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I see a vast number of auto darkening welding helmets for sale on eBay. They start at about $30 and go up to several hundred.

What is the community consensus on these? What should I pay for one? What features would you get?

Thanks in advance:

Dave
 

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Welding (stick & tig) where I work has been part of my job for the last 45 years and the company purchased one of these helmets when they first came out. The first ones were a bit slow on the darkening reaction time and after a few hours of welding you could notice your eyes would start to hurt. Over the years they got a lot better. We have purchased the more expensive helmets ($300.00 range) with very low reaction times and they seem to be good. Being the cheap guy I am, I bought a el-cheapo helmet to use at home, from the local princes auto store for $67.00. It seems to be just as good as the expensive ones we have at work. You do want to get one with as big a viewing area as possible, with adjustable darkening levels and as low a reaction time as possible. The better these features are the more you will pay. You also should select a helmet that is as small as possible if you are going to be working in tight spaces. Some of these helmets are quite big compared to others. The helmet I have at home is solar powered ( works of the light generated during welding) with this type you never have to worry about batteries. Some helmets are powered by batteries. I would only buy ones that have the solar power. One thing about auto darkening helmets is that once you have used one you will never go back to the old style helmets.
 

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I bought a Harbor Freight auto darkening several years ago, it's been great, love it!

I've never used a more expensive auto darkening so I have nothing to compare it with but I really like it and would buy another just like it.
 

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X2 on the HF cheapo, works great, did A LOT of work using it.
 

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An auto-darkening helmet is next on my list. But I don't want to give up the old one I have that doesn't darken because of the cool flames my buddy painted and striped on it. It will make for some cool garage wall art.
 

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I concur on the "el cheapo".
My arc welder came with a non-darkening helmet. I was a total novice as to welding at the time, and had problems getting welds started with that helmet,, bought an auto darkening one for around $50 on Ebay and saw the quality of my work improve dramatically.
That said, about 7 or 8 years later my el cheapo may be starting to crap out on me now,, I only use it a few times/year but it seems like now I have to extract/reinstall batteries to get it to turn on, and also it seems to get too dark when it darkens, makes it hard to see well what's going on... But I would throw this one away & buy another $50 one before I would spend a lot on a high dollar one. Now, if I used it every day (or even every week) I might buy a nicer, more expensive one. I consider the cheap helmet a consumable like the welding sticks at this point.
 

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John,

The HF el cheapo ones are arc (solar cell) powered, look, no batteries ma!

Regards,

Bob
 

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I bought a cheapie auto darkening helmet on ebay and it has been great. It is solar powered as well and isn't too big...cant remember who the seller was off the top of my head. My friend uses a HF one which I borrowed before I got mine, it was great as well although a bit bigger than mine.
 

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if you get one that isn't solar powered make sure you keep up on the batteries, my brother let his batteries get low and with the reduced voltage it slowed the hood. Might not be a problem for some but he was welding all day everyday at work and ended up with flash burn, although mild ones nobody wants that
 
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