Thinking About a Welding Helmet

Discussion in 'Hangar Talk' started by Ted DuPuis, Jan 31, 2019.

  1. Ted DuPuis

    Ted DuPuis Administrator Management Council Member

    Joined:
    Oct 9, 2007
    Messages:
    24,111
    Location:
    Paola, KS
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    iBanYou
    I don't weld very much, although I expect at some point I'll get some better equipment and get into it more. I also have my oxy-acetylene torches I use, and my grinder.

    Right now I have a crappy Harbor Freight welding helmet. It does the job but the head bands have broken so now it doesn't stay up or down anymore, and will just flop down until it hits my nose. Very annoying. Time for a new one, and the kids can hold that one to watch me.

    I'm thinking this time I want to get a better quality welding helmet, something that will last. I also don't know how much a good welding helmet costs or what are good brands.

    So, to the welders out there who actually know this stuff, what are some good options? Or should I just get another cheaper one? Function wise I don't imagine there's much difference and realistically I still don't use it much.
     
  2. timwinters

    timwinters Ejection Handle Pulled PoA Supporter

    Joined:
    Feb 23, 2008
    Messages:
    12,889
    Location:
    Conway, MO
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    LTD
    Auto dimming? The cheaper ones have fewer sensors so, if you have them blocked/shielded from the rod when you strike an arc, your eyes will get flashed.
     
  3. DFH65

    DFH65 Pattern Altitude

    Joined:
    Jun 29, 2013
    Messages:
    1,718
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    DFH65
    Just a recommendation. First let me say I am just now trying to teach myself to weld and have almost zero experience. Having said that always wear polycarbonate safety glasses as well as the welding helmet. They provide 100% UV protection that way even if you or someone else messes up you will stand a better chance of not getting flashed and burning your eyeballs up.
     
  4. EdFred

    EdFred Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

    Joined:
    Feb 25, 2005
    Messages:
    22,073
    Location:
    Michigan
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    Ed Frederick
    I swore that said wedding helmet, and I was thinking, what the hell is going on in Kansas?
     
    JOhnH likes this.
  5. Tom-D

    Tom-D Taxi to Parking PoA Supporter

    Joined:
    Feb 23, 2005
    Messages:
    31,215
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    Tom-D
  6. -KLB-

    -KLB- Pre-takeoff checklist

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2018
    Messages:
    209
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    -KLB-
    I've used an entry level Miller for quite a while. So far my only gripe is that part of it is solar powered, so if it has sat for a couple weeks in the shade, it needs some time in the sun to get started, but it still also takes a battery that is a pain to change.

    The absolute most important part of an auto dark helmet is how good the IR/UV blocking capability really is. Filtering those basically forms a band pass filter that only passes visible light, and blocks over 99% of the arc energy, even when it isn't in dark mode. So even if you get a failure to go dark, it isn't anything like unprotected exposure.

    Knowing that, I tend to prefer to stick to name brand, where they are more likely to stay on top of their filters living up to spec. Miller, speedglass, etc.
     
  7. Tom-D

    Tom-D Taxi to Parking PoA Supporter

    Joined:
    Feb 23, 2005
    Messages:
    31,215
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    Tom-D
    Our local "Miller supply" allowed me to try several type / brands, I couldn't tell the difference, with the exception of the window size.
     
  8. -KLB-

    -KLB- Pre-takeoff checklist

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2018
    Messages:
    209
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    -KLB-
    I will add that 90% of my welding is either at a bench or laid out in the driveway, working from above. I have only once found a case where both arc sensors were blocked. I have found several times where the larger view window would be good to have. So if I ever replace mine, I'll go for the larger window and 4 sensors, but won't replace mine just to get those features.

    If one is doing more than a small amount of awkward position welding, I would consider large viewing area and 4 sensor pretty much required.
     
    Last edited: Jan 31, 2019
  9. Tom-D

    Tom-D Taxi to Parking PoA Supporter

    Joined:
    Feb 23, 2005
    Messages:
    31,215
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    Tom-D
    99% of my welding is on the table, simply putting some thing back together so I can use it as a template, or filling a hole so it can be re-drilled
     
  10. wrbix

    wrbix Pattern Altitude

    Joined:
    Jul 25, 2013
    Messages:
    1,663
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    Pilot Lite
    In my limited welding experience, IRT helmets the quality across the board and the cost for helmets have increased and plummeted respectively impressively over last few years. Spent approx $100 on my first a number of years ago which was a POS that wouldn’t stay put/still gave me gritty-eye/finally just stopped working.
    Saw a Metal Man (I think) brand on sale for about $30 at Tractor Supply to replace it and its like a quantum leap in quality.
     
  11. cgrab

    cgrab Pattern Altitude

    Joined:
    May 2, 2014
    Messages:
    1,609
    Location:
    Huntsville AL
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    cgrab
    I weld in the driveway and haven't had a problem with being flashed. I do check to see that the neighbors aren't nearby before I start. I keep my helmet and gloves in a mesh bag and hang it so the window battery can get charged between uses.
     
  12. airdale

    airdale Pattern Altitude

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2007
    Messages:
    1,600
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    airdale
    I do TIG only and use a conventional helmet with conventional glass. I would like very much to go to auto-dimming but I value my eyesight and absolutely will not buy anything that is not name brand, top quality. But for the amount of welding I do, I can't justify that price point. So it's conventional glass for me.
     
  13. -KLB-

    -KLB- Pre-takeoff checklist

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2018
    Messages:
    209
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    -KLB-
    How often do you find that you have struck arc outside your intended area? Or had an unstable start from change in arc length while flipping down the hood? For me, for MIG, the improvement in weld start geometry was worth every penny of the $200 entry level Miller helmet. I've had several other low hour welders comment that they couldn't believe how much it helped them make better looking welds. I'm also aware of very high hour welders, pro and otherwise who put welding robots to shame, and refuse to switch from a conventional helmet. So it is very personal, but just providing food for though on ways one might help you.
     
  14. eman1200

    eman1200 Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

    Joined:
    Mar 10, 2013
    Messages:
    11,178
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    eman1200
    I’d like to use a welding helmet as a view-limiting device for IR training.
     
  15. Shawn

    Shawn En-Route

    Joined:
    May 6, 2013
    Messages:
    3,532
    Location:
    Santa Cruz, CA
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    Shawn
    As a fellow weekend warrior welder...sounds like you just need a decent mid range helmet. There are cheapie like HF then there are the top of the line auto dimming, neither sound like great idea for what you need.

    Just google "welding supply" and places like Praxair should pop up locally. Those shops tend to have good "working man" quality gear which will be better than the chain store crap.
     
  16. Crashnburn

    Crashnburn Pre-takeoff checklist

    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2018
    Messages:
    326
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    Crashnburn
    A couple things. I welded a little bit ages ago with a conventional glass helmet. The trick was to get the rod end close to the work and nod your head so the helmet came down just before the arc started.

    As far as Bottom of the Harbor Freight. It's a good place to buy stuff that looks like it might be useful, cheap. If you use it enough to wear it out, then it's worth buying something a lot better quality.
     
  17. Ted DuPuis

    Ted DuPuis Administrator Management Council Member

    Joined:
    Oct 9, 2007
    Messages:
    24,111
    Location:
    Paola, KS
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    iBanYou
    That's more or less what I have and why I'm looking at a replacement. There's a local AirGas that I go to for oxy-acetylene refills and they have some helmets around, but I do want something with some fun imagery on the sides, think like WW2 bomber girl artwork (that's what's on most of my Harley t-shirts that my wife buys me).
     
  18. Lantraxco

    Lantraxco Pre-takeoff checklist

    Joined:
    Dec 23, 2018
    Messages:
    156
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    OldNewbie
    Lincoln Viking, get the 3350 in whatever flame or camo decoration you like. I picked the stylish basic black emblazoned with "Lincoln", but that's just the way I roll. They're typically $300-$400, I did the sad puppy dog act at my local welding shop, got one for around $265. Lots of adjustments, large viewing area, amazing clarity, inner and outer replaceable plastics that are very easy to change. Try one you'll love it, should last you for many years.
     
  19. Ryanb

    Ryanb Final Approach PoA Supporter

    Joined:
    Jul 21, 2010
    Messages:
    8,894
    Location:
    Tennessee
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    Ryan
    I think George was the one who suggested one of these.

    AFEE2E1F-D568-4C8C-8566-C405CC91F658.jpeg
     
  20. Lantraxco

    Lantraxco Pre-takeoff checklist

    Joined:
    Dec 23, 2018
    Messages:
    156
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    OldNewbie
    TIG is a whole different world, I always compare it more to gas torch welding than MIG or stick. Flip the helmet down, turn on the nice fuzzy arc light, then apply heat where you like and find the end of the filler stick, lol.
     
  21. Capt. Geoffrey Thorpe

    Capt. Geoffrey Thorpe Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

    Joined:
    Jun 7, 2008
    Messages:
    10,943
    Location:
    DXO124009
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    Light and Sporty Guy
  22. Half Fast

    Half Fast En-Route

    Joined:
    May 7, 2016
    Messages:
    3,313
    Location:
    Central Florida
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    Half Fast

    I use a HF auto-darkening helmet, but flipping a conventional helmet down isn't that big a deal. My Lincoln MIG keeps the wire cold until I squeeze the trigger, so I can touch the wire to the joint exactly where I want to start the weld, flip down a helmet, and pull the trigger. But the auto-dark is certainly convenient, and if I were stick welding it would be more important.
     
  23. Ted DuPuis

    Ted DuPuis Administrator Management Council Member

    Joined:
    Oct 9, 2007
    Messages:
    24,111
    Location:
    Paola, KS
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    iBanYou
    I think Canadians make the best YouTube videos out there.

    Useful info. I may stop by Praxair later today and check out what they have in the shop.
     
  24. airdale

    airdale Pattern Altitude

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2007
    Messages:
    1,600
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    airdale
    Just remember, you were only issued one set of eyes. Buy quality. Sorry to sound like an old lady on this.
     
  25. lbfd101

    lbfd101 Pre-Flight

    Joined:
    Oct 11, 2009
    Messages:
    34
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    Rodney
    I use a Miller Digital Elite, bought it a couple of years ago as a birthday gift to myself after using a Harbor Freight auto darkening shield for several years. The Miller was a major improvement in viewing area and sensor response. Also has X mode which triggers off the electromagnetic field of the welding arc instead of the light, this works well when welding in bright sunlight where the shield tends to darken whenever looking in the direction of the sunlight. The latest trend seems to be in clear lens technology with less of the green tint in the darkened lens. Miller is currently offering a $50 rebate on the Digital Elite shield through, I believe, 3/31/19.
     
  26. Ted DuPuis

    Ted DuPuis Administrator Management Council Member

    Joined:
    Oct 9, 2007
    Messages:
    24,111
    Location:
    Paola, KS
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    iBanYou
    I agree. I already notice that I need more light to read small text than I used to.
     
  27. Half Fast

    Half Fast En-Route

    Joined:
    May 7, 2016
    Messages:
    3,313
    Location:
    Central Florida
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    Half Fast

    Seems to be a trend, and I doubt it's your eyes.

    Has anyone else noticed that the text in books and magazines seems to be smaller and smaller these days? Also, everyone seems to speak so quietly lately that I can barely hear them. Not only that, but staircases seem to be getting steeper and longer. And I swear, there are now hills where I never noticed any before; must be tectonic plate movement. Not to mention that stores seem to be putting their entrances farther and farther away from the parking lots. And it's no wonder kids don't get enough exercise any more; the bicycles today are much harder to pedal than when I was a kid. The whole world seems to be going to the dogs, and even the dogs don't seem to live as long as they used to.....
     
    StevieTimes and Ted DuPuis like this.
  28. Ted DuPuis

    Ted DuPuis Administrator Management Council Member

    Joined:
    Oct 9, 2007
    Messages:
    24,111
    Location:
    Paola, KS
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    iBanYou
    The worst part is, those damn kids just won't get off my lawn! That was never a problem when I was a kid.*

    *I was raised in Manhattan where there were no lawns. We had concrete to mow
     
    Half Fast likes this.
  29. Lantraxco

    Lantraxco Pre-takeoff checklist

    Joined:
    Dec 23, 2018
    Messages:
    156
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    OldNewbie
    I disagree completely with the premise that the speed of the auto darkening is not important. The whole purpose of the system is obviously to limit the eye's exposure to overly bright visible light. A clear glass lens will most likely block enough UV and IR to keep your eyes safe, so why do we need the dark lens? Anybody that's used one of these helmets in a confined area where the sensors are blocked knows that a short arc flash through the undarkened lens is damaging to the eyes, because you see spots for quite a while after.

    Here's another tip, some of us have eyes that are sensitive enough to light that the shade adjustment is non-intuitive. If you have trouble seeing what you're welding, try turning the shade darker. Too light a shade will cause your pupils to constrict in an attempt to reduce the light exposure, going darker allows the pupils to dilate opening up a larger field on the retina. I typically run stick at 10 or above, bare wire about 11, dual shield at 12, and with metal core around 250 amps I have the helmet maxed out at 13. You have to find the sweet spot, but go darker first and then back it down. Kinda like LOP adjustment, hey an aviation reference!
     
  30. Lantraxco

    Lantraxco Pre-takeoff checklist

    Joined:
    Dec 23, 2018
    Messages:
    156
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    OldNewbie
    Actually text IS smaller, on almost everything, because they came up with ways to print smaller. When my ten year old has to have a large magnifier to read me the instructions on the box, I know it ain't just my failing eyes, it really IS small print!
     
    Half Fast likes this.
  31. -KLB-

    -KLB- Pre-takeoff checklist

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2018
    Messages:
    209
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    -KLB-
    I've noticed that the longer I'm working on some project on the floor, the more some A**hole comes along and turns up gravity. Like it wasn't tough enough to get back up the first time.
     
    Half Fast and biplanebob like this.
  32. Tom-D

    Tom-D Taxi to Parking PoA Supporter

    Joined:
    Feb 23, 2005
    Messages:
    31,215
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    Tom-D
    I know how that feels, the floor gets lower each year.
     
  33. Joey4420

    Joey4420 Pre-takeoff checklist

    Joined:
    Nov 30, 2016
    Messages:
    177
    Location:
    Cincinnati Ohio
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    Joey4420
    I bought this https://store.cyberweld.com/hohoweheblxv1.html for my son when he went to Hobart welding school almost 2 years ago. He still uses it everyday and says it works amazing, he is now a full time welder and uses it for hours everyday.
     
  34. JCranford

    JCranford Pattern Altitude

    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2015
    Messages:
    2,343
    Location:
    North TX
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    JCranford
    Go get a decent Miller auto darkening. I’ve used the HF ones and the Miller one kicks it’s a$$. Spent about $200 I think. I’m mainly tig, but when I’m working on our fighting belts I’m welding for a couple hours at a time. Being able to see what you’re doing is very helpful!
     
  35. Half Fast

    Half Fast En-Route

    Joined:
    May 7, 2016
    Messages:
    3,313
    Location:
    Central Florida
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    Half Fast
    And harder. Floors are much harder than when I was a kid. Makes it hurt more when you fall down.
     
  36. Ted DuPuis

    Ted DuPuis Administrator Management Council Member

    Joined:
    Oct 9, 2007
    Messages:
    24,111
    Location:
    Paola, KS
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    iBanYou
    I’ve had the misfortune of falling on my back a couple times in the past few months. One while ice skating and once when a shelf I was getting something down from in the garage fell and knocked me off a ladder.

    Both ice and concrete are harder than they were 20 years ago, and the recovery is longer. I also sat around after falling for a minute or two, trying to figure if I’d broken anything (fortunately the answer was no).
     
  37. Lantraxco

    Lantraxco Pre-takeoff checklist

    Joined:
    Dec 23, 2018
    Messages:
    156
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    OldNewbie
    Yep... used to be my first reaction after a tumble was to jump straight up and nonchalantly check to see if anyone caught the acrobatics... These days I tend to stay quite still whilst pondering my next move, if any.
     
  38. LongRoadBob

    LongRoadBob Cleared for Takeoff

    Joined:
    Feb 26, 2016
    Messages:
    1,034
    Location:
    Oslo, Norway
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    Jacker
    I was going to write the same thing. Just read and also thought it was “wedding helmet”, but it triggered me to think “what a great idea!”
     
  39. Briar Rabbit

    Briar Rabbit Pre-takeoff checklist

    Joined:
    Mar 22, 2017
    Messages:
    330
    Location:
    Albion, Nebraska
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    Rob
    Ted, You might try Matheson Tri Gas, they are located on Front Street in KC. They work very closely with Miller. Suggest you ask for Steve Theesen, he has been around a long time & very knowledgeable. I know he will make good suggestions and try to meet your needs and price. Miller has several models and price ranges to choose from. The local Miller factory rep for KC is Ted Drower but I think Steve will be able to help you adequately. Rob
     
    Ted DuPuis likes this.
  40. asechrest

    asechrest En-Route

    Joined:
    May 28, 2012
    Messages:
    4,588
    Location:
    Tampa Bay
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    asechrest
    I just spent the second of three evenings in a beginner welding class at the local city metal arts center. We're doing MIG. The helmets available at the shop are HF auto-darkening models, I believe the sub $50 range.

    I've had a decent amount of trouble with finding the sweet spot on the darkening setting. If I'm watching someone weld from afar it doesn't darken enough to make out anything but a bright green blob. If I'm the one welding, it does alright. But tonight we were practicing a vertical inside corner weld and I kept getting "flashed" at arc start and it would take a minute or two for the bright spot to clear my eyes. At first, I thought it had something to do with the inside corner reflecting the light more brightly. But I think positioning also might have something to do with it, because looking straight down at the arc was worse than looking more horizontally.

    Anyway, I'll be investing in a mid-range helmet for my own hobby purposes.