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Old 02-06-2012, 12:08 AM   #1
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Default What's your suggested mid-level welding helmet?

From what I gather I imagine you all are better than average fabricators, so I am hoping to get some advice about a good choice for a new welding helmet.

Currently I'm taking a basic welding glass at a local community college just to get my feet wet. I have been given a Lincoln buzz box from my father in law that I will use around the house for basic repairs. Someday I hope to weld a Locost frame...but that's years away.

I've been using a really old standard 10-11 lens helmet that I got for free, but the headband recently broke so this gives me an excuse to get a new auto-darkening helmet.

I'm aware of the Harbor Freight cheepies, but am weary. I've been warned by several folks to value my eyes enough to get a decent auto darkening or at least get the fixed shade over the cheap auto darkening. I do value my eyesight so I don't want to risk it, but I need to keep the budget around $100-$140.

A good welding supply store in my town sells this model for around $90

http://www.thefabricator.com/article...ith-grind-mode

They say it was designed to compete with the Harbor Freight jobs. It does have a nice amount of features for the price, but a relatively slow response time and only 2 sensors.

From general web searching I've seen that these three types of helmets seem to be pretty highly regarded for mid level performance for the hobbyist.

Miller Performance
3M Speedglas
Jackson w/Nextgen lens

A lot of the general retail stores sell Hobart and Lincoln helmets, which you would think would be good, but I haven't seen any glowing reviews of them.

What would you buy?
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Old 02-06-2012, 12:14 AM   #2
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I just picked up a Hobart http://tsc.tractorsupply.com/tractor/Hobart-Helmet the $130 adjustable one. Works awesome for me, no complaints so far.
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Old 02-06-2012, 01:51 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by bikersam717 View Post
I just picked up a Hobart http://tsc.tractorsupply.com/tractor/Hobart-Helmet the $130 adjustable one. Works awesome for me, no complaints so far.
I have an older version of this helmet and it works fine after 8 years of lightish use.
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Old 02-06-2012, 03:31 AM   #4
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I have a Miller Pro hobby auto darkening fixed 10 shade I use at work for shielded metal arc welding. Its a older model but it works great even after 8 straight hrs of welding.

http://store.cyberweld.com/mifsauwehe.html

This one is 10 bucks more but it lets you choose if you want a 8-12 shade just in case u like it darker or lighter.

http://store.cyberweld.com/hobhoodblac.html
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Old 02-06-2012, 10:58 AM   #5
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You mentioned no Harbor Freight, but I use this model:
http://www.harborfreight.com/adjusta...met-46092.html



I have used 3 of these models over the years and they have always worked very well. 1 was destroyed when something heavy fell on it, and the other two are still working perfectly after many many years. My only complaint, if anything, is that they are too dark at "level 9" for some of the low current stuff I do. I do not even know if the more expensive helmets go lighter than "9".

I have not used any of Harbor Freight's silly looking 'race' helmets.

My dad did have a weldmark helmet at first. That did not work very well. The display would occasionally turn off and was slow to turn on when you initially striked an arc.
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Old 02-06-2012, 04:57 PM   #6
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Thanks for all the feedback thus far

I will have to make it out to T S C to check out that hobart - sounds like a good one.

I stopped by a welding supply store this morning and tried out a miller pro hobby. Pretty nice...very lightweight and had all the features. Their version cost $167 though! I will have to see if its a higher grade version or if their price is off the charts rediculous.

Tim - you make a nice case for that harbor freight model...perhaps I will consider it...who knows, maybe they are all made in the same Chinese factory anyway.
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Old 02-06-2012, 05:00 PM   #7
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+1 on HF. I've had two of these on different occasions, light use, no headaches and worked well enough for me to actually get better at welding. My title is no longer "Grinder."
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Old 02-08-2012, 02:48 PM   #8
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I’ve been doing some research online and here’s what I have found regarding the helmets that were recommended

Miller - The link given above for the $85 Miller auto darkening helmet was in the Pro Hobby series, but that particular helmet seems to use a “Classic” lens instead of the Pro Hobby lens. If you upgrade to the Pro Hobby lens, the price goes up to about $135. The main difference I can find between the Classic and Pro Hobby lens is that the response times goes from 1/8,000 to 1/12,000 second. One feature the Millers seem to have over the others is that they will hold a cheater lens. Maybe the others do as well, they just don’t advertise it as much.

Harbor Freight - The specs (other than the warranty) look decent but I just can’t do it. I just don’t have much faith in the quality control, right or wrong

Weldmark – I also have my doubts about the quality of this one but the specs are actually the best of the bunch. This one works for TIG welding down to 5 amps (not sure if this will ever matter to me) has the biggest viewing area by a few millimeters, has the fastest response time (1/25,000), has a grind mode (again, not sure if it matters) and has a 3 year warranty. ~$100 for this one

Hobart XVS from Tractor Supply or others – This one is not rated for TIG at all. Other than the fact it includes many front and back lens covers standard, none of the other specs really stand out as above or below the others. It’s on sale at Cyber weld right now for $106 with free shipping.

I’m not sure where to go from here. I don’t know if I should get one that can be used for TIG, which if so rules out the Hobart. I guess one of the Miller’s would be the way to go, but I’m not sure if the faster response time is worth jumping to the $135 purchase price when this is just something I do as a hobby.

Any more thoughts?
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Old 02-12-2012, 05:44 AM   #9
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Three people out of six suggested the HF helmet (I am the third) but you aren't going to get one. Sounds like you wasted your time asking for our advice <G>...


FWIW, I am on my 2nd HF helmet. The first died after about 4 years (I think the battery will not hold much of a charge). I bought one of the fancy ones with the blue flames on it the second time ($40 with coupon?) and it is going strong.
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Old 02-13-2012, 12:33 PM   #10
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Another HF guy here. My welding sucks but it ain't because of the HF helmet.
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Old 02-14-2012, 11:11 PM   #11
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Three people out of six suggested the HF helmet (I am the third) but you aren't going to get one. Sounds like you wasted your time asking for our advice <G>...
.
Maybe, but I do appreciate the comments! There are a lot of happy HF customers out there. I just have a hard time trusting my eyes to their helmet. Right or wrong...that's how I feel.

I'm going with the Miller Pro Hobby online for $122 shipped. A close second was the Speedglas 100v.
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Old 02-27-2012, 04:24 PM   #12
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I am in Welding school right now... we got issued Lincoln's most basic, with a 10 lens and plastic cover.. roughly $35. We all get to practice our head nod. most of the students who make it through to the 3rd mod end up getting auto darkening helmets.. at that point we have moved from gas and stick to mig and finally to tig, where fast response times and the ability to detect low amperage (5 amp) events are key! my eyes are important. i will be spending my money on the best helmet i can. SpeedGlas, Lincoln Viking Series, Miller and Jackson all make good hats, i am leaning towards an ArcOne myself.
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Old 02-28-2012, 10:36 PM   #13
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Also using the 59.99 harbor freight auto tint with good results. My welding improved when I switched to an auto tint.
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Old 02-29-2012, 11:21 PM   #14
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Just got to use my new speedglas AD helmet tonight and it worked GREAT. Love it.
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Old 03-01-2012, 01:31 AM   #15
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I use a Miller Pro Hobby, and like it a lot. My local welding shop will also take care of ANY warranty issues for me if I ever have a problem, which is super nice.

The only HF helmets I've used were heavily abused tech school lids, and they were more or less functional after many years of VERY hard abuse. I hesitate to recommend anything from HF, but they seemed to do OK.
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Old 03-01-2012, 03:02 PM   #16
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Just got to use my new speedglas AD helmet tonight and it worked GREAT. Love it.
nice hat. good f.o.v. is it light?
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Old 03-01-2012, 10:21 PM   #17
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nice hat. good f.o.v. is it light?
Yup, it's right on par with the Miller Pro Hobby at 16oz.
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Old 03-02-2012, 12:01 AM   #18
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The only automatic helmet I've ever used is an old version of the HF unit that Tim linked to. My experiences mirror his- it occasionally seemed a bit too dark when I was operating at the "low current" setting on my cheap-**** HF MIG welder, but otherwise worked very well. Turn-on time was fast enough that I never noticed any irritation, and it was comfortable to wear.


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My title is no longer "Grinder."
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