10 April 2012

jackson vs miller vs speedglas (vii)

With all the side jobs I've had,
there's enough PAYPAL money saved up to finally get a good welding helmet.
It's impossible to save cash for a non-craigslist purchase!

For years I thought auto darkening hoods were for girls.
In Ventura a friend gave me a Harbor Freight version,
and it sucked.
The reaction time was slow,
so I had to blink right before I pulled the trigger.
Also there was only one sensor,
so if it was blocked it wouldn't change.

I am also really used to my old big window welding helmet.
After using the 4"x 5" size hole,
the smaller windows are really tough to get used to,
almost confining.
It is also makes it easier to weld in difficult positions.

blue point ya-551

Since a helmet worth buying is in the $300-400 range,
I didn't really research any AD hoods till recently.

A couple things spurred me into the direction.
The first was working with a few older welders.
Their eyes were white with cataracts or something.
Another guy actually had a more serious problem,
and knew he only had a couple more years with good vision,
if he continued to weld.
These are guys that don't use dark glasses for torch cutting,
as well as ear protection when grinding.
So they have a much more concentrated bright time then I do.

The other thing I have is a bad habit with "closed eye" tacking.
It is a hassle to fit and hold the piece,
than lower the hood, than weld.
If you use a passive hood,
than you know what I'm talking about.
It's a bad habit and is my main reason for this post.

So I've boiled my choices down to 3 models.
The Jackson w60 truesight - ($274 online)
the Miller Digital Elite - ($272 online)
and the Speedglas 9100xx. ($382 online)

It is a tough choice cause each has pluses and minuses.
All have 3 modes - torch, grind and weld.
All have bigger viewing are as well.


The Speedglas 9100xx made by 3M uses a green tint lens,
has a 3" x 4" window and has the fastest change time (0.1 mseconds)
The hood has side ventilation and viewing windows,
and has an intricate head gear system.

3M speedglas 9100xx

There's no solar/flash recharge and only 3 sensors.
There is a "tack  mode" that sounds like a good idea.

speedglass 9100xx ADF controls

This may be the best one,
but the replacement shields aren't available locally,
which isn't too big a deal but it is a hassle.
The controls also don't seem as convenient as the other models.


The Miller Digital Elite is the model the welding shop pushes.
There are 4 sensors and a 1/20k lens speed which is good.
There is also a trick "X-mode" which senses electromagnetic arc,
rather than light,
good for outside welding.

miller digital elite

The controls seem easy to figure out.
There is also solar assist for the lithium battery.

miller digital elite ADF controls

The negatives for me about this hood are more personal.
The hood is really big and flares out.

miller digital elite

Probably good for protection,
but I'm a smaller guy not a 200+lb dude.
Also many times I need to weld in a tight spot.
The X-mode would be good but not the large helmet.
Also the headband is worse than my current version,
and it has the smallest window of my choices.


The Jackson w60 truesight by kimberly-clarke is the newest of the three.
Instead of a green tint,
they use an amber tint,
which supposedly gives a clearer view.

jackson w60 truesight

There are 4 sensors with solar assist.
The window is also really large - 3.25 x 4.
The controls are very obvious and simple.

jackson w60 truesight ADF controls

Instead of lithium batteries it uses 3 AAA batteries.
Not sure if this is good or bad in battery life,
and it may make the hood a bit heavier in the up position,
but it is handy to be able to replace them quickly.

jackson w60 truesight

I also like the hood and beefier headgear.
The size is similar to my old one,
a really trim helmet.

Right now the Jackson is my first choice,
and not only cause of the name.

Since I'm only a table welder 50% of the time,
and usually only work with one 75 watt lightbulb,
a basic and idiot proof helmet is what I'm after.
The controls seem really easy to use,
even in the dark or lying on my back under a car.
The hood and headgear also seem really sturdy,
important cause I can be careless at times.

While I'll probably buy it cheapest online,
the local welding shop has all the replacement stuff in stock.

As you can see I've been researching these quite alot.
Anyone have any input?



  1. Jackson is an extremely trusted name in the WELDING field. 3M is a big name but not veterans to the welding industry like Jackson is. I know a few people that own one of all three helmets, and although the 3M has a sleek, relatively light weight design, Jackson offers the best PROTECTION for the eyes...which in all reality is the main purpose of the lid. Our shop is sponsord by 3M speedglas, but I dont own one, nor do I plan on buying one even at the shops discount price, because some of the old timers I have worked with (the ones that are safety concious anyways) SWEAR on the Jacksons...from experience. I recomend the Jackson...atleast thats the route I have decided to take since doing my own personal homework.

  2. Thanks Fred for your comment!
    I ended up choosing the Jackson Truesight.
    It's obvious this was designed by a team with a background in welding.
    Since there is a 2 year warranty,
    I've used it in some very abnormal and difficult projects,
    and bottom line it's a great helmet.
    Thanks again!