Auto Darkening masks

OK a couple questions on this subject:

Has anyone had any experience with the $100 auto darkener from Harbor Freight?? I know you get
what you pay for, and your eyes are the last thing you want to go cheap on, but $100!! Has anyone used/gone blind from/owned one?

I was told by an older guy that builds rock crawlers, not to use an auto darkener, as the arc sensor is sometimes not in view of the arc when your eyes are. Is there any validity in this caim? Of course this wouldn't apply on a weld table, but perhaps in a tight spot?

Additionly, can anyone recommend another good mask, presuming the the one from Harbor Freight is junk, between $100-$300?

Thanks everyone!!

Drive vigorously, break, repair, repeat.


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While the sensor may not trigger to darken the lens you are still protected from the IR and UV light. This is true of all autodarkeners even when off. Some of the better systems have up t 4 sensors you help alivate this problem. Personaly I use a Speedglas 9000v and love it.



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IMO....I have an arc one mask, its pretty nice, no batteries it recharges with solar cell from the arc. It is also variable shade. Id definately not buy that harbor freight helmet, for the reasons you mentioned and afew more. Id reccomend getting a helmet with all the bells and whistles, or just get a normal mask with a lincoln "gold" lens. Features to get: variable shade, especially a shade 5 for cutting with a torch or plasma. Also get a wide lense one, not the little rectangle ones. The extra area really helps you see what your doing, and lets in more light to get your position figured out when its all dark. Finally get one that has an option to disable the auto darken so you can use it to grind stuff off and not have it flicker on and off all the time.
As far as the sensor being in a different spot, its so rare that the helmet will not darken with the arc, probably happened to me only afew times out of the thousands of welds ive used the helmet for. Generally its because a tube or something is blocking the sensors and you're leaning really close. Its really only a problem when your trying to watch someone else weld, or if your lens is really burned up right over the sensors.

Azusa: shame of the foothills


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I have the Harbor Frieght Helmet. While its not my primary helmet, i have never had any problems with it other than the fact that it wont do GTAW. The Harbor Frieghts only darken for SMAW and GMAW. Besides this i love the helmet. The ability to adjust the tint on the outside is a real plus, cause on my speedglass i have to take off a glove and flip it up to make fine adjustments. I have had the helmet for anout a year, and it has never darkened late or gave me flash burn, so i would recomend it to anyone that doesnt want to through down the money for a $300 speedglass

At baseball games they play organs, in motorsports they donate them.


I have to give a few props on the HF helmet as well, mine works great... and for the amount of welding I do (as a hobbyist not as a profession) it suits me fine. You may want to check on the speed of the lens as well. HF sells a few diff ADarkening helmets and the speeds do vary as well as the price. I think the one I have darkens in 1/20,000th of a second - (I think that #s right, could be wrong) - does anyone know what is considered to be an acceptable speed for the lens to darken or is this irrelevant?

My 2cents

A smart-ass is better than a dumb-ass


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Got mine on ebay a long time ago, jackson works good and was pretty cheap.

midnight landscaper working overtime and I'm full throttle I'm full throttle tonight


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I also have one of the HF helmets and its worked great so far, haven't gotten flash burn yet!!!!

The higher you jump the harder you crash so crashbig


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I'd say go with what works, and if HF works, then go that way, but I bought my Hobart hood for about $160 new, not that much more than $100, and I suspect it will last a little longer than any HF hood.

'96 F-150 4x4 ex cab
'02 Maico 250
'03 Sonoma