Auto darkening helmets have been around for at least 15 years now but the first auto darkening helmets on the market were not worth the matches it would have taken to set them on fire. I remember a vendor leaving an auto darkening welding helmet with me for my review 15 years ago. It gave me so many problems that I think he was embarrassed to come and get it back. I got flashed a lot and the corners of the auto darkening lens did not even darken like they were supposed to. This was no cheap welding helmet either. It sold for around 400 bones. An auto darkening helmet that costs over 400 dollars is not supposed to flash you and have blotchy areas. Fast forward to now, 2008 and there are so many auto darkening helmets available it can make your head spin. Should you buy a top of the line auto darkening helmet and pay over 300 dollars, or should you take a chance on a cheaper one? Are the cheap auto darkening helmets any good? Some are good, but some are junk.
First of all, if you are a hobbyist type welder, getting an auto darkening helmet will make you wonder why you didn’t do it sooner. It makes that much difference. Just being able to see exactly where the gun is pointed before pulling the trigger will save you lots of grinding and will make the whole process be more enjoyable. An auto darkening welding helmet is worth whatever it costs because it will save you so much aggravation. But it is hard to think about forking out 300 bones for a top of the line auto darkening welding helmet you might only use once a month.
- If you weld for a living, dont even consider the cost, just get the best helmet, with the best features, the most reputable brand with the best warranty.
- But if you are a hobbyist welder, or just want to buy an extra welding helmet for home use, here are a few suggestions to help you decide what to do:
- Once you decide you are going to get one make sure to check out the specs on any auto darkening helmet you are considering,
- Really good auto darkening helmets darken in 1 – 25000ths of a second, stay away from anything less.
Also, get one that is adjustable from 9-13 shade. If you have not done much welding, you will not know how sensitive your eyes are to welding. A shade 10 is standard for all around hobby use but I have known people whose eyes hurt after welding with a 10 shade. They needed an 11 or 12 shade to be comfortable. If you opt for a fixed shade 10 and it is not dark enough. Your are kind of screwed!
Sensitivity and delay settings are a must so that you can make the proper adjustments when welding outdoors or in poor lighting conditions.
A delay feature comes in handy in keeping you from getting flashed. By setting the delay, if something gets in the way of your light sensors, having a delay set will alloy the sensors to pick up the light signal again before you get flashed.
My chiropractor once told me a story about when he was in Chiropractic College: The professor displayed an x-ray of a mans neck that was terribly damaged and misaligned. Turns out it was the neck of a welder who had been nodding his heavy welding helmet down for years and years. I can relate. My neck ain’t feeling all that great these days. That’s probably why I own 4 different auto darkening helmets. A Jackson NexGen, a Huntsman 1105VLS with 951p helmet, a Huntsman Turbo, and now I also own a Northern Tool auto darkening welding hood with really cool flames. I use all of them. An Auto Darkening Helmet review can be seen here.
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