Hi All; As many of you know I have started a RMH business.
Building the metal pieces needed for batchbox's & J tube RMH's. This of course requires welding.
I learned to weld as a teenager. Being a mechanic required at least knowing how.
I never considered myself a good welder (having worked around pipefitters) but I could stick things together and although not pretty my weld's held up just fine.
I still have my very first welding hood and another just like it. Very small non opening view port and a flip hood.
Those hoods both still can do the job. Just not for me anymore!
I bought a super cheap auto darken hood a while back. I figured that with as much welding as I did no reason to buy a $100 one...
As my first auto darken hood I "thought" it was great! Man how cool! You can see before you strike an arc!
And then I opened Dragon tech... suddenly I was welding every day. No longer a crane operator or mechanic... now I am a metal fabricator!
I need my welds to look good as well as hold up. Being 61 closing fast on 62 my eyesight is not what it used to be.
My brother in Idaho is a top notch welder. He came over one day and after listening to me whine and looking at my welds. He told me throw that piece of junk hood away and buy a quality hood with magnifying lenses.... you can't weld good when you can't see... hmmm I'm afraid he is right! It sucks getting old!
So I went on the hunt for a new welding hood.
My goodness is there a lot of choices. Most in the $75-100 range. But there were higher quality, new tech hoods out there, they ran from $200-400!!! OH MY!
I continued researching. I narrowed my search down to Hobart , Miller or Lincoln electric.
I finally settled on the Lincoln Electric Viking 3350. Their newest model with super large view port and new high tech clarity while welding. On sale, in plain jane black ,it was still $224 delivered OUCH!
OMG this thing is like magic! Super comfy , really lite weight, incredible view before striking an arc, but it really shines once you start welding! Man you can see the puddle, EASY!
My welds improved immediately! I called my brother to thank him. After telling him what I had bought. He had to give me shit about some dang equipment operator / mechanic has a better welding hood than he does! I expect to see a new hood at his house next time I visit... no doubt just a little bit better than mine.
Bottom line, It pays to buy quality! Oh and like I said, it sucks to grow old!
That has been my experience as well. I try to avoid middle of the road. It seldom satisfies any need. I try to save for higher quality (not that I always know what high quality is when I look at it), or I get the cheapest that will do .... with the idea of dumping it when I can afford high quality...or using it as a backup.
Good decisions come from experience. Experience comes from making bad decisions. Mark Twain
One thing I can add, is that if there's a possibility of using a TIG welder in the future, the cheap auto-darkening hoods will not trigger the darkening circuit, so it could save a person money in the long run to buy a good one.
And he said, "I want to live as an honest man, to get all I deserve, and to give all I can, and to love a young woman whom I don't understand. Your Highness, your ways are very strange."
Great review Thomas. I have one of those auto-darkening $100 helmets as well. Great for the occasional welding I do but good to know when to spend the money on something that is just more than a safety issue. The button on the side of that helmet that takes away the auto-darkening feature when you begin to grind is a nice feature too so you can see what your grinding better, yet be way more protected by flying sparks than simple safety glasses. Curious though, if you forget to push the button again back to auto-darkening mode, when you begin to weld you would be seeing spots for an hour afterwards?
Gerry Parent wrote: Curious though, if you forget to push the button again back to auto-darkening mode, when you begin to weld you would be seeing spots for an hour afterwards?
In my experience, yes something like that, but your mileage may vary. I have a budget auto-darkening helmet, and a MIG welder. I believe that the setting was not set right as it has dials to turn both inside the helmet on the viewing lens and also a knob on the side of the helmet. I started a bead and it didn't auto darken, and I had a blue-green spot in my vision for a little while. The saving grace, I believe, is the viewing lens has a coating on it and while I don't know the details about the coating it does block/reflect UV rays, which is why I think I got away lucky with seeing a spot and not flashing my retina with painful eye damage.
"Study books and observe nature; if they do not agree, throw away the books." ~ William A. Albrecht
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