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Hobart Champion 145 Review
The Hobart Champion 145 review- I have now owned this machine for about 2 years. For an entry level welder generator, this thing is a powerhouse. It has never let me down, and the maintenance is very minimal.
I have a very simple trailer rig for regular repair jobs. No fancy truck or flatbed, but it gets the job done. This article will cover the good and bad of this machine after Welders Manual put it through the wringer on many jobs.
Hobart 145 – The Good
Ease Of Use
This machine is super simple to use. There are no unnecessary components or features. A quick read of the owners manual will get you running in no time. It is also quite versatile – I have easily started the Champion 145 in -15 degree mountain temperatures. It also runs well during the hot summer months in Colorado.
The machine features a simple choke lever and a rope start mechanism to get it started. It does take some strength to pull the rope and get the engine turning, but its not hard at all. Once it gets running, it never stops or fails until you flip the off switch.
I was very surprised with the crisp Stick arc this machine has. However, it runs a lot hotter than expected. It burns 7018 rod super well, and it can burn 6010 rod fairly easily, too. You can even burn up to 5/32″ electrodes, which are some of the largest Stick electrodes on the market. For a rule of thumb, I always set the amperage about 10 amps below what I think I need. If you want 100 amps, set it at 90 and you’ll be pleased.
This machine also comes with running gear (wheels and handles). If you need to wheel it around your property, this is a great option. We prefer to have it mounted, but its nice to have the running gear if you end up using it at some point. It is super easy to install, and its removable if you want to take it off.
I really love how easy it is to change the oil on this machine. It takes about .9 quarts, which is super manageable. I can also use the exact same oil I use in my 4runner. 5W-30 Mobil 1 synthetic keeps this machine running soundly, and I have used it from the beginning.
The oil drain has a simple bolt and when loosened, it drains oil in less than 5 minutes. There are yellow oil dip sticks on both sides of the machine – So depending how you mount it, you can always check your oil levels with no issue. It is recommended to change the oil with every 100 hours of runtime or less.
The air filter is also quite easy to change. There are 4 small bolts to remove the plastic housing, and the replacement filters are cheap online.
The gas efficiency on the 145 is pretty insane – the 6.25 gallon tank always lasts more than a full days work, and sometimes 2 days depending on amperage and tool usage. There is a see through gauge on the back of the machine where you can check your fuel level very easily.
So far, I have put premium gas in just to be safe. You could get away with standard gas, but it is recommended that you use the higher grade for the Briggs & Stratton engine.
The 4 120V outlets can power all of your grinders and smaller tools. The big 220V outlet can easily power a small MIG welder without issue. Always make sure to turn your amperage dial all the way up for tool usage, because this will send maximum power through the outlets. The Champion does struggle with welding and powering tools at the same time, so it’s best not to overpower it.
Hobart 145 – The Bad
One issue I have with this machine is that there is no hour meter. For scheduling maintenance, I kept a log book of my engine hours so I knew exactly when to change the oil and air filter. This isn’t a huge deal, but I feel that Hobart could have installed a meter without raising the price too much. I would be interested to see if they add this feature in the future.
After 2 years of use, I noticed that the rope start doesn’t retract as smoothly as it used to. After pulling it, it takes several seconds to coil back into the machine – and I haven’t found a proper fix yet. I am assuming this problem will only get worse.
The amperage dial is pretty rudimentary – It makes it hard to dial in your exact setting because it is quite small, and the amperage markings aren’t properly incremental. This takes a lot of practice to know exactly where you want it set for your electrode choice. This isn’t a huge deal, but I think they could definitely improve the dial on future models.
Another issue is that there are some exposed wires on the Champion 145. I wish they had found a way to house them all better without them being exposed outside of the machine. I feel that eventually, they will corrode or snap since they have no extra protection from the elements. However, they are still holding up fine (for now).
Overall, we think this machine is a great choice for an entry level welder. It is super durable, and has never let us down. For about $1,700, there isn’t a better welder generator in that price range. Lincolns similar “Bulldog” offering is AC only, which limits your electrode choices. Additionally, other lesser known generator brands don’t have the great customer service that Hobart has.
We have been pleasantly surprised by this machine, and we will keep it in the arsenal for future use – even if we end up buying a bigger engine drive. It is super handy to have around.