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  • auto darkening helmet is offering an auto darkening helmet for $58. From what I have seen, auto darkening helmets go for $100+. Is this a good buy or is it a waste of money?

  • #2
    Auto dark

    See you're relatively new here. Not to cut the discussion short, but this has been asked and answered hundreds of times. If you do a search on auto dark hoods, you'll find all the threads. I bought a $39 auto dark from Harbor Freight and it works well for over three years and I see just fine, thank you. Not affected my vision at all and I just had a full comprehensive eye exam. Fact is, helmets sold here (in U.S.) have to meet ANSI standards, and the cheap Harbor Freight ones do meet that standard. Some folks will get on and say you're risking your only set of eyes to a cheap hood, others (like me,) will swear they've never had a problem with the cheaper ones. And I am extremely conservative about my eyes and my health. So go figure, as they say. The only problem I've had with the cheaper hood is it won't keep up with you worth a $hit if you're tigging. On stick and point and squeeze, it'll do just fine. If I had a tig, I'd invest in a more expensive one that would keep up. If you're a pro and welding for a living, go get yourself a good, more expensive hood and don't look back. For an occasionally welding job, the cheaper ones will suit you fine. Hope I didn't discourage you (or anyone) about doing a search, but there are a lot of questions newbies can find the answers to relatively easily by checking the search function. Other than that, ask away, there's a lot of great people with really really good knowledge about this skill on here and they're more than happy to help out when they can.
    Jim Don


    • #3
      I have an auto-darking hood from Northern Equipment that I got for $50. Seems to work very well. And I believe it's ANSI-certified.


      • #4
        Like this one?
        I can weld but I'm not a welder.


        • #5
          I shopped around first. Ended up with a Miller Elite.
          What was most important for me was that it can be adjusted down to shade 8 for when I use the little MIG outside on a sunny day and want to see what I am doing.
          The grind setting is useful also for when I have to spark up the torch for a quick burn so I like that feature too.
          Didn't want to part with that green but now I am glad I did.
          Gordie -- "I believe you understand what you think I said, but I'm not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant."


          • #6
            I also have the Northern tools helmet that has the flames on it , around $50,
            it works great !
            Hobart Handler 210 mig , 80cf bottle of C-25 mix
            Bokrand GmbH pocket mig , 110v
            Clarke 101E stick , 110v
            Craftsman 10" drill press
            Craftsman 12" bandsaw
            HF 12 ton hydraulic press
            Black Max 6hp 60gal air compressor
            2 4 1/2" grinders
            Porter Cable 1410 ,cold cut chop saw
            Makita 14" ,abrasive chop saw
            50ft 8/3 extension cord
            Makita saw
            Arctic Cat generator with adapter cable for welder.
            Eastwood 135 mig 110v , 20cf bottle C-25 mix


            • #7
              I Had A HF For 4 or 5 Years, Worked Ok But.

              Mine was ok for arc welding and was a godsend from the old type. When I got a mig it didn't work so well. OK but had some problems with seeing the puddle anything like well. These days you can get a decent one for around $100 if you shop around give or take a few bucks. You will like it a lot better in the long run. I noticed the issues with mine when I was doing light stuff, burning holes having it not brighten as fast as I would have liked in direct sunlight, just little stuff like that. Its not enough to drive you crazy but the irritation factor builds with time
              The worst part is since it works you tend to put up with it long term, its sort of like an itch you cant quite scratch.


              • #8
                You know I had a $49 Harbor Freight one like you did for 3-4 years worked fine. Then I found I needed a "cheater" magnifying lens, no place to mount inside. So ended up buying a Miller Pro/Hobby for 3 times as much. Frankly the HF one worked just great and was always on, the Miller I have to remember to press the button to turn on, and then it goes off after a while when not used.

                If the new HF or Northern Tool had clips for the cheater lens, I'd buy one in a heartbeat. Gave my old one away.
                Master Electrician
                Journeyman Refrigeration Pipefitter
                Semi-pro/Hobby Welder
                Hobart Handler 140
                MakerGear M2 3D Printer


                • #9
                  Originally posted by JimDon View Post
                  The only problem I've had with the cheaper hood is it won't keep up with you worth a $hit if you're tigging.
                  Jim, could you please elaborate on this? What exactly your helmet doesn't do that makes it different from more expensive ones? And what do you personally use for TIGing?


                  • #10
                    Hi guys. I don't have as much experience and what most may do in a day, I'd weld in a few months but heres my take. I've used the HF hood out at the inlaws for a few years now. It worked good(?). Now that I picked up a 125EZ so I don't have to drive 1.5h for some simple welds I needed a helmet. Got my own from HF. Seemed ok but couldn't see my welds worth a darn. Figured out the lcd had a bad spot. Returned it for another. Same problem. Top 1/3 is good, bottom 1/3 is good but right in the middle it was about a shade 12. To check the lcd put the helmet on and look at a bright light. Now trigger the hood with a inferred TV remote. Easy to see the bad spots this way. Had enough with the HF helmets and got a Miller Prohobby. For me financially that is a BIG purchase. Glad I did because there IS a big difference in clarity. Maybe I just have bad luck and got the only 2 that had problems. I've read alot here where everyone has the HF helmets and likes them but I can't say I agree. Try one out to see if it works and do a side by side with a better quality one.


                    • #11
                      Tig problem

                      Yes, the HF hood I have just can't seem to make up it's mind when using a Tig torch. It will darken, and then lighten up and then darken and lighten up again, over and over, all the while with only very small changes in foot power to the Tig torch. Ended up just using a fixed shade hood for Tig work.
                      Jim Don


                      • #12
                        There are so many options when it comes to helmets it's staggering. I saw this one advertised and wondered if anyone has any first hand knowledge of it's claims?


                        HTP is a pretty reputable company in respects to their machines. What I liked was the plasma cutter setting on it and the TIG claims might interest others. They sell these so their students can TIG,because some helmets won't react correctly using TIG(so they say) others have noted this fact with some helmets.

                        I didn't see a price on their website,but I think it's around $80 shipped although that may have been an ebay only price(I looked it up--Ebay item#140300492069). It looks to be a step above the HF & Northern Tool helmets for not a lot more $$$$. The ebay listing gives a much better description than the HTP website. I noticed similar looking helmets on ebay(#250389202381) listed for less money,but don't know if they have the same features as the HTP helmets.

                        I just saw this the other day(I've no connection with HTP--BTW) and although I've got 3 AD helmets already...this one looks interesting because it fits most needs...I can always sell one to upgrade..LOL...any excuse for another tool.
                        Last edited by mudbug; 03-13-2009, 03:32 PM.


                        • #13
                          Thanks, Jim!


                          • #14
                            HF welding Helmet

                            Hi there

                            I'm more of a hobby welder. I have a HF hood that I use for really small jobs or for tacking. I have had two problems with it. The first problem is, when I put the helmet down the adjustment knob for the darkness would turn and I wouldn't realize it. I have to look at the knob every time I put it on. The knob turns so easily that it keeps moving to a darker setting.

                            The second problem (because I wear bi-focals) I would have to look through the bottom of my glasses to weld. To do this you have to have the helmet close to your face. Then the lens fogs up. I have to hold my breath when I weld with it. It's the first helmet I ever had so I'm still attached to it.

                            I have a flip-up that I use if I do a lot of welding. It doubles as a grinding shield. Of course, I have safety glasses underneath.

                            Hope that helps.
                            D i c k


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by RickCHowe View Post
                              The first problem is, when I put the helmet down the adjustment knob for the darkness would turn and I wouldn't realize it.
                              If there was ever a situation more tailor-made for a piece of duct tape, I can't imagine what it would be
                              Trailblazer 302 * Millermatic 212 * Syncrowave 180SD * X-Treme 12VS Feeder * Spoolmate 3035
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                              Victor Superrange II * Victor Journeyman

                              Hobart HH 125EZ