Best Welding Helmet Reviews – An In-depth Buyers’ Guide

Keeping yourself protected is a vital part of welding, as well as plasma cutting. Security measures are no joke when you’re exposed to high temperature and molten metal particles that constantly shoot off. Ever heard of Welder’s eye? The term refers to a degenerative condition of eye triggered by continuous exposure to U.V rays and infrared light emitted by the arc. Result? Scratchy, red and swollen eyes. If the protective gear you’re using is of poor quality, chances are high that you’ll develop bad eyesight or an unsightly infection pretty soon. The best welding helmet will guard your eyes against the arc and provide maximum comfort. Cheap helmets are equipped with fixed shade lens which remain dark all the time. You can do with it if you’re a mere hobbyist. The problem arises when you have to take care of different materials.

Modern technology has churned out a full-proof solution for that too, in the form of auto darkening lens. Helmets made with this kind of special LCD lens are extremely sensitive to the changing light conditions, the screen brightness alters in a fraction of a second, allowing the welder to have a proper look at the quality of the weld puddle. The best auto darkening welding helmets I’ve included in this article offers amazing flexibility by allowing you to switch from one specimen to another and examine the quality of your work without removing the helmet. To make your quest to pick up the best welding helmet among the hundreds of attractive choices, I’ve made sure the advertised specifications of each and every model mentioned in the welding helmet reviews section are independently tried & tested under grueling conditions.

Best Welding Helmet - Our Top Picks

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Picture

Welding Helmet

Brand

Class

Review

Editor Rating

Antra

Low End

Hobart

Mid Range

Jackson Safety W70 BH3

Jackson

High End

Lincoln Electric Viking 3350

Lincoln

Mid Range

Miller Electric

Low End

Reviews of Our Top Picks

Antra AH6-260-0000

Editor Rating:

This mask, labeled with Antra’s premium standard and stellar craftsmanship, offers great variability in terms of shade setting. Designed specifically for arc welding and plasma cutting, AH6 is loaded a host of useful features to make your welding experience a memorable one each time you blow the gun.

​The auto darkening lens switches from bright to dim mode in seconds. The lens shading ranges from a low range 4.5-9 to a 9-13, allowing unbelievable flexibility during multiple welding tasks.

Another massive benefit is the package of 6 replacement lenses that you get along with it. Using it for the first time will make you realize what a wise investment you’ve made!

Lincoln Electric Viking 3350

Editor Rating:

Acing my list of the top welding helmets isn’t a walk in the park. Only after checking the results of rigorous quality tests under extreme conditions, I’ve been assured that Lincoln Electric Viking 3350 deserves to be ranked as one of the best in its class.

​Viking is the iron man helmet for the serious welders out there who work their socks off in high temperature and amperage all day long. If offers the largest and clearest viewing port than any other model, the premium quality lens with 1/1/1/1 optical clarity is perfect for those who never compromise with the welding standards.

The shade setting ranges between 6-13 which is just aptly sensitive for a vast range of welding methods. Apart from the expanded, crystal clear viewing area, Viking comes with 4 arc sensors which readily detect the arc intensity and darkens appropriately even during low amperage tasks.

Hobart 770753 Pro

Editor Rating:

Hobart, the brand has itself become synonymous to quality welding and everything related to it. I won’t be biased in my opinion but I’ve to admit I do possess a soft corner for this helmet as it was my first ever head gear, gifted to me by my father.

​Hobart 770753 belongs to Hobart’s premium range of battery powered auto darkening welding helmets. It’s structured from a tough and durable polyamide material which wards off rust and scratch for years.

The impressive functionality, wide viewing area, durability encased in one gorgeous black colored lightweight frame is just the exact badass welding helmet you were looking for. The highly sensitive auto darkening lens is designed with care to offer strong protection to the face region including the eyes during the arc start-up. The 4 arc sensors help in accurate arc detection during out-of-position welding apart from superb visibility. The shade setting varies from 8-13, the lighting fast 1/30000 seconds lens reaction time is unarguably flexible enough for Stick, MIG and low amperage TIG welding.

Jackson Safety W70 BH3

Editor Rating:

Jackson Safety BH3 is a trendy, feather-light, enduring auto-darkening welding helmet that can survive relentless abuse and strain for many years if taken care of thoughtfully. It is empowered with Balder technology and is believed by many critics to offer the most startling visual clarity.

​The manufacturers have ensured the product matches EN379 safety standards with 1/1/1 rating, which alone speaks for the credibility of the product.

To further attest to the awesomeness of Jackson Safety BH3, all the models are CE and DIN Plus certified. The integration of Balder technology has taken this welding helmet to a whole new level, it engineers a stunning, clear all angle view of the arc zone which is not discomforting your pupils. The curved front cover plate fully covers the face region and deflects the fume by reducing the heat. All in on, with the abundance of alluring features and a beautiful design, Jackson Safety W70 BH3 makes welding more fun and less trickier for the diehard enthusiasts.

Miller 251292 Classic Series

Editor Rating:

Are you one of those types who prefers check out all and sundry details about a product before purchasing it? Miller Classic Series would serve to your fastidiousness rightfully. It is ornamented with solid optics and the reaction time is overwhelming for even the pickiest welders.

​The stylish black body made from sturdy nylon material feels comfortable on neck and assures your eyes are justly shielded against the harmful UV rays.

Creating strongly in compliance with ANSI Z87.1 national safety standards and CSA standards, Miller 251292 lets you explore your full potential without paying heed to helmet adjustment. One big highlight of the product is its one of a kind analog controlled auto darkening featuring. The AAA batteries placed at the inner chamber of the machine have a runtime of 2000 hours and is also supported with solar energy. There is almost no possibility of prolonged machine downtime, thanks to the combination of two power sources.

Why Should You Go for an Auto Darkening Welding Helmet?

Auto darkening welding helmet is the ultimate go-to option for radiation protection for multiple welding purposes, be it simple MIG projects or the craftier TIG welding. Auto darkening welding helmets provide great optical clarity as well as all round safety against heat and arc impact. The problem with non auto darkening helmets is that you’ve to constantly adjust the hood of the gear to get a better glance at what you’re up to, that certainly causes a shift in the focus which you can’t afford. This is when the automatic light adjustment control technology comes into play.

The best welding helmets belonging to the top brands are embellished with quick adjustment controls on the screen which can be tweaked conveniently without even removing your gloves. Even your money is strictly limited, I’d recommend you to be a little generous for your own sake. It’s not just about the quality that makes auto darkening helmets stand out among standard TIG helmets or MIG helmets, uniqueness lies in the design as well. When you’re a complete badass welding enthusiast who wants a badass welding helmet, you can’t miss the collection of jaw-dropping designs a few brands have in store.

A Comparison Between Auto Darkening Lens vs. Standard Glass Lens

To understand what type of lens is right for your welding project and why is the first important step of learning to choose the best welding helmet. Standard lens are, well, in short standard (too deep?). These types of protective gears are either constructed of thick leather or molded plastics and provide a very basic protection against precarious UV and infrared radiation. Being economical is the one and only selling point of standard helmets in this era of stupendous technology. You must be well aware of the phrase, you get what you pay for. Ordinary helmets contain a dark tinted glass with a #10 shade and UV and infrared coatings. You have to struggle hard to maintain the correct position of the welding torch while pivoting the helmet up and down. It causes tremendous discomfort to your neck and hinders your efficiency at the same time.

Auto darkening welding helmets, to our utmost delight, eliminate all such issues. The screen of an AD helmet houses an electronic filter lens or ADF (some high end models couple it with a few more adjustable controls).most filter cartridges run on a combination of solar energy and batteries. So, what’s so special about ADF? Plenty light sensors are fitted near the lens to monitor the heat and arc initiation. The screen automatically brightens or darkens according to the emission of radiation in the blink of eye. The #3 and #4 shade allows you to see through the helmet screen clearly which in turn, makes the arc seamless as the welder can position the MIG or TIG gun accurately.

Benefits of Using an Auto Darkening Helmet

From the description of auto darkening lens written above, you can easily conjecture the main advantage of owning an AD helmet over a regular welding helmet. The helmet hood remains down throughout the task, no need of flipping it up and down, therefore no neck discomfort, better focus, what you get at the end of the day? Precision welds. When you straight hit the market without any prior knowledge as to what sort of options are available, how auto darkening helmets work, you’ll find yourself sunk up to neck in confusion. Standard helmets geared with fixed lens are just about fine for general welding applications, but for industrial level projects, you need something more dependable and instrumental in its designated task. The main benefits of auto darkening lens are:

  • Superior protection from harmful UV and IF rays that can otherwise cause Welder’s eye and many other fearful eye infections due to prolonged exposure.
  • Bid adieu to the most common complain of almost every professional welder-neck strain. With ADF, you are spared of the need to manually adjust the hood every time you pick up a fresh project. You job is to concentrate on welding, the rest will be taken care of by the impeccably efficient filters. The more your focus is unperturbed, the more your productivity is boosted.

Pro Tips to Choose the Best Welding Helmet

Fixed or Variable Shade

A fixed shade lens with #10 coating will be sufficient if you welding application is limited to only one type of material, such as stainless steel or aluminum having the same thickness and the same welding technique (TIG, MIG or stick welding) at the same amperage setting. Most standard welding helmets come with fixed shade lens.

In the professional ground, welders have to deal with different materials with different welding process, ranging from TIG or stick welding, depending on specific requirement of the project, which is when variable lens found in auto darkening helmets become vital. Each method involves a varied level of amperage as well. These cool welding helmets packed with auto dimming control properly shields your eyes against temperature and debris impact and provides similar visual clarity in different degrees of brightness. During the arc initiation, good welding helmet lenses can reduce the filter shade up to #9-#13.

Lens Reaction Time

The commercial term for lens reaction time is Switching speed denoting a number which tells the speed of switching from bright to dim mode by the lens. The smaller the number, the quicker a welder’s eyes are safeguarded from the high-intensity radiation. The shading process instantaneously begins from the moment of the arc start. While you’re shopping for the helmet, do not forget to check the Delay time. Slow reaction time will directly affect your eyesight, you’ll be left with dry, scratchy eyes, known an arc flash symptom for days.

Sensitivity and Delay Control

Professional level auto darkening helmets are hailed by experts for allowing the welder to tweak the brightness setting, one can manually fix the brightness level from which the shading process would kick start. This sensitivity control option comes particularly handy during TIG welding in which arc produced are of low intensity. Next comes the delay control feature which enables the user to set how long the screen remains dark after the arc extinguishes. While a short delay time is useful for repositioning the torch in large scale jobs, longer delay is helpful while working at very high amperage.

Power Source

Many premium auto darkening helmets, as you’ll figure out from the welding helmet reviews, are empowered by an internal, on-replaceable battery along with a solar energy panel. The solar assist panel often requires to be charged over a certain period in the sunlight after first use, as well as during the period of inactivity. The real bummer with the solar powered helmets is that you’ve to charge it for a long time even if has not been in use for a prolonged period, therefore you can’t just weld right away the moment you need to. The choicest picks are those which run on both solar assist panels and replaceable batteries. As for the batteries, you better go with AAA lithium batteries. These are light on pocket and easy to find at any hardware store.

Number of ARC Sensors and Helmet Weight

Noticing the number of the arc sensor controls on the helmet is undoubtedly critical. Depending on the external light environment and variation of welding techniques you apply, the arc sensors will regulate the darkening of the lens. Most top-grade models are equipped with at least 3 arc sensors.

Paying close attention to the weight of the helmet is equally important. A heavy weight helmet is likely to put unnecessary strain on your neck and aggravate the fatigue. For optimal comfort, go for a lighter weight model.

National Safety Standards

ANSI Z87.1-2003 is the newest safety standard introduced for welding helmet manufacturers. According to this safety standard, the manufacturers have to validate their advertised product details such as Switching speed, darkness shade settings, sensitivity controls etc. through independent laboratory tests. The helmets which meet the ANSI Z87.1 standards ensure maximum protection against radiation and guarantee to survive extreme heat and high velocity impact without fail.

Conclusion

I am no tradesman, nor do I claim to be the most knowledgable person when it comes to welding. It’s just my overwhelming passion of gadgets and metallurgy driving me to explore something new every day. The welding helmet reviews mentioned above is the outcome of my meticulous homework, only those masterpieces successfully passing my challenging quality test have made it to this virtual hall of fame created by me.

I’ve done my bit, the rest is entirely left to you. Chalk out the intensity of the projects you wish to work on, ensure the product details mentioned by the manufacturer matches your specific requirements. Compare, contrast the information available to you through internet or other sources before jumping to any conclusion, after all, who doesn’t love his money?

  • November 16, 2016
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