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Indy-Guy (Forum Jock Strap)
Indy-Guy (Forum Jock Strap) PowerDork
5/9/20 9:05 a.m.

My 15 year old Harbor Freight Auto-darkening welding helmet needs replaced. It isn't switching on properly and drops out while welding.  I want to protect my eyes better.  What's your recommendation for a good helmet at a reasonable cost? 

¯\_(ツ)_/¯ PowerDork
5/9/20 9:11 a.m.

I had the Harbor Freight auto darkening helmet and experienced that same failure after about a year.  Then I had an Antra helmet which was great but got flaky after about 3 years.  I currently use a regular old Hobart fixed shade helmet because I got really, really tired of blinding myself by surprise mid-project.  I wouldn't mind another auto darkening helmet, in for answers.

My only useful recommendation is to have a backup regular helmet regardless.

ultraclyde (Forum Supporter)
ultraclyde (Forum Supporter) UltimaDork
5/9/20 9:11 a.m.

I had an issue with my HF AD mask too. I bought one of the large window Kobalt ones from Lowes because I could get it local the afternoon I needed it and the price was reasonable.  I like it a lot better but I don't really weld that much.

You do have to remember to turn it on...had spots for a couple days from that mistake.

Dusterbd13-michael MegaDork
5/9/20 9:15 a.m.

Im still using the harbor freight. On the third or fourth in the last decade. But i weld pretty often. 

Patrick (Forum Supporter)
Patrick (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
5/9/20 9:24 a.m.

Go to tractor supply and get a hobart one

Crackers Dork
5/9/20 9:53 a.m.

I bought a Hobart "Creator" a while back when my last one crapped out on me. I'm really happy with it. Really comfortable rigging and doesn't have to be adjusted constantly to stay up. It's a dual function helmet with grind mode, but I don't use it often because the switch is on the inside and I invariably forget to switch it back to weld mode and try to melt my eyeballs. 

I forget who made it, but I think my next helmet is going to be one of the dual functions with the switch on the outside at the temple. 

I think I still have my HF mask, somewhere. I quit using it because what such terrible response time I was still getting "arc-eye" when welding sheet metal. That tiny blast wasn't really a concern for doing larger pieces where it's not constantly switching but getting hit with it every 3 seconds was certainly problematic. 

1988RedT2 MegaDork
5/9/20 10:04 a.m.

I'm on my second H-F helmet.  I upgraded to the Blue Flame model, which gives you some cool stickers. laugh  How much is the Hobart one?  It would be cool if it matched my welder.

5/9/20 11:26 a.m.

I know they are not cheap, but the Lincoln Viking series is calling to me as my next helmet. The view through the lens is supposed to be more "natural" than the green tint we are used to. If anyone here has real world experience with this helmet, I wouldl like to hear your thoughts.

Brotus7 HalfDork
5/9/20 11:31 a.m.

I have the entry level Miller auto dimming helmet after my cheapo autodimmer broke.  Picked it up late 2007/early 2008.  Still use it regularly.  The speed and filter adjustments are nice and it plays well with the TIG.  I do want to upgrade to newer model with a bigger window and 4 sensors instead of 2 though.

A good thing is that the lens has a UV filter, so you aren't frying your eyeballs when it doesn't dim, but the mask is still done fer at that point.

Care and feeding... I don't know if it's actually helpful, but I store the mask in my basement when it's not used.  I heard some wives tale about cold doing damage to the auto dimming mechanism and bought in. 

Trent (Generally supportive dude)
Trent (Generally supportive dude) PowerDork
5/9/20 11:56 a.m.

I bought an ESAB  sentinel a50 a while back and the true color lens was a revelation compared to the weldcote klearview I had previously thought was awesome 

I will admit I find the the video game inspired look a bit embarrassing,  but at least it doesn't have skulls or flames or flags with eagles brandishing bloody talons emblazoned upon it. 

You can seriously make colored sharpie lines on the metal and tell the difference between red and black and green WHILE WELDING! 

It is expensive but has a 3 year warranty and I weld everyday for work.

Just yesterday I could not find it (someone borrowed it without asking) and I pulled out my backup never used weldcote. I honestly thought I wouldn't be able to TIG aluminum with it anymore.  I was that spoiled by the sentinel.  


Rodan Dork
5/9/20 3:41 p.m.

I've been using the new HF Vulcan 'ArcSafe' helmet for a while now, and it's way better than my original HF auto darkening helmet.  Pretty happy with it so far.


matthewmcl (Forum Supporter)
matthewmcl (Forum Supporter) Reader
5/9/20 4:16 p.m.

I just got one of these at Praxair (their house brand) for $103.  Warranty on the autodark filter is 2 years.

5/9/20 4:18 p.m.

In reply to Trent (Generally supportive dude) :

Guess I will answer my own question. Just ordered the Lincoln 3350 Viking.

aircooled MegaDork
5/9/20 4:52 p.m.

I had a cheap HF auto darkening, bought a similar Lincoln. Guess which one failed first?  The Lincoln.  I currently have the HF Vulcan (wide view).  Nicer than the cheap ones.

I figure a lot of these helmets are made in the same factories anyway.

Indy-Guy (Forum Jock Strap)
Indy-Guy (Forum Jock Strap) PowerDork
5/9/20 6:12 p.m.

Thanks for all the suggestions everyone.  I'm going to check into that Hobart one Patrick and Crackers endorsed:  TSC listed for $59.99



pimpm3 (Forum Supporter)
pimpm3 (Forum Supporter) UltraDork
5/9/20 7:32 p.m.

I have a Lincoln viking.  I like it much better than the HF helmet I replaced with it.

My eyes started really bothering me with the HF helmet.

oldopelguy (Forum Supporter)
oldopelguy (Forum Supporter) UberDork
5/9/20 7:37 p.m.

In reply to Trent (Generally supportive dude) :

I have had that ESAB helmet in my Amazon cart for almost a year trying to justify spending the $. Now I am just a little bit closer to doing it...

wawazat Dork
5/9/20 7:45 p.m.

I've got an older Jackson automatic that worked well.  Sold my welders in 2008 so I haven't used it in years.  Hope a new welder comes my way again.  

Trent (Generally supportive dude)
Trent (Generally supportive dude) PowerDork
5/9/20 8:01 p.m.

In reply to oldopelguy (Forum Supporter) :

I will warn you. The consumable lens on the front is a lot more expensive than most welding helmet replacement lenses and it is so big and rounded that it will get scratched up even if you are super careful. 

I like the view out of that big round lens though

bigdaddylee82 UltraDork
5/10/20 12:39 a.m.

I had used a cheap one from TSC years ago, and was going to buy a cheap one from HF, but SWMBO pointed out that I've only got the one set of eyes, so I got a Miller Digital Elite. I would have picked the Lincoln Viking for the larger lens if it had something similar to Miller's X-Mode.  I'm very happy with my Digital Elite, and think that the quality, reliability, and X-Mode are worth the premium price.  

Like SWMBO said, you've only got the one pair of eyes, take care of them. I use a lot of HF and similar cheap tools, but a welding helmet is worth buying quality.

fasted58 MegaDork
5/10/20 1:27 a.m.

In reply to bigdaddylee82 :

Agreed on the Miller Digital Elite.

jerrysarcastic (Forum Supporter)
jerrysarcastic (Forum Supporter) New Reader
5/11/20 11:37 p.m.
NOHOME said:

I know they are not cheap, but the Lincoln Viking series is calling to me as my next helmet. The view through the lens is supposed to be more "natural" than the green tint we are used to. If anyone here has real world experience with this helmet, I wouldl like to hear your thoughts.

I have one of these, and while I don’t do a ton of welding, I can definitely say that it has been worth every penny so far.  I like the blue tint better, and as expensive as it is, your eyesight is priceless. I don’t feel like that is something I will ever trust to some cheap off-brand welding helmet.

EDIT: I forgot to mention that the lens does seem nice and sharp, and the view does feel a bit brighter. I’m not sure how much of that is better optics or psychology, but getting rid of the deep green tint is pretty nice.


Indy- "Nub" Guy
Indy- "Nub" Guy PowerDork
5/15/20 6:18 p.m.

Picked this up tonight.

Hopefully, actually being able to see, will improve my welding.

jfryjfry (Forum Supporter)
jfryjfry (Forum Supporter) Dork
5/16/20 10:00 a.m.

That esab sounds great.  I could be convinced to drop extra money on it but in a little research I found this video that seems to point out some really interesting drawbacks. 



i will probably get another Lincoln but the description of how you can see the material is really tempting on the sentinel

Fitzauto Dork
5/16/20 10:17 a.m.

I really like the HF Vulcan helmet. Have 2 of them and they haven't let me down yet.

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