Best Welding Helmets 2022 – Auto Darkening Picks & Reviews

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It doesn’t matter if you’re farming, fabricating hot rods or fixing appliances. When you work with metal, sooner or later you need to weld something.

Once you start burning metal, you better have a good welding helmet on your head. The right welding helmet makes the job safer and makes a tough job easier.

The best welding helmets are light, offer high tech features and can even make you look great.

But choosing the wrong helmet could be costly and even painful. Welding will throw burning sparks and drip molten metal around the work site.

We took a close look at nine different welding helmets. Balancing cost with features and value will put you in the right gear.

Quick Comparison

Img Product Viewing Area Grind Mode? True Color? Controls Price Weight Where to Buy
Best helmet for beginners
Yeswelder 900B
Yeswelder 900B
3.94" x 2.34" (9.2"²) Flip-up Yes Digital $$ 46.4oz
Best bargain professional helmet
ESAB Sentinel A50
ESAB Sentinel A50
3.93" x 2.36" (9.27"²) External Yes Digital $$$ 22.4 oz
Best inexpensive welding helmet
Ironton Auto-Darkening Welding Helmet
Ironton Auto-Darkening Welding Helmet
3.54″ x 1.57″ (5.56″²) External No Analog $ 17.3 oz
Best overall welding helmet
Optrel Panoramaxx CLT
Optrel Panoramaxx CLT
Panoramic External Yes Analog $$$$$ 21.12 oz
Best for maximum versatility
Miller Digital Infinity
Miller Digital Infinity
4.4" x 3.1" (13.4″²) Internal Yes Digital $$$$ 23 oz
Most popular helmet overall
Lincoln Viking 3350
Lincoln Viking 3350
3.74″ x 3.34″ (12.5″²) External Yes Analog $$$$ 21oz
Best inexpensive helmet with true color
Jackson Translight+ 555
Jackson Translight+ 555
3.23" x 3.86" (12.4″²) External Yes Digital $$ 21.6 oz
Best for heavy industrial welding
3M Speedglass 9100XXi
3M Speedglass 9100XXi
4.2″ x 2.8″ (11.5″²) External Yes Digital $$$$$ 21oz
Hobart Inventor
Hobart Inventor
3.94" x 2.36" (9.3″²) Internal No Analog $$ 19.7 oz

Best Welding Helmets

Here are reviews of some of the best welding helmets we found on the market:

1. Yeswelder 900B Flip Up Welding Helmet

Best helmet for beginners
Yeswelder 900B Flip Up Welding Helmet

Yeswelder 900B

4.0 Weld Guru rating

Weld Guru’s rating is dertmined by a variety of factors including features, performance, independant research and real user ratings. Scoring is not influenced by the manufacturer.

An inexpensive model that lets you experience true-color light transmission and a flip-up design. Looking through the clear visor while grinding is much better than using a “grind mode” offered on most helmets.

  • Brand:
    Yeswelder
  • Model:
    900B
  • Viewing Area:
    3.94" x 2.34" (9.2"²)
  • Arc Sensors:
    4
  • Optical Class:
    1/1/1/2
  • Lens Reaction Time:
    <1/10,000s
  • Shade Range:
    DIN 5-9 / 9-13
  • Grind Mode?:
    Flip-up
  • True Color?:
    Yes
  • Controls:
    Digital
  • TIG amp:
    N/A
  • Price:
    $$
  • Weight:
    46.4oz

The YesWelder 900B is an excellent choice for beginners and professionals. But since it costs far less than models from ESAB, Lincoln Electric, Miller, and Optrel, it’s most attractive to rookies who want to buy a quality helmet without breaking the bank.

The true color lens offers pretty accurate color transmission. But, more expensive brands do provide a better visual experience. Still, YesWelder offers a good optical clarity rating and color accuracy at a relatively low price.

The best feature of the YesWelder 900B is the flip-up design. Big brands like 3M and Miller sell flip-up helmets at a high cost, making them inaccessible to DIYers and small shop fabricators. However, the YesWelder 900B provides a flip-up visor at a price new welders can afford. That means you don’t have to remove the helmet between the welds. Instead, flip up the auto-darkening filter (“ADF”) visor and use the clear face shield underneath.

The viewing size is large, but smaller than some of the other helmets we reviewed. It doesn’t support cheater lenses, which is a shame. But for the hobbyist or a professional on a limited budget, the YesWelder 900B is a steal. Plus, if you use our coupon code “WELDGURU10” you’ll get a 10% discount.

Pros

  • Large viewing area with side DIN 5 windows for a panoramic view
  • 4 sensors cover a large area for precise arc detection
  • Flip-up cover design with an integrated transparent visor for grinding
  • True color lens provide more accurate color transmission
  • Uses digital controls like top brands
  • Rechargeable battery with an integrated magnetic charging port
  • 2h battery charging time offers 10 days of operation
  • Low battery indicator
  • Easy to set up and use
  • Sturdy body
  • Well-built headgear
  • Includes multiple replacement lens

Cons

  • Too many crevices where dust can accumulate
  • Not compatible with a cheater lens
  • Heavy at 2.9 lbs

2. ESAB Sentinel A50 Auto Darkening Welding Helmet

Best bargain professional helmet
ESAB Sentinel A50 Auto Darkening Welding Helmet

ESAB A50

5.0 Weld Guru rating

Weld Guru’s rating is dertmined by a variety of factors including features, performance, independant research and real user ratings. Scoring is not influenced by the manufacturer.

The ESAB Sentinel A50’s top-of-the-line color and light transmission are hard to beat. It’s the best high-end welding helmet sold at a reasonable cost. Most experienced welders have heard about or use the famous Sentinel A50. It is often used for professional applications, especially precision TIG welding.

  • Brand:
    ESAB
  • Model:
    A50
  • Viewing Area:
    3.93" x 2.36" (9.27"²)
  • Arc Sensors:
    4
  • Optical Class:
    1/1/1/2
  • Lens Reaction Time:
    1/25,000s
  • Shade Range:
    DIN 5-8 / 9-13
  • Grind Mode?:
    External
  • True Color?:
    Yes
  • Controls:
    Digital
  • TIG amp:
    ≥2A
  • Price:
    $$$
  • Weight:
    22.4 oz

If you are a professional or you just want a high-end welding helmet with a and eye-popping low price, the ESAB Sentinel A50 is your best option. It’s the least expensive professional helmet designed for heavy-duty use and precision TIG welding.

Only the Optrel Panoramaxx and Miller Digital Infinity are better with color and light transmission. So, the Sentinel A50 does qualify as a premium auto-darkening welding helmet. The view quality is best when TIG welding. The blueish tint and crystal clear image let you see the tiniest details. You can easily spot the most nuanced burn and bubble or sense when your weld pool has poor shielding gas coverage.

ESAB built every aspect of their HALO headgear to increase comfort and adjustability from the ground up. The Sentinel A50 matches the comfort level of high-end welding helmets from Miller and Optrel. But the Sentinel A50 is not well suited for people with large heads. Size can be subjective, but consider an Optrel helmet if you’ve had issues finding a hood large enough to fit your head before.

The spherical lens gives the Sentinel its characteristic “cool factor.” But the lens is also responsible for increased light transmission and helmet’s durability, and sparks easily slide off the spherical lens. However, these lenses are a double-edged sword. The internal glare is more pronounced, and replacement lenses are more expensive than standard rectangular lenses.

Pros

  • Exceptional color and light transmission
  • Digital controls with 8 memory settings
  • External grind button with a shade 4 configuration
  • Least expensive high-end welding helmet
  • Uses replaceable batteries
  • A spherical front cover lens improves natural light transmission
  • The helmet design allows slag and spark to slide off easily without getting stuck in crevices
  • Exceptional headgear comfort and adjustability
  • Durable - made for heavy-duty work
  • Top-of-the-line TIG welding experience
  • Low profile design

Cons

  • Spherical lens easily scratch if the helmet is placed face down
  • The touchscreen display requires taking your gloves off
  • Spherical lenses increase glare on the inside
  • Replacement lenses are costly

3. Ironton Auto-Darkening Welding Helmet

Best inexpensive welding helmet
Ironton Auto-Darkening Welding Helmet

Ironton Welding Helmet

5.0 Weld Guru rating

Weld Guru’s rating is dertmined by a variety of factors including features, performance, independant research and real user ratings. Scoring is not influenced by the manufacturer.

Best for hobbyists that weld occasionally. The Ironton offers a decent experience at a bargain rate price. But, it’s limited in many critical areas.

  • Brand:
    Ironton
  • Model:
    Auto-Darkening Welding Helmet
  • Viewing Area:
    3.54″ x 1.57″ (5.56″²)
  • Arc Sensors:
    2
  • Optical Class:
    N/A
  • Lens Reaction Time:
    1/20,000s
  • Shade Range:
    DIN 9-13, Light shade DIN 4
  • Grind Mode?:
    External
  • True Color?:
    No
  • Controls:
    Analog
  • TIG amp:
    >2A
  • Price:
    $
  • Weight:
    17.3 oz

Ironton’s auto-darkening welding hood is a decent helmet for hobby welders. But, if you plan to weld often, we suggest you get the Hobart Inventor or the YesWelder 900B. While they are both more expensive, you’ll have a far better experience.

The ADF uses older technology without a true color feature or other technology that improves light and color transmission. So, expect to see quite a dark image.

An external shade adjustability and grind mode are a definite win for this Ironton. Many inexpensive helmets keep all the settings inside. However, this helmet doesn’t have any internal settings, not even sensitivity controls. So, when welding in a well-illuminated area, you cannot decrease the sensitivity to prevent false activation.

Also, the battery is not replaceable, but it should hold out for the 2-year warranty period. Plus, there is no low battery light indicator. The helmet has only two arc sensors, so you can get flashed if welding in cramped spaces. But, this is not a high-end welding helmet. If you weld from time to time, buying the Ironton is a good way to save money.

Pros

  • Aggressively priced
  • Good build quality at a low cost
  • Decent view area
  • External shade control
  • Rated for low amp TIG welding
  • Lightweight

Cons

  • Non-replaceable battery; once it dies, you must buy another helmet
  • Fixed sensitivity control
  • Doesn’t support cutting shades 5-9
  • No true color technology for enhanced light and color transmission
  • No low battery warning. You may get flashed as the battery runs out.
  • Only two arc sensors. If they are blocked in an awkward welding position, you get arc flashed
  • Flimsy headgear

4. Optrel Panoramaxx CLT Panoramic Welding Helmet

Best overall welding helmet
Optrel Panoramaxx CLT Panoramic Welding Helmet

Optrel Panoramaxx CLT

4.5 Weld Guru rating

Weld Guru’s rating is dertmined by a variety of factors including features, performance, independant research and real user ratings. Scoring is not influenced by the manufacturer.

The Panoramaxx CLT helmet is for professionals and precision TIG welders. Optrel remains unchallenged in terms of field of view, light and color transmission, and weight. If you want the number one helmet on the market, consider the Panoramaxx CLT.

  • Brand:
    Optrel
  • Model:
    Panoramaxx CLT
  • Viewing Area:
    Panoramic
  • Arc Sensors:
    5
  • Optical Class:
    1/1/1/2
  • Lens Reaction Time:
    0.090ms
  • Shade Range:
    DIN 4-12, light state DIN 2
  • Grind Mode?:
    External
  • True Color?:
    Yes
  • Controls:
    Analog
  • TIG amp:
    N/A
  • Price:
    $$$$$
  • Weight:
    21.12 oz

The Panoramaxx CLT is Optrel’s best helmet yet. It’s simply one of the best welding helmets on the market. While it has a few flaws, no other helmet provides a 2.0  shade in the light/grind state. Additionally, the color and light transmission while welding is unmatched.

This helmet works best for TIG welding, but MIG and MMA welders also benefit from an immense field of view and light transmission. However, we wouldn’t recommend it for extreme welding conditions. If you weld above 280A, consider the Panoramaxx Quattro model instead.

Optrel’s unique approach to ADF lens design gives the Panoramaxx CLT the most extensive field of view in the industry. It’s almost as if you are using sunglasses because you can position the ADF very close to your eyes.

The headgear is large and complex, and it may take a while to adjust for some people. But Optrel’s Isofit headgear design offers its users high adjustability. However, it gets in the way of the adjustment knobs located above the ADF housing. It’s possible to access the controls, but it takes a few seconds to finagle your way around the headgear.

Pros

  • Best color & light transmission on the market
  • Extremely light
  • Optrel’s Isofit headgear design offers remarkable comfort and adjustability
  • Lightest shade is DIN2; the lowest on the market
  • 5 sensors for best arc coverage
  • Nose cut-out lens allows up to 6 times larger field of view than other helmets
  • Rechargeable, built-in Li-Po battery
  • Auto & manual shade selection
  • Fadetronic patented technology reduces eye strain
  • Protection lens constructed with more than 30 ultra-thin layers for maximum color accuracy
  • External grind button
  • Helmet & front lens design allows slag & sparks to slide off its surface easily
  • Made in Switzerland

Cons

  • It may be too fragile for work in extreme conditions. If you expect severe slag to fall on your helmet like with FCAW in industrial welding, consider 3M models instead
  • Not officially rated for TIG
  • While extremely light, some people don’t like that the shell feels flimsy
  • Adjustments knobs are hard to reach inside the helmet because the headgear gets in the way

5. Miller Digital Infinity Auto Darkening

Best for maximum versatility
Miller Digital Infinity Auto Darkening

Miller Digital Infinity

5.0 Weld Guru rating

Weld Guru’s rating is dertmined by a variety of factors including features, performance, independant research and real user ratings. Scoring is not influenced by the manufacturer.

The rugged design, large viewing area, excellent light transmission, and Miller’s X-mode make the Digital Infinity the most versatile welding helmet. You can do precision work or weld in extreme conditions. But, you can also weld outside without the sun interfering with your ADF.

  • Brand:
    Miller
  • Model:
    Digital Infinity
  • Viewing Area:
    4.4" x 3.1" (13.4″²)
  • Arc Sensors:
    4
  • Optical Class:
    1/1/1/2
  • Lens Reaction Time:
    1/20,000s
  • Shade Range:
    DIN 5-8 / 9-13
  • Grind Mode?:
    Internal
  • True Color?:
    Yes
  • Controls:
    Digital
  • TIG amp:
    <5A
  • Price:
    $$$$
  • Weight:
    23 oz

Miller’s Digital Infinity is an iconic auto-darkening helmet used by professional welders worldwide. It’s more expensive than the Sentinel A50 and has slightly better light and color transmission.

This welding helmet is rugged and can take a beating. You don’t have to pamper it, unlike the ESAB and Optrel models. But, 3M offers even more durable helmets.

The big lens provides the largest viewing area among welding helmets with rectangular lenses. Optrel’s Panoramaxx CLT still provides a far wider field of view, thanks to its nose-cut shape, but Miller’s replacement lenses are inexpensive and readily available.

The most prominent feature of the Digital Infinity is its X-mode. It triggers the ADF by detecting the arc’s electromagnetic field. Since it doesn’t rely on the arc’s IR/UV waves, it cannot initiate false darkening when flashed by the sun or lights in the work area. The X-mode makes this the most versatile auto-darkening helmet because you can weld outside and inside and never worry about false activation or getting flashed.

The Digital infinity comes in many designs, and our favorite is Black Ops. But if you don’t need a large viewing area, consider the Digital Elite. It has all the features of the Digital Infinity, but it’s costs less.

Pros

  • Excellent color and light transmission; slightly better than the ESAB Sentinel A50
  • Biggest viewing area of all welding helmets with standard lens shape
  • Miller’s X-mode triggers ADF based on electromagnetic arc detection
  • DIN 3 light state for grinding
  • Ergonomic headgear
  • Easy-to-use digital controls
  • Rugged and durable
  • AutoSense mode for automatic sensitivity adjustment
  • InfoTrack measures arc time to track productivity
  • Available in multiple designs
  • Uses replaceable battery

Cons

  • Slightly heavier than most high-end helmets
  • Internal grind mode button
  • Headgear tends to wear out quickly. Many people replace the headgear in less than a year

6. Lincoln Viking 3350 Auto-darkening Welding Helmet

Most popular helmet overall
Lincoln Viking 3350 Auto-darkening Welding Helmet

Lincoln Viking 3350

4.5 Weld Guru rating

Weld Guru’s rating is dertmined by a variety of factors including features, performance, independant research and real user ratings. Scoring is not influenced by the manufacturer.

The Lincoln 3350 offers optimal visual clarity with a 1/1/1/1 rating in an auto-darkening welding helmet while also offering an excellent true-color 4C lens. If you must see your work’s shape as accurately as possible, the Viking 3350 is a great choice.

  • Brand:
    Lincoln
  • Model:
    Viking 3350
  • Viewing Area:
    3.74″ x 3.34″ (12.5″²)
  • Arc Sensors:
    4
  • Optical Class:
    1/1/1/1
  • Lens Reaction Time:
    1/25,000s
  • Shade Range:
    Dark: 6-13 / Light: 3
  • Grind Mode?:
    External
  • True Color?:
    Yes
  • Controls:
    Analog
  • TIG amp:
    >2A
  • Price:
    $$$$
  • Weight:
    21oz

Lincoln Electric’s updated Viking 3350 offers the best optical clarity among high-end welding helmets. It rates as 1/1/1/1. This ranking means your image will not distort in any way.

However, the color and light transmission are almost identical to the ESAB Sentinel A50. So, Optrel and Miller have a transmission advantage over the Viking 3350, which is worth noting since the 3350 is more expensive than the Miller Digital Infinity. Still, many welders prefer Lincoln’s 4C technology, and they still enjoy excellent color accuracy.

Lincoln designed the Viking 3350 for heavy-duty work, not just precision welding. The shell is durable and features a simple, low-profile design. This hood can be showered with sparks and molten debris daily and survive for years.

Also, Lincoln Electric redesigned the headgear with a new “K3034-4” model of the 3350, making it more comfortable and easier to adjust. Just be sure you buy the new matte black version, not the old glossy version. The old helmet offered just as good color and light transmission, but the headgear was a pain for many welders.

The new version also introduced an external grind mode button, making it even more user-friendly. If the Viking 3350 were less expensive, we would have picked it as the best bargain professional helmet.

Pros

  • Excellent light and color transmission
  • Best-in-class optical clarity
  • Lightweight considering the size of the ADF
  • Rated for low TIG starting amps
  • Extra-large viewing area
  • External grind mode button
  • DIN 3.5 in grinding mode
  • Quality headgear that’s easy to adjust
  • Integrated “always-on” protection against sunlight triggering the ADF
  • Rugged, durable shell body
  • Uses standard CR2450 replaceable battery
  • Popular with US welders

Cons

  • Expensive
  • No digital controls for precise adjustments

7. Jackon Translight 555 Welding Helmet

Best inexpensive helmet with true color
Jackon Translight 555 Welding Helmet

Jackon Translight 555

4.5 Weld Guru rating

Weld Guru’s rating is dertmined by a variety of factors including features, performance, independant research and real user ratings. Scoring is not influenced by the manufacturer.

If you want a true color ADF welding helmet on a tight budget, the Translight+ 555 is an excellent competitor to YesWelder 900B.

  • Brand:
    Jackson
  • Model:
    Translight+ 555
  • Viewing Area:
    3.23" x 3.86" (12.4″²)
  • Arc Sensors:
    4
  • Optical Class:
    1/1/1/1
  • Lens Reaction Time:
    1/25,000s
  • Shade Range:
    DIN 5-14, Light shade DIN 3.5
  • Grind Mode?:
    External
  • True Color?:
    Yes
  • Controls:
    Digital
  • TIG amp:
    >3A
  • Price:
    $$
  • Weight:
    21.6 oz

The Translight+ 555 is a relatively new welding helmet from Jackson Safety. So, it hasn’t proven itself over many years like other helmets from Miller, Lincoln, ESAB, or Optrel. But, it’s inexpensive, supports true color technology, and comes from a reputable brand.

With this hood, you get an extensive view area that matches Lincoln’s Viking 3350, which improves light transmission, especially with a 1/1/1/1 optical rating. Additionally, the Translight+ is rated for TIG welding down to 3A. So, unless you do meticulous, fine work, the helmet will trigger the ADF.

The shell and ADF are relatively light, considering the size of the filter lens. But, the headgear is too “light.” A basic headgear design helps when you reach inside the helmet to adjust the ADF, but it also makes the helmet less comfortable. The Miller Digital Infinity and the Lincoln Viking have more adjustability and offer a better fit.

Also, this helmet has an external combo grind button with a dial around it. The dial is an external adjustment for your shades, which is handy. But, the external grinding button is too small, and the ring around a small button in the center means it’s too easy to hit the dial and unintentionally change your shade setting.

Pros

  • Vast viewing area equalling the Lincoln’s 3350 Viking viewport
  • True color technology improves hue transmission
  • Inexpensive
  • Highest optical clarity rating
  • Rated for low amp TIG starts
  • Digital controls
  • Easy to set up and use
  • External grind mode button and an outer wheel for fine shade adjustment
  • Lightweight

Cons

  • External grind button is too small
  • No internal LED to signal that the helmet is in the grind mode
  • Headgear doesn’t have enough padding for comfort

8. 3M Speedglas 9100XXi

Best for heavy industrial welding
3M Speedglas 9100XXi

3M Speedglas 9100XXi

4.5 Weld Guru rating

Weld Guru’s rating is dertmined by a variety of factors including features, performance, independant research and real user ratings. Scoring is not influenced by the manufacturer.

The Speedglas 9100 is the most rugged, professional auto-darkening welding helmet. If you work in harsh conditions and need a high-end helmet that easily handles lots of slag and sparks, consider this 3M Speedglas model.

  • Brand:
    3M
  • Model:
    Speedglass 9100XXi
  • Viewing Area:
    4.2″ x 2.8″ (11.5″²)
  • Arc Sensors:
    3
  • Optical Class:
    1/1/1/2
  • Lens Reaction Time:
    1/10,000
  • Shade Range:
    Dark: 5, 8, 9–13 / Light: 3
  • Grind Mode?:
    External
  • True Color?:
    Yes
  • Controls:
    Digital
  • TIG amp:
    >1A
  • Price:
    $$$$$
  • Weight:
    21oz

The Speedglas 9100 is the most durable auto-darkening welding helmet. 3M designed it for mining, marine, transportation, and heavy manufacturing. If you want a helmet that can handle demanding work in rough industries, the Speedglas 9100 is a good choice.

The included 9100XXi ADF offers excellent color and light transmission on par with the ESAB Sentinel and the Lincoln Electric 3350. But, it provides a DIN 3 shade, while ESAB comes with a DIN 4 rating and Lincoln a DIN 3.5. Still, the Speedglas 9100 costs about the same as the Optrel Panoramaxx CLT and has poorer view quality. So, the Speedglas 9100 makes sense when you need maximum durability. Optrel and ESAB couldn’t endure the same working conditions 3M designed the Speedglas 9100  to withstand.

The headgear is well designed and features padded headbands to distribute pressure evenly. However, some head shapes may require more fiddling to find the sweet spot.

The helmet includes an external grind button and huge side windows. 3M designed the entire build to improve productivity in adverse environments. But, the 3M Speedglas 9100 also excels as a precision welding helmet thanks to the best TIG rating on the market. So, while expensive, you get an all-rounder hood for pretty much every job.

Pros

  • Excellent light and color transmission
  • Large view area
  • Heavy-duty design made for industrial applications
  • Best low TIG amp rating on the market
  • DIN 3 light shade
  • External grind button
  • Features large DIN 5 shade side windows for peripheral vision
  • Replaceable battery
  • Ergonomic, adjustable headgear
  • Shell design allows sufficient airflow inside the helmet, which prevents fogging up the lens
  • Effortless adjustments and set up
  • Accessing the settings is a breeze

Cons

  • Large price tag
  • Filter has a slight green tint
  • Headgear doesn’t allow sufficient adjustability for some head shapes
  • Pressing the grind mode button requires too much force; you can push the helmet to the side if it's not tightly fitted to your head

9. Hobart Inventor Auto Dark Welding Hood

Hobart Inventor Auto Dark Welding Hood

Hobart Inventor

5.0 Weld Guru rating

Weld Guru’s rating is dertmined by a variety of factors including features, performance, independant research and real user ratings. Scoring is not influenced by the manufacturer.

There aren’t many brand-name hobbyist welding helmets. So, this may be a good choice if you prefer a hood backed by a brand name and a longer warranty than the YesWelder 900B.

  • Brand:
    Hobart
  • Model:
    Inventor
  • Viewing Area:
    3.94" x 2.36" (9.3″²)
  • Arc Sensors:
    4
  • Optical Class:
    N/A
  • Lens Reaction Time:
    1/25,000s
  • Shade Range:
    DIN 9-13, Light shade DIN 3
  • Grind Mode?:
    Internal
  • True Color?:
    No
  • Controls:
    Analog
  • TIG amp:
    N/A
  • Price:
    $$
  • Weight:
    19.7 oz

If you are a hobbyist but feel more comfortable with a brand-name helmet, the Hobart Inventor model may be a good choice. The YesWelder 900B we recommended earlier for hobbyists supports far more features. But, the Inventor by Hobart comes with a longer warranty. Still, you should know that the Inventor helmet is manufactured in China, just like the YesWelder 900B.

The Hobart Inventor uses a standard ADF lens that doesn’t support true color technology. But, thanks to the large view area and quality ADF, the visual experience is quite good. It’s much better than most inexpensive “standard” ADF helmets.

Hobart didn’t rate the Inventor for optical clarity. However, the light DIN 3 state means that it almost certainly rates at 1/1/1/2, which is on par with many professional helmets.

The headgear is comfortable but basic. An external grind mode button is missing, and there is no cutting mode. So, this helmet only supports weld and grind modes, and you are forced to use a dark DIN 9 to plasma cut, which is too dim for plasma arc. Other competing helmets support DIN 5-9 for cutting.

Pros

  • Inexpensive given the build quality
  • Relatively large viewing area
  • Durable plastic shell
  • Multi-point adjustable headgear
  • Uses replaceable batteries
  • Lightweight
  • LED grind mode indicator on the inside

Cons

  • Doesn’t support advanced methods of light and color transmission like true color technology
  • Internal grind mode switch
  • Basic headgear
  • Doesn’t support plasma cutting mode; DIN 5-9 shades are not available

What To Look For In Welding Helmet – Buyer’s Guide

Welding helmets are a crucial piece of welding equipment, and they are expensive. But, selecting a welding hood is not straightforward, and it’s easy to make a mistake.

So, we made a concise buying guide to help you find the welding helmet that best suits your needs.

Set Your Budget: Best Helmet Brands

The most recognised helmet brands are:

  • Optrel
  • ESAB
  • 3M
  • Miller
  • Hobart
  • Lincoln Electric
  • Jackson Safety
  • Yeswelder

Optrel, ESAB, 3M, and similar brands target professional welders whose work demands high precision and productivity. Their helmets are expensive, but one exception is ESAB’s Sentinel A50 which is relatively affordable.

While providing an exceptional welding experience, these high-end helmets don’t benefit beginners, and it is hard to justify the cost for new welders. Professional welding helmets are designed to improve productivity, reduce effort, increase weld quality, and ultimately help you earn more money. That’s why experienced welders buy them, even if they cost more.

Miller, Lincoln Electric, and Jackson Safety work great for hobby welders and professionals alike. They compete well against sophisticated helmets from the brands mentioned above. What they lack in technology, they make up with in endurance. For example, the Miller and Lincoln welding helmets can handle harsh working conditions better than the Optrel or ESAB offerings.

YesWelder, Hobart, and Ironton are geared toward the hobbyist market. Hobart is a big brand name, but their welding helmet line cannot compete with Miller or Lincoln. Hobart’s helmets are more affordable but limited in features. YesWelder’s 900B helmet comes close to the big brand names, but the warranty is not as long. Plus, YesWelder is a hobbyist-grade brand, so don’t expect the helmet to endure the same conditions as welding hoods from Miller or Lincoln.

Features To Assess

Viewport Size

The bigger the viewport, the more light will enter through the ADF. But, most importantly, with a big viewport, you’ll see more of your workspace. If you put the helmet in grind mode, you can work efficiently with a large viewing area. But, if you have a small viewport like on the Ironton helmet, you cannot complete every task without removing the helmet.

Color And Light

Once you put on a helmet from Optrel, you’ll likely not be satisfied with any other helmet’s color and light transmission. Seeing clearly with real-life colors is a must for a welding professional.

But using old, green-tinted ADF does the job, even if the welding experience is inferior. You will have to deal with things like you can hardly see the weld puddle, and you won’t be able to tell if a slight color or length change happens with the welding arc.

On the other hand, true color technology lets you see the tiniest details. So, you can prevent weld defects by reacting in real-time. Why finish the entire weld if you noticed that porosity occurred mid-way? Just stop, re-grind, and restart the weld. That’s why accurate color and light transmission saves time and money.

Lens Quality

Almost all welding helmets on the market are either 1/1/1/1 or 1/1/1/2 rated for optical clarity. Either is a good choice. The 1/1/1/1 lens provides the best image accuracy; there is no distortion. However, the 1/1/1/2 lens distorts the image slightly when looking at an angle. But, this is minimal, and unless you are a precision TIG welder, you are unlikely to have any issues with 1/1/1/2 helmets.

Just avoid helmets with a rating other than these two. There is no reason to get inferior lenses when the two best ratings are widely available nowadays.

Grind Mode

Grind mode prevents the ADF from activating and darkening your view. This mode keeps the helmet at the lightest available shade to help you see better. The shades are usually DIN 3 or DIN 4. But, some high-end helmets like Optrel Panoramaxx CLT offer DIN 2, which is near life-like illumination.

It’s always preferable for the grind mode button to be external. Hobbyists can work with an internal grind button. But, constantly taking off the helmet to click the grind mode button and putting the helmet back on is very frustrating in a professional environment.

Headgear

Your headgear quality determines the fit adjustability and comfort. For example, you cannot adjust the basic headgear provided by Ironton and Hobart for a comfortable, balanced fit. You may have gaps between the headgear straps and your head, the straps may catch your hair, and the lack of padded cushions reduces comfort.

High-end helmets from ESAB, Optrel, Miller, or Lincoln offer good headgear designs. If you weld all day, get a helmet with a headgear that allows multi-point adjustments. Properly balancing the helmet’s weight goes a long way in reducing strain, neck pain, and neck joint degeneration.

Durability

The most durable helmets usually have simple designs and heavy shells. For example, helmets from Optrel are ultra-light, but their shells are thin. While made with excellent plastics, they shouldn’t be used in extreme conditions where slag constantly falls on the shell.

On the other hand, Miller and Lincoln’s helmets have a simple design with minimal crevices and thicker shell plastic, allowing them to handle harsher conditions. But, the 3M Speedglas welding helmets are made to endure the work in the toughest welding industries like mining and construction.

Weight

Many people make the mistake of buying an overly heavy helmet just to find out that it’s uncomfortable to wear all day. If you weld occasionally, this is not much of a concern. But if you weld often, a light helmet makes the day under the hood far more pleasant.

A large viewport, sophisticated headgear design, and thick shell plastics are always welcome. But, all of these add weight, making the helmet unbearable. However, we only picked relatively light helmets in our review since this is an area that can make or break the welding experience. Still, some helmets are heavier than others. So, if welding takes a significant portion of your day, go with the lightest helmet that gives you all the features you need.

Lastly, this goes without saying, but the helmet should meet safety standard ANSI Z87.1.

Wrapping Up

Choose your auto-darkening welding helmet based on your needs, and you won’t spend too much money or buy a helmet that hinders your productivity. You should get the YesWelder 900B or the Hobart Inventor as the best low-cost option if you are a hobbyist.

Alternatively, you can also get the Miller Digital Elite as a low-cost version of the Digital Infinity to save some money. You get a professional-grade hood with a slightly smaller viewing area. So, it is a good intermediate-level choice.

But, if you don’t weld often and prefer to save money when buying your startup welding equipment, the Ironton is a safe choice.

If you are a professional welder and have never owned a high-end welding helmet, getting any of the big brand names we discussed will increase your productivity. Miller and Lincoln Electric offer slightly better durability, while Optrel provides unmatched light and color transmission. The 3M Speedglas is best suited for industrial-level work, while still providing an exceptionally clear view.

Other Helmet Guides

Passive welding helmets

Top picks – Speedglas welding helmets

About Jeff Grill

Jeff Grill hails from Long Island, a 118 mile stretch of land that starts just off the coast of Manhattan and stretches deep into the Atlantic ocean. He has always been interested in welding from an early age and has the cuts and bruises to prove it as he set out to work with a variety of metals.

2 thoughts on “Best Welding Helmets 2022 – Auto Darkening Picks & Reviews”

  1. The right Miller Digital Infinity in the game! Sleek design. Doesn’t look like a cheap, boxy hockey helmet. Doesn’t look like a sport bike helmet. Perfectly designed in the ‘looks department’. Sensors never failed on me and the headgear is the most comfortable ive ever tried.

    Reply
    • I’d agree its a good looking hood. i like it a lot. However i find it to be pretty heavy especially for overhead. Also my head gear broke but i’m pretty sure thats just a miller thing. 2nd miller hood that the headgear has broken on me. all in all a good pick though

      Reply

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