10 Best Welding Helmets of 2021 – Auto Darkening & TIG/MIG
Welding helmets are vital, and probably one of the most essential personal protective equipment items that you can have today. Affectionately referred to as “hoods,” welding helmets offer an overwhelming number of features as well as safety. Welding helmets protect the eyes and skin from hot sparks that are emitted and protect vision from ultraviolet and infrared that is created while working.
Because welding helmets are so vital, they are prevalent in the workplace. They have recently become an expression of individuality, leading to several colors and graphics being added that display that. Welding helmets can be worn for a number of hours a day, so comfort is of the utmost importance.
When looking through the variety of choices that are out there for you, those are some things that you may want to think about as you peruse through welding helmets. You will find that some look futuristic and have incredible features. We have created a list that may help identify some helmets that capture what you are looking for:
A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites
|Best Overall||Esab SENTINEL A50 Auto-Darkening Welding Helmet||
|Best Value||Antra AH6-260-0000 Auto Darkening Welding Helmet||
|Premium Choice||Lincoln 3350 Auto Darkening Welding Helmet||
|Optrel VegaView 2.5 Auto-Darkening Welding Helmet||
|Jackson Safety BH3 Auto Darkening Filter Welding Helmet||
The 10 Best Welding Helmets
1. Esab SENTINEL A50 Auto-Darkening Welding Helmet – Best Overall
We’re starting our list with the Esab SENTINEL A50 Auto-Darkening Welding Helmet, a great addition to any welder’s toolbox. This welding helmet looks out of this world. The ESAB is ergonomic and adjustable. The five-point headgear promotes comfort and balance, so it is easy on the neck and shoulders. It offers a color touch screen control panel and eight separate memory settings. The viewing area is spacious, with great visibility. The shell is high impact resistance nylon, making for a durable helmet and promoting longevity.
The only point of interest that needs to be worked on with this helmet is the curved lens. If you are not looking at what you are welding at, the peripheral vision is a bit off with a glare. Otherwise, this is a welding helmet that can get you through any job.
2. Antra AH6-260-0000 Auto Darkening Welding Helmet – Best Value
The Antra AH6-260-0000 Auto Darkening Welding Helmet ranks solidly as our number two choice in welding helmets, in fact, we think it’s the best welding helmet for the money. The Antra provides safety by way of a passive filter with permanent shade. The welding helmet offers full face and neck coverage and meets ANSI Z87.1 standards, which are the industry standards for welding helmets. Comfort is crucial when talking about welding helmets, and the Antra is very lightweight in order to reduce head and neck stress.
The auto-darkening lens eliminates flipping the hood up and down, which is extremely convenient. There is an external switch to switch from welding to grinding easily. The arc sensors are responsive at detecting different light and use auto shading to minimize radiant bypass, which dramatically reduces eye stress. The Antra is the epitome of versatility and personal safety. This welding helmet can handle multiple processes of Plasma cutting, as well as abrasive wheel cutting and grinding and metal fabrication applications. The cheater lens provides for perfect magnification. This helmet is perfect for the hobbyist, student, and professional.
3. Lincoln 3350 Auto Darkening Welding Helmet – Premium Choice
We have arrived at our number three pick, the Lincoln 3350 Auto Darkening Welding Helmet. This welding helmet offers solar cell lens shade and is the auto-darkening series to avoid interrupting work time and higher productivity. The solar switching speed is 1/25,000. The welding helmet offers ADF control knobs for Arc Sensors. The lens has excellent visibility and allows you to see your work clearly, and the fit is spot on, very comfortable. The controls to dial into the puddle are just right.
The one thing that needs to be addressed is the harness; it is overly complicated; otherwise, this helmet is perfect for any 10-hour shift.
4. Optrel VegaView 2.5 Auto-Darkening Welding Helmet
The Optrel VegaView 2.5 Auto-Darkening Welding Helmet boasts a world record automatic darkening filter (ADF). The shade level range is 8 to 12 with a perfect view in grinding mode. The Optrel VegaView has up to four times more view in the light state, making for high visibility. This helmet is incredibly lightweight, so neck and head muscles are not strained. This helmet is excellent for plasma cutting and any other project put before it; visibility doesn’t fail.
On the negative side, there’s no mount for a cheater lens and the knobs seem a bit low-quality.
5. Jackson Safety BH3 Auto Darkening Filter Welding Helmet
The Jackson Safety BH3 Auto Darkening Filter Welding Helmet is one of the most durable helmets on the market. It has an auto-darkening filter lens that provides optical clarity with a diffusion of light. The variable shades are from 9 to 13 in order to shield radiant energy during welds. The shade offers sensitivity and delay adjustments, which lets you do a variety of tasks. The visibility is genuinely second to none. For magnification filters that are compatible with hard hats, you can purchase a separate package. There is a 3-headgear adjustment for that perfect fit. This meets ANSI Z87.1 standards for safety. This helmet promotes production, safety, and comfort of use. The Jackson helmet is lightweight and would be suitable for any job.
However, we think the price point is simply too high. Additionally, compatibility hard hat items are not included.
6. 3M Speedglas 9100 Auto-Darkening Welding Helmet
The 3M Speedglas 9100 Auto-Darkening Welding Helmet offers professional-grade eye and skin protection while providing excellent visibility. The darkening filter is so clear that you can recognize colors more easily — the color is far less green. The lighter view leads to increased control in the puddle. This increases productivity, lessens eye strain, and provides for more significant precision welding. The front panel can switch between welding and grinding mode by touch. You don’t need to remove the helmet to change settings, so you don’t interrupt your workflow. The 3M Speedglas has a feature that will automatically turn the welding filter on to your most recent settings.
The welding helmet is also power-efficient as it shuts down after a period of inactivity, but sometimes it does this too soon and you may be caught in the dark with your helmet on mid-work. The viewing area is large, with minimal obstruction. Arc detention sensors in the lens activate the auto-darkening feature. Another great feature is the exhaust vents that are boosted to reduce fogging on the lens.
One impressive feature is that the lithium batteries last 2,000 hours, however, they are costly and difficult to replace. Lastly, the adjustable fit on this one is a little wonky. This helmet is also very pricey.
7. Miller 281000 Digital Elite Black Welding Helmet
The Miller 281000 Digital Elite Black Welding Helmet can handle any job that is put in front of it. The lens technology provides for a higher visible light spectrum, making it easier to see and promoting more extraordinary detail work. There are four arc sensors. X-Mode also prevents natural light from darkening the lens before you start welding. The headgear is adjustable, which allows for a comfortable fit. Controls are digital, quickly allowing you to adjust the shade and power button.
However, there are a slew of problems with this product. Firstly, the back knob to adjust the helmet is finicky. Secondly, adjustments do not stay where they are put. There are issues of random flashes and changing the lenses proves trying. Last but not least, the customer service is not stellar.
8. DEKOPRO Welding Helmet Solar Powered Auto Darkening Helmet
The DEKOPRO Welding Helmet Solar Powered Auto Darkening Helmet screams personality. DEKOPRO features an auto-darkening filter switch 1/25,000. The unique thing about this welder helmet is that in case of electric failure, the helmet remains to protect against ultraviolet and infrared light.
The helmet meets ANSI Z87.1 standards, so you aren’t putting safety at risk. The DEKOPRO is adjustable to fit any size head, which is vital for comfort. Powered with solar power technology, this helmet is useful in a variety of work environments. The lens is spacious and offers angular dependence, allowing you to see in any direction with greater perception. Lightweight with rounded design allows for maximum comfort. The design is fun and adds a lot of personality.
However, it wasn’t all glitz and glam for this product. We found some major issues with it, chief among them was the fact that the lens can fog up, making it impossible to see your project in front of you. On top of that, the fit wasn’t great, and the headband needs more cushioning — especially if you’re going to use it for several hours. All in all, we might trade this one in for one of our top three picks.
9. Tanox Auto Darkening Solar Powered Welding Helmet
In our number nine spot, we have the Tanox Auto Darkening Solar Powered Welding Helmet. The fact that this welding helmet comes with gloves is a nice touch. This helmet is perfect for the amateur or veteran welder. The Tanox features a large viewing area and a solar shade lens. This is probably the lightest weight helmet you would ever own. Safety is a top priority to Tanox as their welding helmet fits ANSI Z87.1 guidelines. The helmet is padded with a hard head adapter for comfort fit and no strain on the head or neck. The power on/off is automatic for grinding. Sensors are world-class in adjusting dark to light.
You get more than the welder gloves; this welder helmet comes with an extra set of lens covers as well. However, it wasn’t all roses. The gloves didn’t fit many customers well and the lenses are quite hard to switch out, making the bonus a little less exciting. If the gloves do fit, they are double leather and fire retardant with Kevlar stitching, making them pliable and comfortable to wear. Manufacture support comes from Tanox, and they back their product. Tanox is suitable for any project from the automotive field to the transportation industries. The low battery light is a plus. Be warned, there is some assembly required before you can use this one.
10. Instapark ADF Series GX-500S Auto Darkening Welding Helmet
The Instapark ADF Series GX-500S Auto Darkening Welding Helmet is full of personality and ideal for a variety of jobs. This helmet is solar powered with four arc sensors. The auto-darkening filter is ideal with a large viewing area. There is no interruption in work, and visibility remains at 100%. High productivity is always a high priority. Your eyes remain well protected. The external controls for the dark state, sensitivity, and delay are touched without having to take off the helmet. There is a wide range of variable shade adjustments allowing optimum visibility and switch time of 1/30,000. The helmet itself is lightweight, comfortable to wear, and extremely durable. The padded interior adds additional protection and comfort with the ratcheting headband to ensure a perfect fit. The Instapark is excellent for arc welding, metal inert gas and tungsten inert gas, and much more.
This product is best suited to people with small heads, in fact, it fit some customers too tightly. We also found the touch controls, while super cool, to be super sensitive as well. It also takes some time to power up. And lastly, sometimes the power dims. Overall, this wasn’t our favorite pick.
When purchasing a welding helmet, there are several things that you should consider. It is an investment, and you want to make sure that the features match the quality and price that you are looking for. From the everyday user to the hobbyist, you want to be confident that you are making the right choice.
What to Consider When Buying a Welding Helmet
When we think about the most important thing to look at when shopping for a welding helmet, safety immediately comes to mind. Yes, that is true, but that, combined with other factors, will make for an overall better helmet and more straightforward decision. Price is always a consideration, but a few other things that you may want to consider are:
Auto Darkening Protection
This is an excellent feature in a helmet. The helmet will automatically adjust from natural or safe light to ultraviolet or infrared light. The helmet will automatically darken when activated. This is a convenient feature because you don’t have to keep lifting the helmet up and down while you are trying to work. Auto-darkening protection protects your eyes without interrupting workflow.
US welding helmets should be able to pass these strict safety requirements passed down by the government. Helmet and manufacturers of darkening lenses must demonstrate through laboratory testing that they can validate individual specifications such as switching speeds and dark shade settings. If the helmet does not pass ANSI Z87.1 safety standards, you should move along.
The switching speed refers to how fast a lens can switch from its natural state to shade 3 or 4 as soon as welding begins. If you don’t have adequate switching speed, it can lead to eye fatigue. If you find that a switching speed feature is not for you, you may want to move to an intermediate or professional level switching speed.
Battery or Solar Power
Auto-darkening helmets have various power options, from non-replaceable batteries to solar assist panels. Some have replaceable batteries with solar, and some provide lithium batteries. With lithium, you need to take into account that those batteries may be harder to get, so this is something to investigate. Some helmets have to be charged before use, which is another point of consideration. Probably the most readily available and easiest batteries are AAA operated welding helmets.
Helmet weight plays a significant role in comfort and pressure on the head and neck areas. If you need to wear a welding helmet all day at work, the last thing you need is one that you are unable to carry the full weight of all day long. If you are a hobbyist, welding is supposed to be fun and may not be if your helmet is overly cumbersome and makes your neck and head sore.
A welding helmet is the most identifiable piece of safety equipment you own and the most visible. Welding helmets allow you to express yourself through different colors and graphics. As long as the helmet meets safety requirements and has all of the features you want, there is nothing wrong with having a little fun with the design .
Customer Service & Warranty
Welding helmets are an investment. You want to establish a relationship with a company that backs up its product. Warranty is something that you want to look for, especially if you are using the welding helmet for work. You want something durable to promote longevity. Excellent customer service is of paramount importance when buying a piece of equipment that you will be using for your safety. A company that builds a relationship with you is definitely worth looking into.
A lot of helmets offer excellent features, and some come with additional pieces and gloves. Buying a welding helmet is a significant investment, and it is encouraged to do the proper research in order to make sure it is everything you want. A lot of welders have two helmets on hand in case something goes wrong with the first.
Remember, when shopping around for your new welding helmet, there are a lot of brands and varieties that will be able to do well with any project. The important thing is to be able to find a welding helmet that suits your personal safety needs is comfortable, and that you can express yourself in.
Whether for work or play, the Esab SENTINEL A50 Auto-Darkening Welding Helmet is our overall pick for the best helmet on the market. It’s got all the bells and whistles you may be looking for.
If you are looking for a more budget-friendly option, try the Antra AH6-260-0000 Auto Darkening Welding Helmet. It offers all of the features that you need in a welding helmet and passes safety requirements. It also allows for customization with color and graphics for that added flair.
- See Also: TIG welder buyer’s guide
- See Also: MIG welder buyer’s guide
- See Also: Plasma cutter buyer’s guide
- 1 A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites
- 2 The 10 Best Welding Helmets
- 2.1 1. Esab SENTINEL A50 Auto-Darkening Welding Helmet – Best Overall
- 2.2 2. Antra AH6-260-0000 Auto Darkening Welding Helmet – Best Value
- 2.3 3. Lincoln 3350 Auto Darkening Welding Helmet – Premium Choice
- 2.4 4. Optrel VegaView 2.5 Auto-Darkening Welding Helmet
- 2.5 5. Jackson Safety BH3 Auto Darkening Filter Welding Helmet
- 2.6 6. 3M Speedglas 9100 Auto-Darkening Welding Helmet
- 2.7 7. Miller 281000 Digital Elite Black Welding Helmet
- 2.8 8. DEKOPRO Welding Helmet Solar Powered Auto Darkening Helmet
- 2.9 9. Tanox Auto Darkening Solar Powered Welding Helmet
- 2.10 10. Instapark ADF Series GX-500S Auto Darkening Welding Helmet
- 3 Buyer’s Guide
- 4 Conclusion