Chicago Electric Welding 170 Amp Review

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This Chicago Electric Welding 170 Amp review will go through some of the stand-out features including its 220 volt MIG flux wire welder abilities.

Link takes you to Harbor Freight

The reason I mention this is because pretty much all US homes use 120V so this could preclude some from purchasing it, but this would be a mistake.

You can see below our choice of Voltage Converter:

[amazon box=”B00FHIF8KC”]

The Chicago Electric 170 is a really fantastic MIG welder and for something as cheap and simple as using a 110V to 220V adapter, you should really consider checking this machine out.

You can check out our Forney Easy Weld 298 vs Chicago Electric 170 Amp post to see which is the best fit for your needs.

Anyway, with that said, let’s get into the main review.

Chicago Electric Welding 170 Amp Review

User Friendliness

The Chicago Electric 170 amp would be considered a lightweight, portable welder, (in terms of usage rather than mass) and it isn’t really aimed at pros making money from welding.

However, for beginners and those looking for a new welder or another spare around the house, this is a great option.

It gives a super smooth arc which is nice and easy to handle. This, with its penetration ability combined with the correct gas and wire, gives a very nice weld for tubes that are 3/16” or ¼” steel plating.

In fact, at these thicknesses, it is really easy to weld, with little to no fuss.

If you need better penetration, you can easily adjust it to a 10lbs wire spool setting.

Thermal Overload Protection

When using your welder, you can often get into situations whereby you will overwork it and run it hot for too long. This can happen to the best of us and especially when you are just starting out.

Luckily, the Chicago Electric 170-amp MIG welder has what is known as thermal overload protection.

This simply means that the welder has a built-in cut-off if you are working it at full capacity over its recommended duty cycle, i.e. it will automatically shut itself off to stop any damage that could occur.

Range of Output Settings

With four different output settings, you can easily adjust the speed and gas usage in different ways to get your desired weld.

It also has a very handy manual wire feed regulator to help you to get the exact penetration you are going for.

Pros and Cons


  • Decent duty cycle: 20% at 110A, 60% at 60A and 100% at 30A
  • It can weld many types of metals such as low carbon or stainless steel. Cannot weld aluminum like most MIG welders.
  • Includes a nice array of accessories out of the box, including (at time of writing):
    • A 6 ft. Welding cable
    • 6 ft. Ground cable
    • A 0.03″ clamp
    • Flux-cored wire


  • The electrical cord is quite short necessitating the need for an extension. The main issue I have with needing an extension cable, is that:
    • You need a highly rated one, (added expense)
    • There is more chance for accidents.
  • A 50′ 30amp 220vac generator extension cord or any other cord of that size will help you resolve the problem.

You can check out our recommendation for high-quality welding extension cables here:

[amazon box=”B002IZ99G6″]

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I add power to it?

An added capacitor would give you 25% more power and better performance

What kind of jobs can I achieve with it?

All medium to flat steel plates such as on wooden stoves. RV bumpers repair would also be an ideal kind of job this could handle. Essentially, most household metalworking repair or construction jobs.

Are two Circuit breakers at 20 amps each enough for it?

Yes, that will do or you can use one 50 amp Circuit breaker.

What are the required shielding gases?

A shielding gas combination of Argon 75/25 CO2 mix is used when using solid wire. Also without straight Argon, CO2 will work out well. For flux core, no shielding gas is required.


With its max amperage output of 170A and the min being 30A, the Chicago Electric Welding Systems 170 Amp is a fantastic little welder to get started at home. In fact, it is somewhat beloved among home welders!

The price is right, the accessories are decent and the welds it produces are very, very good for the price.

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