Are you among the many that like to weld at home, or it is a part of your job? Then in that case, a welding helmet is essential. Technology has led to the development of various welding helmets, which suit a variety of needs you might have – as we will see in the options below.
Every welder, whether on an amateur or professional level, needs to have a good welding helmet with them when doing the job. The intensely bright glare of the welding arc, as well as the metal shavings, hot shards from the arc, and additional hazardous by products necessitate the use of this protective material.
However, you cannot simply choose any welding helmet that looks promising – it is important to carry out as much research as possible to make the best choice available. In this article, we look at some of these choices, as well as those you should avoid; while also giving some tips that will prove helpful to you when you go out shopping for a helmet.
Visor measurements, L x W (in inches)
Check price on Amazon
Antra AH6-260-0000 Welding helmet (DIY helmet)
3.86 x 1.78
Hobart 770286 flip front helmet
4.5 x 2
Lincoln Electric black welding helmet (the pick)
3.74 x 3.34
Jackson Safety Insight 46131 helmet (value for money)
3.93 x 2.36
DEKOPRO solar powered helmet (affordable)
3.85 x 3.15
Antra AH6-260-0000 welding helmet – best DIY helmet option
Sometimes you might wonder where you can get a good entry-level welding helmet, but this is a good choice for you if you want to purchase one. Thanks to its wide range of features and affordable pricing, it is a favorite choice for many people, and its shading levels will cater for most procedures of plasma cutting and welding tasks.
- Measurement accuracy of 0.1
- Weight of 1.0 pounds, and length and width of 9 inches
- Smart chip controlled 4 sensor
- Highly responsive to electric arcs from applications of MMA, TIG, Plasma and MIG
- Has grinding feature in shade 4 and variable shade from 5-13
- Has Interference Suppression Technology that reduces false triggering, especially when you are exposed to very intense light
- 2 replaceable batteries and solar cell
- Battery indicator
- Delay in the Power OFF feature for up to 10 minutes
- Passive filter that protects against IR/UV radiation
- Completely automatic OFF/ON
You will likely be impressed by the great variation in shading, which caters to a variety of plasma cutting and welding procedures, especially if you are a beginner in the welding world. You can even switch the mode you are using, depending on the task you are doing at that moment – between grinding (shade 4), as well as MMA, TIG, plasma, and MIA (shade 5 to 13).
In order to ensure it stays useful for a long time, the helmet includes additional lens shade covers. You will also like the good size of the viewer, which is 1.73 inches in width by 3.86 inches in length. In order to give you a better idea of what you are welding, there are a number of sensors. In addition, it uses solar power, which helps you save on costs, and is environmentally friendly.
The only disappointing aspect is the two arc sensors that it has, which is quite few for a professional welder – but it is enough if you are doing light welding jobs.
- Good for beginner welders
- Solar power
- Has variable shade
- Multiple modes
- Affordable price
- It is not suitable for professional-level welders
- Only has one color available
If you are completely new to welding, you will not want to spend too much money – and this helmet is a perfect compromise of affordable pricing with good features. It is also great for MIG and TIG welders.
Hobart 770286 flip front helmet – good for infrequent tasks
You do not just require a helmet that can protect you during the welding process, you need one that can grind correctly. Having one that has both is a great option, and this has both of these benefits that make your work easier.
- Very ideal in a variety of welding tasks
- Satisfies the ANSI safety standards
- Large Viewing area of 4.5 inches by 2 inches
- Flip front to make it easy to adjust or remove
- Weighs 14.4 ounces
Considering its price point, it does a fine job of rocking your welding experience like few others can. The large viewing area makes it comfortable for you to work from multiple angles without strain.
In addition, it has 4 arc sensors that are all independent from each other, and the headgear is very easy to adjust due to the flip front mechanism. It retains a clean look, similar to the pro and impact series in the same line. For instance, its inner cushioning helps you stay comfortable as you wear it – so you do not need to stretch your head after a whole hour of using it.
It has approval from the ANSI, so it is completely safe to use in minor activities. It protects your face and your vision, although you will need to make the size adjustments yourself. There are also 10 shades available, so you can select the one that fits your own preferences.
- Budget friendly
- Easy to wear and adjust
- Approved by ANSI
- Can be flimsy due to the plastic build
- Not suitable for heavy use
This is the best choice you can have if you are searching for something to protect you during smaller tasks, but you will need to adjust the shade yourself. The good news is that this is an easy task, because the guide will help you to know the settings that fit you best.
Lincoln Electric 3350 black welding helmet – our pick
The truth is that welding is a very dangerous job, and this helmet does its best to be comfortable and protect you from the hazards of the job – while still allowing for size adjustments.
- Weight – 3.2 lbs.
- Viewing area is 3.74 inches by 3.34 inches
- 3-year warranty
- Lens shade 5-13
- Solar power source
There are 10 available styles, which are much more than what you would get from most manufacturers, and each has a unique design. All of them have a lasting visual appeal, even as they improve your safety on the job.
One of the standout features is the automatic darkening feature. When you begin your welding job, the shade immediately begins to change to dark from light, and then changes back to its initial state immediately your welding stops. It is also versatile enough to use with different modes – such as plasma, arc, MIG and TIG, and you can adjust it as you use it. If you want to change the shade level, you can use the shade selector knob to adjust from 6 to 13.
The helmet is impressively lightweight due to its suspension system, which is quitter practical and comfortable. If you want to change your vision, you can use the AFT adjustment, which makes it easier to know the distance between your face and the lens of your helmet.
Aside from that, another standout feature is the 4C lens technology. These are arc sensors coming in a pack of 4, and they catch the arc spark as you do the job, as well as darkening the lens and giving better optical precision.
The only disappointing aspect is that you will have to maintain it frequently for it to function at its best, since the hinges seem fragile and prone to falling apart or breaking. If you can look past its price tag though, it can easily serve you well for many years due to its standout features and versatility.
- Very easy and comfortable to wear
- You can add bifocal glasses when using it
- Auto darkening feature
- Includes a backpack
- You will need to maintain and clean it frequently
- The hinge system does not seem durable
This is among the best welding helmets, especially if you are looking for one that gives you added protection from sources of light, while allowing you to see clearly.
Jackson Safety Insight 46131 helmet – best in giving you value for money
If you are in the search for a good welding helmet that gives you excellent protection, without spending too much money on it, this is a good choice for you. The various features will also allow you to work efficiently and safely as possible.
- You can select between weld and grind modes (you can choose for TIG, MIG and arc welding)
- Viewing area of 3.93 inches by 2.36 inches
- Automatic dimming sensors (4 of them) as well as digital controls
- CSA compliant, meets ANSI Z87.1+ standards
- Has an Auto Darkening Filter
- Lightweight, weighing only 6 oz.
- Compatible with a wide variety of helmet shells from Jackson Safety, such as SmarTIGer, Nitro, HLX-100 and WH40.
- Large ratcheting dial allows you to make helmet size adjustments without removing it
Even if you are working for long, exhausting hours on a welding job, the helmet still promotes your safety and comfort thanks to its flexible and lightweight build.
Other than that, there are several other aspects that make it worth considering for your job. One of the standout ones is its ADF (Auto Darkening Feature) lens, which is actually good enough to be used by professional welders. The lens allows you to work comfortably in different settings, and the 4 auto-dimming sensors will help you stay comfortable.
You will likely be impressed by the great variation in shading, which caters to a variety of plasma cutting and welding procedures, especially if you are a beginner in the welding world. You can even switch the mode you are using, depending on the task you are doing at that moment – between grinding, as well as MMA, TIG, plasma, and MIA (shade 5 to 13).
- Automatic dimming settings
- Easy to use due to digital controls
- You can use it for different welding modes
- Small in size
- Has a cheap appearance
The controls ensure that using the Jackson Safety auto darkening helmet is convenient and easy, and ensure that its performance remains impressive.
DEKOPRO Solar Powered helmet – best affordable option
This is the cheapest helmet that is on the list, though it still delivers some useful features and has great protection levels.
- Has an automatic darkening filter, which changes from light to dark mode
- Protects against IR and UV radiation even in electric failure, up to shade 16
- Meets EN379 4/9-13 and ANSI Z87.1-2010 safety standards
- Has a range of delay and sensitivity settings to help you adapt to different conditions
- Viewing area of 3.85 inches by 3.15 inches
- Lightweight, 1 pound
- Solar powered, can last up to 5000 hrs. of use
The quality of the build is decent, even if it is a cheap one. You should not expect top grade materials, especially with its low price; but it will serve you well due to its strong plastic material. For improved protection, a leather bib is included, and it is generally well-balanced to make it comfortable to wear. Note that it will come disassembled, so you will have to follow the instructions to step it up.
As you use it during welding, it will give you sufficient eye protection. Keep in mind that the automatic darkening feature is not the most responsive you will ever find, but it is still good enough to work for you, due to its fast responsiveness of 0.00004 seconds.
- Large viewing area
- The helmet is lightweight
- Very affordable price
- Lacks durability
- Not suitable for heavy use
If you want a cheap welding helmet for your small projects, then this is a good choice for you. It is important to limit its use though, as its cheap build has certain limits it can handle.
What we don’t recommend
While this has its merits such as coming at an affordable price and great design in appearance, there are many things to not like about this helmet. It has an auto darkening mask as well, so can change its shade during the welding process.
Chief among them is the poor darkening of the lens – the manufacturer states that the lens are dark enough to handle bright environments, but the reality is that they are not dark enough. In fact, some users have complained about the intensely bright glare that still gets to their eyes, and they have to spend a few days afterwards recovering from it. That is not something you want for such an important tool.
The adjustments in delay and sensitivity are also subjective and the manufacturer does not state them, so you are not sure of what you are getting – and that can be bad news when you are looking for something to protect your eyes from the harsh glare of welding arcs.
- Has a good fit and appearance
- It keeps getting loose after every welding session
- Very fragile, and its suspension harness can break easily after a short time
- Not dark enough when working in very intense light
- Tends to get foggy in its lens when you are striking arcs
- Batteries are non-replaceable
This is quite an affordable option, even more so than most of the top picks. However, you will get what you pay for, and this is a clear example of that – the build is not the best quality, and its prolonged use can hurt your eyesight in the long term.
What to consider when buying a welding helmet
What do welding helmets do?
Welding helmets are headgear that you use when you are performing certain kinds of welding activities. They are meant to protect you from the hazards of the job, such as Infrared light, flash burns, sparks, ultraviolet radiation, and heat.
You will usually find them used with certain processes in the arc welding procedures, such as in gas metal arc welding, shielded metal arc welding, and gas tungsten arc welding.
These tools help to provide protection in a variety of ways, with some being more important compared to others. When you are planning to weld without using one, it is very dangerous to you – even if you are wearing other protective gear such as safety goggles – so it is very important to choose the best one you can get.
Some of the areas of your body it protects are:
- Your skin – welding always results in a shower of debris at very high temperatures, which can easily burn your skin or penetrate your eyes.
- Eyes – this is, by far, the most important feature of the helmet protection aspects. The lenses are meant to guard your eyes from the intense light of welding arcs. In fact, without it, your eyes can easily suffer long term damage or blindness due to damage of the retina.
- Reduce fatigue – welding is a tougher job than it first appears, and in the past, many welders suffered from neuromuscular conditions that were quite painful. This was mainly because their helmets, while protective, were quite heavy and tiring to wear over long periods. The models of today re thankfully much lighter and allow you to make comfortable head movements, as well as wear them comfortably for long hours.
Types of welding helmets
The choice you make will depend on the needs you have in your tasks, and some of these helmets are:
- Fixed shade lenses helmets
- Passive welding helmets
- Battery-powered helmets
- Solar-powered helmets
- Auto—darkening welding helmets
- Battery and solar powered helmets
- Variable shade welding helmets
What are some of the considerations to make?
Controls and knobs
The major factor that determines the ease of using a helmet will depend on the control knobs and their placement. The helmet will either have external or internal knobs, with each placement having its own advantages.
- External knobs- these are very easy to adjust. Because they are located outside the helmet, it is very easy to reach for them and change whatever you need as you work. However, they can be tricky to work with if your welding environment is a confined space, because the external knobs make it harder to reach the knobs, or you can bump them on objects accidentally.
- Internal knobs – these, as the name will tell you, are within the helmet. They are also convenient to use in confined spaces, since you do not run the risk of adjusting controls accidentally. However, they have a disadvantage – you have to remove the helmet if you want to make any changes, which can prove to be frustrating as you work.
The type of shade
This is a major consideration in the choice of a welding helmet, and it comes in two types:
- Fixed – these do not have the automatic darkening properties of variable shades, and they retain their dark appearance despite the light conditions. Therefore, you have to lift it to check the quality of your weld. Since they do not allow you to see properly either, you must have the welding torch in the correct position before you wear the helmet.
- Variable – these are preferred by many professionals and amateurs alike, because they can adjust the darkness depending on the light intensity. They will therefore give you the best visibility, and are quite useful for many welding activities. The disadvantage is that they are more expensive compared to the fixed shade helmets.
The type of lenses
This is similar to the type of helmet shade that you want. They come in two varieties:
- Passive darkening lenses – these do not change their color or shade during the welding process, but they have IR and UV coatings to protect your eyes. In order to see your progress, you will have to remove the helmet or flip it open. They are also more affordable compared to the auto-darkening lenses.
- Auto-darkening lenses – these will adjust their dark levels according to the intensity of the light source. They get darker immediately you begin welding, and they turn clearer after you finish. Due to this, they are very comfortable for professionals and beginners alike, and allow you to work for long periods without flipping the helmet open or removing it.
If you want to make sure the helmet you are buying is good for use, you need to ensure it has the stamp of approval from the bodies that determine their quality. Therefore, when you are buying the helmet, the most important bodies to look for in approval are the SSE (Society of Safety Engineers) and the ANSI (American National Standards Institute).
You can also check customer reviews, as you want a helmet that can last for a few years. There are three other criteria to use when figuring out the safety of the helmet:
- EN379 rating – always go for the auto darkening helmets that are solar powered, and have a rating of 1/1/1/1. These figures represent four important safety points.
- If you see a helmet with a 3, it is the lowest score, and one is the highest
- Always go for those that are manufactured in Australia, the EU, Canada or the USA
Different welding helmets will come at different price tags, so your ultimate choice will depend on what you are comfortable spending.
With that said, not all the best helmets will come at thousands of dollars – there are many good ones that come at affordable, budget-friendly fees, which allow you to enjoy the best of what they have to offer without spending too much.
However, it is important to remember to avoid the cheapest helmets out there. In most cases, the cheapest welding helmets will not offer you reasonable levels of protection. Even if you want to save your money, you should not have to spend it on a poor quality helmet that you will have to throw away later.
On the other hand, it is not the wisest choice to buy the most expensive helmet, because you should also consider your workload. If you are not a professional welder, or are not doing a heavy-duty project, then you will likely not need a helmet that is too expensive. It is more important to strike a balance between quality, purpose and the pricing.
Different helmets will come in different fits and styles, some of them will have a one-size-fits-all approach, and others will be easy to adjust.
Even though the fixed fit types are more affordable compared to the others, they will prove to be a problem unless you find the size that fits you best. They are not as comfortable compared to the welding helmets that have an adjustable fit. For the helmets that have an adjustable fit, they come with various mechanisms such as straps, which you can use to make the helmet fit your head perfectly.
In addition, a welding helmet can also have padding, especially if they are on the pricey end. The cheaper ones might not have sufficient padding, but the best ones will likely have adequate padding on the chin, top and sides of the helmet. The padding also makes the helmet fit better and be easier to wear.
All helmets will have a source of power for them to function, with most of them using battery power. There are also different battery types you will find in the helmets, such as solar, replaceable and non-replaceable batteries.
- Replaceable batteries – these are easy to change, and are made of lithium. You can replace the battery when it runs out of power, and they are lighter in weight compared to other helmet types.
- Non-replaceable batteries – these are made from lead, and you recharge the batteries when they run out of power. The advantage is their staying power – they are quite durable. Because of this, they tend to be more expensive compared to the replaceable batteries, as well as being heavier.
- Solar batteries – these are the newest addition to the welding helmets, and are recharged through the sun’s rays. When you are not using them, they automatically shut off through their auto-off feature, which makes them environmentally friendly and durable. They are also convenient to us, and lightweight.
When you wear a heavier helmet, it will feel less comfortable to wear – especially if you are working for long periods or doing heavy-duty jobs. You are better off choosing a lightweight helmet, as it will feel comfortable both during and after using it.
Lightweight helmets will also reduce the risk of developing injuries such as neck sprains, and give you greater mobility by allowing you to turn your head. Some helmets can also be useful in jobs such as grinding, although this will depend on the helmet type you purchase.
The wide range of welding helmets today can be advantageous because you are spoilt for choice, but it is quite challenging to choose the best pick that works for your needs. You need to keep your preferences and needs in mind, along with the durability and safety of the helmet, which should be a priority when going for working tools such as this.
When choosing a brand to go for, the most trusted brands are always a good choice, and going for the helmets with the best customer reviews can help you make a good decision. Your options will be endless, but this will help you narrow them down.