Top critical review
32 people found this helpful
Nice - when it actually works
on July 25, 2012
I didn't buy this from Amazon but I wanted to add a little perspective to the reviews (since I based my decision to buy this unit on finding lots of good reviews on sites like Amazon and Ebay and have subsequently found many bad comments and reviews on welding sites frequented by people in the trade).
I got one of these just over 6 months ago and have used it relatively often during the last 3 or so months. When it works - it works well. I'm by no means a professional welder but I'm carrying out repairs and modifications to a steel boat so I do have quite a lot of welding to do. The plasma cutter easily handles up to 1/4 inch steel as does the welder (though I run around 105-110A on this unit vs the more usual 90A for 1/8 inch 6011 rods on mild steel to 1/4 inch thick).
However in the last few weeks the unit started to operate intermittently on both plasma cutting and arc welding functions (I don't have occasion to date to use the TIG). At first this was occasional but now the welder has entirely stopped working. The plasma cutter is currently working reliably (but was more problematic than the welder to start with). I'm now looking to be forced into finding out how good the warranty support is (I already know I will be asked to pay shipping both ways...) and I can't afford the downtime so will need to buy another welder in the interim (I'll be going American this time!).
In short - if this works for you - it's a nice unit and I found it did a pretty good job. I however have not found it to be as reliable or robust as I need, so wouldn't recommend it for important projects.
The vendor was supportive in confirming the correct wiring for a plug.
I paid shipping both ways for warranty cover (apparently 3 years on my unit). This cost me $170. Lotos were responsive to contact and I appreciated one or two details of the repair work they did (a new regulator and water trap - the ones that shipped with the unit were damaged). However, they appeared to offer the option of a replacement unit which I selected and then proceeded to inform me that this only applied if they couldn't fix it and they had fixed mine.
So, with some anticipation I plugged everything in and got it all connected and prepared to make a cut. I noted that the power gauges were not reading properly and that the power diode had been knocked into the unit. I pressed the switch... nothing - except a slight clicking from the unit. No air flow, no pilot arc, no cutting arc - nothing.
Maybe the welder function was fixed? I changed over the leads - and tried - and again - nothing.
I am very disappointed with Lotos. Firstly it isn't standing behind your products to make people pay return shipping for warranty repairs anyway - it suggests you do an awful lot of them. And secondly, I just wanted a working unit. For the amount I wasted on this piece of trash I could've just about got a Hypertherm which I am sure would be giving good service now and for however long into the future. Let's see - will they replace or repair with the next set of shipping at their cost? Or do I now have an $800 door stop?
So it's down to 1 star now. This unit was a mistake. Perhaps it's suitable if you use it a few times a year as an occasional hobbyist, who knows?
UPDATE 2/19/13 I actually received a replacement unit a few weeks ago on 1/28/13 - it just took me a little while to update the review. Lotos responded well to the situation and addressed the matter appropriately, to which extent I can only commend them as I'm certain there are plenty of companies out there that won't do so readily. The replacement unit works fine - at least as well as the original did at this time in it's life. I've found Lotos generally responsive to communicate with and courteous etc, and if it wasn't for the shipping both ways on the warranty I'd rate them 5 stars (as is, I would dither between 4 and 5). However, with respect to the product - I think I'll go to 3 stars to reflect the fact I have a working unit but I can't really be sure how robust it is until I've put some use on it (the original worked well for a few months after all). Perfectly happy with the manufacturer - they did stand behind it, to the extent their policy provides for - and that bit further in the face of what I hope is an unusual circumstance (repaired unit arrives non functional). Product needs to prove itself to do better than 3.
I'll do a final update in a few months when I will probably have mostly finished my project.