Pick the Best Welding Helmet for the Money with this Extensive Guide

welder setting up plasma cutter

Welding Buddy Experts

October 28, 2021
best welding helmet for the money

Most of the time, the price indicates the quality of the product. Welding helmets are not exempted from the rule. The more functionalities the welding helmet has, the more expensive it gets. Another factor is the brand name—the more prominent the brand, the higher the price. You don't want to spend a huge amount of money on a single piece of gear, right?

The good news is that there are still several high-quality welding hoods available in the market, but it’s up to you to decide the best one according to your needs and many other factors. In this article, we will be closing in on these factors to help you get started on welding right away.

The Welding Helmet

sample welding helmet

Needless to say, welding is a risky occupation, and you don’t want those risks anywhere near you as you do your welds. Therefore, if you choose welding as a career or you are studying to become a professional in this industry, it is mandatory to use protective gear such as gloves, safety shoes, and of course, the welding helmet. You may also hear people calling these helmets “welding hoods.”

Welding is a tough process that emits dangerous levels of ultraviolet (UV) radiation and other harmful chemicals. These can damage the eyes and your respiratory system. The welding helmet can protect you from harmful welding emissions.

A welding helmet is generally made of hard plastic infused with non-flammable materials, and it has a protective screen known as the lens. The lens, regardless of its shade, provides total protection against UV lights. The lens' shades are available in different levels and begin with eight, as the standard level, up to fourteen—the former the least dark and the latter the darkest. Level ten is being sold mostly.

There are three types of welding helmets: old, intermediate, and modern. All of these three are perfect for basic welding processes. However, complex welding requires helmets that have auto-darkening features. The best auto darkening welding helmets have polarizing filters that engage the very moment the arc is struck. With the auto-darkener, a professional welder can clearly see while welding because the lens automatically changes its shade and provides the right UV protection.

There are various types of welding processes you need to be familiar with.

  • MIG (Gas Metal Arc Welding). Metal inert gas (MIG) welding is commonly known as gas metal arc welding (GMAW). This type of welding process is a quick one and requires feeding the wand with a filler metal. Gas comes around to protect the weld from outside elements. Though MIG is not advisable outdoors, it is still a versatile process and can be done on other kinds of metal. MIG welding process, when done correctly, can provide a smooth finish and visually appealing tight weld.
  • TIG  a.k.a Gas Tungsten Arc Welding or Heliarc. This welding type has non-consumable electrodes and is made of tungsten. TIG can be done without the filler metal and by using only two metals welded together. It is better performed indoors because of the constant gas flow necessary to protect the weld.
  • SMAW (Stick Shield-Metal Arc Welding). SMAW is a kind of welding method that can be dated back to the 1930s and still improving. It is easy to learn and remains one of the most popular today. SMAW splatters easily, and cleaning up is very usual.
  • PAW (Plasma Arc Welding). GTAW and plasma arc welding are quite similar. PAW increases the precision of the weld with the help of a smaller arc. Also, it uses several torches in order to reach high temperatures. GTAW can create plasma using pressurized gas inside the wand, and then the plasma undergoes ionization to make it electrically conductive. Such high temperatures allow PAW to be done without filler metal.
  • FCAW (Flux-Cored Arc Welding). This kind of welding can be done by utilizing a wire that acts as the electrode and feeding the wand with a metal filler. The wire should have a core of flux, creating a gas shield over the weld that eliminates the requirement of an external gas supply. FCAW is perfect for thicker and heavier metals since it is a welding method that requires extreme temperature. It is an efficient and cost-effective welding method.
  • AHW (Atomic Hydrogen Welding). A form of welding that requires high temperature, AHW is also called arc-atom welding that involves the use of hydrogen gas to protect two tungsten-made electrons. It can be done even without the aid of filler metal.
  • Electroslag. It is used to connect the thin edge of two metal plates vertically. Electroslag welding is an advanced process that needs a copper electrode wire and a metal guide tube. An arc is formed when electricity is induced, and the welding starts at the bottom part of the seam.
  • Laser Beam Welding. Laser is the source of heat to form welds in this welding type. Thermoplastics and metals such as carbon steels, HSLA, stainless steels, aluminum, and titanium can be weld with laser beam welding. This process is easier to use with the help of robotics and widely used in manufacturing, like in the automotive industry.
  • Electron-beam Welding. A highly sophisticated welding process, electron-beam welding needs a high-velocity electron beam that emits heat with the help of kinetic energy in order to weld two materials together. It is typically performed using a vacuum.

Types of Welding Helmet

When you check for a welding helmet, you will surely read about the different classifications of welding processes the helmet supports in its description. You must keep in mind that, unfortunately, not all welding helmets can be used for complex types that also emit the most UV rays and other harmful materials. The different classifications of welding helmets are:

  • Passive Welding Helmet. It is the most common type of welding helmet and, so far, the most affordable. Being the standard type of welding helmet, it doesn't have many modernized features, unlike the latest and expensive helmets in the market today. A well-built passive welding helmet created with tough materials can protect you from UV rays, extreme heat, harmful chemicals, and flying objects. The passive welding hood is the best welding helmet for beginners.
  • Auto-Darkening Welding Helmet. This type of welding helmet has an auto-darkening feature that is highly needed if you want to save more time. A passive welding helmet requires manual shade adjustment, while the auto-darkening welding helmet can detect the level of light emission and adjust the lens automatically. The auto-darkening helmets are quite expensive.
  • Solar-Powered Lens Helmet. There are auto-darkening helmets that have a fixed battery—these are usually irreplaceable and can be charged by placing the helmet under the sun. A solar-powered lens helmet is highly economical because you don't have to buy batteries for replacement and do not even use electricity when recharging. Just don't forget to recharge this type of welding helmet if you have a project to complete.
  • Battery-Powered Helmet. Battery-operated welding helmets are commonly made of Lithium and are rechargeable. If you are working on a project, make sure you have a battery supply so your production will not be compromised.
  • Fixed-Shade Lens Welding Helmet. A fixed-shade helmet doesn't adjust to a variety of arc brightness, and it comes with a fixed shade level of 10. This helmet is good if you are working with only one type of welding process that doesn't need multiple welding materials. Fun fact, a fixed-shade lens welding helmet is also known by its moniker "daddy helmet" because you can see most fathers select this helmet when fixing a bicycle frame or iron gates.
  • Variable-shade Lens Welding Helmet. Using a variable-shade lens welding helmet increases the welder's visibility tenfold. This welding helmet's main feature is the adaptable lens that changes according to the light and brightness from the arc during welding. This helmet is highly preferred by professional welders who are working with different welding types and materials.

Selecting the Best Welding Helmet for Your Needs

When choosing a good welding helmet, you don't compromise quality in favor of a super cheap unit. Otherwise, you'll find yourself at high risk of accidents and minor to major injuries. But that is not to say the budget-friendly ones are not all that good. We've compiled a list for you to check out further into the article. But, before that, here are things that you need to keep in mind.

The Right Size

You should know the size of your head first before you buy a welding helmet. Lucky you because most online sellers already provide the size of their welding helmets. That said, you should do your assignment and get to know the precise size of your head. It is not comfortable working with a helmet that doesn't fit you, and while we're at it, it may even defeat the purpose of safety. You can also find welding hoods with increased points of adjustments, but in all instances, it pays to know your dimensions first.

The Type of Lens

It is also important to know the type of welding process that you always do—this will dictate the type of lens that you need:single fixed shade or variable shade lens. A standard welding hood lens is usually set to #10, which is enough to protect you from UV and IR rays. In addition, it is convenient to have a helmet that you can flip down with a quick nod so you can keep your position while you are working.

If you’re not after doing complicated welds, you don’t need an easy-flip welding helmet. There are also variable shade welding helmets that boast an auto-darkening feature which is very convenient because the shade adapts to the level of light emission during the process.

The Switching Speed

The switching speed is how fast the lens reacts and changes from its natural shade to #3 or #4 shade level once welding starts. The switching speed is expressed in ratings that begin with a standard 1/3,600 up to 1/25,000. If your work requirement is welding for long hours, an entry-level switching speed will cause your eyes some damage. Therefore, you should opt for an intermediate or professional switch speed level when considering a welding hood.

The Power Source

It is common for variable shade welding helmets to offer long battery life. Some welding hoods feature solar assist panels and non-replaceable lithium batteries. Other helmets have replaceable batteries assisted by solar panels. Lithium batteries are known for their extended battery life, but they are more expensive and not widely available, unlike AAA batteries. To maximize the use of your helmet, do not forget to place it under the sun to charge the solar panels.

You can save more if you purchase a welding helmet powered by AAA batteries with solar-assist panels.

The Weight

A lighter welding helmet is better because it reduces neck fatigue and minimizes neck strain. In addition, there are welding helmets that have auto-darkening features and are very light. You definitely need a light helmet if you are welding for long periods. This also proves very helpful to welders with no permanent workstations—if you're the type, you'll need lightweight safety gear to match your portable welding equipment.

The Viewing Size

Providing quality output is very important for a welder, and in order to do that, you have to see and check the quality of your work every now and then. The standard viewing size of a welding helmet ranges from 6 square inches to 9 square inches. However, the larger the viewing size, the more expensive the helmet can get.

A helmet that has a large viewing size is extremely important for overhead welding because it gives you great control and better efficiency.

Still Your Choice

As a welder, you can actually buy two or more welding helmets, especially when you do different types of welding processes. For sure, if welding is your thing, you have the impulse to collect welding helmets and utilize them for the right process. Having a lightweight welding hood with an auto-darkening feature is enough to make the process more convenient, but it also boils down to how you take care of it.

Caring for Your Welding Helmet

To extend the lifespan of your welding helmet before you even drain the expected battery hours (in case the welding helmet's battery is irreplaceable), it is essential to clean and disinfect your welding helmet regularly. Let's find out how to properly care for your welding helmet.

  1. Do not use abrasive or solvents when cleaning your helmet. Use warm water and mild detergent. Then soak a soft cloth into the solution and wipe the helmet, solar cells, and sensors until they are clean. Rinse the welding helmet by using a soft cloth and warm water. Wipe the helmet with the dampened cloth until you feel no presence of soap. Reminder, keep the helmet, especially the lens, from water and other fluids.
  2. Disinfect your welding helmet with toxic-free chemicals and cleaning solutions.
  3. Make sure that all parts are dry prior to reuse or storage.
  4. Store your welding helmet in a clean and dry place if you are not using or charging it.

Additional Precautions You Also Need to Focus On

Aside from protecting your head, face, and eyes with a welding hood, you have to think about safeguarding the rest of your body.

  • Always remember that a welding hood is created for welding purposes only. Do not use your welding helmet for higher forms of metalworking or cutting. Doing so may result in eyesore and facial injury. Also, do not use your welding helmet as a substitute when you ride a motorcycle.
  • If you are using an auto-darkening helmet and notice that it is not adapting to the light emission of your welding process, you have to stop right away. Check your auto-darkening welding helmet because this might be a case of faulty sensors not triggering the darker lenses when needed. If you continue welding with faulty sensors, your eyes will be at risk.
  • Don’t forget that you also need full-body protection by wearing some kind of fabric or clothing that will cover your neck and the rest of your body from sparks. You have to limit the exposure of your skin to heat and sparks. You may also use lotions that contain UV protection to protect your skin better if the fabric you are using is too thin.
  • Welding machines can release intense noise, and you might also want to protect your ears. Use earplugs or other tools that protect your ears by blocking noise.
  • You may also use a respirator because fumes can cause serious damage to your lungs and your whole system in general.

The Best Welding Helmets With the Lowest Prices

The value of a product tells so many things about its features and longevity. The more you spend, the more fancy features you get with your welding hood. However, scouting products online changed the consumers' perception. For example, when you buy products on Amazon today, you are more concerned with the reviews, right? Favorable product reviews allow 72% of consumers to purchase the product.

another sample welding helmet

Here’s our list of best welding helmets that are affordable and will never let you down in your welds.

  1. DEKOPRO MZ236 Welding Helmet
  2. Neiko 53847A Industrial Grade Welding Helmet
  3. DEKOPRO MZ225 Welding Helmet
  4. Antra AH6-260-0000 Welding Helmet
  5. YESWELDER LYG-L500A-B Welding Helmet
  6. TEKWARE X2 Welding Helmet
  7. Fibre-Metal Pipeliner Fiberglass Welding Helmet
  8. DEKOPRO MC232 Welding Helmet

We have also reviewed some of these products individually on our website for a closer look.

And there you have it! You now have the perfect budget-friendly welding helmets that will surely make you productive. Please take note that all the welding hoods on our list are ANSI 2003 Approved. Do not forget to check the welding helmet or its packaging if it is marked with ANSI Z87.1 - 2003 or ANSI Z87+ because it means that it falls under the latest ANSI approval. Buying a helmet that is “ANSI Approved” only and without the code of 2003 means that it is outdated and might compromise your safety.

Final Thoughts

Expensive welding helmets can give you ultra comfort and more fancy features. However, as a welder, you have to learn how to adapt to different working conditions and varieties of welding materials. So why do you have to buy expensive welding helmets if you can have the same features as affordable ones available in the market? Save more by buying the cheapest but high-quality welding hoods in the market today.

Also, do not forget to regularly clean and disinfect your welding helmet. Total care maximizes the lifespan of your welding hood and gives you comfort and protection. Finally, don't hesitate to read up more about the welding helmets that made our list and choose the best one that suits your welding needs! Reviews are up on our website.

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