The 4C™ technology eliminates a green shade effect from the lens and ensures clear visibility.
The helmet is prone to scuffing.
This all-round Lincoln Electric helmet will let you weld with any amperage safely, delivering an extensive field of view and comfort thanks to the large viewing screen.
Solar Cell + CR2450 battery
4C™ Lens Technology, Fastest Switching Speed, Increased battery life, Largest viewing area, View low AMP TIG without flickering, Balanced for all-day use
The ratcheting headgear securely keeps the helmet in the position you set it to.
Some users may find the controls too sensitive.
The model can be recommended to skillful welders, although beginners will also find it useful. Suitable for MIG, TIG, and stick welding, as well as angle grinder jobs.
Grind mode, Sensitivity control, Auto on/auto off, 3 independent arc sensors, Ultra-comfortable headgear, Wide range of graphics
The unit is pretty lightweight, so it can be used for hours. Also, the AAA batteries are easy to replace when required.
No smooth delay control.
If you need a welding mask for recurring use at home, the Miller Electric can be a nice pick. Its performance allows working with powerful welders, so buying this model is a prospective decision.
2 x AAA batteries
Independent arc sensors, Auto-on/off, Variable Shade, Adjustable Sensitivity
Compatibility with auto-darkening lenses makes the helmet versatile.
Is comparatively weighty.
As this model features a fixed-shade lens, it's designed for welding at constant brightness. Thanks to a static lens tint, the chance of an accidental arc flashing is excluded.
SuperGlas Plus material, Rugged construction, Impact resistant, Compact design
The convenient knob allows adjusting the lens darkening on the go.
The sensitivity adjustment sometimes fails.
This is a fine choice for welders in need of an efficient and budget welding mask. The nice protection ability and light weight make the helmet comfortable to use for the entire day.
Solar Cell + 2 x CR2032 batteries
Automatic power ON/OFF, Adjust sensitivity and delay, UV/IR Protection, Battery indicator and testing
What is a Welding Helmet?
Any welder knows for sure that a welding helmet, or welding mask, is a principal protection for performing any welding job. Firstly, the helmet can guard your sight against the bright light of the welding arc. Secondly, it protects your hair and skin on the head from sparks and splashes of hot metal. Currently, helmets are available in two types: passive and auto-darkening models. No matter which one you choose, you'll be protected from dazzling light and harmful UV and IR radiation, the difference is in the field of application and comfort of use. In this review, we will cover 5 best welding helmets for you to find the suitable one.
If you are just getting started in welding, we recommend choosing one of easy-to-use MIG welders for your household projects. To make your welds neater and tighter, pick an angle grinder which will help you deburr and cut structural elements and materials. Lastly, you can skim through our review of plasma cutters for quick and precision cutting through all types of metal.
What Features to Compare
Let's start with passive helmets, the tools which have been used in the welding industry for decades.
A passive helmet features a tinted viewing lens with a fixed shade, providing the constant level of protection to the wearer. Using a passive helmet, the welder has to flip the visor up to insert an electrode or torch, then nod flip it down before striking the arc. To check the weld, the welding operator needs to raise the helmet visor and lower it to continue welding.
This distracting procedure was an inalienable part of every welding job until 1981 when Speedglass launched the production of the helmets equipped with light sensors and variable shade lenses, known as auto-darkening, or variable-shade helmets. An auto-darkening helmet keeps the lens fully transparent when the welding is not in progress and automatically applies a dark filter to the lens using built-in sensors once the arc is stricken. Thus, the welding operator does not have to open the helmet visor and can focus on the job, hence doing it faster and better. As a power supply for their operation, auto-darkening helmets use solar cells or replaceable batteries.
In case you are thinking of choosing one of the passive helmets, mind that they are equipped with fixed shade lens, therefore you'll need to pick one in accordance with the type of welding jobs you're going to perform. Also, keep in mind the specific lens shade level for the helmet lens, which is measured according to DIN specification. Thus, the helmet with the lens shade of up to DIN 8 is fit for low-amperage welding, for instance, TIG welding, while helmets with lens shade ranging from DIN 9 to 13 are preferable for projects with higher power input.
When it comes to auto-darkening models, they are a bit more tricky. You have to consider the lens filter activation speed, or reaction time, which means how long it takes for the system to darken the lens once it detects the arc striking. The entry-level helmets switch lens at 1/10,000 second, while professional grade models are rated at 1/25,000 second and quicker. Some of the variable-shade helmets also offer a delay parameter, which stands for the time between the moment the system detects an arc absence and the moment it starts to switch the lens from darkened to transparent. The delay is usually adjustable and is set in milliseconds to shield the welder's eyes in case a fresh weld bead continues to emit bright light after the arc is gone. Still, the coolest thing most auto-darkening helmets deliver is the variable shade that enables a user to choose a suitable tint without swapping the lens.
Some auto-darkening helmets feature the sensors with sensitivity control for a better response to the arc. The sensitivity refers to the amount of light needed to trigger the lens, with that a high sensitivity is appropriate for sunlit or brightly illuminated workplaces, while lower settings are better for dim and dark surroundings.
An advantage of passive helmets is that they don't need a power source, which makes them handy. Working with passive helmet, you don't think about battery discharging and interruptions in welding. Although, most variable-shade helmets are fitted with solar cells with battery backup that ensure a long runtime.
The helmet weight and size are important for its comfortable use, whatever helmet you choose. Heavy and/or oversized helmet will hardly make it easier to do the welding for hours, so give attention to size and weight of the model you're going to buy.
Also, it's reasonable to consider the helmet supply package. Variable-shade helmets might come with batteries for instant operation and some models can be supplied with bandana, gloves, or bag for comfortable use.
Lincoln Electric VIKING 3350
We start our review with the helmet by Lincoln Electric, the company founded by John C. Lincoln back in 1895, the big name in the welding industry. The VIKING 3350 is an auto-darkening helmet made of a strong high-gloss plastic, painted black. As we believe, this solution isn't very smart and it's more than likely that the helmet's finish will be scratched and marred over time. Similar to most welding masks, this one employs adjustable pivot style headgear, so you can easily set it to fit your head.
As for the controls, they are all inside the helmet. You'll find the variable shade control above the lens, with delay, sensitivity, and grind mode shade controls below it. To the right, there's the “Test” button that will allow you to check the shade selection and pre-test the helmet before welding. Looking a bit more to the right, you'll see the battery compartment.
The Mask for Professional Welding
Now, let's see what this helmet is capable of. The lens shade can be adjusted from DIN 5 to 13, which is sufficient for common domestic jobs. For a more comfortable welding, you can set either DIN 5-8 or DIN 9-13 shade range and then set the shade level that suits best for your welding task. As for the switching speed, it is 1/25,000 second and this makes the helmet usable even for professional welders. Moreover, you can set the delay for the lens transition from dark to transparent in the range from 0.1 sec. to 1 sec.
Separately, we'd like to praise the excellent optical clarity of the helmet lens which has 1/1/1/1 rating. This is the best quality you can get from a welding mask, so the VIKING 3350 guarantees you a crystal clear vision in every welding application.
Extra Wide View
The VIKING 3350 not just performs well but also brings ultimate comfort to its user. To find a grounding for this statement, just look at 4.5" х 5.25" lens used that offers a fairly large field of view, but that's not all. On the top of the helmet, you can find the solar cell that allows the lens to operate for a really long time, and if it's not enough, the CR2450 battery is used as a reserve power supply. Even when the battery runs low, you'll never miss it, the red light on the control panel will let you know.
Checking the helmet supply package, we can see that it includes two lenses, sturdy bag for carrying, and bandana for a better helmet fit.
No doubts, this welding helmet with ventilation can be recommended to both novice and skilled welders thanks to its awesome protection capability fully meeting the needs of welding with low and medium-amperage equipment.
Crystal View Whatever You Do
This welding mask, just like all models of the VIKING series, features the lens with 4C™ lens technology. It minimizes the lime green tint of the screen, delivering a vivid view and reducing the eye fatigue for best quality welding.
Crafted for DIYers and Qualified Welders
Hobart is one of the oldest manufacturers of welding machines, plasma cutters, and welding gear. We picked for the review a piece of such equipment, the auto-darkening welding helmet. The helmets of Hobart Impact series have been designed mainly for experienced welders but if you have just taken up welding, this model may fit you too. So, let's take a closer look at it.
The mask is cast in polyamide and has a matte finish with the viewing lens and three light sensors at the front. Looking inside the mask, we noticed sensitivity and delay controls, shade switch, reset button, and low battery indicator. By the way, the helmet is powered by a CR2450 battery only.
This Helmet Will Make Hard Jobs Easy
After examining the helmet exterior, we move on to its specifications. The lens switches its shade from DIN 8 to 13 and protects the sight against arc flashes, as well as IR and UV rays it emits. Switching from light to dark at 1/25,000 second, the lens excellently suits for household and industrial jobs, and the delay adjustable in the range from 0.1 to 1 second allows keeping your eyes safe when you finish welding. As we already mentioned, the helmet features the sensitivity control to provide efficient response to arc in any lighting conditions.
Taking the into account the mentioned parameters, this welding mask can be reliably used for MIG, TIG, and stick welding.
Choose What You Like
What we like about the Hobart helmets is that they don't have an all black finish, some models are multicolored, which gives them a greater look. If you wear a motley helmet on site, you will stand out among your fellows, and such helmet is much easier to find on a storage rack.
The Hobart 770756 has some advantageous features that are worth mentioning. The indicator light starts to flash 2-3 days before the batteries deplete, so you'll be well up on the helmet condition. The reset button allows checking the helmet functionality prior to the welding: on pushing the button the lens darkens twice if its operation is normal. This way, the manufacturer has taken care to ensure that your eyes are protected whenever you weld. The other benefit of this helmet is the auto shutdown feature, which if you leave the helmet turned on, will turn off in 15-20 minutes, saving the battery charge.
Well, this Hobart welding helmet is a decent pick for beginners, as well as masterful welders. The model is available in different colors, so anyone can buy the color option to their preference.
Grind Mode For Buffing and Cutting
Worth mentioning is the 770756's grind mode which allows getting the helmet ready for grinding, buffing, or cutting jobs. To activate the mode, just switch the sensitivity control to the appropriate position.
Miller Electric Shade 3 and 8-12
A Great Pick for Your Household
Here is the welding mask by Miller Electric, the model of the Classic series. The product name implies that the helmet is designed for domestic use, but let's check if it's true by doing a step-by-step examination.
Good Enough To Protect Your Sight
The level of lens shade for this helmet varies from DIN 8 to DIN 12, which in fact is suitable for the use with equipment that operates at welding currents of up to 300 A common for TIG welding. However, this shade range is not that great for MIG welders, which use 300 A and higher currents. All in all, welders hardly use high amperages to tack-weld a piece, so the helmet can really serve passably well for common welding tasks. Its lens system reacts to arc striking at 1/10,000 second and it's enough for a majority of home welding jobs. Despite the entry-level design, the helmet features adjustable delay, yet it only offers two modes, "Slow" and "Fast". Also, the model features the sensitivity control, so you can adapt the helmet to the welding arc brightness and the environment you work in.
No Batteries Replacement Problems
Working with this welding mask, you'll enjoy its practicality and comfort. Like most helmets, it features the indicating light that starts to flash 2-3 days before the batteries die. If the batteries died and you have not managed to change them timely, you can benefit from batteries of your TV remote or table clock to energize the helmet. What is not so handy about this helmet is that its controls are located on the inside, hence you need to take it off when you want to change the lens settings. Though this is not professional grade product and we don't treat it as a major inconvenience.
Concluding the helmet review, we advise buying this Miller welding helmet to everyone looking for an inexpensive variable-shade model for occasional use at home.
It's Lightweight Indeed
This welding mask is not just easy to set up but comfortable to wear. Weighing only 16 oz, the helmet won't fatigue your neck and head, so you can weld long feeling comfortable.
Fibre-Metal by Honeywell Pipeliner
A Godsend For Old School Welding Operators
Fibre Metal Products is the company which manufactured the world's first welding mask in 1905 and has been making protective equipment and accessories for welding equipment since then. For our review, we selected the Piperliner passive mask with an oval shape and rectangular viewing screen.
On the outside you can see two screws for the headgear adjustment on both sides. Giving a closer look at the headgear we see that similar to most models, it features a foam padded headband for a comfortable fit and an adjustable rubber strip on the back to keep the helmet in place. According to some users, this strip tends to slacken and might crack and tear in the cold, but luckily, it is replaceable. After all, you can just buy the headgear with plastic ratcheting band and put it on the mask instead.
It's Easy, Just Change the Lens
Now, let's examine the protecting capability of the Honeywell Pipeliner in details. The product features the lens with DIN 10 shade level which is not variable. Taking this into account, we can suggest using the helmet for a narrow range of jobs that imply a narrow amperage range. Though you can get another shade for different tasks by simply changing the lens, just remove the plastic holder and extract the lens from the helmet. Doing that, you'll see the transparent glass that shields the lens from sparks and molten metal splashes, extending its life and making the viewing area clear. This way, the helmet can last long and makes welding safe even when it takes hours.
Summing up, we recommend using this Honeywell welding mask with low amperage welding machines, as well as more advanced welders for different projects.
The Mask for All Types of Welding
Despite the lack of an auto-darkening feature in this helmet, this Honeywell model is quite comfortable to use. Firstly, you don't need to bother with changing the batteries; secondly, no meticulous setting is required, you only need to choose the lens which suits your job best. Changing the lens takes a couple of minutes, as it follows from the Fibre-Metal design.
Overall, this mask has a simple but practical design and suits for its intended purpose well, protecting the user's face from IR and UV radiation. Still, some components are the product downsides, such as quite small 2" х 4-1/4" viewing screen. The weight is another drawback, as the helmet weighs 25.6 oz being even heavier than pro models with batteries and wiring.
With all the disadvantages, this welding mask is still a sound choice for welders of all proficiency levels. Being easy to use, the model is a reliable guard when implementing any welding project.
Simple Yet Sturdy
The body of this welding mask deserves a separate mentioning. The helmet is made of fiberglass, the material that is characterized by a low heat conductivity and excellent durability. Owing to that, you can be sure the helmet will serve you a lifetime, even in harsh working conditions. In case you accidentally drop or hit it, the Pipeliner will remain intact.
The product that we would like to finish our review with is actually one the most affordable helmets, the Antra AH6-260-0000. This product has a plastic body which is covered with a black matte coating and features the window that delivers 3.86" x 1.73" viewing area. Over the lens, there are four sensors and the solar panel that is a pleasant yet unexpected addition found in the product of this price range. Regarding the controls, they are arranged on the helmet inside and offer sensitivity and delay adjustment. Also, you can find the shade switch and the "Batt." button between the controls. It's worth mentioning here that the helmet has a backup power provided by two CR203 batteries along with the power supply from the built-in solar cell.
...But Does Much for the Price
In spite of having a low selling price, this Antra helmet is equipped with the lens delivering a DIN 5 to DIN 13 shade. It also offers two shade ranges, DIN 5-9 and DIN 9-13, the first for plasma cutters and low-power welders and the second for high amperage welding. The lens can change the shade level at 1/25,000 second rate, which is typical for many industrial grade helmets. What is more, the lens sensitivity can be adjusted to an optimal value for preventing an arc flashing. Remember, the brighter the environment you work in, the higher sensitivity you need to set. Also, you're able to adjust the lens delay from 0.2 to 1 second and this time is generally enough for a weld to cool down and dim, thus this range brings no discomfort to your eyes.
Let Your Neck Be Free From Strain
Although this Antra helmet is not a top-tier product, some of its features can be easily regarded as those found mostly in top models. Thus, you can test the helmet operability by pressing the "Batt." button, the lens will switch from transparent to darkened and back. Moreover, the battery indicator will flash, indicating that the battery charge is ok. The helmet shuts off automatically when it's not in use for 10 minutes, so the battery power is better conserved allowing its operation for a longer time. Also, it's worth to note the grinding mode of the lens that enables you to use the helmet for cutting and buffing jobs. Lastly, the 16.9-oz weight definitely leaves nice impressions about this product.
Well, those looking for a good welding mask for the price can choose this Antra model. Lightweight and affordable, this model is suitable for working with a plethora of welders and plasma cutters.
Easy Shade Change
Looking at the left side of the helmet, it's easy to notice the control which allows changing the lens shade level right on the fly, without taking the helmet off.
Q: How can I check auto-darkening helmet to make sure it works?
A: Your helmet should have the test button that allows checking whether it is in working condition. Push this button and if your helmet is OK, its lens will darken even when it detects no arc. Should the lens fail to dim, make sure that the batteries are installed properly and are not depleted. If they are not, put the batteries in and test the helmet again. If helmet still doesn't work, it may be inoperable and require professional maintenance.
Q: How to set the helmet right?
A: First, adjust the lens shade with the corresponding control and set the darkest shade recommended for the type of a welding operation you're going to perform. Set the lens delay time you feel comfortable with so as to avoid eye flashing. Once you ensured that the lens is tailored to your needs, put the helmet on and adjust the headgear for a comfortable fit. Position the helmet so that you could see through the viewing screen clearly without any obstacles. There you go!
Q: Which lens shade should I choose for welding?
A: Set the shade according to the type of welding you perform. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulation 1910.133 comprises a guide for choosing the proper lens shades based on various applications. OSHA recommends starting with a shade that is too dim to see the weld area, then switch to a lighter shade that provides a sufficient view of the weld. Don't set the shade level below a minimum recommended value.
Q: Should I maintain my helmet in any way?
A: Yes, you should do it on a regular basis.
Q: How can I take care of my helmet?
A: The helmet lens is prone to clogging with dust, so clean it thoroughly so that you can see clearly while using it. Remove dust from the lens with a soft brush and rinse it with water or lens solution, then wipe it down with a soft tissue and let it dry. Please note that the protective layers of the lens are pretty delicate, hence clean them gently. It is advisable to wipe the lens out right after each use. Also, it's nice to have a few replacement lenses as the viewing screen might get scraped or broken, especially in harsh working conditions. Lenses are sold in packs of 5 or more, so get one for yourself. Finally, keep replacement batteries at hand as you hardly want to end up with interrupting the job because of rendering your helmet inactive.
Q: How to store a welding helmet?
A: Keep the helmet away from areas that involve movement to prevent it from bumping. Store it in a dark room with low humidity, preferably in the original packaging.
Q: Should I protect my helmet when carrying or transporting?
A: Yes. If your helmet comes with a bag or case, put it in there to keep the lens from getting scratched.
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3. Selecting the Right Welding Helmet For You, Miller Electric.
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5. Welding Helmets and Eye Protection, Lincoln Electric.
6. Welding helmet, Wikipedia. April 10, 2017.
7. What are Welding Helmets? wiseGEEK.