Best Affordable Welding Helmets – Top Picks

The Best Welding Hoods/Helmets

This article will cover our top picks for welding hoods/helmets. The technology of helmets has come a long way, and you can get a lot of features without breaking the bank.

There aren’t many bad helmets left on the market. Digital sensors are top notch now – and there’s no reason a novice welder needs to spend $300 to get started. While the high end models are appealing, they should be considered with thought since they are more of a commitment.

We are confident that these helmets will match the needs of welding newcomers, and will leave you with more cash in hand. As long as the helmet is comfortable and safe on the eyes, you’ll be set.

Knowing which shade to use is also very important for newbies. Shades 9, 10, 11 and 12 are most common. Higher amperages will require shades 11 or 12, while lower amperages can be ran with a shade 9 or 10. Everyones eyes are different, so if your eyes are more sensitive then it is best to opt for a darker shade.

Stick Welding Fabrication
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As you progress your welding skills, you may want to upgrade to a helmet that has more features. Higher end models come with more technology and much better sensors. However, many welders never even come close to using all of the features on their welding helmet.

For a novice welder, high end welding helmets are a bit overkill in our opinion. If you get into really advanced TIG welding, having a top notch sensor may be beneficial – but starting with the affordable route is the best way to get started.

Miller Classic Series Welding Helmet

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Miller came out with a very stylish helmet for the everyday welder. It doesn’t have all the bells and whistles of the Titanium series or the 3M Speedglas helmets; but not much can go wrong with this helmet. The head gear knobs are heavy duty, and the lenses are affordable and easily replaceable.

The Miller Classic comes in at 2 pounds exactly. It has a passive viewing shade of 3, which makes it easy to see your project before welding. The auto darkening switch speed is 1/10,000 of a second – which is plenty fast, and safe on the eyes.

The shades on this Miller are 8-12. So, this will cover almost all welding applications from light TIG to heavy flux core MIG, and Stick. It comes with a 2000 hour battery life, which is extended by its solar sensor.

Solar components are quite common with welding helmets. As you are welding, the helmet is charging off of the UV rays. The replaceable battery will wear out eventually, but it takes a few years.

Pros of the Miller Classic

  • Trusted Miller warranty
  • Ease of use
  • Durability
  • Great battery

Cons

  • Heavier than other hoods (2 lbs)

Antra AH6 Welding Helmet

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Antra came on the market with a helmet that seems too good for the money. This is by far the best bang for your buck if you’re learning to weld on a lower budget. These Antras have quickly found their way into hobbyists garages and fabricators tool chests.

The styling is very similar to the Miller Classic, but with a few added unique features not seen on other entry level models.

This helmet comes in very light at just 1 pound. It has an unusually large shade range from 5-13. This makes it a great welding hood for grinding and oxyfuel cutting. No matter which process you’re performing, this Antra has a shade for it.

It’s auto darkening reaction time is 1/25,000 of a second (which is crazy fast), and will avoid arc flashes. It has a dedicated power on/off switch and a knob to adjust multiple settings. It also has a solidly built solar sensor to add life to the battery.

Pros of the Antra AH6

  • Extremely light weight (1 lb)
  • Super fast sensors
  • Wide range of shades

Cons

  • Less time on the market
  • Lesser known brand

Hobart Inventor Welding Helmet

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Hobart is a staple brand for most welding related products under the sun. Known for their affordable durability, their products always get the job done (and are never overpriced).

This helmet is relatively light (1.25 pounds). It has four independent arc sensors, which helps it detect arc strikes (even with light duty welding). This also means it will not accidentally darken for grinding sparks and indirect sunlight. It also has a very large viewing area at 9.3 square inches. This wider range of vision makes the welding process more enjoyable.

The Inventor has a dedicated grind button – which is a nice way to protect your face without buying a dedicated face shield. Hobart has been around for many years; their products are tried and true. Any warranty issues with this model can be solved by their top notch customer service team who are always available.

Pros of the Hobart Inventor

  • Lightweight (1.25 lbs)
  • Large viewing area
  • Grinding mode

Cons

  • Always on (No dedicated on/off switch)

Fibre Metal Pipeliner Helmet

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Fibre Metal takes the cake when it comes to older styled helmets. This hood has been around forever. I personally use this helmet for my daily welding, and the durability is unmatched.

The headgear is simple and straightforward – heavy duty plastic with no extra complicated components. The rounded shape protects your head from all angles, especially your chin. This very protective design is good for heavy MIG and Stick welding. Chances of a face burn while wearing the Pipeliner are slim to none.

You must select which lens route you will take when selecting the Pipeliner. You can put a passive fixed shade lens in, or you can select an auto darkening lens. The fixed shade lenses are less than $10, while the auto darkening lenses are around $100.

When selecting a lens for the Pipeliner, the correct size is 2″ x 4″.

This helmet can take a serious beating due to honeywells ‘Superglas’ construction. It is a much tougher, thicker material than the nylon polymers found in other models – because of this, the Fibre Metal helmets are one of the top picks of field welders who are always braving the elements.

The plastic headgear knobs are known to wear out eventually… We have included a link to some custom aluminum fasteners which we enjoy a lot more. These were made specifically for Fibre Metal hoods and will not work on other head gear. We recommend these if you want a tighter, long lasting head gear fit.

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Pros Of The Pipeliner

  • Lightweight (1.25 lbs)
  • Very durable (Superglas construction)
  • Perfect headgear

Cons

  • No auto darkening lens included
  • Smaller viewing area

YESWELDER Auto Darkening Helmet

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This helmet came on the market in recent years and quickly became a fan favorite. For it’s price, it boasts some pretty amazing features.

It has a very large viewing area (3.93″ x 3.66″), it has a true color view technology which translates into getting optimum viewing clarity. The quality of this lens view is often seen on high end helmets, but this one has made that feature more affordable.

It features pivot style headgear which is one of the more ergonomic fits we’ve seen. It is comfortable to wear for long hours and hot days.

The setting dials are installed on the side of the helmet for easy access throughout the workday.

It’s long battery life averages 3000 hours, and it has 2 solar sensors that increase the charge as you are welding.

For the price, we think this helmet is a great option for newcomers who want a quality helmet for a reasonable bargain.

Pros of the YESWELDER

  • Lots of features for the price
  • Large viewing area
  • Great entry level option

Cons

  • Lesser known brand
  • Heavier (2.2 lbs)

DEKOPRO Welding Helmet

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This helmet is currently the best value we have seen for entry level helmet options. The auto darkening feature is extremely fast at 1/25,000 of a second. The viewing area is smaller than other hoods (3.62″ x 1.65″) but it is equipped with a diffusion of light, luminous transmittance, and angular dependence. These all contribute to the fact that this helmet always provides a clear view no matter which angle you are welding from.

The battery life averages 5000 hours of hood time, and has shades from 9-13. This will cover almost all welding scenarios and amperage ranges.

The solar sensor is larger than other helmets, and that will add to the battery life as it collects the UV rays from your welding arc.

this helmet is relatively lightweight at 1.55 lbs, which will prevent fatigue throughout the course of a long days work.

Pros of the DEKOPRO

  • Very economical
  • Complete set of features
  • Lightweight (1.55 lbs)

Cons

  • Lesser known brand
  • Durability hasn’t been tested much

TekWare Welding Helmet

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This helmet is a great value and offers lots of features that any welder can enjoy. The extra large 3.94″×3.27″ viewing area is similar in size and shape to the ESAB Sentinel series which is much more expensive.

The lens features a “double liquid crystal layer” which allows you to weld for up to 8 hours at a time. This is perfect for full time welders who rely on the trade to make their living.

This helmet is battery powered but it can charge through its solar technology. A lot of hoods have this, and it is nice to not be replacing batteries all the time.

The headgear on this helmet is very comfortable, and has the quality that you would expect out of a Miller or Lincoln helmet. This made us very impressed with TekWare.

This helmet has a very large range of shades. From shade 5 through shade 13, you can do any type of welding or grinding with this helmet. Even with the highest amperage applications of 300 amps or more, the shades 12 and 13 will have you covered.

The light to dark mode on this is an impressive 1/10,000 of a second. This is a very good switch rate. Do not fear arc flashes when you are using this helmet – it’s not gonna happen.

Pros of the TekWare

  • Large viewing area
  • Wide shade range
  • Good Headgear

Cons

  • Not a popular brand
  • Not tested for longevity

Tooliom Welding Helmet

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This helmet features a  3.62’’ x 1.65’’ true color clear viewing area with 2 separate Arc sensors. The auto darkening switch is 1/30,000 of a second. This is pretty insane for an entry level helmet. Even top end models do not have a switch rate that fast!

The light shade is a shade 4 which is pretty decent. The welding shades are from 9-13 which will cover pretty much all welding applications.

The headgear is quite nice, and we found it pretty comfortable to use throughout the day. A heavy duty ratchet in the rear allows for lots of adjustability.

This helmet is also available in multiple graphics, including an eagle or flames. For welders looking for a helmet that stands out, this will definitely fit the bill.

For the cost, we think this helmet is a great entry level option. It’s also a hood that you can grow into as your welding skills progress.

Pros of the Tooliom

  • Incredible light to dark switch rate
  • Good quality headgear

Cons

  • Newer brand
  • Smaller viewing area

 

Wrap up

We hope this article was helpful in choosing a welding helmet. Though they are an important item in a welders arsenal, we don’t think newcomers need to spend top dollar on a premium model.

The main thing to look at is how responsive the sensor is. If you have a helmet with a slow sensor, then you will be getting arc flashed all of the time. It is paramount that the lens will switch to the shaded mode as soon as it senses a welding arc. This will keep your eyes safer.

If you want to opt for total safety, then using a passive lens is the best way to go. These lenses remain in their dark mode at all times. It is harder for beginners to start an arc with these lenses, but it keeps your eyes much safer.