Hot metals, flames, arcs make welding not the safest of the existing crafts. You need protection from the dangerous heat and ultra-violet rays. You also need to protect your skin from flash burns. Making welding helmets is the most crucial personal safety equipment. Welding helmets have seen a lot of technological advances in the last couple of decades.
The functionality and protection they offer have increased considerably compared to the ones you got 10 or 15 years back. And not just in terms of functionality but the new age helmets are lighter and offer superior comfort too, giving much-needed respite if you need to wear them for long hours.
There are many welding helmets in the market, for each price point, and with its functionalities. The first criteria for both hobbyists as well as a professional welder, should be safety. No matter what your budget is, do not compromise on quality. The most fundamental quality requirements are safety standards and compliance. All welding helmets need to meet ANSI Z87.1 standards in the US.
After quality and safety, features and comfort should be your next priority. Features and functionalities vary with the type of helmets you choose. Your choice should depend on both your current needs and on how you plan to use it in the future.
Features, as well as comfort requirements, will be different for a hobbyist compared to a professional, as the duration of use, as well as the working environment, will be completely different. The two major types of helmets available are the passive ones, the ones with a mineral glass shield, and the auto-darkening ones with an LCD. And for obvious reasons, the auto-darkening ones are more popular. To take the guesswork out of picking the right welding helmet, we have reviewed the top choices for you.
A quick review of our favorites in 2020
|Lincoln Electric K3616-4 Viking 3350|
|Antra Welding Helmet AH6-260-0000|
|ESAB SENTINEL A50 Auto Darkening Welding Helmet|
|3M Speedglass Welding Helmet 9100 06-0100-30SW|
|YESWELDER True Color Solar Power Auto Darkening|
|Hobart 770756 Impact Variable Auto-Dark Helmet|
|Optrel VegaView 2.5 Auto-Darkening Welding Helmet 1006.600|
|Miller Auto Darkening Welding Helmet, Black, Digital Elite|
|Instapark ADF Series GX-500S Solar Powered Auto Darkening Welding Helmet|
|DEKOPRO Welding Helmet Solar Powered Auto Darkening Hood with Adjustable Shade Range|
Lincoln Electric K3616-4 Viking 3350
This welding helmet is a cut above the rest and is a favorite with professionals. Durable, exceptional clarity and ample viewing range, along with other functional benefits, make it our favorite also.
- Sunlight differentiation
- Long-lasting battery with solar charging
- Excellent optical clarity
- Comfortable in long wear
- A hassle-free 3-year warranty
- The helmet is not suitable for low energy applications like TIG
- Higher price range
Lens & View-ability
Viking 3350 comes with Lincoln’s 4C technology; this state of the art technology reduces eye strain! It delivers a crystal clear view of the arc and the puddle with true view colors. The technology reduces the green glow even as it optimizes visibility. The most significant advantage in addition to reduced eye strain for us was enhanced control, which in turn increased the quality of the weld.
In all visibility criteria – diffusion, luminance transmittance variation, and angle dependence, luminance transmission score 1/1/1/1, making its optical rating perfect. Although the viewing area is large, it could be more significant.
The helmet comes with Lincoln’s X6 Headgear™ technology that maximizes comfort and gives a personalized fit. It distributes weight across contact points and contours to fit the shape of your head. The helmet is lightweight with an easy to access external grinding control. Another personal favorite for us was the analog controls. They are what you may call set-it and forget-it.
Value for money
The Viking 3350 helmet might be an expensive investment for amateurs and hobbyists. We found it offers excellent value for money with its sturdy built, best in class optical clarity and comfortable usage. This hood is going to be worth your money and a wise investment for professionals.
Antra Welding Helmet AH6-260-0000
Antara 2600000 is one of the most affordable darkening welding helmets in the market. This makes it a popular one too for occasional users and professional ones looking for a good hood under a tight budget.
- Affordable at most budgets
- Quick response time
- Comfortable and lightweight
- Magnifying glass compatible
- Lack of warranty
- Flimsy grinding knob
- Lack of durability and sturdiness
Lens & light sensitivity
The first thing you will notice about the Antra Welding Helmet is its sensitivity to light and the quick response time. Its response rate is measured at 1/25000th of a second, pretty fast for sure. The viewing area on the helmet is 3.86-inch x 1.73 inches. The helmet comes with a passive UV/IR filter offering permanent UV protection. The helmet is suitable for different kinds of welding, ranging from TIG to MMA.
The helmet is lightweight and is comfortable to wear for long hours. At one pound, it offers easy wearability all day long. The adjusting knob is conveniently located. It has good tension-adjustment with the O-ring. The helmet did tend to slide down during our test, but adjusting the tension in the headband worked.
Value for money
The helmet offers some great features at a price, which makes it an ideal choice, especially for hobbyists, homeowners, and other amateur users. A darkening mask with an impressive response time at the current market price is a good bargain. With more sturdy knobs and bolts, and with a better warranty, the helmet would be close to perfection.
ESAB SENTINEL A50 Auto Darkening Welding Helmet
Both welding enthusiasts and professionals alike associate ESAB with welding history. ESAB was born when Oscar Kjellberg, the Swedish inventor, and industrialist who created the first coated welding rod. The SENTINAL A50 is one of the latest and technologically superior products. It manages to combine both comfort and safety features along with a very futuristic looking hood. The adjusting knob is placed outside and has the form of a button.
Lens & Viewability
The SENTINAL has a top-notch optical class rating of 1/1/1/2. It gets a two as angle dependence is not perfect. The clarity is impressive with the correct color lens. Its four sensors have a response time of 1/25,000 seconds. The shade adjustability range is from 5-13. We would have liked it a bit darker at shade 13, though. The curved lens has an enormous viewing size at 3.93 X 2.36-inch. But if you move around, it tends to give a distorted view.
- A true-color lens with great clarity
- Comfortable HALO headgear
- Eight memory settings
- 3-year warranty
- Expensive replacement parts
- Touchscreen controls do not work well with gloves
This helmet is a delight when it comes to ergonomics and comfortable wear. It comes with a 5-point HALO headgear, which we felt is the best headgear with great adjustability. It reduces the strain on the neck considerably. The shell is sturdy, with a weight of about 1.4 pounds. The design has a low profile and makes moving around in narrow spaces more comfortable.
Value for money and features
The helmet is no doubt an excellent choice for anyone who is looking to get a new hood with all the latest features. The fact that it comes with a 3-year warranty improves the deal even further. One thing you might want to keep in mind is that the replacements will be a bit expensive, owing to the curved design.
3M Speedglass Welding Helmet 9100 06-0100-30SW
A perfect hood for professionals! It is a superior quality product that is feature-rich. It delivers on comfort, functionality, safety, and durability too. A product from 3M left us impressed.
- Side windows
- Great optical clarity
- Very comfortable headband
- Easy to access and manage controls
- 2-year warranty
- Expensive if you are on a tight budget
Lens & Viewability
It is a premium product and delivers well on optical clarity. It has three sensors that switch to dark shade in 1/10,000 of a second. The 9100 series comes with an advanced tack welding comfort mode that reduces eye strain. It has a large viewing area of 2.8″ x 4.2″ inch and side panels that have a shade five filter. You can easily install a magnifying lens from the inside of the hood.
One of the only gripes we had with this helmet was its weight. This might not be a problem for everyone, though. On all other comfort fronts, the helmet is perfect. It comes with an adjustable head suspension that increases comfort. It has a heat resistance silver-coated front and sides exhaust vents.
Value for Money
With all the features and functional benefits, this product is an investment. Not only will it keep you safe, with its premium viewability and optical performance, but it can improve the quality of your welds too.
YESWELDER True Color Solar Power Auto Darkening
This helmet has one of the best view-ability with unmatched true colors. It delivers good value on comfort also.
- Good optical clarity
- Large viewing area
- Pivot style headgear
- Low on sturdiness
- Low quality plastic screws and parts
Lens & Viewability
For its price, the helmet offers excellent optical clarity of 1/1/1/2 and certainly delivers on the truce color promise. This technology minimizes the green color, thus reducing eye strain. It further improves visibility and transparency. The sensors are pretty sensitive and change from bright to dark in <1/10000 seconds. But the most impressive was the ample viewing space of 3.94″X3.66″ inch.
The one thing that improved comfort for us immensely was the oversized comfort cushions. These increased adjustabilities several notches. The headgear is designed in pivot style, further enhancing wearability and ergonomics. Some users might find this cumbersome and bulky at over 2.2 pounds. And this will make a difference when wearing it for long hours.
Value for money
The large viewing size and the optical clarity makes the helmet worth the money. The sensors are excellent and responsive too. It will be a good purchase for both amateurs and professionals.
Hobart 770756 Impact Variable Auto-Dark Helmet
Hobart has long been our favorite, and the Hobart 770756 does not disappoint! It is a performance machine and will be an ideal choice for professionals. Optical clarity, suitable sensors, comfortable fit, it checks almost all criteria!
- Headstrap with a gel pad
- Optical clarity
- Two-year warranty
- Low battery life
- Small viewing area
Lens & View-ability
With the three arc sensors, the lens has a switching time of 1/25,000 a second. The shade level is adjustable from 8 to 13. The clarity is excellent, and we loved that it works well both under dimmed light as well as under really bright light. What we did notice was that it did not deliver as well under sunlight. Finally, we would also love a more significant viewing area.
The gel pad adds to the ergonomic score for this helmet. It has proper ventilation too. The headgear, though comfortable, turns out to be a bit too complicated to fit your head for the first time. Once adjusted, it did stay put and was not straining the neck.
Value for money
You get excellent optical clarity, good results in all types of welding. While we liked the sensitivity, it could be a downside for some. Coupled with the weight and the smaller viewing area, it is not a great bargain.
Optrel VegaView 2.5 Auto-Darkening Welding Helmet 1006.600
Optrel has been a long favorite for us, and the Vega View 2.5 is a great product from them. The helmet has everything that you would want in a hood. And is a top contender for our favorite with the Viking 3350.
- Unmatched ADF
- PARR respiratory protection
- 2+1 year warranty
- Appears flimsy
- Relatively expensive
Lens & Viewability
We loved the optical clarity this product delivers. Right from the ultra HD true colors display to the visual clarity of 1/1/1/2. It claims to have the world’s best Auto-Darkening Filter. Combined with Optrel’s top-notch UV/IR filter, you have unmatched view-ability with shade adjustability of 8-12. The grind mode was exceptionally clean too.
This is not only good looking and stylish welding helmet but a comfortable one too. While the optical features are a relief for the eyes, the lightweight makes it convenient and ergonomic. The design might make it appear bulky or cumbersome but is comfortable to wear for long hours. As it fits comfortably and adjusts well, you will not have to worry about neck strain or changing it repeatedly.
Value for money
We always root for quality and safety as it ensures genuine value for the money you spend. This helmet will deliver on all the fronts right from security, comfort to durability. The respiratory protection feature is worth the money for anyone with breathing issues.
Miller Auto Darkening Welding Helmet, Black, Digital Elite
This welding helmet comes from Miller and offers excellent optical clarity. Compared to other models from Miller, the digital elite is more popular.
- The optical clarity of 1/1/1/2
- Three-year warranty
- Headgear design
- Replacement lenses are expensive
Lens and Viewability
The helmet comes with Miller’s Clearlight technology that removes the green tint and lets in natural light. The optical clarity is a good 1/1/1/2. It comes with four sensors. Its weld mode, cut mode, grind mode, and X-mode, where each has its shade variation. We loved the X-mode as it works in protecting against direct sunlight. This feature works well if you need to weld outdoor.
The headgear is comfortable and fits comfortably. It also adjusts well, but sometimes you might find keeping the hood upright tricky. This is owing to its design. The sensor placement is high and increases the wearability as well as ease of use.
Value for money
This Miller helmet is widespread and is a great deal for its price. The view-ability and clarity are as good as more expensive hoods. We felt it was better than a few of them.
Instapark ADF Series GX-500S Solar Powered Auto Darkening Welding Helmet
This hood will fit in most budgets and comes with satisfactory functionalities and features. The looks and design have been paid attention to.
- Great grind mode
- Stylish looking
- Small lens and viewing area
- One year warranty
- Relatively low quality
Lens and viewability
The size of the glass and the viewing size is quite small. It delivers an optical clarity of 1/2/1/3. The ADF switching speed is good at 1/25000 seconds. The helmet offers a shade adjustment of 9 to 13 with a resting shade of 4. You will get a good response for Stick, MIG, and TIG welding.
It is comfortable to wear owing to its low weight. The ratcheting headband adjusts well and sits conveniently. Take care to check the lens and make sure you verify that it is fully functional every time you use it.
Value for money
We recommend this for enthusiasts and beginners. It is the right entry-level product. The quality is not that great, although features and optical performance certainly make up for it.
DEKOPRO Welding Helmet Solar Powered Auto Darkening Hood with Adjustable Shade Range
It is another budget-friendly DEKOPRO product. It is considered value-centric as it delivers excellent optical results and fits all budgets. The sensor response time is also impressive.
- Quick switching speed
- Lacks quality
- Small viewing area
The ADF switches from light to dark in 1/25000 seconds. The helmet works well for TIG, MIG and Arc welding and comes with UV/IR protection. You can choose between the weld and grind mode. It comes with a DIN4 light level filter. The viewing area is small at 3.62 x 1.65 inches.
Its lightweight makes it super comfortable to wear for a longer duration. It comes with a fatigue-free headgear. The adjustability provides more comfort and ease during usage.
Criteria for evaluation
For professionals and amateurs, similar optical clarity can make a world of difference to both their eye health and productivity. A helmet with excellent optical clarity will help you see the arc and the weld puddle. It enables you to deliver better quality welds with increased accuracy. If your helmet doesn’t have consistent quality of sight, it will cause vision problems, discomfort, and can lower the quality of welds. The optical clarity is determined by the following:
- Accuracy of vision (visual): This measures if the image you are looking at from the welding helmet lens is distorted. The image should be crisp and crystal clear.
- Diffusion of light: This determines if the glass has any impurities. It should be clear and uniform all the way.
- Variation in luminous transmittance: This focuses on the shade adjustment function and consistency of shade across all areas on the lens surface.
- Angle dependence: This tests for any problems when viewing things at an angle. The view should not be blurry, stretched, or have any dark areas.
The rating is given on a scale of 1-3 for each criterion, with one being the best. Go for a helmet with the best score for your budget!
Sensors are responsible for detecting the arc and starting the darkening process. The quality is determined based on position, sensitivity, and the total number of sensors. An entry-level or basic helmet mostly has two sensors, whereas professional helmets have 3 to 4 sensors. The more sensors you have, the safer the darkening is. The more sensors you have, the lower the chances of them getting obstructed. Two suitable quality sensors should be enough if you usually weld at fixed positions. We recommend professional welders to not go for less than three sensors. It will ensure proper darkening when you move around and undertake any out of place welding.
This is the time a lens takes from detecting the arc to the darkening of the glass. The quicker the lens darkens, the better the helmet is for your eyes. Faster switching speed ensures less eye fatigue. A lower rate can result in what is called an arc eye. It causes dryness in eyes, fatigue, and discomfort. This kind of exposure over time can cause severe damage to the eyes. For all professional welders, these criteria are incredibly crucial as daily exposure and discomfort can be detrimental. All good auto-darkening welding helmets these days have a switching speed from 1/10,000 and 1/25,000 of a second. The ones we have reviewed have all had good switching speeds and can be picked based on your budget.
For us, the viewing area makes or breaks the deal. It is something we do not mind splurging a bit. This is a matter of choice as the increase in the viewing area tends to increase the weight of the helmet. A large viewing area also means a more natural view for the LCD screen. This becomes extremely useful if you need to work on a large piece of metal. For welders who need to undertake a lot of out of position welding, a large viewing area ensures comfortable viewing and better results. Top welding helmet models can have a viewing area of 3.82 x 2.44 inches or higher.
Comfort and ergonomic design for welding helmets determine if it strains your neck over time. This determined by the helmet’s center of gravity. The design of the headgear should properly distribute weight across the surface area. An ergonomically designed helmet will distribute weight across the welder’s head and not put pressure on select points. Another factor that determines comfort is the sleekness and light weightiness of the masks. This is impacted by the size of the viewing area and the type of shell. Larger viewing areas tend to weigh more in the front. The challenge to improve ergonomics is leading manufacturers to go for military-style helmets with newer designs for shells in lightweight materials.
Go for a welding helmet that suits your budget and ticks all the boxes for safety, quality, and ergonomics!