Anyone using an Auto Darkening Helmet?

Discussion in 'Metal Boat Building' started by Jeff D., Nov 17, 2004.

  1. Jeff D.

    Jeff D. Guest

    Constanly wiggling into tight spaces as I weld out my 19' aluminum bay boat has got me looking at auto darkening welding helmets, and I wondered if anyone here has experiences (good or bad) that they might share. In particular I want to satisfy myself that whatever helmet I buy will perform well with the relatively high current settings and High Frequency of aluminum TIG welding.

    I am currently leaning toward the Miller Big Window Elite because at about $219 it seems to have good reaction speed, variable dark shade, 4 light sensors, and the largest viewing window that I've found for the price. I would especially like to hear from anyone who has used this helmet.


  2. Wynand N
    Joined: Oct 2004
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    Wynand N Retired Steelboatbuilder

    Hi Jeff D :)

    I have not used the Miller BW Elite but a similar type of auto shade helmuts. The problems I experienced with auto shading, especially with TIG, is that the initial arch beats the lense and find it irritating. The other problem is actually in tight spaces where you want to use it! is that the sensor gets "blinded" by an obstruction and you get a full flash unexpected - not funny really.

    I am back on my general purpose helmut. Remember, when welding TIG, use a F12 (local description) shaded lense as for a F10 shade for normal arc welding.

    Good points, extra pair of hands

    Wynand Nortje
  3. Arrowmarine
    Joined: Jul 2004
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    Arrowmarine Senior Member

    I have used the miller elite. The lense cracked after two months. Not sure how, so I cant say it was faulty. It is comfortable and has a big window, but the sensitivity controls are a little lacking. Bright shop lighting can be a nuisance as it sometimes triggers the lense. I went to the Hornell Speedglas 9002x. I love it. Super light and comfortable. Very versatile settings and very good for tig welding stuff like stainless which still has a very bright glow even after the arc is stopped. Shade adjustable from 9-13. $325
  4. paulm

    paulm Guest

    I tried a less costly unit at about 150 and it lasted only 6 months. Replaced it with a Optrel with great sensitivity adjustable shades 5 to 13. I use it for tig and mig, steel, aluminum and SS. two months old and going strong. seems you get what you pay for. the Optrel was about 300.
  5. Jeff D.

    Jeff D. Guest

    Thanks all for your input. I'm just not sure if I can justify the $220, much less $300+ for an auto darkening helmet. I don't mean that I would trust my eyes to a really cheap helmet. I'm just wondering if auto darkening is really that much more comfortable / easy to use than my existing fixed lens.

    Jeff D.
  6. CWA
    Joined: Aug 2004
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    CWA Junior Member

    25 years as a boilermaker i use one all the time tig helmet i payed $700 aus
    no problems
  7. AlaskaFisherman
    Joined: Dec 2004
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    AlaskaFisherman Junior Member

    They do free up a hand and I find that great since I work by my self a lot on small projects. I only weld steel and aluminum - no tig. Have used two Phantom's and one Phantom Electro L10. One of the first Phantom's lasted about a year of part time use. I am a do-it- yourselfer so run time is a lot lower that earning a living.
  8. SolomonGrundy
    Joined: Feb 2005
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    SolomonGrundy I'm not crazy...

    Optrel Sattelite.
    Nothing better. Period.
  9. Arrowmarine
    Joined: Jul 2004
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    Arrowmarine Senior Member

    I debated on buying an Optrel Sattelite but for some reason it just never felt right to me. I will say I LOVED the headgear on the Optrel. Nicest I've seen. Also, It's a great deal for the money($269 in the Pac. NW) Loaded with features and fully adjustable. Great hood but like I say, I personally did not feel comfortable with it.
    My 2 cents, Joey
  10. mabelsgift
    Joined: Feb 2005
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    mabelsgift Junior Member

    I use an optrel, love it. always works well. I only do arc welding is easy positions because I am still learning to weld, having only worked with others on a few steel hulls but myn optrel is now more than a year old and no problems yet.
  11. cyclops
    Joined: Feb 2005
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    cyclops Senior Member

    Jeff. Go to a local welding supplier and ask for a couple of minutes with one. Should be no problem for the $ of the hood.----------Bring your own plates so you can check it's blind angles.
  12. saeble
    Joined: Mar 2005
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    saeble Junior Member


    or be a ******

    your choice :p
  13. Jeffscarstrucks
    Joined: Oct 2005
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    Jeffscarstrucks New Member

    Well I really don't much feel like a ******....(lol) But I do like my Optrel Satellite. I also would have liked the Miller BWE but it wasn't out when I bought mine. I am spoiled by the simplicity of seeing before i am ready to go that a normal nod-down would drive me crazy now! Good Luck:cool: , JEFF

  14. saeble
    Joined: Mar 2005
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    saeble Junior Member

    one tip for Optrel masks, get some very thin strips of double sided tape and stick an additional plastic lens to the inside lens of your mask. Some very clever designer decided that no-one would leave thier mask close to a welder and no-one would get hot welding debris on the thin glass on the inside of the mask...

    this was a standard mod for the people I knew whom insisted on using Optrel masks. I liked the Optrels but I wanted to marry the Speedglas helms..:p

    They no longer have a choice at my former employer, everyone uses Speedglas if they want the 50% rebate off the purchase price from the employer anyways. Speedglas is also the specific choice of the Occ. Health and Safety group.

    I'm currently saving up for a new Speedglas, my last one was stolen from a jobsite. Nothing else was stolen... just my helm...
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