When you search for the best auto darkening welding helmets, you probably already get enough of traditional helmets. They cause eye strain if you work for long hours. Not to mention, traditional helmets are often heavy and not protective enough from dangerous UV/IR rays.
The auto-darkening helmets, as their name might already suggest, can adjust the brightness and lenses to the environment automatically. Hence, your eyes are always comfortable, and you can focus 100% on your welding project.
Here we introduce you to the best auto darkening welding helmet reviews, plus with an ultimate buying guide.
Table of Contents
- What Is Auto Darkening Welding Helmet?
- What Is The Best Auto Darkening Welding Helmet?
- How to Choose A Best Auto Darkening Welding Helmet?
- Best Auto Darkening Welding Helmet Reviews 2020
- Best Auto Darkening Welding Helmet Under $100
- Best Auto Darkening Welding Helmet Under $200
- Best Auto Darkening Welding Helmet Under $300
- Best Auto Darkening Welding Helmet Under $500
What Is Auto Darkening Welding Helmet?
So, how does the auto darkening welding helmet work?
At a glance, auto-darkening welding helmets look quite similar to traditional passive helmets.
But they are crafted with more advanced technology, called the Auto Darkening Filter (ADF). To be exact, there are a liquid crystal display (LCD) screen, arc sensors, and filter lenses. Such the filter cartridges are powered by batteries or solar panels.
The helmet also features some buttons on the sides to operate and adjust the settings at will.
On turning on, the arc sensors will activate the LCDs upon detecting an arc to be struck. Then, the filter lenses work to protect our eyes from dangerous UV/IR lights and to adjust the shade into a suitable brightness, often between 1 to 13 shade levels.
What Is The Best Auto Darkening Welding Helmet?
The most important factor when it comes to the best auto darkening welding helmet is the safety certifications. Some common regulations are ANSI Z87.1-2003; ANSI Z87+; or the Canadian CSA Z94.3.
Secondly, the helmet is crafted with durable materials to withdraw high impacts of velocity, harmful rays, and harsh temperatures. It should also be lightweight to not cause any discomfort while you are on projects.
The Auto Darkening Filter (ADF) is the next essential. This component is made of either variable or fixed lenses. Generally, the best-fixed lenses are #10 shade while the most suitable variable shade lenses range from #9 to #13.
It would be better if the auto-darkening welding helmet runs on both solar cells or batteries. Once the batteries are flat, the solar system will kick in.
How to Choose A Best Auto Darkening Welding Helmet?
Material & Weight
The best auto-darkening welding helmet must be both durable and lightweight.
As you might weld at powerful settings and under extreme temperature. It is a must to choose a durable helmet that protects your face and your eyes from severe sparks and potential ultraviolet (UV) and infrared (IR) rays.
Besides being protective, the auto-darkening helmet must also be fit and lightweight between 15 and 35 ounces. This weight ensures balance and comfort during a long work shift. Otherwise, be ready to face up to neck fatigue or shoulder stain later.
As we have tested many auto-darkening welding helmets, we find out that polymer or polyamide-nylon is the most durable material against heat, abrasion, or chemicals. Whereas, fiberglass or leather is a good choice for light welding applications.
Types of Lenses & Number of Sensors
Different manufacturers might build their helmets with different Auto Darkening Filters. These components determine how effectively the helmet adjusts the brightness and viewing area.
Hence, the ADF technology is the very next to consider, in which the number of arc sensors and lens types are the most important.
Once the sensors detect a struck arc, they connect to power components to activate the LCDs. The more, the better!
Affordable auto-darkening welding helmets often support one or two sensors. They still work fine, but the helmets sometimes fail to catch a flash in unfavorable conditions. However, advanced headgears can come with four sensors. This helps the LCD screen detect changes of environment fast and precisely.
And remember, the sensors can not work without adjustable shade lenses. A wider range of shades gives more flexibility in changing processes and settings. The standard shade is within 9-13. 6-13 lenses are still recommended in case you work on low amperages.
Smart Adjusting Features
As its name suggests, the auto-darkening welding helmet can change the amount of light through the lens filter argumentatively. Instead of interfering with the lenses sometimes, you can focus 100% on the project.
The brightness is based on the following adjusting features:
- Adjustable control of the sensitivity: Though these helmets have all default settings, welders must still control the sensitivity. This feature is completely personal. When you test a welding helmet, play around the knob of sensitivity adjustment till the point your eyes feel comfortable.
- Reaction and adjustable delay control: Do not turn on the auto-darkening mode at the highest settings. Otherwise, it can harm your eyes and eat up the batteries quickly. Based on your welding time and welding types, set how long it takes toh adjust the lenses to the environment.
If the adjustable features are not responsive and proper, don’t buy that helmet.
Generally, an auto-darkening welding helmet runs either on lithium batteries or solar cells.
If you do not weld frequently, a set of non-replaceable batteries is acceptable. It is not only cheap, but it can also last for 5 to 7 years. The replaceable lithium batteries are more expensive. In return, they increase the lifespan of the helmet since you can replace the batteries if need.
Solar-powered helmets are only recommended when you often work outdoors in favorable conditions.
The best auto darkening welding helmet should work on the replaceable batteries with an assist of solar power. When the batteries are suddenly flat, solar energy will kick-off.
Check the specifications carefully to find out what the helmet meets certifications. Do not buy if you can’t find any mention about these. Otherwise, you pose yourself to a low-quality helmet and dangerous incidents.
The most common regulation is ANSI Z87.1- 2003, in which you can check safety standard for headgear, for example, reaction time; switching speeds; the acceptable range of lens shades; sustained temperatures; and the UV/IR filtering.
Besides, check local rules and regulations about the welding helmet – if there is any. For instance, you live in Canada. Then, you can refer to the Canadian CSA Z94.3.
Best Auto Darkening Welding Helmet Reviews 2020
|Auto Darkening Welding Helmet||Shade Variable||Viewing Size||Dark to Light||Dimensions||Weight||Editor’s Rating|
|Antra AH6-260-0000||4/5-9/9-13||3.86” x 1.73”||1/25,000 sec||9 x 9 x 12''||1 lbs||4.4/5|
|YESWELDER LYG-M800H||5-9/9-13||3.94" x 3.66"||1/10,000 sec||12.5 x 7.9 x 9.8''||2.2 lbs||4.1/5|
|Tanox ADF-206S||4-8/9-13||3.86” x 2.4”||1/25000 sec||8 x 9 x 12''||1.6 lbs||4.8/5|
|Jackson Safety 46131||9-13||3.93" x 2.36"||1/15,000 sec||1 x 1 x 1''||2 lbs||4.5/5|
|Jackson 46101||9-13||3.93 x 2.36''||1/10,000 sec||1 x 1 x 1''||2 lbs||4.3/5|
|TGR Panoramic 180||4-10/8-12||4.53" x 3.35"||1/10,000 sec||13.6 x 9.8 x 9.5''||1.35 lbs||4.3/5|
|Esab SENTINEL A50||5-13||3.93" x 2.36"||-||21.6 x 13.8 x 13.8''||1.4 lbs||4.3/5|
|Lincoln Electric 3350 Series||5-13||3.74" x 3.34"||1/25,000 sec||12.4 x 10.6 x 10.4''||1.6 lbs||4.7/5|
|Miller 281000||5-8/8-13||3.85" x 2.38"||-||10.5 x 12 x 9.8''||1.6 lbs||4.7/5|
|3M Speedglas 9100XXi||5-13||4.2" x 2.8"||1/10,000 sec||11 x 11 x 10''||1 lbs||4.6/5|
|Optrel Crystal 2.0||4-12||3''x5''||-||11 x 10.8 x 9.2''||2.24 lbs||4.7/5|
|Lincoln Electric K3540-3 VIKING 3250D||5-13||3.74" x 3.34"||1/25,000 sec||13 x 11 x 10''||-||5.0/5|
Best Auto Darkening Welding Helmet Under $100
1 – Antra AH6-260-0000 – The Cheapest Welding Helmet Under $50
This Antra AH6-260-0000 covers all the basics you need in an auto-darkening welding helmet.
The first, it is lightweight and protective with a passive UV/IR filter following the ANSI Z87. 1 Standards. Moreover, the auto-darkening mode is responsive thanks to 4 smart arc sensors and the Interference Suppression tech. Finally, the helmet is unthinkably pocket-friendly – under $50.
In detail, the full-face design with double-layered LCD shutter and wide-range shade lenses (from 4/5 to 13) is thoughtful.
It protects your whole face from dangerous welding light and especially, the potentially dangerous UV/IR rays. The overall weight is only 455g, which is light enough not to any stress on your neck or head.
More excitingly, this helmet comes with four arc sensors. You can expect an impressive switching speed at only 0.00004 seconds and a flexible delay time within 0.1 and 1 seconds. As a result, the helmet adjusts to the accurate light shade right upon detecting any arc.
This not only reduces dangerous radiant bypass, but it also helps your eyes be comfortable all the time.
Also, the Antra AH6-260-0000 is not limited to welding projects. You even can use the helmet while cutting or grinding by one switch.
The power source includes two replaceable CR2032 batteries and a solar system assist.
The viewing area is the only limitation. The dimensions of 3.78”x1.78” dimensions are acceptable but not as boast as other helmets on the list.
- Cheap price
- Lightweight and protective design
- 4 responsive arc sensors
- Wide range of shade lenses
- Versatile performance
- Solar energy assist and replaceable batteries
- Short viewing area
All in all, none auto-darkening welding helmet under $50 can beat features and quality of the Antra AH6-260-0000.
2 – YESWELDER LYG-M800H – The Helmet with The Widest Viewing-Area
Pay a little more to get YESWELDER LYG-M800H, and you will get almost all features of the Antra AH6-260-0000 and more.
Similarly to the Antra helmet, the YesWelder unit also has 4 arc sensors and shade lenses from 4 to 13 to avoid false triggering.
Moreover, it is upgraded with the True Color technology, as well as a wider viewing area. The former improves your visibility and minimizes the lime green tint by preserving optical clarity at a 1-1-1-2 rating. The viewing area is as large as 3.93″X3.66″. You can see better and wider at the same time.
The pivot style headgear is another plus. This style distributes the weight evenly and grips your head back quite well. Besides, there is an oversized cushion that allows adjusting extensively. Overall, the helmet is better fit and comfortable.
Both replaceable lithium batteries and solar cells are available.
Overall is good. However, the shell is made of light plastic. The helmet becomes flimsy and breakable easily.
- Affordable price
- True color technology
- Wide viewing screen
- Adjustable pivot headgear
- Replaceable batteries, sensors, and solar energy
- Light-plastic shell
As long as you avoid a strong impact, this YESWELDER LYG-M800H is still a good choice for the money. The viewing area and cushion headgear add extra comfort to your work.
3 – Tanox Professional ADF-210S – Best Overall Under $100
The strength, quality, and longevity of the Tanox ADF-210S make sense why this auto-darkening welding helmet has a big fan club.
The unit is the winner of the best welding helmet under $100. Besides being versatile and high-quality construction, the Tanox ADF-210S adopts a significantly fast dark-to-night speed at 1/25000 second.
Now, let’s get insight into some outstanding features.
Foremost, you do not have to worry about the quality of this helmet since it meets with both ANSI Z87.1 and EN376 standards. Hence, you can stay safe whether you are TIG/MIG/MAG welding, electrodes shielding, or plasma beam cutting.
Secondly, the lenses have a wide range of light shades. They can adjust from normal to black and different bright levels very fast. To be specific, the shade is 4-8 and 9-13. Sensitivity is significant without delay.
The viewing area is 3.86″ by 2.4″. Thus, you can see the welding area from different angles. It helps improve the efficiency and accuracy of the projects.
For your sake, the padded headgear is lightweight of 1.6 lb.
The drawbacks are, the helmet does not look stylish. Moreover, the shell is a bit thin and spotty.
- Compatible with safety standards
- Affordable price
- Lighting-fast switching speed
- Large viewing areas
- Lightweight construction
- Not stylish
- Thin shell
Under $100, this Tanox ADF-210S is recommended for both professional jobs and DIY projects. The low price does not compromise the quality, safety, and performance.
Best Auto Darkening Welding Helmet Under $200
1 – Jackson Safety 46131 – Best Lightweight Helmet Under $200
Jackson Safety is one of the most common brands when it comes to mid-range to premium welding helmets, safety gloves, and glasses. As the name suggests, this brand guarantees to provide products that are committed to the latest safety rules. Jackson Safety 46131 is no exception.
The unit features several adds-on like digital display or the inside ADF, which are common on premium auto-darkening welding helmets. However, those bells and whistles add a little extra to the price.
Being as light as 6 ounces, the HLX-100 shell protects your face without sacrificing comfort.
Moreover, the unit comes with Jackson 370 headgear. It is crafted with a 3-position slider so that you can adjust the distance from the lens to your eyes. A crown strap is included to get the helmet up and down easily.
The most exciting part is the large ratcheting digital display, making setting adjustments effortless and quick without taking off the helmet. Such a small feature turns out to be thoughtful and effective.
The insight Auto Darkening Filter comes with the standard 9-13 shade lenses; 4 independent arc sensors; a set of sensitivity and delay adjustments; and a wide viewing area of 3.93″ by 2.36″.
The problem is, the jawline seems too short to cover your neck while the helmet is flipped down. You might have to use some leather or cloth to cover the bottom so that sparks can’t go down to your shirt and cause burns.
- Not pricey
- Lightweight and adjustable headgear
- Digital controlling screen
- Standard insight auto-darkening filter
- Too short jawline
With a user-friendly digital display and light shells, as well as reliable ADF, the Jackson Safety 46131 is worthy for your price.
2 – Jackson Safety 46101 – The Most Stylish Helmet Under $200
At a glance, this Jackson Safety 46101 looks cool, doesn’t it?
Then, we confirm that the helmet is not only stylish but also effective-in-feature.
From its name, you might already know that this unit comes in the same category with the Jackson Safety 46131. Hence, they share almost all the feature list.
Specifically, the 46101 model has a large viewing area of 3.93″ x 2.36″ so that you can get an overview of the whole project without adjusting the helmet too frequently. Delay and sensitivity adjustment is a matter of seconds with the digital controls.
Regardingthe auto-darkening performance, the helmet features 4 independent arc sensors and variable 9-13 shade lenses. You can expect the switching speed between darkness and brightness significantly fast at /10,000 seconds.
And for your information, this helmet complies with both CSA Z94.3 and ANSI Z87.1-2010 standards.
Then what makes the 46101 and 46131 different?
Simply, it is the design on the shell.
In other words, the short back is also the limitation of the helmet.
- Cool shell
- Lightweight and adjustable headgear
- Digital controlling screen
- Standard insight auto-darkening filter
- Too short jawline
Believe it or not, a cool headgear like Jackson Safety 46101 not only ensures a safe working environment but it also brings many inspirations to your welding jobs.
3 – TGR Panoramic True Color – The Best Overall Welding Helmet
If the viewing area is what you number-1 concern, then this TGR Panoramic True Color 180 View is the best choice.
Accuracy and clear visibility are among the most important factors of any welding project. These criteria depend on the size and the quality of lenses.
When it comes to the TGR Panoramic model, the viewing area is extensive of 4.53″ x 3.35″. Hence, you can cover all angles around with a minimum movement. It is helpful when working in a tight place.
And of course, a wide viewing area often goes along with high-quality lenses and responsive sensors. This TGR helmet has external knob lenses which are adjustable to #3 light shade and #4-10 to #8-12 dark shade. The switching speed is less than 1/10,000 second.
Meanwhile, 4 independent sensors are available with sensitivity and delay adjustment.
Even better, the helmet is equipped with True Color Technology so that the color perception is realistic and more accurate.
The plastic cover is not very durable, we might add. You had better handle the helmet carefully.
- Super large viewing area
- Wide range of shades
- Responsive arc sensors
- True color lenses
- Compliant with safety rules (ANSI AS/NZS and EN175B)
- Pricey tag
- Cheap-look plastic shell
We strongly recommend this ultra-large viewing area helmet to boost the productivity and the visibility of your welding project.
Best Auto Darkening Welding Helmet Under $300
1 – Esab SENTINEL A50 – Helmet with The Best Visible Viewing Area
Those looking for a large viewing area like that of the TGR Panoramic True Color 180 View, then the Esab Sentinel A50 is another choice.
Though the area is a bit narrower, the Esab helmet provides a more optical clarity in front of the screen thanks to wider lenses and the True Color rating 1/1/1/2. As a result, you can work unhindered.
Even better, the touchable LED screen makes your jobs more easily. To be specific, there are 5-point-contact controls and 8 memory settings available to adjust the screen without taking off the helmet.
You can save some settings according to your frequent use. Next time, you need to focus on your projects instead of changing the helmet settings from time to time.
More excitingly, the helmet is lightweight to wear all day long. The 4 arc sensors and 5-13 shade lenses are responsive to offer a significant comfort to your eyes.
All features are great; however, a high price might make you think twice. Do you need to pay such an extra for those adds-on?
- Large viewing area
- Optical clarity and true color tech
- Smart memory settings
- LCD touchscreen
- Expensive lenses
We recommend this multi-functional helmet for professional welders who work on different welding and grinding techniques. The LCD touchscreen and memory settings are helpful to improve productivity.
2 – Lincoln Electric 3350 Series – The Best Comfortable and Fit Welding Helmet
That the original country of the Lincoln Electric 3350 Series is China might place you in two minds of purchasing or not.
Then, we confirm that the quality is excellent, the features are rich, and the price is not too expensive. Overall it is the best auto darkening welding helmet under $300.
First and foremost, the hood is designed like a motorcycle helmet for optimal fit and greater comfort with an adjustable head strap. Such an aerodynamic design creates a healthy environment while welding. You can inhale fresh air while being protected from poisonous fumes emitted from the welding fluxes or rods.
Secondly, the viewing area of 3.74″ by 3.34″ is insanely clear adopting the 1/1/1/1 optical clarity rating and 4C technology. The lens shade is flexible from 5 to 13, and the switching speed is lighting-fast at 1/25000 second.
The battery is the remaining issue that the manufacturer needs to fix right away. Instead of lengthening the battery life, the solar cells seem to be useless. Not to mention, the batteries go through very fast.
- Comfortable and fit design
- Large viewing area
- Clear optical
- Fast switching speed
- Helpless solar cells
- Short battery life
This hood might cost more than other brands; however, it is safe and visible enough to make your work easier.
3 – Miller 281000 Digital Elite – Helmet with Rich Features and Most Attractive Price Under $300
Miller 281000 Digital Elite auto-darkening helmet and the Lincoln Electric 3350 Series share many similar features. Hence they are good alternatives for each other.
Similarly, both are comfortable and fit thanks to aerodynamic design. They are also versatile for various tasks from MIG weld, stick weld, or TIG weld. Moreover, there are 4 responsive arc sensors and 5-13 lens shades. The unit will auto-darken whenever you need it to.
Although, the Miller helmet features a little narrower viewing area of 3.85’’ by 2.38’’, this unit is lighter and more portable to take around. It also reduces the stress on your neck while you can still see around at a glance.
Moreover, you can save a little more on a high-quality helmet.
We also appreciate the digital controls. They are helpful to operate modes and change the sensitivity settings within 4 buttons, which are easy to use.
The only thing to take note is the locking mechanism is not reliable enough. Sometimes, it is loosened, and the hood comes down all of a sudden.
- Reasonable price
- Comfortable and durable construction
- Large viewing area
- Lightweight materials
- Digital displays to control more easily
- Flimsy locking mechanism
The locking mechanism is not a significant drawback compared to the quality and overall performance of the Miller 281000 unit. Hence, it is still worth your money.
Best Auto Darkening Welding Helmet Under $500
1 – 3M Speedglas 9100XXi – Helmet with The Longest Battery Life
If you are a professional welder, it is better safe than sorry that you come for a premium helmet like The 3M Speedglas 9100XXi.
It features a strong construction to stay durable against powerful welding process. Moreover, the battery life is up to 1800 continual hours so that you do not have to waste money on replacing the battery again and again.
In regard to the auto-darkening performance, the ADF filter reacts quickly using 3 arc detection sensors and the lenses switch between dark and light in approximately 1/10,000 of a second. The shade varies widely: #3 for light shade; #5-13 selectable dark shades.
The field of view is extensive to catch up on the work without much obstruction. There are external panel controls to adjust grinding modes, sensitivity and delay settings, and memory modes easily.
In addition, the unit is equipped with exhaust vents to direct your breath out of the hood. This thoughtful feature not only reduces humidity and heat inside but also gets rid of the annoying fogging while working on the jobs.
Due to the quality optics and some adds-on functionality, do not expect this helmet to be cheap. It costs ten times more than the Antra AH6-260-0000.
- Durable and lightweight construction
- Long battery life
- External panel control
- Comfortable hood
If you do not want to comprise the safety to the price, this 3M Speedglas helmet is a good choice in terms of quality and features.
2 – Optrel Crystal 2.0 1006.900 – Best Visible Welding Helmet
Right at first glance, this Optrel Crystal 2.0 1006.900 helmet looks more durable than others which are often cheap-plastic look.
The shell is made of high-quality and lightweight material. The overall weight is only 2.24 lbs so that you will not have to suffer from neck strains even when you welding continuously for a long time.
What’s more, the shell is coated with a crystal layer. It creates a professional look and protects the shell from harsh impacts at the same time.
And, the Crystal Lens 2.0 Technology is another big plus. Unlike the conventional true color in other helmets on the list, Optrel leverages the visibility to a new level.
In the light state, color perception is as realistic as looking through window glass. Switching to the dark mode, you can enjoy a high-contrast and detailed view of the whole welding pool.
The twilight feature, as well as the autopilot shade adjustment, helps change light conditions in the most favorable way to reduce eye fatigue.
Moreover, the external controls are easy to use to adjust grind modes, sensitivity and delay adjustment at will.
Grinder indicator is what to improve. The light blinks too slowly and it is hard to notice.
- Lightweight and durable shell
- Crystal lens technology
- Twilight feature to reduce the eyesore
- Adjustable sensitivity and delay modes
- Too expensive
- Non-visible grinder indicator
With the patented Crystal Lens Technology the light shade is unbelievably true-color and clarified.
3 – Lincoln Electric K3540-3 VIKING 3250D – Best Overall Welding Helmet Under $500
So far, so good.
This Lincoln Electric K3540-4 Viking 3250D is the best auto darkening welding helmet at the high-end category. The unit combines safety, productivity, and optic clarity perfectly.
Take the safety first. The helmet complies with the ANSI Z87.1. It features an expanded viewing view in both closed and open positions. It makes the general movements to check on the project less hazardous.
Secondly, this Lincoln Electric model adopts the latest optical technologies such as the 4C™ lenses, the 1/1/1/1 Optical Clarity tech, and shade 5-wide windows.
As a result, you can expect a broad color range and hues in both dark and light states. The clarity is also improved by measuring blurriness and maintaining shade consistency.
Even better, the digital controls are available at hand to adjust modes, sensitivity and delay settings, as well as the shade lenses.
The only thing which can make you hesitant is its price.
However, when considering all features, the unit is worth your investment.
- 4C lenses
- Optical clarity
- 5-wide shade windows
- Digital controls
- Lightweight and durable construction
- Expensive tag
You will love it. The auto-darkening welding helmet is crafted with a high-quality shell, an extensive field of view, and the most advanced optical technology.
The best auto darkening welding helmet can go as cheap as under 50 or it can also be costly at nearly $500. Which to choose is based on your preferences, your daily needs, and your budget. However, always take safety first.
Above we have introduced you to the best welding helmet reviews at all price ranges. Give each helmet a look and pick your best!