Best Welding Helmets for 2022 Reviews & Buyer’s Guide [Top Auto-darkening Welding Hoods & Their Money Alternatives]

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As an experienced and professional welder or a hobbyist, you should understand the risks of the job. 

You also need to understand the value and the necessity of the welding helmet that you own and use. 

To do your job safely and effectively, protecting your eyes in the best way possible is not a waste of money! Be sure that no one needs a welder with bad eyesight! 

best welding helmets feature image

In this article we have put together, we will try to determine what is the best welding helmet on the market today. We have made a list of top auto-darkening welding helmets and their budget alternatives that are also suitable for the job.

These helmets offer the best value in their respective categories. They have been on the market and subjected to regular real-world use long enough that we have obtained plenty of reviews and practical data on the functionality, durability, and overall value of these helmets.

We also made an extensive buyer’s guide that explains all the features of modern welding helmets and what you should pay attention to when picking up one for your job.  There is also an infographic on maintaining, storing, and cleaning your welding mask when you are not using it.

With that said, please dig in.

Quick Comparison of Best Auto Darkening Welding Helmets

ImageNameSpecialsNumber of SensorsShade RangeLight Mode ShadingFeaturesTIG Amp RatingCheck Price
yeswelder m800h
YesWelder M800HDiscount Code: 10% WELDPROS

Best For The Money
4-sensor arrayDIN 5-13DIN 4True Color, Large view area, weld-cut-grind button-Check Current Price YesWelder
optrel crystal 2.0
Optrel Crystal 2.0 Auto-Darkening…Best Helmet Overall34-12 2.0Crystal Lens Technology, Delay and Twilight Function, Autopilotless than 3 ampsCheck Current Price Amazon
lincoln viking 3350
Lincoln Electric K3034-4 VIKING 3350Great Value Helmet4 Sensors DIN 9 – 13DIN 4Biggest viewport size, Most Popularless than 4 ampsCheck Current Price Amazon
3m speedglas 9100xxi
3M Speedglas Welding Helmet 9100High-end Welding Helmet3 SensorsDIN 9-13 DIN 4Lots of adjustments, Side view-ports(1 amps – 20 amps)Check Current Price Amazon
Miller digital elite
Miller 281000 Digital Elite BlackHelmet With X-Mode4 SensorsWeld:8 –13 Cut:5 – 8 DIN 4Cutting Mode, X modeless than 5 ampsCheck Current Price Amazon
esab senntinel a50
ESAB 0700000800 Sentinel A50Technologically Advanced Helmet4 SensorsDIN 5-8/9-134LCD Touchscreen Panel, Low Pow. Tig modeless than 2 ampsCheck Current Price Northern Tool

All welding helmets reviewed here to meet the standards of ANSI Z87.1 – 2003 (also referred to as ANSI Z87+), which ensures that viewing lenses and helmets have met the expectations of independent testing, showing that they can withstand high-velocity impact

Best Welding Helmet Reviews

With all that said finally, here are our picks for the best welding helmet. (all of these eight hoods are great, but the list’s order comes from my personal opinion and experience)

  • Lincoln Electric Viking 3350 Welding Helmet [Best Overall]
  • YesWelder M800HP [Best Welding Helmet for the “money”]
  • Optrel Crystal 2.0 Auto-Darkening Welding Helmet [Best on the Market]
  • Digital Elite – Miller Welding Helmet [x-ray mode]
  • 3M Speedglass 9100xxi Welding Helmet
  • Esab Sentinel A50 Welding Helmet
  • Optrel Panoramaxx Welding Helmet
  • Optrel VegaView 2.5 Welding Helmet
  • The first helmet is the best “money choice” I could find.
  • The other 7 listed welding helmets are top of the line. They are all tested and meet national safety standards.
  • They are all comfortable and are made to fit different head sizes perfectly.
  • Their Auto-darkening lens filter switching speed (from light to dark) is less than 1/25,000 sec, which is the standard and is considered perfectly safe.
  • All are made for welding professionals and have Tig amp rating beneath 5 amps.
  • The magnifying lens can be mounted up on all welding helmets

1. Lincoln Electric Viking 3350 Best Welding Helmet Overall

lincoln electric viking 3350 welding helmet

Even though the market is overflowed with different and cheap hoods, the best professional-grade welding helmet for the money has to be Lincoln Electric 3350. For the money spent, you get crystal clear vision with the 3.94 X 3.86 view-port which is among the biggest in the welding industry.

With the Lincoln Electric 3350, you get 4C lens technology for superior, true color visibility which causes no eye strain. It offers a 1/1/1/1 optical lens clarity rating through the unusually large viewing lens and can be used for cutting and all types of welding.

Four high-quality arc sensors will detect even low amperage welding. Still, when it comes to low amp TIG, some welders give advantages to ESAB Sentinel A50. Nonetheless, in terms of durability Viking 3350 takes a reign.

Due to high popularity among fellow welders and an exceptional number of reviews, Lincoln Electric did an upgrade to Viking 3350. The manufacturer retained all the good features and tried to improve the drawbacks. Headgear ergonomy has been improved, but some find it still complex and awful.

The latest model features an external grind mode button which is easy to press even with welding gloves. The rest of the controls are inside the helmet, and I love the indicator which tells you you are in grind mode.

Overall, Lincoln Electric Viking has been on the welding market for a while, and you will not make a mistake getting one. However, some find the price tag a bit too high for hobbyists, but the professional welders think it is well worth it.

Read our full review here.

Pros & Cons Summarized

Pros

  • Premium and very clear lenses
  • Extra Large viewing size
  • Very fast switching time
  • Sunlight differentiation
  • External grind button
  • Hard hat compatible
  • Room for respiratory protection
  • 3 years warranty
  • Probably the most popular welding helmet in the US

Cons

  • Internal sensitivity, shade selection, and delay controls
  • Some dislike the head gear

Specifications

  • True color View – crystal clear view of the arc and puddle to enhance your control and increase weld quality while reducing eye strain with 3350 series 4C lens, which has a 1/1/1/1 optical clarity rating
  • Large Viewing Size – 3.74″ x 3.34″ viewing range with 4C Premium Sensors offers a great viewing range for any welder
  • Switch time – bright to dark 1/25,000 sec at normal room temperature conditions
  • TIG amperage rating:  less than four amps.
  • Adjustable Shade Level 5-13 – can be used for finer things and different welding applications
  • Sunlight Differentiation – This helmet can tell the difference between weld arc and sunlight, so it doesn’t switch shades automatic
  • Analog controls – Analog controls located inside the helmet allow you to change your welding settings while still wearing your gloves
  • External Grind Button – to help you switch quickly and easily between the weld and grind mode using external controls
  • X6 Comfortable Headgear –establish 6 contact points that distribute weight, eliminate pressure and provide a personalized fit for maximum comfort
  • Package features: package includes 5 outside replacement lenses, 2 inside cover lenses, a helmet bag, and a sticker sheet to customize your helmet

2. Best on the Market: Optrel Crystal 2.0 Auto-Darkening Welding Helmet

optrel crystal 2.0 welding helmet

I will try to make my claims as unbiased as possible, but honestly, Optrel Crystal 2.0 might be the best welding helmet when it comes to clarity. It is fairly expensive, but you will get more than what you paid for.

With revolutionary Crystal Lens technology that brings real true colors, you will be able to see the weld pool as it really is – clearly and in full detail. Then, once you finish welding, there is a feature that gradually lightens the lens from dark to light mode, which gives your eyes time to adjust to changes reducing the fatigue.

Afterward, in the light state, when you need to grind or adjust your welding machine, the helmet will feature a 2.0 shade level. During the 2.0 shade, the environment will look like you don’t have a helmet on at all, which is a really nice feature.

Besides the superior clarity, Optrel Crystal 2.0 is one of the lightest and most comfortable helmets on the market with 18.7 oz.

Crystal lens technology's true color filter

You won’t experience any neck strain even if you wear it all day long. Then there is heat-resistant paint which will protect your face. Everything being said, I can say this is a real professional and a good welding helmet, used by everyone from aerospace welders to welders in manufacturing. You can also use it for low amp welding without fear of flashes.

As for the bad sides, this helmet features only 3 arc sensors, while most brand hoods such as Lincoln Viking or ESAB Sentinel A50 provide 4. That means sensors might get blocked when working in cramped spaces. In addition, the viewing area is somewhat smaller than some hoods we mentioned, and there are no side windows such as 3M Speedglas 9100XXi offers.

Full review here.

Pros & Cons Summarized

Pros

  • Probably best on the market right now
  • Great clarity
  • Super lightweight
  • 2.0 DIN light state
  • Autopilot
  • Decreases eye fatigue
  • Room for respiratory protection
  • Perfect for TIG welding

Cons

  • Expensive welding helmet
  • Only 3 sensors
  • The viewing area is somewhat smaller

Specifications

  • Crystal Lens Technology 2.0 – see clearly what happens during preparation as well as during and after the welding process.
  • Autopilot – Detection of the arc brightness, fully automated. Adjusts automatically to the changing light conditions of the current welding process.
  • Switch time – light to dark: 0.100 ms at room temperature at 55 ° C 070 ms at 55 ° C dark light: 0.1 s to 2.0 s (with dimming function)
  • Front Cover Lens – Up to 137 ° C / 279 ° F
  • Shade Level 4-12 – Optrel Crystal 2.0 can be used for all professional welding applications that require low amperage welding.
  • Twilight feature – gradually lightens lens when switching from dark to light state to ease eye fatigue.
  • Sensitivity adjustment – allows the operator to change the lens switching sensitivity for varying ambient light conditions or outdoor welding in sunlight.
  • Grind mode – switch quickly and easily between the weld mode and shade 2. 0 Grind mode using external controls.
  • Outside Adjustment – There is no need to remove the welding helmet to change shade or grind.
  • True color view high – contrast view of the welding pool during the welding process with great clarity.
  • Lightweight – 460 g / 18,7 oz.

3. YesWelder M800HP Best Helmet For The Money

image of yeswelder m800hp

M800HP helmet from YesWelder is without a doubt the best welding helmet under 100$, simply because it offers the true-color view and the 1/1/1/2 Optical Clarity rating. The true color view is not something you can find at this price range, and it is reserved for more expensive hoods.

The true color features allow you to see more clearly and you don’t have to deal with the green tint which is a characteristic of cheap hoods. Another plus of this helmet is a huge viewing screen of 3.93 x 3.66 in, which is among the biggest on the market, meaning you can just see more.

External controls are large enough to use with gloves and you don’t have to flip the helmet up to adjust it. Still, they might get in a way when working in tight spaces. However, you can adjust shade range, sensitivity, and delay.

The headgear is comfortable and does the job very well. Still, the only downside is the headgear quality, so it might fall apart quickly, so you will eventually have to change it in the future.

Nonetheless, the helmet has 4 arc sensors that will detect arc in cramped space, and it meets the safety and technical standard of EN379 and ANSI Z87.1. However, you should be careful when working at low amperage and DC TIG welding as ADF might fail.

Seasoned welders also noticed shading gradience at the top, middle, and bottom of the viewing area so they don’t recommend YesWelder M800HP for professional use. Still, we recommend it as a great entry-level welding helmet for hobbyists and beginners.

More in detail on this welding hood here.

Get 10% Off With Coupon: “10% WELDPROS”

Pros & Cons Summarized

Pros

  • True color feature.
  • Very large viewing size.
  • Great for hobbyists.
  • Easily adjusted and used.
  • Solar battery charge.
  • Cheater lens compatible.
  • Replacement lenses, spare battery and helmet bag.
  • 30 days return policy.

Cons

  • Headgear don’t appear to be very substantial.
  • Not for professional welders.
  • Problem with shade gradience can occur.

Specifications

  • True Color viewsee clearly what happens during the weld process with 1/1/1/2 optical clarity lenses
  • Super Large Viewing Size  3.93″X 3.66″ viewing range with 4 Premium Sensors offers a great viewing range.
  • Shade Level: Weld 9-13, Cut 5-9 – higher shade range will offer welder the variety of shading adjustments for various applications
  • Internal Buttons and Features – inside the helmet, you can find a test button, to check if your auto darkening is working, low battery indicator and a support for cheater lenses
  • Large controls  –  over-sized external controls that work okay with light leather gloves allowing you quick and easy outside adjustments without having to pull off your hood
  • Sensitivity adjustment allows the operator to change the lens switching sensitivity from high to low
  • Grind mode – switch quickly and easily between the weld, cut, and grind mode using external controls.

4. Speedglass 9100 Welding Helmet

3m speedglas welding helmet

3M Speedglass is one of the most versatile welding helmets on the market right now, as it provides protection, clarity, and peripheral vision.

You can also consider a model with an auto-dark visor and a quality built-in welding respirator (Air versions).

Speedglas helmet offers various viewport sizes and options, but we featured the 9100XXi model. 3M Speedglas 9100XXi features the largest 2.8 x 4.2 inches viewing area and peripheral viewports that can be opened and closed at the user’s discretion.

Three sensors in the lens provide a rapid reaction time and reliable auto-darkening capability. The lens goes from clear to working dark in .1 milliseconds. TIG amp rating is down to 1 amp, which means that you will be able to weld or thin sheet metals like exhaust vents, aluminum, and all sorts of professional micro-welding.

Still, some find sensitivity settings too sensitive, so it might take some time to get used to it. Even though this model features an external grind mode button, you will have to press and hold it, which might be challenging when wearing gloves.

Keep in mind that you will have to pay quite a few bucks, but the investment is well worth it. The durability is outstanding, as many professional welders say they use it day and night. Some disliked the headgear, but the perfected exhaust vents will keep your helmet from fogging.

Full review here.

Pros & Cons Summarized

Pros

  • Various view-port sizes
  • Peripheral viewports
  • TIG amp rating is down to 1 amps
  • Heat shield
  • True color filter
  • Durable
  • Adjustable delay settings

Cons

  • Most expensive welding helmet on our list
  • Some find sensitivity settings too sensitive

Specifications

  • The viewport area is pretty large 2.8 x 4.2 in. (72×107 mm). The same size is on my helmet and I’m perfectly satisfied.
  • A true-color filter is decent but it lags behind Optrel’s and Lincoln’s expensive helmets. It’s got too much green for my taste. Especially now, when with Optrel panoramaxx you can literally “see all the colors” throughout ADF.
  • Mask is made of durable polycarbonate. The material has great heat-resistant properties. It highly impacts resistance and resistant to a degree of scratching.
  • Fun fact: The silver part at the front of the mask is not just for aesthetics. It’s a heat shield that deflects heat away from the user’s face.
  • Helmet Weight:1 pounds. Borderline is somewhere around 4.4 pounds, 3.6 pounds is not that heavy for the welding hood, but there are much lighter welding masks out-here.
  • The large grind mode button is on the right side. And you can use grind mode easily with gloves on.
  • Side windows are a special feature that Speedglass pioneered. They are very useful in certain situations and increase your peripheral viewing field of view while maintaining full eye safety. When you don’t need them there are special cover plate for lenses that can be easily mounted.

5. Esab Sentinel A50 Welding Helmet

image of ESAB Sentinel

If you’re looking to add a little bit of style to your equipment, the Esab Sentinel A50 auto-darkening welding helmet is a solid choice. Sentinel offers a superior comfort level and comes with a color touch screen control panel for futuristic presentation.

Sentinel A50 auto-darkening welding helmet offers eight separate memory settings plus an externally activated Grind Button. The helmet can be used for cutting and any type of welding, crystal-clear visibility, and a broad spectrum of options.

Power Supply is shared on solar-powered cell plus replaceable battery (2 x CR2450 lithium). Alerts indicators will light up when the battery power is low, so you don’t have to worry about failing. 

There is also a hard hat adapter option, but the manufacturer suggests ESAB hats. However, most welders agree Sentinel might be one of the most comfortable fit helmets on the market. You can wear it day and night without strain.

The clarity is outstanding, so some feel like the lights have been turned on. Besides being comfortable, Sentinel is also sturdy. Top-notch welders deserve top-notch welding equipment. Sentinel A50 is an excellent choice since this brand makes some of the best welding helmets.

Some drawbacks are related to the curved lens which might cause a glare when moving your head during welding. In addition, a protective lens might wrap when working with too much heat, and keep in mind that replacements are expensive.

If you want more from this hood you can read a bit more extended review here.

Pros & Cons Summarized

Pros

  • One of the most comfortable helmets with halo headgear
  • Lightweight but durable
  • Touch screen with memorizing input
  • Hard hat compatible
  • Excellent visibility and clarity
  • Reduces head and neck stress
  • The grind mode button is outside
  • TIG mode less than 2 amps

Cons

  • Possible glare caused by curved lens
  • Expensive viewport protection glass

Specifications

  • View-port: The viewing area measures about 3.93 x 2.36 in. (100 x 60 mm) and has 1/1/1/2 –5-13 ADF.
  • Hyper-visible LCD Control Panel: Easy to use a display that resembles a smartphone screen. (Easy to use when you don’t have gloves on) The display is full color and has some cool features like memorizing your input shade.
  • Replacement Cover lances: An extra perk to the Sentinel helmet is that the reflective, amber-colored front cover lens is easily replaceable. It can be done in less than ten seconds- even without removing the helmet.
  • Comfort: helmet also features a highly ergonomic five-point suspension insert with five points of adjustment for superior comfort and optimal balance and fit. The low profile design offers a central, crucial point that gives the user maximum headroom when the helmet is in its upright position.
  • TIG amperage rating: less than two amps. Suitable for welding work on tin sheets and tubes.
  • The large grind mode button: Placed on the right side above the view-port and fairly large indicator on the display inside will help you not forget that the grind mode is on.
  • Helmet Weight: 1.4 lbs. (640 g). Much lighter helmet then Speedglas for example.

6. Digital Elite – Miller Electric Welding Helmet

miller digital elite welding helmet

Miller Digital Elite is a perfect helmet for welding outdoors during the daytime or under complex lighting conditions. This feature is courtesy of the patented “X” mode which counteracts most light interference. X mode makes Digital Elite the right welding helmet for on-the-field professional welders.

The viewing area is just over nine square inches in total, which is significantly bigger than the Miller Classic series, but a bit smaller than Infinity, or Lincoln Viking hoods. The auto-dark feature is one of the fastest on the market, so you don’t have to worry about getting flashed.

Digital Elite features a nylon construction shell that is scratch-resistant. A durable shock-absorbing gasket protects the lens from impact variable damage, meaning this helmet can take a beating.

Miller has recently redesigned this helmet to incorporate additional adjustability settings as well as enhanced support. The digital controls are more user-friendly with larger buttons and additional settings.

Once you get the sensitivity settings right, you don’t have to worry about flashing even if the four arc sensors are blocked. In addition to excellent clarity, battery lifespan feels never-ending.

Headgear is not necessarily bad, on contrary, it is really comfortable. However, some dislike the fact you have to adjust the tension each time you put it on. While this is not the crucial drawback, occasional adjusting might be frustrating.

Full review here.

Pros & Cons Summarized

Pros

  • Patented “X” mode button
  • Lightweight but sturdy
  • Aluminum Heat Shield
  • 4 premium Sensors
  • Built to last and perform
  • Great for outdoor welding with bright sunlight
  • Reliable helmet

Cons

  • All controles are on the inside
  • Headgear adjustments might be frustrating

Specifications

  • Viewport: 9.22 in. Average viewing window size nothing special about it.
  • ClearLight™ Lens Technology: ClearLight allows more colors of the visible light spectrum to come through the lens for natural, accurate tones. It stands with Speedglas on a quality level.
  • X-Mode: Electromagnetically senses the weld to eliminate sunlight interference and continuously detects the arc even if sensors are blocked (good for outdoor job site)
  • Durable Shock-Absorbing Gasket: Protects lens from drop impact.
  • Aluminum Heat Shield: Protects the lens in high amperage welding projects.
  • Weight: 1.13 lbs Lightweight.

X- Mode is a unique trait of this welding helmet and Miller patented technology (that’s why no one else can use it). Namely, when you strike an ark, 3 types of radiation are emitted. UV (as a bright light), Infrared light (as heat) and Electromagnetic radiation. On all other welding helmets, sensors are triggered by IR radiation hence the flashing with a low amp, grinding problems, sun and etc.

This Millers hood’s sensors are triggered by a lower spectrum of electromagnetic radiation”X-rays”. This means there will be no flashes, never. The ADF will go dark literally moments before the arc is struck. ADF won’t light up when grinding, the sun will not be a problem and it will continuously detect the arc even if sensors are blocked.

7. Optrel VegaView 2.5 Welding Helmet

optrel vega view 2.5 welding helmet

With the Optrel Crystal 2.0, Vegaview 2.5 might be one of the lightest helmets on the market, which is an invaluable feature when you have to wear your helmet for long stretches of time. This helmet fits great when overhead welding and comes with a state-of-the-art arc sensors array.

VegaView features an external grind mode and adjustments for both shade and sensitivity which is pretty standard. Arc brightness detection is fully automated for the user’s safety. With light shade 2.5, visibility is four times better when grinding or cutting

Its Infinite Shade Level Adjustment comes with external controls that let welders manually adjust the shade range from 8 to 12 to suit the needs of the welding application. However, if you are occasionally welding at higher amps, shade 12 might not be enough.

Optrel’s patented Sensor Slide prevents the ADF from reacting to the arcs of nearby welders. Luckily, all the controls are external, meaning you can use them with gloves. Still, some feel that the control buttons are somewhat flimsy and sometimes hard to use.

Despite being lightweight and compact, you can fit a respirator under Optrel VegaView 2.5. On the other hand, this helmet is a bit cheaper than some of the hoods we reviewed, but it offers a smaller viewing area than Lincoln Viking or YesWelder M800HP and a somewhat shorter shade range.

Read more about it here.

Pros & Cons Summarized

Pros

  • Lightweight and compact
  • Variable angle dependence, movable sensors
  • 2.5 shadow level in light mode
  • UV/IR filter with true color technology
  • External controls
  • You can fit a respirator underneath

Cons

  • Expensive replacement lenses
  • Not for high amp welding

Specifications

  • Viewport: 3.93 x 2.36 in Average size viewing window combined with comfortable head shape band put’s your eyes directly in front of the viewport so that you see clearly.
  • ADF: UV/IR filter offers a top real color experience. Much better then Speedglass and slightly better than Viking Lincoln 3350. This helmet holds the world record with light state shading of 2.5 improving the visibility and optical clarity of welders’ environment by 400%!
  • Material: Made of nylon cone name PA6.6. Extremely light and bendable, resistant to heat, braking, and scratching.
  • Outside Adjustment: A central control unit directly connected to the ADF, is placed on the left side of the helmet. Shade, sensitivity, delay, range and grinding button. All accessible from the outside.
  • Sensor Slide: by using the patented Optrel sensor slide the arc sensors angle can be reduced from 120° to 60°. Preventing a reaction of the ADF to welding processes in the environment.
  • Light weight: Only 1.06 pound or 482 g. probably the lightest one out there and the lightest one from these in the buying guide – best welding helmet when it comes to weight.

8. Optrel Panoramaxx Welding Helmet

optrel panoramaxx hood

Optrel Panoramaxx hood combines Crystal View technology you find at other Optrel helmets, with an outstanding panoramic field of view you will love. Its panoramic view combined with the light state of 2.5 DIN brightness level, plus the highly detailed color rendering, gives the user a level of full visual clarity that few other helmets can match.

This helmet features the patented Optrel auto-pilot function. Once you turn it on, an advanced sensor will detect the brightness of the arc flashes, then automatically adjusts to the correct darkness value.

To ensure the best protection, Optrel Panoramaxx is powered by a rechargeable lithium battery that can be charged using a USB cable.

When looking at the helmet, you might have noticed nose cutouts that are perfectly placed above the user’s nose for optimal positioning of the ADF nearer the welder’s eyes. However, you might feel uncomfortable until you get used to it, especially if this is your first helmet with nose support.

I have to compliment advanced design with high-quality parts. Panorammax does not feel cheap at all, but you will have to be ready to pay more than quite a few bucks. In addition, it is best used in shop or indoor conditions, while it might break due to heavy industrial use on the field.

Pros & Cons Summarized

Pros

  • VegaView technology (6 times larger field of vision than standard welding helmets)
  • True color view
  • Autopilot
  • 5-sensor array
  • Rechargeable lithium battery
  • Light state of 2.5 DIN

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Expensive protection glass

One of the most technologically advanced masks on the market with a great field of view. Great for “overhead welding”

Specifications

  • Viewport Panorama: they have a unique approach here. The viewport is close to your eyes and in the shape of sunglasses. This translates into 6 times larger vision field than standard quality welding helmets, beating even the Lincoln Viking 2250 with its 3.94 X 3.86 port.
  • ADF: Again top-notch UV/IR filter allows the realistic True color view.
  • Autopilot: Adjust automatically to the changing light conditions of the current welding method.
  • Autopilot can be further adjusted with an individual calibration option of ± 2 * If preferred, the Autopilot can be deactivated for manual shade range selection.
  • Multi-Sensor Detection: The completely redesigned controls of the 5-sensor array ensure the perfect regulation of the ADF. Depending on the headband setting, 2.3x to a 6.3x vision field of a 3.93 x 2.36 in standard industry ADF.
  • Power technology: Solar cell, lithium-polymer battery, rechargeable by USB-cable with the life of 300 to 500 charging cycles.
  • Material: Made of nylon cone name PA6.6. Extremely light and bendable, resistant to welding heat, braking, and scratching.
  • Light weight: 1.16 pound (530 gram)

Quick Comparison of Budget Welding Helmets

ImageNameSensorsShade SettingsViewing AreaFeaturesCheck Price
antra helmet
Antra AH6-260-00004 Sensors DIN 9 – 136.68 sq inHigh quality build, Most PopularCheck Current Price Amazon
optrel crystal 2.0
Instapark ADF Series GX990T4 SensorsDIN 5-1315.21 sq inVery Large viewing area, External controlsCheck Current Price Amazon
Tanox welding helmet
Tanox Auto Darkening Solar Powered4 SensorsDIN 9 – 136.68 sq inPadded with a hard head adapter Check Current Price Amazon
jackon safety helmet
Jackson Safety 461314 SensorsDIN 9 – 139.27 sq inDigital display, Flexible ShellCheck Current Price Amazon

Reviews for The Best Budget Welding Helmets

For novice welders, hobbyists, or those who only do light welding tasks, there is a wide range of excellent affordable helmets that will give you full protection without breaking the bank. These helmets are capable of being used safely and effectively in many professional settings.

Below are the best auto-darkening welding helmets reviews in the lower price range:

  • Antra AH6 260 0000
  • DELKOPRO Welding Helmet
  • Instapark Series mask GX99OT
  • Tanox ADF-2O65
  • Jackson Safety 46131
  • Tacklife PAH04D

They are not considered competitive with their excellent professional-grade counterparts, but they are an excellent choice for welders just starting out and casual welders. They are also a good choice for high school and college metal shops.

9. Antra AH6 260 0000

image of Antra AH6-260 Welding Helmet

The Antra AH6-260 Classic Series welding helmet (or helmet ah6 ) is equipped with the smart chip-controlled four arc sensors auto-darkening lens. This helmet weighs just under a pound which is great and lightweight making it versatile enough to be used for a range of applications such as grinding, cutting, and welding (MIG TIG).

This is one of the most popular auto-darkening helmets on the budget market. In addition, it might be an ideal upgrade from the mask with quality fixed shade lens for just a fraction of the cost of more elaborate helmets and it is one of the best welding helmets in the price range which makes it a great choice. It lets you adjust the delay time and sensitivity of the arc sensors.

It is also magnifying lens compatible and comes with a useful hard hat adapter. There’s also a battery indicator and tester as well as a power-off delay.

However, keep in mind that at this price range, you shouldn’t expect an industrial-grade helmet. This budget welding helmet is made of thin plastic, and a headgear might break apart quickly. Molten metal can burn through cheap construction easily, so I don’t recommend it for overhead welding.

Pros & Cons Summarized

Pros

  • The grinding mode button is outside
  • Lightweight
  • Literally, everyone buys this helmet at the start
  • 4 sensors
  • One year warranty
  • Can be fitted with magnification filters (magnifying lenses)

Cons

  • Not recommended for serious projects
  • Won’t last long

Specifications

  • Viewport: viewing size dimensions: 3.86″ x 1.73″ , Area: 6.68 square inches
  • Lens shade range level: DIN 9 – 13 with DIN 4 at light mode shading that lets you see clearly.
  • Grinding button: External button for grind mode
  • Weight: 1lb (lightweight)
  • What is Unique about it: It is one of the most popular and top choice budget options. This helmet has a very good build quality being made of polyamide nylon, it supports the magnifying lens for better lens clarity, it is lightweight,  has replaceable lithium batteries and it is the best hood for this price point.
  • 4 arc sensors

10. DEKOPRO Welding Helmet

delkopro welding helmet

This economical mask has a 1/1/1/2 rating and meets all of the safety standards and technical standards of EN379 and ANSI Z87.1.

It is a solar-powered welding helmet model that comes with an auto-darkening, solar-powered mode feature, and decent switching speed. It is lightweight and features a smooth, curved exterior for better comfort.

It is very versatile and can be easily adapted to fit your personal preferences and comfort settings.

This welding helmet provides a viewing area of seven square inches. It provides stunning five thousand hours of battery life, four sensors, and an adjustable headband. However, you shouldn’t expect high-end performance, as shade fluctuations may occur. In addition, grind mode button is located inside, which is really frustrating.

Pros & Cons Summarized

Pros

  • Large viewing area 3.85’’ x 3.15’
  • Light
  • Long battery life

Cons

  • Shade level fluctuations may occur
  • Grind button is inside the helmet

Specifications

  • Viewport: Dimensions: 3.85’’ x 3.15’’, Area: 12.13 sq in
  • Variable shade range: DIN 9 – 13 with DIN 4 at light mode shading
  • Grinding mode button: Internal grinding setting button
  • Weight: 1lb (lightweight)
  • What is Unique about it: Very large view area and a long battery life of 5000h

11. Instapark Series GX99OT

instapark ADF gx990t welding helmet

This is a very basic welding helmet model with a large viewing area, but a small user interface. It is powered by a built-in solar panel cell and a replaceable CR2450 battery as a power source. The ADF eliminates the need to flip the welding helmet up and down in between torch placements.

The ADF GX990T welding helmet is ergonomically designed and made with patent-protected lightweight composite materials. It offers a custom fit via a ratcheting headband system and a fully padded interior for comfort, but some had troubles keeping it from falling apart.

It should give you a full view of your entire welding area with an excellent optical clarity rating, 4 arc sensors, and good UV/IR protection. However, you shouldn’t consider it for professional use, as it may damage your eyes when used for longer periods daily. In addition, the ADF function might fail at low amp TIG welding.

Pros & Cons Summarized

Pros

  • An extra-large viewing area
  • Outside controls
  • Great while learning to weld

Cons

  • Poor quality of the headband
  • Not for everyday longer use
  • Might flash you at low amperages

Specifications

  • Viewport: Dimensions: 3.94” x 3.86”, Area: 15.21 sq in
  • Shade range level: DIN 5 – 13 with DIN 4 at light mode shading
  • Grinding button: External button
  • Weight: 1.5lb
  • What is Unique about it: Exceptionally large view dimensions and the external controls

12. Tanox ADF-2O65

tanox welding helmet with gloves

This economic welding helmet features four quality arc sensors, solar cells, and the long life of a power source battery.

Solar cells and a two-year lifespan lithium-replaceable battery will ensure you years of welding. The value to the package adds a replacement lens and decent quality welding gloves.

The gloves are sixteen-inch double-layered leather with a Kevlar stitching thread. They come with long sleeves to keep your arms and clothing safe and protected.

The Tanox solar power Helmet meets all of the EN379 and ANSIZ87.1 safety to protect from eye fatigue and technical standards for both simple and complex jobs. Its reaction time is 1/25,000 of a second thanks to its arc sensors – earning it a 1/1/1/2 Optical rating. It can protect the welder from both UV rays and IR radiation in case of an electrical failure.

However, the headgear is horrible. While being of decent comfort, it may fall apart quickly, and many welders had troubles keeping the helmet locked in up position, which can be frustrating.

Pros & Cons Summarized

Pros

  • Cheap
  • Light
  • Comes with quality leather long slive gloves

Cons

  • Tends to break down after a month of use
  • Weak headband

Specifications

  • Viewport: Dimensions: 3.86″ x 1.73″ , Area: 6.68 sq in
  • Shade range: DIN 9 – 13 with DIN 4 at light mode shading
  • Grinding button: Internal button for grinding
  • Weight: 1lb (lightweight)
  • What is Unique about it: Tanox ADF-2065 is padded with a hard head adapter

13. Jackson Safety 46131

jackson safety 46131 welding helmet

The Jackson Safety 46131 Variable Power Welding Helmet provides great performance for the money spent. This welding helmet is built with 4 sensors to reduce possible blockage, and it’s been newly updated with industry-leading 1/1/1/1 optical clarity and True Color.

The Jackson Safety auto-darkening feature provides delay, shade, and sensitivity settings, as well as user-friendly digital controls. This electric auto-darkening helmet is perfect for hobbyists and novice welders for different welding processes. Keep in mind that changing the lens can be challenging.

However, the Jackson Safety 46131 price might be somewhat higher than other budget helmets on our list, but it is cheaper than high-end options. In addition, the headgear doesn’t justify the price as it feels flimsy and it might rip your hair. Meanwhile, you can lock the helmet into one position, and after periodic use, it might fall down.

Pros & Cons Summarized

Pros

  • Decent viewing area
  • Can be used for more serious projects
  • Comfortable

Cons

  • Feels flimsy
  • Changing lens can be challenging

Specifications

  • Viewport: Dimensions: 3.93″ x 2.36″, Area: 9.27 sq in
  • Shade level: DIN 9 – 13 with DIN 4 at light mode shading
  • Grinding button: Internal grinding setting
  • Weight: 2lb
  • What is Unique about it: It has a digital display inside the helmet and the shell is made from flexible plastic

How to Choose The Best Auto-Darkening Helmet

Ps: for an article about other types of welding hoods like the passive welding helmets, visit this article

First things first, you do not need auto-darkening technology to get the job done, but the difference between manual and auto-dark is night and dayThe most important features to look for when choosing the best auto-darkening welding helmet are:

  • Look at the quality of its Auto-darkening filter. The time it takes to switch from light to dark mode (reaction time). Does it have an adjustable latency when switching back to light mode? You don’t want to look at the glowing metal while welding, your eyes will strain faster.
  • Viewport sizeThe larger viewing screen is best for beginners, you will not need to move your head that much, you will follow the arc easier. On the other side, some prefer a smaller viewing screen on auto-darkening welding helmets, but a more ergonomically designed mask. Moreover, a smaller port means a lighter mask, lighter mask means no neck pain.
  • The weight of the helmet. People often overlook this part, but trust me, it is very important. Neck pain is not a joke, take care of your body.
  • Look for comfortable headgear. A helmet that fits perfectly on your head, durable headgear mechanism, a soft cushion on your forehead, many headgear adjustments…
  • Warranty, availability of spare parts like replacement lens, availability of additional parts like cheater lenses, national safety standards of auto-darkening welding helmets, material that the mask shell is made of, etc…

What Shading level You Should Use

For more information on what shade helmets range you should usewhat amperage, and on what welding process, you have a standard table made by Lincoln {link here}.

Note that rules aren’t set in stone. If your eyes hurt you, you can tone your auto-darkening welding helmet up a notch or two. If your eyesight is not the best, dial it down a bit. On a manual welding helmet with no electric-powered auto-darkening welding filter, you will have a standard 11 DIN shade helmet which is default and suited for most people for welding needs.

A central control unit

However, you can buy a different shading glass for auto-darkening welding helmets. It is quite inexpensive and you can find it anywhere.
To ensure that the auto-dark lens will work reliably, make sure to do your research, look up welding helmet reviews – and remember that you get what you pay for.

Caution

Most auto-darkening welding helmets protect your eyes by the variable shade range from 9 DIN to 13 DIN with exceptions like 8 to 13.

When it’s not working, auto-darkening lenses are off and protection is 4 DIN. It can then be used for grinding. Some more expensive auto-darkening lens filters that go from 5 DIN to 14 DIN and can be used for finer things and different welding applications (you don’t need it if you don’t plan to go pro in this sport.)

Size Of The View-Port

Most helmets with low price tag feature the small size viewport 3.62’’ x 1.65’’. They save money and lower production costs that way—the biggest viewport 3.94” x 3.86” like on the Viking Lincoln 3350 which is a maximum. Bigger is better, you won’t need to move your head when welding longer bits. They make jobs easier when you are in a tough welding position and generally it’s best when you can see more.

The ADF, or automatic darkening filter, consists of liquid crystal displays (LCDs), electronic components, solar cells/batteries, sensors and a UV/IR filter. This is the part of the helmet that automatically darkens when a welding arc is struck at fast switching speed

Some average size is 3.93” x 2.36” and gets all the jobs done. Opel’s and Miller’s main hoods are in this range. Every auto-darkening welding helmet we recommend comes with numerous sensors for electronic redundancy and safety.

The best helmets come with at least 3 sensors that provide robust protection for your eyes. Your eyes are mission-critical equipment. Don’t take chances with your vision by skimping on eye protection.

Material That The Mask is Made Of

Materials used in the making of a welding mask range from cardboard over the leather to plastic alloys like polycarbonates etc. Simple and inexpensive cardboard face shields I honestly do not recommend since these days you can find low costs quality face guards anyway. Hoods made of leather are for specific jobs and hard to reach tiny places.

They do not offer the best protection. What you need is a face shield made of polycarbonate or nylon. This material is much better because it is light, has high shock absorbance, and is heat resistant.

Material That The Mask is Made Of

All the welding helmets use in the making of a mask range from cardboard over the leather to plastic alloys like polycarbonates etc. Simple and inexpensive cardboard face shields I honestly do not recommend since these days you can find low costs quality face guards anyway. Hoods made of leather are for specific jobs and hard to reach tiny places.

They do not offer the best protection. What you need is a face shield made of polycarbonate or nylon. This material is much better because it is light, has high shock absorbance and is heat resistant.

Polycarbonate

Polycarbonate is a unique, durable material with high impact resistance. It’s heat-resistant and has flame-retardant properties that also act as a good electrical insulator. Polycarbonate can undergo large plastic deformations without cracking or breaking and is shock-absorbent as well.

The downside of this material is it has low scratch resistance which you should consider if trying to paint it. Concerning your health, the material is considered safe to use and it’s backed by many international studies that disprove the early results about the material.

ABS plastic

ABS plastic is a ubiquitous thermoplastic polymer. Its glass transition temperature is roughly 105 °C (221 °F). ABS is amorphous, therefore has no discernable melting point. ABS is tougher than unadulterated polystyrene. The styrene provides the plastic a glossy, resilient surface. The material is durable at the lowest temperatures. Also, it is a good shock absorbent. ABS is most useful between −20 and 80 °C (−4 and 176 °F).

Cons: ABS is stable to decomposition under normal use though at higher temperatures (400 °C) ABS can decay into its components, i.e. butadiene (carcinogenic), acrylonitrile (likely carcinogenic), and styrene. Sometimes you can see under made of the material name.

Nylon 66 (PA66)

My Optel 690 face shield is made of this. Nylon 66 is a synthetic polymer called polyamide. It has high mechanical strength, stiffness, hardness, and toughness and good resistance to high energy radiation (gamma & x-ray). It has good electrical insulating properties and higher heat deflection temperature plus high chemical resistance to acids. I highly recommend it.

Respirator systems

I have seen my colleagues sticking their heads inside the space with welding fumes many times. It’s hazardous, especially if you weld stainless steel, aluminum, or any kind of coated steel. Truth is that built-in respirators with their own power supply are expensive for a beginner welder.

However, it’s best if you buy a helmet with space for one inside, even the ordinary one. In the end, even a simple dust shield might help you because sometimes you will be stuck in cramped places with very little room to move where you can’t evade the fumes.

image of 3M Adflo Powered Air Purifying Respirator

How to Clean Your Welding Hood

infographic showing how to clean and maintain welding mask

Frequently Asked Questions [F.A.Q]

How long do welding helmets last?

The batteries on welding helmets last by default around 7 years and replaceable batteries around 3 years in theory. In real life, on cheap welding helmets the battery may start to blink and malfunction after a month or two. The best choice is to get a helmet with a solar and replaceable battery that will complement each other. Note: do not put a helmet with a solar battery exposed to the light when not welding, it will shorten its life span.

The batteries on welding helmets last by default around 7 years and replaceable batteries around 3 years in theory. In real life, on cheap welding helmets the battery may start to blink and malfunction after a month or two. The best choice is to get a helmet with a solar and replaceable battery that will complement each other. Note: do not put a helmet with a solar battery exposed to the light when not welding, it will shorten its life span.

What is a good cheap welding helmet?

The best cheap welding helmet for limited use is Antra AH6 but is not recommended for longer welding jobs. In my opinion, best for money welding helmet is Lincon Viking 3350.

Why do welders wear masks?

Short answer: So they can see what are they doing and not burn their eyes off and lose their eyesight. Welding arc radiation can cause many health problems from severe burns to skin cancer and permanent damage to the eyes.

How Bad Is Welding For Your Eyes?

Welding is extremely bad for your eyes if you are unprotected or insufficiently protected. Dangerous IF, UV radiation and extreme heat are all hazardous to humans and will cause serious health problems and permanent damage.

Do Welders Go Blind Over Time?

Some yes. Because they use poor face protection, cheap welding helmets that leak UV radiation through viewports and due to long working hours and unnecessary exposure to arc radiation. 

Resources:

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Derek Mason

Hello, I'm Derek. I'm a web designer and a certificate pipe welder. I'm responsible for the technical part of this website and I also write welding blogs about topics that I am more familiar then Adam. Hope that you will like what we do here.

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