Using a welding helmet is not just for looks because it serves multiple health and safety roles. Protecting your eyes with from blinding light and flying materials is essential and you should invest wisely for the best protection.
The best welding helmet is the 3M Speedglas 9100, which features an auto darkening filter and side windows for superior vision.
Using a welder can be dangerous and without wear a welding helmet, you are putting yourself at risk. The market is fairly saturated but even if you are on a budget, there is a variety of different helmets available that meet all the standards.
Table of Contents
- Best Welding Helmet
- 3M Speedglas 9100 Welding Helmet
- Lincoln Viking 3350 Series Welding Helmet
- Miller Auto Darkening Welding Helmet
- Optrel Panoramaxx Welding Helmet
- Esab SENTINEL A50 Auto Darkening Welding Helmet
- Antra Auto Darkening Welding Helmet
- Fibre-Metal Pipeliner Fiberglass Welding Helmet
- Instapark ADF Series GX-500S Welding Helmet
- Welding Helmet Buying Guide
Best Welding Helmet
|Welding Helmet||Viewing Area||Shading Levels|
|3M Speedglas 9100||72 mm x 107 mm||9 to 13|
|Lincoln Viking 3350||95 mm x 85 mm||5 to 13|
|Miller Classic Series||92 mm x 92 mm||8 to 12|
|Optrel Panoramaxx||160 mm x 58 mm||5 to 12|
|Esab SENTINEL A50||100 mm x 60 mm||5 to 13|
|Antra AH6-260-0000||98 mm x 43 mm||8 to 13|
|Honeywell Fiberglass 110PWE||100 mm x 50 mm||N/A|
|Instapark ADF Series GX-500S||92 mm x 42 mm||9 to 13|
Earlier welding helmets made prior to the 1980’s used polarized lenses with variable densities. However, they had limitations due to the fact they were unable to provide enough darkening or were too dark within low lighting conditions. However, this is where auto darkening became the essential component within most helmets.
Below is a list of the best welding helmets that feature an auto darkening lens to protects your eyes from blinding light and flying materials.
3M Speedglas 9100 Welding Helmet
For those that weld on a regular basis and want something special, the 3M Speedglas 9100 is the best option. It is available with three different lens sizes that all include the desirable auto darkening filter.
A unique feature of this welding helmet is the addition of side windows with 5 dark shade filters for improving your vision.
Other features of the 3M Speedglas 9100 include:
- Transitions from light to dark within 0.1 millisecond
- Protects against UV and IR radiation
- Meets CSA Z943 and ANSI Z87.1 standards
- Side exhaust to channel out exhaled air
- Ergonomically designed head suspension
- Sensitivity adjustments for MIG or TIG
- DIN 9 to 13 shading level
- Viewing area of 72 mm x 107 mm
For those that are serious about welding and don’t mind paying a premium, the 3M Speedglass 9100 is the best welding helmet. It may be expensive but it ticks every box and include a 3 year warranty for peace of mind.
Lincoln Viking 3350 Series Welding Helmet
Lincoln are a big brand in the welding industry and the 3350 welding helmet is a cheaper alternative to the 3M Speedglass above. It uses 4C lens technology that provides one of the clearest views whilst welding.
In terms of the auto darkening performance, it is able to switch in just 1/25,000 second, which is highly impressive.
Other features of the Lincoln Viking 3350 Series include:
- Adjustable sensitivity settings
- Pivot style for additional comfort
- Includes all lens, helmet bag and a bandanna
- Viewing area of 95 mm x 85 mm
- 3 year warranty
- 4 arc sensors
- 5 to 13 DIN shade level
Overall, if you are looking for a premium welding helmet that provides great value for the money, the Lincoln 3350 series is perfect. The brand offer other helmets but this model in particular is the top of the line model that provide the best in optical clarity whilst welding.
Miller Auto Darkening Welding Helmet
If you are looking for a more affordable alternative, the Miller welding helmet is perfect. It has the essential auto darkening feature that switches in 1/20,000 of a second and had multiple adjustable setting to suit your requirements.
Included with the helmet is 5 lenses that can be used on the outside and 2 that are able to be used inside for tackling different applications.
Other features of the Miller Auto Darkening Welding Helmet include:
- 4 operating modes and 4 arc sensors
- 92.2 mm x 92.2 mm viewing area
- TIG amp rating of 20A
- Shading level of 8 to 12
- Powered by battery or solar
- Includes a 3 year warranty
Compared against other helmets, it may lack some features but we believe that it is the best budget welding helmet available. Unlike some alternatives, this budget example has been produced by one of the most well-known brands in the industry.
Optrel Panoramaxx Welding Helmet
The Swiss made Optrel Panoramaxx is a premium example and a direct competitor to the 3M Speedglass above. It features 5 movable sensors, which is the highest number sensors of any helmet within this article
If the weight of the helmet is an major factor, this model is one of the lightest welding helmet on the market at just 550 grams.
Other features of the Optrel Panoramaxx include:
- Autopilot and manual shade level adjustment from 5 to 12
- Advanced lithium-polymere battery
- Panorama field of vision
- True color view via a UV/IR filter
- Comfort headband
- Suitable for all welding
- Delay functionality
Although not as popular as the alternatives, the Optrel Panoramaxx is certainly one of the best helmets available. It is suitable for MIG, TIG, stick, plasma cutter and a range of other applications and the brand offer a range of additional accessories.
Esab SENTINEL A50 Auto Darkening Welding Helmet
The Esab SENTINEL A50 is an auto darkening welding helmet that allows for full control with shading level adjustments between 5 to 13. The standout feature is the huge front lens, which provides great vision and cleans easily.
Unlike the alternatives, it has a unique LCD touchscreen panel integrated into the helmet for setting up various features.
Other features of the Esab SENTINEL A50 include:
- 100 mm x 60 mm viewing area
- USB charging
- Autopilot adjustment
- 8 separate memory settings
- 1/1/1/2 optical class rating
- 3 grind modes
Overall, the Esab SENTINEL A50 is an excellent all-round welding helmet that features a unique LCD touchscreen panel. Although the front lens looks great, it could be expensive to replace if it were to break, which is worth considering.
Antra Auto Darkening Welding Helmet
One of the most popular welding helmets is the Antra AH6-260-0000, which is suitable for MIG, TIG and plasma applications. It is a basic unit that is lightweight and provide an optical rating of 1/1/1/2.
Although it is one of the cheapest, it still features the desirable auto darkening feature, which is the reason for the popularity.
Other features of the Antra AH6-260-0000 include:
- 98 mm x 43 mm viewing area
- Step-less delay and adjustable sensitivity
- Includes a 1 year warranty
- Solar and battery powered
- Built-in passive filter
- Weighs just 455 grams
- Low TIG amperage rating
Overall, if you require a cheap welding helmet that features auto darkening, this Antra model is the best option. As it is a budget option, it doesn’t have all the extra features but as a basic helmet, it ticks all the boxes for most welding applications.
Fibre-Metal Pipeliner Fiberglass Welding Helmet
The Fibre-Metal Pipeliner is fairly unique because it uses a special fiberglass material (SuperGlas). The benefit of this material is that it is self-extinguishing to deflects sparks from welding and is moisture resistant.
If you need to access smaller area, the compact design (12.75H x 7D x 8W inches) is ideal and prevents the helmet catching.
Other features of the Honeywell Fiberglass Welding Helmet include:
- Rubber headband for custom and comfortable fit
- Viewing area of 100 mm x 50 mm
- UV and IR filtering
- Rugged and lightweight
- Made in the USA
Overall, if you require a lightweight and cheap welding helmet, the Honeywell welding helmet is a great option. It provides maximum eye protection and great for small working areas due to the compact design. However, it is not an auto darkening welding helmet, which may be a major drawback for some welders.
Instapark ADF Series GX-500S Welding Helmet
One of the cheapest welding helmets that is worth purchasing is the Instapark ADF GX-500S. It is a solar powered auto darkening welding helmet that is able to switch in just 1/25,000 of a second, which is impressive for a cheap helmet.
The brand offer the choice of a plain black or USA design for those that want to standout whilst welding.
Other features of the Instapark ADF GX-500S include:
- 92 mm x 42 mm viewing area
- Conforms to all major standards
- 1/1/1/2 optical rating
- Shade adjustments between 9 and 13
- Suitable for stick, TIG and MIG
- 2 arc sensors
Overall, the Instapark ADF GX-500S is a cheap welding helmet that outperforms many of the similar priced alternatives. The fact that it has an auto darkening lens as well as other features shows the value for money with this helmet.
Welding Helmet Buying Guide
Welding helmets are an essential piece of safety gear whilst you are using a welder. They protect your eyes from the blinding light and potential flying objects as your are welding. Without wearing a helmet, you are putting yourself at risk.
Whether you are a beginner or a professional that welds on a daily basis, there is a helmet suited to every budget. To help you make an informed buying decision, we have produced the below guide regarding welding helmets.
Auto Darkening Filter
One of the most desirable features of any welding helmet is the auto darkening filter lens. It is a combination of LCD’s, electronic components, sensors and a UV/IR filter. The main purpose of the lens is to automatically darken the lens during the bright light from the welding process.
The alternative to an auto darkening filter is a passive lens, which requires a manual adjustment. However, due to the demand for auto darkening, the majority of manufacturers use this type of filter to fulfill the needs of the welder.
Fixed vs Variable Shade
Fixed shade helmets will automatically change based on the user selected shade opted from the helmet. This is perfectly fine if you are working with on the same welding projects but if not, you may have to continuously change the shade.
For example, if you switch between a TIG welder and a MIG welder, you will want to choose a variable shade welding helmet. It is often referred to as an autopilot lens detection and it will choose the correct lens depending upon the different amps or current welding application.
Lens Reaction Time
The reaction time of a lens is the period of time between striking the arc and the lens darkening. Due to the advancement in lens technology, the length of time has become much quicker.
Some premium welding helmets include a delay functionality, which will keep the lens darker for an extended period. This is beneficial because the molten metal may emit harmful rays whilst it is cooling down after welding.
Most people will desire to have the largest viewing area possible but we would advise that you think about the type of welding beforehand. If the helmet is too bulky, it may restrict movement if you need to get under the car and it will also be more heavier too.
The power source of welding helmets vary between internal batteries, solar power or a combination of the two. If you are welding outside, the solar welding helmet is ideal but we recommend that you choose a helmet with both power sources. If you are working inside or inside of a car, there will be no light powering up the helmet.
To determine which helmet provides the best quality through the lens, you can check the optical clarity measurement. It is a metric governed by the European Standard for the welding industry and is known as EN379. The rating is defined on a scale of 1 to 3, with the value 1 being the best and 3 being the worst rating.
For example, you would expect the best welding helmet to have a perfect optical clarity rating of 1/1/1/1.
The majority of welding helmets will have between 2 to 5 sensors that will detect arcs and flashes. The more sensors there are, the better coverage you will have, which allows the lens to react quicker to protect your eyes.
Knob Placement and Size
Additional knobs and dials for adjusting the setting of your welding are great but the placement will make a big difference. They can be integrated to the interior or exterior of the helmet with pros and cons of each placement.
Interior knobs make the helmet look more aesthetically pleasing and will not catch on anything. However, you will need to adjust the settings prior to putting the helmet on and welding, which can be frustrating.
Exterior knobs you can make adjustments whenever you wish but this would be dependent on the welding gloves you are wearing. The size of the knobs or dials need to be fairly bulky because the gloves may not be able to turn them if they are too small.
Comfort is a major factor when choosing a welding helmet because you may be wearing it for many hours. You will want to ensure that it can be easily adjusted with one or more straps and not be just one “universal” fit helmet.
Additional padding will provide superior comfort as well with most manufacturers including padding to the top and chin area.
The weight of the helmet will also be a defining feature to how comfortable it is to wear. We advise that you avoid helmet that weigh over 1.5 LBS.
Price and Warranty
Welding helmets vary in price quite significantly and the best options usually come with a premium price tag. Investing slightly over your budget for a safer helmet with extra functionality is advised but there are many that can be bought fairly cheaply.
Checking the warranty that manufacturers provide will give you an indication of the quality of the helmet. Anything less than two years may be something you wish to avoid unless it is very cheap.
Most manufacturers will provide a range of different designs along with plain black to suit the requirements of most welders. However, you can carry out your own customization with paint or vinyl wrap to allow you to standout from the crowd.
To ensure that the helmet performs to the best of its abilities, you will want to ensure that it is well maintained. Regularly inspecting it for any damage or worn components is recommended.
Cleaning is the main maintenance task because during the welding process, the helmet will become covered in dust and debris. After every usage, we advise that you use a dedicated helmet cleaner to wipe down the dirt. You should avoid any harsh brushes or chemicals because this may cause an adverse effect.
Using the best welding helmet that you can get your hands on can make a huge difference. Not only does it protect your eyes from blinding lights and flying materials but also improve your efficiency. Using the helmet with a dark filter will allow you to get close to the action and allow for maximum precision.
All of our recommendations above are suited to those on a large or tight budget. The premium examples have many additional features but the budget options tick all the boxes in terms of safety.