8 Best Rated Welding Helmet Reviews – Complete Buying Guide for 2019

Are you looking for a high-quality welding hood that is comfortable and provides sufficient protection? As a welder, it is critical to invest in your safety. Knowing which welding hood to choose can be difficult since there are many different products available, each with their own unique features and benefits.

It is important to make use of high-end protection equipment, especially if you wear it for the bulk of your work day. The comprehensive guide that follows is based on reviews by hundreds of safety gear users. Hopefully, these descriptions and reviews will make it easier for you to find a top rated welding mask

[Read Our Full Review].

ProductViewing AreaLens Shade RangeMaterial
9.2 sq in5-8, 8-13Nylon
9.2 sq in9-13Nylon
12.5 sq in5-13Plastic
7.7 sq in9-13Plastic
12.5 sq in5-13Nylon, Polycarbonate
12.5 sq in9-13Plastic
10.2 sq in9-13Plastic
3-1/2 in5-13ABS

Why You Should Buy One?

The welding process releases UV light, sparks, heat, infrared light, and flash burn. If you don’t wear enough protection, you run the risk of exposing your eyes, neck, and face to these elements, which can be incredibly detrimental to your vision and your skin. There are many high-end models available, and it is important that you choose one that meets your individual needs.

There are many medical benefits to having a solid helmet.

  • First, they prevent inflammation of the cornea, otherwise known as “arc eye”.
  • Second, they eliminate the risk of retina burns, which can cause you to lose your vision.

A welding helmet protects your skin and eyes from ultraviolet light, radiation, gasses, and splashes. Molten metal and sparks can cause permanent damage, so it is important to prevent this at all costs. Many products also feature leather skull caps and a shoulder cover to provide you with more complete protection, especially in overhead applications.

When welding, cutting or brazing we always recommend the proper safety equipment for further information click here

Disadvantages of Modern Safety Masks

One of the biggest cons of modern safety equipment is the fact that they are somewhat expensive, so you may be tempted to settle for an old or cheaper model. After all, safety masks have been around since 1937. The problem with older gear is that, although it may offer some protection, it may not be as convenient and comfortable as the more effective high-end ones.

One significant hood improvement that came in 1981 is the auto-darkening filter. The filter makes it possible for you to keep your protection on without having to constantly lift it from your face to see what you are doing. It also increases your eye protection since you won’t ever accidentally look straight in the flame.

Although you pay more for these auto-darkening helmets, you can be sure that they will protect the only set of eyes you have.

Miller Electric Digital Elite

Specifications

  • Color: Black
  • Weight: 2.8lbs
  • Viewing Area: 9.2in2
  • Lens Shade Range: 5-8, 8-13
  • Material: Nylon
Miller Electric Digital Elite Product Image

This auto-darkening model from Miller Electric features sturdy nylon construction and seven cover lenses – five on the outside and two on the inside. The viewing area has a satisfactory size of 9 square inches, and it has a lens shade range of 8 to 13. Additionally, it features a grinder and cut mode, which increases its application range.

Additional extras include lithium batteries and a magnifying lens holder. The Digital Elite weighs a mere 2.8 lbs and is comfortable enough to wear for hours on end. It is also compatible with a hard hat.

According to reviewers, this product is not suited for overhead welding. It is, however, incredibly versatile and you will be able to use it for all processes, plasma cutting, and grinding.

Pros

  • Offers ample face, neck, and eye protection
  • Can be used for all metal fabrication applications
  • Compatible with a hard hat
  • Excellent value for the money

Cons

  • Doesn’t offer overhead protection
  • Difficult to operate with TIG gloves

Jackson Safety 46131

Specifications

  • Color: Black
  • Weight: 2.0lbs
  • Viewing Area: 9.2in2
  • Lens Shade Range: 9-13
  • Material: Nylon
Jackson Safety 46131 Product Image

The Jackson Safety 46131 features a wide array of comfort and protection features to increase your productivity and eliminate the risk of injury. It has a lens shade range of 9-13 as well as a wide viewing area of 3.93″ x 2.36″. You also get four independent auto-darkening sensors and sensitivity and delay adjustments that are easy to control.

The smart auto-darkening filters allow you to complete your metal fabrication tasks with maximum efficiency. Add to this the fact that you can easily choose between different weld process modes and grind.

According to some reviews, the construction appears to be somewhat flimsy. However, you will find that this helmet is adjustable, comfortable, and lightweight.

Pros

  • Comfortable to wear all day long
  • Auto-darkening with four sensors
  • Suitable for all metalworking applications
  • Easy to adjust and control
  • Great value for the money

Cons

  • Too short for adequate neck cover
  • Too small for a respirator

Lincoln Electric 3350 Series

Specifications

  • Color: Black
  • Weight: 1.3lbs
  • Viewing Area: 12.5in2
  • Lens Shade Range: 5-13
  • Material: Plastic
Lincoln Electric 3350 Series Product Image

The 3350 series from Lincoln Electric has a durable plastic construction and an auto-darkening lens with a shade range of 5 to 13. The viewing area has is 3.74” x 3.34” and is fitted with an electromagnetic sensor and four arc sensors.

This model has a switching speed of 1/25,000 seconds, which means that your eyes are completely protected against inflammation. It offers protection for almost every task, including all welding processes, plasma cutting, and grinding. As an extra, you will also receive a bandana for head protection and a bag for storage.

Many users would have preferred an additional exterior grind switch, but in general, they were pleased with the 4C technology and optical clarity that this product has to offer.

Pros

  • High-quality protective headgear
  • Durable construction and a wide shade range
  • Comfortable and easy adjustments
  • Suitable for welding, cutting, and grinding

Cons

  • Grind switch is inaccessible
  • Relatively high price tag

Metal Man ATEC8735SGC

Specifications

  • Color: Colorful
  • Weight: 1.8lbs
  • Viewing Area: 7.7in2
  • Lens Shade Range: 9-13
  • Material: Plastic
Metal Man ATEC8735SGC Product Image

This five-point adjustable headgear from Metal Man has a viewing area of 3.78” x 2.05” and a shade range of 9-13. The sensitivity and delay dials are controllable to ensure optimal eye protection.

The Metal Man welding hood is fitted with four arc sensors, so you have a high switching speed. It also has a grind mode so you won’t struggle with a darkening lens while you are grinding. Its five-point adjustability ensures a perfect and comfortable fit, allowing you to wear it throughout the day without experiencing any discomfort.

Reviewers that have been using this product for a while love the helmet’s look. Some complained that the battery life is a bit short, but fortunately, it can be solar charged while you work.

Pros

  • Excellent durability for optimal protection
  • Complete adjustability
  • Solar powered batteries
  • Grind mode for added versatility

Cons

  • Shorter battery life
  • Not suited for plasma

Lincoln Electric Viking

Specifications

  • Color: Red
  • Weight: 3.2lbs
  • Viewing Area: 12.5in2
  • Lens Shade Range: 5-13
  • Material: Nylon, Polycarbonate
Lincoln Electric VIKING Product Image

The Viking features 4C(TM) lens technology with optical clarity to increase your viewing quality and ultimately your productivity. It also has a wide viewing area of 3.74” x 3.34” and a 5-13 lens shade range.

This nylon product has an electromagnetic sensor, four arc sensors, and a switching speed of 1/25,000 seconds. You also get grind mode to keep the lens from darkening when you are performing regular work that requires protection from splatter. With this piece, you also get add-ons that include a bandana for head protection and a storage bag.

Reviewers found this product to be somewhat heavy but otherwise sturdy and durable. It offers all the protection you need as well as comfort to allow for prolonged wear. Users also liked the wide viewing area.

Pros

  • High-quality helmet featuring 4C technology
  • Wide viewing area
  • Quick switching speed and smart sensors
  • Polycarbonate graphics

Cons

  • Not a lightweight product

Neiko 53932A

Specifications

  • Color: Red
  • Weight: 1.9lbs
  • Viewing Area: 12.5in2
  • Lens Shade Range: 9-13
  • Material: Plastic
Neiko 53932A Product Image

This skull-shaped hood provides the ultimate in protection and comfort. Like most other items in this list, the Neiko has an auto-darkening lens with a reaction time of 1/25,000 seconds. It is suitable for all welding processes as well as plasma cutting and welding, arc gouging, and grinding.

The lens has a shade range of 9 to 13 and a sizeable viewing area. It is fitted with two independent arc sensors and has enhanced optics of 1/2/1/2. The Neiko is ideal for extreme temperatures, and it offers both UV and IR protection.

Although you can’t recharge the batteries with solar power, reviewers found them to be long-lasting. With your welding mask, you will also receive a replaceable lens and lithium battery.

Pros

  • Good value for the money
  • Offers the best protection against heat, UV, and IR
  • Incredibly comfortable
  • Sufficient comfort for all-day wear

Cons

  • Additional overhead protection is needed
  • Shade control is easy to change accidentally

Jackson Safety BH3

Specifications

  • Color: Black
  • Weight: 2.1lbs
  • Viewing Area: 10.2in2
  • Lens Shade Range: 9-13
  • Material: Plastic
Jackson Safety BH3 Product Image

This is one of the most popular welding helmets available. The Safety BH3 is fitted with an auto-darkening lens that has a shade range of 9-13 and an EN379 rating of 1/1/1/1 for optical clarity, light diffusion, luminous transmittance variation, and angular dependence.

This helmet protects your eyes from radiation and ultraviolet light. It is fitted with sensitivity and delay settings to allow for use in an array of different applications and work settings.

It is large enough to protect the wearer’s entire face as well as the neck, forehead, and ears from sparks and splatter. It also prevents heat build-up and fogging.

Although many reviewers stated that they would have liked controls that are externally accessible, they found it to be incredibly lightweight, sturdy, and comfortable to wear.

Pros

  • High-quality protective gear
  • Lightweight and comfortable
  • Complete adjustability
  • Amazing optics

Cons

  • No locking for the top strap
  • No external knobs
  • Doesn’t have a grind mode

Selecting the Right Welding Mask

When it comes to selecting the right welding mask for your needs, you have to make some choices. Before you can make these choices, however, make sure that the products that you are considering adhere to ANSI Z87.1 – 2003. These are standards that your helmet must meet to ensure adequate protection under certain circumstances.

First, decide between a passive and auto-darkening lens. Passive lenses are more affordable, but they should be lifted when positioning the electrode. Many beginners may struggle with this as you must flip the lens into position before striking an arc.

Pay attention to the helmet’s less reaction time, viewing size, and number of sensors. More sensors mean that you have better coverage of different viewing angles. Adjustable sensitivity and delay controls will give you more adjustability concerning brightness triggers and how long the lens stays dark after the arc stops.

Welding Goggles Option

Specifications

  • Color: Silver
  • Weight: 1.8lbs
  • Viewing Area: 3-1/2in
  • Lens Shade Range: 5-13
  • Material: ABS
Miller Electric Welding Goggles Product Image

As a complimentary safety addition to your welding helmet, consider the goggles from Miller Electric. These glasses have a shade of #5, and you can use them for all types of tasks, including plasma cutting and grinding. The lenses have a reflective anti-scratch coating and a wraparound frame to provide complete coverage to your eyes.

The welding goggles provide 99.9% UV protection and, to an extent, protect your corneas from arc eyes. Although you should never weld without a hood, these glasses are ideal for wearing in an environment where there is continuous welding. The goggle prevents you from accidentally looking into someone else’s weld.

Although the goggles don’t offer complete protection for your face, reviewers said that they are perfect for oxyfuel cutting and CNC plasma.

Pros

  • Protects eyes from debris
  • 9% UV protection
  • #5 shade for plasma cutting and a quick welding
  • One size fits all

Cons

  • Too dark to wear with a helmet
  • No protection for flash burning

Quality vs Price

If you want solid quality but don’t want to overspend, consider sticking to models in the $200 to $300 price range. Products in this category are generally considered to have all the features that a welder may need. You can also be sure that your helmet will provide enough protection and have a long lifespan.

You will be able to find high-quality helmets between $100 and $200. It is important to remember, however, that you may be limited in terms of the number of arc sensors as well as delay and sensitivity adjustability. Products priced in this range may also have a slower switching speed.

If you can’t spend more than $100, make sure that you have an acceptable shade range. If you are a casual welder who welds once a month or less, you may be able to find something in this price category that is suited to your needs. Cheaper models don’t typically have a durable construction.

The type of welding mask you need depends mainly on the welding processes that you plan on employing. Let’s take a look at the components of different product types.

Welding Helmet Lenses

A lens does far more than protect your eyes against heat, impact, debris, and chemicals. Welding lenses also ensure that you don’t suffer from eye strain, fatigue, or exposure to radiant energy. Choosing the right lens style comes down to your type of working environment.

Some applications require lenses that specialize in protecting the eyes, face, or both against flying particles. For other jobs, you may only need goggles, especially if there is no danger of flash burn. There are different types of goggle lenses as well.

UV and IR protection lenses offer protection against radiant energy exposure, also called optical radiation. For arc and laser welding and cutting, you need this type of lens. Since the eyes and the skin can be damaged by exposure to optical radiation, make sure that the lens covers your entire face.

Lenses for impact protection are necessary when there is a risk or splashes, sparks, or flying particles. The form of the lens depends on your environment. In some cases, a goggle that seals around the eyes may suffice. In other cases, you may need full face, overhead, and neck protection.

Clear polycarbonate lenses don’t only protect the eyes from debris, but also UV radiation. This is especially important for indirect exposure in the workplace.

Welding Lens Construction

Auto-darkening Helmets

If you perform a wide variety of welding operations, auto-darkening helmets may be the best type of hood for you. Not only does this type offer different shades of protection, but it also allows you to keep your mask down at all times. Since you don’t have to switch the position of your lens, it prevents neck strain and eliminates the need for wearing additional safety lenses underneath the helmet.

Auto-darkening doesn’t occur until the arc is struck. The shorter the time that the shield takes to change shades the better. Some lenses can take as little as 1/20,000 of a second. If your helmet is ANSI-compliant, the lens will offer you protection against radiant energy exposure, even if the lens is not dark. This means that it will always block out ultraviolet and infrared rays.

Auto-darkening shields can either work off solar power or batteries. If your shield uses batteries, it has a little computer on the inside that darkens the lens.

Solar shields, on the other hand, use the light of the arc through a solar cell. Helmets that get their power from solar energy have the benefit that you don’t have to remember to switch them off when you are done.

Custom Welding Helmet Designs

Nowadays, welding helmets don’t only ensure that your skin and eyes are completely protected, but they are also a way to add some personality to your work attire. Paying a little more for your hood can ensure that your protective gear looks cool and that it steps things up a notch regarding functionality, comfort, and protection.

Before investing in a custom welding shield, make sure that the customization process added real value to the product. Welding headgear should comply with industry standards and compliance regulations. It should also be comfortable to wear for hours at a time.

When looking at a custom welding hood, it is important to keep certain aspects in mind. The model should have a lightweight and durable construction to ensure optimal comfort and protection. It should also contain a half-mask respirator to prevent you from inhaling fumes.

The color and design of the gear are also important. Black is a popular color, but it absorbs a lot of the heat that the welding process generates. Silver, on the other hand, reflects some of this heat. We recommend you find a mask design you wouldn’t mind wearing while you are working.

Welding Goggles

For the most part, all welding goggles look the same. When choosing a pair, however, you will face some decisions. It is important to make sure that the goggles you choose adhere to the standards of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

Goggles come in varying fixed shades. The shade you choose depends on the type of welding that you intend on doing. The most common shades are 5, 10, and 14. They should also be scratch resistant and provide 99.9% protection against UV rays.

Glasses with a fixed shade of 5 are only suitable for low-intensity processes such as torch cutting. Their shade level is too light to offer complete protection against a bright arc, and you will run the risk of inflaming your corneas.

A fixed shade of 10 falls in the middle of the shade range. Many people prefer this shade as it is clear enough for accurately positioning electrodes while offering solid protection against arc eyes. When it comes to every day and high-intensity welding, these glasses may not provide sufficient protection in the long-run.

The darkest that you can buy are 14 shade lenses. They are so dark that you can use them for all types of welding.

Front View of Welding Goggles

Best Under $300

Protective shields are available at many different price points. Welding masks between $200 and $300 are generally considered to be comprehensive enough for serious welders. There are many high-end units at this price point, but judging from reviews, benefits, and features, we consider the Digital Elite from Miller Electric to be the best you can expect.

The Digital Elite brings a wide range of high-end features to the table, including a 9 square inch viewing area, a wide shade range of 8-13, and a solid nylon construction that is compatible with a hard hat.

It also has a grinder mode, which is particularly handy. Without a grind mode, the shield will go dark whenever you are grinding, especially if you have it a high sensitivity setting. A grind mode offers you complete protection from UV and IR rays as well as protection against flying debris and splatter without the shield going dark.

For the price, this hood offers tons of value. It is durable, reliable, and is sure to have a long lifespan. It is perfect for the novice welder and experienced steelworker alike. If you are looking for a high-quality product that is affordable, this unit from Miller Electric is for you.

Best Under $100

Although units in this price category don’t generally offer the best in terms of quality and durability, there are some high-value hoods to be found here. An example of this is the Metal Man, a solid and high-quality shield that is fit for the professional.

The Metal Man comes with a shade range of 9-13, a viewing area of 3.78” x 2.05”, and a grind mode. For less than $100, this would generally be all that you can expect. The Metal Man, however, offers much more.

With this hood, you can dial-adjust its sensitivity and delay. You also get a snug and comfortable fit as this product features five-point adjustable headgear. Fitted to the inside is a removable and washable sweatband.

The Metal Man is solar powered with two additional replaceable batteries. This means that the dark shield is activated by a bright arc and not a computer. It also has an automated power switch, so you don’t have to remember to switch it off after use.

With its wild design, this mask offers excellent value for money. In fact, since it offers such a wide variety of benefits, it may even be preferable than some products listed in the $200 – $300 price range.

How to Adjust A Welding Mask?

After making sure that the battery is securely in place, you can start adjusting your mask by setting the shield delay time. This is the time your shield takes to change from dark to light after you are finished welding. This is a personal preference, and you should do some experimenting to find a setting that feels comfortable.

The second adjustment is your shade setting. This is the level of darkness that your shield reaches when you are welding. This adjustment depends on the welding process and should be the darkest level recommended.

In some cases, you will be able to set the shield’s sensitivity. This setting also depends on your welding operations. You want it to go dark whenever there is an arc strike, but you may not want the shield to go dark for, say, a plasma cutter.

Lastly, adjust the headband to a tightness to keep your helmet in place. It should fit comfortably, and you should be able to see through the lens without any obstructions.

How to Clean a Welding Helmet?

Cleaning your mask is incredibly important to ensure that you can see through it clearly and also to enhance its lifespan. The grime that forms from welding can have a detrimental effect on your equipment in the long-run. Before you start cleaning your mask, check your user manual for the correct procedure to remove your lens system.

For regular smoke and dust contamination, rinse your lens off with water and wipe it with a soft paper towel. If there is stubborn grit that sticks to the lens, you can remove it with window cleaner and a soft brush.

The Best Place to Buy One

Although you can buy a mask from your local hardware store, they will likely only have a limited number of models available. Buying online through Amazon will allow you to choose from hundreds of models. It will also be easier to compare prices and specifications.

An additional benefit of shopping for a hood on Amazon is that you can see exactly what buyers think of the products and the seller’s customer service. If you don’t like what you see, you can click away and buy somewhere else. Amazon sellers often have free shipping and return options, which can save you a lot of money and effort.

How to Choose a Welding Mask?

To choose a shield, you need to know what your specific requirements are. Your welding processes largely determine the shade range and other things such as auto-darkening sensitivity.

After considering your welding processes and working environment, decide whether you want a passive or auto-darkening lens. When you choose a passive lens, the only decision you have left is what shade you want. In many cases, ten is the most versatile, as it is the most versatile darkness between 8 and 14.

If you decide to go with an auto-darkening lens, find a product with a wide darkness range. You’ll also need to decide whether you want solar or battery power. Each one has its pros and cons; for example, you don’t have to remember to switch off a solar-powered unit.

How to Test an Auto-darkening Model?

To test an auto-darkening model, strike an arc by tapping the rod. The goal here is to make a spark. Even a 1/3,600 arc should be enough to darken the shield without hurting your eyes. Alternatively, you can take a lighter and light it close to the exterior of the shield, which would also cause it to darken.

If the lens doesn’t go dark, there may be several reasons. First, check the on/off button inside the helmet. If the helmet is switched on, replace the batteries with new ones. You can also check the troubleshooting section in your user manual to see if you can find the cause.

As a last resort, you can also take it to your local welding shop to see if the people there can help you find the reason your lens doesn’t go dark.

A high-quality helmet that fits comfortably is very important to ensure the safety of your eyes, face, neck, and ears. Never weld, grind, or use a plasma cutter without protection.

Hopefully, this buyers’ guide gave you enough information to make the buying process easier. All the items listed above adhere to industry standards. They are also the most popular among reviewers.

When choosing a helmet, take into account the processes you use as well as the circumstances in your workshop. Remember to prioritize quality and comfort above features such as adjustable sensitivity, especially if you have a strict budget.

Recommended Reading:

We will be happy to hear your thoughts

Leave a reply

Welding Insider