Reviewed in the United States on February 28, 2020
I use heat guns quite often, mostly for applying heat-shrink tubing, and bending PVC tubing and pipe. For these applications, I have a couple professional heat guns by Milwaukee, with accurate digitally controlled fan speed and heat control that can be variably set and then the gun adjusts to maintain the setting. But those cost a few hundred dollars, and I wanted a couple inexpensive basic heat guns for my home shop and garage.
I decided upon two different models by Seekone, the less expensive one that is the subject of this review, and a somewhat more expensive (yet still inexpensive) model that adds a digital temperature readout and solid-state setting of fan speed and temperature.
So, about this very inexpensive basic model. It is a classic utilitarian device with a solid, decent quality appearance and feel. It seems like something that will hold up well to light use, but I don't know if I would either trust it for any kind of production level work, or to last for many years of regular use.
The housing is all plastic, with practically the only metal visible being the hot air nozzle, which by the way is approximately 1-1/2" diameter. The housing from the rear/base to the end of the nozzle is about 9-3/4", the diameter of the body is about 2-3/4", and the handle (including the power cord strain relief) extends about 7" below the body of the gun. The heavy duty power cord is about 56" long, and its strain relief included a loop which I presume is to allow hanging the gun on a hook (although not to be actually used that way). The gun is rated to be 1800W, and it could hardly be any more than that since that gets you to about 15A, the maximum on most 120VAC single phase power outlets. The gun is specified for 110VAC rather than 120VAC, although that should not be of great importance, and only 60Hz is mentioned, which should only influence fan speed, so I don't know if the gun's fan could be damaged, or work poorly, at 50Hz.
The gun can be held, well, gun-like in one hand and aimed at the object to be warmed/heated, and the case & handle design make this mode fairly comfortable, with a good balance and other ergonomics. But the plastic is all hard, with none of the soft-finish we have become accustomed to with many power tools, so this probably makes extended use without wearing gloves somewhat uncomfortable.
The other mode is to balance the gun on its rear-end/base, with the nozzle pointing up, so you can use both hands to hold the object to be heated in the air stream above the nozzle. This is a test for many heat guns in my experience, because many have a tendency to tip over, and because this can easily start a fire, they need to be closely watched when used this way. This also can show where the money was saved to get the low cost.....my Milwaukee models use something like a silicon rubber jacketed power cord with high strand count conductors inside, so the power cord is soft and floppy, with minimal stiffness, so the weight and/or stiffness of the power cord, coupled with the greater weight of the gun, make it more stable in this mode. By comparison, this Seekone gun is very light weight, and the power cord, while electrically adequate, is also inexpensively made, and is quite stiff. I found that I had to adjust the position and orientation of the gun until I found a stable place to let it balance while in use, and another other position or rotational orientation on a floor or table would result in the power cord's stiffness pulling on the low mass of the gun, so it would just fall over immediately.
My Milwaukee guns have the ends of their handles at the same level as the rear base of the gun's housing when used in vertical mode, and this also helps stabilize the gun. On this Seekone gun, the handle itself cannot be used this way, but they DID include a wire bail that snaps into two holes near the end of the handle. Normally, the bail rests against the back of the handle, but you can flip it to another position where is acts to extend the handle such that it touches the same surface that the gun is balanced on, making it more stable in that direction; this does help to offset the stiffness of the power cord, at least in one direction. However, on MY gun, the wire bail was installed with its bent 'foot' on the wrong side, so the power cord would not allow it to be flipped into that "kickstand' position....I needed to spring the bail out of its holes, and turn it around 180 degrees, and then re-install it onto the handle.
The gun comes with four accessories, all of which modify the airflow out of the nozzle:
- Concentration nozzle, 2" long, reduces the normal 1-1/2" diameter nozzle down to 7/8" diameter
- Concentration nozzle, 2" long, reduces the normal 1-1/2" diameter nozzle down to 1/2" diameter
- Reflector nozzle, 2" long, redirects the air from the nozzle to one side (the shovel shaped sheet metal piece is about 1-1/2" wide). The reflector as furnished is fairly flat, but you could potentially bend it to redirect the air differently, or even curl it around something like a dowel to make a looped shape (many other heat guns come with just such a nozzle, best for evenly heating heat shrink tubing around electrical wiring)
- Deflector nozzle, 3-1/2" long and 2-1/4" wide, flattens the hot air stream and directs it to one side; this is probably for stripping paint
The gun has two controls:
- Three position 'fan' switch, OFF, LOW, HIGH
- Large temperature setting knob that actually forms the rear base of the gun (the gun rests on the knob when in vertical mode)
The fan switch is pretty obvious, although it is not apparent from looking, or reading the brief users manual, if this also influences the heating element (as many other heat guns do, limiting the gun to only one heater element if the fan speed is low, and allowing both heating elements (or more) to be powered only when the fan is at a higher speed.....more on this later.
The temperature knob seems to be marked backwards (and I see some other reviews saying the same thing). It seems to be showing a counterclockwise rotation for higher temperature, but that is not the case. Turning the knob clockwise increases the temperature.
I did a series of tests, supporting the tip of a food grade thermometer 2" above the end of the nozzle while the gun was in its vertical mode. I tried the gun at both LOW and HIGH fan settings, in each case with the temperature control knob fully counter-clockwise, centered, and fully clockwise:
- CCW = 132°F
- Centered = 290°F
- CW = 400°F
- CCW = 116°F
- Centered = 290°F
= CW = 550°F (see below in ****)
In all measurements above, I allowed the gun to run undisturbed for one minute before reading the thermometer, and then I averaged the readings over another minute to get the temperature number. In all cases, the temperature actually took at least 30 seconds to more or less stabilize, and once stabilized, the temperature cycled up and down around the average temperature, about 5°F above and below the average, i.e a 10°F fluctuation. When the temperature had settled to its low extreme, I could hear a sudden slight drop in fan speed, then the temperature would rapidly climb to the high extreme, after which the fan speed would increase slightly and the temperature would slowly drop back to the low extreme, and the cycle would repeat. This is indicative of a thermostat-controlled heating element, in spite of the sales lingo that suggests something more elaborate, and in one place "rheostat control". My guess is that the temperature knob simply adjusts a thermostat set-point, and that switches the heating element on and off, nothing fancier than that.
What does surprise me a little is that in the HIGH fan mode, the lowest settable temperature was lower than what I measured in the LOW fan setting, although the highest temperature was certainly higher in the HIGH fan mode. My guess is that with the heating element at its lowest power, or the thermostat's lowest sensitivity, the heater is putting out the same BTUs with the temperature knob fully counter-clockwise, but the air is blown past it faster to it does not pick up the heat quite as much. ********* I noticed that at no time did I measure anything above an average of 550°F, .......FAR from the advertised 1200°F maximum. Then I remembered that my food grade thermometer can only read up to a maximum of 600°F, although with that I would assume that I would have read UP TO 600°F instead of just 550°F. I also thought that I observed the usual thermostatic cycling around that 550°F set-point; if the nozzle temperature was actually getting up above 1000°F, then I would not have expected to see cycling around 550°F. Of course, nothing in those specifications says WHERE the temperature might be taken to get that 1200°F, so perhaps if the temperature probe were jammed down inside the nozzle close to the heating elements, you might see it that hot. But in my view, if a heat gun is being used on its highest settings closer than 2" from the work object, that could be a safety issue, so I went with the 2" that would be typical, at least for things like heat shrink tubing.
BTW, most heat shrink tubing is polyolefin, and the normal recommended shrink temperature for that is about 200°F, so the LOW fan setting and the temperature knob turned to about center of its rotation will be plenty warm for that task.
Please look for my separate review of the digitally controlled version of this heat gun.