10 Best Auto Darkening Welding Helmet of 2022: Reviews & Buyer’s Guide

Welding metal is a dangerous task. An auto darkening welding helmet protects your eyes from sparks and UV radiation. An auto-darkening welding hood will significantly improve your welding experience.

If your eyes constantly get exposed to UV rays, it can lead to blindness. Safeguard your eyes and skin with a self darkening welding helmet.

With so many auto darkening welding helmets available on the market, you might get confused about making the right choice. Our buyer’s guide will help illustrate the features of an auto darkening welding shield so that you can make an informed choice.

Our Picks for the Best Auto Darkening Welding Helmet

Best Overall – Lincoln Electric Glossy VAR (7-13) W/Grind ADF Helmet K3419-1

Top Pick – ESAB Sentinel A50 Welding Helmet (0700000800), Black Low-Profile Design

The Best Value – Jackson Safety Welding Helmet (46129)

Premium – Lincoln Electric VIKING (3350) Auto Darkening Welding Helmet (K3034-4) 

Top Quality –  3M Speed Glas Welding Helmet (9100)

Best Technology ESAB Sentinel A50 Welding Helmet (0700000800)

Best Low Cost – Antra Wide Shade Range (4/5-9/9-13) Auto Darkening Welding Helmet

Most Popular – Miller Black Digital Infinity Series Welding Helmet with Clear (280045)

Best Features – Jackson Safety TRANSLIGHT (555) Premium Auto Darkening Helmet

Best View Area – Welding Helmet Black (3350) Series

Lincoln Electric Glossy VAR (7-13) W/Grind ADF Helmet K3419-1

Colour: Black

Size: Large and Extra Large

Material: Polycarbonate

Item Weight: 1.50 lbs.

Rating: 4.7

The Lincoln Electric Helmet (K3419-1) has all your desired features in an auto darkening welding helmet. If you are looking for a good brand of welding helmet that you can buy within a budget, then the Lincoln Helmet (K3419-1) is the ideal choice.

The lightweight welding helmet is sturdy and comfortable. You can start using it straight out of the box. The auto darkening welding hood has a grind mode. It is one of those budget helmets that use AAA batteries, which can be accessed and changed easily.

When you opt to buy the Lincoln helmet, you get additional batteries and two replacement helmet lenses along with the package. Apart from this, you also get a solar cell that increases the battery life.

The K3419-1 provides exceptional puddle control. This welding helmet is best for occasional welders who use it only a few times a week. The helmet will provide maximum protection from heat and sparks from welding metals.

The many welding needs you can use for this helmet include flux-cored, pulsed MIG, MIG, pulsed TIG, TIG, and stick processes. This makes the Lincoln (K3419-1) one of the most dependable auto darkening helmets in its category.

Pros

  • Lightweight helmet makes it comfortable to use.
  • The ratchet headband can get adjusted to custom fit your head.
  • The oversized sweatband improves comfort.
  • A large external shade selection button can be accessed even with your welding gloves on.

Cons

  • There are only two arc sensors available in this auto darkening helmet.
  • The viewing area is small.
  • The adjustable shade range is limited.

ESAB Sentinel A50 Welding Helmet (0700000800), Black Low-Profile Design

Colour: Black

Size: 3.93 x 2.36 in. (100 x 60 mm) viewing area.

Material: Nylon

Item Weight: 4.0 lbs.

Rating: 4.8

If you are a professional welder looking for a high-end auto darkening helmet, then the ESAB welding helmet is the right choice. The ergonomic helmet has five adjustable points that provide maximum comfort and balance.

The low-profile design of the welding helmet and the central pivot point ensures maximum head clearance when you have the helmet in the up position. The clarity is outstanding, which increases your productivity.

The helmet gets powered by replaceable batteries and solar-powered cells. When the battery power gets low, you have alert indicators that enable you to recharge the batteries.

Pros

  • The ESAB welding helmet has a revolutionary shell design.
  • The ergonomic headgear provides comfort and balance.
  • Colour touch screen control panel. The digital control has eight memory settings.
  • The auto dimming welding helmet is available with replaceable batteries.
  • The external grind button is available with a four-shade configuration.
  • The unique design of this auto darkening welding helmet enables spark and slag to slide off easily without getting stuck in the cervices.  

Cons

  • Smaller viewing area.
  • Expensive.
  • The replacement lens is costly.
  • The spherical viewing lens increase glare on the inside.

Jackson Safety Welding Helmet (46129)

Colour: Black

Size: Universal

Material: PC + ABS

Item Weight: 2.0 lbs.

Rating: 4.7

The Jackson safety welding helmet is ultra-lightweight and gets designed with four sensors. It helps reduce blockage. The optical clarity is 1/1/1/1, making the welder see everything they are working on.

The viewing area is 3.94″ x 2.36″, which enables the welder to get an optimal vision during different stages of the welding process. The welder gets the best view without having to lift the helmet’s hood.

The HSL 100 shell is slender, which makes it easy to work even in tight spots. The digital control has variable shades from 9 – 13, which makes the helmet user-friendly. You can use digital controls to make delay adjustments for different tasks and durations. It helps the welder have better colour recognition and visibility.

You can choose the weld and grind modes for different welding tasks, such as ARC, stick, TIG, and MIG. The welding helmet is CSA Z94.3 compliant and meets the high ANSI Z87.1 standards.

Pros

  • Ultra-lightweight welding helmet.
  • User-friendly digital controls.
  • It has different grind and weld modes.
  • The Jackson safety welding helmet is a certified product.
  • The universal size makes it comfortable to wear.

Cons

  • There is no external grind button.
  • The headgear isn’t comfortable.
  • The neck coverage is limited.

Lincoln Electric VIKING (3350) Auto Darkening Welding Helmet (K3034-4)

Colour: Black

Size: 12.6 x 10.6 x 10.4 inches

Material: Plastic

Item Weight: 3.0 lbs.

Rating: 4.8

If you want the best professional auto darkening welding helmet that money can buy, you can choose the Lincoln Electric VIKING (3350). The 3350 series has the exclusive 4C lens technology. The innovative technology gives you a crystal clear colour view of the arc and the puddle.

The 1/1/1/1 optical rating ensures consistent brightness at any angle. It helps improve the performance and productivity of the welder. You no longer have to suffer from lens imperfections such as distortion and blurriness.

The extra-large lens size of 12.5 square inches will enable you to view better. The enhanced view will increase productivity, strengthen application versatility, and improve safety.

The X6 headgear has a unique design that helps distribute weight evenly across the six key contact points. It will help provide a personalized fit to the welder. Apart from this, it eliminates pressure points and improves balance.

The external grind button helps you switch between the weld and grind modes without having to remove the gloves or the helmet.

Pros

  • External grind button.
  • Large viewing size.
  • Three-year warranty.
  • The lens has a 1/1/1/1 optical rating, which guarantees the best vision to the welder at all times.

Cons

  • Expensive.
  • The headgear isn’t comfortable.

3M Speed Glas Welding Helmet (9100)

Colour: Black

Size: Standard

Material: Speedglas

Item Weight:  1.0 lbs.

Rating: 4.6

The 3M Speed Glas Welding Helmet (9100) has a large view area of 12.11 square inches, greatly enhancing visibility. The auto darkening filter has better optics, ensuring realistic colours are visible to welders. The welders will be able to see their welding pool and welds with more contrast, precision, and natural-looking colours.

The external welding controls ensure easy and quick access to grinding processes. You can access the external controls without removing the gloves. Switch between grinding to welding within 2 – 3 seconds with your gloves on.

The 3M auto darkening welding helmet is ideal for heavy manufacturing, transport, marine, and mining applications. The helmet has been specifically designed to handle challenging welding work.

The headgear is ergonomically designed with padded headbands, which help distribute the weight evenly. The Speed Glas ensures maximum durability and can withstand harsh working conditions.

The selectable dark shades include a light shade of 3 and then the dark shades of 5,8,9 and 13. The adjustable shades enable you to weld in any light.

The memory modes will allow you to access two preset welding modes. The memory modes have individual settings for dark to light delay, light to dark switching sensitivity, and dark shade.

The grab-and-go feature automatically turns on the welding filter’s current setting whenever you start using the self darkening welding helmet. If there is a period of inactivity, the helmet automatically shuts down, which helps save power.

There are three arc detection sensors in the helmet lens. When an arc is struck, the auto darkening welding shield gets activated. The filter lens will immediately switch from light to dark in milliseconds, giving the welder instant protection.

After completing the welding process, the filter switches back to light shade three. The switch usually takes place within 45 – 250 milliseconds. It allows the welder to inspect the weld pool and move on to the following welding process.

The exhaust vents of the welding helmet help reduce fogging, humidity and heat. The auto darkening feature of this welding helmet saves you the need to flip the helmet during different processes.

Pros

  • Auto darkening filter.
  • Large view area.
  • External grind button.
  • The batteries are replaceable.
  • The ergonomic headgear can be adjusted.
  • The heavy-duty design makes it ideal for industrial applications.
  • Excellent colour and light transmission.

Cons

  • Expensive.
  • Too much effort and force required to press the grind button.
  • There is a slight green tint in the filter.

ESAB Sentinel A50 Welding Helmet (0700000800)

Colour: Black

Size: 3.93 x 2.36 in. (100 x 60 mm) viewing area.

Material: Nylon

Item Weight: 4.0 lbs.

Rating: 4.8

If you want a lightweight, durable and stylish welding helmet on your head, you can choose the ESAB Sentinel A50 Welding Helmet. Apart from providing the welder with a superior level of comfort, the helmet also has a colour touchscreen control panel. You can use the helmet for cutting or any other welding activity.

The clarity of this auto darkening welding helmet is outstanding. You can wear it day and night without worrying about eye strain. Two replaceable batteries and solar-powered cells help power the auto darkening helmet.

Pros

  • The halo headgear makes the helmet extremely comfortable.
  • Lightweight and durable.
  • The grind mode button is on the exterior side of the welding helmet.
  • The welding lens has eight memory settings.
  • The TIG amperage rating is less than two amps.

Cons

  • The auto darkening welding shield is expensive.
  • The curved lens might cause some glare.
  • The protective lens might wrap if there is too much heat. Replacing the lens is expensive.

Antra Wide Shade Range (4/5-9/9-13) Auto Darkening Welding Helmet

Colour: Black Matt

Size: 9 x 9 x 12 inches

Material: Plastic

Item Weight: 1.0 lbs.

Rating: 4.6

The Antra Wide Shade Range welding helmet is one of the most affordable auto dimming welding helmets with excellent features. It offers various shade selections from 4 – 13, which helps cover most welding processes. It has four arc sensors.

One of the fantastic features of this helmet is that it has a passive filter (#13), which helps protect the eyes from infrared and ultraviolet rays if the auto darkening mode is not switched on.

The helmet gets powered by solar cells and replaceable batteries. The Antra helmet is easy to use, and you can do so straight out of the box.

Pros

  • The lightweight helmet reduces neck and head stress.
  • Fully automatic auto darkening lens.
  • Four arc sensors.
  • The helmet can get used for a wide range of applications such as welding, cutting, and grinding.
  • Passive shade filters protect the eyes from infrared and ultraviolet rays.
  • External grind mode available.

Cons

  • The thin plastic material of the helmet isn’t durable.
  • The batteries need to get changed often.
  • The helmet is not suitable for daily use.
  • The viewing area is small.
  • Sunlight might cause auto darkness.

Miller Black Digital Infinity Series Welding Helmet with Clear (280045)

Colour: Black

Size: ‎12 x 12 x 10 inches

Material: Plastic

Item Weight: 2.99 lbs.

Rating: 4.7

The Miller Black Digital Infinity Series Welding Helmet has a large view screen, providing clarity and better colour accuracy. The X mode feature ensures that the welding arc is sensed electronically instead of only in brightness.

The LCD control panel makes the auto darkening welding helmet easier to use. The control panel also has sensitivity and delay settings, making the welder task easy through the many welding processes.

Pros

  • Clear light lens technology.
  • Four independent arc sensors.
  • Four operating modes increase versatility.
  • The redesigned headgear with cushions provides comfort.
  • Automatic on and off features.

Cons

  • Expensive.
  • The helmet tends to slip forward.

Jackson Safety TRANSLIGHT (555) Premium Auto Darkening Helmet

Colour: Black

Size: 12.25 x 10 x 9.25 inches

Material: Nylon.

Item Weight: 1.35 lbs.

Rating: 4.1

The Jackson Safety TRANSLIGHT auto darkening helmet has a lightweight design that reduces fatigue and increases comfort. The large viewing area enhances clarity and enables the welder to see all welding processes as they get performed.

The narrow design of this welding helmet enables you to work efficiently, even in tight spots. It meets the high certifying standards and enhances the productivity of the welder.

Pros

  • High optical clarity of 1/1/1/1.
  • The switching speed is fast, and this helps keep the eyes comfortable.
  • The welding helmet is certified.
  • Large viewing area.

Cons

  • The welding helmet is heavy in its category.
  • The external grind button is tiny.
  • There is no internal LED that signals the grind mode is on.
  • The neck coverage is limited.

Welding Helmet Black (3350) Series

Colour: Black

Size: Universal

Material: Plastic

Item Weight: 3.20 lbs.

Rating: 4.8

The Welding Helmet Black Series (3350) is a popular auto darkening helmet among welders. If you are looking for a helmet with a wide range of features, you can choose the 3350 series.

The auto darkening pipeliner hood gets used in many industries, which include pipeline, offshore, structural, shipbuilding, power generation, and general fabrication. The sturdy-built helmet has the best optical rating and has one of the most oversized lenses on the market, which helps offer an expansive view.

The 4C lens technology is exclusive to the 3350 series. It helps provide a clear colour view of the arc and the puddle. The Welding Helmet Black Series (3350) applications include plasma cutting, grinding, gouging, flux-cored, pulsed MIG, MIG, pulsed TIG, TIG, and stick.

Pros

  • The auto darkening welding helmet features the latest 4C lens technology, which helps get you a clear colour view of the arc and the puddle.
  • The extra-large lens enhances your view and safety.
  • Superior comfort.
  • Delivers high optical rating.
  • Three years warranty.

Cons

  • The headgear might get loose and doesn’t stay tight on the head.
  • Expensive in its class.
  • In some instances, there have been claims that the light has managed to get inside the auto darkening welding hood.

How to Choose an Auto Darkening Welding Helmet?

When choosing an auto-darkening welding helmet, you must look for many features. These include:

  • Quality of Auto Darkening Feature

The auto darkening feature is one of the essential factors to pay attention to when choosing an auto tint welding helmet. The best auto darkening welding helmets will help protect your eyes by automatically detecting the light when you weld the metal, adjusting the lens to dark mode, and blocking it.

When you finish welding, the lens automatically returns to the light setting. When the helmet automatically adjusts from natural light to infrared or ultraviolet light, you are saved the trouble of adjusting the helmet up and down each time you want to work.

  • Size of Viewing Area

The size of the viewing area of the auto darkening welding hood will determine how much light will enter the viewing lens. When you enlarge the viewing area, you can see your work correctly.

The welding quality improves, as you can see in more detail. It will also improve your productivity and efficiency. The best auto darkening welding shield has at least three sensors, which provide the best protection to your eyes.  

  • Lens Quality

After the size of the viewing area, the lens quality is the other feature you need to pay attention to. When you are working, you should be able to see your work with clarity.

Most often, lenses get tested in four specific areas and then rated 1 – 3. A perfect score will be 1/1/1/1. Only premium helmets can achieve this rating and clarity.

Avoid an auto darkening welding shield where the lens rating is less than two, as it can affect the level of protection your eyes and skin get.

  • Quality and Switching Speed of Auto Darkening Filter

The switching speed of a lens indicates how fast it can switch from natural light to dark mode when the welding starts. If the switching rate is not fast, it can affect your eye and cause permanent damage.

The other aspect you need to pay attention to is the quality of the auto darkening filter. The lens has to switch from light to dark and then again from darkness to light within seconds; otherwise, the eyes will get strained.

  • Helmet Weight

The helmet’s weight will determine your comfort and the pressure you feel on the neck and shoulders. If you have a welding job, you might have to wear the helmet for a long time, and if it is heavy, it can strain your head and neck.

A lightweight self darkening welding helmet is best as it enables you to do the task without causing any discomfort. The headgear inside the helmet is another factor you should consider.

Look at the number of contact points the helmet has with your head. The load gets evenly spread when there are more contact points. Welding can get extremely hot, and ventilation is another aspect you should consider.

  • Materials Used for Manufacture

The materials used to make auto darkening helmet range from polycarbonates, plastic alloys, nylon, and leather. Avoid welding helmets made from cheap materials, as they will not offer adequate protection to your eyes.

High-quality materials such as polycarbonates, plastic alloys, and nylon offer the best protection to welders. These materials also get recommended as they are lightweight, heat resistant and absorb shock.

  • Shade Range

The shade range is usually the number of darkening steps provided and often specified as a symbol and a number.  If the numbers are lower, it means it is closer to clear, and if the numbers are higher, it is darker.

A shade range of three is used for brazing or grinding, welding processes producing the least harmful light. The highest shade range number is fourteen, which gets used for carbon arc welding.

An auto darkening welding helmet has sensors that select the shade range and adjust the brightness. It helps the welding hood go from light to dark and darkness to light.

  • Power Source

All auto dimming welding helmets need a couple of batteries to operate. The batteries used can be rechargeable or standard. Solar power-charged helmets are also common nowadays.

Solar power-charged helmets have solar panels below or above the view screen. These solar panels don’t need sunlight as they can get their light source from the welding arc.

Internal batteries charge the solar panels efficiently. These batteries usually last seven years. You will have to replace the helmet when the batteries die.

  • High Safety Standards

As welders work with molten metal, which can get several thousand degrees hot, the auto darkening welding hood they wear must adhere to the highest safety standards. 

All welding helmets need to offer protection from infrared and ultraviolet light. Apart from protecting the eyes, the auto darkening helmet should also protect your skin from sparks and heat.

  • Controls and Grind Mode

All modern auto darkening welding helmets have delay settings, shade selection, and sensitivity. The controls can be internal or external.

The internal controls are set inside the welding helmet, meaning you must take the helmet off each time you want to change the controls. The external controls get placed on the helmet’s outer shell, making them easy to access and change.

Grind mode is an essential feature in all auto darkening welding hoods. It ensures the welding helmet doesn’t detect light in this mode, preventing it from going dark.

How Long Do Welding Helmets Last?

Most often, the batteries on welding helmets last for seven years. The rechargeable batteries last for three years. If you had bought a cheap auto dimming welding helmet, it would start malfunctioning and blinking within a month.

The best option is to buy an auto darkening helmet with a solar and rechargeable battery. When you are not welding, it is best to avoid putting on a solar helmet that gets exposed to light. It will help shorten the lifespan of the helmet.

How Bad Is Welding for Your Eyes?

If you are welding metal unprotected or insufficiently protected, then it is terrible for your eyes. Extreme heat and UV radiation can cause permanent damage to the eyes and the skin.

Conclusion

If you are a professional welder who works with metal full time, we recommend an auto darkening welding helmet. Getting an auto darkening helmet should be based on your specific needs, as it will help improve your productivity. Our buyer’s guide will enable you to make an informed choice.

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