Using a heat press is a simple yet modern way of printing your designs into T-shirts these days. For some heat press machines, it’s even possible to use them for other printable items like bags, mouse pads, and even coffee mugs. All in all, such a machine can encourage your artistic side, as it’s always a thrill to see your own designs on a shirt. Also, you can make some extra money selling your original shirts as a hobby or side business. You don’t even need a commercial-grade machine, as you can just go with the best heat press for home use.
What should you look for in a home heat press machine?
If you’re just starting out, it makes sense to first consider picking among the best budget heat press machines. This allows you to familiarize your way through the business, without requiring too much startup money on your part. However, it’s not a good idea to just go with the cheapest machine you can find. You need to consider other factors as well.
- Weight and quality. Using a heat press involves a lot of movements and regular clamping motions. So don’t settle for a lightweight machine that’ll just break down easily. You need something solid and heavy instead.
- Heating element. This is the first thing you need to check in a heat press. Find out if the heating element can distribute the heat evenly so you can get optimal results. Turn it on and use a digital pyrometer with a surface probe kit to measure temperature and find any cold spots. This problem is common in older heat presses so if you’re buying a brand new one, you won’t have to worry about it.
- Heat range. For regular T-shirts, you need to reach a temperature of about 350 degrees F, for about 10 seconds. That will change for other types of garments such sweatshirts. So if you want a more versatile heat press, you need a wider temperature range.
- Temperature control. These days, even budget heat press machines come with reliable temperature and timer controls. This will allow you to set the time and the temperature needed for your printing materials.
- Size. If you’re looking for budget models, you’re most likely limited to smaller machines that work well enough on small-sized shirts for kids. These smaller and compact models also work well if you don’t have enough space at home either. But if you’re looking for a really serious machine for serious work, then you need something much bigger with a size of about 16 by 20 inches.
- Warranty and manufacturer support. If something can go wrong, it will. This rule seems to describe heat presses in particular, so it’s always nice to know if the manufacturer is actually going to help out with their customer support.
With these considerations in mind, here are some heat press machines that deserve a place in your home. These are mostly entry-level models. But then these are all you need anyway if you’re just starting out and your budget is limited.
5 Best Heat Press for Home Use
1. Fancierstudio Power Heat Press 9×15 inch
This 1400W machine can provide you with a versatile temperature range since it can go up to 500 degrees F. That’s more than sufficient, since you usually just need 350 degrees F. The timer also goes up to 999 seconds so that’s more than 16 minutes, which is more than enough time for printing each shirt.
This is actually easy to use once you get used to it. You get the Teflon sheet you place on the shirt, and the design lets you press down firmly so that you can get the even heat and pressure you need to make the print transfer. It’s so much quicker than using an iron to transfer the design on a shirt.
The size is also not so bad either. While the 12-inch limitation works well for kiddie sizes, you can always put in those designs in larger shirts if you want.
Pros and Cons
Its size and weight is perfect even for small homes, as you don’t really need much room to operate it. It’s easy enough to use with the digital controls. You do get the even heat distribution and proper heat range you need. While you’re limited to 12-inch designs, you can always use this for larger shirts or even sweatshirts when you want a less cluttered design on adult apparel.
There’s not much in the way of manufacturer support and even the instructions aren’t all that detailed. Thankfully, it’s easy enough to figure it out. Most of the time, the sellers are the ones who offer support and their warranty is only for about 90 days.
All in all, this is a good startup heat press machine that you can practice on so that you can quickly transfer designs into various shirts. It’s so easy to use that you can do a lot of transfers in a jiffy.
2. Hotronix 11”x15” Auto Open Heat Press
The design area is bigger by 2 inches on one side, and somehow the price of this one may not quite be truly budget-friendly for some folks. It doesn’t go past into the 4-digit price level, but it sure comes close!
But what makes this a good investment is that it’s quite sturdy. It’s built to last, which is why it has a lifetime warranty for the heating block. The warranty also offers 5 years of coverage for the castings and welds, 2 years on the electronics, and 1 year for other parts.
The long list of features is also outstanding. The design ensures there aren’t any cold spots while the heat probe makes sure that the actual temperature is within 2 degrees of your setting. It comes with digital controls and 2 programmable timer settings that lets you switch from one setting to another. There’s an Auto Sleep Mode as well. You even have pressure controls as well. This lets you print on thick garments, as it can deal with widths of up to an inch thick.
Pros and Cons
So yes, this isn’t quite the budget price you were looking for. At this price point, you can’t just wish to buy a heat press on a lark.
But it is modestly priced if you’re thinking about starting a home business. This offers a larger design, and you get a lot of features that make the Hotronix so easy to use. What’s more, you can use this all day every day and you have the superior build and the long warranty to make sure that it doesn’t break down easily.
In other words, with other models, you may save money because their prices aren’t high. With this model, you can end up gaining more money in the end instead. It may be a bit of a hefty investment, but with some luck and hard work, it’ll pay for itself in no time.
3. PowerPress Digital 15″x15″ Heat Press
This is considerably bigger than the Fancierstudio heat press and it’s even bigger than the pricey Hotronix. Yet the price is extremely low, especially when you consider the 15 by 15-inch size. It’s not just big, but it’s heavy too, so you need to find a permanent spot for this baby. The best place is where you can maneuver around it on 3 sides. This is so you have enough room to move around when you’re trying to center the design on the shirt.
What contributes to the low price of this PowerPress is that it isn’t a new model. It’s been out for several years now. That’s actually a good thing because a lot of the buyers who got it many years ago report that it still works great even today. It’s dependable enough for a small business when you need to produce about 30 to 40 shirts a week.
With this, you have 1800W providing the power for temperatures of up to 500 degrees F. The timer goes up to 999 seconds, so you can set it to enough time to make your print transfers for each shirt.
It’s easy enough to use as well. The instruction manual is quite clear in providing directions. The controls for the timer and the temperature are easy to use. Even beginners will have no trouble with this.
Pros and Cons
This PowerPress is highly regarded for how easy it is to use, and for how long you’re able to use in even daily. Combine these great advantages to its price and the size of the design you’re able to transfer, it’s basically an ideal heat press machine for any newbie T-shirt designer.
Perhaps the only notable downside is the side, as it’s hardly compact and lightweight. You may end up having trouble moving this around. It does take up a large amount of space so you need to make sure you have enough room for it, and for yourself to work around it.
4. Promo Heat 15 x 15 Clamshell Heat Transfer Machine
What you may notice more right away is that the price is very reasonable and affordable. Yet you have a huge and solidly-built heat press machine. The large heat element can be used for a wide variety of items, which can include mouse pads, tote bags, and even license plates.
This is also quite easy to use. You have advanced controls for the timer and the temperature—it even sounds an alarm when the time is complete. You also have various pressure controls and ergonomic features so you have no trouble adjusting the pressure and applying it evenly.
Pros and Cons
At first glance, there’s nothing wrong with this heat press. That’s true only if you get a working model because other buyers do complain about having things break down when they use it. That can sometimes happen especially when items are delivered. What can be aggravating is that when it does happen, you won’t get much in terms of manufacturer support.
It’s basically a gamble. When it’s working, it works great. Everything is easy and the results are terrific. If it stops working, you’re on your own. You’ll probably have to buy another one as a result. That or you find a reliable repair shop who is capable of repairing it.
5. F2C Pro 6 in 1 Digital Heat Press Machine
This is only a few dollars dearer than the other models on this list, but you sure do get a lot of extra stuff with your money. The “6 in 1” combo refers to its ability not just to print on shirts, but also on other odd shaped items as well. You can also heat transfer your design on hats, caps, mugs (2 sizes) and plates (another 2 sizes).
So the design is a bit more complicated, but it does offer some features that make things easier. You have a multi-spring balancer and you can be sure that the pressure is evenly distributed across the whole platen. You have structural support to keep things flat, while you also have the cradles for your mugs.
The transfer element measures 12 by 15 inches, and the temperature can go up to 430 degrees. The timer can go up to 999 seconds.
Pros and Cons
You can now get your design on caps, mugs, and plates! When you’re tired of printing just on shirts, these extra capabilities can really expand your horizon. It’s not all that big either, so you don’t need as much space. It’s easy to use as well.
Of course, the downside is that it’s a lot more complicated to use, and the manual isn’t all that helpful. So you need to do some YouTube research first, but once you get used to this it’s a snap. If you like seeing your designs on items other than shirts, this is the budget heat press machine you need for home use.