The Best Welding Helmets (Review & Buying Guide) in 2021
Consider these welding helmets to protect yourself against burns, radiation, extreme heat, and other safety hazards
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BY Zach Faulds / LAST UPDATED ON June 9, 2020
If you’re a welder, you know just how critical your helmet is. It’s a vital accessory that you need to protect yourself while you work, which means you need a piece of quality headgear. While welding is important and somewhat exciting work, it also exposes you to many different hazards. Retina burns, arc eye, and highly concentrated UV or infrared burn exposure can lead to serious hazards and terrible consequences. But that’s exactly what a good, quality welding helmet can prevent.
Whether you’re new to welding or an experienced pro, a welding helmet is exactly what you need to protect against flash burn, ultraviolet or infrared light, extreme heat, and dangerous sparks. With the right materials, construction, and protective features, your welding helmet will keep you safe and sound. If you’re looking for the best headgear for welding, check out these top options.
Protective features keep you safe while allowing you to do your work easily and with a clear line of sight. Wide viewing window is superior to that of other helmets.
3.93 by 3.23 inches of sight with side view. True Color Technology helps improve visibility and reduces eye strain.
Issue with arc flashes while TIG welding. Can cause issues with eyes and ruin weld. Does not occur when stick or MIG welding.
Runs on solar power, with a solar cell and two replaceable CR2032 batteries, and a clear battery indicator. Lightweight, affordable, and comfortable option.
Features an automatically darkening lens, and includes a convenient external grinding switch. Includes four premium redundant arc sensors with highly responsive detecting and controlling units.
After extensive use, lens is inconsistent. It will sometimes not darken at all or shut off while welding. Turning the dial to the "Grind" function and turning it back to whatever darkness level you were using may resolve this.
Reliable safety and protection with a cool exterior design. Standard 3.62-by-1.65-inch clear visor viewing space.
Features an auto-darkening filter and adjustable viewpoint with sensitivity adjustments. Runs off both battery and solar panel technology to last up to 5,000 hours.
Auto-darkening filter is somewhat inconsistent. Solar power takes a long time to fully charge the battery.
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Benefits of Welding Helmets
- Eye safety: Welding helmets are the only line of defense against several potential causes of eye damage in the welding process. They protect against conditions that can develop like retinal burning, cataracts, and permanent eye issues.
- Head protection: A proper welding helmet keeps your entire face and head protected from sparks, excess heat, and flying particles that can cause serious injury. With a high-quality helmet, you won't even notice these potential hazards.
- Radiation protection: The primary protection of a welding helmet is against infrared radiation, which can cause retinal burning and cataracts. A proper helmet also protects against UV radiation from welding arcs, which can cause welder’s flash and even permanent eye damage.
Types of Welding Helmets
Passive welding helmets are the most common type. They’re usually more basic, but well built from high-quality, heavy-duty material. These helmets can protect your face and head from flying objects, UV radiation, and extreme heat emitted from welding. Passive welding helmets are typically the most affordable of all types, making them an ideal option for anyone on a budget or anyone who prefers basic equipment.
Fixed-shade helmets typically come with a conventional shade level of 10. Unlike other models, this type of welding helmet does not adjust to various arc brightness. The fixed-shade helmet is ideal for welding work on one type of project with one type of material. Those who are inexperienced welders or enjoy DIY projects typically use a fixed-shade helmet, where there is no need to adjust the lens.
Variable-shade welding helmets include a feature that enables the lens to adapt to all sorts of lights and brightness emitted by the arc during welding. It’s the preferred type of helmet for advanced welders or for those who work on various types of projects involving different materials. The variable-shade helmet adjusts the darkness that the lens provides, which increases visibility and prevents you from making a mistake that results in a welding defect.
Founded in 2006, YesWelder expanded to become a direct to consumer business in 2018. This company supplies welding equipment and parts for everyone from hobbyists to professionals. In addition to helmets, YesWelder sells welders, welding guns, and welding accessories.
Antra is a reputable manufacturing company, known for its high-end technical equipment and accessories. In addition to high-quality helmets, Antra produces welding accessories, flame-resistant gear, projection screens, and HDTV accessories.
Headquartered in China, DEKO is a reputable tool and appliance brand with customers around the globe. It’s known for producing high-end tools for both regular consumers and professionals. In addition to welding helmets, DEKO Tools is known for welding machines, power tools, hand tools, lawn and gardening tools, and more.
Welding Helmets Pricing
- Under $40: Welding helmets in this price range provide excellent value. Despite their budget-friendly price, these helmets are typically high quality and ideal for regular consumers and professionals.
- $40-$70: This is the most common price range for welding helmets. Products in this range offer excellent protection, comfort, and convenience.
- Over $70: This is the most high-end price range for welding helmets. Those in this range typically have the highest quality, include maximum safety features, and are used by professional welders.
Battery-powered welding helmets use either rechargeable or replaceable batteries that are typically made from lithium. When purchasing a battery-powered helmet, make sure the battery is high quality and long lasting. It’s also a good idea to have a replacement battery as a backup while working on any important projects.
Solar-powered welding helmets are perhaps the most economical option available on the market. These environmentally friendly helmets automatically switch the lens off when not in use. One downside of the solar-powered feature is that the helmets are not ready to use when delivered. You must always remember to place the helmet in the sun at least a day before any planned work.
Auto-darkening welding helmets detect the light that’s emitted and will adjust the lens accordingly. It’s an important feature to prevent constant manual adjusting of the lens, which can be a distraction and significantly reduce productivity time. The one downside of auto-darkening helmets is that they’re often the most expensive and not cost effective for most people.
- Switching Speed: Lens switching speed, also known as lens reaction time, measures how fast a lens will switch from its natural state to a shade 3 or 4 when welding begins. It’s measured in ratings between 1/3,600 of a second and 1/25,000 of a second. If you’ll be welding for an extended period of time, a low switching speed may cause eye fatigue.
- Weight: A lightweight welding helmet helps to prevent neck strain and reduce fatigue if you use your helmet for an extended period of time. If you’re a professional welder or will be using your helmet on a daily basis, consider a lightweight helmet that’s also extremely protective. If you’re using your helmet for home projects, the weight is not as important of a factor to consider as protection.
- Warranty: Most high-end products from reputable manufacturers will include some type of warranty with purchase. Look for at least a six-month or one-year limited warranty that covers any defects. If for some reason you’re unsatisfied with your purchase, most companies will offer a replacement or refund up to a certain amount of time from the shipment delivery date.
Best Welding Helmets Reviews & Recommendations 2021
- If your welding work involves only one type of material of the same thickness, you may only need a standard fixed-shade welding helmet.
- If your job includes a variety of techniques and materials, a variable-shade lens is best for your protection.
- Make sure your welding helmet meets the latest safety standards. Just because it says "ANSI Approved” doesn't guarantee it has passed. Look for the helmet to read “ANSI Z87.1 – 2021” or “Z87+.”
- If you’ll be welding for extended periods, a low-level switching speed may cause eye fatigue. Consider a higher-level switching speed if you’ll be welding for several hours at a time.
- If you purchase a solar-powered helmet, always remember to charge your welding helmet at least a day before use. You may also want to consider a backup battery.
Q: Are auto-darkening welding helmets good?
A: Yes, auto-darkening helmets are safe and highly effective. This type of helmet does not have to be taken on and off, so it helps reduce the risk of errors and injuries.
Q: Why do welders drink milk?
A: Welders drink milk because they’re exposed to zinc fumes produced by welding galvanized steel. The calcium in the milk supposedly helps prevent the body's absorption of the zinc.
Q: How dark should my welding helmet be?
A: It’s recommended that you use between a shade 10 and a shade 13 welding lens to prevent flash burn on your eyes. The higher the number, the darker the shade of your lens will be.
Q: How bad is welding for your eyes?
A: Welding causes infrared radiation, which can result in retinal burning and cataracts. A proper helmet protects against UV radiation from welding arcs, which can cause welder’s flash and even permanent eye damage.
For a high-quality welding helmet, consider the YesWelder Large Viewing True Color Solar-Powered, Auto-Darkening Welding Helmet, which features a wide viewing window, or the Antra Auto-Darkening Welding Helmet, which features an automatically darkening lens. Drop us a comment and let us know what your favorite welding helmet is and what you love about it.