Have you ever tried to look at the sun for a few seconds? Notice how weird your eyes felt afterwards and how you immediately knew that this isn’t something you should be doing?
Well, guess what? Welding is even more harmful to your eyes than staring at the sun even though it doesn’t often feel like this.
When you’re welding, you’re just a few inches away from the welding arc and that means you are being exposed to a more UVA brightness that you can ever get from sun exposure.
Without the right protection, a welder could go blind from constant exposure to these dangerous degrees of lighting.
Plus, when you’re holding a welder in your hands, it can feel like you’re harnessing the power of the sun. It’s 5 to 30 times hotter than a wild fire.
With that sort of power in the palm of your hands, seeing what you’re doing is incredibly important.
In this article, we’re not just looking at the best welding helmets, but the best budget welding helmets on the market.
We’ve taken price, safety and functionality into consideration and we’ve included auto-darkening helmets for further protection but before you choose any welding helmet, make sure you check the weight- you want something that is not too heavy, switching time- the length of time it takes for the lens to go from light to dark, the viewing area- you want something with a wide viewing angle so you can see what you’re doing clearly and without obstruction, and the optical rating to be sure you can easily see from top and lower angles when welding. .
You should also ensure that it offers warranty protection.
To make it easier for you to make a choice, we’ve selected 9 models that include all or most of these features.
Now, without further ado, let’s help you choose the best welding helmet for the money.
Lincoln Electric K3034-4 VIKING 3350 Welding Helmet
This is arguably one of the best helmets in the market today. It combines superior construction with top-notch functionality in a reasonable package. It has a viewing area of 3.74 x 3.34 inches, which is one of the biggest on the market.
With such a wide field of vision, this helmet will let you work even in tight spots.
Moreover, it has an optical rating of 1/1/1/1, meaning it gets the best mark for consistency in viewing angles, uniformity of shade, degree of clarity, and extent of distortion.
It has a quick switching time that is designed to minimize eye strain and also has controls for internal shade, sensitivity, and delay.
With 4 arc sensors, the shade of this helmet won’t flicker in case of obstructions.
The 12.5 square inch auto darkening lens provides a large field of view to offer enhanced application versatility, increases productivity and also has added safety benefits.
Lincoln Electric K3034-4 VIKING 3350 Welding Helmet has solar power with battery assist that helps to prolong the lifespan of the battery and reduces chances of battery drain.
It is also backed by a 3-year warranty.
The only downside of this helmet is its size. With a weight of 3.2 pounds/54 ounces, this is not the lightest helmet around however, its functionalities and build quality more than make up for its size restrictions.
Antra Welding Helmet AH6-260-0000 Solar Power Auto Darkening Wide Shade
The ANTRA AH6-260-0000 is a budget welding helmet that can compete with most expensive welding helmets on the market.
Although it has a smaller viewing area compared to the Lincoln Electric K3034-4 VIKING 3350, some of its features make it worth the buy especially for those looking to buy welding helmets on a budget.
The ANTRA AH6-260-0000 is an auto darkening helmet made from strong and durable polymer nylon, which makes it able to resist wear and tear from long term usage.
It has a view size of 3.86 x 1.73 inches, which is pretty good for any budget friendly helmet.
In terms of optical clarity, this helmet gets a rating of 1/2/1/2. It has 4 arc sensors, and runs off solar power but with battery assist.
Its lighter weight makes it a more attractive helmet than the Lincoln Electric K3034-4 VIKING 3350, weighing only about 16 ounces.
You’re not going to feel like you’re wearing it at all.
The ANTRA AH6-260-0000 has a fast switching speed of 0.0004 seconds, and is compatible with a magnifying lens of 2 x 4 inch. This comes in very handy when you need to carry out a job that requires attention to details.
Jackson Safety BH3 Auto Darkening Welding Helmet
This is another highly rated welding helmet that’s affordable and built like a tank. It has a high optical rating and a 5 year warranty too, which puts it in a class of its own.
It has an auto darkening feature powered by a solar cell that completely eliminates the need for battery changing.
The auto-darkening feature is specific to wavelengths. You can use auto-darkening for welding arcs and not for other light sources like a light bulb.
There are 3 headgear adjustments on the Jackson Safety BH3 Auto Darkening Welding Helmet, making it suitable for all kinds of welding jobs.
It is comfortable to use to because it is made from lightweight, high density plastic, which makes it weigh less than 3 pounds. The hood and headbands are adjustable too.
The material used to make this helmet is designed to protect users from weld sparks and spatters. The front cover plate is aerodynamic and offers heat protection too.
Jackson Safety SmarTIGer Variable Auto Darkening (ADF) Welding Helmet
This helmet provides a high level of protection, wide viewing area, and digital controls, which makes it simpler and easier to use.
It is extremely lightweight, weighing just 1 pound so it is very comfortable to use.
It has advanced auto-darkening lens with shades of 9-13, 4 auto-dimming sensors, and works properly with delay in sensitivity adjustments.
It’s important to note that all the controls are digital, making the helmet very easy to use.
This is a versatile welding helmet that lets you choose from grind and welding modes.
Instapark ADF Series GX-500S Solar Powered Auto Darkening Welding Helmet with Adjustable Shade
This is the best budget welding helmet on the market. It is one of the most inexpensive brands that doesn’t compromise budget for safety.
It is one of the best budget welding helmets, despite its low price, suitable for both beginner and experienced welders.
It has a variable shade lens, which is adjustable from 9-13 with a resting shade of 4. It has a fast switching time of 0.0004 seconds, and a relatively small viewing area of 3.63 x 1.65 inches, but it is still good enough for most welding jobs.
It has an auto-darkening function with 2 arc sensors that can activate the switch from light to dark.
While most top-rated welding helmets have 4 sensors, this entry level helmet has only 2 however, it has an optical rating of 1/2/1/3, which means it can deliver enhanced clarity and limit risks of eye fatigue.
This is a value-for-money welding helmet that you should consider if you are on a limited budget.
ARCPRO 20704 Auto Darkening Welding Helmet
At number 6 on our list of the best budget welding helmets in 2020 is the ARCPRO 20704 Auto Darkening Welding Helmet.
This is one of the best budget welding helmet that is suited for hobbyists. It has a relatively large viewing space of 3.7 x 2.07 inches, which makes it easy to use especially in awkward spaces.
It features a padded headband that is and adjustable for a more comfortable fit.
ARCPRO 20704 Auto Darkening Welding Helmet has a grind mode, meaning it automatically adjusts for grinding and as the name suggests, it automatically darkens when subjected to sparks.
It can also readjust the shade in case of excess arc ray production, which is harmful to the human eye.
The shades can be adjusted between DIM 9 and DIM 13, and is a suitable helmet for Oxy fuel burning as the fumes and flickering will not get into your head when using the ARCPRO 20704 Auto Darkening Welding Helmet.
It’s also perfect for stick welding and is ideal for use by beginner welders.
3M SPEEDGLAS WELDING HELMET 9100
This exceptional welding helmet protects users from debris and harmful radiation. It has a large viewing area, and a flip-up design for convenient and easy removal.
It weighs a mere 2 pounds, with a viewing area of 2.1 X 4.2 inches, making it one of the best welding helmets in terms of viewing area.
The enhanced field of view should give you enough field of vision to work on your projects with minimal obstructions.
Designed for convenience, this welding helmet can have its own auto-darkening filter positioned down for welding, and flipped up for other tasks.
The lens is made of polycarbonate nylon, and features dark shades 5, 9 and 11 through 13. There’s also a light shade of 3.
When an arc is struck, 3 sensors in the lens activate the auto-darkening filter, which can minimize the need for flipping the helmet in between torch placements.
The lens can switch from light to dark shade in 1/10,000th of a second.
The 3M SPEEDGLAS WELDING HELMET 9100 is ideal for use in various welding applications including Stick, MIG, and TIG.
ESAB 0700000800 SENTINEL A50 Welding Helmet
This model has a wide screen and a near-perfect optical class rating of 1/1/1/2, making it easy for you to view things from both high and low angles.
You can switch from grinding to welding shade at the touch of a button.
This model is a very solid choice if you’re not ready to spend 5 times more on a better helmet.
Notable features of this helmet include its 0.1 millisecond switching time, 1.4 pound weight, and normalized color range.
ESAB 0700000800 SENTINEL A50 Welding Helmet is an auto-darkening helmet, making it one of the trendiest helmets on the market.
Miller Digital Elite Welding Helmet
This model is the absolute lightest model in existence weighing just 1.13 pounds.
With a 9 X 9 INCH viewing area, you might not even remember that you have it on, and the variable shading has an even wider range than the previous many other welding helmet models.
Other notable features on this model include 5 lens cover, shade range of 8-13, and a switching time of 1/5000th of a second.
Rather than completely relying on solar, this model comes with a battery to support power supply.
The price tag on the Miller Digital Elite Welding Helmet is about average for a good quality helmet.
That sums up our list of the best budget welding helmets for 2020. See anything you like or would like to compare prices before you make your final pick? Click on the link beneath each product review to access the most competitive prices on the market.
Whichever model you decide to choose, please make sure you are being safe because welding is a tough and serious job.