When it comes to finding the perfect auto darkening welding helmet, traditional options just don’t cut it anymore. They often cause eye strain during long hours of work and fail to provide adequate protection against dangerous UV/IR rays. That’s where auto-darkening helmets come in. These innovative helmets adjust the brightness and lenses automatically, ensuring your eyes are always comfortable and allowing you to focus 100% on your welding project.
In this article, we will introduce you to the best auto darkening welding helmets of 2021, along with an ultimate buying guide to help you make an informed decision.
What is an Auto Darkening Welding Helmet?
At first glance, auto-darkening welding helmets may look similar to traditional passive helmets. However, they are equipped with more advanced technology called Auto Darkening Filters (ADF). These filters consist of a liquid crystal display (LCD) screen, arc sensors, and filter lenses, which can be powered by batteries or solar panels. The helmets also feature buttons on the sides for easy operation and adjustment.
When the arc sensors detect an incoming arc, they activate the LCDs, which in turn protect your eyes from dangerous UV/IR lights and adjust the shade to a suitable brightness level.
What Makes the Best Auto Darkening Welding Helmet?
When choosing the best auto darkening welding helmet, there are several factors to consider:
The most important factor is to ensure the helmet meets safety certifications. Look for helmets that comply with standards such as ANSI Z87.1-2003, ANSI Z87+, or the Canadian CSA Z94.3. These certifications guarantee the helmet’s effectiveness in protecting your eyes and face during welding.
Material & Weight
A high-quality auto-darkening welding helmet should be both durable and lightweight. Look for helmets made of durable materials, such as polymer or polyamide-nylon, which are resistant to heat, abrasion, and chemicals. Consider the weight of the helmet as well, aiming for a lightweight design between 15 and 35 ounces to ensure comfort during long work shifts.
Types of Lenses & Number of Sensors
Different manufacturers may use different Auto Darkening Filters in their helmets. Look for helmets that have a wider range of light shades and a larger number of arc sensors. The more sensors, the faster and more accurately the helmet will adjust to changes in the environment.
Smart Adjusting Features
Choose a helmet with adjustable sensitivity and delay controls. These features allow you to fine-tune the helmet’s performance according to your preferences and welding conditions. A helmet with a wider range of sensitivity and delay settings will provide more flexibility and comfort.
Consider whether the helmet runs on replaceable batteries, solar cells, or a combination of both. Non-replaceable batteries are suitable if you weld infrequently, while replaceable lithium batteries offer a longer helmet lifespan. Solar-powered helmets are ideal for outdoor work. Look for helmets that utilize a combination of replaceable batteries and solar power, ensuring uninterrupted operation when the batteries run out.
Check the helmet’s specifications to ensure it meets safety standards. The most common regulation is ANSI Z87.1-2003, which covers headgear safety, including reaction time, switching speeds, acceptable lens shades, sustained temperatures, and UV/IR filtering. Additionally, always check local rules and regulations related to welding helmets, such as the Canadian CSA Z94.3, to ensure compliance with specific regional requirements.
Now that we know what to look for in an auto-darkening welding helmet, let’s delve into our top picks for each price range:
Best Auto Darkening Welding Helmets Under $100
Antra AH6-260-0000 – The Cheapest Welding Helmet Under $50
The Antra AH6-260-0000 is a budget-friendly option that doesn’t compromise on quality. It is lightweight, protective, and equipped with four smart arc sensors for responsive performance. The wide range of shade lenses (from 4/5 to 13) ensures optimal visibility and eye protection. This versatile helmet is suitable for welding, cutting, and grinding tasks. It runs on both replaceable batteries and solar power, offering convenience and extended battery life.
- Affordable 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
Best Auto Darkening Welding Helmets Under $200
Jackson Safety 46131 – Best Lightweight Helmet Under $200
The Jackson Safety 46131 stands out for its lightweight construction and comfortable fit. It features a 3-position slider for easy adjustment and a crown strap for effortless helmet movement. The large ratcheting digital display allows for quick and convenient settings adjustments without removing the helmet. With reliable arc sensors and a wide range of shade lenses, this helmet ensures optimal performance. It complies with ANSI Z87.1 safety standards and provides a generous field of view.
- Reasonable price
- Lightweight and adjustable headgear
- Digital controlling screen
- Standard insight auto-darkening filter
- Too short jawline
Best Auto Darkening Welding Helmets Under $300
TGR Panoramic True Color – Best Visible Welding Helmet
The TGR Panoramic True Color helmet offers an ultra-large viewing area, allowing you to see the entire welding area from various angles without constant readjustment. The True Color Technology provides realistic color perception and improved visibility. With responsive arc sensors and a wide range of shade options, this helmet ensures optimal eye protection and comfort. Compliant with ANSI AS/NZS and EN175B safety standards, this helmet is a reliable choice for boosting productivity and visibility.
- 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
Best Auto Darkening Welding Helmets Under $500
3M Speedglas 9100XXi – Helmet with the Longest Battery Life
For professional welders, the 3M Speedglas 9100XXi is an excellent choice. It offers a long battery life of up to 1800 continual hours, eliminating frequent battery replacements. The ADF filter with 3 arc detection sensors ensures fast and accurate shade adjustment, providing optimal eye protection. The external panel controls allow for easy adjustments of grinding modes, sensitivity, and delay settings. With exhaust vents to reduce humidity and heat, this helmet offers a comfortable and safe working environment.
- Durable and lightweight construction
- Long battery life
- External panel control
- Comfortable hood
Choosing the best auto darkening welding helmet requires considering safety certifications, material and weight, lens types and sensors, smart adjusting features, power sources, and safety standards. We have provided you with a selection of top-notch helmets in each price range, ensuring you find the perfect option for your needs. Make sure to prioritize safety and always choose a helmet that complies with industry standards. Happy welding and stay protected!