Best Auto Darkening Welding Helmet – Buying Guide
Welding releases very dangerous rays that can cause serious damage to sensitive body parts, the eyes and face especially. The best welding helmets should be able to protect your eyes and face from all hazards associated with welding as: infrared light, heat, flash burn, ultraviolet light and all kinds of burn.
This article will give a review of some of the best welding helmet available in the market.
Join me as I proceed to the review of the best welding helmets available in the market:
Review of the 20 Best Welding Helmets For the Money
There are many categories of welding helmets available in the market. I am going to base this classification on price.
Welding Helmet Under $100
1. Antra AH6-260-0000 Solar Power Auto Darkening Welding Helmet
If you desire a light helmet, I will recommend the Antra Ah6. It is made of very thin plastic hence the lightweight. It is a very versatile helmet that can be used all sort of welding operations – cutting, grinding and welding process. It can be seen as an upgrade to goggles and comes with a fixed shade glass welding helmet.
It comes with a knob with which users can adjust sensitivity. It comes with a pretty large viewing area with four sensors. It has a magnifying lens hence, viewing your work has never been better. You can also adjust the sensitivity while working.
2. Solar Powered Welding Helmet Auto Darkening Professional Hood with Wide Lens Adjustable
This is one of the best welding helmets with auto – darkening feature. It has the capacity to shield you from UV and IR variation should there be electricity failure. The helmet can be referred to as a smart helmet. This is because it has the capacity to adapt to different conditions.
It is equipped with standard viewing sensors. Thus, the welder can view his work clearly from different angles. Powered by battery and solar, it can last up to 5000 hours. It has a smoothly rounded perimeter hence, users can wear it without any form of discomfort.
There are multiple adjustments and combinations to customize the helmet to fit your personal preference.
3. DEKOPRO Welding Helmet Solar Powered Auto Darkening Hood with Adjustable
This is one of the exceptional helmets on the market at a very reasonable price. It is easy to work with as it does not sacrifice comfort while offering protection. It comes with three pin holes with which user can adjust the helmet’s angle when raised.
Safety was built into this helmet as it meets the ANSIZ87.1-2010 and EN3794/9-13 safety standard. It has the auto-darkening filter with which the user can adjust it to the various working condition.
Powered by battery, it also solar for extremely long hours of operation. Overall, it is applicable for working condition of all sort.
4. Pro Welding Helmet with Highest Optical Class (1/1/1/1)
This is one of the cheapest automatic helmet available in the market. Mind you, it doesn’t sacrifice the necessary protection because of its cheap price. It has amazing features that allow it compete effectively with top helmet brands.
It has a very large viewing area with 4 premium sensors. It is suitable for various welding and cutting process like MMA, MIG and TIG process. It also comes with a grinding feature.
It features an adjustable headband hence, gives a perfect fit for your head. It has a very quick response time, so fast that your eyes will not notice the difference.
It was made with high impact material hence, resistant to corrosion.
5. Instapark ADF Series GX990T Solar Powered Auto Darkening Welding Helmet with 4 Optical Sensors
Next on our series of an affordable automatic helmet is the Instapark ADF Series GX990T. It stands out with its extra large viewing area. It is powered by a rechargeable battery and solar energy. Thus, while welding in the sun, it keeps charging.
Equipped with four powerful arc sensors, it has very strong auto darkening feature which switches to a dark state on detecting an arc.
Instapark ADF Series GX990T made this design revolutionary with outstanding features at a very cheap price. Hence, the control and adjustment knobs are external.
It Instapark ADF Series GX990T is a custom auto darkening helmet with a headband to give a perfect fit, irrespective of the shape of your head.
6. Tanox Auto Darkening Welding Helmet ADF-206S
Without a doubt, this is one of the cheapest auto-darkening welding helmet available in the market. Even with its cheap price, it is applicable for all types of welding – plasma project, MMA, MIG, TIG etc. It is applicable for grinding operation as well.
Weighing just 1 pound, it is very light and doesn’t cause any form of fatigue. It complies with the EN379 and ANSIZ87.1 safety standard. The response time is extremely swift offering optimum protection to the eye.
With a large viewing area, the welder can weld from various awkward angles. Weighing just 2 pounds, it comes with Lithium Manganese Dioxide battery with an average life of 2 years.
Welding Helmet Under $150
7. Hobart 770754 Impact Agent Orange Variable Auto-Dark Helmet
Are you after a welding helmet with a large viewing area? The Hobart Impact series offers just what you need. It provides users with a professional feature that makes welding easy.
Whether you are a frequent welder of a light fabricator, you will find the Hobart 770754 Impact extremely useful. It was built with comfort in mind hence very light and comfortable.
Designed with the latest LCD lens technology, hence, your eyes enjoy the best protection. It comes with extra protective lenses thus, you have all you need to weld safely.
It weighs just 2 pounds and comes with one Lithium-ion replaceable battery
8. Jackson Safety Insight Variable Auto Darkening Welding Helmet
This welding helmet was manufactured from the brand of welding accessory company that prioritizes safety. The Jackson Safety Auto Darkening Welding Helmet allows you to weld efficiently without sacrificing comfort and safety.
For more than 75 years, Jackson has been in the business of providing welding helmets that have been the top choice among welders.
It comes with an auto-darkening lens that allows you to meet various workplace requirements. You can adjust the shade, sensitivity and delay with three knobs inside. You can also adjust the helmet for a better fit on your head.
It is made from light plastic thus, not heavy (weights only 2 Pounds). It protects all essential part of your face, neck and upper body part from the welding arc.
9. Antra AH7-X90-6403 TOP Optical Class 1/1/1/1 Digital Controlled Solar Powered Auto Darkening Welding Helmet
This is one of the best welding helmets in the markets LCD shade displays that lets you work accurately. It is a versatile welding helmet that is compatible with cutting, grinding and other welding activities.
While you have to manually power it on, it switches off automatically. It protects from IR and UV rays. It uses a solar cell with two replaceable batteries.
Weighing just 525g, it is light and comfortable. It is pretty cheap with a large display area.
Best Welding Helmet Under $200
10. Jackson Safety 46131 Insight Variable Auto Darkening Welding Helmet
The Jackson Safety 46131 auto-darkening welding helmet gives every welder the ability to perform their job safely and efficiently. With the smart filters, welders can adjust the shade of the lens hence provide the needed protection to suit the job at hand
It features a wide viewing area giving you the ability to work effectively and accurately. Jackson, one of the household names in safety offers the entire feature of a standard automatic helmet at an affordable price.
11. 3M Speedglas Black Welding Helmet 100 with Auto-Darkening Filter 100V
For centuries, 3M has been known for producing innovative safety accessories for workers of all levels. The Speedglas is a fully assembled ADF.
It is applicable for various forms of welding. It is very sensitive, 3 sensitivity levels, hence strong enough to detect arc. It is applicable to indoor and outdoor welding, low current or stable arc welding and all forms of welding.
It features a very sensitive 100V lens with five selectable dark shades. The smart auto darkening feature allows it darken immediately after it detects an arc.
It is ideal for all forms of welding process – assembly, metal fabrication, metal repair etc.
12. Antra AH7-X90-7333 TOP Optical Class 1/1/1/1 Digital Controlled Solar Powered Auto Darkening Welding Helmet
Produced by Antra, the AH7-X90-7333 TOP Optical Class offers the perfect upgrade for the traditional helmet.
It comes with a first-class optical class 1/1/1/1 with a swift response to arc detention. It is applicable to different forms of welding – MMA, MIG or plasma.
It is a very versatile automatic helmet that can be used for welding, cutting and grinding processes. It is equipped with 2 replaceable solar cells that can be charged with solar power
Welding Helmet Above $200
13. Welding Helmet, Black, 3350 Series by Lincoln Electric
One of the top-rated welding helmet on the market. Made of plastic, it weighs about 3 pounds. It has the auto darkening feature, with a large viewing area.
It is powered by battery as well a solar cells. The auto – darkening feature stands out clearly among many other welding headgears. The color variation and clarity I experience while using this welding helmet is second to none.
It is lightweight and makes wielding as easy as it could ever get. The huge glass pane lens gives an enlarged image of the work area. There are four sensors, making it able to cover more areas
14. Esab SENTINEL A50 Auto Darkening Welding Helmet
This brand of helmet is the product of one of the top manufacturer of welding accessories. With the Esab SENTINEL, you will enjoy optimum balance and comfort during your welding operation.
It is made of a high impact resistant nylon giving it a revolutionary design. You can adjust this helmet to any desired setting with the 5 points adjustable headband. The external grind button also allows the user to switch from weld to grind mode.
You can replace the front cover lens in 10 seconds without removing the headgear. It has a slim external profile which many people have found adorable.
15. 3M Speedglas Welding Helmet 9100 with Standard Size Auto-Darkening Filter 9100V
Quite a lot of my friends have attested to the fact that the 3M speedglas are one of the most unique headgears in the market. Whether on or off, the user enjoys protection from all types of rays and arc rays.
It has superficial crystal panels which allow it to dissolve the arc rays by the glass covering. This welding helmet protects the head, eyes, neck and all upper body part/skin. It can be adjusted to fit the very type of work you set out to do. Asides, you can adjust the sensitivity and darkness to suit the work level.
It weighs just 2.1 pounds. Hence, the level of heaviness and discomfort is pretty minimal. It stands out in quality, design, safety and function hence, remains the top choice of many welding professionals.
16. Miller 281000 Digital Elite Black Welding Helmet with Clearlight Lens
For centuries, the Miller 281000 Digital Elite Black has been the choice of professional welders. This is not surprising as the helmet features an improved design with classic features.
It is suitable for all forms of the welding operation, shades, grinding and cutting operations as well. It is equipped with a very sensitive lens that provides optimum security for the welder.
The Miller 281000 Digital Elite Black automatic helmet is strong, rigid and capable of optimum operation with advanced features.
It has a pretty wide viewing area giving visibility from different angles. The presence of side windows gives awareness of the environment.
Rigidity was built into the Miller 281000 Digital Elite Black as it is able to handle intense temperatures and the harsh conditions that surround welding
Welding Helmet Under $50
17. Solar Powered Welding Helmet Auto Darkening Hood with Adjustable Shade
For less than $50, you can get this amazing helmet that offers almost all the features of a standard helmet. It offers top-notch protection without compromising on any aspect.
Even with the cheap price, it was built with the ANSIZ87.1-2010 and EN3794/9-13 safety standards. It can be adjusted manually to meet all safety demands.
The auto darkening filter allows welder adjust to the various working condition. Asides, it is powered by both battery and solar.
It was built to meet the 1/2/1/2 optical rating. Produced with lightweight materials, it is comfortable without any form of fatigue
18. Solar Powered Welding Helmet Auto Darkening Professional Hood with Wide Lens Adjustable Shade Range
For way less than $40, DEKOPRO offers this high-grade helmet for welders. It offers all essential features of a quality auto darkening helmet.
A very sensitive helmet that switches from light to dark in less than 1/25000 sec. Asides, meeting safety standard was in the mind of DEKOPRO while manufacturing this cheap automatic helmet as well.
Fulfilling all safety requirement of the ANSIZ87.1-2010 and EN3794/9-13 safety standard, it is manually adjusted suitably for all demands.
It is packed with highly sensitive Auto-Darkening Filter (ADF DX-500S) which allows the welder adjust to various forms of working condition and environment.
19. Instapark ADF Series GX-500S Solar Powered Auto Darkening Welding Helmet with Adjustable Shade
One of the cheapest automatic helmet by Instapark, the ADF Series GX-500S features a dual arc sensor which triggers the auto darkening sensor in less than 1/25000 from light to dark.
It boosts productivity by removing the need to flip the helmet up or down. It features a variable dark shade setting that can be adjusted from #9 to #13.
It is applicable to all grinding and welding operation. It has a pretty large viewing area with full protection from harmful UV/IR rays.
20. Solar Powered Welding Helmet Auto Darkening Mask with Adjustable Shade
Tight on the budget but need a good auto darkening welding helmet, the welding helmet auto darkening solar powered hood with adjustable shade range din 4/9-13 for mig tig arc welder mask is a good choice.
One of the cheapest on our list, it exhibits all essential features of a standard automatic helmet. It has the 1/2/1/2 optical rating, offering accurate protection for you.
It meets all safety requirements of the ANSI Z87.1-2010 and EN379 4/9-13 hence offering full protection. There are settings applicable to various welding conditions which work by controlling the shades of the lens.
It is powered by a battery that can be charged by sunlight With this, it can be used for a long period of time.
I have discussed 20 of the best welding helmets available in the market. Furthermore, I will explain the essential parts every welding helmets must have
Essential Parts of A Welding Helmet
According to the Occupational Health and Safety Academy, there are certain essential parts that every welding helmet should have. Some of the main parts are:
- 1The Shell: This is the hard part of the helmet. It should be hard enough to withstand impact and heat. Most shell is usually built to be opaque.
- 2The Filter Lens: This is one of the most important parts of a welding helmet. This is because the filter lens is the major barrier between your eyes and the hazards in the welding process. Hence, due to the lens, UV rays and IR radiation won’t be able to get to your eyes. When light passes through the lens, you will be able to achieve various shades of darkness. Most welding helmets have adjustments with which you can set the lens to your preferred shade of darkness.
- 3Outer Cover: This part is usually made from a certain type of plastic. It is meant to protect you from scratches, impact and the effect of light and heat. This is often called the body of the helmet.
- 4The Retainer Lens: This serves as an extra protection for the filter lens. Made from plastic, it prevents chips and arc rays from damaging the filter lens. All welding helmet with the auto darkening feature has this part.
- 5The Gasket: This is the part between the cover lens and the filter lens. It is made from heat resistant materials meant to keep heat away from getting to the eyes and face.
The following are the major parts every welding helmet must have. In shopping for welding headgears, compare the various models to access their specifications and style.
It is not enough to know the various part of an auto-darkening welding helmet. The next section will introduce users to the top welding helmet brands in the market. I will also discuss the amazing features that set each brand apart.
Top Welding Helmet Brands
Having reviewed the top welding helmets available in the market, I deem it fit to say some things about welding helmet brands. I have picked the top best welding helmet brands you can consider.
1. Antra Auto Darkening Welding Helmets
Antec electronics has been on the forefront in turning out varieties of cheap auto darkening helmets for welders. The helmets come in varieties of shades and specification to suit various users.
The Antra Auto Darkening Welding Helmets find application in grinding and various sort of welding. Most of their product is light hence, comfort is not sacrificed for safety while working.
Some top features of the Antra Welding Helmets are:
2. Lincoln Electric Auto-Darkening Welding Helmets
Lincoln is a very common name in the welding accessory industry. It has built a name for itself in manufacturing trusted welding products. One of the tops is the Black, 3350 Series by Lincoln Electric.
Being a giant in the welding helmet accessory, they design their helmet with many wonderful features. Friends that have been using the Black, 3350 Series by Lincoln Electric speaks highly of the comfort and superb optical clarity.
Some brand advantages f this badass welding helmet are:
3. Jackson Auto Darkening Welding Helmets
Jackson is one of the oldest company in the business of producing welding helmet. With the years in the business, they have gotten better and become a household name. It is not surprising professional welders give preference to Jackson Auto Darkening Welding Helmets in their choice.
Many people in the welding professional have built trust with the Jackson Welding Helmets. They stand out in producing safe welding helmets without compromising safety. All their helmets comply with the CSA & CE standard.
Some brand advantage is:
4. Miller Auto-Darkening Welding Helmets
All over the world, Miller welding accessories are known for producing auto-darkening helmets with top-notch features. Some of the amazing advantages are:
Some varieties of Miller Auto-Darkening Welding Helmets are:
- 1Digital Infinity™ Series Welding Helmets: very comfortable headgear with extra large lenses
- 2Miller Digital Elite Welding Helmets: equipped with a fully digital lens. Suitable for the various mode of welding operation like cut, grind, and X-mode.
- 3Miller Digital Performance Welding Helmets are suitable for people seeking a pretty affordable automatic helmet. It comes with complete auto darkening features.
5. Hobart Auto Darkening Welding Helmets
Whether you weld as a hobby or for fun, Hobart has a range of helmet suitable to your taste. Their Welding Helmets stands for class, value, and performance with top features for safety and convenience.
Some brand advantages of the Hobart welding helmets are:
6. I-mesh-bean Welding Helmet
I-mesh bean is known for its unique design that distinguishes it from the boring design of many welding helmets out there. Even with its great aesthetic, it gives value for safety as it meets the ANSI Z87 and CE standards.
It has an exceptionally large viewing area with high sensitivity to detect harmful rays and emissions.
Some top features of the I-mesh-bean auto darkening Welding Helmet are:
7. Optrel Auto Darkening Welding Helmets
When discussing the top manufacturer of welding accessories, You can’t but refer to Optrel. Optrel is a Swiss company that produces a unique brand with features that make the auto-darkening lens stand out.
The Optrel helmet series comes with adjustable hoods. Hence, they offer full protection without sacrificing safety. They are suitable for MIG, TIG, stick welding etc.
Using the helmet gives various shades and brightness of light depending on the task.
These are the top automatic welding brands available in the market. Next, I will discuss the nature of protection to expect from a reliable welding helmet.
Protection Offered By Welding Helmets
Welding in itself is a very dangerous activity. As a result, it is advised that you take all precautions possible to protect yourself. It is in this regards that welding helmets were designed. It is worn over the head to shield the face and all organs on the head from hazards when welding.
Many helmets come with a headband and can be flipped just over the head when you want to do anything asides welding – inspecting your work, hold a conversation or search for tools.
Dangers of Welding Without a Good Helmet
Welding is a hot job that produces excess heat. A welding helmet is necessary to guard against flash burns on the skin. Also, it keeps the user away from excess heat or the UV light produced during welding.
There was a study in Demark involving 217 welders. Of these, 57% of them had yellow spots on the white region of their eye. 24% had the thin membrane of their eyeball degenerating. Almost half of the test subject had corneal scarring.
A naked eye exposed to ultraviolet radiation produced during arc welding runs the risk of developing photokeratitis. This is a painful condition in which the cornea swells up. The sad thing about this is that most welders hardly realize they have been exposed to these dangerous rays. It is hours after the welding process ends that they notice the pain and swellings.
Welding also produces an intense flash of infrared rays an ultraviolet radiation. These rays and lights can burn the retina with time and with prolonged exposure, can cause loss of vision.
Dangerous UV emissions don’t affect the eye alone. It could burn exposed skin as well, giving the same effect as sunburn.
Asides the eyes being affected, there is also the risk of being struck in the head by flying objects, particles or slag.
Benefits of Using a Good Welding Helmet
When heating and welding various pieces of metal together, they give out ultraviolet (UV) light and infrared (IR) rays. With a helmet, your eyes, neck, face, head and skin will be saved from the heat, flash burns, and sparks.
A welding helmet also helps reduce the risk of getting an inflamed cornea – a condition popularly referred to as arc eye.
Thanks to the improvement in technology, welders’ accessories over the years have improved significantly. Hence, there are various welding helmets with which welders can protect themselves from the various hazards presented by welding. It does not only protect the eye but the face and neck region.
The risk of being struck by any flying particle or object during grinding, power chipping or hammering is greatly reduced.
Having discussed the protection provided by welding helmets, I proceed to discuss why you should choose auto-darkening welding helmets.
Auto Darkening Welding Helmet is the Best
Auto Darkening welding helmet came as an upgrade to the passive welding helmet. While there are many types of auto-darkening helmets, they all work to give the same overall outcome – protection.
In a typical auto darkening helmet, there are three basic parts that make it up. I will discuss the basics below:
1. Infrared and Ultraviolet Filter
A standard welding helmet should have the UV/IR filter. Most of them have 6 layers of aluminum oxide. The best part is, whether your auto darkening helmet is on or not, the filter should offer protection.
An auto-darkening lens has various layers of metals that absorb and reflect about 95% of UV.IR radiation. Overall, the entire thickness of these layers should be 0.7 micros.
2. Polarization Filters
Embedded with LC cells in each filter, they prevent the visible light from getting to the eyes. They offer maximum protection to the eyes due to the arrangement of filters, offering the darkest setting.
Two filters arranged at the right angle will give the darkest setting of the lens. Should any of the lenses be moved, it might let in more light or darken up, depending on the direction moved to.
3. LC Cells
Just between each polarization filter are the LC cells. They are liquid crystal cells that help turn the light. On stimulating with electricity, you can control the direction of the light. You can access this feature on turning the helmet on.
Working principle of the three Components
While you are not using your auto-darkening welding helmet, the liquid crystals embedded between the polarization filter will turn the light by 90 degrees. While the shade might differ, it will still be dark. This is a built-in safety feature.
Powering on the welding helmet is where the magic lies. It will give you a light shade with which you can see through the lens. The helmet smart enough to detect any arc rays when you start working. On detecting this, it switches to a dark shade to keep you safe
The Benefits of Automatic Welding Helmets
Ranging from safety to comfort to flexibility, auto-darkening helmets are very useful. They have some special features that are absent from passive helmets. I will discuss some of the benefits below:
1.Auto Darkening helmets are Safe and Convenient
With auto-darkening helmets, you are spared from the stress of removing the helmets whenever you stop welding. As discussed in the previous section, the automatic helmet is smart enough to detect when to darken the lens.
This is not only convenient but also saves time. Welders with a passive helmet might forget to nod down the helmet putting his eyes at risk. This risk is eliminated with the auto darkening helmet.
2.It improves efficiency and productivity
There are times when a welder would have to inspect his work. Having to remove the helmet every time is just plain inconvenient. The time it takes to be removing the helmet and nodding it down could have been used for something pretty productive.
Auto-darkening helmets have features that enable them to detect and track the “arc-on” time. With this, a welder can take note of the actual time spent welding. With this info, one can determine efficiency and productivity.
3.There is the Electromagnetic Arc Sensing feature
This Electromagnetic Arc Sensing is a feature that also adds to the productivity and safety of the welding. This feature is useful when the welder has to weld outdoors. It is also useful in situations where there is an obstruction in view.
Should there be any obstruction; the lens might fail to darken. Excessively bright sunlight might cause premature darkening which the electromagnetic arc sensing prevents.
4.Welders can Grind comfortably with Auto-Darkening Helmets
Most welders, for one reason or the other, are often repelled by grinding. With the introduction of the auto-darkening helmets, grinding is pretty easier. This helmet comes with grind mode that can be used for clean up jobs.
In most auto darkening helmet, you get to adjust this with a push of a button, or flip of a switch. This also improves efficiency, safety, and overall productivity.
5.Automatic helmets are very Comfortable
The many features provided by automatic welding allows for improved efficiency, overall comfort, and safety that was absent with the passive helmet. Due to the nature of some welding jobs, some welders might have to wear their helmets for hours. The lightweight of most auto-darkening helmets now makes this possible.
There are features to spread the weight of the helmet evenly across the head. Most comes with cushioned headband pads, which reduces sweat. There are aerodynamic vents that give way for exhaling air to exit, limiting fog.
6.Auto Darkening Helmets are Suitable for Varying Light Condition.
While the passive helmet could be managed for an outdoor task, the automatic helmet is best suited for indoor jobs. While welding indoor, you are exposed to a variety of lighting condition making it the most appropriate.
Comparing Auto Darkening Lenses and the Passive Welding Lens
The major difference between an auto darkening helmet is in the lens. As soon as you start welding, the lens of the auto-darkening helmets goes dark. If the torch is not in use, it stays clear. For a passive helmet, on the other hand, the lens is just a colored glass that doesn’t change color.
I should point out here that there are pros and cons to both types of a welding helmet. But without a doubt, auto darkening helmet is pretty convenient, compared passive welding headgear
If you want to decide which welding helmet is most suitable for you, I will give you a comparison in below:
- With an auto darkening helmet, you won’t have to take off your helmet to view your work. For a passive helmet, on the other hand, you will have to nod the helmet off to inspect your work.
- New welders at times, find it difficult viewing the tip of the torch when they start welding. With the auto darkening helmet, on the other hand, this isn’t an issue.
- Repetitive stress injuries are common with passive welding helmet. This arises from having to snap the helmet up and down as well as the nod of the head. This is not an issue with the auto darkening helmet.
- Passive welding is less sophisticated hence, cheap and pretty easy to replace. Auto-darkening helmet, on the other hand, is expensive if damaged.
- While passive helmet gives an optically clear vision while torching, it is dangerous to the eye. Auto-darkening helmet, on the other hand, gives a less bright vision, reducing the risk of eye injury.
- With an auto darkening helmet, you can control the amount of light entering the eye by adjusting the shade to the most preferred setting. This is one feature absent with passive helmets.
- The lens of the passive helmet has a single rigid setting – dark! I understand that this is meant to protect your eyes from the painful and damaging effect of the light rays emitted during the welding process. The auto darkening helmet, although, has a different setting that you can use according to the task at hand.
Pro Tips to Get the best from Auto-Darkening Filter Unit
The first thing you want to ensure to get the best out of your auto darkening helmet is to make sure the battery is properly in place.
After this, adjust the shield delay time. This is the time it takes the helmet to switch from a darkened to a light state. Many auto-darkening helmets in the market have a switch in the helmet with which you can adjust the delay time. The delay time is a function of the brand of helmet you have. On a fast setting, some can be adjusted between 0.25 to 0.35 seconds, while the slower setting can be between 0.6 and 0.8.
With the adjustment knob, you can also set the shade to your desired taste. You will find this knob at the left side of most automatic helmet. This allows you to control how dark you want the helmet to be. It should be a function of the type of task at hand.
After adjusting the following setting, you should wear the helmet and adjust the headband to get a perfect fit.
Before you weld, you need to make sure the auto darkening shield of the helmet is optimally set. Thus, a properly set auto-darkening lens should darken even if you are no facing the arc directly. Should the lens refuse to go dark, you should desist from using the helmet.
There are different welding processes and the intensity of light with each process differs. Thus, oxyacetylene welding, cutting torches as well as lower voltage arc welding do give light with very bright intensity, compared to higher voltage arc welding machines. In this regards, you should make sure you set the shade according to the degree of brightness of the arc.
Now that I have established why automatic helmets stand head and shoulder above passive helmet, I will discuss hot to chose the best among the many auto-darkening helmets available in the market.
How to Choose Best Auto Darkengin Welding Helmet
There are many brands of auto-darkening welding helmets out there. Deciding the one to chose is a combination of many factors. Bear in mind that all helmets are designed to protect the user. In this regards, there are two broad categories of welding helmets: the auto darkening welding helmet and the traditional welding helmet also called the passive helmet.
The traditional welding helmet has been used for a long period of time before improvement in technology led to the discovering of auto-darkening helmets. The difference between passive and automatic headgear is distinct.
Introducing the Difference between the Traditional and Auto Darkening Welding Helmet
Traditional helmets come with a normal glass lens and a fixed shade. Whether the helmet is in used or not, the shade remains dark. They provide a solid, constant and inexpensive protection during heavy welding task. They do have a couple of disadvantage anyway.
One of the cons of the traditional welding helmet is the fixed shade. It could be tedious due to the fact that you will need to lift the shade every time you want to inspect your task or joint, prepare for welding. Also, you will flip down when you want to start welding.
This is not only tedious but wastes precious time that could have been productively used. Asides, this repetitive movement can trigger fatigue on the neck. Also, this will be cumbersome if you have to work in tight spaces.
Setting the TIG torch, MIG gun or stick electrode could be tedious. With the traditional helmet on, you will have to lift it to get the right setting.
This and a few more are the cons that are making traditional helmet-less preferred among welders.
Automatic helmets, on the other hand, are automated giving welders a whole range of helpful features at their fingertip. For instance, there are variables that let you set the shade from dark to light.
These helmets provide a high level of protection hence guarding you against the dangerous UV rays and IR emissions produced during the welding process. Asides, the helmet is preset to adjust itself in milliseconds. This is as a result of the quick-changing LCD technology located in the cartridges.
Having the automatic helmets on do not disturb continuous working. One of the many ways it stands out from the traditional welding helmet. Thus, with the hood in position, you can inspect your work. This guard against unnecessary delays in flipping the hood. It also reduces the possibility of a neck strain.
Now it is obvious the auto darkening helmet stands out from the traditional helmet. It is not surprising many professional and upcoming welders are switching to automatic welders.
But, with the myriads of auto-darkening welding helmets available in the market, it can be difficult to select the best. That is why I will guide you in this section via the best way to select the most appropriate welding helmet for you.
1. Fixed Vs. Variable Shade
An auto darkening helmet will either have a fixed or an adjustable lens. I will recommend the fixed shade automatic helmet if you will be dealing with the same type of material all through your welding profession. Thus, if you will be welding stainless steel, you will be welding the same type/brand of stainless steel without any variation in thickness.
Asides, the welding process should not change. You could use a MIG, TIG or Stick.
For most welders, this is often not the case. There are times you will need to weld materials of varying thickness and type. This is where your variable lens comes in. the variable lens auto helmet is essential to protect your eyes from the various degree of brightness being released by the welding arc.
Being able to get various levels of shades will help get you the best view of your task
2. The lens reaction time (Delay)
This is the speed at which the helmet transit from the light to the dark mode. You should be always after a smaller lens reaction time. This is because a small reaction time means the lens will quickly adjust the shade to protect your eyes.
In most auto darkening helmet, this number is in milliseconds, which ideally, should be instant. Thus, before choosing a helmet, I recommend you check this number. The value of the lens reaction time of your preferred auto-darkening welding helmet is related to your comfort while working. An excessive delay could give an effect of being flashed.
I recommend this helmet if you will be doing a lot of welding in an awkward position. A large welding will give a clear view of the task before you always. Depending on the brand of helmet, you might consider ones with a side window. This makes you more aware of the environment.
4. Number of Sensors
The many brands of auto-darkening welding helmet available have sensors ranging from two to four.
If you will be welding as a hobby, just a 2 sensor automatic helmet is suitable for you. While for industrial use, a 4 sensor automatic helmet is recommended.
The more the sensor, the better the view and coverage. Asides, if you will be having more of out-of-position welding, I recommend going for a helmet with more sensors.
For production work, I will recommend three sensors while four is best for fabrication and heavy industrial work.
5. Adjustable Sensitivity Control
Since the automatic welding helmet usually goes dark on their own on sensing light, there needs to be a level of brightness that will trigger the darkness.
All brands of the auto-darkening helmet – professional and intermediaries do have this capacity. This feature is very important for the TIG welding type (low ampere welding)
6. Adjustable Delay Control
This feature allows you to determine how long you desire the lens to remain dark after the welding is over.
Mind you, there is a time when short and long delays are useful. It all depends on the kind of work situation you are in. For instance, a short delay is helpful on a tack project welding. You will be able to get the job done pretty fast.
When welding at extremely high temperatures, for instance, a longer delay is recommended. This is to leave enough time for the molten metal to cool and stop emissions.
7. Solar, Battery or Both?
There are varieties of ways via which you can power your auto darkening helmet. Most brands are solar-enabled and could have fixed or removable batteries.
There are brands that use the Lithium Ion batteries. But helmets using the AAA batteries are more widely available. Lithium batteries are costly but offer long hours of use.
Most auto-darkening welding helmet can simply be charged while using them in the sun. The decision here is a personal choice. AAA batteries are readily available and would be easily replaced.
8. Be Aware of Industry Standards
For welding helmets, the most recent standard is the ANSI Z87.1-2003. According to this standard, all helmet manufacturers must show and prove that their products meet the specification. Specifications like shade settings, switching speed etc.
All helmets available in the market do not meet this specified safety standard, Hence, before buying, check for the ANSI Z87.1 – 2003 inscription on the helmet. If you see just ANSI approved. The helmet likely did not pass the 2003 standard.
9. Personal Preference
The myriads of welding automatic helmets available in the market today are all designed to offer maximum protection for the welder. Hence, ideally, you will be protected from UV and IR rays.
But in choosing a welding helmet, you should consider the task you will be up to. If it should be a specific task, for instance, it will narrow down your search.
Besides task, there is the option of budget, weight and more. All in all, the helmet of your choice should be comfortable enough for you to use for long without fatigue.
Hence, before setting out to shop for your automatic welding helmet, I recommend that you know what you want. It will go a long way in determining your overall productivity.
10. Helmet Weight: Does It Matter?
Without a doubt, the weight of your helmet also matters. Due to the sophistication of auto-darkening welding helmet, they have the tendency to be heavy. But an improvement in technology is making the available automatic helmet of reasonable weight.
You should prefer a helmet that is light. This will reduce fatigue and possible neck strain with prolong usage. Asides, if welding is your profession, there is the possibility you will be having the helmet on for longer hours.
Due to this, a lightweight helmet should be your preference.
11. External vs. Internal Knobs
The control of your helmet might be located inside the shell on or its body. This depends on the brand of helmet you are buying.
An auto darkening helmet with the control inside the helmet might be tedious. The reason is obvious – you will have to remove the helmet every time you need to make any adjustment.
External control, on the other hand, is more comfortable. You get to be able to control the settings without removing the helmet.
12. The optical Rating
Optical rating is one of the most important factors to consider in buying an auto darkening helmet. The ideal rating you should be after should have 1/1/1/1.
This means the helmet is accurate for vision, diffusion of light, angular dependence and consistent shade. Many auto-darkening helmets have not been able to achieve this high rating. If the optical rating is a big deal for you, I recommend Lincoln Electric and Jackson products.
Asides being certified for safety as discussed earlier, automatic helmets have to meet the latest National Safety Standard. This is the ANSI Z87.1 – 2010 certification.
Some models do have a ‘+’ inscription on it. This indicates that it has met the high-impact test certification.
I am more comfortable going for products with long warranty periods. It gives some level of assurance that the manufacturer is confident in his product.
Warranty period differs based on the manufacturer or brand. The warranty period ranges from 2 to 3 years for most brands. During this period, the manufacturer will be liable for any issue or fault that the helmet might develop.
15. Replaceable or Non-replaceable battery
Most top auto welding helmets are equipped with solar batteries. The batteries are fixed and non-replaceable. They have the advantage of being eco-friendly as it can be charged from the heat of the sun.
On the other hand, other helmets come with replaceable batteries as well. They are readily available and pretty cheap. I will recommend a Lithium-Ion powered auto helmet. This is due to the long hour of usage.
16. The Viewing Size
Since manufacturers of auto-darkening helmet differ, the viewing area will also differ. And this is one of the most important factors to consider when choosing a welding helmet.
Typically, the ranges of viewing size available are between the range of 6 sq. inches to 9 sq. inches.
One factor that will determine the most suitable viewing size is the nature of work. If you will have more of out of position jobs, I recommend an automatic helmet bigger viewing area.
17. Pricing Option
There are many things that determine the pricing of a helmet. While all automatic helmets offer the basic function – protection, they have various features that distinguish them. Thus, the more the features, the higher the reaction time of the lens.
If welding is not a full-time profession, an entry level helmet around a hundred dollar is suitable. For industrial and professional use, on the other hand, it could be above $300.
As a result of this, I will recommend a mid-range helmet. It will have the necessary features and also get the work done. You should have access to this around $200.
18. Nature of Job/Environment
In my opinion, this is the most important factor that should guide your choice of a welding helmet. This is not surprising as the nature of the job will point out to the hazards involved. This will guard towards selecting the most fitting automatic helmets.
Work environment, on the other hand, is also important. While all automatic helmets will give optimum protection in all condition, there are features that make some better when it comes to the nature of the job or work environment.
Thus if your job will be more of overhead welding, pipe welding, garage welding, flux core welding etc., you need an effective helmet that will give maximum comfort.
As evident from above, choosing a suitable auto darkening helmet is a job in itself. It’s a combination of lots of factors. In this regards, I advise that you decide what you want in relation to what is available in the market.
Don’t forget to have a realistic budget. It will help you streamline your choice to getting the best welding helmet in your range.
Having learned how to choose the most suitable welding helmet, the next section will guide you through testing auto darkening helmet to know is it is the best welding hood.
How to Test Quality of Auto Darkening Welding Helmet
The ability to test the quality of any welding helmet is a skill beneficial to every welder. Being aware of the quality of a welding helmet sets you perfectly for the job. Thus, you will be able to avoid any danger or harm during the welding task.
The sole aim of every welding helmet is to protect the user from the harm presented during welding. Thus, whatever your level of professionalism, it is essential to make sure that your welding helmet of choice is able to keep you away from all harms.
Thanks to advance in technology, auto-darkening helmets have evolved over the years. There have been various research to enable them more comfortable and safe. Asides, there are many brands of auto-darkening welding helmet available in the market. Hence, it is important to be able to ascertain that it will keep you safe and comfortable.
In this regards, I present eight solid tips to determine the quality of an auto-darkening web.
1. Be aware of the Safety Standards
On buying a new auto darkening welding helmet, it should meet the industry standards. Asides, safety standard mandate all helmet manufacturers to indicate the spec of the helmet on all their product.
Asides, all auto-darkening helmets must meet the ANSI Z87.1-2003 standards. As a result of this, all certified welding helmets must:
- Meet the impact test
- Have strong UV and IR protection
- Be able to withstand high working temperatures
2. The type of power the helmet Uses
Auto-darkening welding helmet comes in various types of power source. A couple of auto darkening helmet is either powered by an unreplaceable battery or solar. Others are powered by a combination of both. These helmets are great because you don’t have to replace the battery.
Using auto-darkening welding helmets that is solar-enabled under the sun will be very helpful. This way, the battery going off will be the least of your worries.
As a result, I will advise that you ensure the power source of the helmet is suitable for you before buying.
3. The Viewing Area
In testing your auto-darkening welding helmet, the viewing area is another important part to consider. The viewing area is where you get to access your work which determines the clarity of the task while working.
In this case, I will recommend that you test the welding area before buying. If you do like to order online, make sure the viewing area is large enough before buying.
People who have large heads or sight issues should go for auto welding helmets with large viewing areas. While helmets with large viewing areas are not appropriate for tight spaces, it is essential for efficient working.
4. The Reaction Speed
While welding, you could have huge sparks at any time. As a result, the reaction speed of your helmet is very important. The standard for most auto darkening helmet is 1/2500ths seconds. A helmet that’s longer than this might not be the best one for you.
While you can’t time your helmet’s reaction time, you can determine the speed in two ways
•The first method is to refer to the welding helmet manual. This should describe details about your helmet such as the reaction speed.
•On checking the manual, you can also determine the reaction time by actually putting the helmet to test.
5. Adjustable Shade Lens
There are various types of welding such as MIG, TIG or stick welding. These types of welding are used for various materials like steel, copper, aluminum or stainless steel.
Since these materials are different, they require distinct welding process and different levels of power. Thus, welding a thick piece of metal might require up to 250 amps for easy penetration.
To protect yourself during the various welding process, your auto darkening helmet should have adjustable shades. By adjustable shade, I meant the ability to adjust the filter to different intensity of light and brightness offered by the welding process.
In response to the brightness of the arc, you should be able to adjust the shade of your lens. This will ensure maximum protection for you. Asides, with an adjustable shade, you will get the best visibility while welding.
6. Determine the Visibility
If you do not have good visibility, your welding helmet is useless. Thus, one of the ways to test an auto-darkening welding helmet is via the visibility.
An auto darkening welding helmet should enable you to see properly on putting the helmet on without welding. This feature is useful as it allows you inspect your work without having to stress yourself removing the helmet – the way passive helmet works.
Thus, if you can see very clearly when the lens is dark, it means the auto darkening feature is off. This is a sign of a good auto darkening welding helmet.
But if you can’t see clearly with a darkened lens, your auto-darkening welding helmet is bad!
7. Employ the Sun Test
This is the best test to determine if you have a good auto darkening helmet or not. This is because sunlight will make the entire feature of your welding helmet to work together.
With your welding helmet on the head into the sun like you want to weld. Stare at the sun and note how the lenses respond. A good lens should respond by going dark.
8. Weight the Helmet
One of the ways to judge the comfort of an auto-darkening welding helmet is to consider the weight. Without a doubt, I will recommend a light welding helmet for obvious reasons.
A light helmet is less cumbersome. It should be light enough such that the effect does not weigh down on your head and neck. A heavy helmet will press down on your neck and head, making you uncomfortable.
With a lightweight helmet, you have improved flexibility and efficiency while working. Moving about won’t be a burden as well.
Getting the most suitable auto darkening helmet might be cumbersome. But, running a test on it is very easy. The test presented above will help you judge if you have a quality auto darkening helmet or not.
Having known how to test the quality of your auto darkening helmet, I proceed to discuss simple care tips for your helmet.
Tips for Caring For Your Helmet
One of the most important accessories for a welder is the welding helmet. With the level of protection, a welding helmet gives, it is important to care for it. As a result, learning tips to care as well as maintaining your helmet will ensure it functions at its best.
In this regards, I will present the most effective ways to care for your auto-darkening welding helmet. Worthy of note is that you have got to give your auto-darkening welding helmet more attention compared to passive ones.
Thus, join me as I explore the different methods with which you can clean your automatic welding mask:
1. Chose a Suitable Place to Store Your helmet
Taking your helmet off and dropping it anywhere is not the best. Having a proper storage is one of the best care tips for an auto-darkening welding helmet. While this tip sounds so simple, many welders do not really care.
If you won’t use your helmet for a long period, having it in a box is a good idea. Should it be lying somewhere in the workshop, it has a high tendency to gather dust and dirt. Asides, the condition of the environment could also affect it.
If your auto-darkening welding helmet is exposed to extreme dirt, dust, and humidity, there is a risk of damage.
Thus, I advise you store the helmet in a room with good air quality. With a good air circulation, dust and dirt won’t be able to sit on the helmet.
You can also invest in a storage box, as I will discuss below.
2. Use a Brush
There are several maintenance cleaning brushes with which you can get rid of dirt from hidden parts of your helmets. There are parts of the helmet for instance that are prone to gathering dirt – the vents and inside part.
While cleaning your helmet with a brush, I recommend that you target the hidden part. Asides use a soft brush to prevent damaging the sensitive part of the helmet.
3.Clean the lens
For your auto-darkening welding helmet, the lens is the most important part. In this regards, it needs critical attention compared to other parts. This calls for caution in cleaning the lens
To clean the lens, I use a high-quality lens cleaner. With this, you will be able to girt rid of particles that have settled on the lens. To apply your lens cleaner, use a cotton bud or soft cloth to gently wipe the lens surface
4. Disinfect the Welding helmet
This process should be a critical part of the maintenance structure of your auto-darkening welding helmet. There are several disinfectant sprays available in the market that you can use.
Disinfectant is important to get rid of germs and all form of dirt from the welding helmet. Bear in mind your breath while in the helmet hence, it is important that the helmet is safe for your health.
5. Inspect Your helmet
In taking care of your helmet, one of the best preventive maintenance tips is a periodic inspection.
While there is no standard number of time you should inspect your helmet, I recommend once a month. Taking the time to thoroughly scrutinize your helmet will allow you to detect issues before they get out of hand. Hence, damages, cracks, dents etc. can be addressed before they become a major issue.
The lens, being the most important part of your helmet, should be the center of attention. Thus, you should feel the glass of the lens for cracks and dents that might not be visible to your eye
You should never be too busy for periodic inspection. Since the auto-darkening welding helmet practically works for your safety, you shouldn’t leave this to chance.
6. Replacement and repairs
I will admit that this is the most costly part of taking care of your helmet. Yet, you can escape this as a welder. Asides, due to the kind of situation a welding helmet is usually exposed to, you have to be ready for repairs or replacement at times.
Welding involves high temperatures and spiraling arcs flying over the workplace. With this kind of harsh situation, there is the possibility it gets damages.
Here are some parts that would need replacement:
This is the most common part of the automatic welding helmet that often needs replacement. This should not be strange to you if you use the helmet regularly.
What I do is purchase these batteries in bulk, since I am certain I will need them someday. This way, you are prepared when it finally runs down.
If your helmet is solar powered, this won’t really be an issue for you.
The front lens cover is also one of the most important parts of the auto-darkening welding helmet that would need regular replacement. You can get replacement helmet lens at any welding accessory sop or, online.
Changing the lens of the helmet is something you should be able to do on your own. It is an important skill if you take the time to learn it. I learned this by reading the manual and watching some YouTube videos.
Not everyone would have time for this, I am certain. Hence, seek the help of an expert.
7. Use the Storage Box
Instead of leaving your helmet sitting around anywhere in the workshop, use a storage box. There is a cheap storage box that provides excellent protection for the helmet.
I recommend a storage box as they protect the helmet, keeping it clean and safe from extreme weather condition.
8. For extra protection, Wrap the Helmet
Taking a step further to get a bubble wrap for your welding helmet is a good investment. You get to preserve it and make it last longer. Being in a bubble wrap keeps it highly safe in the box, should you want to move it around.
There are quality and affordable bubble wraps. They give the helmet a soft, cushion-like surface to lie. The bubble wrap is durable and also allows some air to get to the helmet.
9. At times, Get it Out of the Box
For every piece of equipment, air is very essential. Hence, if you are not using the helmet for a long period, I recommend taking it out of the wrap and box regularly.
Once a month at least, devote time to place the helmet on the table. This should be in a room with a decent supply of air. Warp and box again when done. It is as simple as it sounds!
10. Religiously Follow the Manual’s Instruction
The tips presented above to care for your helmets are general rules. They apply to all welding helmet, mainly the automatic welding helmet.
I am pretty sure your manufacturers have some specific treatments that apply to your helmets. All this will be clearly stated out in the manual.
As indicated in the second section, welding helmets come in various brands. Hence, there might be specific instruction on how to take care of it. The operating manual is your best bet!
All in all, I recommend you take the time to be familiar with your welding helmet. This will be helpful when you want to clean it.
As a welder, part of the skill you need to learn is how to care for your helmet. This way, you get maximum protection while working at all time.
Bear in mind, you can’t ignore general maintenance of the helmet if you want the best from it.
Some Frequently Asked Question About Welding Helmet
I have compared a set of questions you might have on the usage of your auto-darkening welding helmet.
Can I Use My Welding Helmet to View the Solar Eclipse?
Welding helmets are designed to protect users from harmful rays. Hence, the harmful ray from the sun is not exempted. But you can use your welding helmet if it has a shade 12 or higher filter. According to NASA, shade 13 is best and most appropriate.
How do I store a helmet?
The best way to store a helmet is by wrapping it with a bubble wrap and putting it in a box. If you do not have the option of a box, place it in the original packaging.
Should any of the above be unavailable, keep it in a room free from excessive heat and moisture. Asides, don’t place it where it is likely to fall.
What is ANSI and should I see it printed on my lens?
The American National Standard Institute is the meaning. These are standard tests that the lens must conform to. Any auto darkening helmet with the ANSI print have passed the safety test,
Thus, it must be printed on your lens.
What is the best lens shade to protect my eyes?
Many hold the opinion that the degree of protection they get corresponds to the lens shade number. This is not true in any way.
All genuine auto-darkening welding helmet will protect your eyes by keeping off harmful rays (UV and IR rays.) The shade number denotes how dark the lens would be.
Hence, when choosing the lens shade, set the one that is very comfortable without obstructing optimum visibility
Until the Welding Arc is detected, auto darkening helmet doesn’t darken. Are my eyes protected during this split – seconds?
Any high-quality auto darkening helmet will protect you from UV and IR rays even when it's not dark. Asides, your choice of a helmet should be of a very high quality such that the response time is extremely fast.
The eyes can’t detect a fraction of a millisecond. Hence, you are protected.
What is wrong if the lens stays dark after I have stopped welding?
In cases like this, there is a number of options with which you can troubleshoot and rectify the issue
- It could be a function of the delay setting. Set to remain dark after welding for a few seconds.
- Lens staying dark after welding could be the result of ambient light from neighboring welders. You can rectify this by lowering the sensitivity
- You can also temporarily obstruct the sensors. The lens should lighten up with this
- Also, situations of intense heat might cause the lens to stay dark. I recommend allowing to cool.
- Should none of the above work, I recommend contacting tech support
What if the lens does not go dark?
If your lens is in the Grind Mode, all the functions are already suspended.
- In cases like this, the battery might be down, check and replace
- Increasing the sensitivity can also rectify this
- Avoid welding with a lens that won’t darken. Contact tech support for the lens
According to research, the first welding helmet was used as far back as 1930. Hornell, a Swedish manufacturing company introduced the first set of the auto-darkening helmet into the market. This was manufactured under the brand name Speedglas. Till date, Speedglas is still part of the top producers of a welding helmet.
Since the introduction of the automatic helmet, the comfort and protection it gave attracted the market. An aside, the safety was the major selling point, making it a welcome development. Over time, a number of companies have risen with specialization in turning out automatic welding helmets.
Without a doubt, there are many top auto-darkening welding brands today available. They all offer amazing features all aimed at giving the welder optimum comfort and protection during the welding process.
I have detailed the review of the cool welding helmets in the market. Without a doubt, they all have their strong and weak points. Even if you are tight on budget, you will get a welding helmet that is within your range.
There are many factors to consider before selecting your welding helmet. The myriads of welding helmets manufacturing company out there can confuse one in selecting the most appropriate one. But knowing what you want as well as the most important qualities could be a guide.
Irrespective of your budget, you are guaranteed to find a helmet that will suit your taste. I hope that this guide will hold you by the hand in directing you to the best helmet.
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