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TIG Auto Darkening Welding Helmets-Cheap or Expensive?

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Janderso

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#1
I am new to TIG welding. I purchased a Miller Diversion 180. Did some practicing last night. I was using Amazon's choice auto darkening for $40.
$40 seems pretty cheap. I was reading through some thread and they mentioned the biggest difference between the cheap helmets and the more expensive is clarity.
I did have a difficult time seeing what I was doing.
Your thoughts on this subject please.
I am going to a welding supply store today to pick up the shops new MIG Welder. I plan on buying a better helmet and some welding gloves.
 

ttabbal

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#2
AvE on YouTube did some tests and compared cheap helmets to brand name. He found that the cheap ones start out darker, block all the same harmful stuff, and darken a bit slower.

I wouldn't mind a nicer one for the lighter starting level. It would make setup and such easier. Not enough to pay that much more though. I don't weld enough to justify it. If I did it even weekly, I would probably do it though. I didn't notice a big difference in clarity from looking at them in the store, but I haven't welded with a nicer one in a long time. Mine is just a basic HF unit.
 

Bobby Bailey

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#3
I have an expensive one bought through our local Miller dealer and my son has a Harbor Freight one. HF works, but not as well in all conditions. And, the HF doesn't change as fast.
 

ACHiPo

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#4
My local welding shop recommended a moderate priced one that I'm happy with from Weldcoat Metals. I think it was about $90. It has a place to insert cheaters, the clarity seems good, it has adjustable darkness, etc.. It is a little heavier than the expensive ones (3M Speedglas seems to be the best, but they're ~$300), but it's fine no more than I use it.
 

Eddyde

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#5
I have an expensive Miller and a cheap-o Kobalt They both work fine. The nice thing about Miller it's adjustable for darkness and speed, its drawback is it must be switched on (turns itself off after about 15 min of inactivity) and requires batteries (although, they last years). The Kobalt doesn't need batteries and no switch but its very dark. Great for stick welding but a little much for MIG and too dark for plasma cutting. I don't have a TIG setup yet.
 

Janderso

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#6
It is confusing. With a price spread of $20 - >$600 there has to be something to it. MJB Welding supply in Yuba City CA, is where I purchased my TIG. I saw on-line Miller has a few models to choose from. The range for Miller Brand is roughly $90-$450 if I recall correctly.
I think I will just talk to the guys at the store. If it's good enough for Miller, it should be good enough for me.
 

Ken from ontario

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#7
The good or moderately priced helmets are the best choice in my opinion, what sets cheaper VS expensive) helmets apart is :
A=how fast they react to the initial spark.
B= how comfortable/light weight they are,the lighter the helmet the longer they can be worn ,when you weld for 8-10 hours a day, both of these to factors make a huge difference.
 

Jonno_G

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#8
I may have the wrong end of the stick, but my impression from the little research that I did before buying mine is that if using very low current TIG welding some of the cheaper units may not be sensitive enough, and therefore may not darken quickly or may possibly lighten up prematurely.

I know that some dearer helmets have more sensors, and that can be an advantage, especially if you're welding in awkward spots as it's harder for, say, for sensors to get blocked than perhaps one or two.

Another thing to think of is the minimum shade that you can set it to. Mine goes down to shade 9, at which point I can just see what's going on if I have the welder running at 5-10 Amps. Not that I weld at 5 Amps often, but I did have to last week.

Mine has a good sized lens (but far from the biggest available), is relatively light, has replaceable batteries, and cost me about AU$120 about two years ago from memory.

The unit it replaced had a standard small lens, was fixed shade, and had built in batteries. In the end it failed completely. I did some digging and found that the rechargeable lithium button cells that it used (just because there's nowhere to put batteries in, doesn't mean that it doesn't have batteries), if they are allowed to discharge too far can have something weird happen to the chemistry of the cell and the voltage will invert. I couldn't see how that was possible, so I pulled it apart and sure enough - one cell was still reading 1.5V but the other, when tested the same way, showed -0.2V.

tldr; Get the best you can with the budget you have, but make sure it's got replaceable batteries and an adjustable shade (down to at least shade 9), a good sized lens, and as many sensors as your budget allows.

Cheers,... Jon.

Sent from my Moto G (4) using Tapatalk
 

brino

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#10
what sets cheaper VS expensive) helmets apart is :
A=how fast they react to the initial spark.
B= how comfortable/light weight they are,the lighter the helmet the longer they can be worn ,when you weld for 8-10 hours a day, both of these to factors make a huge difference.
I agree with that list, but would add:
C) the range of shade settings.

I find with TIG I want lower settings for doing very low-current stuff with thinner sheet.
I have an ancient helmet I have used for years with stick.
I bought a mid-range ($80-90) one when I got my MIG welder.
When I added TIG I just could not see the puddle for low-current/thin materials.

I went with the Lincoln Viking 3350 Welding Helmet K3034-3.
I was able to find a better price on ebay shipped from Quebec (tgsindustrial), than from the States.
Sure, it still cost me ~ $310 (CAD, delivered), but what a difference!
From 10A to 250A I can see what I'm doing....you can't really put a price on that.

-brino
 
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Doubleeboy

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#11
I have used a Jackson Nex Gen helmet for 12 years, 2 sets of batteries. Very nice helmet, it cost me about $200 when new. I would do it again, at the time it was considered the best bang for insurgent U in a high end helmet. I am sure now that everyone makes auto helmets there is competition but Jackson has been doing this for years and are USA company with complete service parts available at many welding stores.
 

682bear

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#12
I have the Miller Digital Elite... auto on, auto off, full range of darkness and sensitivity settings, plus a large screen. I paid around $210 shipped, and have been very happy with it so far.

-Bear
 

682bear

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#14
Also, back when I first bought my TIG setup, I had purchased a Harbor Freight AD helmet... when I got it home, I found a line in the instruction book that stated 'This helmet is not recommended for use in TIG welding'. I returned it...

Bear
 

Holescreek

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#15
I have the Miller Digital Elite... auto on, auto off, full range of darkness and sensitivity settings, plus a large screen. I paid around $210 shipped, and have been very happy with it so far.

-Bear
I have the same helmet, it's the best I've ever had. I bought a cheap helmet from USAWeld for a friend to use while I taught him to weld, think it was $80. I grabbed it yesterday to save the time it would take to get the miller out of its bag and got flashed twice before I stopped and got the miller. Night and day difference.
 

British Steel

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#16
You're putting a price on your vision?
ALL will block UV and IR light even when they're not darkened, there are filters built in for that so no arc-eye (assuming they have local approvals - straight from China via EvilBay, AliBaba or Wish may not have...) - all you get is dazzled temporarily, unlike trying to weld without any eye protection... The built-in filters are a lot more expensive if you want to see more visible light through 'em, which may be one of many reasons why the cheaper helmets are darker?

Dave H. (the other one)
 

markba633csi

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#17
Steel is correct- the clear part of the lens gives the main protection, the darkening is for visible light glare. Many folks
do not know this. Think about it- no manufacturer would trust a couple of coin batteries to protect against eye damage- and the
regulatory agencies wouldn't either. It has to be passive protection.
I bought an Antra X60 series helmet (55$, Amazon) good value, and they include several replacement lenses.
 

Ray C

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#18
I've been thru a few different hoods and have been served well by the Harbor Freight units with either the silver or blue blaze decals. My blue one is about 9 years old and the silver one is about 4 years old They have only 2 sensors so, you need to keep your face square to the welding. At least 2 sensors are needed for the unit to function. This is how all 2 sensor units work. Anyhow, the HF hoods are good, functional and high-value. After a decade, the strap mechanisms are working fine. I replace the sweatband with generic replacements at least 1-2 times a year.

The front clear lens (0.040" thick polycarbonate plastic) is what blocks all the UV. Never weld without that in place! I buy it in sheets and cut it to size with a box cutter for a replacement cost of about 10 cents per lens. Just look on Amazon for polycarbonate sheet plastic. Polcarbonate is very easily scratched and it absorbs chemicals very easily. After a week of welding, you can see that it's permanently yellowed/discolored. If you want to see what you're doing (especially the weld puddle) replace that lens frequently. Clean the inside lens too. After a few hours, it's filthy with soot.

If you do a google search of the serial number on the auto-darkening control unit, you will see that they are the same ones used in a lot of the "name brand" helmets costing hundreds more. Alibaba sells those control units in minimum lots of 5000.

If I buy another helmet, it will be one of the "color view" or "clear view" units which hit the markets a couple years ago. My buddy let me try his last year and it did have better color rendition and fewer contrast problems. But not enough for me to justify $250 more because my $50 helmets serve me perfectly. I'm waiting for the price to drop on the Lincoln Viking.

Happy welding...

Ray
 

British Steel

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#19
Ray's right about polycarbonate blocking UV - I tried using it to hold PCB positives on some photo-resist boaard and it didn't develop at all... :(

Dave H. (the other one)
 

mwhite

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#20
I personally like the 3M speed glass. I have tried several auto dark hoods and it works best for me. I do a lot of welding and the price of the 3M hood was well worth it. Check the prices on cyber weld. The best bargins I've found.
 

Ken from ontario

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#21
I liked the Viking,has very sensitive electronics but my favourite helmet is Speedglas 90002X, mine is 15 years old and wasn't much more expensive than Optrel or other mid priced helmet (~$400),I let other coworkers use it at work and they all commented on how they liked it but those days there weren't many choices like we have nowadays, Jackson Nexgen is also a great helmet.
 

Ray C

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#22
Something I forgot to mention... A big problem with any welding hood is getting too much light from behind your head that causes glare on the inside lens. This will stop you cold in your tracks every time. If and when necessary, I'll drape something over the back of the hood to block any light from creating glare inside the hood.

Ray
 

FOMOGO

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#23
Like Brino, I have a high end Lincon. I also have an ancient large glass conventional, and a twenty yr old HF AD. The HF served me well for yrs, and still works, but it hardly ever gets used since I got the Lincon. I like the multi level shade adjustment and the clarity. More comfortable to wear, better visor tension adjustment, cheater lens, etc.. I'm sure all the other higher end units are similar. Kind of like going back to cheap beer after you've acquired a taste for better stuff. Mike
 

Tozguy

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#24
Seems to me that the hood should become part of you so that you can concentrate on the welding or other things.
It makes sense to choose based on performance and safety, price being secondary. This is an eye care issue so also have a 'look' at the cost of fixing eye damage (when it is possible). A good hood at any price seems like the least expensive option.
 

KMoffett

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#25
Have a Harbor Freight Chicago Electric DIN 9-13. Had it for many years and was happy with it...'til the batteries would no longer charge. The fine print said that the batteries are not replaceable. :mad: These are a pair on lithiums inside the sealed lens assembly. With "careful" use of a Dremel and a saw blade I split the case. Two BR2330 lithium batteries...$7 from Amazon. Soldered small wires to battery cases and PCB. Hot melt glue back together. Off and running again. :)

Ken
 

Video_man

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#26
I recently bought the new HFreight "Vulcan" helmet ($150) after my $39 HF mask gave up after only 15 years....well pleased with it, it's substantial, clear covers easily changed, provision for cheater (not included). There's a grinding setting and a wide adjustment range for darkness, etc. It is solar powered but has a standard, easily changed battery with a test function. All in all, happy with it so far. EDIT: didn't make it clear, the test function darkens the viewport so you can check the helmet's working. The battery has an led that comes on when the battery is getting weak.
 
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royesses

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#27
I have a Lincoln Viking 3350 with 4c technology. It is an order of magnitude better than non 4c. Like watching HD TV . Clarity is 1/1/1/1 and is full color. Made a heck of an improvement in the problem of cataracts in my vision. The headgear is also very comfortable. Everyone who has tried my hood said wow it's unbelievable. About $220.00 US. Eyesight is too precious to cheap out on a hood.

Roy
 

Toro5xi

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#28
I have a Lincoln Viking helmet. It is not the cheapest but I like that the din goes down to 5 so I can use it for plasma cutting as well.
 

markba633csi

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#29
Wow those new Lincolns look like a big improvement!
I want one :D
 

cg285

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#30
My local welding shop recommended a moderate priced one that I'm happy with from Weldcoat Metals. I think it was about $90. It has a place to insert cheaters, the clarity seems good, it has adjustable darkness, etc.. It is a little heavier than the expensive ones (3M Speedglas seems to be the best, but they're ~$300), but it's fine no more than I use it.
having used many different brands through the years i am using a weldcoat metals these days. recommended by a shop who has 8 welders all using the weldcote as a matter of choice
 
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