Welding Machine Review – Miller Classic Welding Helmet

As a long time fan of Miller welding helmets, I was interested to see just how well this hood compared to my Miller Digital Elite. With the Classic at a retail price of  $99.00, the top of the line Digital Elite costs  almost three times that price. Given the substantial price difference, you would think there would be a substantial performance increase as well..

The first thing I noticed upon receiving my review Classic welding helmet, was that it had the same quality shell as the much higher end Digital Elite. Thats a nice touch..Ive always thought that Miller had the best looking hoods and this budget model doesnt disappoint. MELFAB Engineering makes high quality sheet metal fabricating. Unfortunately, the Classic is only offered in black at this time..I was told by a rep from Miller that the popular digital camo option may be coming soon, but for now- black it is.

When first trying on the hood, the feel and fit was decent for a harness that hadnt been broken in. I do have to say though, that over the course of the next couple of hours, I noticed that the classic seemed to want to shift up and down just a bit more than the Elite.  I tried adjusting and tightening the harness but to no avail.. It could be that it was just this particular helmet, because Ive never had that problem with a Miller before. Either way, It was just a minor gripe, over all, the Classic a very comfortable welding hood.

The controls are your standard auto dark welding helmet controls.. nothing special here, it all works as it should, and is easy to use, but they can be difficult to use with your welding gloves on.

Features include:

  • Viewing Area – 3.75 x 1.38 in./ 5.03 sq in (95 x 35 mm)
  • Features Variable Shades #8 – 13 and Light State #3
  • Two Arc Sensors – 1/10,000 sec. lens speed
  • Sensitivity and Delay Control – Slow/Fast
  • TIG rating – 20 Amps
  • Auto-On/Auto-Off power control
  • Weighs only 16 oz (454 g)
  • Rechargeable Solar Cell
  • Convenient Magnifying Lens holder
  • Meets ANSI Z87.1-2003 (High Impact) standard
  • Hard Hat Adapter accessory available (#222 003)

Getting to the performance of the welding helmet.. It was almost identical to the Millers more expensive digital elite, and compared quite favorably to the Jackson W60 as well. Theres nothing worse than an auto darkening welding hood that feels laggy, and while that has been my experience with other budget model auto dark hoods, the Classic performed flawlessly. It felt every bit as snappy as its much more expensive brethren, the Digital Elite. There were a couple of issues that might keep me from purchasing the Classic though.

For one, both of the arc sensors are  located above the lens. In most cases, this is more than adequate, but occasionally we take on projects that require that we work underneath the something, such as a vehicle and welding on the under carriage. This can create a bit of problem for the classics arc sensor position. When working in these types of environments, its  fairly common to strike an arc and the arc sensor be blocked by the vehicle, or whatever else you may looking under, from receiving the light from the arc, resulting in the lens not darkening at all. Can we say flash burn? Other welding hoods solve this problem by having a sensor above and below the lens, creating the ability to pick up the arc light in almost all conditions. To be fair, this feature is usually found on more expensive helmets and if your welding environments dont warrant such a feature, then probably wont ever notice.

Secondly, the lens was far too small for my preference and style of welding. This is where the high end model welding helmats usually out shine the more lower end hoods. For most, the lens will be plenty large enoughuntil you try one that has almost twice the amount of viewing area. You will surely want a larger lens after using one, but you should really think about whether or not you even need a bigger lens? For example, if your more of a stationary welder, working at a bench most of the time, the lens on the Miller Classic is plenty big enough. I tend to move around quite a bit on certain projects and the large lens makes my day a whole lot easier. It can be quite a jump in price jump when looking at the large lens hoods, so really evaluate your needs an determine if its a feature that will help you get the job done.

Summary: The Miller Classic is the welding helmet to get if your trying to stay under one-hundred dollars, but still want an auto darkening helmet that doesnt skimp on quality and performance. Its only available in black, so if your wanting something with a bit of flair, you might want to take a look at the Pro Hobby series from Miller. They offer it in multiple designs and colors, but besides that, it is pretty much identical to the Classic, but retails for about $50 more than the Classic. I really couldnt find any difference between the two, so it seems Miller is expecting people to pay quite a price premium for just a  fancy decal kit. If  its worth $50.00 to you, then be all means, check out the Pro Hobby. Its a great welding hood, but if you look around online (or haggle your local shop down on price), you can find the Classic for as low as $85.00, and that makes it almost half the price of the identical Pro Hobby.. seems like an obvious choice to me, so unless you want to drop the coin to get the best of the best, the Classic is king of the budget auto darkening hoods, and maybe even king of the mid level welding hoods. At a suggested retail price of $99.00 you really cant go wrong with Millers new Classic.