Best Welding Helmet for Beginners: Here’s the Most Important Features
Do you know that choosing the best beginner welding helmet can provide protection from common beginner mistakes? It can also be more comfortable with fewer distractions so you can stay focused on learning to weld?
Most beginners get a brief introduction to basic welding safety emphasizing the need to wear a helmet to protect your eyes, face, and neck from burns, UV light, sparks, infrared light, and heat while welding or performing related tasks.
So you buy a helmet. But as a novice welder, it’s what you won’t learn until you attempt to make welds that may cause you to end up with the wrong helmet. A poor helmet leads to frustration and distracts from the learning process and enjoyment.
To help you start off right, I put together a checklist of the 11 most important requirements to look for in your first welding helmet. I used this same list to search specifically for the best welding helmet for beginners and found just four helmets that met all the criteria.
I included one more that missed a single requirement by a small margin but was just too good to eliminate.
Top Picks Summary
• Best Overall: YesWelder LYG-800H Welding Helmet – “The affordable YesWelder LYG-800H series has the largest screen”
• Premium Choice: Lincoln VIKING 3350 Welding Helmet – “more durable than the YesWelder and built for everyday use”
• Value Pick: Antra DP-6 Welding Helmet – “a smaller screen than the YesWelder, the Antra DP-6 is a solid alternative that runs $10 less”
Buyer’s Checklist: Best Beginner Welding Helmet
Here’s my checklist of what to look for when buying your first welding helmets. Every helmet in this article meets each of these 11 requirements, except for one with a viewing area a 1/4-inch too small.
- Auto-darkening filter – NO fixed shade lens
- Full infrared (IR) protection at all times
- Full-size coverage for protection
- A true-color lens with excellent optics
- Large viewing area (at least 8.0 square inches)
- Meets ANSI and CSA safety standards
- Grind mode
- Lightweight – 1.5 lb (24 oz.) or less
- Comfortable and adjustable headgear
- Replaceable batteries – no disposable helmets
- Versatile – good for stick, MIG, and TIG (including low-amp welding)
Best Welding Helmets for Beginners: Top 5 Reviews
YesWelder True Color Large Screen Welding Helmet – Overall Best for Beginners
With a huge 3.94″ by 3.66″ viewing area, the affordable YesWelder LYG-800H series has the largest screen in this group. It’s a beautiful, true-color lens with sharp 1/1/1/2 clarity. The jumbo ADF (auto-darkening filter) makes it heavier than others but still makes the cut with two ounces to spare.
The primary controls are on the exterior near your left temple so you can adjust shade, sensitivity, and delay, plus select grind, cut, or weld modes without raising your hood.
The tall knobs are prone to snagging and positioned close together. Wearing bulky gloves makes it possible to bump something else out of place accidentally when making adjustments.
A depth adjustment on the headgear enhances balance and stability, plus you can change the distance between your face and the welding helmet lens, and the angle of tilt. While the fit is comfortable, the headgear materials are of lesser quality and look less durable than premium choices.
This YesWelder helmet is a top seller on Amazon, with 6000 reviews and a 4.5 rating. I looked into reports of flickering, or returning to the light state, while DC TIG welding. I found many positive reviewers that had experienced this issue but had resolved it on their own. The common solutions involved properly adjusting the sensitivity control and/or repositioning so bright ambient lights don’t shine on the helmet sensors.
YesWelder covers this helmet with a one-year warranty.
This helmet includes a storage bag, 3 replacement lens covers, and a battery.
What are the highlights?
- Extra-large view
- Bright, clear optics
- External controls
What could they improve?
- More durable headgear
- Exterior knobs prone to snag
Antra DP-6 Welding Helmet – Great Value
If you prefer a lighter helmet and don’t mind a smaller screen than the YesWelder, the Antra DP-6 is a solid alternative. It runs about $10 less, has excellent optics, and includes extra lens covers.
- Lowest price in this group
- Very lightweight
- Activate grind mode with gloves
What’s not so great?
- The helmet shell is flimsy
- Not as comfortable as others
Jackson Safety HLX100 Welding Helmet – Best Mid-Range
Here’s a solid helmet from Jackson, a premium name in welding protective gear. The HLX100 will hold up to daily use and is the lowest price helmet with sturdy headgear. You get wide comfortable straps and a large, easy-to-adjust knob for tightness. It’s made to use with gloves!
While the shell is narrow by design for tight spaces, it offers excellent all-around protection. A clean exterior results from the lack of external controls, and you must make all settings from under the hood.
But I give Jackson credit for using well-identified buttons at the bottom of the ADF with a digital readout. You can partially lift the hood to make adjustments. While you don’t have to remove the helmet, you’ll need to remove heavy gloves to use the small buttons.
What are its best features?
- Strong, easy to adjust headgear
- Sharp 1/1/1/1 optics
- 2-year warranty on the ADF
What negatives should you be aware of?
- No external grind mode control
- No cut mode (no DIN 5-8)
- Doesn’t include a storage bag or spare lens covers
Lincoln Electric VIKING 3350 Welding Helmet – Premium Pick
By another leading brand, the Viking 3350 model has it all. Here’s an all-around excellent helmet.
Lincoln Electric gave it a very large screen with top-notch true color optics and 1/1/1/1 clarity. You’ll have a clear, bright view (and less eye strain) whether working in the light or darkened state.
Lincoln’s fully adjustable X6 headgear allows you to tweak this helmet for a custom fit. Fore-to-aft adjustment allows room for eyeglasses or even a respirator. This helmet is stable and comfortable for all-day wear.
Because it’s more durable than the YesWelder and built for everyday use, casual welders can expect many years of service from this high-end welding helmet. And you’re covered by a three-year warranty.
Press the low-profile exterior button for three seconds to turn the grind mode on and off. That can feel like an eternity when you’re in a hurry, but it’s easy to operate while wearing gloves and isn’t prone to snagging.
What do owners love about this model?
- Quality materials
- DIN 3.5 light state is twice as bright as DIN 4.0
- Can operate grind button with gloves
What are their disappointments?
- Takes extra time to get headgear adjusted properly
- Must hold grind button for too long to activate
Optrel Crystal 2.0 Welding Helmet – Best for Aging Eyes
Yes, the Crystal 2.0 is the most expensive helmet here and its viewing area came in a bit (0.25 sq. in.) below my minimum requirement. But when you learn what this helmet offers, you’ll understand why I kept it on this list.
This is a great helmet for anyone working in low-light, but especially those with mature eyes that strain to view details like mine. When welding with a helmet having a DIN rating of 4.0 (5% light transmission) or even 3.5 (10%) at rest, I need a lot of work lighting to see details as I set up a weld.
In contrast, the Crystal 2.0 allows 31% of visible light through the light state filter. You get a view that’s six times as bright as 4.0 lenses while still blocking harmful radiation.
You’ll enjoy the fully automatic mode that can sense the difference between light grinding, plasma cutting, or high-amp welding and darkens to the correct shade every time. You don’t even have to turn it on.
The Optrel Crystal 2.0 welding helmet allows you to focus on your work with less eyestrain. You’re free to work without worrying about changing settings for different operations.
What are its best features?
- Extra-bright and clear light state
- Autopilot mode changes shade levels for you
What can be improved?
- Has only three arc sensors
- Headgear loosens and won’t stay in up position
What to consider when buying your first welding helmet
The modern ADF lens has to be the top technological advancement to benefit safety for beginners. Sensors on the helmet can detect an arc and electronically darken the lens before the light affects your vision. You can safely and comfortably view the arc and the weld puddle.
Even when powered off or the batteries are dead, a permanent lens coating, or filter, will protect your eyes from harmful UV and IR rays. This invisible radiation can cause severe short- and long-term eye damage.
An old-style, fixed shade lens requires you to lift the hood to inspect and set up a weld. It is way too easy for beginner (and experienced) operators to forget to lower the helmet before striking an arc and get a fully unprotected flash. And when you lower the shield, it is so dark you can’t see if your gun is still in position.
Fixed shades are nothing but a nuisance that will distract you, slowing down your learning progress.
Your helmet can’t protect you when it’s raised on top of your head. At rest, the ADF’s light state allows you to see well enough to grind a rough weld or set up your next pass. A larger viewing area allows a better sense of your surroundings versus the feeling of looking through a narrow tunnel. You’re more likely to notice someone entering your work area or be able to find the pliers you dropped.
Because you don’t have to lift or remove the helmet for every little task, you are safer.
Learning to weld means learning to control the weld puddle, which means you need to see the weld zone. Better optics combined with true color technology provide a vivid view that makes the old, dark green filters look positively primitive in comparison.
The better you can see what’s happening in the weld pool and what effect your adjustments make, the faster you will learn to make good welds.
It’s always awkward at first. But since you have to wear a helmet, it better be comfortable.
Headgear connects the helmet and positions it in relation to your head. Look for a front-to-back adjustment to make room to wear glasses.
Good headgear will secure and balance the shell without being too tight on your head. If it feels the least bit uncomfortable at first, don’t worry, it will get much worse after an hour or two. Keep looking.
Keep it light, 24 ounces or less, to minimize strain on your neck.
When tilted up, you’ll hardly notice a well-balanced, lightweight welding helmet. It should stay up and allow you to bend over without falling off your head.
A good welding helmet for a beginner (or pro) must protect you and help you do your job, not distract you from it.
When just getting started with welding and facing startup costs, it’s easy for a beginner to end up with a disposable helmet. This happens when the batteries die and can’t be replaced. Or the helmet is so troublesome and/or uncomfortable that they wish it would die.
The good news is that for just $30 to $40 more than the throw-away hoods, you can buy a nice helmet that meets all my requirements. And you’ll enjoy using it for years because what makes a helmet good for beginners will continue to be appreciated as your skills advance.
If you can find one that does this for under $70, please let me know.