Features to consider when choosing a welding helmet
These features apply to both a hobbyist looking for a welding helmet under $100 for their DIY projects and a professional welder who would readily splurge on the best welding helmet brands for MIG, TIG, and other heavy-duty work. We will discuss why they count and the value they offer.
If it’s auto-darkening
Auto-darkening welding helmets feature a lens that automatically detects the amount of light and blocks it by adjusting the shade. They also save time and effort because you won’t have to lift off the mask to manually adjust the lens or the shade. Auto darkening response to ambient light depends on the speed and sensitivity levels that are active.
An ANSI-compliant welding helmet such as the DEKOPRO Solar Powered Welding Helmet, the Jackson Safety W40 Insight and the Lincoln Electric Viking 3350 does not need to have auto-darkening capability to protect you against exposure to radiant energy. For instance, the Honeywell Fibre-Metal Welding Helmet is not an auto-darkening welding helmet, but it is still effective in filtering out ultraviolet and infrared wavelengths.
The Instapark ADF GX990T boasts of a large viewing window size of 15.2 square inches that provides a clear, unobstructed vision of your project so you can see finer details. Another great welding helmet for the money is the Lincoln Electric Viking 3350 with a sizeable viewing area of 12.5 square inches.
Welding helmets use cartridges with LCD technology to auto darken and shield you from dangerous light emissions. A larger cartridge is preferable because it will last longer before it requires replacement.
There are four categories that are used to test and rate the optical clarity of auto-darkening welding helmet lenses. They are then graded 1 to 3, with 1 being the best score. The perfect optical clarity rating is, therefore, 1/1/1/1. The only welding helmet for MIG with that top rating in this article is the Lincoln Electric Viking 3350. It utilizes 4C technology and has optical clarity at high EN379 1/1/1/1 levels, true color view, lightweight auto-darkening filter, and even shade from any angle.
The best welding helmet for the money should ideally have multiple arc sensors that can detect more arc flashes and react rapidly even when you are out of position or in case some sensors are obstructed. With the exception of the compact the Honeywell Fibre-Metal Welding Helmet which is not an auto-darkening welding helmet, all the other products we have recommended come with four sensors to enhance protection.
Reaction time (switching speed)
The reaction time refers to the speed that the lens triggers the Auto-Darkening Filter (ADF) to switch the lens shade upon the detection of an arch or flash. You can adjust the switching speed by selecting your preferred delay and sensitivity settings for varied ambient lighting conditions. Lowering sensitivity levels when you are among other welders will reduce the frequency of changing shades by auto-darkening only when it is necessary.
The Antra AH6-260, the Lincoln Electric Viking 3350 and the ESAB SENTINEL A50 all switch speed within 1/25,000 seconds. One of the best welding helmets for the money that also has fast reaction time is the Instapark ADF GX990T, with a speed of 1/30,000 seconds.
With the best budget welding helmets that utilize solar power as well as batteries, you can carry on with the welding process even if the battery dies as long as you have access to sunlight.
The advantage of batteries is their application for both interior and exterior welding. A few advanced models can now be powered by arcs.
This will solely depend on the specific welding helmet you buy. For example, the Miller Black Digital Infinity, the Lincoln Electric Viking 3350, and the ESAB SENTINEL A50 all come with a warranty of three years, whereas the DEKOPRO Solar Powered Welding Helmet is covered by a short limited warranty of 30 days.
Consider the products such as hard hats and cheater lenses that are compatible with your particular model: the adapter for the ESAB SENTINEL A50 is only compatible with ESAB hard hat; the Antra AH6-260 works with cheater lens of size 2 inches by 4 inches; the Jackson Safety W40 Insight is compatible with HLX-100, HSL, Nitro, WH40, and SmarTIGer welding helmets.
Weight is a key factor to consider before buying a beginner welding helmet that would strain your head and neck or slow you down. Fortunately, most welding helmet brands manufacture lightweight models that you can comfortably wear for hours on a construction site. The DEKOPRO Solar Powered Welding Helmet only weighs a pound.
What accessories are included: The best welding helmet for TIG or MIG is a product such as the Lincoln Electric Viking 3350 which comes with a helmet bag, a bandana, five outer cover lenses, two inner cover lenses, and a sticker sheet, or the Miller Black Digital Infinity which is available with a helmet bag, two inside cover lenses, and five outside cover lenses. Additional cover lenses and a storage bag are common accessories for most welding helmets under $100.
Shade range: Shade 9 to 13 would suffice in most situations, but a broader range of shade from 5 to 13 would be better for environments with low amperage and more flexible for varied welding processes.
Read the manual for safety information and proper procedures for your specific welding helmet.
Consider investing in the best welding helmet brands that have been approved by ANSI national safety standards for effective protection from impact, high temperature, infrared, and ultraviolet rays.
Be cautious with using any welding helmet for overhead tasks without confirming its suitability since molten metal could damage through the headgear.
Wear approved shields for the side and eyes and safety glasses under a welding helmet.