For a welder, buying the best welding helmet is probably the most important investment to make, besides the welding machine of course. If you’re familiar with welding, you probably know that it’s a dangerous profession. That’s why safety should be a top priority. A welding helmet is necessary for protection against radiation, sparks, and other fiery particles, which could cause tremendous harm to your face and neck if left exposed otherwise.

So if you’ve ended up on this page asking what is the best auto darkening welding helmet on the market in 2018, you’ve come to the right place. We understand that it’s critical to pick the right one for your needs. That’s why we have scrutinized the available products on the market and have compiled this list of top rated welding helmets. You can either compare the products in the table or read the welding helmet reviews below for more detailed information.

  • Lincoln Electric Viking 3350
  • Auto-darkening: yes
  • Viewing size: 3.74" x 3.34"
  • Arc sensors: 4
  • Shades: DIN 5-13
  • Optical rating: 1/1/1/1
  • Reaction time: 1/25,000 Seconds
  • Battery Type: Sollar Cell + 1 CR2450
  • Grind mode: yes
  • Cheater Lens/Magnifying Lens Compatible: yes
top rated welding helmets
  • Jackson Safety W70 BH3
  • Auto-darkening: yes
  • Viewing size: 3.78" x 2.69"
  • Arc sensors: 2
  • Shades: DIN 4, 9-13
  • Optical rating: 1/1/1/1
  • Reaction time: 1/25,000 Seconds
  • Battery Type: Solar Cell
  • Grind mode: no
  • Cheater Lens/Magnifying Lens Compatible: yes
best auto darkening welding helmet
  • Antra AH6-260-0000
  • Auto-darkening: yes
  • Viewing size: 3.86" x 1.73"
  • Arc sensors: 4
  • Shades: DIN 5-9/9-13
  • Optical rating: 1/1/1/2
  • Reaction time: 1/25,000 Seconds
  • Battery Type: Solar Cell + 2X CR2032
  • Grind mode: yes
  • Cheater Lens/Magnifying Lens Compatible: yes
  • Antra AH6-660-0000
  • Auto-darkening: yes
  • Viewing size: 3.78" x 2.50"
  • Arc sensors: 4
  • Shades: DIN 5-9/9-13
  • Optical rating: 1/1/1/2
  • Reaction time: 1/25,000 Seconds
  • Battery Solar Cell + 2X CR1616
  • Grind mode: yes
  • Cheater Lens/Magnifying Lens Compatible: yes
  • Instapark ADF Series GX-500S
  • Auto-darkening: yes
  • Viewing size: 3.63” x 1.65”
  • Arc sensors: 2
  • Shades: DIN 4, 9-13
  • Optical rating: 1/1/1/2
  • Reaction time: 1/25,000 Seconds
  • Battery Type: Solar cell + 2 x CR2032
  • Grind mode: yes
  • Cheater Lens/Magnifying Lens Compatible: no
  • 3M Speedglas 9100
  • Auto-darkening: yes
  • Viewing size: 4.2" x 2.8"
  • Arc sensors: 3
  • Shades: DIN 5, 8-13
  • Optical rating: -
  • Reaction time: 1/25,000 Seconds
  • Battery Type: 2 x Cr2030
  • Grind mode: yes
  • Cheater Lens/Magnifying Lens Compatible: yes

10 Top Rated Auto Darkening Welding Helmets Reviewed

Antra AH6-260-0000 – Best Value For the Money

best auto darkening welding helmet

If you’re looking for the best auto darkening welding helmet for the money, we’d recommend considering the Antra AH6-260-0000 model. This best value welding helmet comes at an absurdly low price and is the best seller on Amazon. This makes it a perfect option for people looking for a high quality welding helmet on a tight budget. And the low price tag doesn’t mean that you’ll get a very basic product, this welding helmet offers some of the higher end features.

Who Is It For?

This is a product is for anyone looking for the best affordable welding helmet. It’s a versatile helmet that is great for TIG, MIG, MMA and Arc applications. But it doesn’t stop there. It’s also suitable for plasma cutting and grinding applications. So with this helmet, you will have protection for most of the hazards that come with working with metals.

The Good

  • Auto-Darkening Filter (13 shades). This filter and its fast reaction time (0.00004 seconds)ensure that your eyes are well protected at all times from the welding glare. The 4 Premium built-in sensors also make it highly responsive to light from any type of welding.
  • Magnifying lens compatibility (size 2” x 4”). This is a unique feature for a welding helmet in this price range. A magnifying lens is a very handy feature to have if your job requires attention to every detail.
  • Adjustable sensitivity. There’s a knob on the site of the helmet, using which you can adjust sensitivity and delay settings (0.1-1 seconds). So you can personalize your mask and make sure that your eyes are well adjusted to the shift in the light.
  • Solar Power Assist. To ensure that your welding doesn’t come to a halt unexpectedly, you can always turn on the solar power assist feature and continue your work.
  • Durably built. The strong external material is made of High Impact Polyimide Nylon. So it can withstand use in rough work areas.
  • Lightweight design. Weighing only one pound, you’ll hardly feel it when wearing it during your work.
  • Meets most major standards: ANSA, CSA and CE.

The Bad

  • Limiting viewing area (3.86″ x1.73″). Some users might find the viewing screen a bit limiting. But for the price, it’s still a pretty good deal.

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Lincoln Electric Viking 3350 – Best Rated Option

auto darkening welding helmet reviews

Although this model comes with a high price tag, the features, quality, and functionality of the helmet justifies it. The sleek design and the potent technology make this product one of the line welding helmets.

Who Is It For?

This is a high quality helmet that can stand up to a lot of abuse. This makes it perfect for both professional use and DIY enthusiasts.

The Good

  • Auto-darkening. The Lincoln’s 3350’s auto-darkening screen offers easily adjustable sensitivity (DIN 6 to 13). The 4 arc sensors also provide ultra fast switching time: 0.00004 seconds. So you can be assured that you won’t get flashed while working.
  • Optical clarity (1/1/1/1). With the 4c technology helmet provides you with the best optical clarity possible, which is essential for ensuring that safety and work quality is maintained. It rates highly in all four categories, more on which you can read in our guides below.
  • Large viewing screen (3.74″ x 3.34″). The Viking 3350 provides an enviable field of vision, so during your work you can have a clear view from multiple angles.
  • Solar power and battery assist. The welding helmet comes with solar rechargeable batteries. So whenever you’re not using it, just leave it by the window and you’ll have a fresh charge.
  • Compliance with ANSI and CSA.

The Bad

  • Due to the large viewing screen, this helmet tends to be on the heavier side (21 ounces). So it might be slightly uncomfortable for an entire day of use. However, with the suspension system and the highly adjustable headgear, it’s usually not a problem.
  • There have also been some complaints that the glossy black finish tends to pick up scratches. But this is really just a cosmetic issue.

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Jackson Safety W70 BH3 – Best Optical Clarity

top rated welding helmets

Jackson Safety W70 BH3 comes at a premium price, but you pay for a feature-heavy auto-darkening welding helmet. It’s built with the latest technology and provides exceptional durability and easily adjustable parts.

Who Is It For?

The helmet comes with 3 headgear adjustments, so it’s configurable to fit a variety of welders and suitable for all types of welding. This helmet is a good choice for anyone looking for a high quality helmet for professional or DIY use that will pass the test of time.

The Good

  • Unsurpassed clarity. Jackson Safety BH3 uses Blade Technology to achieve the clearest vision among any other helmets on the market. Due to this technology, the helmet has earned the highest rating of 1/1/1/1 for the visibility and color recognition.
  • Auto-darkening with adjustable sensitivity. The welding helmet includes knobs for sensitivity, shade (9-13), and delay adjustments. So you can easily adjust it for different environments or tasks.
  • Meets all safety standards: EN379 and ANSI Z87.1+2010 standard. Also, it is CE and DIN certified.
  • Built for safety. The curved front plate reduces heat buildup and the aerodynamic design improves flume deflection. Also, the smart outward design reduces the chances of the lens fogging up.
  • Comfortable design. The product is one of the most comfortable welding helmets and is easily adjustable to perfectly fit your head, so you can do any job with minimum discomfort.
  • Compatible with magnification filters and hard hats.

The Bad

  • Jackson Safety BH3 does not come with grinding and torch mode. Also, at 0.00015 seconds, this model is not nearly as sensitive as the above mentioned helmets. And the shade selection is only from 9 to 13.
  • Only 2 arc sensors.
  • Purely solar power, so you always need to remember to recharge your helmet.
  • Lack of test button.
  • It’s a higher priced product.

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Antra AH6-660-0000 – Best Under $100

best welding hood

Antra AH6-660-0000 is another awesome welding helmet for a budget buyer. It manages to strike all the right chords in terms of quality, functionality, and price. It comes with plenty of features and a variety of styles, making it one of the top welding helmets in its price range.

Who Is It For?

The Antra AH6-660-0000 welding helmet is suitable for a variety of welding applications, including TIG, MIG, MMA, and Plasma. You can also quickly adjust it with a simple knob, switching between welding, cutting or grinding. So this auto-darkening welding helmet is for anyone looking for a quality hood without breaking the bank, be it for beginner or professional use.

The Good

  • Great visibility. The large viewing window (3.78″X2.50″)increases your peripheral vision. So you can clearly see your entire project and easily focus on what you’re working on.
  • Variable shade. The helmet offers adjustments from light shade 4 to dark shade 13. The wide shade range makes it great for most applications.
  • 4 arc sensors. A lot of other auto-darkening welding helmets in this price range offer only 2 arc sensors. So with this extra sensitivity, you get best eye protection.
  • Adjustability of sensitivity and delay settings.
  • Cheater/magnifying lens compatible. These lenses give you more application options while using the same versatile helmet.
  • Meets most standards: ANSI, CSA, EN379.
  • Lightweight and comfortable design. With the helmet weighing only 16.8 ounces, you can weld for hours, concentrating on making great weld joints, without ending up with neck pain.
  • Available in various designs from plain black to bloody skull, so you can choose the helmet that fits your style.

The Bad

  • Loose parts. Some of the nuts seem to loosen a bit after heavy use of the helmet. It might be a bit frustrating, but it’s a minor point. You can tighten them up in a matter of seconds and continue your work almost straight away.

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Instapark ADF Series GX-500S – Best Budget Option

cheap welding helmetAnother cool looking welding helmet that packs all the important features is the Instapark ADF Series GX-350S model. Despite its low price, it’s actually a really good welding helmet. However, it does make some sacrifices to fit the budget category.

Who Is It For?

The helmet is suitable for the arc, MIG, and TIG applications. It’s suitable for beginner and enthusiast welders that want a product that will provide them with most of the features they can find in more expensive models.

The Good

  • Auto-darkening features. The helmet features dual arc sensors that activate the switch from light to dark. It’s preferable to have 4 sensors, but for this price tag the auto-darkening welding helmets usually come only with 2.
  • Variable shade is adjustable from 9 to 13 DIN. However, the resting shade is 4. It offers impressive sensitivity of 0.0004 seconds. Such fast switching time can be compared to more high-end helmets, such as the Viking 3350.
  • Enhanced optics. The 1/2/1/3 ADF lens delivers optimum clarity and reduced eye fatigue.
  • Low price for good value.
  • Grind mode.
  • Complies with GS, DIN-Geprüft, CE, ANSI Z87.1, CSA Z94.3, AS/NZS standards.

The Bad

  • The viewing area is relatively small (3.63”X1.65”). However, it should still be enough for most welding jobs.
  • No manual sensitivity and delay selection. Instead, these parameters are set automatically.
  • The welding helmet has a built-in solar panel, but it doesn’t have battery assist.

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3M Speedglas 9100 – Most Expensive Welding Helmet

most expensive welding helmet

3M Speedglas 9100 is a badass welding helmet that is produced by one of the most popular brands in the world of welding. The welding helmet comes at a rather high price, but the numerous features, the quality of optics and clarity, justify it.

Who Is It For?

The 3M Speedglas 9100 welding helmet would work best for professional use. So if you’re working in automotive, construction, military, fabrication, or any other industry where it’s important to have maximum protection for the eyes and face.

The Good

  • Automatic darkening filter. The 3 arc sensors provide amazing sensitivity for when an arc is struck. It takes only 0.1 milliseconds for the light to dark transition. And once the weld is done, it automatically switches back to a lighter shade. The available shades are 5 and 8-13.
  • Large viewing area. At 2.8” x 4.2”, the viewing screen provides a wide view of the welding area. So you can easily carry out your work without straining your eyes.
  • Comfortable headgear. This auto-darkening welding helmet is made to allow welding all day in comfort, providing good support to the head and reducing pressure.
  • Grind/Torch mode. This is an important feature to have if you weld for a living. So you don’t need to change helmets every time you’re changing a task.
  • Durability. The hood is made for high impact protection, even if it gets thrown around or abused.

The Bad

  • The helmet comes with a hefty price tag, so it’s more suitable for professionals than beginners.
  • It’s also quite heavy, but you usually don’t get as many features on lighter hoods.
  • No solar assist.

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Miller 251292 Classic Series – Best Under $150

good welding helmet

Miller 251292 makes a good option for both beginner and more experienced welders. It’s affordable, but at the same time provides superior protection to the eyes and face thanks to its impressive features.

Who Is It For?

It’s one of the best welding helmets on the market under $150 for the hobbyist. It features different operating modes, so you can work with it on most types of welding jobs.

The Good

  • Auto-darkening filter. Miller 251292 features an electrical viewing panel, which consists of an LCD screen and two light sensors. The variable shade lens offers adjustments from 9 to 12 DIN, with the light shade of 3 DIN.
  • Sensitivity and delay adjustments. You can program the sensitivity and delay features to be either fast or slow depending on the work you’re doing or the surrounding environment.
  • Solar powered cell. The electrical viewing panel is powered by 2 replaceable batteries that have a life of 2000 hours. But additionally, it also has a solar panel on the external side of the helmet.
  • Features a magnifying glass holder.
  • Extra lens cover. The helmet includes 5 extra outer and inner cover lenses, which provide constant optical clarity.
  • Easy to adjust. The ratchet adjustment system allows customizing the helmet for maximum comfort.

The Bad

  • It’s an entry level welding helmet, so it might not meet your needs if you’re looking for something more professional.
  • No grind or cut mode, but still suitable for TIG and MIG applications.
  • Small viewing window: 3.75” x 1.375”.
  • Not recommended for use with thick metal welding. For that type of work, it’s better to get something more heavy duty.

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Dekopro XG105 – Basic Welding Helmet

small welding helmet

If you’re looking for the best budget welding helmet, we’d recommend considering the Dekopro XG105. It has a very low price, but still provides ultimate eye protection, good view, and is good for various work environments.

Who Is It For?

It can be used in various industries, from automotive to metal production and fabrication. However, in comparison to above listed welding helmets, this is a more basic model. So it’s better for beginners and weekend enthusiasts.

The Good

  • Suitable for multiple welding processes: MMA, MIG, MAG/CO2, TIG and Plasma Welding. Arc Gouging & Plasma Cutting.
  • Auto-darkening feature. The welding helmet can in 0.00004 seconds quickly switch from light to dark, protecting the welder from UV and IR radiation at all times. The light shade for this helmet is 4 DIN, and you can adjust to 9-13 DIN.
  • Manual adjustments. You can change sensitivity and delay settings according to the needed environment or task duration.
  • Clear view. The viewing window is relatively small, but it offers light diffusion, angular dependence, and variation of luminous transmittance. This provides a clear view from different angles.
  • Lightweight and comfortable. Weighing only 1 pound, the helmet won’t weigh you down while you work for long hours. Additionally, the adjustable headgear provides comfort and relieves fatigue for the user.
  • Solar assist and long battery life (5000 hours).

The Bad

  • The viewing window is quite small (3.62’’ x 1.65’’), so it might not work best for you if you’ll be using it for professional work.
  • Some users have commented that they didn’t like the thin plastic it was made from. But you get what you pay for. It’s still great as a temporary or starter pack.

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Coocheer WH002508 – The Cheapest Welding Helmet

lightweight welding helmet

Coocheer WH002508 is a durable auto-darkening welding helmet that is made from strong and fire retardant materials. It offers all the adjustability you need for your work and permanent UV/IR protection.

Who Is It For?

The Coocheer WH002508 is suitable for almost all types of electro-welding jobs, such as gas shielded, arc, MIG, TIG. The exception is laser welding. Also, the headband is adjustable, so the size of the helmet should fit most people.

The Good

  • Auto-darkening. The light shade of Coocheer WH002508 is 4DIN, but you can also adjust the dark settings from 5 to 13 DIN. The helmet offers very fast response time of 1/30000 seconds.
  • Adjustable sensitivity and delay time.
  • You can switch between grinding and welding modes.
  • Weighing only 16 ounces, this is one of the most lightweight welding helmets on this top rated products list.
  • Features solar assist for the batteries that have ultra low battery consumption.

The Bad

  • The viewing area is only 3.74” x 1.87” in size. However, in its price range, you probably won’t find much bigger viewing screen on any other welding helmet.
  • A few users have commented that the helmet wouldn’t darken enough when used to TIG weld.

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Neiko 53847A – The Best Passive Welding Helmet

budget welding helmet

Neiko 53847A is the best fixed shade welding helmet and makes a good option for people looking for the most basic and the cheapest welding helmet. However, with this helmet, you can’t beat the value for money.

Who Is It For?

This small welding helmet is great for hobby welding and good for anyone preferring the old-fashioned flip-up lens.

The Good

  • The low price. First of all, there are not many other good quality welding helmets available in this price range.
  • Includes shade 11 lens, which is the recommended shade for TIG welding in the 40-100amp range. You just need to get the lens down and strike an arc, and then just slap it up once you’re done.
  • Comfortable and sturdy.
  • Works great for welding and grinding.
  • Weighing only 14.4 ounces, it’s the lightest welding helmet on this list.

The Bad

  • Doesn’t have the auto-darkening feature. You need to flip the dark lens every time.
  • The construction of the helmet is not the sturdiest, but for as cheap as it is, it great protection and is comfortable to wear.

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What Is a Welding Helmet?

what is a welding helmetA welding helmet, also referred to as the hood, is a crucial piece of personal protective equipment for a welder. Its purpose is to protect the eyes, face and neck from severe sparks and potentially vision-damaging UV and IR that is emitted by the arc.

Welding helmets are necessary for arc eye prevention. It’s a painful condition, in which the cornea gets inflamed. They also prevent retina burns that could lead to a loss of vision. That’s why it’s important to protect your skin and eyes from the highly concentrated ultraviolet and infrared rays.

The history of welding helmets used today dates back to 1937 when it was introduced by Willson Products.

Most welding helmets feature a window that is covered with a lens shade. Through this window, the worker gets the view of his work area. The window can be made of tinted glass or variable density filter.

How Do Auto-Darkening Welding Helmets Work?

how auto darkening welding helmets work

An auto-darkening lens is an LCD, which stands for Liquid Crystal Display. It’s the same technology for LCD TVs and computer monitors. The difference is that these are monochrome.

The darkening technology comprises of three elements: IR/UV filter, liquid crystal cell, and a polarisation filter.

The first filter’s purpose is to remove the UV/IR radiation. It features a thin glass substrate that has several metallic layers made of silver and aluminum oxide. Even in the inactive state of the auto darkening lens (ADL), the metallic layers will reflect 99.9% of the UV/IR rays.

The liquid crystal cell has the ability to twist the incoming light to an angle of 90 degrees. In the inactive state, they usually lie flat. To twist the light, they need to be stimulated by electricity. You can also adjust them and choose how far you want the light to be bent.

And the polarisation filters (there’s usually 2 of them) work in combination with other mentioned elements with the purpose of polarising light.

The 2 polarising filters that are located nearest the eye are arranged in the same orientation. In the inactive state, the liquid crystals in between these filters will bend the light to 90 degrees. So when ADL is switched off, the stays in a dark shade of 5 or 6. It’s a safety feature to protect the eyes in case of ADL failure.

When ADL is activated, the liquid crystal panel between the first two polarising filters untwists the light waves, causing the shade to drop to shade 3. And when the arc is struck, it activates the sensors in the lens and as a result, the LC panel turns the light to darken to the predetermined shade level.

Why Do You Need a Welding Helmet?

Welding is a dangerous profession. The first purpose of the welding helmet is to protect your eye. The process emits a range of radiations and if left exposed to it, you can damage your eyes:

  1. By getting radiation damage with inflamed corneas
  2. By getting radiation burns with burns of the retina.

Secondly, you need a welding helmet for skin and body protection. The welding arc can reach over 10,000 F. So, of course, you don’t want your skin getting exposed to such arc. However, more importantly, you need protection from the spatter that comes from welding.

Different Types of Welding Helmets

You probably already know that there are two types of welding helmets: the passive and auto-darkening helmets. If you’re not sure which one would work better for you, we’ll run through some of their advantages and disadvantages.

Passive Welding Helmets (The Standard Helmets)

passive welding helmet

These helmets are usually much cheaper compared to auto-darkening ones. It’s their main advantage. These are more old-fashioned helmets, but they also provide durability and effective protection.

Passive welding helmets have a fixed shade lens, which is usually a pre-defined shade #10. It’s sufficient for certain types of welding that has appropriate amperage. You can consult the table below.

When you’re ready to start the welding, you just need to nod your head to lower the helmet. And once you’ve completed your task, just manually lift it up. However, remember not to lift it up when the welding is still in process.

So, on one hand, it’s easy to put it on or off. However, it can also make the welding task a bit more challenging. Since every time you want to check your work, you have to stop and manually lift the helmet. And the lower it down again to carry on with your work. So this can lead to welding being a bit messy. And after a full day’s work like this, it can lead to neck strain and reduced productivity.

Another disadvantage of passive helmets is that they are usually made from inexpensive molded plastics, so they don’t offer the durability that auto-darkening helmets provide.

Auto-Darkening Welding Helmets

types of welding helmetsThese helmets come with variable shade lenses. And as the name suggests, they automatically get darker when a sensor detects a bright welding arc.

Once the auto darkening filter (ADF) is activated, in milliseconds it adjusts the lens to the appropriate shade, which is usually in the #8-13 range. When not activated, it sits at approximately 3 or 4 DIN. So it keeps your eyes safe at all times.

So it’s all done automatically, you don’t need to manually lift and lower your helmet each time you want to examine your work.

This offers more versatility and eliminates unnecessary stop-and-start times, thus increasing welder’s productivity.

That’s why it’s the recommended type of welding helmets. And most of the welding helmets on the market today come with the auto-darkening feature. The only disadvantage to them is that they need to be powered, either by batteries or a combination of battery and solar. But as long as you remember to keep it charged, it shouldn’t be an issue.

How To Choose The Best Auto Darkening Welding Helmet? – Buying Guide

welding helmet buying guide

Choosing a helmet for your welding needs might seem a bit confusing for a beginner or if you are not familiar with the latest standards and technologies. So you can consult this buying guide to understand which important features to look and what you need to take into account when shopping for the best welding helmet for your needs.

When selecting a welding helmet there are four main things that you should concentrate on. From there, you’ll understand which features to look for. These four things are:

  • The view of the arc.
  • Detection of the arc.
  • How good is the protection?
  • How durable is the helmet?

Types of Welding Helmets: Auto-Darkening vs Standard Welding Helmet

The first decision to make when buying a welding helmet is which lens type is more suitable for your needs or preferences. To choose one or the other you can read the welding helmet types section above, where we mention advantage and disadvantages of both.

However, if you’re looking for advanced protection, durability and comfort, then we’d recommend choosing an auto-darkening helmet. Especially, if you’re buying a welding helmet for professional use.

Fixed Shade vs Variable Shade

A fixed shade helmet would be fine if you’re welding only one type of material. However, they offer only the maximum shade of #10, so make sure that your welding doesn’t require something darker.

Otherwise, if your work includes a range of arcs, depth and other, you should opt for a variable shade helmet.

Features To Look For

The Right Shade

shadesDifferent welding processes emit various levels of light and radiation. If you choose a fixed shade welding helmet, make sure that the shade available is suitable for the work you’ll be doing.

Auto-darkening helmets, on the other hand, offer more shades. They can range from a shade of 8 for low amp applications to 13 for high amp welding. Some of the top-of-the-line helmets might also offer a 3-8 shade range, which is good for grinding or cutting.

In the inactive state, the lens is usually set to shade #3 or #4, allowing the user to easily see through.

Reaction Time

Another important feature to look for is the reaction time, which is the switching speed from light to dark shade once the lens senses the arc. So the faster this speed is, the better. This way you’ll be less likely to suffer from the side effects of UV light, which can be damaging to your eyesight. Additionally, it will prevent eye fatigue.

In the early days of auto-darkening welding helmets, they offered the speed of only ⅓,600 of a second and today some very basic helmets still have such slow speed. But since then, the technologies have advanced forward and on most welding helmets you’ll find the speed of 1/10,000 to 1/20,000 second reaction time. Some of the more high end helmets can also have the reaction time of 1/25,000 second.

Number of Arc Sensors

This feature is unique for auto-darkening helmets. The passive welding helmets don’t have it. The number of sensors on a welding helmet can range from 2 to 4. They are what keeps your eyes from getting flashed. Usually, the more the better. However, it also depends on the task that you’re undertaking.

For more simple projects in an environment free of obstruction, two arc sensors should be enough. For industrial welding, it’s recommended to purchase a helmet with four sensors. It will provide better coverage, sensitivity, and reliability in obstructed applications.

Viewing Size

The bigger the viewing screen, the more you’ll be able to see and it will benefit the quality of your welding. This is especially important if you’re a beginner welder as seeing the whole work area will make completing your project a bit easier. A big viewing window is also helpful when you’re doing a lot of out of position welding that has odd angles. Some of the more advanced helmets also offer side lenses, so you get an 180-degree visibility.

A typical viewing window on more basic helmets will have the size of about 6 square inches and it can be 9 or more square inches on helmets designed for more heavy duty use.

Overall, a bigger size is of course better, but also keep in mind your personal comfort, preferences, and how much out of position welding you’ll be doing.

It’s also worth noting that a larger viewing area usually adds more weight of the unit, which is also an important feature to take into account.

Adjustable Sensitivity Settings

settingsWhen choosing a good welding helmet, also look for adjustable sensitivity and delay settings. These features are usually available on intermediate and professional grade helmets.

The sensitivity features refer to how bright the arc needs to be for the auto darkening feature to activate. The controls allow the user to adjust the brightness level that will trigger the darkening of the lens. This is very useful when you’re welding at a very low amperage when the arc is lower compared to other types of welding. In this case, you would need to set the lens sensitivity higher.

Adjustable Delay Settings

The delay feature determines the amount of time the lens will remain active (dark) after the arc is finished. For track welding, it’s better to have a short delay, as this would help to do the work faster. However, for welding at high amperage, the opposite is true. It’s better to have a long delay because the area stays bright longer even after the arc stops.

Optical Quality

If you’re buying an auto-darkening welding helmet, look also for the optical rating. The perfect rating should be 1/1/1/1, where it’s rated for the accuracy of vision, diffusion of light, consistent shade, and angular dependence.

Not many auto-darkening welding helmets can offer this high rating. Jackson Safety W70 and Lincoln Electric helmets, that we have mentioned above in our top 10 list, are two that have successfully achieved this. But keep in mind that this isn’t a deal breaker, just make sure that the lens is easy to see through.

Power Source: Battery or Solar Powered

power sourceWhen purchasing an auto-darkening helmet, another consideration is the power supply.

Some helmets are solar powered with a built-in solar panel, which is a good option if you don’t want to deal with battery replacements. So you just need to put your helmet in the sun before you start your welding. The disadvantage of this is that you could run out of power in the middle of your work and then you’d have to wait until it charges again.

Another option is a battery powered helmet. The advantage of this is that you can use your helmet right out of the box. Also, on most units you’ll find a light indicator to notify you when the power will start running out. So you just need to remember to have a spare set of batteries on hand. The disadvantage is the disposal of these lithium batteries.

The best choice in our opinion is the combination of battery and solar assist. This way you don’t need to worry about charging your helmet every time and if the batteries run out, you always have the solar assist to back it up.

User-Friendly Controls: Internal or External

When choosing a helmet with manual controls, you’ll have two options: externally and internally positioned controls. There are disadvantages and advantages in both cases.

If you have the knobs on the outside of the helmet, you can easily adjust them without having to remove the helmet, saving you time and energy. However, without taking the helmet off, you must adjust the helmet by feel. Many helmets will feature bigger knobs making it more comfortable doing the adjustments, especially if you’re in gloves.

To adjust the internal knobs, you’ll need to remove the helmet. The advantages of this is that you can actually see what you’re adjusting and you won’t need to worry about them getting touched by mistake when you’re welding in a confined space, such as under a car.

Weight

welding helmet weightOne more important consideration, especially if you’re welding professionally, is the weight of the helmet. You might be wearing the helmet for 5 to 10 hours a day. So you don’t want the helmet to put a strain on your neck. On the other hand, if you’re doing small welding jobs, the weight of the unit might not make a significant difference for you.

As a rule of thumb, it’s better to choose the lighter welding helmet, so you can focus on the job while minimizing the fatigue on your neck. However, make sure that the knobs can also support the weight when flipped up. It can be really annoying to have your helmet slowly falling down while you’re trying to concentrate on your welding task.

Headgear Comfort

Another thing a buyer shouldn’t overlook when choosing a welding helmet is its comfort. The helmet should have an adjustable harness to fit the size of your head, so it should be able to adjust up, down, front and back. Additionally, make sure that it can be easily tightened around your head, so the helmet would stay in place when you bend.

National Safety Standards

Make sure that the helmet has passed independent safety tests. Check if the model meets ANSI Z87.1 standard rating, so you can be sure that the helmet will keep you safe. All the welding helmets that we include in our reviews are rated with this safety standard.

In order to meet this standard, the helmets’ manufacturers they need to prove the specifications they list for the particular helmets. They need to validate the changing speeds, shade settings, and other specs, to confirm their compliance.

In independent laboratory tests, they go through high impact speed tests from flying objects, their performance is checked in temperatures 23F-131F to make sure that they provide steady protection from ultraviolet and infrared rays.

Other Tips For Choosing a Welding Helmet

  • Look for extras. It can be replacement lens covers, lens/cheater/hardhat compatibility, respiratory protection from the welding fumes, and any other accessories that you think you’d find useful.
  • Brand. Sticking to the tried and reputable brands will ensure that you’re well protected. Why risk it when it comes to your health and safety. Choosing from the highest quality brands, you’ll know that you’re buying the best welding helmet for the money. Some of the most popular welding helmet brands we cover in a separate section below.
  • Warranty. The length of the warranty period is usually a reflection of quality. So of course, the longer, the better. Most helmet companies offer 1 to 2-year warranty period. But you can also find longer warranties, such as 5 years from Jackson Safety.
  • Cool welding helmet designs. If you want a unique welding helmet, some companies offer some pretty cool paint jobs on their hoods.
  • Your budget. The price range for welding helmets is quite wide. Some are as cheap as $30, while others can go up to $200-$500. Before spending an unreasonable amount of money on the most expensive welding helmet, first, figure out what are your needs and your budget. This way you won’t overpay for features that are probably not necessary.

Top Welding Helmet Brands

Buying the right welding helmet is important for your safety and the quality of your welding work. To minimize the risks involved with welding, it’s essential to buy a good welding helmet from a reputable manufacturer, who makes the best welding hoods. Here’s some information on the top welding helmet brands.

  1. Hobart

    This manufacturer has been in the industry since 1917. Since then it has been designing and manufacturing a variety of high quality welding products. Their helmets are designed from beginner to professional levels. They offer exceptional customer support and focus on quality and latest technologies, such as the latest LCD lens technology. Hobart’s helmets are also known for their affordability and unique shell graphic designs.

  2. 3M Speedglas

    Speedglas is the originator of the auto-darkening lens helmets and they’ve been on the market since the early 1900’s. Over the years, their experience has led to groundbreaking advances in technologies and production of a huge variety of welding products. Now they operate in over 65 countries across the globe. With their auto-darkening welding helmets, they offer the best in optics, comfort, weight, productivity, and more.

  3. Jackson Safety

    From their massive viewing areas to perfect 1/1/1/1 optical ratings, this brand outperforms its competition when it comes to auto-darkening lenses. They equip their welding helmets with the BALDER technology for superior optical clarity. They also offer a 5-year warranty, which is the longest among the welding brands.

  4. Lincoln Electric

    Lincoln Electric is considered to be the leader in the welding industry. They’ve been on the market for over 100 years, so you know that their products have been tested by time. It uses latest technologies in their products to enable the customers to be more efficient and successful in their jobs. Their helmets use 4C technology for perfect optical clarity and other advanced safety features.

  5. Miller

    Miller products combine affordability and functionality. Their helmet product range includes entry-level models, such as the Classic Series, and professional helmets, such as the Titanium Series. They focus on meeting essential safety requirements and implementing latest technologies in the industry.

  6. Optrel

    Optrel is a Swiss company that is the leader in manufacturing premium welding helmets. The aerodynamic shell design, True Color filter, and uniquely designed controls are some of the amazing features that this brand offers.

Welding Helmets Care and Maintenance

welding helmet maintenanceBuying a good welding helmet isn’t enough, it’s just as important to take care of it to keep yourself safe and prolong its life. And buying a welding is a pretty big investment, so you’d probably want to do everything to protect it, as well as for it to continue protecting you. So here are some of the things to follow to provide proper care for your welding helmet.

Always Follow Manufacturer’s Cleaning Instructions

If you have owned a helmet before, you might think you know how to clean the hood. However, today’s helmets have so many different features that your previous regular cleaning routine might not be transferable to your new purchase. So it’s important to check the instructions manual or their official website first. There you will find recommendations for how to care for your helmet and the cleaning products that you should use.

Clean It After Every Use

By cleaning your helmet after every time you use it, you will not only keep it in better shape, but it will also be easier to notice if it has any scratches, cracks or defects. And after several uses, you could also more major cleaning.

Regularly Inspect It

Even if you’re in a hurry, try to inspect your helmet every time before and after use. And this should be done in detail. Check the lens for any dents or cracks. If you find your lens faulty, your helmet will not serve its purpose of protecting you from the UV and IR rays. So if there’s a scratch or crack, replace it with a new one.

Also, do a thorough inspection of the helmet after a prolonged time of not using it. Someone might have dropped in the meantime without you knowing it.

You can create your inspection routine, so it will be faster to carry it out. This will make your welding helmet use so much safer.

Repairs and Replacements

If in the process of your inspection you find that some parts need repair or replacement, don’t put it off. Yes, they can be costly, but don’t try to save a few dollars, because it can put your well being at risk. And you could end up paying much more for these injuries than for a replacement. Moreover, by continuing to use a damaged helmet, you also reduce its lifespan.

So try to do the repairs and replacements immediately and avoid using the helmet until all is fixed. Some parts you can just replace yourself at home, but if you don’t know how to, it’s better to get a professional.

Proper Storage

After completing your work, don’t forget to store away your helmet. When not in use, it needs protection from any potential risks. So put the helmet in a bag and store it away somewhere safe from your kids or areas that have a lot of movement. Most importantly be cautious with the lens, as it’s the most sensitive part of the helmet. This way you’ll make that the helmet keep providing you with proper protection and that it will be able to serve you for a longer time.

Auto-Darkening Welding Helmet Shade Guide

Below is a table that will help you select the right shade setting for the type of welding and amps you’re using.

In an average welding setting, you’d keep your shade setting closer to ten, because most shifts in light are usually created by the arc. However, if you work in a shop or manufacturing facility and have doors or windows adjacent to your work area, you’d probably be getting a lot of natural sunlight. In this case, the sunlight might affect the lens the same as the arc light. So it might be better to reduce the sensitivity and delay settings. It will help to avoid the shade activating every time the shield catches a ray of sunlight.

Another thing to keep in mind is the degree of light intensity. For example, cutting torches and lower amp welding creates light with much lower intensity than higher voltage arc welders. Therefore, adjust the settings according to the intensity of the arc.

welding helmet shade guide

Welding Helmet FAQs

Are safety glasses enough for protection against welder’s flash?

welding safety glassesIf you just work in the area where welding is done, but not directly involved in the process, you should minimum have safety glasses. Clear safety glasses provide minimum UV protection. However, if you’re working in close proximity to welding, you need the protection of at least shade 5. And if you’re directly involved in the welding, it’s preferable to have a face shield or an auto-darkening helmet. This way your face and eyes will be protected from UV radiation and also any flying particles.

Why Are There Dark Spots On My Filter?

It’s usually a result of a crack in the filter. It could be on the external or internal side. Between the glass plates of the filter there are layers of liquid crystals. If a crack forms in the glass, it might trap air in the lens and dislocate crystals out of location. As a result, you might light or dark spots.

How Long Does the Battery Last?

Some of the lower priced helmets offer about 2000 hours of battery life, which could last for 3 years of constant welding. Other higher end helmets offer 5000 hours of continuous use. Also, on most helmets they’re replaceable. Additionally, you can get solar power assist on certain models, so you’ll never run out of power.

Which Helmets Are Good For TIG Welding At Low Amps?

tig weldingIf you’ll be welding at low amperages, for example under 80 amps, you need a helmet with maximum sensitivity. On some of the higher end helmets, you can find a mode, which makes the shield sensitive to electromagnetic pulse, and not just the light.

Why You Need an Extra Large View Welding Helmet?

With a large view welding helmet, you’ll be able to see what you’re actually welding. For example, if you’re under a car, you won’t have to strain your neck to perform the job.

Can My Lens Be Repaired?

Most lenses cannot be repaired and require replacement if damaged. With some of the manufacturers, you can send the damaged lens to their Technical Support and they will send you a replacement if the defect is confirmed.

Which Welding Clothes Do You Need For Welding Safety?

welding safety clothes

Except for welding helmets, there’s a range of other welding safety gear that a welder should have.

  1. For hand protection, a welder should have welding gloves. They usually provide protection up to the mid-wrist area. Considering that they’re the closest to the arc during the welding process, it’s an important gear for the welder to have.
  2. To protect the body from neck to waist, a welder can also wear a welding jacket. They can be made from different materials, such as leather or other flame resistant synthetic materials.
  3. Welding boots provide flame retarding for your feet. If you’d prefer a more budget option, you can also buy welding shoe covers. These slip on over your ordinary work boots. However, we’d still recommend investing in welding boots, especially if you’re a serious welder.
  4. If you work in a shop or manufacturing facility, you probably know that you should also have welding coveralls. There are different types of overalls available, from industrial to more basic ones.

Bottom Line

Whether welding is just a weekend hobby or part of your career, it’s important to have proper protection for the process. Of the most essential safety gear you should have is a good auto-darkening welding helmet. Exploring the best available options before making a purchase will help you choose the right one for your needs. Keep in mind that it’s not always necessary to buy the most expensive welding helmet to have the best, some of the more affordable options also offer top-notch quality and features. We hope that our best auto darkening welding helmet reviews and welding helmet comparison have helped you in your search.