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a few years ago we got a jackson welding helmet from fastenal, supposed to go from 9 to 13. i think its coming to the end of its useful ness , so i grabbed the old fixed shade spare helmet, a lot better, so for occasional use what works> i was looking at harbor freight and northern tool, i only weld very occasional, so whats the difference between the 50 dollar helmets and the 150 dollar ones or more. i even welded with the wire welder with the old spare one and i could see again, i do need the 9 setting going blind i guess, thanks

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I weld with a $50 harbor freight helmet and it works fine for my needs. I can even turn the shade off and I use it when I cut with the torch. I think it's a good helmet for the $$$ but I'm not a professional, if I made my living at it I would probably want something better.

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I can’t answer your question specifically, i do know that mine was an economy model from airgas, dad decided it was flashing me and threw a fit, bought himself a. 450 dollar helmet and gave me his 300 dollar helmet, of the 3 my economy has photo sensors equivalent to my calculator, mine has drastically larger and several more sensors and a much larger lens to “receive” light from the arc even though the actual see through part isn't that big. Dads has photo receivers both above and below for better and more reliable sensing and the see through part of his is much larger.  

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I can tell you that from personal experience my old 25 year old Mac helmet with the large viewing area is nicer then a harbor fright Vulcan helmet ( their high dollar helmet). It flashes me all the time where as the old Mac helmet very rarely does, maybe if I’m in a awkward position. On the bright side, since these helmets all have polycarbonate lenses, you probably won’t get flash burn according to Ave on the youtoob since it filters out what ever rages do that to you. It’s just very annoying. Can’t tell you about the cheaper ones at harbor fright or northern but wouldn’t think they where better. 

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I have both Jackson Auto hoods and Fixed Shade hoods.................When welding stick, I still use my fixed shade helmet probably out of habit.  With MIG and TIG I use the auto hood.  I have used hoods from Hazard Fraught, if you aren't using it all the time, it will work just fine, even the lower end ones.  

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What are your eyes worth? I used to weld with a cheap harbour freight helmet... I would have a head ache after 8 hours, bought a huntsman auto helmet headache stopped the first day with the good hood and was so much clearer to look thru. was 280 nearly 15 years ago...it still works flawlessly so $18.66 a year aint bad. 

The good once are so much faster and clearer it is well worth the cost in my opinion...

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I have one from farm fleet, have had good luck with it

have a Jackson too but not happy with it heavy and hard on battery’s 

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I finally bought an auto dark this summer after welding years with a fixed shade.  I bought a Hobart brand at TSC.  It was between $100/150, I don't remember.  I wanted a large lens, so I bought the largest they had.  I don't make my living as a welder, but typically when I do a project I use it for hours, even days.  So far I'm happy with it, but I admit I've only used it maybe 4 or 5 hours thus far. I was afraid to buy a HF helmet.  Lots more expensive helmets on the market than a Hobart for sure, but it is doing well. 

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Main item on the hood is the weight and head gear. If you wear a hood for hours  every day being light and a good hinge/pivot make a huge difference. The head gear not giving you a headache and your neck not being knotted up sure is nice 

Auto lenses are another story.  They have made huge improvements in the last 20 years but the speed of the auto darken and the quality of the image are huge part of what is different, and for the most part you get what you pay for. They also have a different color and other items. We normally pay about $140 a lens (2x4 size), rarely buy less than a #10 (but may use darker), and are happy if the guys get a full year out of one welding full time.  They are like tires, they don’t last forever.  I have been told leaving them in the sun when not in use helps but who knows
 

I would recommend that anyone who welds much and needs to go with a lighter shade to see the puddle try some cheaters (magnifiers that fit in with the lens). They take some getting used to but make a huge difference without to much light getting thru.
 

If your like me and some others, in your mid 40’s, I would suggest you buy a light set of cheaters (.5 or .75) and get used to them, your day will come and you might as well get ready for it.  It is much easier to buy stronger ones when your used to them

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pt756 put some new battery's in your electronic hood?

for occasional use all of the above.

welding helmets with the flip up lens works well for set up, tack welding, production welding, with the flip up you can grind, wire buff, burn, run a cut off wheel, you use as a shield for safety.

I tested and welded on the Alaska pipe line project in the 70's, I flew from Seattle Sea- tac airport to Anchorage Alaska from there took a bus to the Valdez tank farm.

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We have 3 of these cheaper helmets. One in the service truck, one is mine in the shop and one for the kids to use watching or welding. We get them at the local welding shop I think ..... unless they were from harbor freight. They have no battery to replace but are recharged by the light. Have done pretty good . Shade 9-13 , sensitivity and delay adjustments

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I’m an “at home” welder not an “at work” welder. I like and use a mid grade Miller helmet. I think it was “Digital Pro Hobby” if I remember correctly. Works well for me.  I’ve always liked a fairly dark shade and run it on 11. 

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I had a cheap auto darkening helmet after I broke my pipeliner non auto darkening. The cheapie quit and I got a new Miller Digital Performance. It worked great until it didn't.  It got to where it wouldn't always darken right away and sometimes wouldnt darken all the way. A new battery and keeping it in the light to charge did not help so now it's useless. So a couple months ago I went back to a Fibre Metal Pipeliner like I used to use. It doesn't auto darken and if you want a different shade you have to switch lenses but it works every single time I nod my head and it's more comfortable. I don't foresee ever getting another auto darkening. 

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I use Miller Digital Elite, Infinity, Sarges pancake and a leather sock hood ( don't know where it is and don't really want to use it again) . I want the best I can get. AK is right weight makes a huge difference.

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13 minutes ago, WishIhada1466 said:

I had a cheap auto darkening helmet after I broke my pipeliner non auto darkening. The cheapie quit and I got a new Miller Digital Performance. It worked great until it didn't.  It got to where it wouldn't always darken right away and sometimes wouldnt darken all the way. A new battery and keeping it in the light to charge did not help so now it's useless. So a couple months ago I went back to a Fibre Metal Pipeliner like I used to use. It doesn't auto darken and if you want a different shade you have to switch lenses but it works every single time I nod my head and it's more comfortable. I don't foresee ever getting another auto darkening. 

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That same model Fiber-metal or a pancake is what I use. 
 

 

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I have been very pleased with my Hobart Endeavor for $100!  It is comfortable and has a large lens.  Shade and sensitivity are easily dialed in to match indoor or outdoor lighting conditions and it has 4 sensors.  It also has grinding mode which is nice because I ain't much of a welder, but I'm one **** of a grinder!

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38 minutes ago, Rawleigh99 said:

i also have had good luck with HF masks.  No flash problems unless i forget to turn off grinder mode!  LOL

X2. 

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I use a Jackson Insight insert that fit right into my jackson shell 5 years 1 battery Works really nice

has 9-13 and grind mode  plus 4x 2.5 view area

Jackson Insight Auto-Darkening Lens 46128

 

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11 hours ago, Finney said:

I use Miller Digital Elite, Infinity

Way better than any cheepo I love mine 

Having a good helmet is just as important as any other part of welding 

The X-mode is great in the sun 

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