Best Beginner Welding Helmet 2020 – Reviews & Comparisons
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When you’re just beginning with welding, your time should be spent on improving your welding skills, not messing with your eye protection. Unfortunately, many welding helmets are adorned with multiple dials, switches, and selectors, so you’ll have to learn what each of them does before you can safely use the mask. But no matter what, you need adequate protection for your eyes, and if you set something wrong or forget to change a setting, you could potentially cause serious damage to the only set of eyeballs you’re ever going to get. We don’t want that to happen to you, so we spent a lot of time testing out as many welding masks as we could to determine which ones are the safest and best for beginning welders. The following 10 reviews will share what we’ve learned to help make the choice easier for you.
A Quick Look at Our Favorite Choices in 2020:
The 10 Best Welding Helmets for Beginners:
1. Antra AH6-260-0000 Welding Helmet – Best Overall
Welding helmets can get pretty pricey, but the Antra AH6-260-0000 is an exception, offering excellent performance at an affordable price. Even though it’s cheaper than the higher-end masks, it’s not lacking in useful features. This one is auto-darkening, making it very easy to use, even for a beginner. All you have to do is select your shade from the dial on the side of the mask, then put it on. Whenever you start welding, sensors in the mask will automatically detect the flashes and darken the mask, saving your eyes from any burns.
This mask features a grind mode. This feature allows you to use the mask as a face shield for grinding, and it won’t darken the mask from the sparks that grinding creates. The only issue with this is, for beginners, you may have a hard time remembering to switch it off of grind mode. If that happens, you’ll expose your eyes to the bright flashes of welding. Luckily, the lens in this hood has ultraviolet and infrared protection that’s always on, even when the power is off. In the end, we think the stacked list of features and affordability make this a top choice for beginning welders.
2. Hobart Flip Front Welding Helmet – Best Value
As a beginning welder, you want to spend your time focusing on welding and improving your welding skills. An overly complicated mask can waste your valuable time by forcing you to play with settings until you get everything right. The Hobart 770286 flip front welding helmet takes all the complication out of the equation. This mask is as simple as it gets, and you won’t waste any time figuring it out. Just put it on and weld. That’s it. No settings to adjust or figure out. No batteries to go dead. But don’t worry, you can still see with it on thanks to the flip-up lens. Just make sure you flip it back down to weld!
Once you get more advanced with your welding, the single shade level offered by this mask may not be enough for the various environments you find yourself in, or for the different types of welding you may perform. But as a beginner, the simplicity is great. What’s more, this mask is so dirt cheap that you can replace it when you advance without feeling that you’ve lost any money. That’s why we think it’s the best beginner welding helmet for the money.
3. Welding Helmet by Aver – Premium Choice
Just because you’re new to welding doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t get premium-quality equipment. If you know you’re going to continue with the trade, then why not get the right gear from the get-go? For individuals with such a mindset, this welding helmet by Aver is a great option. Granted, it’s pretty expensive for a beginner, but this is one case where you get what you pay for. This mask will definitely last a long time and will grow with you as your welding skills improve.
One important factor for any welding helmet is comfort. You could be wearing it for hours at a time, so you don’t want a heavy and cumbersome mask that starts to hurt your neck. Luckily, this mask is very light and the headgear is comfortable. Unlike many of the other masks we tested, this one didn’t cause any neck pain, and it never felt like a nuisance. It’s also equipped with a lens that has the highest optical rating you can achieve, so no matter how far you get in your welding career, you’ll still be able to count on this mask.
4. Neiko Industrial Grade Welding Helmet
Simplicity is the key when you’re first starting, and it’s hard to get much simpler than the Neiko 53847A industrial-grade welding helmet. There are no settings to fiddle with and nothing you could set incorrectly. Just put the mask on, adjust the headgear so it fits, then start welding. Well, make sure you flip the lens down first! With the lens up, you’ll be able to see the world around you. Once you flip it down, the world goes dark and you’re ready to weld. Can’t get much simpler than that!
The single level of shade offered by this mask is great when you’re just starting, but it may not have enough versatility once you start performing various types of welding in different locations. But until then, this one needs no batteries and will always operate in any conditions, so it’s hard to go wrong with it as a beginner. It’s also extremely cheap, but the Hobart in our second position is a bit cheaper with all the same capabilities.
5. YESWELDER Beginner Welding Helmet
The YESWELDER solar-powered helmet is a decent product, but it’s not our top choice for beginning welders. We think it has too many dials to adjust for someone who’s just starting, but that variability means it has the chance to grow with you as your skills improve. On the other hand, it has an extra-large viewing area with excellent optical clarity, so you can always see whatever you’re working on with very little restriction. It’s also an auto-darkening helmet, so you’ll be able to see fine right up until you pull the trigger and the sparks start flying. That’s when the lens darkens and protects your eyes from the bright flashes.
This helmet was pretty heavy, weighing over two pounds. This could start to get uncomfortable pretty quickly, especially if you’re not used to wearing headgear for extended periods. It’s also more expensive than many of the other options that we tested. While it is a good helmet overall, we don’t think it does anything special to warrant the higher cost.
6. DEKOPRO Solar Powered Auto Darkening Hood
It’s hard to miss the unique design and looks that adorn this DEKOPRO welding hood. With flaming skulls or a skull-shaped design, it’s got a style that’s all its own. If you like that look, then this helmet may be a great fit. If not, there are plenty of helmets available that lack the flamboyance of this one. But we do like the auto-darkening feature of this mask that makes it easy to use, even for a beginner. It’s also quite affordable for a welder of any level, so you won’t feel like you’re throwing money away purchasing it.
The viewing area on this mask seemed pretty small, and we prefer units with a larger lens. On top of that, the optical clarity is mediocre at best, so you’ve always got discoloration to deal with and it’s just not as clear of an image as other masks we’ve used. The shade dial also has markings that blend into it, so it’s hard to tell what setting you’re on, especially when your eyes are in and out of different light conditions from putting on and removing the helmet.
7. Tekware Auto Darkening Welding Helmet
This mask from Tekware is a more expensive, albeit, higher-end mask than many of the other ones we tested for this list. Because of that, it has very good optical clarity, a feature that we appreciate. It’s auto-darkening, making it easier to work with the mask on and not constantly remove it or flip the lens up. You’ll need to keep up with dying batteries, but the lens will protect against the most harmful UV and IR rays, even when the power is off.
Our biggest complaint with this mask is the weak and uncomfortable headgear. It doesn’t stay put once you get it set, so you’re constantly having to adjust it. For such an expensive mask, this seems like an oversight. Worse, the headgear broke relatively quickly, and we had to replace it. The mask was much better with the improved headgear, but it was a disappointing issue to be forced to overcome. The original headgear was made even worse by the fact that this is a very heavy mask, so the lack of comfort was compounded.
8. Jackson Safety Variable Welding Helmet
This is a more expensive welding mask that we expected to perform very well. It’s auto-darkening, which we like for the ease of use. This mask was surprisingly comfortable to wear. Amazingly, the headgear was easy to use and stayed in place where we set it. That seems to be a rarity with most welding masks, even in this price range. But the overall build quality was subpar, and we were disappointed with how flimsy this mask is. It doesn’t have a good feel like other masks at this price, and that makes it less comfortable since it’s not very stable, always moving and vibrating on your face. It’s also too short and leaves the neck exposed to sparks and splatter. Especially as a beginner, this can really hamper the joy of learning to weld. We’d suggest saving some money and getting something more robust.
9. DEKOPRO Solar Powered Welding Helmet
The first thing we noticed when we put the DEKOPRO welding helmet on was the large viewing area that dwarfs the lenses on some of the masks we tested. Next, we realized that it’s a very light helmet, something we’re always happy to notice. But then we started to notice things we were less thrilled with. For instance, the terrible headgear. It wouldn’t stay where we set it, so we were constantly readjusting it, just to have it move again. Pretty soon, the headgear broke entirely. That’s disappointing on any welding mask, but this one is much more expensive than some of the other masks we tested, and they didn’t break. At this price, we expect to see better durability than what this DEKOPRO offers.
10. Instapark ADF Series GX-500S Welding Helmet
Rounding out the bottom of our list, the Instapark GX-500S welding helmet was quite a disappointment. It’s priced very affordably, so we didn’t expect much from the start. But it still managed to let us down. The optics aren’t very good, so your image is a bit out of focus and there is noticeable discoloration. We can deal with that, but the headgear added another problem. It wouldn’t stay tight, which is a problem we experienced on quite a few of the cheaper masks we tested. Before long, the tensioner for the headgear broke entirely, and we had to replace the headgear with one we already had lying around. The flimsy construction of this helmet also leaves a lot to be desired. It doesn’t feel good when you hold it, and it feels the same once it’s on your head. With so many great options available at a similar price, we can’t recommend this one that’s full of so many problems.
There are tons of welding helmets on the market. But which ones are best for beginners? After testing so many of them, we’ve narrowed down the important features that a beginning welder should keep in mind when looking for their first welding mask. In this short buyer’s guide, we’re going to briefly discuss those features so that you know what to prioritize when looking for your first welding mask.
Ease of Use
When you’re first starting to weld, you have a lot to learn. You need to understand the equipment, different types of materials you may be working with, what electrodes you need with what metals, and a whole lot more. That’s already enough stuff to consider, so you shouldn’t complicate matters further by throwing a complex welding mask into the mix. Some of them are covered in dials and adjustments that you need to get right if you want to weld safely. We think that the best masks for beginners have the least amount of adjustability. You could still get an auto-darkening mask, but the fewer dials you have to learn to set right, the easier it will be to put your mask on and start welding.
You’re going to be wearing your welding mask for many hours on end, and if it’s uncomfortable, you probably won’t want to. Unless you want to be deterred from practicing your welding, a comfortable helmet is a must-have. Luckily, you can find inexpensive helmets that are still very comfortable. For us, it comes down to two main factors: the weight, and the headgear. Headgear on lower-priced helmets is often very poor and doesn’t stay where you set it. But some of them broke the mold and managed comfortable headgear that stayed in place, even on a cheaper mask. Next, look for the lightest mask you can find. Over several hours, a one-pound mask is going to be much more comfortable and easier on your neck than a two-pound mask.
The most important thing for your mask to do is to protect your eyes. If you forget to change a setting and it doesn’t automatically darken when you start welding, then you may cause damage to your eyes. A malfunction with an auto-darkening mask will have the same result. These are more common happenings than you might expect. If you’re worried about it, a simple flip-up lens mask is a great way to go since there’s nothing mechanical or electrical to malfunction. Just make sure you flip the lens down before you weld and you’re always set.
We wanted to see which welding helmets were the best choices for beginning welders. To do so, we tested as many of them as we could find so that we could compare their strengths and weaknesses. After reading our reviews, you should also know the common downfalls of these masks. But three of them rose above the rest and exceeded our expectations. We think the best one overall was the Antra AH6-260-0000 welding helmet. It features an auto-darkening lens for ease of use, a simple dial to select your shade level, and the ultraviolet and infrared protection is always on, even without power.
For the best value, we think it’s pretty hard to beat the dirt-cheap Hobart 770286 flip front welding helmet. It’s got the simplest operation possible, just flip the lens down and start to weld. There are no settings to fiddle with or get wrong, so you’re always getting the proper protection. But if you want a mask that will grow with you as you improve, the Aver welding helmet is our recommendation. It’s ultralight and very comfortable, has an auto-darkening lens, and offers the highest optical rating you can get on a welding mask.
- A Quick Look at Our Favorite Choices in 2020:
- The 10 Best Welding Helmets for Beginners:
- 1. Antra AH6-260-0000 Welding Helmet – Best Overall
- 2. Hobart Flip Front Welding Helmet – Best Value
- 3. Welding Helmet by Aver – Premium Choice
- 4. Neiko Industrial Grade Welding Helmet
- 5. YESWELDER Beginner Welding Helmet
- 6. DEKOPRO Solar Powered Auto Darkening Hood
- 7. Tekware Auto Darkening Welding Helmet
- 8. Jackson Safety Variable Welding Helmet
- 9. DEKOPRO Solar Powered Welding Helmet
- 10. Instapark ADF Series GX-500S Welding Helmet
- Buyer’s Guide