ESAB Rebel EMP 215ic Welder Review: A Welding Machine That Does It All?
Weld anything – mild steel, stainless steel, aluminum – that’s the promise of the Rebel EMP 215ic welder which is a neat little unit capable of MIG, MMA and Lift TIG all through one box.
This welder is suitable for all sorts of applications and is highly portable so is ideal for use across many industries including automotive, agricultural equipment, light fabrication and even in training schools.
If you’re looking for reviews and information on this model you will have found that there’s not much out there so we decided to dig up all we could about the 215ic and put it together in a full review right here.
Let’s get stuck in with the details on this versatile little box of tricks.
If you were to say that the history of ESAB is also the story of welding, you would not be far off the mark!
Started over 100 years ago by Oscar Kjellberg who is today widely recognized as the inventor of the coated electrode used in modern day stick welding, ESAB has a long history of innovations in the welding world.
Since 2012 ESAB has been a part of the Colfax Corporation but continues to serve the industries it founded and today is a global leader in the production of cutting and welding equipment and consumables.
They also have a presence in nearly every country through agents or subsidiaries with support and service available in at least 80 countries.
What makes the EMP 215ic So Special?
Perhaps the best way to answer this is to list out the features and specifications as they speak for themselves!
Features of the Rebel EMP 215ic
Dual voltage flexibility working off 120/230v and also generator power
Great performance in MIG, MMA, Flux-cored and Lift TIG welding
Smart MIG feature learns and adapts to the techniques used by the operator
TFT display provides clear indication of weld parameters and settings
Weld parameter storage allows you to save up to four parameters per process
Trigger hold function helps to reduce operator fatigue when TIG or MIG welding
Infinite voltage control allows you to adjust the voltage setting for fine tuning the arc characteristics
Adjustable inductance for stabilizing arc fine-tuning and controlling spatter
Adjustable burn-back control prevents wire burning back or sticking in the weld pool
Adjustable hot start avoids the electrode sticking to the workpiece metal by increasing the initial welding current
Lift TIG arc starts without using high frequency. Ideal for use in environments with sensitive electronic equipment
Adjustable arc force allows the welder to increase the arc voltage for a time to avoid arc outs and optimize MMA electrode performance
Gas pre-and-post flow time adjustment prevents starting porosity and purges the gas line at the start and end of welding
Solid cast aluminum feeder mechanism provides for easy drive roll changes with no tools required
IP23S rated enclosure
Built in roll cage with five handles and steel construction for tough portability
Comes ‘ready-to-weld’ with everything you need
Specifications of the EMP welder
230 V 7 kVA / 120 V 4.5 kVA
Frequency 50/60 Hz
VAC 120, 208/230 VAC
MIG (GMAW/FCAW) 120V Duty cycle: 20 % Op current DC: 130 A VDC Out: 20.5 VDC
MIG (GMAW/FCAW) 230V Duty cycle: 25 % Op current DC: 205 A VDC Out: 24.3 VDC
STICK (SMAW) 120V Duty cycle: 25 % Op current: 180 A VDC Out: 27.2 VDC
STICK (SMAW) 230V Duty cycle: 40 % Op current DC: 90 A VDC Out: 23.6 VDC
TIG (GTAW) 120V Duty cycle: 30 % Op current DC: 180 A VDC Out: 17.2 VDC
TIG (GTAW) 230V Duty cycle: 40 % Op current DC: 130 A VDC Out: 15.2 VDC
Enclosure Class IP23S
Max Welding Output 240 A
Open Circuit VDC High 90 VDC
Setting Range MIG/MAG (V) 10-26 V
Voltage Tolerance 95-270 VAC
Height 16 in. (406 mm)
Length 23 in. (584 mm)
Width 9 in. (229 mm)
Weight 18.2 kg (40 lb)
Max Plate Thickness
Use with Welding Material 9.5 mm (3/8 in.)
Arc Holders Clamps/Tongs
Cable 2m (6.5ft)
Wire Feeder Specifications
Max Spool Diameter 4 & 8 in. (100 & 200 mm)
Wire Length per Minute 59-476 in./min (1.5-12.1 m/min)
Mild Steel - Wire Diameter .023-.035 in. (0.6-0.9 mm)
Stainless Steel - Wire Diameter .030-.035 in. (0.8-0.9 mm)
Aluminum - Wire Diameter .030-.045 in. (0.8-1.2 mm)
Flux Cored - Wire Diameter .030-.045 in. (0.8-1.2 mm)
Standards CSA E60974-1-00, IEC 60974-1
What Type of Welding Can the Rebel EMP
be Used For?
The EMP can be used to weld anything with capabilities for the following processes:
GMAW – gas metal arc welding.
Usually referred to as either MIG (metal inert gas) or MAG (metal active gas) depending on the type of gas used, this is a process originally developed for welding aluminum and other non-ferrous metals. In GMAW, an electric arc is formed between a wire electrode which is consumable and the metal, heating them both. This causes them to melt and join, with the gas fed through the gun shielding the joint from contaminants in the air.
GTAW – gas tungsten arc welding.
This is also commonly known as TIG (tungsten inert gas) welding and is mostly used to weld thin sections of copper, magnesium, stainless steel and other non-ferrous metals. The process involves using a tungsten electrode, which is not consumable, to produce the weld with the inert gas providing a shield against contamination. Usually, a filler metal is used in the weld although not always, making this a tricky welding technique to master.
SMAW – shielded metal arc welding.
Known under several other names such as MMA/MMAW (manual metal arc welding), flux shielded arc welding or sometimes just stick welding. This is the area of the industry ESAB was started in. Basically, this is a manual form of arc welding using an electrode covered with flux to melt together with the metal being welded forming a joint. The flux also melts giving off a shielding gas to protect the joint and depositing a coating of slag which adds more protection. This method is used primarily to weld iron and all sorts of steels but nickel, aluminum, and copper alloys can also be welded using the MMA method.
What is the sMIG Feature on This Welder?
On this model, sMIG actually stands for ‘Smart MIG’ and is a unique feature that learns and adapts to the technique of the operator to improve their productivity. It provides for superior, repeatable welds and a very stable arc which also helps to drastically reduce the training time required for novice welders.
In ‘Basic’ mode, the beginner can have a very straightforward and simple setup which allows them to get started very quickly. All you will need to do is set the material thickness and wire diameter and you’re ready to go.
The more experienced welder can use the ‘Advanced’ mode which is the one that monitors the weld so that it can adapt to how the operator works and allows full control of all the arc characteristics.
Why is the TFT Display so Important?
The display on the EMP 215ic is a large 4.3-inch color screen with a much higher pixel density than that seen on most other light duty type welding units. This interface to all of the welder’s functions has several great features:
Can display the entire user manual
Easy to access spare parts listing
Switch from one process to the next with minimum fuss
Protected by a large composite bezel and front handles
How Big and Heavy is the Rebel 215ic?
Surprisingly for such a rugged machine that can handle multiple processes, this welder is ultra-portable and comes protected by a five-handled roll cage and a steel unibody. It’s also got IP23S level protection against the elements so really is ready to go anywhere.
At only 23 inches long, 16 inches high and 9 inches wide, this unit will easily stow in the truck without taking up much room and with a weight of just 40 lbs, the average welder will be easily able to carry this to where it’s needed.
What’s in The Box?
The Rebel EMP comes with everything you need to get started and included in the box with the 215ic you will find:
Electrode holder kit with 10ft (3m) cable
MXL 200 MIG torch with 10ft (3m) cable
Return cable kit with 10ft (3m) cable
200mm spool OK Aristorod 12.50 0.8mm wire
Gas hose 14ft (4.5m) including a quick connector
Additional contact tips and drive rolls for 0.23, 0.30 and 0.40-inch wire
These are all correct at the time of writing, but ESAB does update this package regularly so you may find different contents, but they will still be everything you need to get started.
Besides the included accessories, you can also buy optional ones to add to your welding kit. These are all supplied by ESAB to ensure complete compatibility:
MXL 270 MIG torch
PSF 305 MIG gun
Foot control for TIG applications
Warrior Tech automatic welding protective helmet
Large selection of personal protection equipment
Complete line of filler metals
How Long is the Warranty?
The warranty on the ESAB welder is a 3-year ‘handle-to-handle’ protection which is considered to be one of the most comprehensive in the business.
Their customer service has proven to be easy to contact and also very responsive so we think you should have no trouble getting support or taking advantage of their recently introduced 100% satisfaction guarantee. This is additional to the warranty and provides help if your welding machine does not perform exactly as you expected it to.
What do The Reviews Say About the
The 215ic welder performs very well out in the field with few complaints or issues currently reported. In the one instance we found where the customer had a defective unit, they reported the manufacturer to be more helpful than the vendor which you would expect given their 100% satisfaction guarantee and is positive to see.
Overall customers give this unit a very good rating and there are many comments on how the welder lives up to all its expectations. The only thing we found that someone was unhappy about was that they felt the supplied TIG and MIG guns could be of better quality, although they also took the time to point out the main unit itself was exceptional.
Personal Protection While Welding
As always, be sure to provide yourself with adequate protective gear while welding. Basic items like a good automatic welding helmet, leather welding gloves, good quality welding boots, a leather apron for bench work, or sleeves while doing positional work.
While some of these items may seem expensive if you're just starting out, you will soon understand that they are essential to your own safety, and are well worth the investment.
Our Final Thoughts
With the great reviews and a tremendous range of features, the ESAB Rebel EMP 215ic has been very well received in the welding world and it’s easy to see why. This is a true multi-process machine rather than just a MIG only machine in disguise, as with some other models.
Its versatility means it can be used in a range of applications and industries and is recommended for all sorts of purposes and would be a great machine for a small workshop with limited space. In fact, it could probably cope with anything you throw at it short of some heavy duty industrial welding applications.
The out of the box TIG torch has attracted some comments about being too bulky and not that comfortable to use so you may want to consider upgrading that at some stage, but with a main unit as capable as this one, you are unlikely to regret buying this kit.
The customer support and service is also great and with the benefit of a 3-year warranty plus a 100% satisfaction guarantee, this unit definitely gets a big thumbs up from us.
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