Best Auto Darkening Welding Helmet

Best auto darkening welding helmet

This review deals only with the best welding helmets that are worth your money and try. The top picks have been literally researched throughout by our team before including them in the review.

The described helmets may serve you for a long time without failure and extend your productivity, by providing extreme comfort.

If you are either newcomer to welding works or a professional, you may benefit from this review by acknowledging must-to-have features, when it comes to a new or first helmet purchase.

We have covered only the most important factors that you should pay attention to when selecting a product, including auto-darkening capability, the shades of auto darkening, as well as different types of helmets and their correspondence to safety and quality standards.

Top Pick
3M Speedglas 9100

3M Speedglas 9100

  • Compatible with shades 5, 8-13
  • Peripheral vision by over 100%
  • Nylon shell and ratchet system

3M Speedglas Welding Helmet 9100 is our top pick due to the correspondence of its functionality, quality, and price together. It perfectly fits those engaged in Stick, MIG, and TIG welding applications, as well as those who have eye strain complications and want to minimize this harm. The Nylon shell and ratchet system allow a welder to feel comfortable when wearing it.

Best Auto Darkening Welding Helmets Comparison Chart

ImageProductPrice
3M Speedglas 91003M Speedglas 9100

Shades: 3, 5, 8-13
Switching speed: 0,1 ms
Material: Nylon
Weight: 2.09 lb (950 g)
Lincoln Electric K3034-4 VIKING 3350 Lincoln Electric Viking 3350

Shades: 5-13
Switching speed: 0,04 ms
Material: Nylon
Weight: 3.2 lb (1,45 kg)
Esab Sentinel A50Esab Sentinel A50

Shades: 5-13
Switching speed: 0,04-0,075 ms
Material: Nylon
Weight: 1.4 lb (630 g)
Miller Electric 2240089Miller Electric 2240089

Shades: 8-13
Switching speed: 0,1 ms
Material: Nylon
Weight: 2.8 lb (1,2 kg)
Hobart 770890Hobart 770890

Shades: 8-13
Switching speed: 0,04 ms
Material: Polyamide-Nylon
Weight: 1.25 lb (560 g)

5 Auto Darkening Welding Helmets (as of June, 2021)

Here are 5 top picks of the month, which may be a good choice for people with both high and low paying capacities, as the prices vary. Note, we start the product review with the editor’s choice, and the last helmets mentioned serve as decent alternatives to the top pick.

All helmets are tested and reviewed, taking into consideration our team’s experience while wearing it and customers’ feedback only. We do not get paid for promoting one or another product. 

1. 3M Speedglas 9100 – Best Auto Darkening Welding Helmet Review

3M Speedglas 9100 Review, Pros and Cons

Brief Description of the Helmet

3M Speedglas Welding Helmet 9100 is a top pick for those who care about the safety and comfort of work, though it is worth saying it is an expensive choice. Medium-sized viewing area and boosted peripheral vision may come in handy in works requiring the highest precision, while the ergonomic design of the helmet allows it to fit your head conveniently without even any adjustments.

Type of Helmet

Speaking of its feeling of touch, it is 2.09 pounds (950 g) of weight, which, in turn, may be too heavy for new welding workers; however, a Nylon material is quite pleasant to wear and feels safe rather than with plastic shells. The helmet comes with side windows, 2 crown straps, as well as large knobs, and a ratchet system for adjustments.

Type of Lens

The auto-darkening feature provides users with a standard range of shades, including 5, 8, 9 through 13 and a light shade of 3. This might be a good choice for those welders who already struggle with eye strain.

Response Time

The response time is 0.1 milliseconds, which is fast and won’t make you wait to perform your tasks.

Type of Battery

It works with lithium batteries, and as per estimated calculations, the battery life may provide you with up to 2,000 hours of daily use.

Pros:

  • Works best with Stick, MIG, TIG, and grinding tasks
  • Boosted peripheral vision
  • Expected battery durability is 2,000 hours of daily use
  • Extra eye and face protection features
  • 2.8 x 4.2 (7 x 10.7 cm) of the viewing area

Cons:

  • No solar cell battery
  • Quite heavy if you are used to light shells
  • Pricey, though corresponds to the quality

2. Lincoln Electric Viking 3350 – Best Lincoln Electric Auto Darkening Welding Helmet Review

Lincoln Electric Viking 3350 Review, Pros and Cons

Brief Description of the Helmet

Lincoln Electric Viking 3350 was found perfect when it came to works on large territories and where more areas of welding are involved, thanks to its wide viewing area.

The helmet is powered with 4C Lens technology, which does not distort the real colors of the world. Besides, it is good for those experiencing eye strain. Similar to 3M Speedglas, this helmet cannot boast cheapness.

Type of Helmet

This is a heavy helmet that may be uncomfortable for some welding workers. The weight is 3.20 pounds (1.45 kg), even though it is made of plastic. From the other side, there are knobs for comfortable adjustment. It is fair to say that this helmet fits welders with good stamina.

Type of Lens

The shades of this product range from 5 to 13, while 4C Lens Technology and precise optical clarity allow one to see things as they are – maximum realness of colors, and the environment around you as if you are wearing sunglasses.

Response Time

There are 4 Arc Sensors with an estimated switching speed of 1/25,000 sec.

Type of Battery

It comes with a solar cell battery, which is expected to serve you around 6 months of daily use. 

Pros:

  • Works best with Stick, MIG, pulsed MIG as well as Flux-Cored, gouging, grinding, plasma cutting tasks
  • Solar cells capability
  • 4C Lens Feature
  • 3.74 x 3.34″ (9.5 x 8.5 cm) of the viewing area

Cons:

  • Unlikely to work well for TIG applications 
  • It is not a waterproof shell, thus does not fit areas exposed to heavy rain and snow

3. Esab Sentinel A50 – Best Esab Auto Darkening Welding Helmet Review

Esab Sentinel A50 Review, Pros and Cons

Brief Description of the Helmet

Like other products, Esab Sentinel A50 is good for most types of works. It comes with an LCD screen and high impact resistance shell material – Nylon. Even though it is a comfortable helmet to start with, it may not fit welding works where extremely hot conditions are involved, as the lenses may be easily warped.

Type of Helmet

The shell material is super light – 1.4 pounds (630 g) ONLY, and made of Nylon.

The size of a helmet is 21.65 x 13.78 x 13.78 inches (55 x 35 x 35 cm). To extend the productivity of your welding works, it comes with 5 point HALO headgear.

Type of Lens

The auto-darkening filter ranges from 5 to 13 in shades.

Response Time

A switching speed is 0.04 ms at 131°F (55°C) or else 0.075 ms at room temperature.

Type of Battery

The helmet comes with both solar cells and 2 lithium batteries.

Pros:

  • Works best with MIG, TIG welding as well as plasma cutting, oxy-fuel cutting, plasma arc welding, grinding tasks
  • 3. 93 x 2. 36″ (10 x 6 cm) of the viewing area
  • Both solar cell and lithium battery support
  • Light in weight

Cons:

  • Won’t fit extremely hot conditions, as lenses may be warped

4. Miller Electric 2240089 – Best Miller Auto Darkening Welding Helmet Review

Miller Electris 2240089 Review, Pros and Cons

Brief Description of the Helmet

Miller 2240089 is good for a variety of welding works and comes with a huge viewing area. So, if you looked before for the widest helmet in viewing, this is your ideal candidate. From the other side, such a perk may distract some welders from work, as it may show reflections behind you. Customers who tried this helmet also mentioned this issue.

Type of Helmet

The helmet is 2.80 pounds (1.2 kg) in weight and made of Nylon. The size of a helmet is 10.5 x 12 x 9.8 inches (26 x 30.5 x 25 cm). 

Type of Lens

The auto-darkening filter ranges from 8 to 13 in shades.

Response Time

A switching speed is 1/10,000 seconds.

Type of Battery

It comes with Lithium ION batteries; however, if you need to replace one, it should be of the same manufacturer because they are thicker. 

Pros:

  • Works best with Stick, MIG, TIG, as well as grinding, oxy cutting tasks
  • 9 x 9″ (22.8 x 22.8 cm) of the viewing area
  • Quite Cheap

Cons:

  • If you want to replace the battery, you should go for the manufacturer’s one
  • May cause many reflections, you are likely to distract during the works

5. Hobart 770890 – Best Hobart Auto Darkening Welding Helmet Review

Hobart 770890 Review, Pros and Cons

Brief Description of the Helmet

Hobart 770890 is actually the best one when it comes to price. Speaking of its unique perks, there is a feature of preventing darkening.

Beyond that, it is quite light in weight, but with no adjustment knobs, though, customers report its convenience even without them.

Type of Helmet

The shell is made of Polyamide-Nylon, and it is 1.25 pounds (560 g) in weight. The size of the actual helmet is 11.8 x 14 x 12 inches (30 x 35.5 x 30.5 cm).

Alongside Esab Sentinel A50, this helmet might be a perfect choice for those who look for the light in weight helmets.

Type of Lens

The auto-darkening filter ranges from 8-13 in shades.

Response Time

A switching speed is 1/25,000 seconds.

Type of Battery

The helmet works with Lithium batteries, which are expected to provide a welder with up to 6,000 hours of smooth welding works.

Pros:

  • Works best with Stick, MIG, TIG tasks
  • 9.3″ (23.6 cm) of the viewing area
  • Cheapest compared to other helmets
  • Prevention of darkening 
  • Light in weight

Cons:

  • No adjustment knobs

Summarizing Our Picks

While 3M Speedglas Welding Helmet 9100 is obviously the top pick, other mentioned-above helmets are worth a try as well. Hobart 770890 might be a good choice for new welding workers who just seek perfect equipment to start with, while Miller 2240089 is good for people who work in large territories and need full control of the environment.

When you expect to find a light in weight helmets, Esab Sentinel A50 and Hobart 770890 may satisfy your wallet in terms of money. Finally, Lincoln Electric Viking 3350 might be an excellent choice for those who seek the maximum realness of colors due to its 4 LC Lens technology.

To learn more about the factors when choosing the best welding helmet with auto darkening technology, let’s move to the customers’ guide, where we share answers and hints on the most frequently bothering issues when it comes to the purchase.

Customers’ Guide

What do you frequently come across when you plan to buy a welding helmet? Most commonly, it is the question of – how much and what interesting perks to look for. Let’s understand.

A welding helmet is actually protective equipment when doing welding work, as it helps protect you from facial injuries and minimize such a terrible-to-experience feeling as an eye strain.

In the market, it comes in 6 varieties, including passive, solar-powered lens, battery-powered, fixed-shade lens, variable-shade lens, and auto darkening helmets, and one chooses the preferred one based on his most performed works.

Auto darkening welding helmet works by performing a certain function with the help of filter lenses, which, when activated, turn on shade 3 filter. What do they do? When you do welding work, you are likely to see sparks and bright colors, so the helmet will adjust the lens in a way you won’t experience pain in your eyes or discomfort.

Or, to explain to you using understandable terms, it may resemble the functionality of sunglasses that you put on while lying on the beach to avoid direct sunlight. 

Auto darkening filter itself may understand what type of shade is required and activate it for your needs. Beyond that, an auto darkening welding helmet might be the right purchase if you want to save your time during working, as you do not need to remove the helmet to see objects.

Auto-darkening feature (1)

Looking further, it is interesting to know that with the help of a helmet, you may even see an eclipse, so it is a kind of equipment that may fit many functions rather than welding only.

Based on the above products, you might see certain features available in auto darkening welding helmets, so let’s decide on which one of them you should concentrate the most.

How to Choose the Best Auto Darkening Welding Helmet? 

The choice of auto darkening welding helmets starts with the understanding of the material they are made of. You may either speak to your colleagues or friends asking for recommendations or trust customers’ feedback. Below, we mention standard materials used for creating comfortable shells.

Materials of Helmets

The majority of modern welding helmets come either in plastic or Nylon. When it comes to plastic, you might understand that the quality is expected to be above average, but the price might be lowered compared to other shell materials. Nylon is a synthetic polymer known for its lightweight and impressive durability, so such a welding helmet may withstand many extreme conditions.

Note, plastic materials are not the best choice for welding works where extreme hot conditions are involved, though it may differ from manufacturer to manufacturer. When choosing the helmet, ask the seller about the maximum temperature limit.

Some helmets may also be found made with Noryl, and Amodel, which are more expensive, and usually are used for high-professional equipment. Beyond that, they are expected to serve one longer than Nylon and Plastic together.

So, what to choose? The best recommendation falls for Nylon, as auto darkening welding helmets made with it may be found both with low and high prices. Beyond that, Nylon shells may be a good fit for new workers who just try the equipment out to find the golden mean.

Understanding Auto Darkening Feature?

Auto-darkening technology actually says itself – it darkens the environment you see from the helmet; however, what stands behind its functionality?

This feature works with the help of:

UV/IR filter

A UV/IR filter is actually a group of layers in charge of protecting one against infra-red and ultraviolet rays. The filter comprises a thin glass layer alongside additional metallic layers, which, in turn, have 5 silver layers, and 6 aluminum oxide layers.

It sounds a little bit complicated, but you do not need to deal with it much, as these parts are mostly the areas of interest of standardization committees. So, the metallic layers serve as protection against infra-red and heat damage caused by extreme hot conditions involved in welding works. To filter ultraviolet, there is a combined work of metallic and polarization filters. 

Filters

Polarization filter

A helmet contains a polarization filter, which helps fight ultraviolet as well as bright light occurring during the welding works.

Liquid crystals cell

These elements help a helmet bend light. You may adjust the filtration of crystals to not refract the light as well.

Arc sensors and light sensors

Both sensors are in charge of identifying the actual intensity of light and then darken the lens. They may be many in different helmets.

If you are interested in getting many sensors to enjoy the highest comfort during the works, the recommendation may fall for the Lincoln Electric Viking 3350 welding helmet.

What’s next? Auto darkening technology lies in shades as well.

Shades

Shades make the welder’s work faster, more productive, and easier, as one does not have to remove the helmet all the time. When a helmet is not activated, a lens automatically applies 3 or 4 shades, meaning that a welder may see everything as without a helmet.

Grinding mode and multiple shades

To make it understandable, a welder feels that he still wears a helmet, but a sensation is similar to wearing a pair of sunglasses.

To activate the lens, the welder should light the arc, then the helmet identifies the arc, and the shade changes its range from 3-4 to 10-13. The auto darkening happens immediately, and you won’t harm your eyes.

Size and Weight

Here comes a size and weight matter, though, you should choose a welding helmet only based on your feelings when you wear it. The best decision is, of course, buying helmets in stores where you may try them on your head.

The product catalog mentioned above dealt with helmets that have been tested for convenience in terms of weight and size as well. Testings have occurred on medium-strong physique people. So, there are 5 helmets, which are light to medium to heavy in weight.

Note, it also depends on the material used, whether Nylon or Plastic was involved. Moreover, understand that the more interesting perks you look for, the more possibility to put a “heavy machine” on your head, strange it may sound.

Usually, the weight ranges from 1.4 to 4 pounds (630 g to 1.8 kg). As for size, it is dictated by your comfort as well, but you may check the approximate measurements or else called calculations by looking at the above-mentioned helmets. There are two light ones, and 3 medium to strong in weight helmets.

Convenience of Helmet

The main convenience of the auto darkening welding helmet is related to shade again, as it helps minimize timing for wearing and taking off the helmet and avoiding harmful eye strain. Other convenience points might be related directly to knobs, which help adjust the helmet on your head.

Comfort of the helmet

If trying out the helmet at a store, try to adjust the knob until a helmet sits conveniently. If a helmet does not have any knobs, check whether there is a smooth ratchet system that allows a helmet to fit ergonomically. The last feature is available with 3M Speedglas 9100.

Switching Speed

Switching speed works by indicating a welder how long it takes the lens to switch a shade once the arc is activated. Logically, the faster it works, the less harm you experience on your eyes.

Before, the average switching speed of welding helmets was quite good when it reached 1/3.600 a second, while today, such speeds won’t boost the welder’s productivity. The best switching speed ranges between 1/10.000 and 1/25.000, as you do not even spend time waiting for it to be activated.

Switching speed

What About Battery?

There are a few power sources to choose from when deciding on auto darkening welding helmet, including:

  • lithium;
  • rechargeable;
  • changeable;
  • solar-powered.

Depending on the battery choice, there is different durability. For instance, replaceable batteries may last longer, while non-replaceable batteries may expire in a few years. Beyond that, solar-powered helmets may be kind of inconvenient, as they should be frequently placed under the sun before welding works.

Some helmets may also combine lithium batteries with solar ones. If you are not sure what may last longer, go for this option.

Note, there are manufacturers that complicate the replacement of batteries, as you should buy them only from them. If you look for a helmet with no additional headache afterward, go for products that come with standard-sized batteries.

Standards for Welding Helmets

Let’s also cover the standards for welding helmets. Today, it is ANSI Z87.1 – 2003. If, for you, these letters and numbers do not say anything, the manufacturers must comply with them strictly, though there are many parties that do not even care about any rules. So, what does this standard stand for?

The standard means that a manufacturer should organize and then demonstrate the laboratory tests, which confirm that a helmet functions well and specifications for switching speeds and shades comply with the safety standards. All in all, a helmet should work smoothly and should not evoke any risks when using it.

When buying a welding helmet, ensure a seller may provide you with a photo of helmet packaging, and check for ANSI Z87.1 – 2003 standard on it. If you buy it at a store, it is easier, as you may directly look at the packaging or ask the store worker about supporting documentation or licenses.

Photo of helmet packaging

What Works Should a Welding Helmet be Fit For?

Auto darkening welding helmet should fit many welding works, depending on your needs; however, most of the modern products perfectly deal with:

  • Stick or else called shielded metal arc welding;
  • TIG uses Tungsten Inert Gas;
  • MIG uses Metal Inert Gas;
  • Flux-Cored welding uses a shielding gas;
  • Gouging is the removal of weld metal and base metals;
  • Grinding or polishing of surfaces;
  • Plasma cutting;
  • Oxy-fuel cutting.

Some helmet models may deal with all these works; however, you should pay attention to the material used for the shell, as some helmets won’t withstand hot working conditions.

Besides, do not look for every feature in one helmet if you hardly deal with one welding job. By following this strategy, you may only spend a lot of money and get a product, which functionality you won’t even experience in full.

Step-by-Step Instructions on Choosing Auto Darkening Welding Helmet

Struggling to start your welding helmet shopping? Follow the next steps:

  1. Decide on the money which you are ready to spend on a welding helmet. You don’t need to go for the most expensive one straight. Choose what features you would like to see in a helmet, and only after, base your choice on them. Fewer features, less money you spend;
  2. Understand what welding works a helmet should be capable of, including MIG, TIG, Stick, among others. Do not try to look for a helmet that may perform all tasks, as the price will be high again. Helmets of MIG, TIG, and STICK capabilities are standard and won’t cost you much;
  3. Learn the range of shades with a chosen helmet – the standard range is 8 to 13; however, you may have other preferences, so decide on them;
  4. Learn switching speed, and soberly estimate whether it is enough for you to perform welding works productively;
  5. Decide on the battery. The best recommendation is to choose a combined one where lithium and solar-powered ones perfectly engage and provide you with the durability of works;
  6. Read the customers’ feedback on one or another helmet, as this section may tell you a lot in terms of real experience with a product but remember that some of them may be paid for.

Last but not least, try to choose a helmet, which comes with an extended warranty. Most above-mentioned top picks come with a 3-years warranty, so you may try a helmet out and then decide whether it fits your requirements, needs, or type of work. If there is no warranty, you may greatly risk buying a helmet, as the reparation services of such equipment will ask you literally to throw money down the drain. 

FAQs

  • Auto darkening welding helmet how it works?

Auto darkening welding helmet works with the help of filter lenses, which, when activated, turn on shade 3 filter. When a welder works, one is likely to see sparks and bright lights, so the helmet adjusts the lens in a way, one won’t experience pain in his eyes or discomfort. It resembles the functionality of sunglasses that you wear on the beach to avoid direct sunlight.

Auto darkening feature
  • How to test the auto darkening welding helmet?

The most obvious way of testing the auto darkening welding helmet is to go under the sun or bright light wearing it. Take a look at the sun, and check how the lens reacts to it. If you experience any darkening, it means your equipment is working properly; otherwise, you should choose another one or send it back to a seller for change or refund. Beyond that, professionals recommend checking the viewing area, but it depends on you whether you need a wide-angle or narrow is fine as well.

  • How to adjust the auto darkening welding helmet?

You may adjust your welding helmet by using the knob. It is usually located on the left side. Find it and adjust the darkness the way it fits the type of work you perform or the comfort of your eyes. Otherwise, proceed with the manufacturer’s instructions on adjustments if there are no knobs.

  • How to use an auto darkening welding helmet to view the eclipse?

To watch the eclipse with your auto darkening welding helmet, it should meet certain requirements. As per NASA, a welding helmet should be at least shade 12 and higher. The best option is Shade 12, while Shade 14 does not fit because it is too dark. 

  • How fast does an auto darkening welding helmet work?

It depends among many auto darkening welding helmets; however, the modern ones range between 1/10.000 and 1/25.000. 

The Bottom Line

Now, you have an understanding of how auto darkening welding helmets work and assist the health or safety of your eyes and face. Nevertheless, your final choice should be well-thought about and firm.

Our top pick was chosen as the best one based on numerous tests, independent feedback, and long hours of welding works, which could help us deliver only the true conclusion about whether it is worth a penny or not.

At the same time, there are also other helmets, which may fit different paying capacities. Please, do use the review whenever you struggle with the choice or refer to it when you need to find the ultimate guide to auto darkening welding helmets.

Before buying any welding product, ensure it complies with all the safety standards. Wishing all your welding works to be always auto darken to save your eyes.

Best Auto Darkening Welding Helmet