Post By brmorgan
Auto Darkening Welding Helmet - USA Made
It's time for me to hang up my 1979 welding helmet and upgrade to an auto-darkening helmet. I don't do much welding any more, just small projects couple times a year so I don't need a really expensive one. It's hard to give up a nice USA made helmet for one made in China. Visited Home Depot and their Lincolns ($100 & Up) were all made in China. Funny, their cheap $15 single darkness was made here. Couldn't find if Hobart or Miller were made here, their websites don't say. I'm thinking if they are made in China, everyone's helmets probably come out of the same factory, just have different shapes and configs. Why buy one for hundreds when it may be the same as the WEL-Bilt $50 one.
Anyone know if Miller or Hobart's helmets are made in the USA or some other brand and what price range they are in?
Any suggestions for a decent quality lower price auto darkening helmet? Can't justify hundreds for a new one when I only use it once or twice a year for an hour or two but I'm definetly tired of the old style.
I went through this 7 or 8 months ago. I made up a pretty extensive spreadsheet. Unfortunately can't find it. Called helmet mfgr's, etc. I usually take "Avoiding Buying Chinese" a lot farther than most.
I ended up buying a Jackson helmet. It was the only one that was 100% Made in USA as best I could figure. And in my price range w/ features I wanted. I could certainly get by w/ a cheaper helmet, but I'm just leery of chinese quality standards when it comes to eye safety.
IIRC Speedglass had some domestic content along eith European content. Which I was OK with.
Miller, Hobart, Lincoln IIRC were all from China, Korea. So I crossed them off my list.
I bought a Jackson Pro EQC vari-shade. Nice helmet. It was $179 shipped from Cyberweld, still have the receipt. 100% made in USA as best I could uncover.
They are $184 now... but w/ 20% rebate:
Jackson Welding Helmet - Black Pro Variable Lens 14988
One thing to watch for is dead batteries if you don't use it often. I keep spare batteries in the drawer for my Miller helmet, but for a quick welding job, I still go back to my old hood - I know it will always work.
What about these AD helmets that don't require batteries or have a solar battery? Do those work ok on a dark day or inside a shop?
Originally Posted by BobRenz
The AD I have doesn't care how dark it is, it takes at least a spark to darken it. I've used it inside and at almost night outside and it did well. I got mine at true value cause someone stole my other one. I still use my Always Dark if I have a lot of not critical placement welds cause I know I won't get that 125,000th of a second flash. Then I can bitch when I flash myself before flipping it down.LOL
I have a Sperian Optrel e680 - nicest helmet I've ever used. I believe the company is Swiss, so I don't know if they're made in the USA or not, but I don't think they're from China. I used to use a Miller Elite, but a coworker had this Sperian that he never used anymore and let me try it out, and after a day with it I was sold, and he let me have it for barely half price even though it was still like new. I've also used a topend Lincoln that I borrowed from another coworker once, and the Sperian knocks both out of the park. Not super cheap, around $400, but worth every penny if you weld much, and they do have cheaper models without all the options mine has. Infinitely adjustable shade from DIN 5-13 in two ranges (5-9 and 9-13), so you can use it for very light TIG work all the way up to very heavy arc-gouging and the like. And it has a Grind mode, so with the push of a button it disables the autoshade and stays at DIN-4 for using a cutting torch or angle grinder etc.
I have one of the cheapest adjustable shade 3M Speed glas. Ok its not usa but is made in sweden and has a nice collection of eu + Australian testing standards on its badge. I love it, its so light and nice and small. If i can get my big head through the gap, chances are i can too with the helmet on.
You need to look into the adjustable shade thing too, it varies between makes. The 3M one i have is a constant shade level 13 protection from the nasty damaging frequencies of light, even when its not darkened. Hence for getting to switch it on (powers off after about 30 mins) may leave you dazzled for 30 seconds but totally unharmed.
As to switching times, well the arc does not reach full power instantly any rate. The Hf when tig'ing is enough to get mine to switch. And you could damn near look at those feeble lightening bolts all day! Same goes for mig, the arcs not instant grows gradually hence any switching time really is not noticeable in practice. I have also used a fair few other helmets of differing makes and have never encountered a delayed switch that's not solved by adjusting there sensitivity setting.
That's a damn use full option by the way, especially if you have a forklift with a flashing strobe not rotary beacon type light!
Personally i don't recommend the solar ones. The batteries last years in the speedglas helmets i have been around and are cheep to replace. A lot of the solar ones have moulded in batteries. They can't be replaced when there dead and the odds are good your lid will last long enough for them to die in a occasional - non heavy industrial use environment. All the more so if you keep it wrapped up in the dark! There sort of similar to digital verniers, the good ones have the electronics worked out well and just need the occasional infrequent battery change. The rest can leave a lot to be desired!
Oh just changed the lens and my speedglas lenses have made in Taiwan on the packet :-(
Only other thing i have noticed is that some of them are a lot clearer when not dark than others. It can make a big difference when welding in a darker corner! hence is something else to look for. Im making the assumption that although you want to buy American you don't want to buy rubbish either? Supporting low quality goods manufacturers based solely on location IMHO is just as fast a way to race to the bottom.