Best Welding Helmets 2020 – Top 5 helmets for welding

Best welding helmets

When you imagine a welding task, you think of a sturdy headgear that you would flip on and off with a flick of the wrist. Although those welding helmets are still in use, their days are long gone. Electrical welding helmets have since taken their place.

These helmets offer more control over your welding tasks and enhance the quality of your work through several features. However, with so many helmets in the market, it can be difficult to pick the right one.

In this article, we review five of the best welding helmets. These helmets vary in price but deliver powerful performance depending on the task.

We’ll help you find the best helmet for you, no matter budget and purpose.

In a hurry? Here are the best welding helmets on the market today.

Best overall: Lincoln 3350
“An auto-darkening model, the 3350 sits at the top of its class”


Most popular: Antra AH6
“the Antra AH6 works well for MIG, arc, TIG and plasma welding applications”


Best budget choice: Hobart 770756
“This helmet is great for people looking for excellent value on a budget.”


Best premium choice: 3M Speedglas 9100XXi
“this one delivered a truly comfortable viewing experience”


Best design: ESAB Sentinel A50
“The Halo style delivers great comfort due to its ergonomic design”


Best overall: Lincoln 3350

Reasons to buy:

  • 4C lens technology
  • 1/1/1/1 clarity rating
  • Large viewing area
  • Wide selection of designs
  • Long-running solar battery
  • Balanced color representation
  • Consistent shades
Reasons not to buy:

  • Bulkier than other helmets
  • Scratchable glossy surface

Good For:

The Lincoln 3350 is one of the best as well as the most expensive welding helmets you can get. What you get for the price is a helmet that can be used for all welding applications. It is very easy to use and even users with limited skill should have no trouble getting accustomed to its controls.

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Lincoln is popular for manufacturing reliable helmets, and the 3350 is no different. An auto-darkening model, the 3350 sits at the top of its class. Although more expensive than others on this list, it justifies the high price tag with advanced features, better clarity, and reliability.

The 3350 is a professional-grade helmet. However, it does not limit itself to professionals like many expensive models do. It is simple to use, and the controls are easy enough to understand even by newer users.

Lincoln forgoes the conventional LCD lens technology in favor of the much newer 4C lens. This technology has a lot of functional superiority over its conventional counterpart. It offers better clarity and consistent shades. This, in turn, reduces eye strain, so the helmet can be used for longer periods with ease.

What enhances the helmet’s appeal is that this technology comes coupled with a massive viewing area. Regardless of where you are, you can see the weld easily without having to move your head around and strain your neck. The field of view on this helmet is 3.74 x 3.34 inches.

According to the EN379 standards, the clarity on the Viking 3350 is 1/1/1/1. This happens to be the best standard for optical clarity today. The rating takes into consideration several factors including how easy it is to see through the helmet and how well it protects you.

Even some of the best helmets in terms of features can be limited by a bad battery. This is not a problem on the Viking 3350. The helmet packs solar batteries that automatically recharge during the day. Leave the helmet in sunlight when you’re not using it, and it will be ready for your next welding spree.


Most popular: Antra AH6-260-0000

Reasons to buy:

  • Lightweight
  • Minimizes stress on eyes and neck
  • Long-running battery
  • Battery indicator on the inside
  • Suitable for all different welding applications
  • Large viewing lens
  • Cheater lens with magnifying lens compatibility
  • Variable light shades
  • Step-less delay system
Reasons not to buy:

  • Features outdated knob design
  • The adjustability knob is not very sturdy

Good For:

Not all welding tasks require a professional-grade helmet with tons of bells and whistles, especially if you just want to take up a hobby or carry out some minor maintenance work. The Antra AH6 is perfect for such situations and is not too heavy on the pocket.

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Despite being a less known brand, Antra captures attention and loyalties with this budget welding helmet. With its essential features and reliable performance, Antra AH6 proves that a good welding helmet does not have to cost you hundreds of dollars.

Adequately equipped for all professional and home users, the Antra AH6 works well for MIG, arc, TIG and plasma welding applications. In case you are someone who needs to get a lot of different tasks done, the grinding feature allows for versatile usage.

As expected, the helmet comes with variable shade settings. This is an important feature for welding helmets as the nature of welding tasks differs exponentially. With variable shade settings, users will have ultimate protection that does not compromise on visibility and clarity.

Another thing that users will easily spot is the size of the viewing lens. It is considerably bigger than what we have seen on some similarly priced helmets. The larger lens means that users don’t have to move their head around too much and strain the neck in order to see everything.

In addition to the large primary lens, users can also benefit from an additional cheater lens. What this lens essentially does is increase your field of view and allow you to use a magnifying lens to spot minute flaws and imperfections.

A smooth transition helps users easily adjust to different environments and welding tasks. This is made possible by the helmet’s step-less delay system. Variable sensitivity gives added control over adjusting the viewing setting depending on the task.


Best budget choice: Hobart 770756

Reasons to buy:

  • Latest LCD lens
  • Auto-darkening capability
  • Large visibility area
  • Durable build
  • Lightweight
  • Fog protection
  • Advanced sensitivity control
Reasons not to buy:

  • Controls are too sensitive
  • Sensors can be affected by sunlight
  • Outdated analog dials

Good For:

This welding helmet from Hobart packs some great features to aid in welding tasks. What makes it special is that all these features are available at a low price. This helmet is great for people looking for excellent value on a budget.

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This affordable welding helmet from Hobart should be on every DIYer’s Christmas list. With auto-darkening and several other useful features that you wouldn’t expect on an entry-level helmet, the 770756 is a solid offering. Producing fairly accurate results, it is right at home with most welding tasks.

With this model, Hobart has aimed to eliminate several issues that plague many other lower-end welding helmets. This does cause some other issues but none that will affect the general efficiency of the helmet. The helmet succeeds in providing great value for money.

The most important aspect of any welding helmet is how efficiently it can protect your eyes from blinding flashes and sparks. Despite being low-priced, this Hobart helmet excels in doing so. The LCD lens technology the helmet uses does a great job of protecting the eyes and reducing discomfort.

Like all good welding helmets, it comes with auto-darkening lens. The lens stays at a level-3 light state in regular conditions and switches automatically to darker shades when you start a welding task. The lens can adjust darkness between 8-13 shade levels.

Despite the darkening lenses, visibility is not an issue on any setting. The display remains clear. Additionally, the spacious viewing area ensures that you can see the entire welding puddle without difficulty. The display does not get fogged up either, which is a recurring issue on some welding helmets.

Several other design choices also give this helmet an advantage over others. Hobart has given particular attention to designing a helmet that is durable yet lightweight so that it doesn’t stress out the user. It can be adjusted to be worn with a hard hat if the job you are undertaking requires extra protection.


Best premium choice: 3M Speedglas 9100XXi

Reasons to buy:

  • Market-leading auto-darkening technology
  • True-View technology
  • Best arc detection on the market
  • Large primary viewing lens
  • 2 side mirrors
  • Auto-on sets up last used welding settings
Reasons not to buy:

  • Expensive

Good For:

The 3M Speedglas 9100XXi won’t disappoint a professional or a casual DIYer. Of all the helmets we tried, this one delivered a truly comfortable viewing experience. The True-View tech does a tremendous job of restoring the original color and detail of your surroundings.

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Speedglas is a brand with decades of experience in manufacturing welding helmets. Since the release of its first auto-darkening helmet in 1981, its product line has been marked by innovation. The 9100XXi delivers remarkable viewing clarity and an expansive viewing area to get your welding jobs done easily.

Speedglas is considered to be an authority in auto-darkening lens. It was the first one to release an auto-darkening helmet, and its technology still leads the market in terms of quality and smoothness of transition. The helmet’s auto-darkening capabilities adjust the shade according to the task at hand.

The lens also features the company’s own True-View technology. This technology affects how clearly the user can see during a welding task. The lens adds a light tint to the view, enhancing the color and detail of what users see through the glass.

The Speedglas 9100XXi has received a 1/1/1 viewing rating. This is a representation of several viewing factors in which the helmet excels. A large viewing area is one of the factors that give the 9100XXi such a high score.

The primary welding lens on the helmet is not that large. However, when combined with the two side windows, the viewing area becomes the largest in the market. The shade-5 side lenses allow welders to see beams and other obstacles which conventional helmets block out.

Another feature the helmet excels in is arc detection. Although many helmets come with this feature, the 9100XXi is the most powerful in this regard. The photo sensors of the lens can detect a welding arc up to a maximum of 1 amp, which is the highest in the industry.


Best design: ESAB Sentinel A50

Reasons to buy:

  • Comfortable to wear
  • Sleek design
  • Durable build
  • Bright LCD screen
  • Easy switching between grinding and welding shades
  • 8 save slots for custom shade settings
  • Smooth auto-darkening transition
Reasons not to buy:

  • Shading can struggle at some viewing angles
  • Heat can affect the lens

Good For:

The A50 sits at the top of its line. Unlike other helmets, it attracts attention not only because of its functional superiority but also for its sleek and trendy design. It’s comfortable to use and will attract DIYers as much as it will contractors and repairmen.

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This trendy yet reliable protective headgear comes from ESAB, one of the oldest and most reliable Swedish welding helmet manufacturers. The A50 represents the manufacturer’s dedication to safety and technology at an affordable price.

There are a few elements that contribute to the A50’s exceptional appeal. Among the more important ones is ESAB’s attention to comfort. The Halo style delivers great comfort due to its ergonomic design. The strap fits nicely around your face, and you don’t feel any additional weight pulling down your neck.

ESAB’s True Color lenses are also among the best we have tested. On longer jobs, the helmet’s light weight and lens’ color representation will have you forgetting that you are wearing anything at all. The only thing that is any indication of the helmet’s presence is the brightness and reflections it cancels out.

The clarity rating on this helmet is 1/1/1/2. The helmet receives high ratings in accuracy of vision, light diffusion, and shading consistency. Viewing angles receive a 2 out of 3, which is a good rating at this price range. However, it does mean that shading may struggle when looking at objects from an angle.

The helmet features a large viewing screen. With dimensions of 3.93 x 2.36 inches, users don’t have to strain their neck too much in order to get a complete view. The auto-darkening speed and transition are also incredibly smooth, with the screen being able to change at a fraction of a second.

Color shades can be adjusted between 5-13 shade settings. At level 5, the viewing experience is not too dark which is a problem with some helmets. Shade selection through the LCD screen is easy and visible in all lighting conditions. Shade settings can also be saved for later use.


How to choose the best welding helmet for you

When you go out to buy a welding helmet, you will be surprised and even overwhelmed by the amount of options available. Although sifting through the various options may be time-consuming and troublesome, doing so will help you select a helmet that best suits your needs.

There are a number of elements that make up a welding helmet. These include the lens, shade, viewing size, sensors, and ease of use. These factors will determine how efficiently the helmet allows you to carry out your welding tasks.

The first thing to check for when purchasing a welding helmet is that is ANSI Z87.1 certified. Helmets that meet this standard are subjected to several tests. Among these is a strength test to determine whether the helmet can withstand impact from objects flying at a high velocity.

Other tests include an infrared filtering and a UV filtering test to determine whether the lens can filter out UV rays entirely. For the certification, it’s also assessed whether the helmet meets the darkness shades and switching speeds advertised. Helmets also have to pass a switching test in low temperatures.

Below, we discuss some other factors to consider when selecting the best welding helmet for your tasks.

Auto-Darkening

Conventional welding helmets, which we now call passive helmets, come with a fixed lens shade. The trouble with fixed shades is that it can be difficult to see in different lighting conditions. Clarity of view when no welding task is being undertaken is also affected.

Auto-darkening lenses meet the ANSI Z87.1 standard and are capable of filtering out all dangerous UV and infrared rays in almost all lighting conditions. These lenses come with variable shades. On more advanced models, these shades can be switched between 3 to 13. The higher the shade, the darker the view.

Auto-darkening lenses have a number of advantages over passive lenses. The first advantage is versatility. Although passive welding helmets have served many welders dutifully for years, they lack versatility. With the helmet on, unexperienced welders may find it difficult to correctly position the electrode.

With the variable shades of the auto-darkening lens, this is not an issue. When no welding application is being carried out, the lens stays at its lowest shade setting. On most helmets, this is a shade 5, but on some more advanced ones, this can also be a shade 3.

At these low settings, users can easily see their surroundings. They can also correctly place the electrodes, resulting in a more precise weld, less errors, and less need for removing imperfections through grinding.

As soon as the user begins welding, the sensors detect the change in the viewfinder and the lens darkens automatically to a suitable shade. Auto-darkening also helps make tasks easier as users don’t have to snap the helmet on and off repeatedly to get a better view.

Lens Type

Now that we have discussed what auto-darkening helmets are, lets discuss the two types of auto-darkening helmets you can purchase. These helmets come with either fixed or variable shade lenses. A fixed shade lens is generally cheaper and limited in function.

Bear in mind that a fixed shade lens is not a passive lens. It’s still an auto-darkening lens that sits at a lighter shade when no welding application is being carried out. When the welding application begins, it switches to a fixed shade and retains that shade throughout the welding process. Generally, fixed shade helmets will switch to a shade 9 or 10, as that is what most welding applications require.

This type of lens became popular because of its low price. It may lack the versatility of more expensive models, but for similar jobs with similar materials, it is an excellent choice.

A variable shade lens is what most contractors prefer. The lens can switch between shades depending on the type of welding task being carried out. For low-amp tasks, the lens stays at a lighter shade and goes up as the amps increase.

Variable shade lenses give users more freedom and control. They are a heavier investment than fixed shade helmets, but they can also be used for several applications. Where a fixed lens can only be used when welding on limited materials at a certain amp, variable lenses offer more freedom.

Reaction Time

You don’t want to begin a welding task and be blinded by the excess light. What you ideally want is a smooth and quick transition from a light shade to a darker shade in a fraction of a second. The lower the reaction time of the auto-darkening lens, the less stress you will feel on longer jobs.

Imagine carrying out numerous small welding tasks wearing a helmet with a high reaction time. Although you may not notice it at first, your eyes will stress out after a while and carrying on the task will become troublesome.

Budget auto-darkening helmets generally come with a reaction time of 1/3600 of a second. This is okay for regular tasks if you don’t have to weld too often. For more frequent welds, consider a professional-grade lens with a reaction time of around 1/20000 of a second.

Size of Viewing Area

The size of the viewing area determines how much you have to turn your head to see the area you are welding. For small welds, a smaller viewing area will be sufficient. However, for larger tasks, you want a larger viewing area.

Much like a high reaction time, a smaller viewing area will have side effects that you will feel on longer tasks. Your neck will strain more from the movement and tasks will become more stressful. For bigger projects, consider a larger viewing area.