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I need a decent welding helmet!

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by evintho, Sep 3, 2010.

  1. evintho
    Joined: May 28, 2007
    Posts: 2,018


    I don't own a MIG yet but that's next on the list 'cause I'm gonna need it to build my frame. I'm trying to do it right. I'm in the 4th week of the welding class at our local junior college. The helmets they use are ancient non-auto darkening. I'm gonna need one anyway, might as well get it now. I heard Northern Tool has decent ones at good prices. I'm looking at this one. Any opinions from you guys who've been doing this forever?
  2. hotrod40coupe
    Joined: Apr 8, 2007
    Posts: 2,562


    I have an Auto Darkening one fro Harbor Freight that I like a lot. They are having a sale on them right now for $35.00.
  3. tire_smoking
    Joined: Mar 3, 2008
    Posts: 7


    I've been using a Harbor Freight adjustable auto darkening helmet for some time now it does the job just fine. $35ish (The welder I bought the best I could afford at the time)
    If I welded every day I would by a large screen like the $119.99 one.
    Joined: Jan 6, 2008
    Posts: 73


    if your gonna be welding alot mig or tig you should buy the best u can afford the more sensors the better mine has 4 forgot brand it was almost 300 but i weld everyday that hobart one has 2 if your just lightly welding here and there its okay the sensors are for delay time my first helmet had 2 (welders eye sucks it feels like theres sand in your eyes) and like tire smoker says bigger screen atleast the medium screen. remember if you take care of it it will last along time mine is 2 years old still works awesome changed battery once and lens protectors when dirty. hope this helps.

  5. 10bucks
    Joined: Dec 9, 2009
    Posts: 121


    I don't know about "forever" but will a long long freaking time do? My first choice helmet is actually an "ancient non darkening" one. A Jackson Black Shadow. You can get a new one for about 35 bucks, and you will have one of the lightest weight wide vision hoods on the planet. And it will never never fail to darken for you. I own two of these and they are my "workin hoods", I do all of my welding at work with one of these. Oh I have an auto dark, the Snap-on one, and I like it fine but it is no way as clear or wide a vision as the plain lens Jackson. Beware "cheap helmets as they may not be fast enough. If you just have to have an Auto Dark, get a good one. You only get two eyes with which view life with. I've had guys in my shop burn their eyes with the Air Arc and a not so cheap Speedglass hood. (Speedglass actually makes a good one it just costs $450)

    Incedently the reason I bought the Auto dark was for plug welding 3/16" holes in patch panels on my hot rod. You have to start the arc dead center of a really small hole. I was actually doing a better job of that without a hood than with one, but I knew also the hazards....see you only get two eyes above....So I bought it and yep, it works really well for that.
  6. elricho
    Joined: Jul 19, 2009
    Posts: 197


    Dont know how much they are in the U.S but if you can afford it get a Miller.
    Thet are simply the best in my opinion,and come in some great designs!!!
    After all-its only your eyes at steak??????
    Long after the price is forgotten-Quality still remains.
  7. fbama73
    Joined: Jul 12, 2008
    Posts: 989


    I learned to weld on non- auto helmets. Been using auto darkaning ones for years, and I STILL twitch my neck when I strike an arc/hit the trigger on a MIG squirter.

    My preference is for that bigger window, period. I'd trade any small window auto dark helmet out there for a big window that I have to flip down.

    My two cents, and worth exactly that.
  8. KrisKustomPaint
    Joined: Apr 20, 2007
    Posts: 1,107


    I don't care for auto darkening. As good as it gets is a gold coated big window helmet. A whole lot cheaper too. And you can see a lot better.
  9. Dirt Diggler
    Joined: Aug 3, 2007
    Posts: 378

    Dirt Diggler

  10. AcadianKid
    Joined: Dec 5, 2005
    Posts: 202


  11. I weld almost everyday. I have two helmets. A Miller Elite....and a old Hobart small window. I honestly have to say I like them both. I actually use the Miller for light work and the Hobart for heavy duty. Just because its vintage doesn't mean it ain't good.

    Attached Files:

  12. Believe it or not, the cheap piece of shit $35 auto-dark from Northern Tool works pretty damn good, especially for a college kid on a tight budget. I've been welding since I was a kid in the 80s(never got very good!). I had an auto-dark when they first came out, $300 or so, I wouldn't spend that kind of money now; I'd put the extra $250 on something else.
  13. CoolHand
    Joined: Aug 31, 2007
    Posts: 1,928

    Alliance Vendor

    I've got a Jackson BOSS auto-darkening lens in one of those light as hell Hydraflex shells, and a passive Jackson Black Shadow with the big HSL100 lens. The Shadow got demoted to backup when the BOSS showed up.

    I learned to weld with a passive helmet with a tiny flip-up window, and I used that Shadow for a lot of years after that, but when the auto-darkening ones got to be less expensive than a small welder, I had to have one.

    Having had an auto-darkening helmet for five or six years now, I do not care to go back to the passive helmets again. There is simply no comparison when you're in a bind or a tight spot, or under a car, etc. They're worth what they cost, IMO.

    Also, I've used the cheaper HF and even a mid-range Hobart, and while some folks say that the slower change speed isn't a big deal, I got eye strain a lot worse with those lenses than I do with my Jackson. The Hobart especially was bad for allowing flashes to sneak through at the beginning or end of a bead. No idea why, but it was a bitch to use. My eyes and head hurt for two days after using it for about 5 hours. My dad has a Hobart as well, and he likes it just fine though. Personally, I won't use one again.

    If I'm on the road without my own again, I'll go buy a passive someplace before I'll use a Hobart auto-dark again.

    I have no experience with the Miller, but I've heard good things. I'd not even heard of Arc One before this thread. I've heard good and bad things about the 3M Speedglass, but I've never used one, so I won't repeat them.

    If you don't weld much, you can probably get by with the HF model, but I'd really recommend you go with a better brand if you plan to use it much at all (and you value your eyesight).

    Either that, or go with the old standby Black Shadow. You will not believe how much more you can see with that big window. The BOSS has a pretty big window for an auto-dark unit, but it's still only has maybe 65% the viewable are as the lens in that Black Shadow.

    IMO everyone should learn to weld with a passive helmet first, just like everyone should learn to lay down a good bead with a stick machine (SMAW) before they learn to use a wire feed machine (GMAW).

    You'll end up a more skilled weldor if you go that route, but it will take a lot longer to learn it all. I started when I was ~12 yrs old, and I was 15 before I got to use a wire feed welder. But when I started using a wire feed machine, the the change over took no time at all, and the welds were very good from the start because the stick machine had forced me to learn and become fluent with the fundamentals of welding.

    Once you get that, how you make the weld and what you look through while you do it, make very little difference.
    Last edited: Sep 3, 2010
  14. 35mastr
    Joined: Oct 26, 2007
    Posts: 1,899

    from Norcal

    Miller Elite Digital is what I have. The best one that I have ever used. I can actually see out of this one.
  15. tonuprocker
    Joined: Jun 11, 2005
    Posts: 14

    from santa cruz

    for an auto dark i swear by my miller elite. i also love my huntsman 411p with various gold lenses (wish i could get some cool blue lenses!). passive hoods are still extremly useful depending on what your working with.

    I would pick up a miller mp10 its the same frame as the elite/digi elite but with a passive lens. it's cheap,very light,large viewing area and really comfortable wich is a huge part of the equation. from there pick up a few gold lenses. then if you find you really have to have an auto-dark you can buy just the auto dark unit from miller and drop it in the mp10. miller sells every little piece of the hood so if you crack an adjuster knob or break the headband its super easy to pick up replacement parts.
  16. CL1
    Joined: Aug 13, 2010
    Posts: 12

    from Toledo, OH

    For what it's worth, I have a similar story to a guy that posted above. I have a nice, new auto-darkening helmet for the delicate work, but the classic small window Hobart for 75% of my stuff.
  17. I went to airgas yesterday and bought a lincoln autodark for 150.00. It seems to work just fine...
  18. TheFish
    Joined: Sep 7, 2009
    Posts: 144


    I will never part with my Miller Digital Elite. No way in hell. Too many features and I dont think it is very heavy. And I am a welder by trade.
  19. uc4me
    Joined: Feb 3, 2006
    Posts: 516


    I bought a $200-ish Miller auto-darkening helmet about 5 years ago and its been great, haven't had to replace batteries or anything
  20. Von Rigg Fink
    Joined: Jun 11, 2007
    Posts: 13,426

    Von Rigg Fink
    from Garage

    I scored a good Large window Auto Dark, at a garage sale for 10 bucks.
    for 10 bucks i didnt even look to see who's hood it was, all I know is it sure makes life a lot easier..Think its a jackson?
  21. langy
    Joined: Apr 27, 2006
    Posts: 5,735

    Member Emeritus

    I reckon my Miller Elite is the best i've ever had, Not sure if you get this make in the U.S. but my spare is a SWP Eliminator and is almost as good but less spendy.

  22. Da' Bomb
    Joined: Apr 8, 2005
    Posts: 438

    Da' Bomb

    I've been using a Speedglass for years.....Not cheap, but what are your eyes worth? Pass on that $35 crap.

  23. el shad
    Joined: Apr 16, 2008
    Posts: 622

    el shad

    Used to pay the mortgage welding. I have a Miller and Harbor Freight auto darkening and honestly I am such a cheep skate that I use the hell out of the HF one so I dont mess up the Miller. It works great! Just change the lens every now and again.
  24. lawman
    Joined: Sep 19, 2006
    Posts: 2,665


    Love my Speedglass. Was at the time (10 years ago) $200.00 +
    but you can't think CHEAP with you eyes !!!! Tom ( Tired Old Man)
  25. spot
    Joined: Jun 10, 2009
    Posts: 204

    from usa

    I use an Optrel Satellite. Solar powered so no batteries. I've got 4 helmets hanging on the wall collecting dust 'cause I have never had a more comfortable and safe helmet. I think I gave about $250 for it and that's the best 250 I have spent on welding equipment.
  26. aaggie
    Joined: Nov 21, 2009
    Posts: 2,531


    I have several helmets that I use for different things but the best that I reccomend is a Lincoln Vista 3000. It has the large window since I wear trifocal glasses, four sensors and it doesn't use batteries. The shell is almost bullet proof polycarbonate plastic and is comfortable for all day sessions.

    You only get two eyes so make them last a lifetime. Cheap safety equipment is no bargain.
  27. budd
    Joined: Oct 31, 2006
    Posts: 3,478


    i use a CIG non-auto, i have yet to see an auto helmet that is totaly clear when not dark, i like to be able to grind while i'm welding and if there is a tint to the lense it makes it hard for me, to make life a little easire i loosen off the spring pressure on the little window so instead of flipping down the whole helmit i just do a very slight nod and the window comes down, i have an auto helmet but just never use it.
  28. Jax2A
    Joined: Apr 14, 2009
    Posts: 360


    I experienced the same thing... Took a welding class at the local vocational school and the helmets sucked. After one class I went to Harbor Freight and bought the $35 (on sale) helmet and loved it. I can't believe how fast my welding improved when I got the auto darkening helmet. I don't think I would have needed the class if I had got it first.
  29. Another vote for Miller Digi elite... I do a bunch of really small tig stuff though, so i wanted to be able to see what the heck i was doing. Lot of the helmets i've used (hobart, harbor, speedglass -all the cheap versions btw) i couldnt see clearly enough before they darkened. Its nice to know where you are going to start the weld! And, its an investment - be nice to it and they will last for years.
  30. TurboShadow
    Joined: Feb 1, 2009
    Posts: 187

    from Prosser wa

    I have a HF helmet I used on a daily basis at work for almost 4 years. Always worked great for me. About 2 years in the crappy HF headgear started breaking. I went to the local welding shop and bought a new head gear unit for a miller helmet. I had to drill some holes to make it work, but it is so much better now. I think I paid $12 for the new head gear setup.

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