6 Best Auto Darkening Welding Lenses: A Complete Buyers Guide

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5 Top Picks

4 Reviewers

23 Hours of Research

20 Products Considered 

At A Glance: Our Top Picks for Auto Darkening Welding Lenses

If you are a professional welder, you probably know the struggle that is finding the perfect welding lens for you. There is a wide range out there to choose from.

One of the most popular types are the auto darkening welding lens, but others like the cool blue welding lens is also very commonly used. An advantage they have is they offer more protection than glasses.

In case you are having trouble picking the right value-for-money set of welding lenses for the uses you plan on putting them to, know that you don’t have to worry all that much.

There are many buying guides out there for you to take advantage of, and most of these offer some pretty sensible advice.

While there are risks to buying based on the advice offered by people you have never met, you probably won’t be able to find cheap gold welding lenses at a normal store without assistance.

If you are truly interested in choosing the perfect lens, or the perfect helmet for your welding needs, here are some great options for the professional and amateur welder!

By Gregory Sanders: This article has been updated to reflect the most accurate information regarding auto darkening welding lenses available for those who are interested in welding protective gear. The best 5 available have changed, and information has been added to assist individuals in finding the best auto darkening welding lenses currently available on the market. The FAQ has also been updated.

Best Welding Lenses

IMAGE

PRODUCT

FEA​TURES




Our Score: 94/100


  • Provides extreme comfort and balance
  • Hard hat adapter option
  • Color touch screen control panel with 8 memory settings 


Our Score: 88/100

  • It has an adjustable lens for multi-functionality
  • It has an integrated timing feature
  • Its very light for its size


Our Score: 85/100

  • 5-point adjustable head gear
  • Removable/washable sweat band
  • Solar powered

Our Score: 79/100

  • Full face and neck coverage
  • Very light total weight
  • Fully automatic auto darkening lens

Our Score: 76/100

  • Comes with three headgear adjustments for the configurability
  • Has a variable shade range from 9 to 13
  • Has a crystal clear optical clarity

The Good

This is a high-end welding helmet from Lincoln Electric. It isn’t cheap, but it is definitely one of the best options out there. It comes in a matte black color, and provides some of the best optical clarity for users out there.

Additionally, it comes with a clear lens and an adjustable lens for multi-functionality which is very useful for industrial and professional purposes. It also comes with a cap.

There is also an integrated timing feature, allowing there to be a small delay before the lens begins to darken.

While the helmet looks bulky, it is actually very light (about 1.5 pounds) for its size, and is easy enough to use even in the tighter spaces you may have to deal with.

The Bad

The warranty is recommended since there are occasional screen issues and replacement parts can be expensive. The initial lens also isn't the great, but is workable.

Final Thoughts

Overall, the Esab Sentinel is a fantastic helmet that is hard to beat. It's light weight and the auto darkening works really well while providing a lot of clarity. Like any product it may have some occasional issues - fortunately ESAB has really responsive customer support so you don't have to bug them much to get  what you are due.

Esab Sentinal A50 helmetEsab Sentinal A50 helmet

The Good

This is a high-end welding helmet from Lincoln Electric. It isn’t cheap, but it is definitely one of the best options out there. It comes in a matte black color, and provides some of the best optical clarity for users out there.

There is an adjustable lens as well for multi-functionality which is very useful for industrial and professional purposes.

There is also an integrated timing feature, allowing there to be a small delay before the lens begins to darken.

While the helmet looks bulky, it is actually very light for its size, and is easy enough to use even in the tighter spaces you may have to deal with.

Lincoln Electric VIKING 3350 Auto darkening helmet

The Bad

The main downside is the gleaming dark outside of the helmet, which scratches effortlessly, particularly in case you’re welding in tight spots.

Final Thoughts

A lot of people have found the Viking’s 4C lens far more useful than a typical green or blue welding lens, and with good reason.

The helmet is also very accessible, and the delay as well as the amount of darkening can be adjusted by turning the quick access dials on the side of the helmet without ever having to take it off.

The welding helmet had incredible optical clarity, no mutilation, no smearing, and everything was perfectly clear – exactly what you’d anticipate from a 1/1/1/1 evaluated lens.

The helmet was is really comfortable when put on, and with a couple slight adjustments, it will feel like you have been utilizing it for a considerable length of time. This helmet is useful for novices, hobby welders, as well as professional welders. 

The Good

This is a welding helmet that looks very clean indeed. It is also stylized with a silver flame on a background graphic.

While this serves no real practical purpose, you get the benefit of looking fresh while working on your welding. It is solar powered and uses CR2450 batteries

It has 4 arc sensors and an adjustable shade control as well as a switch to turn off the auto darkening welding lens and turn the lens into standard eye protection while grinding.

BLUE VARIABLE SHADE by Metal Man

The Bad

You may have a problem with the view area if you are used to the bigger sizes on other helmets. In terms of value for money, this is definitely one to check out.

Conclusion

Customers have been very happy as well, with people going on about how it is the best welding mask they have used. Using this helmet is bound to set your standards through the roof. The viewing area is just the right size for anything, and the arc sensors ensure that there is a small switching time. 

The Good

The Antra has a significant huge viewing size, sports 4 arc sensors, and has a pounding mode with a shade 4 lens.

The protective cap itself comes in an assortment of wonderful designs.

It can be utilized by beginner welders. Experts and everyday welders use it too.

ANTRA AH6 SOLAR in grey

The Bad

The real drawback is that the plastic handles on the sides are entirely frail, don’t hold the protective cap well and continue slackening.

Final Thoughts

For the money it's hard to beat. With great range of adjustment it is especially great for plasma cutting.

The Good

The Jackson Safety BH3 has a crystal clear optical clarity. It utilizes an exclusive technique known as ‘Balder Technology’ to accomplish a 1/1/1/1 optical rating.

The protective cap is exceptionally comfortable and comes with numerous headgear acclimation to guarantee it’s comfortable for all head shapes.

Another incredible component is the curved front plate of the helmet which lessens fume deflection and heat buildup.

JACKSON SAFETY BH3 in black and yellow

The Bad

The primary drawback to this protective cap is the lack of a pounding mode, which implies the auto darkening welding helmet is not suitable for all circumstances.

Final Thoughts

This is the clearest lens money can buy. They are simply amazing.

The Good

This hood is made out of high quality leather, which is a throwback to the days when welding first started. It is brown, and can resist temperatures of up to 130 degrees Celsius.

The lens allows for a view of about 90x30mm. It is solar powered, and the lens darkens automatically based on the purpose to which the helmet is put.

The power supply comes from a solar cell. The helmet is light and breathable, and allows for easy access as well. 

Safe55 Leather Welding Hood

The Bad

According to real users, these auto darkening welding lenses with the leather helmet aren’t the best option for professional use.

Final Thoughts 

If you are a casual welder and want a portable, lightweight helmet for emergencies, this is perfect. In terms of comfort, they aren’t the best, but they are fine to use if you need it for a quick weld or are just a hobbyist.

Features To Look For When Buying Welding lenses

Welding head protectors are accessible in an extensive variety of graphics and colors, making them a welder’s most customized accessory.

One of the most important searches you will probably make as a professional welder is finding the best auto darkening welding helmet.

What really catches out attention are its visual features and appearance, yet it’s imperative to search for qualities that best ensure our eyes are well protected. Some of these qualities to watch out for include:

Weight

Best Welding Lenses

The heaviness of the helmet is a critical component while considering getting another helmet. For anybody welding extensively, an overwhelming head protector can essentially increase exhaustion.

You will develop fatigue easily. Lightweight head protectors make welding more secure, less demanding and more comfortable.

Welding 8 – 12 hours a day will inflict significant damage on even the most experienced welders. Two or three hundred grams can have a major effect in the event that you weld throughout the day.

Headgear Comfort

Another central point is a comfortable, effectively flexible, and easily adjustable headgear. Since you may be wearing this helmet all through the day, it better be comfortable.

Luckily, innovation has made considerable progress and any better than average hood will accompany decent fitting headgear. Search for something with a cushioned front strap spread for added comfort.

Similarly, try as much as possible to make sure that the headgear is adjustable up, down, forward and back; and that it is effortlessly fixed around your head.

Power Source

Auto-darkening helmets are of powered in various ways. Some make use of replaceable lithium batteries.

Others utilize a blend of solar based cells with user replaceable lithium batteries, while different models utilize solar based power source with a battery to complement. Any of these strategies function admirably.

The decision boils down to individual preference. Auto-darkening helmets with user replaceable batteries offer the potential for a more aggregate service life of the cap as those with non-user replaceable batteries are by and large expected to have a shorter service life.

Clarity of Lens

Clarity of Lens is rated by the EN379 standard using four considerations:

  • Diffusion of light
  • Accuracy of vision
  • Angular dependence
  • Consistent shade

An immaculate rating is 1/1/1/1.

Notwithstanding this shouldn’t be a major issue while picking a protective cap, as most lenses are quite easy to see through.

Reaction Time

Reaction time or Response time alludes to the period the lens takes to change from light to dark when the arc is recognized. The snappier the better.

Number of Arc Sensors

Arc sensors are what protect you from getting flashed. A number of sensors range from 2 – 4.

Size of Lens

The standard size of the lens is 2″ x 4″. The greater the lens size, the more you’ll have the capacity to see. This will definitely increase the nature of your work.

Shade Range

Ensure the hood you’re purchasing has the right shade range for the kind of welding you’ll be doing.

As a reward, search for a protective cap with torch or light modes. It will spare you from taking it off when performing different tasks.

Delay and Sensitivity Settings

Any great welding protective cap will have delay and sensitivity settings. Yet, the best auto darkening welding helmets will have adjustable settings.

Delay: Delay is the measure of time the lens remains dim or dark after the arc is finished.

Sensitivity: This alludes to how bright the arc should be all together for the auto darkening feature to turn on.

Easy to Understand Controls

There are two sorts of controls: analog or digital. While it, for the most part, boils down to preference, digital has a tendency to be more precise yet harder to adjust with gloves on.

Analog can easily be adjusted with gloves on, however, you need to play around with it to get the handles to the appropriate settings.

Regular Welding Lens vs. Auto Darkening Lens

When browsing through the many products out there, you may have noticed that most of them are auto darkening welding lenses.

These are different from standard lenses in a number of ways. Standard lenses are also called passive lenses because they are always dark.

Auto Darkening Lenses

They are cheap and easy to use with no real learning curve. They have been around for over half a century. While the helmets they were housed in were made of leather back in the day, this has been substituted for cheap, heat resistant polymers and plastics.

 The lens typically has both UV and IR coatings already applied to it along with a number 10 shade.

This type of lens is used by flicking the helmet down over the eyes. You will not be able to see under normal lighting if your helmet visor is down. When done with a weld, you must manually push the helmet up to be able to see your work and get ready for the next one.

The disadvantages of a standard welding lens lies in positioning. With all the work needed to lower the helmet, it is hard to keep the welding torch in the same spot for the most accurate weld.

It can also get in the way if you are in a cramped space with little room above your head. It can be time consuming to constantly be lifting and lowering the visor of your helmet in an attempt to see better.

This is where an auto darkening welding lens come in.

Working With Auto Darkening Lenses

The auto darkening lens is a filter on the lens of the helmet. This is typically battery powered and is usually completely adjustable. The lens is basically the LCD display on a digital wall clock. Today, a lot of these lenses are solar powered in an effort to stay green. The automatic function is offered through arc sensors near the lens.

These detect the power, heat and brightness of the arc when it is struck, and adjusts the tint level of the lens accordingly. When the arc is turned off, the lens returns to a clear state. This means that the helmet doesn’t have to be moved from the start to the finish of the welding job.

This means that there isn’t a chance of there being a sloppy start to the weld when snapping your helmet up and down. Your torch will not move from where you placed it because you will be adjusting it and starting it with the helmet on and the lens engaged.

The shade is changed automatically in a split second when the arc is started. One thing you need to watch out for with this type of helmet is the price. Since this is relatively new technology, the helmets range in the $300 to $400 bracket, whereas a standard lens helmet is about $50.

Conclusion

As you look through this guide, you must make sure to take precautions if you decide to shop on your own. Always look for ANSI certification from a recent year, not from the ‘90s.

Make sure that the helmet you are buying is the right value for money, and that it is going to serve the situation that you intend to use it in well.

If you don’t do this, you will end up with a rather useless helmet that you spent over $200 on!

Heed the advice and reviews of previous users as well as professionals and experts, and you should be neck-pain-free and have healthy retinas for the rest of your time as a welder!

About the Author Gregory

Hi, my name is Gregory! I have been welding practically all of my life and love it. As I have gotten older I have started to weld less and less, so in order to continue my love for welding I created this website. I like to write about my experiences and help you all become welders. I hope that you enjoy the site!

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