Searching for a better welding helmet

  1. DennisCA

    DennisCA Member

    Messages:
    1,240
    Location:
    Finland
    I have a pretty cheap model, I think it's OK but it's no quality helmet, it came with the potentiometer wires the wrong way so when I turn up the shading it goes down and vice versa. So I'm using it backwards! I have no experience with any other helmets however and little to no chance of testing them.

    So I am left with just googling my way ahead, going on what others say, trying to build up some general impressions. There are currently two masks I am considering.

    One is the Aketek which is owned by the guy who invented the speedglass technology to begin with:
    http://aketek.com/

    Looking at the Nova helmet there and locally it's priced around 190€ + shipping. Anyone here used this brand? I think it's not very well known, only started in 2015 I think.

    Then there's the Kemppi which I can get locally for 229€ + shipping
    https://www.kemppi.com/en-US/offering/product/beta-90x/

    I think this one is slightly more known than the Aketek but still quite unknown outside the nordic countries. But I tend to give a lot of trust to Kemppi products.

    I don't know, there are a lot of helmets and manufacturers out there. I think ESAB has some good helmets too, but I really don't want to be buying the wrong helmet here, as in I don't want it to limit me like I feel my current helmet is doing. I really value clarity of vision. I also hear good things about Miller but they are not common where I am.

    Optrel I have gotten the impression of as the cream of the crop of welding helmets but sadly too expensive. I welcome any feedback from owners of this, especially if you have experience with other brands and can compare. I believe the E684 is the current top model.
     
  2. DennisCA

    DennisCA Member

    Messages:
    1,240
    Location:
    Finland
    I googled more on the E684 and reading a lot of good things about it, but someone did a review with it vs a Lincoln Viking 3350 helmet and said the lincoln was cheaper and had better clarity. The price of that does look more in the ball park and it seems to have very good ratings, seems to have a huge view screen:

    https://www.amazon.com/Welding-Helmet-Black-3350-Series/dp/B019G6T4RS
     
  3. MCKDAVID Member

    honestly, even second hand go for a speedglas... not cheap, but I found the difference night and day, comfprtable and good field of view... I got mine secondhand, but when funds allow I'll go for a newer one.
     
  4. DennisCA

    DennisCA Member

    Messages:
    1,240
    Location:
    Finland
    Based on what I've read, the speedglas doesn't seem like it stands out from the crowd. Sure it's a solid piece of kit but to me it doesn't seem like it warrants the extra €€€. Rapidwelding had the lincoln for cheap and I am reading good stuff about it on this forum.

    I also found the Aketek lens specs are 1/1/1/1 which is I understand as good as it gets, the speedglas 9100x is 1/1/1/2.
     
  5. DennisCA

    DennisCA Member

    Messages:
    1,240
    Location:
    Finland
    https://www.mig-welding.co.uk/forum/threads/optrel-panoramaxx-the-first-impressions.73349

    Good thread in the link above, I was just looking at the Panoramaxx and found this via google. Based on this thread I think I would rather try for the more classic E684 if I went for an Optrel. Or as I've been seeing more and more good stuff about, the Sentinel A50. I have to say I really hate the space trooper look of the Sentinel though and apparently it scratches up the lenses real easy. But it still seems to be a good helmet at a lower price point.

    -Been able to source an E684 for 355€ including shipping from Germany.
    -ESAB A50 can be found in Finland for 279€ + shipping.
    -Lincoln is still cheapest from Rapid Welding at 225€ + shipping, though I am worried about eventual warranty issues and the UK leaving the EU and what that might do.

    I think it's gonna be one of these three above... I really like the look of the lincoln, though I wonder if it's perhaps the least durable (being the cheapest). Optrels are apparently made in Switzerland to a large degree and I want to support non china manufacturing as much as possible.

    If I invest money like this, I want it to last 10 years.
     
  6. anto44

    anto44 Member

    Messages:
    1,418
    Location:
    ireland
    I have the esab a few months now and I am really impressed with it so far. I haven't tried any of the other ones on your list so can't say how it would compare to those.
     
  7. Hood

    Hood If it walks like a duck....

    Messages:
    12,563
    Location:
    Carnoustie, Scotland
    Loved the Optrel E684 and now love the Optrel Panoramaxx, very clear, very comfortable.
    Got a Speedglas 9100FX given to me but couldn't get on with it, just didn't feel comfortable on me an felt very clostrophobic, clarity from the lens was good although I would say the Optrels pipped it.
    Best lowish price lid I have had was a Weldability Phantom XL, lens was nice and crisp just the shell was like your normal cheapish lid but at £70 odd it was a good deal.
     
  8. DennisCA

    DennisCA Member

    Messages:
    1,240
    Location:
    Finland
    I finally hit the button on a helmet and the winner was the ESAB Sentinel A50. I found it locally at a really good price, even cheaper than the best UK prices I found once shipping and vat where included. So that really motivated.
     
  9. Guitardaz69

    Guitardaz69 New Member

    Messages:
    3
    Location:
    Halifax uk
    Esab sentinel are just the mutts nuts
     
    powderblast likes this.
  10. DennisCA

    DennisCA Member

    Messages:
    1,240
    Location:
    Finland
    I finally tig welded with it! Only done some stick welding with it so far and that looked just fine to me, but last night I welded up some parts I had turned (making a pin wrench) and man that's where the difference shows vs. the old helmet. So much better! Puddle is super easy to see as well as the surroundings.
     
  11. Munkul

    Munkul Jack of some trades, Master of none

    Messages:
    3,144
    Location:
    Cumbria
    I genuinely love the sentinel. hope you have as good a time with it as I do.
     
  12. DennisCA

    DennisCA Member

    Messages:
    1,240
    Location:
    Finland
    I'm not happy right now, was going to weld last night but I got flashed, turns out it's dead. I think the batteries are dead. I hate batteries, and they lasted no longer than this. I am lucky I still had my cheap backup helmet, it's solar powered and worked. Feels pretty shitty that the batteries only lasted 7 months despite 99% of the time it just hanging on the wall.
     
  13. hotponyshoes Member

    Messages:
    3,373
    Location:
    Somerset. Uk
    The battries seem to last longer the more you use the helmet as some of the cheaper helmets are always using a bit of battery power waiting to detect an arc then the solar panel takes over.
    Some of the better helmets will recharge the battery from the solar panel so leaving them in sunlight will sort it out.
    Go better again and some of them have an actuall on/off switch and some have auto power off as well, they last for ages.
    Some of the optrels can charge via usb which is a lot better if you only do hobby welding as it's easier to wait an hour to charge it rather than try and find a odd size cell on a Sunday morning.
    There might be some cheaper manufactures that have copied this.

    I would agree that in terms of performance the Speedglass at retail are expensive for what you get although the shells and headbands etc are very tough and last very well. It's also very very easy to get all the spare parts and consumables for them (in the UK at least)
     
  14. DennisCA

    DennisCA Member

    Messages:
    1,240
    Location:
    Finland
    I would have assumed the Esab had auto off or something, but I guess it's always looking. Maybe it needs to be stored in a dark place to make it go into sleep mode, maybe that's why I got that bad I never used...
     
  15. hotponyshoes Member

    Messages:
    3,373
    Location:
    Somerset. Uk
    I think it's only ones with an on/off switch that really turn completely off.
    The auto off is a timer function in case you forget to press the button.

    Anything without an 'on' switch seems to either drain the battery or take ages to respond to the initial arc.

    Having said that the first result on eBay is 25 battries for under £4 posted so at 15pence each you could have a new battery every time you wanted to weld and a pack that size would probably last me a year or more
     
  16. powderblast

    powderblast Member

    Messages:
    691
    Location:
    Hull, UK
    i have the same hood and i love it and after watching a youtube vid i have found out you can sand and polish the lenses which i now do with great success i just feel sick with the amount of lenses i have chucked in the bin.

    Look into doing this to reuse your lenses as they are the most expensive lenses i think out there.
     
  17. JLP

    JLP Member

    Messages:
    248
    Location:
    Beds - UK
    Always store my sentinel in the bag for this reason. Had it for something like 18 months now with no issues
     
  18. Munkul

    Munkul Jack of some trades, Master of none

    Messages:
    3,144
    Location:
    Cumbria
    I have two sentinel helmets now (one regular and one air-fed) and not a problem with either, I wonder if either you have a bad battery/unit, or if it's something you're doing? Two things you need to remember:

    1. Store your helmet in the dark! do NOT leave them out in a welding shop especially, they will react and flicker to everyone else's welding arcs and grinding, but the solar power won't be enough to keep em going.... remember its the WELDING ARC that provides the solar power!
    Of course, if not used for long periods of time your battery might drain anyways, that's the point where sunlight will revitalise them.

    2. The Sentinel in particular has a sensor that wakes up the helmet when you pick it up or move it. Both of mine - pick em up after placed down for a while, and it wakes up the LCD display briefly. I wonder what effect this has on battery life if it's getting joggled about - in a car, for example.

    i store mine inside a closed cabinet and only use them for stick or TIG welding at a bench usually, so don't really go through any lenses.
     
  19. DennisCA

    DennisCA Member

    Messages:
    1,240
    Location:
    Finland
    It's only in my personal shop where only I weld, but it hangs off a wall in the open.

    I'm still on the 1st lens so far.
     
  20. Munkul

    Munkul Jack of some trades, Master of none

    Messages:
    3,144
    Location:
    Cumbria
    So I managed to bring this upon myself... my non- air-fed sentinel was dead the other day when I pulled it out for a quick job... probably about 10 months old but rarely used in the last 3 months.

    It started to work again after an hour in sunlight but was dead the next day also. ordered a load of batteries now, guess it makes sense to keep some spares since both helmets will be the same.
     
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