It all depends on who you talk to.
ESAB doesn't have the best reputation for dependability.
Speaking for myslf, I have had wretched experiences with 7 different
ESAB machines over about 20 years of welding.
They can work, but honestly I don't trust them.
I know that some people have had good luck with them, so I know that
some of their stuff does work.
I like blue.
I have been a fan of Miller for years, and the 2 friends of mine, who
are both professional welding machine repair-men, praise Miller for
making good machines.
If a Miller does break it is relatively easy to fix as compared to
ESABs, and some Lincolns.
They both say that ESAB is a pain to deal with on parts and repair info.
Lincoln builds some really nice machines, but they can be a bitch to
fix because they are often inconsistent as to how each one is
I don't know what kind of machine you are looking for.
Miller makes the best TIGs, but Lincoln has an edge up on the MIGs.
I think there are a few more fans of Lincoln's generator machines over
Miller's, but they are pretty close.
I wouldn't go to either for a plasma cutter.
Thermal Dynamics and Hypertherm make the best plasmas in the business.
If you were looking for an industrial Inverter welder for Stick welding
I would recommend Arcon.
For inverter TIGs I love Miller.
Your repair men, as you said, are praising the Miller for it's ease of
repair not for the welding qualities. I don't care how hard it is to fix
when it's broke, I care about how easily it welds the way I want it too, and
the overall reliability. You can go on a pipeline job and work side by side
with guys that have 1950's Lincoln pipeliners, running code quality welds
(and burning a can of 70+ every two days) all day every day, and you can
still buy parts for that 1957 model, it's not been abandoned like the 10
year old (and discontinued model) Miller.
Not even close to being close in the pipe world. Maybe close in the "buy the
cheapest machine, our welders can't tell the difference, and look! it's a
great generator so we can run a bunch of tools and lights off of it!" world.
If you look at the top N. American manf. of mig welding equipment I
don't think one out performes the other. I think Ernie summed it up
with saying "I like Blue" It is usually a matter of perference. Also
you need to find out which manufacture is supported in your area. I
have found that there are areas where there is no suppot for a given
As for multi-process machines:
Lincoln and ESAB make a mig/tig(dc)/stick combo in a self-contained
Lincoln Power Mig 300
ESAB MultiMaster 260
The Lincoln is a notch above the ESAB because it has the capabilities
of putting the MK cobra push-pull gun for aluminum welding with
pulse-on -pulse capabilities: go to Lincoln web page for more.
The ESAB MultiMaster 260 is a more simple unit and is easier to switch
from mig to tig to stick and cost is about 800 dollars less. It does
not have the capability to put on push-pull gun, but you can set up a
spool gun.The ESAB has a four roll drive system and a dual cylinder
Go to ESAB web page for more:
Mike,very good answer.I have a powermig 300,and told a new owner of a
Esab 260 almost those exact things today.I would like to say a few
things about those machines.When you get the Powermig 300 setup right
it's probably faster to change over to other processes than the Esab
260.The slowest is from the python to the standard mig torch.If you
have the spoolgun setup on the 300 it would be about 30 seconds from
mig standard,dc tig,stick,spolgun aluminum.I leave my python on,and
have stick,dc tig,mig aluminum within 30 seconds.I use dinse
connectors,and valves on my dual bottle rack,and flow meters.In the
programing part of the powermig it's way beyond the Esab 260.It's
short-arc is really something to use in the 40 mode.It also can use a
90%HE/7.5%AR/2.5%CO2 for short-arc/spray-arc.That means one bottle for
Also on the Esab the indutance control is $200.00(10 ohm pot,with two
wires,Don't buy it make it)The pulse for it is $800.00 list,and
probably could be had for somewhere around $600.00.That really narrows
up the price difference alot.
It kind of works out like this The powermig gives you more options on
setting up everything,like the
arc,preflow,postflow,crater,spot,diferent stick,mig modes,pulse
modes,hot start mig-stick,and cold start mig,and upgradeable
programing.When you set up the Esab It's like getting that cheap
spoolgun for free,and a way less adjustable for about the same price
as a powermig.Also in my opinion the Powermig 300 is a better
short-arc machine,but both are nice,and you can do very good work with
either one.I also am a big Esab fan,but you should watch which unit
you buy.Justs like Miller/Lincoln?Thermal-arc.So do your home work.
My friend here in Portland sells the most Esabs of about anyone,and
has less problems getting parts,and other things from them then any
other brand.So here is a good place to own Esab,and where you are
might not be.
One last thing,Lincolns 250G/305G engine drives are way beyond
anything Miller has in their class.The chopper tech like the Esab
260/Powermig 300 is in both those machines,and it shows up in the way
they work.Although the new Legend is pretty cool for what it does.