Wish I'd read this thread before getting my new welding helmet, after happily using my yard-sale purchase p.o.s. for twenty-plus years and many hundreds of hours.
This thing: Titan Tekz Solar Powered Auto Darkening Welding Helmets 41266 - SummitRacing.com
for $90 sure was fun until the first time I did aluminum (AC). Doing close work w/ high amps, totally focused-in, the auto-dark failed and blammo, I'm not sure if my eyes are back to the same yet. Yeah, I was a little upset. Summit agreed to take the return, and I'm back to using my old "freind" again, duct-taped up and fraying on the edges. No way will I ever get another auto-dark until I know someone who's had one for years and had it be reliable. Whether it be $30 or $300... Back when auto-darks first came out the shop I worked at tried one and the head welder had it fail once so we didn't use them, and I'm so used to the regular kind it sorta doesn't matter that much for the convenience difference.