If you’re currently a welder or looking to become one as your career or hobby, then safety gear should be of the utmost importance to you. And right on the top of any list of safety equipment will be a high-quality welding helmet. We’ve put together a top 5 best welding helmet review of 2020 for you.
The UV rays that are emitted from the welding arc can cause serious damage to your eyesight, including a painful condition called arc eye, in which the cornea becomes inflamed. Another potential issue is retina burns, which can result in loss of vision from the concentrated ultraviolet and infrared rays emitted during welding.
The best way to protect yourself from eye damage is by purchasing an excellent welding helmet. But to determine which of the many brands of helmets is the right one for you, you’ll have to make a few choices. So, here are some of the factors to consider as you make your decision:
Auto-darkening vs. passive lens helmets
Deciding between auto-darkening and the passive lens is going to be your first decision, and many welders find that it’s a difficult one. They often question which helmet is better suited for their needs and which one will give them the best overall value. Here are a few considerations:
Auto-Darkening Welding Helmets
- Auto-darkening helmets are typically more comfortable to use since they are designed to darken automatically and immediately when the sensors recognize a welding arc.
- Another advantage: you can wear the helmet throughout the entire process from setup to welding to slag removal.
- If you do a lot of tack welding and short welds, the auto-darkening filter feature will save you from having to lift and lower the lens shade repeatedly, as you would with a passive lens.
- Some welders also complain of neck strain from flipping their passive lens helmet up and down during a long day.
Passive Lens Welding Helmets
- Passive welding helmets have the advantages of affordability and lighter weight.
- However, if you switch welding projects, it’s up to you to change the lens since there is no adjustment in the fixed lens.
- As mentioned, helmets with a passive lens must be lifted and lowered each time a new weld is started.
Lens reaction time
Lens reaction time is another consideration when you’re shopping for the best welding helmets. Basic models are rated to darken in about 1/3,600 of a second, while the professional models can be rated as high as 1/20,000 of a second.
While both of these are quite fast, keep in mind that longer reaction times can result in eye strain or fatigue if you’re welding or plasma cutting for long periods. If you can afford the fastest model, or if you’re welding as your career, choose an industrial-grade welding helmet.
Welding helmet viewing size
Viewing size is yet another consideration when you’re deciding on the best welding helmet for you. Although some of it is a personal preference, welders who work out of position regularly tend to choose a wider viewing angle. And for most standard work, a six to nine-square-inch viewing angle works well.
Make sure your welding helmet fits correctly
Your new welding helmet won’t do its job efficiently if it doesn’t fit right. Here are some tips to help you get the best fit:
- Wear a welding bandana when you fit your helmet. The bandana is made of a flame-retardant material that will protect your head and ears, so you’ll want to have it on to get a snug fit from your helmet.
- Make sure there’s enough room between your face and the front of the helmet. If you’re too close to your lens, you could be uncomfortable, sweat excessively, and have moisture-related issues.
- Your helmet should move only when your head moves. When you have the helmet tightened comfortably, lean your head back and forward to check for a stable fit.
- Choose the lightest helmet that meets all of your specifications. It will provide the most comfort and the least neck strain, especially if you’re going to be welding for long periods.
Top 5 Best Welding Helmets of 2020
Now that you know what to look for, here are five best welding helmet headgear that most experts agree meet all the criteria to be called “the best welding helmets.” All of the following welding helmets have the auto-darkening feature and fast lens reaction times. Factors such as viewing size and comfort will vary from model to model.
1. Lincoln Electric K3034-4 Viking 3350
Considered by many welding pros to be the best welding helmet on the market, the Lincoln Electric 3350 offers a large field of clear viewing with a 12.5-square-inch lens. Because of its responsive sensors, the 3350 series is ideal for low amperage TIG welding.
The X6 Headgear contours to the operator’s head and distributes its weight evenly across six key contact points. And an external grind button allows for switching between the weld and grind operations without having to remove the helmet or gloves.
Image from Amazon
2. Hobart Impact Welding Helmet
The least expensive helmet on the list also has the fastest auto-darkening lens reaction time at 1/25,000 of a second. The Hobart 77056 has shade levels that are adjustable from 8 to 13, giving operators excellent low-light capability for any type of welding.
A lightweight helmet with a 7.05-square-inch viewing area, the Hobart is super-comfortable with excellent ventilation.
Image from Amazon
3. 3M Speedglas Welding Helmet
Exhaust vents expel air from the helmet, keeping things cool with a clear lens. Adjustable shade from levels 5 to 13 gives lots of variabilities to allow for welding in almost any light.At the other end of the price spectrum is one of the most expensive helmets. With a viewing area of 12.11-square-inches, the 3M Speedglas welding helmet also has one of the largest field-of-views available.
Image from Amazon
4. Esab Sentinel A50 Welding Helmet
The Esab Sentinel A50 is a lightweight welding helmet that comes with a color touchscreen control panel plus an externally activated grind button.
Sentinel’s Ergonomic Halo infinitely-adjustable 5-point headgear provides comfort and balance. And the 9.28-square-inch viewing area allows excellent visibility and clarity. The A50 is priced primarily toward the professional welder.
Image from Amazon
5. Miller Digital Elite Welding Helmet
Another lightweight model, the Miller Digital Elite includes four operating modes: cut, grind, weld, and “X” mode. The patented “X-Mode” feature electromagnetically senses the weld to eliminate sunlight interference and continuously detects the arc.
The 9.22-square-inch viewing area has one of the fastest auto-darkening times available, and the helmet is reasonably priced. The headgear has extensive adjustability and a pivoting top for excellent fit and comfort.
Image from Amazon
Do you have additional questions?
PrimeWeld is a professional welding dealer and is here to answer your questions on welding equipment, supplies, and even helmets. Contact any of our PrimeWeld pros, and they will be happy to assist you any way they can!