Best Welding Helmet - Guide & Reviews
When it comes to welding, whether doing MIG, TIG, or Stick welding, you need the best equipment. To get the job done well, as well as to make the whole process more streamlined, you need high-quality gear that can help you finish your welds more efficiently.
Another important factor that you have to consider is safety, and one of the most important parts of your safety gear is the helmet. While other pieces like your gloves or apron (if you have one) are crucial, the helmet is the one part that allows you to do your job well.
To that end, I’ve compiled a list of the best welding helmets on the market today, as well as created a handy guide for you so you can pick out the features and accessories you need for whatever job you do.
How to Choose the Best Welding Helmet
With modern technology advancing at such a rapid rate, welding helmets these days come with all kinds of accessories and extra features that you can choose. Ultimately, however, the best welding helmet is the one that helps you work faster and safer, so with that in mind, here are the top considerations to look at when picking out a welding helmet.
Manual vs. Auto Darkening
One of the most important parts of a welding helmet is the ability to adjust your shade setting. When you’re walking around, you need to see everything in front of you clearly so that you don’t bump into anything. When you’re working, however, you need to see what’s happening, which is impossible unless you have a thick shade to prevent your eyes from going blind.
In welding helmets, there are two types that you can choose: manual or auto-darkening. Personally, I would prefer an auto version every time, because it not only helps ensure that my eyes are protected while working, but it helps me become more efficient at my job.
Since I don’t need to fiddle with the shade adjustment all the time, I can focus more on my welds than my helmet. For that reason, many helmets out there today are automatic, but that doesn’t mean that manual helmets don’t still exist. When picking out your model, be sure that it comes with this feature since there is really no reason to go manual.
The best part of an auto-darkening helmet is the fact that you can usually preset the shade levels to your preference to ensure that it will work with your eyes. To that end, most helmets typically have a resting shade and an operating shade, which is usually between #9 and #13.
However, some of the more high-end models have a greater shade range, which can help you on some of the more complex jobs, such as with laser welding. If you only do MIG or Stick welding, then you probably don’t need a helmet with a higher shade variation. However, if you ever plan on doing anything more intense, I would highly suggest you get on of the higher-quality models.
When I’m welding, I like to see as much as I can. Some helmets have such a narrow field of vision that it can be somewhat jarring. Unfortunately, there is no standard view size for welding helmets, which means that companies make their screens as big or small as they want.
When picking out a helmet, make sure to get one that has a view screen that matches your comfort level. If you’re new to welding, I would suggest getting a model with a larger window, but if you’re an old pro, then you will know what works best. Overall, when it comes to welding helmet view screens, size does matter.
One interesting feature that is part of a lot of higher end helmets is the ability to choose between welding or grinding modes. If you do a wide range of jobs, having a helmet that gives you that kind of precise setting can be a major advantage and help you get your work done more efficiently.
While these settings are far from a deal breaker, they are extremely nice to have, especially if you’ve worked without them. Also, most automatic helmets give you the option to preset your shade levels, which is another fantastic feature that you should opt for if you have the chance.
When talking about welding helmets, there are two main energy sources that you can draw from: either solar power or a lithium battery. Some of the more high-end helmets have a combination of both so that you don’t have to worry about running out of juice while working in a dark environment.
Each power source has pros and cons, but personally, I prefer getting a helmet that has both so I can get the best of each. For the most part, solar is fantastic if you work in a sunny location and don’t want to worry about changing or recharging a battery. Batteries, on the other hand, work in any condition but will run out of power eventually and need recharging or replacing. Either way, you want to pick the best power source for your job site.
While the above factors are probably the most important, there are some other accessories and design features that you can pick out to make your helmet better. Here are some other things to think about when picking out your ideal model.
Design: if you want your helmet to stand out among the others (or you just want to be able to find it easily) you can opt for a model that has a bold, usually kick ass design. For some reason, many manufacturers add elaborate colors and designs to welding helmets, so if you want style as well as substance, keep that in mind.
Ratcheting Headpiece: to help the overall comfort level of your welding helmet, you want to get one that has an adjustable headband, so it fits your head perfectly. I prefer a ratcheting headpiece myself, but some models are not as elaborate.
Digital Controls: Since you’ll probably be adjusting and fiddling with your helmet on the job (rather than on your break or off time), that means you’ll most likely be using the controls with your gloves. Some higher end models have a digital control panel that can be activated easily with gloves or without, so that’s something to keep in mind. Also, digital controls are generally much easier and user-friendly.
Cheater Lenses: if you like to work with a magnifying (cheater) lens, then you have to make sure that your helmet is compatible. Some models may have these lenses for purchase, but some models will fit almost any standard cheater lens.
Recommended Best Welding Helmet
1. Antra AH6-260-0000 Solar Power Auto Darkening Welding Helmet
Our first stop is with the Antra AH6-260-0000 Solar Powered Welding Helmet. As I mentioned above, welding helmets typically come with either solar or battery powered operation, and the AH6 is one of the former.
I have used solar powered helmets in the past without any major issues, but I do like to have some backup just in case, which is why I like to have a battery as well. Nonetheless, the AH6 is a fantastic helmet for a number of reasons.
First off, for anyone who likes a bit of style, the AH6 comes in six different designs and colors. The default, however, is a matte black helmet. Other designs include an American eagle, a skull, or even flames, which seems a little ironic, but to each his own.
What sets the AH6 apart from the pack is the wide viewing area and the extremely capable automatic sensors. When talking about auto-darkening helmets, you want to get a model that has multiple sensors so you can get the best results. The AH6 comes with four, which is pretty much as many as you can have (most other ones come with only two). The viewing area is massive compared to some other helmets I’ve seen, measuring 3.86” by 1.78.”
Other features of this helmet include a holder for any magnifying lens you may have, as well a step-less delay function and a manual shade adjustment knob. The shade variable on this unit is 4/5/9/9/13, making this helmet ideal for almost all welding applications, including Stick, MIG, TIG, and Plasma.
The AH6 is made of high-impact polyamide nylon and weighs only one pound.
2. AUDEW Solar Auto Darkening Welding Helmet
Our next stop is with the AUDEW Auto-Darkening Welding Helmet. What I like about this particular model is that it is both solar and battery powered, meaning that you can use it almost anywhere without worrying about the battery dying.
Also, to help preserve battery life, this helmet comes with an automatic on/off function, meaning you don’t have to worry about draining it while not in use.
As the name suggests, the AUDEW is an automatic helmet, meaning that you can go from light to dark in a fraction of a second. While it doesn’t have as many sensors as the AH6 model, the difference is negligible at best. The shade variation on this helmet is between #4 and #13, which is standard for most welding helmets. The resting shade is #4, and you can also adjust darkness level with a manual control knob on the outside.
Other features of this helmet include its lightweight design (less than a pound), a welding or grinding option, and a viewing window of 3.62” by 1.66”. The helmet also comes with a badass skull design on the outside, although you cannot opt for a different design, unfortunately.
3. Urparcel Welding Helmet - Flames / Skull - Auto-Darkening
Next, we have the Urparcel Welding Helmet. When comparing this to the other models we’ve seen so far, I would have to say that this is closest to the AUDEW, both because it comes with a hardcore skull design (although this one has flames) and it has a lithium battery with solar powered backup.
Performance wise, this auto-darkening helmet switches almost as fast as the AUDEW, but still not as quickly as the AH6.
This particular model only has two sensors, but again, the difference is negligible. The viewing window of the Urparcel helmet is pretty big, measuring 3.75” by 1.75”. You can set your shade preferences between #9 and #13 (with a resting shade of #4), but you can also manually correct the darkness with an external knob.
Finally, this helmet allows you to switch between welding and grinding functions, weighs one and a half pounds, and comes with an extra set of lenses.
4. TR Industrial 88024 Shade 11, ANSI Z87.1 MIG/TIG Flip-Up Welding Helmet
As I mentioned above, most welding helmets these days are automatic to give you the best performance possible. The TR Industrial 88024, however, is not.
Instead of giving you a shade range, the TR Helmet instead has a single shade that stays at #11. Realistically, though, this shade level is ideal for most welding jobs, and to help you see when you’re not working, the front pops up.
Overall, if you want something simple and straightforward, this is a good helmet for you. The other primary reason to get the TR is that it comes with one of the largest viewing areas of any helmet I’ve seen. The screen measures 4.5” by 5.25”, meaning that you can see more of what you’re doing and reduce the amount of blind spots.
Comfort and safety are another primary concern with TR, and this helmet has a fully adjustable headband that you can customize in the back and on the top of your head for maximum comfort. The helmet is also CE approved, and TR will even give you a one-year limited warranty to show you that they stand behind the product. Finally, this helmet weighs about 1.5 pounds.
5. Instapark ADF Series GX-350S Solar Powered Welding Helmet
Next, we have the Instapark ADF Series GX-350S Welding Helmet. This is another solar powered model, which means that you can use it in most environments, but be careful if you are not in direct sunlight for hours at a time.
Overall, however, the GX-350S is one of the better solar helmets out there. When talking about performance, this helmet has all the standard features.
The viewing area is about standard size, measuring 3.5” by 1.38”. This is an auto-darkening helmet, meaning that it will shift from a resting shade of #4 to a variable shade between #9 and #13. To get the most accurate measurement, this helmet comes with two sensors, although you can preset the dark shade yourself to match your preferences. This helmet is rated for MIG, TIG, and Stick welding, and comes with a grinding function as well.
Other features of this helmet include an automatic on/off functionality, improved optics measuring 1/2/1/3 to reduce eye fatigue, and an external control knob to adjust the shade manually if necessary. Finally, this helmet comes in either an American eagle or blue flame design and comes with a two-year limited warranty.
6. AUDEW Adjustable Auto Darkening Solar Welding Helmet
Our next helmet is another model from AUDEW, the Adjustable Auto Darkening Welding Helmet. Realistically, this helmet is almost the same as the other model on this list, although the two look vastly different.
This particular model has a more utilitarian design to it, along with silver flames on the sides. When it comes to performance, this helmet has almost the same features as the other AUDEW model.
The viewing area measures 3.62” by 1.66”, with an auto darkening function that switches in a fraction of a second. This helmet has two sensors for ideal results, and a shade variation of #9 to #13 when activated, with a resting shade of #4. For your convenience, there is a manual shade adjustment knob on the outside.
Powering this helmet is a lithium battery with a solar powered backup. To help conserve battery life, this model has an automatic on/off functionality. What I like about this helmet that the other AUDEW model didn’t have is the fact that you can replace the battery. With the other unit, you had to replace the whole helmet once the battery died, but with this, you can just swap it out and keep on going.
Other features include a grinding setting, a ratcheting headband, and an extra set of lenses. Overall, this helmet is ideal for most Stick, MIG, and TIG welding or grinding.
7. OEMTOOLS 24357 Automatic Darkening Welding Helmet
Our next helmet is the OEMTOOLS 24357 Welding Helmet. When compared to the other models on this list the 24357 is mostly standard, but I do like the fact that it comes with a lithium battery and solar powered backup.
In fact, this helmet is rated to last up to 2,000 hours, which makes it one of the most durable units out there. To help ensure that length of battery life, the helmet comes with an automatic on/off function that shuts down after fifteen minutes of nonuse.
The viewing area on the 24357 measures 3.54” by 1.37”, and it even comes with a replacement lens just in case. Overall, this helmet is ideal for most Stick and MIG welding, but not necessarily TIG or Plasma, so keep that in mind. Two different sensors help with the auto darkening feature, which goes from the resting shade of #4 to a variable shade of #9 to #13 within a fraction of a second. For your convenience, there is also a manual shade adjustment on the outside if necessary.
This helmet is lightweight and weighs less than a pound. It is CE certified, as well as AS/NZS approved.
8. Jackson Safety W40 Insight Variable Auto Darkening Welding Helmet
Next, we have the Jackson Safety W40 Insight Variable Welding Helmet. I’ve used Jackson Safety products in the past with exceptional results, and the W40 is a perfect example of the brand’s commitment to excellence.
This is one of the more high-end welding helmets, and the price reflects that. However, you won’t find a much better unit than the W40, nor will you find one that lasts as long.
This auto-darkening helmet has a viewing area of 3.93” by 2.36”, making it one of the largest view screens on this list. The automatic function operates in a fraction of a second, using four separate sensors to get the best results.
The W40 is also battery powered, meaning that you can use it in any environment. Overall, this helmet is ideal for almost all welding and grinding functions, particularly as it has welding and grinding settings on the inside control panel.
Other features include the ability to preset your shade adjustment as well as a delay, a manual adjustment knob on the outside, and a variable shade of #9 to #13.
9. Antra AH7-860-0000 Solar Power Auto Darkening Welding Helmet
Finally, we come full circle with another model by Antra, the AH7-860-0000 Welding Helmet. When comparing the AH6 to the AH7, a lot of the features are the same, but there is one important distinction.
The AH7 has a jumbo viewing screen that measures 3.78” by 3.5”. Otherwise, the two units are almost identical. The auto-darkening function of the AH7 operates with four separate sensors for the best results.
In fact, even if you lose power (this is solar powered by the way) you don’t have to worry about damage to your eyes as the shade will automatically go to #16 in the event of an outage. To help reduce the problem of power loss, however, this helmet does have an automatic on/off function to extend the battery life. Overall, this helmet is ideal for almost all welding, including Stick, TIG, MIG, Plasma, and Laser welding. There is even a grinding function for your convenience.
Other highlights of this helmet include advanced optics measuring 1/1/1/2, an external shade adjustment knob on the outside, and the fact that it’s compatible with most standard sized cheater lenses. The helmet is also made of high-impact polyamide nylon for better durability. Finally, this helmet weighs two pounds.
When trying to find the best welding helmet, I always look for three things: auto-darkening filter (ADF), a large viewing area, and battery power with a solar backup. To that end, my top choices for welding helmet would be either AUDEW model or the Jackson Safety W40. If you are okay with solar powered batteries only, then I would highly recommend the AH6 or AH7 models, although the AH7 has better performance overall.
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