Best Welding Helmet 2020 – Reviews & Buying Guide
Welding is a process by which intense heat is used to melt two or more base materials, mostly metals, to allow them to fuse together on cooling. Bronze boxes that are believed to be results of welding dating back to over two thousand years ago have been found, but it was not until the mid and late 18th century that welding was truly invented in the modern sense.
Today, welding occupies a central role in almost every infrastructural endeavor. From basic essentials like kitchen appliances, tools, doors, and gates to the most advanced engineering in the aviation or automobile industries, nothing would be possible without welding.
Why should you buy a welding helmet?
As we know, welding involves the use of high levels of heat that produces intense ultraviolet emissions, sparks, and sometimes gasses. If the eyes are unprotected, the harsh light and the UV and infrared emissions could damage the cornea or the retina and even render an individual blind in some cases. This is where helmets for welding come into the picture. These welder helmets are a type of headgear worn by welders to protect their eyes from injury as well as their face and neck from burns. They come with lens shades that allow the user to see through the helmet and undertake welding tasks safely and without any risk of injury.
The lens shades that are used in welding helmets come in a number of variants and are designed to suit the different types of welding procedures and techniques. If you plan on welding any time soon, it is essential that you purchase a solid welder helmet of good quality to protect your eyes and your skin. Read on to find out which is the best welding helmet that is suited to your needs.
Top Welding Helmet Reviews 2020
1. Miller Electric Digital Elite:
This auto-darkening welding helmet produced by Miller Electric is light and comfortable. It is constructed with nylon and comes with lens shades that allow for a very large viewing area when compared to other alternatives in the market. The main pros of this weld helmet are that it sits perfectly on your head and causes no neck strain even with prolonged use and offers excellent optical clarity. The lens is powered by lithium batteries and also give you a low-battery warning when low on charge. However, this welding helmet is on the expensive side, and the price will have to be considered.
• Large viewing area
• Excellent optical clarity
2. Lincoln Electric 3350 Series:
Equipped with an auto-darkening lens, this Lincoln Electric 3350 Series welding helmet comes with an ergonomic design that makes it easy to put on and reduces the strain on the neck and shoulders even with long hours of use. With a comfortably large viewing area, the helmet also delivers top-notch optical clarity with a real-colour view of the surroundings. The helmet is solar-powered has an extremely quick reaction time to flares and thereby also reduces eye strain significantly. A major disadvantage with the 3350 Series welding helmet is that it is not waterproof and is thereby unsuitable in wet conditions.
• Real-colour view
• Large viewing area
• Quick reaction time
• Not waterproof: cannot be used in wet conditions
3. Metal Man ATEC8735SGC:
This Metal Man welding helmet comes with four arc sensors and a fairly large viewing area and is solar-powered. It ensures a comfortable fit for all, and it also comes with a Grind mode to prevent lens darkening while grinding. The reaction time and optical clarity of this auto-darkening welding helmet are excellent, and the shade control range (9 to 13) is lower than other helmets in this range.
• 5-point adjustment settings for an excellent fit
• Grind mode
• The optical clarity is very high.
• Overall solid helmet with no significant cons
4. Lincoln Electric Viking:
One of the best welding helmets in the market, the Viking is also part of the 3550 Series and comes with the exclusive 4C lens technology which allows for superb optical clarity as well as a true-color view. The extra-large lens allows for a greater viewing area. This solar-powered helmet, however, is not waterproof and that is a significant drawback for those who wish to use it in wet conditions.
• 4C lens technology offers brilliant lens clarity and true color view
• Large viewing area
• Not waterproof or water-resistant
5. Neiko 53932A:
The Neiko 53932A welding helmet is powered by solar-assisted batteries that offer a long battery life and is designed to work optimally in extreme conditions (-5 to 55 degrees Celsius). It comes with two independent arc sensors, and the auto-darkening sensitivity of the lens can be altered according to preference. It is light-weight and offers shade control between shades 9 and 13.
• Can work in extreme conditions with ease
• Provides quality protection
• Reasonable price
• The headband does not feel sturdy and comfortable
6. Jackson Safety BH3:
Offering an auto darkening lens with a shade range of 9 to 13, this welding helmet uses the latest balder lens technology to give you the best optical clarity possible. It comes with a massive viewing area, and since the lens is wavelength-specific, they will go dark only when exposed to an arc but not if you look at the sun or any other light source. Unfortunately, this welding helmet comes with only two arc sensors and does not come with a grind mode.
• Balder technology offers best-in-market optical clarity
• Massive viewing area with wavelength-specific lens
• Sensitivity controls
• Only two arc sensors
• No grind mode
7. Antra AH6 Welding Helmet:
This is a low-cost welding helmet option that has a wide shade control range from 4 to 13. Equipped with four arc sensors, the auto darkening feature offers comfort and safety. However, the helmet shell is relatively flimsy, and battery life issues have been reported by many users. Another con is that it offers a limited viewing area when compared to other competitors, although the optical clarity is excellent.
• Wide shade control range
• Four arc sensors
• Good optical clarity
• Battery not reliable or durable
• Limited viewing area
• Flimsy shell
8. Jackson Safety Auto Darkening 46157:
With a shade range of 9 to 13, this welding helmet is another excellent option that employs the Balder lens technology to improve the auto-darkening experience and efficiency. The optical clarity is among the best available and comes complete with sensitivity and delay adjustment settings. The comfort and design, however, might not be suitable for all, and the helmet has an expensive price tag that might discourage most buyers.
• Best-in-market lens technology
• Delay in adjustment settings
• Not a very comfortable design
9. Hobart 770286 Flip Front Helmet:
A good beginners’ option, the Hobart 770286 is a passive welding helmet that comes with a shade ten lens that requires manual flipping as and when required. However, it does an excellent job of protecting your eyes while welding, it is not dynamic due to the lack of auto-darkening lens and is on the higher side in terms of weight. The manual operation of the lens protection could be tedious and interfere with work.
• Ideal for beginners
• No auto darkening
• Requires manual operation that might be tedious
10. DEKOPRO DP-33 Wide Lens Helmet:
Equipped with a wide viewing range that is usually available only on the more expensive models, this welding helmet is solar powered and is ideal for those who are on a tight budget. It also has an auto-darkening mode for interruption-free welding which, along with the pocket-friendly price, makes it the perfect choice for beginners.
• Attractive design
• Wide viewing range
• Auto-darkening mode
• Lens does not have the customization options that other helmets do, but that is understandable given the price point.
11. Jackson Safety Auto Darkening 46101:
Another solar powered option from Jackson Safety, the 46101 model, offers 9 to 13 shade control and auto-darkening all packed into a comfortable design. It is an ideal option for professionals and comes equipped with four independent arc sensors. The lens offers very good optical clarity at a moderate price. Many helmet reviews have praised this model for its comfort and feel even with prolonged use.
• Four independent arc sensors
• Comfortable design
• Excellent optical clarity
• Removing the lens is an arduous task in this model and takes getting used to
12. Esab SENTINEL A50 Auto Darkening Welding Helmet:
With a design that stands out from the rest, this auto-darkening and solar-powered welding helmet offers excellent peripheral vision thanks to its large viewing range. It also has an in-built grind mode and a touch screen control panel which makes it an expensive option. Customers have come to love the sleek and futuristic design of the helmet and the ease with which it can be used even over long periods of time.
• Unique, full head aerodynamic design
• Very wide viewing range
• In-built grind mode
• Touch screen control panel
• The helmet is expensive.
13. DEKOPRO XG9 Solar Powered Mask:
This professional solar-powered, auto-darkening welding helmet comes with a superb 7 square inch viewing range and offers excellent optical clarity built into a light-weight and adjustable mask that is comfortable. With a variable shade range of 9 to 13, the manufacturer promises a battery life of over 5000 hours and lightning fast reaction time in terms of auto-darkening. This is an ideal option for those who want a feature-rich welding helmet at a reasonable price.
• Wide viewing range
• Light-weight and comfortable
• Excellent battery life
• Good reaction time
• Some issues have been reported with the working of the auto-darkening feature.
14. TACKLIFE PAH03DWH Pro Welding Mask:
This helmet is an excellent choice for beginners that offers the best protection possible at a very reasonable price. With four premium arc sensors, this is a high-quality mask that offers a massive 11 square inch viewing range that you rarely see in any welding mask or helmet. It is extremely well made, but one of the biggest cons is that quite a few reviews have pointed at a rather uncomfortable feeling with prolonged use.
• Four premium arc sensors
• Massive 11 square inch viewing range
• Reasonable price
• Not a very comfortable design. Uncomfortable with prolonged use.
15. DEKOPRO XG30 Welder Mask:
This mid-range helmet runs on solar power and offers some of the best features at a competitive price. The auto-darkening feature comes with a shade range of 9 to 13 and the helmet has a large 7 square inch viewing area that provides for superior eye comfort and good peripheral vision while welding. The reaction time is lightning quick and optical clarity is very good, but the build quality leaves one wanting more as the shell does not feel sturdy.
• Lightning quick reaction time
• Excellent optical clarity and viewing range
• Value for money
• Poor build quality leaves one wanting more.
• Flimsy shell
16. Hobart 770890 Inventor Welding Helmet:
A beginner-level option for those who are looking into welding as hobbyists, this welding helmet packs a lot of features at a reasonable price. It has a shade range of 8 to 13 and also has a grind mode. It offers brilliant protection and is neither too heavy nor too light, but the lens does not offer a true color view, and a greenish tinge can be observed during use. One of the biggest cons of the helmet is that it is not a hard hat compatible.
• Auto-darkening at a very reasonable price
• Grind mode
• No true-color view; greenish tinge on the lens.
• Not compatible with hard hats.
17. 3M Speedglas 9100 Auto-darkening Welding Helmet:
The 3M Speedglas is a premium welding helmet that is equipped with three arc sensors that work in tandem to provide the best protection for your eyes. Offering shade control between 5 and 13, the auto-darkening reaction time is less than a tenth of a millisecond, and the simple and superior design allows for comfortable use. This is one of the best options for professionals, but some have complained of discomfort in terms of heat inside the mask when used for longer periods of time.
• Three arc sensors for premium protection.
• Wide shade control
• Best-in-market reaction time
• Ideal for professionals
• Some users have complained of excess heat inside the helmet with long hours of use.
18. Jackson Safety Insight 46131 Welding Helmet:
This auto-darkening welding helmet by Jackson Safety offers superior protection thanks to its four sensors and extremely quick reaction times. It has an intuitive digital control panel and also offers a grind mode, aside from the 9 to 13 shade control. It is a high-quality option with an attractive price tag that is an excellent choice for most semi-professional welders.
• Four sensors offer premium protection
• High-quality auto darkening
• Not too expensive
• Shell is not sturdy.
19. Hobart 770756 Impact Variable:
With a seven square inch viewing range that offers excellent optical clarity, this helmet from Hobart is a superb entry-level option at a reasonable price. The outer shell is highly durable, and lightweight and the lens has a shade control of 8 to 13 and comes along with a convenient grind mode. The auto-darkening feature is fast and accurate. One of the drawbacks of this model is the rapid draining of the batteries that require frequent recharging with moderate use.
• Excellent viewing range and optical clarity
• Highly durable, lightweight outer shell
• Grind mode
• Frequent recharging may be required.
20. Tanox Auto Darkening with Welding Gloves:
This solar powered welding helmet ensures reasonable optical clarity and a good viewing area that ensures comfortable use. It comes equipped with auto-darkening between shades 9 and 13 and also has the versatile grind mode at shade 4. Four sensors ensure optimal eye protection, but several users have pointed out issues in terms of fitting and comfort while welding. One advantage, however, is that this helmet comes with a free pair of thick welding gloves that also protect your hands while welding.
• Four sensors for optimal protection
• Grind mode
• Free pair of welding gloves
• The optical clarity is not as good as other helmets available.
• Comfort and fitting issues
21. TR Industrial 88024 Welding Helmet:
A manual flip-up shade 11 passive welding helmet, the TR Industrial 88024 is a pocket-friendly option for those who can do without auto-darkening and a wider shade control range. It comes with a large viewing area that offers an excellent peripheral vision. But this helmet has a major drawback which is its flip up design. Many users have complained of the inability of the shade to stay in one place when the user is bending or moving around, which makes it unideal for many.
• Excellent peripheral vision thanks to wide viewing range
• Passive, single shade helmet
• Flip-up design requires manual operation.
• Not a very good design as the helmet does not stay in place when the user moves.
22. Fibre-Metal by Honeywell Pipeliner Welding Helmet:
One of the best welding helmets for beginners, the Pipeliner comes with a passive shade 11 lens. Although the lens is not the best in terms of optical clarity, the helmet more than makes up for it with its sturdy and simple design and the comfort that it offers even with many hours of continuous use. One of the advantages of the helmet is that the lenses can be easily changed to suit preferences. This helmet is not recommended for professional use as it lacks features like auto-darkening and grind mode.
• Ideal for beginners
• Sturdy and simple design
• Comfortable even with prolonged use
• Not recommended for professional use
• Optical clarity is not up to the mark and could be better.
• No auto-darkening or grind mode
23. iMeshbean Pro Cool Welding Helmet:
This relatively cost-effective welding helmet is equipped with 9 to 13 shade control and runs on solar power. The auto-darkening feature has a very low reaction time and offers optimum protection from arcs and flares while welding. The cons of this helmet are that it feels flimsy and the auto-darkening feature is not durable. Several customers have also reported fitting and adjustment issues.
• Very low reaction time
• Good protection
• Value for money
• Flimsy design
• Fitting and adjustment issues
• Some users have complained that the auto-darkening feature is not durable.
24. AUDEW Adjustable Auto Darkening Welding Helmet:
If you are looking for an attractive design, not too many helmets can top the AUDEW Auto Darkening Welding Helmet. Solar powered and equipped with auto-darkening Filter lens, it offers shade control from 9 to 13 and also a grind mode at shade 4. It is extremely lightweight and is designed for comfort even with continuous use. One drawback, however, is that the materials used do not feel like they are of high quality, but this is forgivable considering the price point.
• Attractive design
• Extremely light-weight and comfortable
• Grind mode
• The shell feels flimsy
• Average build quality and feel
25. Z ZTDM Auto Darkening Welding Helmet:
Another good all-round welding helmet at a reasonable price, this Z ZTDM helmet offers 9 to 13 shade control with a shade 4 grind mode. It comes equipped with two arc sensors that work along with the auto-darkening feature to protect your eyes from flares. However, several users have complained of the flimsy build quality and delayed response times while using the auto-darkening feature.
• Grind mode
• Poor build quality
• Delayed response times while using the auto-darkening feature
Buying Guide for the Best Welding Helmet
Welding helmets do not come cheap and have thousands of variants offering different features. There is no need for you to be confused, however. Read on to decide what is the best welding helmet for you based on your requirements and preferences.
1. Viewing area: It is essential for you to be able to view the object that you are working on. Limited viewing area on your helmet will force you to repeatedly move and strain your neck while working and therefore, you must ensure that the helmet that you buy has a reasonably wide viewing range to allow for adequate peripheral vision. This will help you see your workspace better and prevent accidents and unnecessary fatigue and exertion.
2. Shade range: There are two kinds of helmets available: passive and auto-darkening. Passive helmets offer only one shade, usually 10 or 11, that provides the same level of protection irrespective of the activity or the strength of the UV or IR emissions. Auto-darkening welding helmets come with a shade control range, usually between 9 and 13, and sometimes a grind mode at shade 4 or 5. The latter are more expensive but are ideal if your work involves different types of welding and you do not wish to constantly flip on and off the helmet. However, if much of your work involves only one kind of material and working only in one position, a single shade helmet is more than enough to fulfill your requirements.
3. Size, Weight, and Comfort: Different people have different head sizes, and if you do not pick a helmet that suits you perfectly, you will not be comfortable while working. Always choose a helmet that allows for fitting adjustments to be on the safer side. Never choose helmets that are too heavy unless you are certain that they will not place an excessive burden on your neck and shoulders. Lightweight options are always preferable.
4. Warranty: Depending on the helmet that you purchase, you might be given a warranty anywhere between 90 days to 3 years. Some warranties are given specifically for the lens only. If you are a professional who plans to put the helmet to regular use, it is recommended that you opt for a brand and variant that comes with a longer warranty period, especially if you plan to spend a lot of money.
5. Safety Standards: There are different safety standards for both the helmets as well as the lenses that tell you the level of protection and the clarity that the lens offers respectively. Always choose helmets that fulfill the safety standards; these are named differently across different countries (for example ANSI Z87.1 in the United States). These safety standards are the minimum levels of protection that every helmet must necessarily provide.
6. Auto-Darkening Delay: This is the amount of time that is taken for the lens to return to the normal shade after it darkens on exposure to an arc or a flare. The delay time must be short if you are looking to get a job done quickly, tack welding for example but if you are working at high amperages, the emissions may continue for longer and thereby require a longer delay time for optimal protection.
7. Knobs and Controls: Different helmets come with different controls. Basic passive helmets just have a knob with which the lens can be flipped on and off whereas some advanced helmets come with expensive digital touch interfaces to control the auto-darkening or sensitivity settings. Make sure that you buy a helmet that has easy to understand controls that are not too complicated.
8. Battery Power Type: Auto-darkening helmets come with plenty of power options. Some are solar powered with replaceable batteries whereas some use irreplaceable solar panels. Some use triple-A batteries, and some are powered by lithium batteries. The choice largely depends on personal choice as some solar panels require charging before use that might not be ideal. Lithium batteries are not as easily available as triple-A batteries but certainly last for longer periods of time.
9. Respirator systems: If you work in environments that require you to work with toxic materials or in high pollution environments, a respirator might be essential to ensure that you are safe and able to breathe clean air. Ensure that the helmet is compatible to be used with a respirator if you work in such conditions.
10. Reaction Time: The time taken for the lens to detect welding activity and switch to a protective shade is called reaction time. It is measured in parts of a second with entry-level helmets offering a reaction time of 1/3600th of a second while more advanced helmets can go up to 1/25000th of a second. Higher reaction times in entry-level helmets could cause fatigue and eye strain, especially if you plan to use the helmet for long periods of time.
How to Clean Your Welding Helmet
If you put your welding helmet to regular use, there is bound to be a build-up of dust, grime, and scratches, especially on the lens that can reduce visibility and comfort during use. It, therefore, becomes very important to properly maintain your welding helmet and keep it clean in order to ensure that it lasts longer. The following are some of the basic cleaning options that you can choose.
• Post-use Care: It is always important to wipe down your welding helmet after every use, preferably with a microfibre cloth to avoid scratches. This will remove the dust and dirt that collects on the lenses and the shell throughout the day and will leave your helmet looking new and clean for longer.
• General care: Buy a decent carry bag to transport the helmet to protect the helmet and the lenses from accidental falls, bumps, and scratches.
• Use a Brush: You can soak the lens in warm water with detergent powder and then use a soft brush to remove any stain or splatters on the lens. Ensure that this procedure will not in any way harm your lens as some advanced lenses could be damaged with exposure to harsh brushing or water.
• Buffing the lens: You can also use some buffing compound and lightly buff the lens in case of hard stains and grime that refuse to come off even with mild detergent. Do not apply too much pressure as this could scratch the lens.
• Professional care: Some hardware service centers offer welding helmet cleaning services that include a thorough cleaning of the helmet, thereby saving you time and effort.
• Disinfection: It is recommended that you regularly disinfect the welding helmet, especially if you spend long hours in it. Disinfection ensures that the helmet remains clean and does not become a safe haven for bacteria and other pathogens.
• Replace lens: If the lens is filled with scratches and grime that refuses to come off or is damaged, sometimes the best option is to completely replace the lens with a new one.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
1. How long do welding helmets last?
The answer to this question depends on a variety of factors such as usage, battery type, quality, and so on. However, a decent helmet with an average battery life should easily last a couple of years with moderate to heavy usage and if maintained properly, could easily last longer.
2. Why do welders wear masks?
Welding involves the use of intense heat and often results in sparks, ultraviolet, and infrared emissions. Welding masks protect the eyes from damage or vision loss and prevent flash burns on the skin. Welding without a mask is highly dangerous.
3. How bad is welding for your eyes?
Welding can be extremely bad for your eyes as the fumes, and in some cases, the UV and infrared emissions could even permanently damage them and cause blindness. However, these risks can be offset by buying a good welding helmet and lens, with which negative impacts on your eyes are highly unlikely.
4. Do welders go blind over time?
In simple words, if the welder is using a good welding helmet and a good quality filter lens, no he will not. Unsafe exposure, however, could severely damage the eyes.
5. What is an Auto-Darkening welding helmet?
An auto-darkening welding helmet is one that protects your eyes from sudden changes in the UV or IR emissions while welding but in normal conditions, usually allow for full color and a clear view of the surroundings. This eliminates the need to constantly remove and re-wear the helmet during welding.
6. Can welding helmets be used for grinding?
Yes, most welding helmets can be used for grinding as long as they are built to design impact. Make sure you understand the quality standards of the helmet before use. Some helmets also come with a separate grind mode setting to make this easier and more convenient.
7. Are cheap welding helmets any good?
If you are a beginner or pursuing welding as a hobby, a relatively cheaper helmet that has a passive single shade lens would be sufficient in most cases. However, for professional purposes, a good quality helmet might be more expensive. Always ensure that the helmet meets the minimum safety standards before buying.
8. What is the best speed glass welding helmet?
The 3M Speedglas 9100 FX Welding Helmet is the best in range and offers supreme comfort and quality and the best protection among its competitors.
9. How dark should my welding helmet be?
Welding helmets come in passive single shade variants, usually shade 10 or 11, or auto-darkening variants with shade control, usually between 9 and 13. The best way to decide which option is ideal for you is to understand your requirements and the type of welding that you will be undertaking.
10. How to Change a Battery in a Welding Helmet?
Some helmets have replaceable batteries, whereas some do not. Lithium batteries, for example, are harder to replace, whereas the triple-A batteries can be easily procured and changed in a helmet. Since it varies from helmet to helmet, make sure to go through the user manual to determine how to change the battery in your helmet.
Buying a good welding helmet is extremely important to ensure that you are safe and protected while you work and to prevent injuries. There are hundreds of available options at different price points that offer different sets of features that are bound to confuse even the most experienced welder, but we hope that by reading this article, you are one step closer to making a more informed choice about the best helmet for you. Happy welding!