View Full Version : AD feature questions
04-19-2007, 09:39 AM
I'm sorry - I know this may seem like just another AD helmet thread. I promise not to ask what helmet is best for under $50, and I'm not necessarily looking for a brand/model suggestion. To the contrary, I don't mind spending $200-300 and never looking back, I just need some guidance on a couple of features that seem to be handled differently by the 3-4 brands I'm looking at. I'm mostly a hobbiest using MIG, maybe a few times a month for repairs, with the occasional larger project consuming a full weekend.
my questions are:
1. Ranges, most are 9-13, at least one is 5-9, 9-13. How valuable is the 5-9 range? I'm using a fixed 9 now, and I can't see a thing indoors untill the parts are glowing hot. Outdoors I can see soon after striking an arc.
2. Battery considerations/solar charging. I see several are lithium, I know that format from other tools and RC toys and I'm fine with that. Is the solar charging even worth worrying about?
3. Window size - looks like the BWE is no longer a BW - only an Elite. My fixed lense is large size now, how bummed out will I be downsizing the window?
Thanks in advance.
04-19-2007, 10:55 AM
I just picked up my first AD helmet and love it!!!
I bought the Miller XLi....something or other. I believe it is Miller's mid-quality AD. The one with the external shade adjustment knob. I believe it's shade range is from 9-13. I have set it on 11.5 or 12 and have not touched it since. I could take or leave the external knob. It is not something I ever envision changing on the fly, but it does make for a quick and easy adjustment. Large window vs. small, I have only ever had the small window so I can't offer any + or - there. The fit and comfort level of this helmet is excellent in my opinion. It came with a padded piece for the back of the headgear that is really nice. The only downside for me regarding this helmet is it is auto-off, meaning after 10-15 minutes of no arc the lense shuts off. Then the "on" button must be pressed and requires the helmet to be taken off. Not a huge pain, but something I didn't give much thought to. I think the helmet listed for $249 and I got it for $230 at a local welding supply store. I love it, by far the best welding accessory I have picked up. I know a lot of the professionals swear by a non-AD helmet, but I need all the help I can get. It is like having a third hand. It makes my starts much more accurate and a long tack session is now made much more easy. I just love this helmet.....
Oh, and I believe my lense is not solar assisted, just battery powered. That 5-9 range might be a grind feature of the helmet you are looking at. Mine did not come with the grind feature. I always wear safety glasses under my helmet, so when I grind I lift the helmet. I probably should pick up a face shield at some point in time.
5-9 is only useful in my opinion when cutting, or when running very low amperage TIG work. I've also used it a handful of times in very low light settings. On the other hand, going too low can impede your vision when welding MIG/stick/FC, as it makes the smoke very visible and darn near impossible to see through at times.
2. The solare charging does help, but if you're not using the thing every day, I wouldn't have it make or break my purchase.
3. It depends. If you're doing a lot of out of position work or working in tight spots where you may need to **** your helmet to the side slightly, it can help. Outside of that, I wouldn't get too worried. Honestly, how much of your workpiece are you looking at outside of maybe 1" around the arc while you're welding?
If I had to recommend an autodark, I'd recommend the Jackson NexGen. Aside from the visibility and safety aspects (which plenty will argue Miller is better, SG is better, blah blah), it's convenient. Lets say after a few years the hood itself is very beat up or burned through. The entire autodark unit will swap right into any other Jackson hood, even the standard fixed shade stuff. Also, cover plates frequently get scratched up. Miller, etc, all use proprietary cover lenses, so you may have to order them. Jacksons take the standard fixed-shade cover lenses, so you can get them anywhere. Only the inner lenses are different, and I've yet to change mine in 6 months of daily usage.
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