No announcement yet.

What kind of welding helmet do you use, & are you happy with it?

  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • What kind of welding helmet do you use, & are you happy with it?

    I've heard/read a number of good things about auto-darkening helmets. They sound like they are the bomb diggity, but aren't cheap. Are they really the way to go, and if so, who makes the "best" one? If I am going to be spending that much on one, I want to get the best one available, as the cost between the lower priced ones and the top isn't that great. Any thoughts/suggestions/opinions are appreciated.

  • #2
    i bought an Optrel and was so happy with it i bought a second! i like the fact that no battery changes are required, and you never have to turn it on they both have adjustable shades too. both very nice hoods but a bit pricey. i would buy another if one of them died
    The one that dies with the most tools wins

    If it's worth having, it's worth working for


    • #3


      • #4
        Optrel satellite, IMHO: shades from 5-9 & 9-13, grinder mode with shade 3, no off/on switch to fool with, good headgear, great optics, quality helmet. On the negative side (others opinions, not mine): no replaceable battries, smaller window than some, can't think of anymore negative stuff. When mine breaks I will get another one if they don't improve it and make it worse that is. My second choice would be a plain black Miller elite ... and thats only because they don't make a plain blue one.
        Regards, George

        Hobart Handler 210 w/DP3035 - Great 240V small Mig
        Hobart Handler 140 - Great 120V Mig
        Hobart Handler EZ125 - IMO the best 120V Flux Core only machine

        Miller Dynasty 200DX with cooler of my design, works for me
        Miller Spectrum 375 - Nice Cutter


        • #5
          When I was looking to buy, it was between the Miller Big Window Elite and Optrel. I went with MBWE and like it alot. Not to say witch is better.


          • #6
            Here is the big one, for controversy. I have used the major players in all the brands, here is my top three.

            Optrel Satalite, lots of features, a set shade 5 for oxyfuel cutting, a clear setting for grinding, and and adjustable shade for all the normal types of work. Downers, it is rigid and heavier than the others and their protective lenses are more expensive.

            Hornel Speedglas 9002x, Lightest of the full feature hoodsmore flexible if needed to stuff you head into a race chassis, adjusts from 9-13 with a pulse setting no grind mode on this hood is my only downer.

            Miller Big Window Elite, large view area great for low amperage tig and equally effective on high amperage spray arc. All around performer great, slightly heavier than the speedglas,but with 4 sensors out of position work is much less likely to get you flashed, and less flexible but bigger view. Downer is no grind mode.

            I own a Speedglas, and would buy another, I have a degenerative disc in my neck so the weight issue is huge to me. The view area is big enough for most, the low amperage tig is beautifully clear and clean. Spray arc is no problem either, turn up the shade and rock on.

            This is an objective view of the three I feel are the best. Slightly biased as all views are but it is in the end your cash, try out all the models you can get your hands on and make an informed decision.

            Good luck,


            • #7
              For about 20 years used a fixed shade Jackson. Didn't think I vould afford a NextGen and didn't like the "cheap" auto darkening ones around. Got a big tax refund last year and thought I'm going to give myself a present. Picked out the Miller Big Window Elite in Maple Leaf. Should have bought one years ago. Only complaint is when the phone rings and I'm talking too long on it I forget to turn the darn thing back on, but am getting used to it. I still do use the fixed shade helmet and probably always will off and on.
              Love the BWE larger viewing area.
              Amos F


              • #8
                Big windo elite, realy comfortable and works great but I to have forgotten to turn it back on after some down time.


                • #9
                  I am a new welder, and I had no idea which helmet to get. I read a lot of opinions, and was still undecided. Spoke with someone at IOC and they recommended the Miller BWE. For the welding that I do, stick, this helmet has been everything that I could ask for. I plan to do some tig, and I hope that the BWE is good for that too. Based on all of the opinions, I don't think you can go wrong with any of the ones that are being recommended here. Also, since I can't replace my eyes, cost was never a factor.


                  • #10
                    I kinda feel embarrassed to reply to this, I have a Astro Pneumatic auto darkening (I think 9-13 shade) helmet model 8075. This was purchased when I began taking my welding classes, my teacher recommended this to his students because it was a good inexpensive auto darkening helmet ($75 w/student discount), and its the fastest way to learn. I have to say it does make it alot easier, then if you want to learn on a fixed shade you can pick that up pretty quick (atleast I did) although being able to see your work is very nice.

                    I cannot say to much about other brands, but personally I would prefer a larger window than what is in the Astro, I am considering a Miller Elite or if there is another helmet with a larger window, to me thats the one and only plus to a fixed shade is the window size (aside from the factor of never getting flashed). For an beginner I guess the Astro is a nice inexpensive helmet.


                    • #11

                      My first A/D was a cheapo Astro-Pneumatic, which, to me, was the cat's a$$, since I knew no better. After about 8-months, the headgear (which was never really great) adjusting ratchet had lost enough teeth that it was a "sit on top of the head" hat only!

                      So, I got a Miller BWE. My eyesight is not good, and I wear cheaters under the hat. The BWE is so adjustable front-to-back that I was able to set it exactly right for me. I love the large viewing area, the superb headgear, the light weight (I continually forget it's on my head and run into things...) and the fact that it has never flashed me as long as I had it turned on! The time-out feature is the only criticism I have. I wish it was adjustable. If you still have the hat on while you're spending time on a set-up, then go back to welding, it will have shut itself off. You get a nice look at the arc through a shade 5 lens! Like all A/D hats, though, even ii the off state, you still have total UV/IR protection to shade 14.

                      ...from the Gadget Garage
                      Millermatic 210 w/3035, BWE
                      Handler 210 w/DP3035
                      Victor O/A "J" series, SuperRange


                      • #12
                        jgspilot you nailed it, can't replace those eyes. I am a printer and photographer, my eyes are my world. I love my music and the sounds of nature but I would rather be deaf than blind. I have a deaf brother and I know about this, as my pre corrective vision is 20/900. Take care of those eyes, guys!!!

                        Weld well, Weld safe,


                        • #13
                          BWE for me. I also have 2 xlix's. (Stars and stripes)One is the 1st ad that I bought and the other is the one that I bought for the little Bulldog. I work in some pretty close quarters at times and with the 2 sensors I did get flashed a few times. Now with the BWE no problems. I even got used to the 10 min timer thing. I use a mag lens and the optics are so good ( as long as the lenses are clean) I flip it down when I need to read a tape. I do have an issue with the head gear. I don't like the tensioning knobs but that only gives me trouble once in a while. I understand that Miller has a fix and if ya buy a new lid it will come with a better head gear. All and all real happy with the BWE. Oh by the way I always carry my old fixed (4X6) window Jackson just in case this new fangled technology takes a nap...
                          Good luck,
                          5 Passport Pluses
                          2 MM 212's
                          MM 210
                          MM 251 MIA
                          MM 350 P w/Python
                          Syncrowave 250
                          w/ tig runner
                          Trailblazer 302
                          12RC w/meters
                          Spectrum 1000
                          Spectrum 2050
                          2 Black BWEs
                          Joker BWE
                          Star & stripe BWE Digital
                          2 star & stripe xlix's

                          REAL TRUCKS RATTLE
                          CUMMINS BABY


                          • #14
                            Like so many have already said, if you get any one of the 3 main contenders you wont go wrong. They all have some unique features so my advice would be to look for the one with the feature that will best suite youre situation. For me it was the Optrell Satellite, I liked the extra shade settings, no auto turn off, controlls on the out side. I wish it had 4 sensors and large view area like the Big Window , and was as light as the Speedglass but oh well. I'm happy with my choice.
                            To all who contribute to this board.
                            My sincere thanks , Pete.

                            Pureox OA
                            Westinghouse 300 amp AC stick
                            Miller Syncrowave 250
                            Hexacon 250 watt solder iron


                            • #15
                              I'm a little old fashioned -- I still use a Huntsman with a flip-top

                              I have been researching and comparing auto hoods, however, and I do have a couple questions of my own.

                              Most of my work is portable, and in various conditions (dirt, grease, oil, etc) which means rough and abusive use. I find myself replacing the plastic safety shields often, as they get cloudy and scratched up fairly quickly, which affects my ability to see clearly. I usually buy the 2 X 4 coverplates in a box of 100, which stays on the truck, and takes me 2 -3 years to go through.

                              The question is, with the specialty hoods and the special coverplates required, wouldn't the cost be prohibitive? It was suggested to me that I buy the Jackson or Huntsman lens and use it in a standard hood, which would allow me to stay with generic coverplates.

                              The other question is, can the sensitivity on any of these be turned down to the point that grinding won't darken the lens? It seems to me a PITA to have to take the hood off all the time to push the "grind" button, and do it again to push the "weld" button. Right now all I have to do is flip up, and I can grind, flip down and I can weld.

                              I'd appreciate any comments anybody has here, I think those new hoods are great in a controlled shop environment, anybody have any experience using them out in the field?