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Auto-Darkening Welding Helmets. What's Good?

Chris Schmidt

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Age
47
A co-worker of mine has an auto-darkening helmet he got from Northern Tool that S.T.B ($hit the bed). He's asking me if he should get a battery or solar-powered helmet. I honestly don't know much about 'em, so I'm asking here. I got a Lincoln auto-darkening helmet from Home Depot, used it a few times and it seems pretty good. So basically, do you have to buy a high-end helmet to protect your eyes?
 

Dr.Fiero

Registered
Re: Auto-darkening welding helmets. What's good?

Look at the response times on them. I've had cheapies that were sooooo slow, I knew ahead of time to close my eyes for a 1/2 second when I strike an arc!!!! Bleah.

Depending on the usage (TIG, MIG, etc), you can get away with cheaper, or pricier.

I LOVE all the features on the Miller digital elite I have - don't like the price.
The NEW Lincoln ones (just released in the last few months) are outstanding, and close to 1/2 the price of the Miller. Check out the brochure pics comparing what you can/can't see when doing fine close up TIG work.
 

PaulGray

Subscriber
Last Subscription Date
12/24/2019
Re: Auto-darkening welding helmets. What's good?

You only get one set of eyes... If you get a good quality, name brand helmet/shade, think of it as insurance.
 

wagswitte

Registered
Last Subscription Date
04/17/2014
Re: Auto-darkening welding helmets. What's good?

I use a NexGen by Jackson at work can't tell you what they cost but they seem to hold up real well.
 

pjjms

Registered
Re: Auto-darkening welding helmets. What's good?

I had a cheap solar one a few years back but it only lasted about 12 months. Replaced it with a Miller. The Miller is a way better helmet.
 
Re: Auto-darkening welding helmets. What's good?

I just use a old school fixed shade No 12 never did get into the autodarkening ones. A shade 10 lets much too much light in for me...........
I tried the gold coloured lens once every time i put it down it scratched the lens a little moving in between the protective cover then had sore eyes.
So lesson learnt tape the cover around the edge to the lens before you pop it in the helmet so it won't move.
I always wonder with the auto darkening helmets the response time and how much of the first instance light gets through to your eyes before it darkens, so have not been tempted to rush out and buy one no matter what brand.
 

IronworkerFXR

Subscriber
Last Subscription Date
09/06/2020
Re: Auto-darkening welding helmets. What's good?

""You only get one set of eyes... If you get a good quality, name brand helmet/shade, think of it as insurance."" so true

I have a hormel Speedglas, yes it is nice, and because I am not bench welding much or doing a lot of consistent welding, its nice in helping to prevent flash burns. for large work I have a big window old school .
one thing I truly can not stand is the head band and pivot adjustments on the speedglas, for all that money the head harness is a POS. the rest is fine.

JC
 

I like oldstuff

Registered
Last Subscription Date
11/09/2015
Re: Auto-darkening welding helmets. What's good?

What I don't like on the Speedglas 9000 I have is taking it apart to clean, replace cover lenses, or change batteries.

The front cover is held on by plastic tabs and if you forget where they are you can easily break things. As an occasional user I do forget where those crucial little locking tabs are. I wrote on the cover with a sharpie, pull here, push there etc.
 

oldtractors

Registered
Age
50
Last Subscription Date
12/22/2015
Re: Auto-darkening welding helmets. What's good?

From Lincoln Electric:

Q: What is the correct lens shade to use in my welding helmet to properly protect my eyes?

A: Many people mistakenly think that the lens shade number corresponds to the amount of protection that is provided to the eyes and hence the higher the number, the better the protection. But in reality, all well-constructed quality welding lenses, have a screen that filters out 100 percent of the harmful ultraviolet (UV) and infrared (IR) wavelengths and provides protection to the eyes. The number just denotes the amount of darkness provided by that particular lens and should be used by operators as a guide to select the one that is most comfortable and yet provides good visibility for the particular application.

Of course, there are some suggested lens shade numbers that you can use as a guide if you are unsure what to select for your application. These correspond with the amperage being welded. Always select a shade that allows you to see the weld puddle clearest and that most aids your welding ability.


Q: Auto-darkening helmets don't darken until the welding arc is struck - will this "split second" damage my eyes?

A: Welding arcs emit both IR and UV wavelengths of light. Unprotected from this light, both eye damage and discomfort can occur. Since high-quality auto-darkening helmets provide UV and IR protection even when the helmet is not activated, you are always protected. However, for maximum comfort, look for a high quality helmet that has a response darkening time of 4/10ths of a millisecond. Less than a millisecond is not perceivable by the human eye and will provide the most comfort.


When I bought my cheaper <$100 helmet at a farm show, I was told that you get the protection even when the lense is not activated. It isn't comfortable to stare at the light without the shade darkened, but it won't hurt you. I can't tell you how good the HF helmets are, but I bet they are safe enough.
 

phabib

Registered
Re: Auto-darkening welding helmets. What's good?

One difference I noticed between my Arc One helmet and a cheap HF helmet is that the Arc One is all the same shade all the way across. The cheap one is darker at the edges of the lens then at the center. In effect that makes it like having a smaller lens since you can only look through the middle 1/3.
 

Norm W

Registered
Re: Auto-darkening welding helmets. What's good?

I've been using a HF hood for over 10 years. I hang it in the window so it gets sun light each day (what little we get here). Never had a problem with it. I suppose it's as they say, "Your mileage may vary."
 

dalmatiangirl61

Subscriber
Last Subscription Date
07/10/2019
Re: Auto-darkening welding helmets. What's good?

I have 2 HF helmets, one is over 10 yo, both seem to work fine for me, but I've never had an expensive one, so maybe I just don't know what I'm missing:shrug:
 

BobRR

Registered
Re: Auto-darkening welding helmets. What's good?

Don't the solar powered ones charge while your welding? Bob
 

motormanjeff

Registered
Re: Auto-darkening welding helmets. What's good?

I've tried several auto darkening lenses but I always go back to my "American optical, Cool Weld" lense that I bought in about 1989. I use it in a "Wendy's pancake hood". They haven't produced those lenses for more than 15 years. I have a couple of scoop hoods with auto lenses around the shop I use for tacking sometimes. The new cool blue lenses are not quite as good as the old american optical ones. When you use it daily, you need to be comfortable with it. And "DITTO" on one set of eyes! That's why I use the pancake. The balsa wood keeps the reflected rays and flying debris from coming in the back, safer in my opinion. Not to mention better vision due to all the light coming in through the filter lense.
 

Maxweld

Registered
Re: Auto-darkening welding helmets. What's good?

I,m old school. Use huntsman cutting helmet with big window 4.5 x 5 approx it can get wet ,I can drop it. It does not have a opening shield for chipping but I just do that later with face shield. I have used this style for 30 plus years. However apparently they have stopped making. I would go for the lightest biggest window you can. I have dropped a few and had to replace them for employees 200 approx . One of my guys keeps forgetting to turn it on. Gets flashed. I did buy my daughter a speed aire that was 130. It isn't to bad. But me I'm old school and like my old hood. Light and cheap:D:D
 

Thaumaturge

In Memory Of
Age
68
Last Subscription Date
07/12/2019
Re: Auto-darkening welding helmets. What's good?

Re: 1 set of eyes... ANY silicon based glass blocks UV, shaded or not. Transition time on HF helmets: 1/20,000 second. Buy one that fits comfortably.
Doc
 

Weld Engineer

Subscriber
Last Subscription Date
07/12/2019
Re: Auto-darkening welding helmets. What's good?

Buy a name brand helmet skip the harbor freight and farm store specials. Wear safety glasses helmets are not for impact protection plus most people don't know safety glasses knock down UV so if you get flash from someone it helps reduce waking up with the feeling of sand in your eyes. Protect your skin too cover it or use sunscreen. I got the back of my ears toasted once in an aluminum tank shop just from reflection burning the back of my head and ears.

Consider all your safety items too gloves, cap, ear plugs, glasses etc. Cotton and leather is your friend no polyester or oil based fabrics unless you want it to melt to you and burn you alive.

Welding shade lens is dictated by welding amperage if you run 300 amps on a shade 9 or 10 your in for a rude awakening.

Safety first it's not worth losing an eye or worse.
 
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