Top Rated ADF, Budget and Industrial Welding Helmet Reviews
Welcome to Welding Wolf, where you can find the best welding helmet reviews for the latest models on the market. I’ve searched through tons of listings and done the research to help you discover the perfect piece of equipment for your needs, whatever situation you are in.
From ADF lenses and dynamic shade settings to the most budget friendly models, I’ve compiled the best of the best so that you don’t have to deal with all the confusing and sometimes conflicting information out there. I’ve considered factors such as ease of use, shade response time, safety ratings and more, because welding is a demanding and technical process that calls for the best equipment in order to do the best job possible.
Below you can find my picks for the best welding helmets according to different features and uses, to make it easier for you to discover the perfect helmet for your specific needs.
Best Value Auto-Darkening Welding Helmet Overall
Antra Auto-Darkening Welding Helmet
Back in the day, there was only one option when it came to viewing lenses on a welding helmet – passive. Nowadays, we have the luxury of auto-darkening filter lenses (also known as an ADF), which can detect the brightness of a welding arc all on its own and thereby save you a huge amount of time and effort on virtually every type of job.
Automatically Darkens Display
An ADF welding helmet features an LCD panel on the front that corresponds to where your eyes are, whereas the old style helmets have a regular filter that is simply a tinted piece of glass, usually with a shade rating of #10. The beauty is that this LCD panel has built-in sensors that scan the area in front of it to detect the amount of light being emitted, so that it can change the shade dynamically based on what it “sees”. The change happens in a fraction of a second, so there’s no need to worry about viewing the arc with exposed eyes, which can severely damage your vision. The display can also tell when the arc has stopped, automatically returning to a resting shade that’s similar to wearing a pair of sunglasses, allowing you to examine your work without removing the helmet.
Available in Multiple Designs
As amazing as the technical aspects are of this helmet, there’s definitely something to be said of wearing something that expresses your personality and tastes. That’s why I was so pleased to discover that Antra makes this helmet with several different designs, in addition to a basic matte black that really complements the angular design that straddles the lines between modern and classic. Whether you’re looking for flames, skulls, or a good old fashioned bald eagle, all of the designs really embody the feeling you would typically find in a welding environment. Another benefit of these fun designs is that they would help you differentiate your helmet from others, which could be very useful if you’re going to be working in a shop or construction setting where there would be several other people’s equipment around.
Most Versatile Helmet for Professional Welders
Jackson Safety W40 Variable Auto Darkening
Welders working in a serious construction or industrial setting need serious equipment to help them complete every job with as much accuracy and efficiency as possible, and from everything I’ve seen this is definitely the welding helmet to help them do just that. It comes with a powerful auto-darkening filter, digital controls, and lots of sensors to give them every advantage.
Variable Shade Range
The ADF lens on this helmet has four independent sensors, which is the most I’ve come across on any of the top-tier helmets. With this many sensors all working independently, you can trust that it’s going to quickly detect any changes in light from an arc and set the appropriate shade rating before you can even blink. Also, since it can achieve shades ranging from #9 to #13, it’s going to be capable of giving you the right protection for a wide array of welding tools. All of this is complemented by the digital display controls, which allow you to set a custom delay or compensate for the ambient light in the room. Having so much control is essential on a helmet with a sensitive lens, because this is all built to take the hassle out of donning and removing an old-fashioned lens, allowing welders to concentrate on what they do best.
Grind and Weld Modes
Another interesting feature of this helmet is that it has a special switch that allows you to change between welding and grinding modes. In welding mode, the ADF is going to be constantly scanning the area for changes in light so that it can dim the view and offer the appropriate protection for your eyes. In the grind mode, it handles the entire process slightly differently, as it’s built specifically to offer the best eye protection for grinding jobs. Grinding refers to the process of using a special tool to literally grind down the seams on a weld to keep the surface of the metal smooth, rather than chunking out. With this helmet, all you need to do is change the mode and you can seamlessly switch to grinding so that you can even out and complete your projects while maintaining maximum visibility and safety.
Best Multi-Method Welding Helmet
Instapark GX-350S with Adjustable Shade Range
These days it seems like a lot of welders have to work on different projects at the same site, switching between the different types of welding tools frequently. Since each tool creates an arc with a different brightness, you need different helmets to properly protect yourself. Or, you simply need a single helmet designed to function with multiple types of welding, like this model from Instapark.
Suitable for Stick, MIG, and TIG Welding
Each of these types of welding devices functions differently, which I won’t get into in detail here because each uses a pretty complex process, but the basic issue is that amperage that each machine uses is going to vary quite a bit. The different amount of power running through the torch or stick, combined with the different materials and consumables they use, means that you are going to have arcs that will vary in brightness and thus call for different shades to offer the appropriate amount of protection. This helmet was designed specifically to give ample protection for all of the most common welding machines, utilizing the same ADF technology to change the shade adjustment based on the arc it detects rather than requiring you to manually choose one yourself.
One issue that I came across in a lot of ADF welding helmets was that owners had issues with the visual clarity of the display. As you can imagine, not being able to properly see the weld zone can result in poor quality work or even lead to potential safety issues. To help prevent each of these situations, the manufacturers have made improvements upon previous models to give welders as much clarity as possible. This helmet’s display functions with an optical class of 1/1/1/2, with the goal of improving overall clarity regardless of what shade adjustment is in place. This is a serious benefit to every welder, but accuracy helps improve productivity and save a lot of effort down the line.
Best Adjustable Size Helmet for Beginners
AUDEW Auto Darkening Helmet Mask
A lot of helmets come from the “one size fits all” perspective, which can be pretty difficult for a lot of people because, in most cases, one size definitely does not fit everyone. If you’re worried that you might be too big or small to comfortably and safely use a welding helmet, then this is definitely the model for you, as it’s made to be adjustable while also delivering quality features, so you don’t have to miss out on anything.
The secret to this adjustable size welding helmet is the headband that sits within the shell, so you can really modify it to fit comfortably on your head instead of simply having one single-size rest that you have to deal with. There’s a manual snap on one side, so you can shorten or lengthen it as you need, and since the entire headband is removable, you can do this without actually have the rest of the helmet on you. The headband also has a ratcheting feature, which allows you to adjust the components that sit on the front and back of your head once you attach it to the helmet, allowing you to achieve a more customized fit once everything is in place.
Fast Detection Time
Just because this helmet offers more size customization features doesn’t mean that it’s sacrificed anything when it comes to the actual filter. Of all the specifications I read about this helmet, I was most impressed with the range of its light detection times. When going from light to tinted, the filter reacts in 1/25,000 of a second, so you should never even notice the arc before the shade adjustment takes place. Going the opposite direction, from dark to light, you can set it to change anywhere between 1/10 of a second and one second, which can definitely come in handy if you’re working on a job that requires a lot of stops and starts. Finally, it has a shade range of #9 to #13, so you know that you’re going to get all the right coverage, too.
Top Rated Fiberglass Helmet for Pipe Welding
Fibre-Metal Piperliner Review
Fiberglass welding helmets are a relatively new iteration when it comes to welding gear, but they stand as a popular choice for pipe welders. This model looks a bit different compared to other welding helmets, while still retaining some of the familiar shape and delivering some great features to give you protection and flexibility in how you work.
Made of Specially Formulated Material
While most other welding helmets are made from a nylon polymer or, in the case of older models, metal, here the helmet is made from a special material known as SuperGlas Plus, which is designed to offer high levels of durability and safety while still remaining light and agile. Among the many benefits of this material is that it’s impact resistant, so the helmet won’t crack or chip if it gets hit with a stray piece of slag. This is very important, as welding jobs can get pretty dangerous at times, especially when it comes to pipe welding, and a cracked mask will immediately become a serious safety issue. It not only can cause the lens to dislodge and expose your eyes to harmful light, but also leave your face unprotected from any debris or sparks. Plus, the material is also moisture resistant, which can cause a whole other set of issues during long-term use.
Compact for More Versatility
Since this is a passive lens mask, it’s also much smaller than the ADF models, which means it gives you more room to move around as you work. Pipe welders would really appreciate this, as the nature of the work sometimes requires working in tight spaces at awkward angles. Without a large, bulky helmet getting in your way, you can be more agile with your work and even take on more complex jobs. Another specialty feature of this mask is that it’s self-extinguishing, so it helps to put out any sparks that come in contact with it. All in all, this is a definitely a useful passive helmet that comes with a lot of unique features that you just don’t see in the ADF models out there.
Best for MIG and STICK Welding
OEMTOOLS 24357 Automatic Darkening
Since the tools necessary to complete a welding project are more affordable than ever, many people are taking up metalworking projects as hobbies, working out of their garages or rented spaces. If you’re getting into welding for small projects or may as part of a growing small business, then this is the helmet I would recommend for you.
Ideal for Novice Welders
When you’re first learning about all the different skills and techniques necessary to handle a TIG or stick welder, it’s important that you have a proper helmet that gives you a great amount of protection while also allowing you to really see what you’re doing. The fact of the matter is, though, that you just don’t need to spend a fortune on a high-end helmet with a super powerful lens before you’re ready, which is why I’m so impressed with this model. It’s priced at a more affordable range, but still gives you an auto-darkening filter that has a solar-powered backup for the battery. It straddles the line between professional and beginner gear perfectly, allowing novices to focus on the actual welding while also giving them the benefit of more high-end gear to make the entire process easier.
Two Arc Sensors
This model from OEM Tools comes with two arc sensors, which is a surprising but welcome feature on a unit in this price range. Hobbyist welders that are serious about learning the craft can really benefit from a helmet with these features because it allows them to focus more on the welding task and less on struggling with the helmet and ensuring the appropriate shade is in place. The sensors will automatically detect an arc and darken the lens for the wearer, factoring in the surrounding light and any user settings for delay. Another great feature for novices is the auto-off circuitry, which automatically deactivates the lens after about 15 minutes. This will help save battery life and extend the usability of the lens overall.
Best Choice for the Money
Neiko 53847A Industrial Grade
Sometimes a welder really just wants a basic helmet that offers the appropriate protection without requiring them to take out a second mortgage in the process. Those of you that are limited by a tight budget will definitely want to look into this incredibly affordable and functional standard helmet.
Protects Against Infrared and Ultraviolet Light
This helmet is designed with total safety in mind, starting with the built-in passive viewing lens that offers total protection against viewing infrared or ultraviolet light, which can cause serious damage to your eyes if viewed for extended periods of time. The lens has a shade rating of #11, which falls right in the middle of what you’re going to find on those more expensive ADF helmets, meaning that it’s going to give you great protection for the most common welding tasks. In case you’re worried that the helmet is trying to cut corners when it comes to safety, it’s also ANSI compliant, so you can trust that it’s going to function according to the appropriate safety standards.
Lightweight and Adjustable
By removing the clunky auto-darkening filter and choosing a smaller, standard shade lens with a traditional flip configuration, this helmet manages to drastically reduce its weight compared to other helmets. This can actually be a huge benefit for anyone that needs to perform welding in a tight space, such as under a vehicle or in the crawlspace of a building or larger vessel. Other helmets simply might not fit in those cramped quarters, so having a light and manageable helmet like this can actually increase your ability to work on certain projects. There’s also an adjustable head strap inside the main helmet, so you can customize it to give you the best fit possible. That means that you don’t have to worry about the helmet slipping off while you’re working, which would be a huge issue.
The Budget Choice for Solar-Powered Welding
Urparcel Solar Welding Helmet Review
When you have a helmet with an auto-darkening filter lens, you need to have a power source that runs the actions occurring in the LCD panel. Thankfully, there aren’t any models that require you to plug into an electrical outlet. But battery-powered models can be a pain to work with; that’s why I was very pleased to discover this solar-powered model from Urparcel, which doesn’t need anything more than sunlight to function.
Powered by the Sun
This helmet has an internal lithium battery that delivers the power to the filter, and like all lithium batteries it’s not something that you can (or should) remove regularly, as it’s designed to be rechargeable. This type of battery is very similar to what you would find in a laptop computer or smartphone, but the main difference is that you don’t need to plug it in to charge. Instead, you just need to place the helmet in direct sunlight so that the sensor panel is facing the light. After a few hours, the sunlight will charge the lithium battery and you’ll be able to start welding. In case this sounds like a hassle to deal with, the manufacturers say that a fully charged helmet can deliver up to 5,000 working hours, which should be more than enough for you to complete a good number of jobs in between charges.
Multiple Sensitivity Adjustments
In case you were afraid that having a solar-powered helmet meant that it didn’t offer many control features, there’s no need to worry. This model includes two different external knobs that allow you to control how the ADF reactions. One knob has to do with the ambient light around you, which is great for making sure the helmet properly detects the arc if you’re outside in a bright area or indoors in a dark space. There’s also a knob for the shade adjustment, which ranges from #9 to #13, if you need to control it manually. Inside the helmet, there are additional controls for modifying the speed with with the auto-darkening feature kicks in, which can be incredibly useful if you want a fast or slow reaction time for a particular job.
Best Beginner Flip Front Helmet
Even though the ADF helmets have a lot of powerful and exciting features, sometimes you might just want a classic welding helmet that doesn’t have any of those fancy bells and whistles. If this sounds like you, then this traditional flip front helmet is going to be right up your alley.
Easy Flip Front Display
This model functions just like the welding helmets have for decades, where you have a single filter right over your eyes you can flip up and down to manually switch between standard viewing and shaded viewing. The flip display gives you complete control over how you view your weld zone, which can be very useful if you’re in an area that has a lot of changes going on in the ambient lighting that might confuse the sensors and make it harder for you to complete your task. The display is designed to swing without cumbersome resistance upward from a top mounted hinge, so you could flip it up with your hands, though I’ve heard that some welders can raise the display with a flick of the head.
This helmet may use an older style for its display, but it’s still built to modern safety standards. This helmet was created to be in compliance with ANSI standards for work site safety, which cover a wide range of specifications that have to do with the filter’s ability to block UV and IR rays, prevent retinal damage from arc flashes and also fully cover the face area to stop any flying metal slag, sparks, or other debris from harming your face. Safety is extremely important when operating a welding device, and it’s important to always use a helmet that meets the appropriate safety regulations so that you know you’re not putting yourself or anyone else in danger when you work.
After looking through a ton of welding helmets, these are definitely the best models that I’ve come across. I really hope that you were able to learn something from my reviews, and that this all has helped you make a smarter and better informed decision when it comes time to make your purchase.
Don’t forget that there are also some other articles here that might help you with more specific circumstances, in case you’re still not sure what helmet is the right one for you. This is a serious situation that calls for you to be completely confident in your purchase, so I really want you to be as comfortable with your choice as possible.