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Discussion Starter #1
I drove to a job site to do some iron work on Monday and got down there (80 miles from home) and discovered I had left my welding helmet at home. There was a HF there and I stopped in to see what they had. There autodarkening helmet was $49.99. I thought "piece of crap" but I needed something right away.

I pulled it out of the package and was pretty impressed that it had adjustable sensitivity and response switches, something my $140 autodark helmet from Praxair didn't have. It also has adjustable darkening from shade #9 to shade #13. Same fit adjustment knob as my old one. advertised on the box as 1/25000 second darkening time

I welded all day with it and I will be damned if that helmet didn't work as good or better than my $140 one. I wanted a second helmet to teach marni how to lay a bead, so this is a keeper.

FYI

SeanP
 

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Dont' jump the gun. Give it time. Quality products not only work when they're new, but continue to work for years.

After a few months it'll start flashing you. Also optical clarity will go to hell and you'll long for a helmet where you can actually see something while welding.

You may not even notice it at first, but after you've used it for a good while switch back to a quality helmet and you'll note how much easier it suddenly is to see what you're doing.
 

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D60 said:
Dont' jump the gun. Give it time. Quality products not only work when they're new, but continue to work for years.

After a few months it'll start flashing you. Also optical clarity will go to hell and you'll long for a helmet where you can actually see something while welding.

You may not even notice it at first, but after you've used it for a good while switch back to a quality helmet and you'll note how much easier it suddenly is to see what you're doing.
D60,
I am going to agree and disagree with you. Something I noticed when I was buying an autodark helmet last year, was that the inserts are surprisingly the same through different brands. OEM manufacturing is taking over a lot of accessories and periphials. It was funny that at the time, I got a battery powered one for 99.00, when different brands with the same guts were 149.00 and up. The perpertrator in this case was Jackson.

I don't like the solar powered ones, as cells can get dirty and cause flashing and slow reaction time, as well as low charge. I just put a sticky dot on the inside of my helmet with a date to change the battery.

The biggest thing to contribute to optical quality is to change and clean your clear lens plates. It's amazing how many people forget this. This being said, a LOT of cheaper helmets come with plastic lens plates versus glass. Glass will clean better and be clearer longer, as well as not be as seceptable to fume damage. Forney, a local CO company makes Glass inserts in standard sizes for under 2.00.

j
 

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I've got one of the HF autodarkening helmets (solar variety) and love it. When I have to go back to the regular old flip down helmet it is a PITA.

I've had mine now for about 2 years - it was replaced once mid stream becasue I dropped the helmet off the workbench and shattered the solar lens. It was replaced - no questions asked - with a brand new helmet. They did ask me to purchase the extended warranty for the second one, which I happily did for about $5 extra - which gave me a 2 year no questions asked replacement policy. That is pretty good in my book.

As for performance, I hae found no issues so far. Of course, I'm not a production welder. I'm absolutely sure that an expensive, top of the line production helmet would be much better - but for the average home shop mechanic, it is hard to beat the value. After all, I can get 3 of the HF helmets for the cost of a single "good" helmet, and I'll lay heavy odds that my first one will still be meeting my needs after a couple years, extending my helmet purchasing power over perhaps a decade or more...

I have yet to have a single "flash". I have yet to have a single failure to darken, and if I do, I'll just get a new helmet for free on my warranty.

Once you use one, you will never want to go back to the regular old helmet - "guess and strike" hoping to hit the spot you are trying to hit... I get first time - every time arc placement, especially when welding on the frame, under a vehicle - and that is worth its weight in gold to me...
 

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Maybe a dumb question, but what do you guys use to clean the glass, and what "should" be used?
I'm always concerned that using windex or a variant is going to somehow damage an important piece of glass that isn't cheap to replace....
 

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redrangie said:
The biggest thing to contribute to optical quality is to change and clean your clear lens plates. It's amazing how many people forget this. This being said, a LOT of cheaper helmets come with plastic lens plates versus glass.
I did that recently, and yes it helped some, but even with the new lens plate it's not as clear as my $20 Jackson which is older and has never been serviced in any way. The original plate was plastic and the replacement (which came w the helmet) was plastic.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
jeepnmatt said:
got a PN?

is that the solar powered hood or the battery powered hood?

thanks!

47227, Solar Powered.

I'll report back over the next few months. We'll see how this little bugger does.
 

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i like mine, going on 2 years and i am just now needing to replace the lense shield. also, got 2 seperate incidences of flashing, but i couldn't tell if it was the helmet or a gaseous anomaly at the arc site. both times, i was sealing up a small section of tubing or something and it seemed to brighten the arc and the smoke from the weld about twice or 3 times as bright as it should have been through the helmet. i am also bad about charging it when i haven't used it in a while, i just put it on and go.
 

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Mine was junk. Sometimes it would darken, sometimes it would not. They took it back, no questions. While I was there I picked up a hobart. Damn nice helmet. But most of the time I still use my 2 Jacksons.

James
 

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My HF Auto has been fine for at least 1.5 years. The shields are getting pitted and will need replacing but I have had no real issues except the ratching lock for the head band. It doesn't like to stay locked. Especially when the back of my head is resting on a creeper. I wound a strip of leather in the mech and it does OK

The only time I've been flashed is when the sensor is blocked by part of the truck and can't get the hint that I am welding.
 

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Mine never last over a year, I use a nice auto now, and keep one of the HF's for backup, or for friends that wanna learn or something. The price is nice.
 

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the "western safety" helmets i think are OK. i like them better then the miller, the shade tint or whatever. i did buy the $5 warrenty with this one just cause i heard some are good and some arent. i got mine for 39.99 and for that much you really cant go wrong. i also have a $200 permenant 10 shade auto dark helmet. that helmet sucks.
 

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we just bought a western safety one today, love it to death over a conventional helmet, ill report back over time with its performance

wes
 

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I've used the same helmet from HF for years now and while I have had to change the lens a couple of times it continues to work well. I have no complaints and while it hasn't cost as much as what some of my friends have paid for theirs (2-300 dollars) it does the job just like theirs does. Get it, if it doesn't work like it is supposed to, then replace it with another cause generally speaking I think they are good quality.
 

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Same here. I tried a few of those autodarks, on a week trial basis from vendors. sent everyone back. don't like them, and if you learn to weld, and learn control of the rod/gun/tig torch, you don;t need an autodark. i have never had a problem starting the arc where I wanted it.
Also, i can't/won't weld with the hoods that have the little small windows, i use the large square windows only. One reason is the way i wear the hood, I can't see out of the small window. Habvit has made me wear the hood high on my head, and then I only use the bottom half of the large window.
brian.
 

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I've got a Jackson ADF. Had it for about 5 years now with no problems at all. Only replaced the batteries once in all that time. I especially like the border view window (2.25x4.0). It sure makes mig welding start and follow through a whole lot easier and from one weld section to another weld section without having to flip the lid or lens to see where to go to next. I'll never go back to traditional helmet unless an emergency prevails.
 
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