10 Best Welding Helmets

  • viewing area : 13.4 in2
  • sensors : 4 arc
  • switching time : 1/20,0000 sec
  • viewing area : 12.5 in2
  • sensors : 4 arc
  • switching : 1/25,000 sec
  • viewing area : 9.22 in2
  • sensors : 4 arc
  • switching : 1/20,000 sec

One of the most critical elements of electric arc welding is the welding helmet. With the intense UV light, heat, and sparks given off by the process your eyes and face require protection. A welding helmet shields your face from danger while providing a filtered darkened window through which you can look to see what you are doing as you weld. A welding helmet is never optional equipment and you must never even tack parts together without wearing one.

These helmets come in two main types which are, auto-darkening and what has become known as passive helmets. Auto-darkening helmets have batteries and sensors that determine when an arc is struck and darken the viewing window to the desired shade, while the passive helmets have a fixed shade filter lens inside the viewing window.

Later in this guide I will go into further detail on the different shades and methods of using both styles of helmets. I will also describe our top 10 picks for welding helmets available online describing their specifications, pros and our verdict.

10 Best Welding Helmets

1. Miller Electric – Digital Infinity Auto-Darkening Helmet

Miller Electric – Digital Infinity Auto-Darkening Helmet

This auto-darkening welding helmet boasts not only a very large viewing area, but is packed with advanced features. This helmet has four arc sensors, four different modes of operation, digital controls, InfoTrack which tracks and displays the arc time, AutoSense to automatically adjust the sensitivity, and more. One of the more useful modes is the X-Mode which helps prevent sunlight from triggering the arc sensors. This model even includes a mount to attach a magnifying ‘cheater lens’.

Verdict

This helmet has a lot going on inside of it. The advanced features like the AutoSense, InfoTrack, and X-mode make this an incredibly versatile helmet. The digital controls make switching between shades and modes easy and the four arc sensors mean that the chances of the arc light not reaching the sensors is significantly less than helmets that only have two sensors. This is a very high end helmet so probably not the first choice of a homeowner or hobbyist, but for anyone who does a significant amount of welding and fabrication this is a great option.

Pros

  • Large 13.4 in2 viewing area
  • Weighs only 1.44 pounds
  • Can use to grind, cut, and weld
  • : 13.4 in2 viewing area
  • : 4 arc sensors
  • : 1/20,0000 sec switching time
  • : 4 modes Weld (shade 8-13), cut (shade 5-8), grind, and X-mode
  • : 5 amp and below TIG rating
  • : Digital controls
  • : 1.44 pounds

2. Lincoln Electric - Viking 3350

Lincoln Electric - Viking 3350

The Lincoln Electric Viking 3350 while still a capable auto-darkening helmet lacks a lot of the features and modes of the Miller Digital Infinity. One neat feature of this helmet is the ability to switch between weld and grind modes by pressing and holding a button on the outside of the helmet for three seconds. With four sensors and a 1/25,000 switching time you’ll have no concerns that your eyes will be in any danger. Like the Miller this helmet can also accommodate a magnifying ‘cheater lens’ as well.

Verdict

Not as fancy as the Miller Infinity but still a very capable helmet. While the viewing area is not as large as the Miller it is still larger than most traditional passive helmets. The addition of a button on the outside of the helmet to switch modes is a nice bonus. This helmet is rated down to 2 amps for TIG welding which is good for those of you doing thin gauge welding. Overall this is a great option and worth a look.

Pros

  • Decent sized viewing area
  • Fast switching time
  • External button to switch modes
  • : 12.5 in2 viewing area
  • : 4 arc sensors
  • : Weld and grind modes
  • : Weld mode is from shade 5 – 13
  • : 1/25,000 sec switching time
  • : 2 amp TIG rating

3. Miller Electric – Digital Elite

Miller Electric – Digital Elite

This is the baby brother of the Miller Digital Infinity. It has a smaller viewing area than both the Infinity and the Viking which lands it at #3 on our list. This helmet is not quite as advanced as the Miller Infinity lacking the InfoTrack feature while still maintaining the AutoSense and the digital controls. The Digital Elite has four arc sensors and the same four modes that the Infinity has which make it a worthy addition to the top three.

Verdict

Not quite advanced as the Miller Digital Infinity but still does the job very well. With digital controls and four modes this helmet are easy to use and will absolutely protect your eyes and face while welding and grinding. AutoSense makes adjusting the sensitivity very easy just like on the Infinity. One slight advantage over our number one pick is that this helmet weighs slightly less at 1.13 pounds. Many professional welders have one of these helmets in their welding helmet arsenal.

Pros

  • 4 sensors
  • 5 amp TIG rating
  • Lightweight
  • : 9.22 in2 viewing area
  • : 4 arc sensors
  • : 4 modes weld (shade 8-13), cut (shade 5-8), grind and X-Mode
  • : 1/20,000 sec switching time
  • : Digital controls
  • : 5 amp and below TIG rating
  • : Weighs 1.13 pounds

4. Lincoln Electric – Black Glossy Welding Helmet

Lincoln Electric – Black Glossy Welding Helmet

This is a less expensive offering from Lincoln Electric and while still being auto-darkening it is light on features. This model includes only 2 arc sensors, 1/25,000 sec switching time, variable delay and sensitivity, and a grind mode. The shades can be adjusted from the outside of the helmet which is an advantage.

Verdict

If you want a brand name auto-darkening helmet on a budget this one is definitely worth a look. While it only has two arc sensors the helmets ability to protect your eyes is the same as the others you just need to be aware of anything that may block the light from hitting the sensors. If you plan on primarily welding on a bench top than there is no reason why this helmet would not be a sound option.

Pros

  • Inexpensive compared to the top three
  • Lightweight
  • External shade control
  • : 6.6 in2 viewing area
  • : 2 arc sensors
  • : Adjustable from shade 7 – 13
  • : Variable delay and sensitivity
  • : 1/25,000 sec switching time
  • : Solar and AAA battery powered
  • : Weighs only 17 oz

5. Hobart – Impact Black

Hobart – Impact Black

Hobart’s contribution to this list comes in at number five because it has a smaller field of view and no advanced features. While it does have a grind mode and the ability to adjust both delay and sensitivity it has no digital controls and only 3 sensors. It is, however, a lightweight option and does the job of protecting your eyes quite nicely.

Verdict

Hobart has been making welders and welding accessories for a very long time so this helmet although inexpensive has a quality brand behind it. While it only has three sensors, it is one more than our number four pick which means this helmet will be less likely to lose the arc light. The Hobart Impact Black is a lightweight helmet that wont break the bank and is a decent choice for anyone who wants an inexpensive, no bells and whistles, auto-darkening helmet.

Pros

  • Lightweight
  • Inexpensive
  • : 7.1 in2 viewing area
  • : Weld and grind mode
  • : 1/25,000 sec switching
  • : Adjustable from shade 8-13
  • : Low amp TIG rating
  • : 3 sensors
  • : Weight 20.3 oz

6. YesWelder Auto Darkening Welding Helmet

YesWelder Auto Darkening Welding Helmet

This is one of the inexpensive off shore brands that only makes the list because this one in particular has a selection of different styles with a variety of viewing area sizes to choose from. These helmets have four arc sensors but none of the proprietary features of the Miller’s and Lincoln’s which is why it is so inexpensive. One nice feature is that all the controls are on the outside of the helmet which makes changing settings on the fly easy.

Verdict

This is the bargain basement budget auto darkening helmet. If you do not require a higher end helmet or just want to try an auto-darkening helmet out before upgrading to a brand name version, this is a good option. This helmet apparently conforms to ANSI and CSA standards so there should be no concerns about your eyes safety.

Pros

  • Multiple view size options
  • Inexpensive
  • : 14.3 in2 viewing area
  • : Weld and grind mode
  • : Weld shade 9-13
  • : 4 arc sensors
  • : 1/10,000 sec switching time
  • : Solar and battery power
  • : Weight 2.2 pounds

7. Miller Electric – 2” x 4” Shade 10 Auto Darkening

Miller Electric – 2” x 4” Shade 10 Auto Darkening

This Miller Electric replacement lens is a shade 10 but is also auto-darkening. This option is good if you already have a traditional passive helmet and want to upgrade it to auto-darkening. There is no option to adjust between different shades as it is strictly going to go from about a shade 3 to a 10 when an arc is struck.

Verdict

If you have a passive welding helmet that takes a 2×4 filter lens than this is not a bad option if your goal is to simply upgrade your existing helmet. These lenses are good for situations where you need to weld in a very tight space and using your passive helmet may be inconvenient.

Pros

  • Can be used in a traditional passive 2 x4 welding helmet
  • : Solar powered
  • : 2 arc sensors
  • : 5 in2 viewing area
  • : 1/3600 sec switching time
  • : Fixed shade
  • : Available in shade 8-10

8. Jackson Safety – Fixed Shade Welding Helmet

Jackson Safety – Fixed Shade Welding Helmet

This is the first passive helmet on this list and if you are in the market for a passive helmet than this one is about as passive as it gets. Using the standard 5.25” x 4.5” filter lenses this helmets fixed shade can be changed from the included #10 to any other shades that are available. The profile of this helmet is narrower than most helmets so it will be good in tighter quarters, where the larger viewing area is also an advantage as well.

Verdict

When it comes to passive helmets having a large viewing area is advantageous especially for TIG welding. Because this helmet has no requirement for the auto-darkening technology the viewing area is significantly larger than even our #1 pick. For a decent no nonsense helmet this is a good option.

Pros

  • No batteries or technology to fail
  • Narrow so it can be used in tight areas
  • Large viewing area
  • : 23.625 in2 viewing area
  • : Passive fixed shade
  • : Takes standard 5.25” x 4.5” lenses

9. Honeywell - Tigerhood Classic

Honeywell - Tigerhood Classic

When it comes to the classic welding helmet, this is it. It has a small 2” x 4” viewing area but the fixed shaded lens is able to be flipped up for grinding or just before welding in order to line the torch, gun, or electrode up before flipping it down and striking an arc.

Verdict

This is a tough helmet that is as basic as it gets. For those of you that don’t want or need an auto-darkening helmet but like the option of the flip front then this is a helmet you should look at. This is a helmet that you can drop in the mud, brush off, shake the water out of, and carry on, would you say the same of an auto-darkening?

Pros

  • Flip front
  • inexpensive
  • : 8.5 in2 viewing area
  • : Passive fixed shade
  • : Takes standard 2 x 4.25 filter lenses
  • : Flip front

10. Hobart – Flip Front

Hobart – Flip Front

Another Hobart option and the least expensive of this list. This helmet is also a flip front and has virtually the same advantages as the previous offering on this list. The 2” x 4” viewing area accepts standard filter lenses so you can swap out the filter shade easily from replacement lenses you can acquire at any welding supply store.

Verdict

This is the least expensive option but does the job of protecting your face and eyes very well. Not quite as tough as the #9 option but still a good passive helmet. This helmet is only 16 oz so it is exceptionally lightweight. A good option for any welder that wants a helmet that will always work.

Pros

  • Inexpensive
  • Flip front
  • : Flip Front
  • : 8.5 in2 viewing area
  • : Takes standard lenses
  • : Passive fixed shade
  • : Weighs 16 oz

Buyers Guide

Safety First

Your safety should be the first consideration when starting to get into welding. The UV light that the electric arc gives off will not only badly burn your eyes but your skin as well. This is why we wear welding helmets with filter lenses, it enables us to see what we are doing while welding, and at the same time filter the harmful radiation from burning our face and eyes.

best Welding Helmet

source: chicagotribune.com

Choosing a filter lens comes down to the welding process and the amperage used. There are many resources available online, in welding manuals, and guides to help you pick the appropriate shade for the welding that you intend to do.

The shades of welding filter lenses are organized by number from 3 to 14. The higher the number shade, the darker the lens and the higher the protection for your eyes. When electric arc welding you should never use a shade that is less than #10 and as the amperage you are using increases the filter shade number you use should also increase.

If you ever find that your eyes feel sore or strained increase the filter shade that you are using  as a precaution and to prevent damage.

To protect your hair always wear a hat or a welding beanie made from cotton to prevent your hair from catching any sparks. This also prevents reflected radiation from burning the back of your head or neck.

Another safety consideration, is to make sure that any welding helmet you buy will accommodate the respirator that you own. The helmet is going to have to have enough clearance for the respirator and the cartridges underneath the shell of the helmet.

Last it is good to make sure that if you wear glasses that they will fit underneath the helmet or that the helmet you choose accepts magnifying ‘cheater lenses’.

Which to Choose?

When picking out a welding helmet there are a few key factors that you must decide on before ordering your new helmet. The very first of these is the answer to the question of auto-darkening or passive? With each of these there are several other factors that need exploring as well. Arc sensors, switching time, operating modes, weight, viewing area size and advanced features all need to be taken into consideration.

Auto-Darkening or Passive

This choice comes down to personal preference and the types of welding jobs you intend on doing with it.

Auto-darkening helmets are great for tight quarters, doing multiple tack welds, TIG welding, or fitting and fabrication. They do have a downside of being reliant on arc sensors and a battery to operate. The ability to switch filter shades on the fly is handy and some of the advanced features that the name brand options hold, make switching from welding, to cutting, to grinding very easy and seamless. These helmets are incredibly popular among welders and fabricators because they do make welding a little easier.

Passive helmets, while lacking all the options that make auto-darkening helmets great, excel in one very important area. They are far tougher and more durable. Their low cost also has the advantage of not hurting the pocket book if it happens to fall off a large building or get run over. The use of a fixed filter lens makes switching the shade slightly more inconvenient but is a process that can be done in less than a minute.

When using a passive helmet the technique usually employed is to have the helmet up on your head and when ready to strike an arc just nod your head forward causing the helmet to rotate down coming to a rest in front of your face. This takes a bit of practice but when you’ve mastered the technique it becomes completely automatic.

Alternatively, you can use a flip front and just flip the front up to get everything ready and when about to strike an arc simply flip it down shielding your eyes.

Arc Sensors

These are what detect the starting of the electric arc, if the sensors are obscured they will not cause the helmet to darken and in turn cause your eyes to get arc flash. The number of sensors is important because the more sensors your helmet has the less chance that a sensor will be obscured and render your helmet incapable of darkening.

Switching Time

This is important because the switching time is the period of time between when the arc sensor detects the arc and the lens actually darkens. The shorter the switching time the better because it means that your eyes are exposed less to the UV radiation even if it is for the smallest fraction of a second.

Operating Modes

Being able to switch between welding, cutting, and grinding is a very handy feature because it means you do not need to manually switch the shades. The Miller helmets have the X-Mode which is a good feature that will prevent the sun from causing your helmet to darken when you do not want it to. Grind mode is an especially handy feature because it allows you to use your welding helmet as a shield against grinding sparks while not having the sparks trigger the arc sensors and darkening the lens.

Viewing Area Size

The larger the field of view the more of the welding area that you can see. This is especially good when you are TIG welding because it lets more light in and helps you to align filler rod and torch better. Being able to see more of the weld area is always a good thing and unless you have your heart set on a 2×4 flip front it should be a major consideration.

Weight

These helmets sit on top of your head so try to pick one that you can wear for awhile comfortably. With passive helmets the flip down technique is used to get the helmet in front of your eyes before an arc is struck. It is better to have less weight flipping down in front of your face than more weight.

Advanced Features

Most of the more advanced features are just ‘nice to haves’ but if something like the InfoTrack feature of the Miller Infinity is important to you than considering the suite of advanced technology and features inside your welding helmet should be one of your deciding factors.

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