Best Welding Helmet Reviews and Buyer’s Guide
A good welding helmet is a great tool.
It protects your eyes from retina burns and protects your entire head and neck from sparks, flash burns, heat, ultraviolet light, and infrared light.
It’s a worthwhile investment, but how do you know which one you should get? Our reviews and buyer’s guide will make the decision easier.
Our Quick Picks
Here are our top contenders for the best welding helmet;
Esab SENTINEL A50 Auto-Darkening Welding Helmet
• 3.93 x 2.36-inch viewing area
• Adjustable shades from #5 to 13
• Eight memory settings
• 1.4 lbs weight
• Requires two Lithium batteries
Our top pick for the best welding helmet is the SENTINEL A50 from Esab. It’s an auto-darkening helmet, which makes it easier for you to use while your hands are already full of welding equipment—and that’s not all.
The SENTINEL welding helmet offers plenty of customizable controls that allow you the ultimate welding experience.
You can adjust and control your shade from #5 to #13 with True-Color Lens Technology. It also has a #3 shade grinding mode so you can switch to grinding without taking off your gloves or helmet.
Switch easily back and forth between welding modes with varying arc brightness and stay safe without sacrificing convenience.
It features a backlit display so you can easily read even in low-light environments and a simple design so you can figure out how to use it even without the included user’s manual.
The same control panel that offers the backlit display also has a touch screen with eight memory settings to easily activate the exact model you need for your intended use. The lens is also easily switched out between the included clear and yellow lenses.
This helmet offers comfort and reliability. Its durable, streamlined design means that it fits a variety of head sizes and offers updated aesthetics that look more modern and edgy. With a flush exterior, you can minimize catching when you’re working in tight spaces.
The headgear underneath the helmet was design for increased ergonomics. It has an adjustable five-point-contact framework so you can shift and reposition as needed to reduce the pressure you might feel after long term wear.
● Comfortable and adjustable headgear
● Intuitive and hyper-visible control panel
● Auto-darkening shade
● Fully customizable
● Backlit display with memory settings
Not so Good:
● Some quality control complaints with the LCD
- Optical Class Rating 1/1/1/2 - Fully control and adjust the Sentinel's shade 5-13 ADF - True-Color Lens Technology
- Sentinel's shade 3 Grind Mode allows you to switch over to grind without removing your gloves and taking off your helmet.
- 3.93 x 2.36 in. (100 x 60 mm) viewing area. 1/1/1/2 -5-13 ADF.
- Control panel with backlit display makes it easy to read in low-light environments. Sentinel's simple design allows operator to to use without referencing the user manual.
- Color touch screen control panel with 8 separate memory settings and externally activated shade 4 Grind Button.
Jackson Safety 46131 Insight Welding Helmet
• 3.93 x 2.36-inch viewing area
• Adjustable shades from #9 to 13
• Four auto-dimming sensors
• 2 lbs.
• Requires one Lithium battery
The Jackson Safety 46131 Insight has the best value of any other helmet we’ve found. It has the same large viewing area as the SENTINEL, but it’s much less expensive.
The auto-darkening shade allows you the safety and convenience of not having to raise and lower your helmet between jobs.
The variable shade is between #9 and #13, but it does have a grind mode for those who work on projects that don’t need as dark of a filter. It also has four auto-dimming sensors that run independently of one another for increased performance.
With digital controls that are intuitive and easy to use, you can adjust your sensitivity to accommodate ambient lighting sources and bright arcs. You can also customize your delay settings, so it suits your specific uses better.
The 1/10,000 switching speed provides added protection against the brightest arcs that reduces strain and fatigue on your eyes after prolonged use.
This helmet takes a lithium battery that includes an indicator light when it’s time to get it replaced.
Part of the value you’ll enjoy with this particular welding helmet is the trust you can place in the Jackson brand to produce quality products that have excellent safety ratings with comfortable headgear.
● Customizable delay and sensitivity settings
● Four auto-dimming sensors
● Fast switching speed
● Low battery indicator light
Not so Good:
● Battery not replaceable by the user
● Digital controls are not backlit
- 1 Jackson Safety Insight Variable ADF Helmet / Order; Black; Variable shade (9-13), wide viewing area (3.93" x 2.36"), sensitivity and delay adjustments, four (4) independent auto dimming sensors and easy-to-use digital controls
- Choose from grind and weld modes (use it for mig welding, tig welding and arc welding) on this value-centric welding mask
- Jackson Safety W40 INSIGHT Variable Auto Darkening Welding Helmet is compatible with the HLX100 and HSL 100 shells
- Gives you the compliance you're looking for, since it meets ANSI Z87.1+ standards and is CSA compliant
- The Auto Darkening Filter (ADF) enables welders to adapt to various working environments by controlling the shade of the lens, with adjustments for sensitivity from ambient lighting sources
Best Budget Welding Helmet;
Antra Auto-Darkening Welding Helmet
• 3.86 x 1.73-inch viewing area
• Adjustable shades from #4 to 13
• Smart chip four-sensor auto-dimming
• 1 lb weight
• Two solar-powered, replaceable batteries included
The Antra Auto-Darkening welding helmet is by far the most affordable helmet on our list. It’s still packed with great features, but it provides a cheaper alternative for beginners who want to enter the world of welding or hobbyists who don’t need a premium model.
It’s excellent for MIG, MMA, TIG, and plasma applications, but you can also take advantage of the grinding feature. It has a large viewing field and four sensors with a design that’s compatible with a magnifying lens, too.
The knob allows you to adjust the delay and light sensitivity manually while the variable shade accommodates filters 4 to 13 to cover all your welding processes.
The Antra helmet features a very light design to reduce the strain on your head and neck.
This is a solar-powered helmet with two replaceable batteries. The battery indicator will tell you when it’s time to change them out. A convenient auto-off feature will save your battery life by turning the filter off after ten minutes in a dark environment.
The test button allows you to make sure the helmet is working before starting your arc, and the built-in passive filter will provide the ultimate ultraviolet and infrared protection. It works independently and continuously for consistent performance, even without power.
● Lightweight design
Not so Good:
● No control panel or digital controls
● Not as feature-rich as higher priced models
- 【Safety & Protection】 Passive Filter with Permanent shade 13 to UV/IR, combined with double-layered auto dimming LCD shutter, providing sufficient and accurate shade range within 4/5-9/9-13 to visible lights; Full face neck coverage protecting welders from spatters and harmful radiant; Meets ANSI Z87. 1 Standards
- 【Comfort & Convenience】 Very light total weight, reduces head and neck stress; Fully automatic auto darkening lens, eliminating flipping up and down the hood; Convenient External Gridning switch for easy switching from Welding and Grinding.
- 【Performance】 4 Premium redundant arc sensors, with highly responsive detecting and controlling units providing super-fast switching time and accurate auto shading, minimizing harmful radiant bypass, avoiding eye stress
- 【Reliability】 Interference Suppression Technologies, minimizing false triggering: less sensitive to sun lights, workshop lights while very responsive to welding arc, even the hardest to detect DC TIG: Rating > 2 Amps
- 【Versatility】 A great personal protection equipment designed for industrial use that can handle multiple processes of Plasma cutting, abrasive wheel cutting/grinding, DC TIG, AC TIG, MIG/MAG, MMA/Stick welding, which are poular in metal fabrication industry, welding schools, welding shops, auto manufacturing and repair industry, ship factories as well as DIY hobbyists projects
Lincoln Electric VIKING 3350 Welding Helmet
• 3.74 x 3.34-inch viewing area
• Adjustable shades from #5 to 13
• Four-sensor internal shade control
• 3.2 lbs weight
• One solar-powered battery required
The redesigned headgear and material of the Lincoln Viking 3350 Series makes it infinitely more comfortable. It has an external button to initiate grind mode, and the shade is continuously variable from 5-13.
It has a fully customizable delay and internal sensitivity controls. The upgraded 4C technology gives you ultimate optical clarity for a superior viewing field and improved visibility.
That means less strain on your eyes.
All-day comfort comes from the X6 headgear with intuitive and innovative design. It reduces pressure, optimizes balance, and distributes weight evenly, making it easy to wear. The low helmet profile makes it easier to work in tight spaces.
This professional quality helmet features optimized performance in all your cutting and welding environments. Lincoln Electric is so sure of their product that they offer a three-year warranty along with it.
● Six contact points
● Flexible, cushioned neck pad
● Innovative fit for increased comfort
● 3-year warranty
● Three arc sensors
Not so Good:
● Reports of poor durability
● A little heavier than most
- 4C Lens Technology improves visibility and reduces eye strain
- Better clarity, real color view - 1/1/1/1 Optical Clarity
- Easy on the eyes
- Wide-screen view
- Increased battery life
Miller 281000 Digital Elite 3M Speedglas Welding Helmet
• 3.85 X 2.38-inch viewing area
• Adjustable shades from #5 to 13
• Four-sensor auto darkening
• 1.6 lbs weight
• One type C Lithium-Ion battery included
The Miller 281000 Digital Elite 3M Speedglas has high-definition optics capable of precise arc recognition. The digital controls and large buttons make it easy to adjust settings, and the redesigned headgear is adjustable for better comfort and support.
Four arc sensors act independently for superior lens response in low-amp or obstructed welding. Operating modes include weld, grind, cut, and x-mode for the ultimate in versatility. X-mode can eliminate interference from sunlight and can detect arcs even when sensors are blocked.
The lens will automatically turn on when sensing an arc’s brightness and will turn itself off after inactivity. The aluminum heat shield on the lens protects from high amperage welding, and the durable shock-absorbing gasket saves your helmet from impact.
This helmet comes highly recommended by many users who have been faithful users of other brands in the past. The visibility is clear; it’s great for working on any job and works well in small spaces. It’s a lightweight helmet that’s easy to use and improves your productivity.
● Comes with helmet lighting accessory kit
● Gen 3.5 headgear for comfort
● Magnifying lens
● Adjustable controls and settings
● Four welding modes
● Comes in matte black, steampunk, twisted metal, daredevil, camo, all American, motorhead, and moto colors
Not so Good:
● Black coating scratches easily
● The locking clip is a bit weak
9100 3M Speedglas Welding Helmet with Auto-Darkening Filter
• 2.8 X 4.2-inch viewing area
• Adjustable shades from #5, and 8 to 13
• Three-sensor auto darkening
• 2.09 lbs weight
• One type C Lithium-Ion battery included
The 3M Speedglas 9100 has side windows, and an auto-darkening filter provides professional-quality protection. The side windows increase your field of view while delivering comfort. The filter reacts within 1/10,000 of a second for an instant darkening while keeping your optimal vision.
The filter will automatically return to a shade 3 after 40-250 milliseconds of dark. You can inspect your weld immediately and get ready for the next. The exhaust vents remove exhaled air from the helmet to reduce heat and fog.
With 2,800 hours of battery life, you can enjoy maximum productivity without downtime. The headgear is ergonomically designed and adjustable for comfort and customized fit.
● Exhaust vents for less fogging and humidity
● Long battery life for improved productivity
● Side windows for increased view
● Fast reaction time
Not so Good:
● Not as lightweight as other helmets
● Some report the side windows don’t work well
- Auto darkening filter (ADF) transitions from light to dark shade in approximately .1 milliseconds after welding arc is detected
- Helmet helps provide protection from ultraviolet (UV) and infrared (IR) radiation
- Optical quality gives worker a precise view of the work area
- Ergonomically designed head suspension offers wearing comfort
- Side windows with dark shade 5 filters increase peripheral field of view
The first consideration you want to make is whether your welding helmet meets ANSI Z87+ standards for safety. These regulations test welding helmets to ensure they can withstand impact from flying objects as well as filter out infrared and ultraviolet light.
Your welding helmet has to be able to meet the appropriate switching speeds in temperatures from 23-131 degrees Fahrenheit. Low temperatures can cause a delay in switching times in some cases, so testing for these standards is critical. Here are some other things to think about.
Field of View
Your field of view is an essential factor when buying a welding helmet. You need to be able to see your work for safety and for doing the job right the first time. Larger viewing areas will increase your peripheral vision and visibility of the project. If you’re working on large assembly projects, consider a viewing area of at least 9 square inches.
Some welding helmets come with viewing angles of as little as 6 square inches. For small projects or people who don’t weld often, you may be able to save a little bit of money on a helmet with a smaller field of view.
There are two types of lenses you can choose when purchasing a welding helmet. These lens types indicate the ability of the lens to filter light. Any auto-darkening lens that meets ANSI Z87.1 code provides complete protection against UV and infrared light.
They range from #8 low-amp applications to #13 high-amp applications. There are some high-quality lenses that will include additional ranges from #3-#7 for cutting or grinding.
Passive lenses have a fixed shade value with a dark tint coating for blocking ultraviolet and infrared light. These helmets are too dark to see anything while getting into position, so the shade is typically worn up in preparation. Then with a quick flick of the head, the shade pops into place for welding.
Passive welding helmets have been around for a long time and can be a much more economical choice for people on a budget, but they do have some drawbacks. They can be tough for beginners to use, and they are often more hassle than they’re worth for short welds.
They can also lead to excessive neck strain from constant raising and lowering. Worse, if the helmet doesn’t lock into position or you have poor timing, you could damage your eyes.
Auto-darkening fixes all these issues because you never have to remove the shade. You can see through it while getting into position, and then within a fraction of a second, the shade darkens to protect your eyes from the arc.
The helmet is always in position, allowing you to set up your joint and avoid snapping your neck repeatedly to put it into position. You do have more options when choosing what kind of auto-darkening helmet you want, though.
A fixed shade helmet senses the arc and automatically darkens to a #10. If you weld with similar material regularly or use smaller amperages, this would be sufficient for your use. It auto-darkens, but it always darkens to a #10 and does not fluctuate as your welding activity changes.
However, if you use multiple welding processes and higher amperages, you would benefit more from a variable shade lens that adjusts based on the brightness of the arc.
Delay of Auto-Darkening
Industrial grade helmets experience an almost instantaneous darkening delay. Between 1/12,000 and 1/20,000 of a second, you’ll find that your properly positioned shade is shielding your eyes from both infrared and ultraviolet light.
These types of helmets are available for any welding level from beginner to professional, so you don’t have to purchase an industrial-grade variety. It will always be the case that the quicker you shield your eyes, the better. However, beginner lenses can still be as quick as 1/3600 of a second.
If you weld often or start many arcs every day, you’ll appreciate less of a delay. You will suffer from less eye fatigue and damage. The effects of welding on your eyes will be reduced, so it’s a worthwhile investment for professionals.
There are several extra features you may want to ponder when purchasing a welding helmet, too. The viewing size is an important one because it’s mostly based on personal preference, so only you know what’s right for you.
Viewing sizes can range from 6-9 square inches depending on your light duty or heavy applications. It also comes into play when you’re doing a lot of out-of-position welding, and you need the extra viewing size.
The number of sensors your welding helmet has will range from two to four. The more sensors you have, the better coverage you’ll get. Out-of-position welding requires more sensors, but two or three may be enough for your hobby level projects. However, if you need a clearer line of sight, more sensors is better.
To get adjustable sensitivity control, you’ll need to invest in at least an intermediate level welding helmet, if not a professional product. You can adjust the amount of brightness that triggers your lens to darken, which is convenient at low amperage or when your arc isn’t as bright.
You may also choose a helmet that allows you to adjust the delay. You can set your helmet to stay dark for a shorter or longer period after the arc is gone.
You can shorten the delay to get your work done faster or reposition your helmet more quickly for the next job. A long delay is better for high amperages.
New auto-darkening helmets also have features like aluminum heat shields to reduce damage to the lens from high heat. They have silver coatings to reflect heat, gaskets for shock absorption, and interchangeable parts, so they’re much easier to repair.
Check out whether your new helmet has a test mode as well. This is a great feature that allows you to make sure your auto-darkening helmet is working right before you initiate an arc.
Most auto-darkening shades are battery powered, but some are solar-powered. It’s a cool feature that ups the price of your helmet but make it easier to use, and you won’t suffer an interruption from having to change out the dead batteries. It can also be a useful alternative to a helmet that contains batteries that can’t be changed out by the user.
Whether you choose a passive shade or an auto-darkening helmet, comfort is key. Snapping your head to lower the shade will put extra strain on your neck but wearing any sort of helmet for an extended period can be exhausting.
Factor in the helmet’s weight. A lighter helmet will put less strain on your neck, reducing fatigue. There’s a big difference in even one pound. It doesn’t seem like a big deal, but the more you wear it, the more uncomfortable you will be.
The average welding helmet weighs about 18 ounces (1.2 lbs.). However, the bigger the viewing area, the heavier your helmet will be, so it’s expected that a professional welding helmet made from high-quality materials will be slightly heavier than one intended for a beginner or hobbyist.
There are a few reasons you may or may not want to purchase a warranty for your welding helmet. If you choose an affordable welding helmet that could be easily replaced, even on a budget, you may not want to spend the extra money on a warranty.
Other models have a longer lifespan and are well worth the investment, not only in the price of the helmet but in the cost of the warranty. Problems can arise with any helmet, even one of high quality. If you intend to use it often or in a professional capacity, consider a warranty that will have you covered if something goes awry.
Always try your helmet on before purchase to make sure it fits. Just as people’s heads are different sizes, welding helmets are available in various sizes to increase comfort and effectiveness. Look at the headgear’s adjustability.
You want your helmet to fit right and be comfortable, so you should make sure it has enough adjustment angles and positions for your head.
Also, consider the skin coverage of the helmet when determining the right size. You need to protect your eyes from the light, but you also have to protect your face and neck from the heat.
If it doesn’t cover enough of your skin, you could suffer major burns and other injuries.
Look and Feel
The aesthetics of your welding helmet have less to do with how it makes you feel or how it offers the appropriate protection. It has more to do with how cool you look while you’re hard at work.
Many welding helmets are black, but you can get them in camo and other attractive designs.
Some helmets cover your head and have long chin pieces that protect the front of your neck, while others have drapes made from a protective fabric that hangs from the bottom of the helmet to protect your neck and shoulders.
Wrapping It Up
If you consider welding a career, it’s crucial to find the right helmet for you. You need comfort and protection for the amount of welding you do every day. If you’re a beginner, it may not matter as much, but rest assured it still matters that you stay safe.
The right welding helmet for you will come with plenty of benefits—take your time finding the perfect one.