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Last updated: December 21, 2020
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A welding helmet is an essential part of your equipment, which guarantees safety by shielding your face and eyes from arc flash when welding. It is part of the protective gear that is recommended by OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration). Not all the helmets are created equal, and we’re here to help you choose the most suitable one for you.
We reviewed 30 of the top-rated products on the market to determine the best welding helmet that is versatile and user-friendly. One model that meets this criteria as well as ANSI Z87.1+ standards is the Jackson Safety W40 Insight. The CSA-compliant helmet has a sizeable viewing screen of 9.3 square inches, four sensors, and 9 to 13 shade ranges. It is powered by a durable lithium battery and reacts to an arch or flash in 1/15,000 seconds.
We researched models with the key features that will offer you great value through high performance, maximum comfort, and optimal safety. These features include a large viewing area and optical clarity for clear vision and a broad range of shade that can protect you in varied lighting conditions. We also considered the power source to choose the best welding helmet that would be suitable for both interior and exterior work. We have included a comparison table that highlights the most unique quality of each model. Additionally, this article reviews the features of each product in detail followed by a comprehensive buying guide with a breakdown of all the specifications you need to consider before making your decision. At the end is an overview of our top three picks.
The Jackson Safety W40 Insight is a CSA-compliant welding helmet for TIG, MIG, and arc welding that adheres to ANSI Z87.1+ safety and quality control standards.
It features a variable shade range of 9 to 13 and 4 independent arc sensors that trigger the auto-darkening mechanism at a speed of 1/15,000 seconds.
The Auto Darkening Filter (ADF) switches the lens shade according to the programmed delay and sensitivity settings for ambient lighting conditions. There is also grind mode with passive shade 4, an LCD screen that displays the battery indicator, pre-installed front, and inner lenses, and a lithium battery.
The Jackson Safety 370 headgear is compatible with HLX-100, HSL, Nitro, WH40, and SmarTIGer welding helmets. The adjustable protective gear includes a 3-position slider, a ratcheting size adjustment dial with the company’s logo, and a flexible crown strap to flip the helmet up or down.
Owners who are impressed by the performance of this product consider it the best auto-darkening welding helmet for the money for home and light industrial work. They like its compatibility with several shells and lenses, multiple settings to fine-tune the output, and the varied, flexible settings for the headgear especially the large adjustment dial that is convenient when wearing gloves. However, a few buyers find the hood short and the material flimsy.
The ESAB SENTINEL A50 is powered by two CR2450 lithium-ion batteries as well as a built-in solar cell for more power options. The 1.4-pound welding helmet for MIG features a relatively small viewing area of 9.3 square inches which still provides a fantastic field of vision due to the curvature of the outer lens. It has optical clarity of 1/1/1/2.
There are four sensors with a reaction time of 1/25,000 seconds. The shade ranges between 5 and 13 and shade 4 for the grind mode which is activated with an external button on the front of the helmet.
Users with poor vision appreciate the slot that allows you to add a magnifier, the hypervisible LCD control panel and its responsiveness, and the presets for different parameters.
Owners love the halo-style headgear with a padded strap and five contact points that fit snugly and stay in position when flipped up, the sturdy construction from the high impact-resistant nylon, and the clarity and color, including the blue tint. They also like the futuristic front cover lens which gives this welding helmet a cool look like an astronaut’s although the replacement cost can accumulate over time. A few users complained of fish eye effect from the lens. The other downside is the adapter option which is only compatible with ESAB hard hat.
All in all, this is the best welding helmet for TIG and MIG that is reasonably priced considering the high performance. The Premium model comes with a padded bag, a welding do-rag, and five lenses.
This auto-darkening welding helmet is part of the 3350 Series which has been upgraded with 4C lens technology for a true color crystal clear view of the arc and puddle. This technology has also been incorporated in the 1840 and 2450 Series by Lincoln Electric. 4C is an acronym for Clarity at high EN379 1/1/1/1 levels, true Color view, Carat which refers to the lightweight auto-darkening filter, and Cut that references the even shade you get from any angle.
To maximize vision and safety, the Lincoln Electric Viking 3350 comes with extra-large auto-darkening lens of 12.5 square inches.
A low-profile button positioned externally allows you to quickly choose among weld, cut, and grind modes with an external button.
The 3350 Series welding helmets are available in more than 15 varied styles to accommodate more users. Other qualities that make this product versatile are the dual power sources of a CR 2450 Battery and a Solar Cell, hard hat compatibility and three controls for Shade, Sensitivity, and Delay.
The Lincoln Electric Viking 3350 has a TIG rating of 2 amps, 5 to 13 shade ranges and four arc sensors that switch speed within 1/25,000 seconds. It also meets ANSI Z87.1, CSA Z94.3, and EN379 standards.
This is among the best-rated auto-darkening welding helmets for the money that is available with multiple accessories such as a helmet bag, bandana, five outside cover lenses, two inside cover lenses, and a sticker sheet.
The X6 headgear has six contact points to distribute weight and reduce pressure on your head. However, there are a number of complaints about poor fitting.
What will strike you the most with the Miller Black Digital Infinity is the size of the viewing area, 13.4 square inches, which is one of the largest in the market. By allowing more colors through the lens, the ClearLight Lens technology yields accurate tones for a clear view of 1/1/1/2 optical clarity and precise recognition of the arc. Four arc sensors work independently to detect and react fast to obstructed or low amp welding.
Another technology adopted by this welding helmet is InfoTrack which features multi-language help menu, allow you to set the time, timer and alarm, and tracks and displays arc time.
There are four operating modes for welding, cutting, grinding and X-Mode. X- Mode blocks interference by sunlight, prevents cavity welds and allows continuous detection of the arc despite any obstructed sensors. The minimum light shade of 3 is for grind mode whereas weld and cut modes feature shade range of between 8-13 and 5-8 respectively.
This helmet is powered by a C battery that is included in the package along with a helmet bag, two inside cover lenses, and five outside cover lenses. It also meets standards set by ANSI Z87.1+, CSA, and CE.
Buyers like the optics and the large size and spaciousness of this welding helmet that allows for a clear view and great airflow, the user-friendly buttons and the AutoSense function that is convenient in varied light conditions.
They also appreciate that it has been redesigned with an oversized cushion for improved comfort and support although there are a number of them report that the helmet requires constant readjustment because it keeps sliding forward.
The Instapark ADF GX990T is among the best welding helmets under $100 that is recommended for arc welding, MIG and TIG due to its large viewing area of 15.2 square inches, four arc sensors and an auto-darkening filter with a light green tint.
It features a shade range of between 5 and 13, a resting shade of 4, and optical clarity of 1/1/1/2.
One of the things that customers like is that they can conveniently adjust sensitivity, delay, and dark state without removing the helmet. They do this by selecting their preferred settings from the numbers on the side dial. You can also activate welding, grinding, and torching mode with the last set of numbers. This is why you will come across several reviews that compare this model favorably to some of the best welding helmet brands that cost thrice as much. However, the auto-darkening feature with a high switching speed of 1/30,000 seconds malfunctions after a while according to reports by a few buyers. Another drawback is that the helmet cannot be attached with a hard hat.
The Instapark ADF GX990T includes a solar-powered built-in cell and a replaceable CR2450 lithium battery. The interior of the headgear is padded and the headband is adjustable into multiple geared positions for a custom fit.
If you are looking for the best welding helmet for the money that would be compact enough to fit in narrow and small spaces, then the Honeywell Fibre-Metal Welding Helmet would be a great choice. It is specifically made as a pipe welding helmet to work in enclosed areas where the tight clearances would not allow you to work with a standard model.
It is available with a ratcheting headgear with an overhead band that supports multiple adjustments for a secure and comfortable fit, and free-floating arms to balance out and stabilize the helmet.
Although it is not an auto-darkening welding helmet, it does filter out ultraviolet and infrared wavelengths. The smooth SuperGlas Plus material self-extinguishes to deflect spatter and sparks. It is also resistant to moisture, impact, cracks and chipping.
The Honeywell Fibre-Metal Welding Helmet only weighs 1.25 pounds. Some customers have had to replace the original shade 10 lens with other options to improve the 8.5 square-inch view and clarity. Customers would also appreciate clarity on where this welding helmet is manufactured since some components indicate USA and others Mexico.
Since it does not come with flip front, some users add it by cutting out the front lens. You may also have to trim the bottom part, so it does not hit your collarbone when you nod to flip the hood down.
Otherwise, this budget welding helmet is effective in protection against glare and work in constricted spaces.
The Antra AH6-260 is a cheap welding helmet that is equipped with a built-in passive UV/IR filter that does not depend on the availability of power to provide consistent protection.
The lightweight model is compatible with hard hat and cheater lens of size 2 inches by 4 inches for magnified vision. Both the hard hat adapter and magnifying lens are sold separately. The components that come with the helmet are six exterior lens cover plates, one interior lens cover plate, two CR2032 lithium batteries, and an integrated solar battery.
The four sensors activate the auto-darkening to adjust to ambient lighting conditions at a speed of 1/25,000 seconds. A knob adjusts sensitivity and delay setting and the quick grind switch disables auto darkening function when working outdoors. Some users have experienced random flashing despite adjusting the delay time for auto-darkening.
The Antra AH6-260 is made from high-impact polyamide nylon material and is designed for MMA, TIG, MIG, plasma cutting, and Flux Core applications. The beginner welding helmet is unsuitable for heavy-duty industrial use and overhead welding because the material is light, but it is an ideal bargain for a lot of DIY tasks.
The viewing screen of 6.7 square inches may discourage some users, but the small size still offers you a good view, including the peripheral area. The budget welding helmet also complies with safety standards set by ANSI Z87.1 and CSA Z94.3.
The DEKOPRO Solar Powered Welding Helmet is recommended for automotive, military maintenance, repair and operation (MRO), and construction work. It features shade range of 9 to 13, optical clarity of 1/1/1/2, and an Auto Darkening Filter (ADF DX-980N) that adjusts the shade at a high speed of 1/25000 seconds, making this product the best welding helmet under $100 for beginners and hobbyists. You will also like the large viewing screen of 12.1 square inches and the comfortable and adjustable headgear.
It is powered by a 3V CR2450 lithium battery and a solar cell that transforms sunlight to power to yield up to 5,000 hours of battery life.
This is a minimalistic model with a negligible weight of only one pound and a short limited warranty of 30 days. Despite this, the DEKOPRO Solar Powered Welding Helmet supports MMA, MIG, MAG/CO2, TIG, arc gouging, and plasma welding and cutting. It also meets the safety and technical standards set by EN379 and ANSI Z87.1.
Remember to peel off the inner and outer protectors from the plastic covers and to set the sensitivity and response time before welding since it is defaulted to grind mode upon delivery.
Setting up the helmet can be a hassle because of the several pieces that you need to line up. The shade range could also be broader to accommodate more lighting conditions.
What we liked:
Large viewing window
Long battery life
High switching speed
Grind and weld modes
What could be better:
Setup takes time
Things to Сonsider
Before choosing the best welding helmet for the money, there are several features you should consider to maximize your comfort and safety at any budget. We will expound on these key factors and offer a few safety tips by users and experts.
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.
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.
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.
Despite being the best cheap welding helmet, the Antra AH6-260 shares hard hat compatibility with other costlier models such as the ESAB SENTINEL A50 and the Lincoln Electric Viking 3350. You typically have to buy the hard hat adapter separately. We have indicated the best welding helmet brands that support hard hats and the compatible types.
The best quality in the auto-darkening welding helmets we have reviewed is their use of solar energy as an extra or alternative power source because it ensures continuous operation such as lens darkening even if the battery dies. The multiple sensors would trigger lens darkening based on your set sensitivity level and delay time.
Will they protect from noise? Regardless of how cheap a welding helmet is, it should be able to cover your ears as well as protect your eyes, face, and neck to shield you from splatter and sparks. These models may also be integrated with ear muffs or feature a padded interior like the Instapark ADF GX990T to reduce noise.
The headgear for the Jackson Safety W40 Insight is compatible with a variety of other shells, and the multiple adjustable settings for fitting and auto-darkening purposes make this product a versatile auto-darkening welding helmet for varied applications.
The ESAB SENTINEL A50 has a similar viewing shade range of 9 to 13 and area size of 9.3 square inches as our Editor’s Choice, but it has a higher switch speed of 1/25,000 seconds. It matches the superior performance with a stylish halo-style headgear and a sleek futuristic front cover lens.
Our third pick is the Lincoln Electric Viking 3350, which has an unrivaled perfect optical clarity of 1/1/1/1. The auto-darkening welding helmet also includes multiple accessories and weld, cut, and grind modes. It is powered by solar or batteries.