A welding helmet is a crucial part of on the job safety for any welder, but not all welding helmets can provide the type of protection needed in a serious work environment. In fact, many of the welding helmets of the past are not only potentially dangerous to use in certain conditions, their bare bones construction simply lacks the essential technology used in modern welding helmets, which makes traditional helmets unsuitable for beginners and professionals alike. These days, the best welding helmets will come equipped with the latest technology, such as timed delays, automatic shade adjusting features, and an extensive arc sensor system that will allow the lens to immediately adjust the shade level in order to prevent serious damage to the welder’s vision.
Instead of the passive or traditional welding helmets that were widely used just ten years ago, these days, most welders choose to use auto-darkening helmets. These helmets are not only lighter, but they’re also equipped with the latest features that can help to save the user plenty of time while providing ultimate protection against flying debris, sparks, and unsafe lighting conditions.
Welding Helmets for the Pros
Our site is dedicated to helping you choose the perfect welding helmet, based on the type of welding process you normally use, the types of materials you work with, and whether you normally work indoors or outside.
We’ve reviewed many of the leading models on the market and have narrowed it down to the top five. These five welding helmets are loaded with the latest safety features and welding helmet tech, which means they not only help to prevent serious vision damage, they can also save you plenty of time on the job.
When choosing a new welding helmet, there are several factors to consider, based on the work environment and the specific welding process you commonly use. Many new models offer a variety of features that can impact both the user’s comfort and productivity level.
In order to choose the right helmet that offers the best level of protection for your job, you should consider:
- The type of welding process you commonly use
- How often you weld
- Whether you need a welding helmet that can handle a variety of welding applications
- Whether you weld indoors or outdoors
These factors can help you choose a helmet that can meet your needs and provide the type of protection that’s crucial for every welder, whether they’re working on a construction site, indoors, or in the garage.
Comparing the Best of the Best
We focused more on helmets with a reputation for versatility, models that are designed to handle different lighting situations and environments, and helmets that could be used for torching, grinding, and welding. The five models that made it on our list are not only versatile, they’re also lightweight and designed to promote longer use. This alone will be a huge plus to the professional welder who spends several hours a day welding. The right helmet should be comfortable, adjustable, and easy to wear while providing the right amount of protection to prevent damage to the face and eyes caused by harmful light rays and flying sparks.
Below, we’ve created a comparison chart that will give you a better idea of how our top five models measured up against each other and what you can expect in terms of weight, price, style, and quality.
Welding Masks Comparison Chart
A Look at the Best Welding Masks
Below you’ll find brief summaries of our welding helmet reviews, starting off with the leading model by Lincoln Electric, one of the major players in the welding equipment industry.
Best Welding Helmet-Lincoln Electric Viking 3350 Mojo Welding Helmet
The Lincoln Electric Viking 3350 Mojo welding helmet is the top-rated auto darkening helmet on the market. The helmet’s lightweight, pivot design allows the welder to work comfortably, for hours on end, without having to repeatedly remove the helmet to inspect their welds. Aside from the lightweight design this helmet also features variable shade technology, allowing the welder to choose the perfect level of protection based on their work environment and the type of material they’re welding.
Best Auto Darkening Helmet-3M Speedglas 9100 Auto Darkening Welding Helmet
The 3M Speedglas 9100 auto darkening welding helmet includes variable shade control for ultimate protection, a lightweight design that help’s to reduce user fatigue, and the ability to see realistic colors, hues, and contrasts. The ability to see realistic colors and hues will make it much easier for the welder to view their work and keep an eye on their weld puddle, all without removing their helmet. This model comes with some other great features including shade presets, and grinding and welding modes, making it one of the most versatile welding helmets on the market.
Largest Viewing Window-Optrel Panoramaxx Auto Darkening Welding Helmet
The Panoramaxx by Optrel is one of their top-selling models, thanks to a viewing window that’s said to be six times larger than viewing windows on competing models. The helmet itself is lightweight and comes with the popular True Color feature that allows users to see natural colors and contrasts, easily and without removing their helmet. Additionally, the variable shade feature will allow the user to choose the right shade for ultimate protection, based on the welding application and environment.
Feature-Packed-Miller Electric Digital Elite Auto Darkening Welding Helmet
The Miller Electric Digital Elite auto darkening helmet allows the welder to choose from a wide range of shades based on welding application, work material, and the environment. It also comes equipped with Clear Lens Technology, so the wearer can see realistic colors and tones. The X Mode is one of the helmet’s biggest selling points for the stick welder. X Mode will prevent sunlight interference in order to protect the user’s vision and to prevent sunlight from interfering with the welder’s ability to clearly view their workpiece.
Beginner-Friendly-Optrel Liteflip Autopilot Auto-Darkening Welding Helmet
The Liteflip welding helmet by Optrel is one of the most beginner-friendly auto darkening helmets around. Its lightweight design combined with the front flip up style of the mask makes it easy for the welder to tweak their welds or check their progress. The True Color feature, which is found on all Optrel welding helmets, also lends to the beginner-friendly design while boosting the user’s productivity level. Beginners often struggle in terms of choosing an appropriate shade level based on their work environment and workpiece. With the helmet’s automatic shade adjustment feature, the welder can rest assured that the helmet will provide ultimate vision protection whether they’re welding indoors or outside.
Welding Helmets Buyer’s Guide
The best welding helmets will provide top of the line protection to your eyes, face, and head, while you weld. Welding helmets are definitely one piece of equipment that you don’t want to choose based on price alone. Lower priced models don’t last very long and only offer basic protection without any extra features. A top of the line welding helmet should be highly adjustable and will come loaded with all of the bells and whistles that will not only help to improve your welding performance but can also promote longer use. Our site is dedicated to helping you find the perfect welding helmet to get the job done, based on your welding style and the processes you commonly use.
Learn the best stick welding tips by clicking here.
A welding helmet is one of the most important pieces of gear that the pro and amateur welder will use. There are many different styles of welding helmets to choose from, each of which is designed with its own special features and specs. The goal of any style of welding helmet is to provide the welder with ultimate protection during use.
However, regardless of type, any welding helmet is required to meet the national safety standards that are overseen by the American Welding Society and OSHA. These safety specifications were put in place to ensure that the wearer is able to work safely, wearing a helmet that fits appropriately and features a solid, comfortable fit that will not hinder performance or visibility.
In our buyer’s guide, we’ll delve into the different types of welding helmets available, the specs to look for, and the unique features each style of helmet has to offer.
Welding Helmet Styles
First up is one of the most popular styles of welding helmets on the market: the auto darkening welding helmet.
These helmets come equipped with an auto darkening filter that automatically detects the arc as soon as the built-in sensors identify it. When there’s no active arc, the helmet can still work to protect the welder’s vision. This is because the helmets typically have lenses that come in shade levels of three or four. Helmets in this shade range allow the welder to clearly see their work material, yet the lens is still dark enough to protect the welder’s eyes from an unexpected flash. Brighter lenses can also allow a welder to operate the welding stick, torch, or gun, all without having to remove the helmet.
The biggest draw for this style of helmet is the fact that it adds a ton of convenience to the welding process, allowing the user to weld faster, promoting a smoother workflow and an overall more productive process.
Because the ADF helmets are easier to use and safer, they have taken the place of the passive welding helmet, which was the go-to style of the past
One downside to this style of welding helmet is the fact that it requires a power source in order to operate. For some, this fact can be limiting. Because these helmets rely on a battery in order for the lens system and sensors to function, the welder must ensure that their helmet is fully charged before they begin to weld.
This type of welding helmet was the go-to style for many years. While they’re still commonly used in the workplace, many welders have replaced them with the more powerful ADF helmets.
However, the passive welding helmet features a more solid construction, allowing the welder to use the same helmet for several years. These helmets are also priced more affordable compared to ADF helmets.
Like the ADF helmets, passive helmets also meet OSHA safety standards.
The passive welding helmet is incredibly durable, which is why it’s able to withstand rough daily use and any type of welding process. They are made of solid materials and they are far more affordable than high quality auto darkening welding helmets. The standard shade level of a passive helmet is around ten to twelve, which is what makes them so effective. This shade is constant, whether an arc is active or not. They’re also incredibly easy to use and are often relied on by professional welders.
One disadvantage many welders struggle with is the fact that passive helmets can really slow down the welding process. You have to put the helmet on each time you start welding and remove it to inspect your work or check on the weld puddle. While it may not sound like it, this process can be very time-consuming and can negatively impact productivity.
Another issue involves the helmet’s design, which doesn’t surround both the neck and the head. This means the helmet is not able to provide total protection. Additionally, these heavier helmets often contribute to user fatigue.
Models that are equipped with fixed shade lenses can be used for a wide variety of projects. They’re also a great choice if you primarily weld a certain type of material. Unfortunately, this type of helmet doesn’t have auto darkening filters, so they’re not able to automatically adjust to different levels of arc brightness.
These helmets will typically have a shade ten lens, which is the most common type. That being said, there are some fixed shade helmets that have a twelve shade lens, however, they’re not as easy to find.
If you’re a professional welder and find yourself working with a wide variety of materials then this type of helmet probably isn’t the best choice considering it can be very limiting at times. These helmets are often a great option for users who use the single weld method.
Welding helmets that are equipped with variable shade lenses are more convenient to use when compared to fixed shade lenses. This is because the lens shade level can easily be adjusted, based on the type of material you’re working with or the type of welding method you use.
These lenses will automatically darken, based on arc and material type, instantly protecting the user’s vision. Their versatility makes them a popular option for all types of work environments. If you normally work with a variety of materials on the job, then the variable shade helmet is a great choice.
A solar-powered helmet uses the power of the sun’s rays to charge the battery. These helmets are a great choice for the welder who usually works outdoors. Easy to use and charge, when not in use, simply leave the helmet outside for a quick charge. Additionally, these helmets hold a charge well. A single charge can last for several hours.
Battery-Powered and Solar
This hybrid welding helmet uses both batteries and solar power, promoting longer use. These helmets come with the same advantages as the ADF and standard solar power helmets. Once the solar power runs low the battery will kick in, providing the energy you need to finish the job.
The following features may be specific to one type or style of welding helmet, or the features can apply to all styles of welding helmets. We’ll go over the importance of finding a helmet with the appropriate viewing size, adjustability, number of sensors, and more.
This is an important spec that you will want to pay close attention to before you buy. A helmet’s viewing size is usually a matter of personal preference. However, it can also be dependent on how much out of position welding you normally perform. Viewing size typically ranges from six inches up to nine inches.
The number of sensors in welding helmets will range from two for amateur use and up to five or six for pro use. The more sensors a welding helmet has, the more efficient the automatic filter system is. This can be especially important for out of position welding in which a sensor can easily become obstructed. When you have a clear line of sight to your workpiece or if you primarily deal in production work, then a helmet with three sensors should be sufficient.
Want to know how to weld brass? Check out our dedicated article on the topic.
Lens Sensitivity Control
Auto darkening helmets with adjustable sensitivity controls allow the user to quickly adjust the brightness of the lenses. This feature will come in handy when the user is TIG welding, in which case the arc will not be quite as bright compared to other types of welding processes.
This feature allows the welder to adjust how long the lens will remain dark after they’ve shut down the arc. When you’re working on a large project tack welding, when you reposition for the next weld, a shorter delay will be more convenient. Longer delays can come in handy when you’re welding at a higher amperage because metal can still emit harmful rays until it has had a chance to cool down.
ADF Switching Speed
If you decide to go with an ADF helmet, then you’ll need to check out the helmet’s switch speed capabilities. A helmet’s switching speed will indicate how fast the lens is able to change from a darker shade when you’re welding to its natural light state. Depending on the welding process you’re using, you may only need a helmet that has an entry-level switching speed. The faster the lens is able to switch the more comfortable you’ll be at work.
- ADF helmets designed for hobbyists usually have a switching of just 1/3,600 of a second.
- The models designed for the pro welder will have a more impressive switching speed of 1/25.000 of a second.
Helmets with a sensor bar will limit the field response. This means that the helmet cannot be accidentally triggered by the welder who is working close beside you.
Models that come equipped with a curved clear spatter shield located over the optics will provide the best clarity, allowing the user to see exactly what they’re welding.
A helmet that’s fully adjustable can be crucial in some work environments. The ability to adjust the tilt of the helmet can provide a more comfortable fit, and in turn, promotes longer use. This type of adjustability will allow the user to tweak how close the helmet is located from the face. This feature will be more important for welders who wear glasses.
A lightweight helmet will minimize the amount of strain that’s placed on your neck, thus promoting longer use. Really, a helmet that weighs just a pound can make a huge difference compared to a helmet that weighs twice the amount.
How Welding Helmets Can Keep You Safe
Welding helmets are such as important safety device for the welder because they’re often the first and last line of defense against potential eye damage. The biggest danger comes in the form of infrared radiation, which is the most common cause of cataracts and retinal burning. A welding arc can emit strong UV radiation which can result in welder’s flash or even permanent eye damage.
The best welding helmet will not only protect the eyes, but it will also protect the entire head. Things like flying particles, excess heat and sparks can all cause physical injury when you’re welding. However, with the right helmet, these safety issues will not be a concern.
As you can see, choosing the right helmet is crucial to your safety and job performance. Additionally, other possible issues you can run into if you choose the wrong helmet can include:
- A helmet that’s too heavy can cause chronic neck strain and increased fatigue.
- A helmet that lacks a variety of sensors or shade options may not be able to provide the type of protection against flashes that you need in certain environments, which can lead to vision problems.
- Models that aren’t able to automatically adjust to fluorescent lighting in the workplace can remain dim at all times, which will limit your visibility
We hope our buyer’s guide and our reviews of the best welding helmets on the market has helped you to narrow down your choices and find a style of helmet that will work the best for you, whether you’re a pro welder or hobbyist. Each of the helmets on our list have scored well in a variety of areas in terms of quality, build, features, versatility, and a lower than average weight. Ultimately, the best welding helmet for you should be based on your work environment, the welding processes you commonly use, and the type of materials you weld.