
TIGAs a TIG unit this welder really outshines the competition. It’s what you’ve come to expect from a Miller product. It uses Lift-Arc technology to initiate the arc which eliminates the need to worry about high-frequency interference wrecking your nearby electronics. With an amperage range of 5 – 150 amps you can welding anything from ultra thin sheet metal up to 3/16″ thick mild steel with ease. TIG welding is preferred when you want to lay down some aesthetically appealing welds. If you’ve ever heard the term “stacking dimes”, it refers to TIG welding. If done properly your weld will look like a stack of dimes laid out on top of each other. That’s why TIG is the only method used when looks matter, like in the restaurant industry or the food and beverage industry.
StickAs a stick welder the Maxstar is a powerhouse of a machine with an amperage range of 20 – 150 amps. That’s enough to weld up to 1/4″ steel on a single pass. You’ll be able to tackle almost any home repair and maintenance projects you can think of. For best penetration use DC Electrode Positive polarity (DCEP) with E6010/11 electrodes.
120V/240V with Multi-Voltage PlugOne of my favourite features on many of Millers products (including the Maxstar 150 STL), and one of the reasons why they are the leaders of their industry is the Multi-Voltage Plug (MVP). This allows you to easily switch between 120 V and 240 V input power without the use of any tools. A typical household has a 120 V power supply running through the house, which is enough juice for plenty of home repair projects. However when you want to crank up the power output to utilize all 150 amps you need to switch to a 240 V power supply and have the proper outlets at home, which is where the MVP comes in handy. As a side note: you can use all 150 amps for TIG on a 120 V supply but need 240 V to run stick at 150 amps. Switching between the two using the MVP couldn’t be easier. Simply choose the plug that fits your outlet, line up the arrows and insert the power cord into the plug, tighten the collar and it’s good to go. To remove it, just loosen the collar and unplug it from the power cord. The Miller Maxstar 150 STL automatically detects which plug you’re using and switches the output as needed.
Weldcraft A-150 TIG torchThe Weldcraft A-150 TIG torch that is included with the Miller Maxstar 150 STL is an impressive piece of equipment. It almost warrants a review of it’s own. For starters, with its 12.5-foot heavy-duty lead you’ll have plenty of room to freely move around your work station without having to lug around the welder itself. Furthermore, if 12.5 feet is too short for you, Miller has a 25 foot option available. But you’ll have to buy that separately. The torch itself features a Diamond Grip head design for optimal comfort, allowing you to work all day while reducing hand discomfort and fatigue. In addition, the ribbed handle allows for some airflow which is designed keep your hand cool (but if you’re wearing gloves, like you should be, it’s pointless.) The A-150 also offers more flexibility for improved control and comfort in those hard to reach areas. And finally, the consumables are easy to find and replace so you wont have to specially order parts from around the world and wait 2 months for them to arrive. It uses the same consumables as the standard Weldcraft 10N series which can be bought locally, on Amazon or any almost any online welding supplier.
Simple controlsDespite the advanced capabilities of the Miller Maxstar 150 STL the controls are extremely intuitive, allowing you to easily adjust the settings as needed – even with gloves on. There are only 2 controls to worry about on the front panel. First you have a big knob that controls the amperage, which ranges from 15 – 150. Simply turn it to your desired output and you’re good to go. The other control you need to know is the process selector which, as you might have guessed, lets you select the welding process between TIG remote, TIG or stick. Which brings us to the next feature.
Remote fingertip controlThere are two options when it comes to the remote control – fingertip and foot pedal. The Maxstar comes standard with a fingertip control but if you prefer the foot pedal you can buy it separately. The remote fingertip control attaches to the TIG torch with two hooks and uses a scroll wheel that allows you to adjust the amperage as needed.
Lightweight and portableThe Miller Maxstar 150 STL is an inverter based welder which means it’s incredibly lightweight and portable. It weighs a hair under 14 lbs so taking it to and from jobsites or moving it around your shop is no problem. In addition it features a carrying strap and a handle on top making it the most portable dual TIG and stick welder on the market today. If you value transportability this machine is first in its class. Nothing else really even comes close.
Fan-on-demand technologyAn often overlooked feature on welders is the internal cooling system. Most people think ‘as long as it stays cool it’s fine.’ Which is true to some degree. But with Millers fan-on-demand technology the fan only turns on when it absolutely has to. There are plenty of benefits to this:
It reduces noise. When you work in a loud shop, every bit of noise reduction is valuable.
It lowers energy consumption. If it doesn’t have to work the whole time the machine is on and depending how much time you spend welding, this could be significant.
It lessens the amount of contaminants and dust that gets pulled through the machine. Lets face it, most shops has plenty of crap floating through the air. The more you can minimize the dust and grit into the machine the longer it’ll last.
Thermal overload protection w/ indicatorThe last thing you want is for your expensive new machine to overheat and become a pile of scrap metal sitting in the corner. The Miller Maxstar 150 STL features a thermal overload protector that shuts down as soon as it becomes too hot. However, even if it overheats and shuts down it may often be too late, causing internal damage. Fortunately the Maxstar also features an indicator light that turns on when the machine is approaching thermal overload, allowing you to shut it down before it’s too late.
Includes case and lots of accessoriesIn case the Miller Maxstar 150 STL wasn’t already a great piece of machinery, it also comes with a protective case and plenty of accessories to keep you going for a while. Case – Millers patented X-CASE acts almost like an extra insurance policy for your new purchase. Providing the ultimate protection for transport and storage. Not only that but it also features a heavy-duty top carrying handle and recessed side grips that make moving it around as simple as can be. Torch accessory kit – The torch consumable kit ensures you won’t have to buy extras for a long time so you can focus on welding and not where to find more consumables.
• 1 Short Back Cap
• 3 Collets (.040, 1/16″, & 3/32″)
• 3 Collet Bodies (.040, 1/16″, & 3/32″)
• 3 Nozzles (4, 5, 6)
• 2% Ceriated Tungsten 7″ Electrodes (.040, 1/16″, & 3/32″)Shoulder strap – It also comes with a shoulder strap to make transport a breeze.
ExpensiveThe Miller Maxstar 150 STL definitely isn’t a budget welder. On the bright side you’re paying for a brand name that’s synonymous with welding. Miller is arguably the most recognizable name when it comes to high-quality welding supplies and they have the warranty to back it up. In addition, unless you need more power you probably won’t have to buy a new TIG or stick welder for decades. So while it is expensive, it might be worth the not having the headache of replacing a low-quality no name welder every few years.
DC onlyThis might be a deal killer for some. One of the main reasons people start TIG welding is for the ability to weld aluminum. Unfortunately the Miller Maxstar 150 STL is DC only, which means it can’t weld aluminum. Or it can but since AC removes the oxide layer and cleans the weld, welding with DC will be contaminated and such poor quality that it’s not worth it. If you are buying a TIG welder to weld aluminum you need one with AC capabilities. Look elsewhere.
No high-frequency startThe Miller Maxstar 150 STL initiates using lift-start meaning you need to touch the tungsten to the work piece and then lift it up to start the arc. While this method works fine, the weld isn’t totally free of contamination. With high-frequency start the tungsten never touches the work making it the most pure start method. If you prefer a high-frequency start check out the Miller Maxstar 150 STH.
The VerdictIt’s not often you find a dual TIG and stick machine that’s capable of producing equally high quality welds using both process’. It manages to output 150 amps of metal melting power in a small box that weighs less than an adult cat putting this welder at the top of its class in portability. In addition, the technology Miller packed into this machine is awesome: from the MVP, which allows you to easily switch between 120 and 240 volts to the fan-on-demand cooling system which reduces noise, energy costs and internal dust contamination. The Miller Maxstar 150 STL is a phenomenal welder that’s not only forgiving to beginners but also highly capable for professionals.
Specs and Features
Weight: 13.7 lbs
Size: L13″ x W5.5″ x H9″
Power Input: 120/240V
Power Output: 150A
Duty Cycle: 30% @ 150A
Material Thickness: Up to 3/16″ mild steel
Warranty: 5/3 years