Best Auto Darkening Welding Helmets Today [2021]

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Best Auto Darkening Welding Helmet: Lincoln VIKING K3034-4

Lincoln Electric K3034-4 VIKING 3350 Auto Darkening Welding Helmet with 4C Lens Technology, Black

When it comes to the welding helmets, the best models are typically made by the best welding machine manufacturers.

In this case, our number-one spot goes to the Lincoln VIKING K3034-4. With perfect clarity and a shade range, this welding helmet will come in handy in all sorts of welding jobs.

Here’s what the VIKING K3034-4’s key specifications look like—

  • 1/1/1/1 Optical Clarity
  • 4 Arc Sensors
  • Shade Range #5 to #13
  • External Grind Button

This version of the VIKING K3034-4 is an upgraded version of the previous VIKING series which comes with greater head-fitting adjustability, as well as a foam pad on the back.

This welding helmet comes with a perfect 1/1/1/1 optical clarity rating, meaning that your vision is not impaired by distortion, light diffusion, light and dark areas, and viewing angles.

Simple analog buttons built into the helmet allow you to scroll through different shade settings, between #5 and #13, to perfectly match and block the arc.

This helmet is powered by solar energy without backup batteries, so make sure you give the helmet plenty of time to charge.

It comes with an external grind button that turns off the auto-darkening feature when switching from welding the grinding and back.

Watch this video to see the ins and outs of the VIKING 3350 series:

 

Pros

  • Perfect clarity
  • Adjustable fit
  • Wide shade range
  • Effortless switching between welding and grinding mode

Cons

  • Could come with backup battery source

All in all, the VIKING K3404-4 is the ideal auto-darkening helmet for metalworkers in general. It comes with all of the features you’d want in an ultra-versatile helmet.

When operating any sort of tool, staying safe in the workshop is priority number-one.

When it comes to welding, you’ll want to protect your eyes from the super-bright arc and the UV rays that spill forth from it.

In this guide, we’ll show you the best auto-darkening welding helmet on the market, as well as several awesome alternatives.

We’ve researched over 40 welding helmets , so we’re confident you’ll find the perfect helmet on our list.

Top Auto-Darkening Welding Helmets Compared

Here’s a comparison of Top Auto-Darkening Welding Helmets:

Product Image
Product Name
Features
Price
Lincoln Electric K3034-4 VIKING 3350 Auto Darkening Welding Helmet with 4C Lens Technology, BlackBest Auto Darkening Welding Helmet – Lincoln VIKING K3034-4
  • Optical Class: 1/1/1/1
  • No. Arc Sensors: 4 sensors
  • Shade Range: 5 to 13
  • USP: External Grind Button


3M Speedglas Welding Helmet 9100 06-0100-30SW, with ADF 9100XXBest Premium - 3M Speedglas 9100
  • Optical Class: 1/1/1/1
  • No. Arc Sensors: 3 sensors
  • Shade Range: 3, 5, 8 to 13
  • USP: Quick Welding-Grinding Selection


DEKOPRO Welding Helmet Solar Powered Auto Darkening Hood with Adjustable Shade Range 4/9-13 for Mig Tig Arc Welder Orange BlackBest Budget - DECKPRO Solar Powered Welding Helmet
  • Optical Class: 1/2/1/2
  • No. Arc Sensors: 4 sensors
  • Shade Range: 4, 9 to 13
  • USP: Manual Adjustment


YESWELDER Large Viewing Screen 3.94'X3.66' True Color Solar Power Auto Darkening Welding Helmet, 4 Arc Sensor Wide Shade 4~5/9-9/13 for TIG MIG Arc Weld Grinding Welder Mask LYG-M800HYESWELDER LYG-M800H
  • Optical Class: 1/1/1/2
  • No. Arc Sensors: 4 sensors
  • Shade Range: 4 to 13
  • USP: Pivot Style Headgear


DEKOPRO Solar Powered Welding Helmet Auto Darkening Professional Hood with Wide Lens Adjustable Shade Range 4/9-13 for Mig Tig Arc Weld Grinding Welder MaskDECKPRO DNS-800S Super Viewing
  • Optical Class: 1/1/1/2
  • No. Arc Sensors: 4 sensors
  • Shade Range: 4, 9 to 13
  • USP: Battery-Solar Powered


Antra Wide Shade Range 4/5-9/9-13 Auto Darkening Welding Helmet AH6-260-0000 Engineered for TIG MIG/MAG MMA Plasma Grinding, Solar-Lithium Dual Power, 6+1 Extra Lens CoversAntra AH6-260-0000
  • Optical Class: 1/1/1/2
  • No. Arc Sensors: 4 sensors
  • Shade Range: 4 to 13
  • USP: Cheater Lens Compatible


ESAB 0700000800 Sentinel A50 Welding Helmet, Black Low-Profile Design, High Impact Resistance Nylon, Infinitely-Adjustable, Color Touch Screen Controls, 3.93' x 2.36' Viewing Lens, Hard Hat OptionESAB Sentinel A50
  • Optical Class: 1/1/1/2
  • No. Arc Sensors: 4 sensors
  • Shade Range: 5 to 13
  • USP: Color Touch Screen with Memory


TEKWARE Welding Helmet Solar Power Auto Darkening Hood Welder Mask Breathable Grinding Helmets with Adjustable Shade RangeTEKWARE XX-107
  • Optical Class: 1/1/1/1
  • No. Arc Sensors: 2 sensors
  • Shade Range: 9 to 13
  • USP: Battery-Solar Powered


Instapark ADF Series GX-500S Solar Powered Auto Darkening Welding Helmet with Adjustable Shade Range #9 - #13 (American Eagle)Instapark GX-500
  • Optical Class: 1/2/1/3
  • No. Arc Sensors: 2 sensors
  • Shade Range: 9 to 13
  • USP: Dial Control Knob (dark to light speed)


Tanox Auto Darkening Solar Powered Welding Helmet ADF-206S: Shade Lens, Tig Mig MMA, Adjustable Range 4/9-13, Grinding 0000, Plus 16 Inch Kevlar Fire Retardant Welding GlovesTanox ADF-206S
  • Optical Class: 1/1/1/2
  • No. Arc Sensors: 4 sensors
  • Shade Range: 4, 9 to 13
  • USP: WElding GLoves Included


Reviews of the Top Auto-Darkening Welding Helmets

The Lincoln VIKING K3034-4 is a thing of beauty, but it’s not the only auto-darkening welding helmet that makes a great impression.

Here are what we deem to be some of the top-performing auto-darkening welding helmets for all price ranges.

Best Premium - 3M Speedglas 9100

best overall rating 3M Speedglas Welding Helmet 9100 06-0100-30SW, with ADF 9100XX

Key Specifications

  • 1/1/1/1 Optical Clarity
  • 3 Arc Sensors
  • Shade Range #3, #5, #8 to #13
  • Quick Welding-Grinding Selection

The 3M Speedglas 9100 is another auto-darkening welding helmet that offers perfect optical clarity at all times. Without distortion and light diffusion, your vision will remain as crystal-clear as possible as soon as the arc starts up.

Built into the Speedglas 9100 are three premium-grade arc sensors that automatically detect the presence of super-bright arcs before changing the lens’ shading to your exact specifications.

This helmet offers a wide shade range, starting from #5 and ranging between #8 to #13. The #3 shade is default for when the auto-darkening system is deactivated.

Similar to the previous model, the Speedglas 9100 features an external button that lets you switch between grinding and auto-darkening welding mode without taking the helmet off.

This demo video of the Speedglas 9100 shows how easy it is to use:

 

Pros

  • Perfect optical clarity
  • Simple operation and setting selection
  • Adjustable for the perfect fit
  • Easy switching between welding and grinding

Cons

  • Could have better ventilation

As another popular manufacturer of welding helmets, 3M has perfected the Speedglas 9100 to become the best option for heavy-duty MIG, TIG, and stick welders.

Best Budget - DECKPRO Solar Powered Welding Helmet

best overall rating DEKOPRO Welding Helmet Solar Powered Auto Darkening Hood with Adjustable Shade Range 4/9-13 for Mig Tig Arc Welder Orange Black

Key Specifications

  • 1/2/1/2 Optical Clarity
  • 4 Arc Sensors
  • Shade Range #4, #9 to #13
  • Manual Adjustment

As you can see from the DECKPRO Solar Powered Welding Helmet’s key specifications, this helmet significantly differs from the two previous auto-darkening welding helmet models in terms of clarity.

With a DIN rating of 1/2/1/2, the WELDPRO has slight light diffusion and blurring when the arc has started.

That said, it’s very difficult to pinpoint where these differences are when viewing from inside this and a perfect 1/1/1/1 welding helmet, but it certainly is noticeable.

This helmet also comes with 4 arc sensors that are constantly on the search for a welding arc to darken the lens in under 1/25000 of a second.

Pros

  • Quick reaction times
  • Comfortable fit
  • Great vision with minimal distortion
  • Solar powered with backup battery source

Cons

  • Construction could be more durable

There’s very little to dislike about the DECKPRO, and for what it costs, you certainly get all of the adjustability and performance you’d want in an auto-darkening welding mask.

YESWELDER LYG-M800H

best overall rating YESWELDER Large Viewing Screen 3.94'X3.66' True Color Solar Power Auto Darkening Welding Helmet, 4 Arc Sensor Wide Shade 4~5/9-9/13 for TIG MIG Arc Weld Grinding Welder Mask LYG-M800H

Key Specifications

  • 1/1/1/2 Optical Clarity
  • 4 Arc Sensors
  • Shade Range #4 to #13
  • Pivot Style Headgear

The YESWELDER LYG-M800H is another budget-friendly welding helmet that comes with all of the frills of a high-quality auto-darkening welding helmet.

It has near-perfect 1/1/1/2 optical class ratings and four built-in arc sensors that darken the lens to your selected shade settings in just 1/10000 of a second.

Inside of this welding helmet is pivot-style headgear that offers maximum adjustability to suit the contour of your skull for the most comfortable fit.

The mask also lets you turn your head while working to get the best viewing angle.

See what the LYG-M800H is all about in this video:

 

Pros

  • Full controls built onto helmet’s exterior
  • Great fit around small and large heads
  • Great viewing angle
  • Solar powered with backup li-ion battery pack

Cons

  • Not the best for TIG welding

If you MIG weld frequently, the YESWELDER LYG-M800H is the perfect, lightweight auto-darkening helmet with excellent variable controls.

DECKPRO DNS-800S Super Viewing

best overall rating DEKOPRO Solar Powered Welding Helmet Auto Darkening Professional Hood with Wide Lens Adjustable Shade Range 4/9-13 for Mig Tig Arc Weld Grinding Welder Mask

Key Specifications

  • 1/1/1/2 Optical Clarity
  • 4 Arc Sensors
  • Shade Range #4, #9 to #13
  • Battery-Solar Powered

The DECKPRO DNS-800S doesn’t differ much compared to our best budget pick. It’s from the same brand, so this is hardly questionable, though as a costlier option, it does offer quite a few extra features.

For instance, the DNS-800S has superior viewing angles thanks to its elongated lens.

It has a slightly shading reaction time, although in practice, the difference is hardly noticeable. The DNS-800S comes with the same variable shade range that blocks arcs from all sorts of welding.

The inside of the DNS-800S has a rounded design that offers a comfortably tight grip for less movement when pivoting.

Pros

  • Excellent viewing clarity with minimal angle distortion
  • Easy to wear and adjust size
  • Great for pros and DIY-ers
  • Adjustable switch time up to one second

Cons

  • Could come with exterior controls

The DNS-800S is one of the best auto-darkening welding helmets for pros and beginners alike if your aim isn’t maximum welding and grinding productivity.

Antra AH6-260-0000

best overall rating Antra Wide Shade Range 4/5-9/9-13 Auto Darkening Welding Helmet AH6-260-0000 Engineered for TIG MIG/MAG MMA Plasma Grinding, Solar-Lithium Dual Power, 6+1 Extra Lens Covers

Key Specifications

  • 1/1/1/2 Optical Clarity
  • 4 Arc Sensors
  • Shade Range #4 to #13
  • Cheater Lens Compatible

In looks, the Antra AH6-260-000 doesn’t appear to be very special. It has a matte black finish and simple dials on the outside, but what’s inside matters the most.

This Antra welding helmet has an optical clarity rating of 1/1/1/2, which is nearly perfect except for minor angle distortion.

With four arc sensors built around the helmet, users can rest assured that arcs from any angle will be caught immediately, and the lens will automatically drop in shading to block your eyes from harmful UV rays.

The AH6-260-0000 is compatible with cheater lenses that fit inside of the helmet for added protection and better vision.

Pros

  • Versatility
  • Flexible variable settings
  • Quick shading response times
  • Can use cheater lenses (sold separately) for enhanced viewing clarity

Cons

  • Could be more durable

The Antra AH6-260-0000 is one of our most favorite auto-darkening welding helmets for beginners, though you may want to consider upgrading after a couple years of use.

ESAB Sentinel A50

best overall rating ESAB 0700000800 Sentinel A50 Welding Helmet, Black Low-Profile Design, High Impact Resistance Nylon, Infinitely-Adjustable, Color Touch Screen Controls, 3.93' x 2.36' Viewing Lens, Hard Hat Option

Key Specifications

  • 1/1/1/2 Optical Clarity
  • 4 Arc Sensors
  • Shade range #5 to #13
  • Color Touch Screen with Memory

The ESAB Sentinel A50 is arguably one of the most fascinating and unique auto-darkening welding helmets you can find on the market.

It offers the same clarity rating as many of the models on this list, and its shade range is similar to the Lincoln VIKING 3350 series.

However, what sets the Sentinel A50 apart from many of the products on and off this list is a color touch screen.

Though color isn’t entirely necessary, it does make for better user experience when shifting between different settings.

Another neat feature is memory storage, which lets you save up to eight different shade and delay settings for different welding and plasma cutting projects.

Check out the Sentinel A50’s promotion video to see what it offers:

 

Pros

  • Excellent clarity and adjustability
  • Quick response times
  • Snug fit on all head sizes
  • Quick access to different settings

Cons

  • Lens could be more durable

This fancy little auto-darkening welding helmet is a true piece of art that comes with more features than the next model.

TEKWARE XX-107

best overall rating TEKWARE Welding Helmet Solar Power Auto Darkening Hood Welder Mask Breathable Grinding Helmets with Adjustable Shade Range

Key Specifications

  • 1/1/1/1 Optical Clarity
  • 2 Sensors
  • Shade Range #9 to #13
  • Battery and Solar Powered

The TEKWARE XX-107 is a super-clear welding helmet with a perfect 1/1/1/1 optical rating. It only comes with two sensors, but they work at high speeds to pick up arcs and darken the lens in under 1/25000 of a second.

This welding helmet comes with both solar panels and a backup battery source.

If you take out the battery, the auto-darkening feature will still work beautifully with super-quick response times just from harnessing the power of the sun.

It’s a budget-friendly model that has a limited lifespan by customer accounts. It’s a great starter welding helmet, but pros might want something with a lot more oomph.

Pros

  • Great, inexpensive option for beginner welders
  • Perfect clarity rating
  • Comfortable and weighty
  • Dual power sources

Cons

  • Could be more durable

The TEKWARE XX-107’s features are on par with some of the best auto-darkening welding helmets on the market. For its price, you can expect to get several loyal years of use before needing to upgrade.

Instapark GX-500

best overall rating Instapark ADF Series GX-500S Solar Powered Auto Darkening Welding Helmet with Adjustable Shade Range #9 - #13 (American Eagle)

Key Specifications

  • 1/2/1/3 Optical Clarity
  • 2 Arc Sensors
  • Shade Range #9 to #13
  • Analog Dial Controls

The Instaspark GX-500, though a fantastic piece of safety headgear for TIG, MIG, and stick welding, has one glaring flaw: it’s less than ideal optical clarity.

Its viewing angles suffer the most, mainly due to its narrower lens but it performs well in every other area.

The GX-500 comes with only two arc sensors that, upon detecting the presence of a super-bright arc, will darken the lens to your exact preference (between #9 and #13).

Though limited in shading options, it works perfectly for welding and plasma cutting projects.

The variable controls can be found inside of the helmet, so you’ll need to remove the helmet when switching between different settings. It runs on either batteries or solar power, so you can use this helmet regardless of the weather.

Pros

  • Versatile helmet with wide range of variable settings
  • Great for beginners and DIY-ers
  • Arc sensors have wide FOV
  • Comfortable inner headgear

Cons

  • Viewing angles could be better

The GX-500 a lot more than what you’d expect from a budget-friendly model. Just consider upgrading in the future to a more durable welding helmet.

Tanox ADF-206S

best overall rating Tanox Auto Darkening Solar Powered Welding Helmet ADF-206S: Shade Lens, Tig Mig MMA, Adjustable Range 4/9-13, Grinding 0000, Plus 16 Inch Kevlar Fire Retardant Welding Gloves

Key Specifications

  • 1/1/1/2 Optical Clarity
  • 4 Arc Sensors
  • Shade Range #4, #9 to #13
  • Welding Gloves Included

Last up is the Tanox ADF-206S. Although this is the final product on our list, it outshines many of its competitors with its near-perfect clarity, high number of arc sensors, and its shading range and response time.

The sensors are ultra-sensitive and can detect low-amp TIG arcs (as low as 5A) and activate the shading function in less than 1/25000 of a second.

The helmet wraps comfortably around the head while also offering plenty of ventilation.

This helmet offers complete safety against UV and IR radiation, allowing you to weld for longer without causing irreversible damage to your eyesight.

Tanox even throws in a pair of $20 welding gloves that fit comfortably on the hands and offers great heat resistance for MIG welding.

Pros

  • Excellent shading functionality
  • Full wrap-around protection
  • Fantastic viewing clarity
  • Handy, high-value welding gloves included

Cons

  • Could be more durable

The Tanox ADF-206S is an excellent value pack that includes a high-quality, quick-response welding helmet with automatic shading and a pair of heat-resistant Kevlar gloves for welding, grinding, and cutting.

FAQs

Let’s see what sort of questions about auto-darkening helmets need answering.

What is optical clarity?

Auto-darkening welding helmets have optical clarity classes or ratings with three or four ratings of between 1 and 3. In order, these figures denote vision accuracy, light diffusion, variations in light and dark areas within the lens, and viewing angle in the presence of an arc. 1 is the best rating the lens can score, whereas 3 is the worst, so the top-tier auto-darkening welding helmets have a perfect score of 1/1/1/1.

Are auto-darkening welding helmets safe?

When it comes to welding, any protection for your eyes is better than nothing, whether it’s an auto-darkening helmet or not. That said, auto-darkening helmets are ideal because they adjust to the brightness of the ark to give the user a clearer view of their work. Their quick response times change the shading from non-existent to UV and IR blocking levels in the presence of super-bright lights.

Do auto-darkening welding helmets go bad?

Yes, they do. Nothing lasts forever, even auto-darkening welding helmets. On average, the most you can hope to get out of your welding helmet is between five and seven years, though some high-end models, such as the Lincoln VIKING and 3M Speedglas can go beyond that with proper storage and maintenance. If the auto-darkening function doesn’t stay put in the presence of an arc, you either need to check the battery/solar panel or replace it completely.

Do I need an auto-darkening welding helmet?

Yes, you do. You certainly can make do with a standard, non-darkening helmet for stick welding, but the added convenience of automatic darkening and lightening of the lens lets you work without having to flip the hood up or remove the helmet when moving around. Pro users should definitely get an auto-darkening welding helmet.

Summary

With that, welder-ladies and welder-gentlemen, we conclude our guide on the best auto-darkening welding helmet that the market has to offer.

As you can see from our list, we’ve included several models of several price categories, so there’s a bit of something for everyone.

After testing over 40 auto-darkening welding helmets in our shop while reviewing TIG, MIG, and stick welders, we’re sure you’ll be happy with our findings. Our comment section is not open to questions and feedback.

Last update on 2022-10-06 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

About Stephanie Hall

Stephanie is a DIYer and expert in using power tools. She is an architect and also provides design services. A yoga lover, she meditates to keep herself fit.

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