The Optrel p550 Custom Helmet
We're no strangers to the Optrel line of welding helmets and have been using their E680 for nearly a year now with nothing but excellent results. Of course, the e680 wasn't the least expensive helmet that you could buy and some peoiple just couldn't justify the cost of that exceptional helmet. Personally, I can't see putting a price on your eyesight, but personal opinions aside, I'm not the guy opening his wallet to make the purchase. So for many, cost is the deciding factor when it comes to alot of the equipment that's purchased for work.
Optrel understood this too and in response, introduced a line of helmets that used the same technology in a more cost effective package. Eliminating some of the 'bells and whistles" while keeping the functionality and safety of the higher end helmets allows a wider range of users to experience the benefit of the OPTREL technology.
The p550 is also unique in that you can customize to to your preference. No long are you lkocked into skulls, flames, Chopper shop logos, Eagles, Dice etc. NOw, you can put the image that YOU want on the side of your helmet and make your OWN statement. If you aren't inclined to do that, you can also choose from a selection of graphic images or even nothing at all. All this wrapped in a very lightweight helmet with a fully featured ADF cartridge that goes from a shade 9 to a shade 13 and has adjustable sensitivity and delay.
Adjustable Shade Control
One of the things that I've noticed about some so called "lightweight" helmets is that they are either NOT so lightweight, or they are SO lightweight that they are actually front heavy from the ADF cartridge and flimsy from the very thin materials used in the helmet. I dislike a helmet that flops around and won't hold its shape as it's annoying and uncomfortable. Not to worry with the OPTREL p550. While the shell is as rigid as any other high quality helmet that you're likely to find, it's also extremely light and comfortable to wear, even all day.
Adjustable Headgear is very comfortable
The headgear is adjustable in both directions assuring a perfect fit for even those guys with big square heads (like me).the Controls have been simplified with sensitivity and delay on switches inside the helmet. The helmet is powered by two (2) readily large button cells (provided) and should last for well over a year with the solar panels helping to minimize power drain. I used to change my helmet batteries on my birthday, but as I now have over 10 helmets, I'd be spending all my birthday cash on batteries so I usually pick one to change out each year., yes, I'm that cheap.
We're going to hammer this helmet as hard as we've worked the other OPTREL in our shop, but I'm certain that the end result will be the same. A rugged, good looking, light weight helmet that delivers in all positions and gives no surprises when called upon to protect your vision.
Another little tidbit is that while the helmets are crafted in Switzerland, they have moved their assembly to the United States and ther logistics are also located here so that parts availablity and warranty claims can be addressed as rapidly as possible. You won't be ahving any warranty claims by my experience, but it's nice to be able to get replacement lens' and spares without having to wait for international post.
I'll update this review in a while and we'll give it the final rating. In the meantime, if you just have to have one (and you DO) then contact your local AIRGAS distributor and tell them that you saw it on HRE.COM!
Affordable, Functional, Well Built
Good Buy, Works as advertised
Usable with modifications .
Marginally useful, poor value
Don't Buy, Steer Clear, Junk