An auto-darkening welding helmet is a necessary protective equipment to prevent eye damage and permanent blindness as it quickly adjusts the eye to the brightness. The best part is that, these helmets do it by themselves.

Welding arcs emit a lot of ultraviolet and infrared rays that are comparable to the sun’s. The arcs also contain a lot of radiation and gasses, which is why the whole face has to be covered.

The auto darkening helmets that we know today got their start in the late 1930’s by Wilson Products. Most are made with a lens shade and from something like tinted glass or polarized lenses. They are designed to prevent blindness and damage to the retinal, which is important for welders working with dangerously bright lights. The auto-darkening feature adjusts to put less strain on the eye.

However, one disadvantage is that all welding helmets are still subject to cracking and other kinds of damage. When they sustain damage, they compromise on the protection from the arc’s rays. It's important to keep them well maintained and working.

These are some top choices for auto darkening welding helmets that fits your budget.



Top Budget Auto Darkening Welding Helmets in 2020

1. Hobart 770756 Impact Variable

The Hobart has a stylish and strong polyamide shell with a darkening rate between 8 and 13. It is TIG capable of several weld and grind modes. It meets ANSI safety standards and comes with a CR2450 Lithium Battery. 

This helmet also includes an excellent Grind and Shut off mode that weighs less than three pounds altogether. It has seven square inches of a viewing area and 1/2,5000 second darkening time.

This is a top choice for the price due to the 3 arc sensors on the lens that will adjust your eyes to the sparks and ambient light. Easily adjustable and extremely comfortable to wear for long periods of time.

Pros

  • Great ventilation
  • Comes with a couple of spare lenses
  • Good color as well as shading clarity

Cons

  • Needs to be broken in
  • Not all sizes of gas masks can fit into it

2. Antra AH6-260 Series

Antra is best known for having a very fast response time. It is multipurpose and can be used for anything from grinding to cutting. If you are looking for an upgrade from the usual style of goggles and fixed glass shade, this is this auto darkening helmet you need that is worth the money.

It comes with a Full On/Off power and numerous adjustments to delay settings and sensitivity. A Hard hat adapter is available but sold separately. Its battery is a replaceable solar cell. The auto-darkening functionality is one of the best in terms of quality and vision.

The Antra AH6-260 Series Welding Helmet is perfect for working on heavy-duty projects and provide you with everything you need to get the job done.

Pros

  • Eight darkening levels
  • Solar-powered
  • Budget-friendly

Cons

  • It has been known to cause spark leakage when damaged

3. Lincoln Electric 3350 Series

The Lincoln Electric 33450 has a shade range between 5 and 13. The viewing area is less than four inches in both ways with a switching speed of 1/25,000 a second.

This is a helmet made especially for skilled welders with unbeatable qualities in comfort and functions. It provide a clear view with 4C technology to optimize visibility by minimizing lime green tints. 

X6 technology headgear meaning that it works well with heat and sweat, which makes it perfect if you weld outdoors. Weighing in at less than 4lbs, you will hardly notice you have it on with all the pads and cushions for a perfect fit.

Pros

  • Very comfortable and balanced
  • Excellent optical clarity
  • It has one of the largest viewing areas in its own class of the auto darkening welding helmet

Cons

  • The price tends to be too high if you weld as a hobby versus professionally
  • There have been some complaints that the welding hood is too small

4. 3M Speedglas 9100

The 3M Speedglas weighs less than three pounds. Its auto darkening filter is designed to provide top protection from debris and radiation while simultaneously providing top grade clarity. Its shades are five, eight, nine through 13.

It comes with large knobs that provide prep and parking positions, nine adjustment angles, a padded front headband and a swivel rounded matchett system for proper tightening.

Widely known for optimal protection and functional uses, you may want to consider a different helmet if you want comfort from working long hours.

Pros

  • Battery life is approximately 2,000 hours
  • Side windows have up to level five shading
  • Has exhaust vents

Cons

  • Only fits head sizes 6.25 to eight
  • Pricing may be too high if you weld for a hobby rather than professionally

5. ESAB SENTINEL A50

The A50 is known for its halo-like appearance. It is available for use with the ESAB hard hat, though this doesn’t apply in Canada. Its revolutionary welding hood shell design is made with highly resistant nylon at low costs.

It requires two lithium batteries. It has eight memory settings equipped triggered by the shade four Grind button giving you different options of darkness to your likes. It is infinitely adjustable at five points for ultimate comfort and has a touch panel that comes with cover lens.

This sleek design is more than just aesthetically pleasing, it's meant to reduce extrusions, allowing you to move comfortable in small working areas.

Pros

  • Blacklit color touchscreen on the panel
  • It doesn’t sit super-high on your head when you flip it up
  •  Lightweight 

Cons

  • Price may be too high for you if you weld as a hobby
  • Not a very wide viewing area

6. Jackson Safety BH3

The Jackson Safety is an advanced ADF that has earned the best optical clarity with Balder Technology. It is made with a superior angle view, upgraded visibility and color recognition along with adjustable sensitivity. It comes with a five-year warranty.

It has been rated one of the best Auto Darkening Welding Helmet at 1/1/1/1, light diffusion and angular ranges. It comes with a plastic shell that covers from face to neck to protect from arc splashes.

It comes with three headgear adjustments and is compatible with some hard hats and magnification filters. However, you will need to purchase those separately which may not be as budget-friendly, but your safety is worth the money.

Pros

  • Easy to adjust
  • Ideal for working on shorter projects
  • The highly dense plastic shell keeps you protected

Cons

  • It is not lightweight
  • Not the most comfortable helmet on the market

7. Optrel VegaView 2.5

The Optrel Vegaview has the lightest ADF at 2.5. It’s view is up to four times lighter in shade and grind. It has a good color view between 8 and 12.

It comes with a perfect grind mode and weighs two pounds exactly. Its viewing range is two by four. It comes with a spare front lens and a soft carrying bag and has two adjustable dual sensors.

Its replacement lens covers are available to purchase separately but are highly recommended.

Pros

  • Lightweight and can be comfortably worn for long hours
  • It is sensitive to arc start
  • The low light shade gives clear vision in areas between welds and grinds

Cons

  • This one goes to 12 while its previous models have been able to shade up to 13

8. Miller Digital Elite

The Miller Digital has top-notch plus four modes of versatility for weld and cutting applications. It’s X-mode application comfortably eliminates all sunlight applications as you work. And it features a new headgear for maximum comfort and comes with a three-year warranty.

The Miller Digital Elite Welding Helmet also comes with one C battery and contains new clear-light lens technology. It comes with an outside and inside lens that has been upgraded with new easy-to-read digital controls.

It is made with a shock absorbing material, so you don't have to worry about intense impact. This does not mean you should be careless with this helmet, but it is a neat feature.

Pros

  • The hood is very flexible
  • It also provides clear visibility for tacking
  • Super durable and long lasting

Cons

  • It’s fairly heavy
  • There have been some complaints that it does not easily revert back from dark to light

9. YESWELDER Solar Powered Helmet

The YESWELDER is lightweight with upgraded headgear for more comfortable wear. Its new True Color technology preserves the existing 1/1/1/2 rating while minimizing the traditional green coloring. Its headgear comes with an over-sized comfort cushion for maximum adjust-ability.

The YESWELDER's battery life has been upgraded and its premium sensors allow for a viewing of 3.64 x 1.67. The headgear has been updated to a pivotal style and it’s response time is 1/10000. It comes with one solar-powered battery

Pros

  • It can be comfortably used for stick welding
  • It can be comfortably worn over eyeglasses

Cons

  • It can’t fit over a hard hat
  • The hood doesn’t have a grind setting

10. DEKOPRO Welding Helmet

The DEKOPRO currently has a 1/2/1/2 rating. It is solar-powered with a darkening reaction of .00004 seconds. The headgear is rounded for maximum comfort. It comes with multiple adjustments and combinations so that pretty much anyone of any size can comfortably wear it.

The DEKOPRO Welding Helmet has a viewing area of seven square inches and the grinding and welding are its most prominent applications. It is made to fit any environment from automotive to oil and gas. It comes with its own user manual.

Pros

  • It can be used on both face and stick welding
  • It is solar-powered
  • Replacement lenses are available for a separate purchase

Cons

  • Mounting the cheater lens can apparently be difficult
  • There have been a few complaints about the range not being quite dark enough

Buying Guide For Auto Darkening Welding Helmets

Aside from your welder, an auto darkening welding helmet is probably the most important piece of welding equipment you can buy. Welding may seem like a simple process, but this is actually a very dangerous process to learn. You’re exposing yourself to a lot of heat and UV rays. If you don’t protect your face and eyes, you could end up with burns and permanent damage to your vision. Knowing this, you might be overwhelmed with the process of selecting a helmet. There are some factors to think about when comparing items.

It’s important that you’re safe from radiation, sparks and flying particles when you’re in the midst of welding. You’ll want to focus on the weld you’re creating, and your auto darkening welding helmet can allow you to keep that focus without having to stop for safety purposes. Picking the right helmet is ideal.

View Screen Size

You want to be able to see clearly through your view screen. The bigger the screen, the more visibility you have. If you’re new to welding, the last thing you want is to have a limited amount of vision while you work. 

Arc Sensors

This is a feature that you’ll only find for auto darkening welding helmets. These sensors will protect your eyes, so the more arc sensors the better. Simple at-home welding would do with 2 sensors. Look for more if you’re going to be doing more commercial-style welding. 

Proper Shades

Depending on the type of welding that you’re doing, there are varying degrees of radiation and light that is being produced. You want to choose the right shade for the type of work you’re doing. Auto darkening helmets provide you with different shades.

An adequate range would be anywhere from 8 to 13. Eight would be for low amperage welding, while 13 would be more for higher amperage welding. 

Timing

The speed at which your auto dimming helmet reacts is probably one of the most important features to take into consideration. You may have a wide range of shades, but a slow switch between them won’t do you any good.

Some very basic helmets won’t react quickly, but you can find something that will change over at the speed of 1 / 10,000 of a second or more. 

Frequently Asked Questions About Auto Darkening Welding Helmets

Q: What’s a typical viewing screen size?

In general, you’ll find view screens to be anywhere from 6 to 9 square inches. The number will go up as the cost of the helmet increases. 

Q: Why is my auto darkening welding helmet so heavy?

There are a lot of factors that contribute to the overall weight of your helmet. For starters, the view screen will make the helmet heavier as it gets larger. The material the helmet is made out of will also affect its weight.

It’s a good idea to try on a helmet before buying it so you can see if it’s going to be comfortable for long periods of time. 

Q: What are adjustable sensitivity settings?

While your helmet automatically adjusts as you work, many welding helmets come with dials that allow you to preset the sensitivity levels. You can choose how fast your helmet will react, the number of shades you utilize and the darkness level.

Conclusion

Choosing an auto-darkening welding helmet can be very difficult as welding is a very risky job that can lead to permanent blindness and even cancer if you’re not super careful in. Although safety is an important factor, you also want to make sure you get what is worth for the money invested.

We would personally recommend the Antra AH6-260 Series Welding Helmet. There have not been very many complaints against it so far. It is very durable and comfortable aside from being very effective protective and shade adjustable at almost all levels.

If you’re about to start out in welding or need to replace your helmet, please come and take a look at our list that will stay within your price range.