Auto Darkening Welding Helmets have been popular among all types of welders from a long time. Since you are here, reading this guide, you might be interested to learn about the history of welding helmets. The very first welding helmet was introduced in 1937. It only had a window covered with a filter. The lens used in the window was polarized with variable density. The problem with these helmets was that they couldn’t filter the UV radiations or provide enough darkening and sometimes, it would get so dark that the user couldn’t see. Hence, in 1981, the auto darkening helmets were introduced by a Swedish manufacturer. These helmets now come with electronic LCD shutter that has the ability to sense the intensity of light and provide the auto darkening effect on the basis of the intensity. No wonder why they are so much popular today.
Who needs Auto Darkening Welding Helmets?
Welding helmets are like headgear that protects your eyes, face, neck and your entire head while you are dealing with infrared, heat and flash burns. If you are exposed to these rays, they can cause damage to your skin, eye retina and in severe cases, it can even cause blindness. So, if you are dealing with any kind of welding activity, you will need a welding helmet. The helmet has a window space as we all know which lets the user see through while his head is covered. The window pane of the helmet is either made of tinted glass, plastic or polarized lenses.
The purpose of welding helmet is not just to protect the welder but also provide to high-quality welding. It does not matter if you are a welding practitioner or a seasoned welder, depending on the type of helmet you are using, you will see a significant difference in your vision. An auto darkening helmet is the one that automatically gets darker as it detects bright welding arc. As the shade changes, you will be able to see the position of the gun better. Also, as soon the sensor in the helmet detects an arc, the shade darkens between 8 and 13. This means you don’t have to lift or lower your helmet to inspect the work you are doing. These auto darkening welding helmets are operated by power. Battery powered and a combination of battery and solar are available. You just have to remember charging the helmet between each use to make the most out of this product.
Auto Darkening Welding Helmets are great for beginners. You get to see what is going on when your stick is welding. The hood is down and you can easily see the rod. If you don’t really have his feature, you actually do not have any idea where you are starting the arc from unless you have experience. Those who have to do a lot of production find auto darkening welding helmets useful since they don’t have to stop in between and lift their hoods every time they want to look for the next welding spot.
12 Auto Darkening Welding Helmets to buy in 2019
For those who are interested in purchasing auto darkening welding helmets, in this guide, I am going to share a list of 12 best auto darkening welding helmets of 2019 with their features and pros and cons. I have evaluated each product pretty carefully using my personal experience with welding helmets. It is hoped that this guide helps you choose the right one keeping your budget and need of use in mind. Let’s begin, shall we?
Jackson Safety BH3 Auto Darkening Welding Helmet
Jackson Safety brand has always considered safety and comfort its top priority when it comes to creating personal protective equipment. Like most of its product, Jackson Safety BH3 Auto Darkening Welding Helmet is a perfect gear for people who weld. It is considered the gold standard for welding helmets which is exactly why it is on top of the list of best auto darkening welding helmets. BH3 comes with balder technology to achieve the status of top quality optical rating. It is the only auto helmet out there with 5-year warranty. The helmet is powered by solar cell so you don’t have to go through the trouble of changing the battery to begin with. They have 3 headgear adjustment which makes them best for most types of welding.
The hood and headband is easily adjustable so it’s quite comfortable to wear. With the ratchet suspension, you can adjust the lens at a distance from your eyes. It is a perfect solution for those who wear glasses. The crown strap adjustments lets you raise and lower the hood, making sure your face is centered with the viewing panel. Then comes the rear ratchet located at the back of the helmet that lets you adjust the helmet without taking it off when you are welding. It is available in variable shade from 9 to 13 so it provides complete projection from radiant energy. If you need a durable and reliable helmet, Jackson Safety BH3 Auto Darkening Welding Helmet will serve the purpose.
Its high density hood makes it perfectly safe to use. It has a curved front plate to reduce the heat buildup and due to it aerodynamic design, it provides better fume deflection. You also don’t have to worry about the lens getting fogged up thanks to its smart outward design.
RHINO LARGE VIEW + GRIND Auto Darkening Welding Helmet
As the name suggests, Rhino large view and grind auto darkening welding helmet has a large viewing window. The helmet is made of carbon fiber but it is light and comfortable. Due to its construction material, it is heat resistant, making it a perfect option to wear under varying climatic and environmental conditions. Its auto darkening lenses are designed with 2 sensors that are powered by solar panel separately. Its solar unit is backed by two batteries so there is no need to worry about the power failure. When the battery goes down, you can switch to solar mode.
When it comes to comfort and safety, Rhino large view + grind auto darkening welding helmet offers complete eye, neck, and skin protection. Its nylon shell provides continuous ultraviolet and infrared protection too. Most of the welding helmets these days are manufactured by a heavy material to make them rigid but more weight means more fatigue for the user. But this helmet weighs less than 1.2 pounds. This is one quality people look for in the best auto darkening welding helmets.
Its auto darkening feature has a fast reaction time so the user does not have to wait for a few seconds for his eyes to adjust. The lenses are made with shades 9 to 13 which makes them adequate for most of the welding applications. The nifty ratchet allows the user to wear the shield in 3 different positions. You will have plenty of additional space underneath to wear glasses and work on your welding project. Many customers have appreciated the carbon fiber pattern on the helmet and the fact that it is quite affordable.
Lincoln Electric Viking 3350 Auto Darkening Helmet
Looks like the manufacturers of Lincoln Electric Viking 3350 have put a lot of attention in designing the helmet. These helmets are available 10 different styles. If you are the kind of person who would like something other than a standard black welding helmet, you will love the styles in Lincoln Viking 3350. Whether it is the American flag, zombies, camouflage style, you name it, Lincoln has them all.
Due to the cutting edge 4C lens technology, these helmets offer optimal clarity and there is a large viewing area too. The user, hence, will enjoy complete freedom in moving his head.
The helmet is powered by solar rechargeable batteries so when you are not using the helmet, just leave it by the window. A great thing is that the LED light on the helmet flashes when batteries need to be recharged.
It has four arc sensors that detect the flash at the speed of .00004 seconds to provide you complete protection. It has a pivot style design which balances the helmet pretty well so that users don’t complain about neck pain. If you are the kind of person who does not want to compromise on the quality of the welding helmet, Lincoln Electric Viking 3350 is meant for you. It is capable of withstanding a lot of abuse. It is suitable for professionals as well as beginners. It surely is a versatile piece of safety gear when it comes to clarity of vision, large viewing window and the range of shade settings.
Miller Welding Helmet, Shade 3 and 8-12, Black
It’s another one of the best Auto Darkening Welding Hoods voted by customers. It has won the hearts of users due to its innovative design and premium quality. This welding helmet has been designed for weekend warriors and hobbyists. It is also one of the inexpensive safety equipment out there. Miller classic has some of the best light sensitivity features. It also has a programmable sensitivity delay feature making it easier for you to work in all sorts of environments. Not all the Auto Darkening Welding Helmets 2019 have this feature.
Miller classic has miniature dimensions and a lightweight frame. It weighs 2.1 lbs. only. Even if you are working with the helmet for 10 hours, you won’t get exhausted. It is available in shades between 8 and 12. The welder can optimize the shade according to his comfort. Whether you are working with TIG, MIG or stick welding, this helmet will assist you in all applications.
See Also: Best Miller Welding Helmets to Buy
You can easily reduce the arc sensor sensitivity to prevent darkening or triggering. These welding helmets come with 2 sensors with 1/10,000 seconds lens speed. Another great thing about Miller Classic is that they are powered by solar batteries. So you will enjoy an extended battery life. It also has knobs for the user to control the resistance and sliding of the helmet. Despite being an affordable welding helmet, Miller has exceptional quality and some great features.
Antra AH6-660-6217 Solar Power Auto Darkening Welding Helmet
Here comes another best welding helmet Antra AH6-660-6217 is the product of Antec Electronic. It is on our list because it is available in a variety of shades and its engineering is great, of course. Among the many best things, you will love how quickly it can change from darkness to light. Its response time is 0.00004 seconds only. This makes it a perfect choice for beginners who are new to UV rays. You can use it for a number of welding applications even grinding.
You won’t have to worry that UV or IR rays will get into the helmet because it is protected from all rays and radiations up to 16 shades.
It is light in weight and comfortable. It only weighs 435 grams. You can change the lens shade from 5 to 13, according to the job requirement. It is best to wear while you are stick welding on a thin metal.
The viewing window is 3.78” x 2.5” in size and it is wide enough to let the welder perform a large number of jobs. It is easy to adjust the auto darkening sensitivity. You can adjust the settings using the step-less adjustable knob. The helmet is quite rigid itself because it is made of Polyimide Nylon. The helmet is fit for most of the jobs like welding MIG, MAG, TIG, and SMAW. There is no manual intervention required because it has an automated on and off switch function.
3M Speedglas 9100 Auto Darkening Welding Helmet
3M Speedglas 9100 is meant for professional welders. The viewing area is pretty large. With the side windows, you get an unprecedented view of the object you are working on and the surrounding area. It is equipped with shade range of 5 to 13 so it is ideal for most of the welding jobs. It is extremely comfortable and you can customize it according to your need and make it fit your head perfectly.
It doesn’t just have the largest lenses but optical quality too. Some customers have said that while working, they get such a clear view that it feels as if they are not wearing a helmet at all. The helmet also has exhaust vents that direct exhaled air out of the helmet to reduce humidity, heat and fogging. The hood of 3M Speedglas 9100 complies with NZ and AU standards to provide high impact protection to the user.
The swivel mount ratchet system on the helmet lets you fit the mask so that you can easily make an adjustment through the knobs that are placed outside the hood even if you are wearing gloves. That means the welder won’t have to pause his work and take off the helmet to make adjustments in the settings. That’s not all, the headband is padded to elevate pressure point contact. The lens has 3 arch sensors. It just takes 0.1 milliseconds to switch from light to dark shade The 3 channel exhaust system makes it a perfect choice for professionals.
Antra AH6-260-0000 Solar Power Auto Darkening Welding
It is one of the most appreciated solar powered auto darkening welding helmets out there yet. It has an adequate viewing screen measuring 3.86″X1.73″. No matter what type of welding job you are performing, you will have a perfect vision from this window. As mentioned above, it is perfect for most types of welding jobs like TIG, arch, plasma and even MIG. It is also compatible with cheater and magnifying lenses. So, if you have to carry out a job that requires attention, then just switch to magnifying lens.
Antra AH6-260-0000 provides ultimate protection from infrared and UV rays. It also provides radiation with up to 16 shades. Its switching time is just 0.00004 seconds, making it easy for beginners to use it.
Overall, Antra AH6-260-0000 is a user-friendly helmet. The sensors and auto darkening sensitivity controls are easy to use. If you are doing a longer than usual welding job, you can turn to the solar power if you have the fear of running out on the battery. The welding will continue without pausing the work.
The helmet is made of high impact Polyimide Nylon, making it strong and durable. Even if you have to deal with rough tasks, it is fit to use. It can easily withstand bumps and last longer. Another thing that you will appreciate about Antra AH6-260-0000 is its lightweight. It just weighs one pound. If you are a hobbyist or a homeowner, Antra AH6-260-0000 will prove to be a great bargain.
Jackson Safety 46131 Insight Variable Auto Darkening Welding
For those of you who are looking for a welding helmet that offers industrial strength and lets you do the job safely, then Jackson Safety 4613 will serve the need for you well.
It’s an advance helmet since it comes with digital controls that are easy to operate. Its lens viewing area is 3.93” x 2.36” and it has 4 independent auto dim sensors to let you adjust the light according to your surroundings. These sensors also determine whether or not the helmet is in use. As the arc strikes, the sensors do their job and automatically dim the lens according to the intensity of light. Once you stop welding, the lens reverts to clear mode.
With the auto darkening filter, you won’t have to worry about hurting your eyes while spending long hours on the task. The filters do their job perfect in darkening and lighting the shade as per the condition. It also meets the ANSI Z87.1+2010 which makes it an industry compatible helmet. It is also CSA compliant.
Although it is an industrial grade helmet, but Jackson Safety 46131 can also be used by beginners. In fact, the filters make it even easier to operate which is exactly what beginners need. On top of it, it is not as expensive as most of the high-quality welding helmets out there. Don’t worry, it is made from thermal plastic which makes it durable.
Antra AH7-360-0000 Solar Power Auto Darkening Welding Helmet
Antra AH7-360-0000 has smart chip controlled four sensors darkening lens. Although it is made from the finest construction materials, it is still light on the head which is one of the reasons why it is among the best Auto Darkening Welding helmets.
The viewing window is large, it measures 3.86″ x 2.09″. It is compatible with cheater and magnifying lens so you can choose either one if you want to work on a detailed welding job. Antra AH7-360-0000 can assist in most welding and cutting jobs. You can change the lens shade from 5 to 13 as per the requirement of the job. The sensors of the helmet are quite responsive. They have a reaction time of 0.00004 seconds.
It has a fully automatic power ON/OFF feature. The filter keeps alive for 10 minutes in the dark environment before it shuts off. It is comfortable and light in weight so you can use it for welding, cutting and grinding applications without any worry. It may not be a good fit for commercial or industrial use but if you need a reliable helmet for home or workshop use, Antra AH7-360-0000 won’t make a bad choice.
Instapark ADF Series GX-500S Solar Powered Auto Darkening Welding Helmet
Instapark ADF Series GX-500S is suitable for most of the welding tasks such as MIG TIG and Sick and it makes a perfect choice if you are in search of a budget welding helmet. The manufacturers have tried to make its hood as economical as possible.
It comes with dual arc sensors that are capable of making the auto darkening filter switch from lighter to darker shade in 1/25,000 second as soon as the arc strikes. You don’t have to worry about flipping the helmet while welding and you won’t have to pause in between either.
Instapark ADF Series GX-500S is available in variable shades of 9 and 13 and a resting shade of 4. The helmet has an ergonomic design and since it is made of composite material, it is light in weight. As the interior of the helmet is padded, it will be comfortable to wear even if you have to wear it for a long time.
It is operated by lithium batteries and it can work in solar power mode too. It is cheap, it has an adjustable headband and it offers what it promises. Hence why it has made it to our list in this best Auto Darkening Welding Helmets review.
YESWELDER True Color Solar Powered Auto Darkening Welding Helmet
If you are looking for something reliable yet cost effective, YESWELDER True Color solar powered auto darkening welding helmet is for you. It is ideal for MAA, MIG and TIG applications.
Thanks this helmet, a good view has now even gotten better. It’s viewing size 3.64″X1.67″ and it comes with 2 premium sensors. The helmet is paired with True color technology that preserves the 1/1/1/2 Optical Clarity. You will be certain of getting a clear and crisp view. It won’t put a stress on your eyes. If that traditional lime green coloring used to bother you, it won’t be a problem with this helmet’s view screen.
The hood’s design is kept lightweight. Under the hood, you will see a luxury headgear in pivot style. It is highly comfortable to wear. The headgear comes with oversized comfort cushion which is adjustable and adds to the comfort. The helmet will fit you just right.
It powered by solar energy and its battery powered at the same time. This model has an improved battery life. You can count on this helmet to perform a job that requires more hours.
This helmet is compatible with magnifying lens and cheater lens. Its response time is ≤1/10000 seconds and the Wide shade range it supports is DIN4 /DIN9~13.
When you will buy YESWELDER True Color solar powered auto darkening welding helmet, these are the items that will come in the package: a user’s manual, 2 replacement lens, a storage bag and a replacement battery.
It will make for a valuable addition in your welding gears. It is reliable, easy to operate and it provides you a crisp view. These are some of the qualities all welders desire.
TR Industrial Forestry Safety Helmet and Hearing Protection System
TR produces professional safety helmets ideal for using at home and at work. They come with all the right safety features to protect your eyes and everything about your shoulders. Most of them are affordable so that a welder and average homeowner can purchase them.
When it comes to looks this TR Industrial Forestry Safety Helmet is very solid. The manufacturers have been extremely careful with making it comfortable and fully adjustable. It’s a great choice if you are looking for sturdy and comfortable helmet.
It is a 5 in 1 safety gear. It is not just a helmet, but it has a mesh visor, plastic visor, and adjustable/removable earmuffs. It offers you dynamic protection to perform the job. Along with covers your eyes, face and shoulders, it also protects your ears from the loud welding noise.
If you have to use the chainsaw, trimmer, or brush cutter or perform any other forestry job, it will provide protection to your ears.
It secures onto your head firmly. There is a convenient dial knob that lets you adjust the circumference of the helmet from 20 to 20.5 inches. It is lightweight. The mesh and plastic visors protect your eyes from debris as well. The helmet complies with the Z89.1-2003 ANSI rating. It is also CE approved.
You can adjust the helmet according to the size of your head thanks to its 6 point ratchet style suspension system. There is even a precise air flow regulation to ensure the warm air escapes and air is ventilated through the slots. This way, the welder will feel comfortable throughout the duration of the job. Not all helmets come with this feature.
Things to consider before buying an Auto Darkening Welding Helmet
Buying the right Auto Darkening Welding Helmet is not as easy as it seems. Even though I have mentioned all the best ones, you are still going to need more information to pick the right one. So, here are some things to consider before purchasing the auto darkening welding helmet:
Auto darkening lens
The auto lenses are coated with ultraviolet and infrared sensitive material. These lenses are dark, of course. Shading lenses are available in 3 or 4 rating. It is important for the lenses to be coated in such a way that a user can easily see the material he is working on. You can always get passive lenses as they are available in 10 different shades but auto lenses are preferable since they are better in quality.
Since you will be wearing the helmet throughout the time you are working, the helmet should be light in weight. A light helmet doesn’t just improve the comfort of the user but also eliminates the long working hours. Fortunately, all the best auto darkening welding helmets are made with standard height and weight to provide maximum work comfort.
It is one of the most important features to consider when choosing an auto darkening welding helmet. Typically, these helmets come with up to four arc sensors. The helmet that features more sensors will provide better response, sensitivity, and reliability in the application.
The switching speed indicates the time lens take to darken once they sense the arc. The faster the switching speed, the lesser fatigue your eyes will experience. Initially, auto darkening lenses were available with the speed of 1/3,600 of a second but now they are capable of switching shades between 1/1,000 and 1/25,000 of a second. So, the auto darkening welding helmet you choose should have a fast switching speed.
When it comes to buying the best auto darkening welding helmet, the power supply is also a feature that deserves your attention. The welding helmets come with either a replaceable battery or a proprietary battery. The ones with proprietary batteries have a longer runtime but they are expensive to replace. You will also find auto darkening helmets that use solar power with batteries. No matter what type of power source you prefer, it is best if you have a pair of spare batteries at hand.
All helmets are supposed to meet a set of safety standards in terms of darkening lenses. Different countries have different safety standards. Make sure the helmet you are about to buy complies with the safety standards in your country. For those who live in the USA, the welding helmet should be in compliance with ANSIZ87.1 which is a standard set by the ANSI (American National Standards Institute). This standard has specified requirements for construction, design, testing and the use of eye protection devices. The minimum requirements for eyewear standard include:
- It must provide adequate protection against hazards
- It should be comfortable
- It must fit the user securely without interfering with his vision or movement
- It must be easy to clean
- It must be durable
- It should fit over prescription eyewear too
Don’t forget to consider some personal factors while buying an auto welding helmet like comfort, visible and shade range. If it has some additional features, that means it will provide you more comfortable and make you efficient at your work. Even if you need an auto welding helmet for doing minor welding, you should still spend enough time to make this purchase. Evaluate all these factors before buying one so that you don’t have to regret your decision later on.
One thing is for sure, good auto darkening welding helmets don’t come at a cheap price so it is best if you take good care of them once you have bought them. That’s the only way the helmet is going to last longer. The main purpose of these helmets is to protect the face and eyes of the welder but if the helmet is not in good condition, it won’t be able to do its job like it is supposed to. Hence, you must take care of its maintenance as well. If you are new to this, here are some tips to take care of your welding helmet:
- When you are not using it, keep it somewhere safe. Don’t place it in areas from where it can fall, catch dust or get wet. Make sure you keep it out of the reach of children because it is certainly not an ordinary helmet.
- If you are a welder, you will have to take the helmet wherever you go. Always carry it in a bag so that you can protect it from scratching during the transit. You can also look for bags especially designed for welding helmets. Nevertheless, the bag should offer enough protection to the eye area.
- It is important that you clean the helmet after every use. All you have to do is wipe the dust to keep it in a good shape. Since the helmet is exposed to chemicals and dust while it is being used, it needs some cleaning. Make sure the lens is clean from inside out.
- Never use harsh chemicals and cleaners for cleaning the helmet. Simply follow the manufacturer’s guide to clean it in the right way.
- You will have to replace the lens regularly not just for ensuring the helmet is in good shape but for the protection of your eyes. If the coating of the lens is damaged and you are still using the same helmet, the harmful light can reach your eyes and cause damage.
- To make sure the helmet provides you optimal protection, replace its parts regularly. This is important for the efficient functioning of the helmet.
Whether you are a beginner or a professional, everyone wants a perfect balance between safety, comfort and quality when it comes to choosing the right auto welding helmet. It is fair to say anyone can get confused when so much variety is available but when you have the right information and you know what you want, making a decision isn’t always that tough. I hope that you found this guide helpful in learning about the best auto darkening helmets out in the market. Carefully analyze each option that you have and then pick the best helmet as per the features, use and your budget, of course.