For a Welder, no other piece of personal protective equipment (PPE) is of more paramount importance than a best welding helmet. With the progress of technology, every kind of labor is being looked at to improve its safety profile. Welding is no exception.
Best Welding Helmets 2020
In the process of welding, you burn two ends of metal to join them together at high temperatures, in turn exposing yourself to sparks, metal fragments, as well as toxic gases. In this high-risk high reward operation, you better have a best welding helmet on your head. On the flip side, a mediocre Welding Helmet may come in the way of your work and cause fatigue which may lead to many Welders disliking the idea of a helmet altogether.
The latest welding helmet designs offer much more than just safety. They are lightweight, offer advanced features, and can even make you look dandy while working on long hours. If you are considering buying a best welding helmets, this list will be a detailed discussion of the various choices you have. This selection of Best Welding Helmets is arranged in descending order of price with the most costly option first on the list and vice versa. Of course, the increase in price would accompany some desirable features so read through the whole list to make a more informed decision.
😜 3M Speedglass 9100 [best welding helmets under 100]
This is the ideal helmet for the expert welder. It has the widest viewing area on this list which removes the tunnel vision often associated with Best Welding Helmets.There is great emphasis on comfort and Ergonomics with padded headbands and snug head suspension system. Many professionals have said that wearing this helmet feels like you aren’t wearing any helmet at all.
😜 Lincoln Electric Viking 3350 [best welding helmets 2020]
Another great option considered one of the best in the market. With comfortable headgear, the best optical clarity, and a strong body this has the features to last you many moons.
This helmet has the characteristic Lincoln 4C Lens Technology which allows you to visualize the welding arc in the same color scheme as you would without a helmet.
🙂 Jackson Safety BH3 W70 [best welding helmets auto darkening]
With an impressive 5 year warranty, stellar optical clarity, and a stellar profile of features, this is definitely a product worth considering. Being powered only by Solar power may be a pro or a con depending upon personal preference but definitely sets it apart.
🙃 ESAB Sentinel A50 [best welding helmets for tig]
Probably the best product on this list in terms of aesthetics, this one combines a futuristic look with a safety profile to match any market leader. Produced by the Swedish Company ESAB, which is a vastly respected brand in the Welding Industry, this is a highly reliable product. Even with market competitive features, the price of this helmet is reasonable making it an attractive option.
😉 Jackson Safety SmarTiger W40 [best welding helmets for mig welding]
This helmet is one of the best options on the market for the professional welder. With its light built and excellent ventilation, the testimonials have been greatly positive from users.
😊 Miller Electric 260938 [best budget welding helmet]
Another impressive inclusion in this list, this helmet can hold up its own versus more expensive ones due to its reasonable price and competitive features. The headgear is meant to fit you like a glove and the simple controls make for optimized user experience.
😇 YesWelder EH-091X [best auto darkening welding helmet]
One of the most popular choices on Amazon and it is easy to see why. A great budget option to consider when buying your first ever Welding Helmet or just learning the trade. With a 14 sq in. screen this product allows you to have a clear vision of the arc.
🥰 InstaPark ADF Series GX990T [best cheap welding helmet]
This attractively designed helmet has the beauty and the brawn to go with it. An extremely affordable option loaded with market competitive features, this helmet is a tough one to ignore.
😍 Antra AH6-260-0000 [best welding helmet for beginners]
One of the most affordable auto-darkening helmets on this list which does not sacrifice much of the core features for its cheaper price. Immensely popular on Amazon in this category, this product has been the first helmet of many DIYers. The screen size leaves much to desire in terms of its width, but the lightweight and other desirable features make up for it.
🤩 Hobart 770286 Flip Front [best tig welding helmet]
All other entries in this list have been those with auto-darkening lenses but it also makes sense to include an old fashioned manual welding helmet. With no power needed, and a price many times less than the average auto-darkening helmet, this is a great option for infrequent welders. This helmet has passed ANSI standards so safety is not an issue.With a single flip to remove or place the helmet back in place, this conventional piece of equipment may be surprisingly comfortable.
Best Welding Helmets Buying Guide
There are various best welding helmet options to choose from. Putting in the effort to find the right helmet for your personal needs can increase your welding efficiency, improve the quality of your work, as well as enhance the user experience.
1. Auto-Darkening vs Passive Lens
Best Welding Helmets in their early days used to have passive lenses, which meant that they did not adjust their darkness during the welding process.
With the advent of technology, the auto-darkening lens was introduced which reduces the light it allows inside during the welding process. It does so due to the assembly of tinted glass in the helmet with UV and Infrared beam protection. This allows the user to have close to normal vision when setting up the arc, and the usual darker vision during the welding process.
For beginners or people who do not weld that often, the passive welding helmet can be complicated as it might be hard for the welder to position the gun when the helmet is clasped in the position and this might result in inadequate accuracy leading to welding flaws and poor quality of work.
However, for traditional welders who have been in the business for many years, the darker view of the passive lens may not be a problem since they are already used to it. For them, the much-reduced price and adequate safety would be factors tilting them towards buying passive helmets.
In cases of track welding or other precision requiring types of welding, it may be inconvenient to use a passive helmet due to the repetitive flipping needed in order to see the area clearly, since vision is quite limited with the helmet on.
Thus overall, if you have the budget for it, Auto-darkening lenses should always be preferred.
It is one of the major factors in purchasing an auto-darkening helmet and is mostly based on personal preference as well as how much out-of-position welding you’re likely to be doing.
Typical viewing sizes range from 6 sq. in. for light-duty applications to 10 sq. in. for heavy-duty industrial use.
Thus, a smaller viewing capacity suits beginners while a greater viewing area suits professionals allowing them to beware of their surroundings. It also allows you to do more detailed intricate work.
Certain Best Welding Helmets also have side panels which can increase the viewing capacity, but on the flip side can cause fogginess as well as inadequate arc flash control.
3.Number of Arc Sensors
Arc sensors improve the safety profile of the best welding helmet.
Auto-darkening helmets are equipped with a number of Arc sensors that detect the arc to vary the darkening shift accordingly.
The number of these arc sensors separates the ordinary from the extraordinary. The entry-level helmets have two arc sensors while the professional ones have around
three to four.
For beginners or DIY-ers, two arc sensors may be enough but for professionals especially working in tighter areas, four arc sensors are highly recommended.
4.Lens Switching Speed
This is one of the most important features to look for in a Best Welding Helmet.
The switching speed of the lens is the ability to move from a normal well lit inactive state of the helmet to an active dark state where you can see the arc without strain to your eyes.
If you buy a Best Welding Helmet with a below-average switching speed, over the course of months and years, your eyes will be exposed to much more arc light leading to visual damage especially in the retina.
This feature tends to be a well-compensated one as the helmets with the best switching speeds tend to be much more expensive than those without this function.
Specifically, it is best to target a best welding helmet with a switching speed of about 1/20000th of a second. The beginner level helmets have a switching speed of about 1/3600th of a second which can be inadequate.
5.Fixed or Variable Shade
In the auto-darkening helmets, you can have certain variations in the type of shade it provides. You can find fixed shade helmets that always get fixed at one level when you are welding, which is usually a 10 shade value.
This combines the auto-darkening feature with the fixed shade of a passive lens.
If you work on a single material for a period of years and that material has similar properties every time, this might be a suitable feature for you.
On the other hand, if you work with a variety of materials with different properties like thickness, you may be better off with a variable shaded lens because every arc light would be different in this case and the shade provided would vary according to the material.
For instance, a thicker material would produce a more luminous arc thus needing greater shade value adjustment.
Another important consideration to make while buying a best welding helmet is the comfort that it possesses.
The modern auto-darkening designs have a compact arrangement that fits you well.
The ventilation of the helmet is also crucial since the welder may spend hours inside it. Poor ventilation may also lead to fogginess within the helmet leading to poor functionality.
One feature many welders like is the padding in certain models, especially in the chin area. This feature alone can take the comfort level up a notch
An important part of helmet comfort is having a snug fit. This allows all of your skin to be covered and prevents any exposure to harmful sparks and burns. A critical area to cover is the neck which can often be left unattended giving exposure to UV and IR rays
7.Color Spectrum of the lens
Recent advancement in Best Welding Helmets has been the optimization of the lens view to look just like real life.
Earlier, the auto-darkening lens used to have a greenish tinge in their view which seemed unnatural and was an inconvenience for some people. Some recent helmet models have improved upon this flaw so that the view from the lens looks just like how it would in real life.
Best Welding Helmets may be solar-powered or battery-powered or may employ a combination of the two as seen in contemporary versions.
versions tend to last much longer than battery-powered helmets, but one possible downside is needing a few hours in sunlight once they have been discharged completely.
Versions can be used without any wait but as mentioned before, last a much lesser duration. They are much more costly compared to solar-powered models
Modern helmets are attempting to get the best of both worlds by combining a non-replaceable battery with a solar panel thus increasing the durability while working without any waiting period. The downside to non-replaceable batteries is that once they run out the lens stops working altogether.
Another new trend in Best Welding Helmets is consumers using it as a fashion statement. This has led to painted and customized models in the market. Some of these have become the best sellers on Amazon. They often contain stickers to enhance the look of the helmet.
So if you have a vibrant personality and want your best welding helmet to reflect that, checking these designs out would be highly recommended.
This criterion quantifies the optical performance of the Welding Helmet. Best Welding Helmets are judged on four counts and rated accordingly with the best being 1-1-1-1. The four parameters are
Optical accuracy which rates the distortion of image
Diffusion capacity which quantifies the impurities in the lens glass
Variations in luminous transmittance measures the shade adjustability function
Angle dependence on luminous transmittance measures the need to strain eyes to see objects clearly.
Welding, as a profession, is not that kind to the eyes of the welder. It can not only cause abrasive injuries but also overexposure to IR and UV light may cause damage to the retina causing visual damage.
On the other hand, helmets that are too dark do not allow the welder to do his job properly because he can not see the target area clearly.
So it is a fine balance which the best helmets maintain.
A factor that can not be overlooked especially for long term usage. Most welding helmets weigh from 1 pound to 3 pounds.
A difference of a pound or two may not seem like much but wearing it all day every day may change that perception. It can cause definite strain to the neck vertebra especially as a cumulative effect over years of usage.
Thus, it is an important factor for professionals.
There are different types of welding operations like MIG (Metal Inert Gas) Welding, TIG (Tungsten Inert Welding), or Plasma Cutting depending upon the electrode.
A good helmet should be able to protect you in all these processes which require adjustable settings and correct functionality. MIG cutting, for example, is done at lower shade levels while other functions may require higher levels. A decent helmet should be able to adjust its function to these challenges.
15.Delay and Sensitivity Control
Many modern devices allow you to control the delay in which they return to normal inactive light settings. This may be from 0.1 to 1 second.
The application of this feature is seen in cases of short duration or long duration welds. In cases of short duration welds like in tack welding as you can change position quickly to reset yourself for the next weld with a short delay.
The long delay value is better when working at higher amperage to combat the molten metal and provide protection from it.
It is also a way to check the normal helmet function. The delay may be abnormal if the helmet is not working well.
16.Control Panel Position
The control knobs may be positioned internally, inside the helmet, or externally.
External knobs are convenient because you change them while working with your gloves on. However, they may be disturbed accidentally especially while working in tighter conditions.
Internal knobs may stay in position while working but they require you to adjust settings before you start working and you can not change them while you work.
Some modern models have a touch screen control panel which is again, a welcome piece of innovation.
Best Welding Helmets FAQs
1. How long do welding helmets last?
The durability of Best Welding Helmets depends upon the power source. When non-replaceable batteries are used the average lifespan is about 7 years after which the lens does not work.
In cases of replaceable batteries, they may need to be replaced after about a year or two. So it is advised to keep a spare battery at hand.
It is advised to check the warranty of the product so you can always claim it, if it goes bad before that duration.
2. What harmful effects does welding have on your health?
Welding, especially without personal protective equipment (PPE) can hurt you in various ways.
First of all, the fumes released from the welded area may be inhaled causing lung damage, bronchitis, and decreased pulmonary function as well as shortness of breath. When there is insufficient airflow, lung damage may be aggravated.
The UV and IR rays produced during welding are known risk factors for skin cancer of both Squamous and Basal Cell Carcinoma. Professional welders with years of exposure are at a much higher risk. You can also get 1st, 2nd or 3rd-degree burns due to the exposure to the welded arc.
The effect of Welding on eyes is well known. If no equipment is used and the arc flicker comes in contact with your cornea, the outer transparent surface of your eyes, you may get Photo Keratitis or Arc Eye in the cornea. This is an immensely painful condition that makes a helmet a necessity not just a luxury.
Welding may damage the lens of your eye giving cataracts. Keep in mind that even for small durations of time, the exposure to UV and IR can give Arc Eye or ‘Welder’s eye’
Moreover, continuous exposure to welding arcs can cause retinal damage. Retinal burns have been associated with MIG type of welding. These harmful effects accumulate over time and may limit your vision in the long run.
The noise hazards that welding can create may cause a ringing sensation in the ears called tinnitus or a feeling of dizziness called vertigo.
Another worrying aspect is the health of those working around the welder. Often, they do not wear any equipment and over years of cumulative damage, they can also get similar diseases as experienced by the welders themselves.
It is abundantly clear that many of these diseases are avoidable with sufficient care towards protection.
3. Can Welding Fumes cause Lung Cancer?
Welding fumes themselves have not shown the strongest direct association with lung cancer however other studies have shown an increased risk of bladder cancer as well as a 30% increased risk of kidney cancer as compared to non-welders.
Other studies have concluded that the increased risk of lung cancer in welders may not be due to the fumes but asbestos exposure as well as smoking usually seen in this demographic.
All in all, there is an indirect risk of lung cancer among welders which should be kept in mind and regular testing should be done especially in the workplace.
4. Do Welding Helmets ever expire?
Yes, mostly they do. Auto-darkening helmets are especially known to be comparatively fragile. Of course, the chances of a welding helmet going bad increase manifold if stored inadequately, or if they fall down and break. Most modern ones have LCDs and touch screens so they may not last you a lifetime.
One condition that tends to affect the function of best welding helmets is extreme temperature. If you have not used your helmet for a long time and it has been stored in a cold environment, it is always better to put it in the sun for some time. That is because many users have experienced a deterioration of function when using them without doing so, especially delay in adjustment to light and dark
5. Do I need to wear safety goggles If I am already wearing a welding helmet?
Yes, you do. In this high-pressure job, you need any protection you can get.
A best welding helmet alone may save you from arc flash when you are working but even before the welding has begun, there may be harmful particles in the air due to hammering, or other processes occurring nearby.
Safety goggles become particularly important when gas welding since particles may easily cross your best welding helmet.
In the case of irritant fumes, some of the particles may cross the helmet and cause chemical injury and irritation which can be prevented by goggles.
Any flying object like chipped slag may also cross any defect in the helmet causing impact injury to the eye.
6. How do I know if my Welding Helmet is working right?
One obvious test to check the lens functionality is looking at the sun directly. This may be a good test to check the capability of the best welding helmet to do its job. You can also find out how quickly it becomes active and starts shielding you from the sunlight.
A qualitative assessment can be done by rather experienced workers if they are experiencing more eye fatigue than usual which would mean the helmet is not working well.
It is also necessary to test the knobs by adjusting the sensitivity and delay time and checking whether the helmet works well each time or not.
Also, check for industry guidelines and what quality certification the helmet has passed.
7. What can help eyes after welding?
After long duration shifts, many welders feel mild symptoms of arc eye like the blurring of vision, intensely red eyes, mild pain, or something irritating in the eye.
There is no replacement of a doctor’s opinion who can check for damage on an eye exam and prescribe you something if needed
Some measures can be taken to alleviate any possible damage.
Avoiding the use of contact lenses during the period of irritation
Refrain from using sunglasses if the irritation stays.
Some people have used tea bags by first chilling them and then using them on the eye for about 10-15 minutes. It tends to have a refreshing effect.
A similar cooling effect can be obtained from ice packs.
Refrigerated Cucumber slices may be applied twice a day for their soothing effect. If there is a worsening of the symptoms like pain and blurred vision, it is best to consult the nearest eye doctor (ophthalmologist).
8. What are the general safety measures to adopt when welding?
As described before, welding is a highly risky business that requires proper safety measures to make it safer. Some of these are
Before even starting the welding process, make sure that your workplace is well ventilated and insulated. These two parameters themselves are of paramount importance and should never be ignored.
Make sure your clothes cover your body. You should prefer full sleeved shirts and avoid T-shirts when welding. Overall, you should choose fire-resistant items of clothing
Wear closed shoes with non-flammable material.
Make it a habit to check all your personal protective equipment before starting the welding process.
Your PPE should include:
- Earplugs to lessen the noise pollution
- Respirators are also advised for lung protection to clear the air before it enters your lungs especially for those with existing respiratory issues
- Insulated gloves to protect you from electric burns and sparks
- Welding helmets to protect your eyes and facial skin as well as your neck region.
Try to remove any flammable object around the welding arc as it may catch fire.
Try to keep your helmet on during the welding process because repeated removal
may negate the point of wearing it in the first place due to fumes ingestion and lung injury.
One rather specific instruction comes for arrhythmic patients using pacemakers. The magnetic field created by the welding process may attract your pacemaker which may be a source of a nuisance so it is often advised to stay away from welding with a pacemaker on.
Turn off all the machinery when not in use.
What size of lens do I need for my Welding Helmet?
Usually, best welding helmet lenses vary from 5 to 13 adjustability but if you had to buy one size of the lens, that could be a 10.
How should I store my Welding Helmet?
Try to store it away from hot and humid conditions. If you can find its original packaging to store it, then nothing like it. Keep it away from extremes of temperature.
What quality certification should I look for in my Welding Helmet?
There are various quality certification tests in the market but one test highly recommended to be passed by a Welding Helmet is the ANSI Z49.1 quality certification. ANSI stands for American National Standards Institute.
Best Welding Helmets are a type of safety equipment so quality regulations are important to follow and so if ANSA has certified your helmet you’re good to go.
A Welding Helmet is a hugely fundamental part of a welder’s gear. With this extensive guide about every minute detail, you need to know about best welding helmets, hopefully making your decision have been made easy. In this selection, we have tried to cover every category and feature of best welding helmets. Of course, as you add more features to a cheap welding helmet, the price increases accordingly. So it is crucial to make the decision to buy the right welding helmet as per your individual needs. Best Welding Helmets are the sort of equipment that deserves a good investment from your part because they can save you from huge medical bills in the future. Buy good quality welding goggles and other pieces of PPE with your Welding Helmet and you are good to go.