Best Budget Welding Helmet

When you’re deciding which welding helmet you want to get, the price may be the biggest factor. Because helmets can cost from $40 to over $500, you need to be certain whether you’ll be doing welding for a living, or just as a hobby.

If you only plan on spending a few hours welding every now and then, you probably don’t want to pay too much money for a welding helmet. It’s not uncommon that you pick up a new hobby, and soon realize it’s not really for you. If that happens, you wouldn’t want to be stuck with an expensive piece of equipment that you’ll never use.

That’s why I made this list of the best budget welding helmets the market has to offer. Keep in mind that most of these helmets are only recommended for hobby work and don’t offer industrial-grade quality.

All of the best helmets listed below are auto darkening, because passive helmets are really becoming obsolete. Also, they’re all equipped with variable shade lenses so they’re applicable for all types of welding. Lastly, they all conform to the ANSI Z87.1-2010 safety standard.

Best Budget Welding Helmet

Overall Best: YESWELDER, EH-091XL

This YESWELDER welding helmet has all the good features a good auto darkening helmet should have. However, the plastic it’s made from is a bit cheap and feels like it can’t withstand too much. Still, it has external controls for shade, sensitivity and delay settings, and a grind mode switch, which is pretty sweet.

That screen is as big as they come, with a viewing area of 14.8” so you can see everything that you need and more. YESWELDER has also improved their display quality since their earlier models and now uses true color technology to provide you with a crystal clear picture. The optical clarity is rated a perfect 1/1/1/1.

The helmet has a variable shade range 4-13 and a fixed light state shade 3. The 4 sensors make sure it goes from light to dark shade in 1/30,000 sec.

Now, onto the drawbacks! The headgear feels flimsier than the helmet itself, in fact, it’s so common that it breaks that a lot of welders just buy a Lincoln Electric headgear and replace it. But the worst complaint is that more than a few welders have experienced flashes, even with full batteries. However, YESWELDER does have decent customer service, and might even provide you with a new helmet if that happens.

Pros:

  • Very large viewing area;
  • True color display;
  • 4 arc sensors;
  • External control dials.

Cons:

  • Headgear is flimsy;
  • Poor quality control/ faulty helmets have been reported.

Most Budget-Friendly: Antra, AH6-260-0000

It’s surprising how cheap this helmet is considering what you get for the money. Sure, it feels a bit flimsy and you can tell that it probably won’t last too long, but it does have some very admirable features.

This welding helmet has a variable shade range of 5-13, just like the other brands. It’s also equipped with 4 sensors and they provide an instant switch from light to dark mode.

The issue I have with this helmet is the green tint that the display provides. But you can’t really expect a true color display from such a budget-friendly product.

Although there’s a control board inside, it’s only for the delay and sensitivity controls. The shade range/grind mode dial is placed on the external left side of the helmet, to make sure you can switch between modes with ease.

Even though the headgear is comfortable enough, and it adjusts well to your head, it doesn’t look like it can last too long. If it does break though, you can always buy a separate headgear from a more high-end manufacturer.

Pros:

  • 4 arc sensors;
  • External shade/grind dial;
  • Comfortable.

Cons:

  • Thin plastic;
  • Green tint;
  • Flimsy headgear.

Best Value for the Money: Hobart, 770890

This helmet has a very simplistic design and it’s made from high-impact-resistant nylon which makes it very durable. What it lacks though is an external grind button. That really would have made this helmet close to perfect.

The lens is 9.3”, which is big enough, but still not so big that it makes the helmet heavy. Even though the picture is very clear with a perfect 1/1/1/1 rating, it has a green tint and that can really strain your eyes after a while.

What really makes this helmet stand out, though, is the headgear. It’s super comfortable and can be adjusted for a perfect fit. The ratchets are really high-quality and seem like they will last a long time.

Pros:

  • Very durable and reliable;
  • Light and comfortable;

Cons:

  • Green tint;
  • No external grind button.

Largest Viewing Area: Instapark, ADF Series GX990T

This helmet has pretty much all the features that you could ask for. The shade range is 5-13 and the picture is quite clear. However, the light state is at shade 4, which is darker than most other helmets on this list. It’s equipped with 4 arc sensors just like the more expensive brands’ models.

What really sticks out, though, is the size of the lens. The viewing area is 3.94”x3.86”, which is bigger than any other lens on this list. The viewing area makes this welding helmet best suited for folks working on bigger projects, as it gives them full visual access to the welding process.

Another great thing about this welding helmet are the external control dials. You can switch between weld and grind mode, and you can also control the shade, sensitivity, and delay settings without having to lift the hood up.

Considering the size of the lens, this helmet is still very light. It weighs only 1.5 pounds and is very comfortable to wear on your head. The headgear is also surprisingly comfortable and the adjustment ratchets work very well.

Pros:

  • Huge viewing area;
  • External controls;
  • Light and comfortable.

Cons:

  • Shade 4 light state;
  • Not too reliable.

Most Reliable: Miller, 251292

It’s very surprising that you’d find a Miller product in an article for “budget welding helmets”, yet here it is. Because this welding helmet costs around $100, I feel like it belongs here, and it’s also good for comparison next to the less known brands.

The problem I have with this welding helmet is that it’s too simple. It doesn’t offer the features that the less known brands offer for less money. There is no grind mode and the controls are inside. The maximum dark shade is 12, so you can’t use it for high amperage welding, and for the delay, you can only choose between ‘fast’ and ‘slow’.

There are only 2 arc sensors compared to the 4 that the other helmets on this list offer. Not only that, but the switching speed for light to dark is only 1/10,000sec, which is 3 times slower than the other helmets. The size of the lens may not be an issue for some welders, but the green tint probably is.

While the helmet does feel sturdy and durable, the rest is just not good enough, especially when you take into account that in the same price range, you could get a helmet with all “modern-day” features.

Pros:

  • Very reliable;
  • Trusted brand.

Cons:

  • No grind mode;
  • Only 2 arc sensors;
  • Green tint;
  • Slow reaction time.

Best Design: TOOLIOM, TL 21800F

First of all, I love the design. It kind of has a Darth Vader vibe to it. The plastic it’s made from does feel a bit cheap, but you get that with most budget welding helmets. It’s quite bulky though, so your face and neck will be well protected. Another good thing about the design is the external control dials for shade and sensitivity and delay settings. 

The size of the lens is most impressive, offering a 14.45 viewing area. On the downside, it does cause this helmet to weigh 2.3lbs. The shade range is 5-13 with a fixed shade of 4 for the light state.

TOOLIOM has implemented true color technology to provide you with a very clear picture. The optical clarity is rated 1/1/1/2 which isn’t perfect but it’s good enough.

There is no blurriness in the picture. It has 4 sensors but the switching speed is 1/10,000sec, which is 3 times slower than the YESWELDER EH-091XL. You may not feel it, but it will increase eye strain after a few hours of welding.

Although TOOLIOM claims the headgear is very comfortable, I’m not so sure. Yes, the paddings are soft and nice, but nothing else is. It’s very flimsy and it may poke you where it’s not padded. It also tends to break after a few months, but you can always replace it with a better one.

To sum it up, this solar-powered auto darkening welding helmet is as close to perfection as you can get from a cheap welding helmet. On the downside, I find its lack of padding disturbing.

Pros:

  • Cool design;
  • Large viewing area;
  • True color;
  • 4 arc sensors;
  • External controls.

Cons:

  • Reaction time is 1/10,000sec;
  • Headgear not very durable;
  • A bit heavy.

Best Value-for-Money: Lincoln Electric, K3419-1

This is Lincoln Electric’s cheapest auto darkening helmet. However, it does offer less than other helmets in the same price range. The lens is very small and the picture isn’t too clear, either. It’s got the classic green tint instead of true color like most helmets from this list.

Because of the size of the lens, this helmet only has 2 arc sensors, but they are very reliable and offer a good reaction time. The shade ranges only from 7 to 13, so you can’t really use this helmet for very low amperage welding. 

The helmet does feature an external dial for shade/grind mode which is always a plus. The fact that the lens is so small and the plastic so thin makes this helmet very light so you can go on welding for hours without feeling a strain on your neck.

Comfort is another great thing about this helmet. The headgear is very ergonomic and offers a lot of options for adjustments.

Pros:

  • External shade/grind mode;
  • Light and comfortable;
  • Reliable.

Cons:

  • Small viewing area;
  • Green tint;
  • Not useful for low amp welding.

Best for Beginners: DEKOPRO, DNS-800S

The first thing that you notice when you look at this helmet is the size of the lens. It has a 12.1” viewing area which, although not as big as Instapark’s lens, is still bigger than what most helmets offer. But there is one big issue with it: there are no external controls.

There is a reason for the low price though – the plastic is very thin and the paint is cheap. It really is a welding helmet for hobbyists. Although the display is huge, the picture has a green tint, which most welders have a problem with. The optical clarity rating is 1/1/1/2 so there is no blurriness to additionally strain your eyes.

It’s very odd that this welding helmet only weighs 2 pounds, which is pretty cool considering the sheer size of the lens. The headgear is also very comfortable and it feels like it will last for at least a couple of years. All in all this auto darkening welding helmet is a bargain.

Pros:

  • Large viewing area;
  • Clear picture;
  • Light and comfortable.

Cons:

  • Not very durable;
  • Green tint;
  • No external controls.

Upgrade Option: Monster & Master MM-WH-001

This welding helmet has a very decent design, but like most cheap helmets, the plastic is thin and flimsy. It does have a very large lens though, 14.8” to be precise, and it features an external shade control knob.

Nevertheless, the size of the lens is not that important if you don’t get a very clear picture, and with this helmet, you don’t. Monster & Master doesn’t specify the optical clarity rating, and they probably have a reason for it. The switching speed from light to dark isn’t great either, at 1/10,000th of a second.

The lens shade ranges from 5 to 13 and the light state is at shade 4. The helmet weighs 2.12 lbs so it’s not very light, but the headgear is comfortable enough and provides a good weight distribution. However, more than a few welders have complained that it feels too snug when worn and kinda gives a tunnel view.

Pros:

  • Large viewing area;
  • External grind/shade knob;
  • Comfortable.

Cons:

  • Picture isn’t very clear;
  • 1/10,000 sec reaction time;
  • A bit heavy.

Most Sturdy: TACKLIFE PAH03D

TACKLIFE Professional Welding Helmet Auto Darkening, 3.94"x2.87" Large Viewing Area Welding Mask With Top Optical Clarity 1/1/1/1, 1.15lb Light Welding Hood With 7 Replacement Accessories - PAH03D

Out of all the welding helmets under $100, the TACKLIFE PAH03D is definitely the sturdiest. It’s made from high-impact resistant nylon, which makes it light but durable. I really like the design, too – it’s minimalistic but cool.

The size of the lens is also impressive. The viewing area is 13.1” and the display shows true colors. It scores a perfect optical clarity rating of 1/1/1/1, and the shade ranges 4-13 with a fixed light shade 3. The helmet is equipped with 4 arc sensors and a reaction time of 1/25,000sec.

As I mentioned before, the helmet is very light, but it’s also really comfortable. The headgear is padded all around with a lot of gears for adjustment. You can really make it a perfect fit for your head.

It does feel a bit flimsy, but worst case scenario, you can just replace the headgear with another one.

What would really make this helmet perfect is an EXTERNAL GRIND BUTTON. Honestly, if it had one, it might have been my number one pick.

Pros:

  • Durable;
  • Large viewing area;
  • Clear picture;
  • Light and comfortable.

Cons:

  • No external grind button;
  • Headgear is a bit flimsy.

How to Choose the Right Budget Welding Helmet: A Buyer’s Guide

Lens clarity

When you’re welding for many hours your eyes will feel the difference, so you should take the precautions to keep eye strain at a minimum. The optical clarity is rated on 4 criteria with grades from 1 to 3, 1 being the highest. This article by Occupational Health & Safety magazine very thoroughly explains why optical clarity should be a serious criterium.

That’s why you should always aim for a helmet with a 1/1/1/1 rating. This practically means that there will be no blurriness or warpage in the picture. Even if you don’t see the difference clearly, your eyes will feel it.

True color is something that’s really becoming a standard feature for most auto darkening helmets. It removes the green tint and gives a more realistic picture which is better for your eyes.

Viewing area

Although welding lenses have been growing wider in the past few years, a lot of welders still prefer the more narrow ones. One of the reasons for this is that it can help you focus on the weld. Plus, you won’t see other welds if there’s people working around you.

If you work alone, in your own shop, then you’d want a wider view because you won’t have to flip your helmet up every time you need to pick something up or just to keep an eye on your entire project.

Shade range

5-13 shade range is really becoming a standard in auto darkening welding helmets. This is appropriate for MIG, TIG, and stick welding at all amperage levels. There are some helmets that go up to shade 14, but carbon arc welding is the only welding process that requires such a dark lens.

Comfort

Comfort is one of the most important features to look for in a welding helmet. If a helmet is uncomfortable, it’s really hard to focus on your work because it will distract you. Even though all welding helmets now have an adjustable headband, some are just badly made.

Some headgear may poke you in a certain spot. You could technically solve this with some adhesive tape and a piece of sponge, but I’d rather not be bothered with such issues. I have long hair so I’ve had helmets that keep tweezing my hairs one by one. Very annoying.

Weight

If you work with welding for a living, you’ll have a helmet on your head for a big part of the day. For this reason, you want your helmet to be as light as possible. But you might have to choose between a large lens or a light helmet.

Your neck will eventually build up the muscles to be able to hold the weight better, but it takes some time to adapt. Some headgear distributes the weight very evenly to minimize neck strain, so keep an eye out for that.

External grind button

I honestly believe this should become a standard for all welding helmets. If you try to grind while in weld mode, the sparks are gonna activate the sensors and your lens will turn dark. But you can’t just flip the helmet up to grind, because the sparks can hurt your face and eyes.

So when there’s no external grind button, you have to flip your helmet up and down every time you have to switch between grinding or welding. It’s very impractical and time consuming.

Best Budget Welding Helmet: Conclusion

Let’s do a quick recap of the welding helmets we reviewed.

The cheapest welding helmet on this list is the Antra, AH6-260-0000. However, it wouldn’t be my number one pick because of a few factors. The biggest issue I have with this helmet is the green tint of the display. True color is a much better solution.

The YESWELDER, EH-091XL has the most to offer. It has a perfect 1/1/1/1 optical clarity score, a huge viewing area and a very fast reaction to the arc start. Even though the headgear is really flimsy, it can always be replaced and you will keep all the features that make this helmet great.

As a close second I’d place the Hobart 770890 because of how durable and reliable it is. Yes, it’s very annoying that it doesn’t have a true color display, and there’s no external grind button, but this welding helmet will probably outlast all the other helmets on this list.

If a cool design is something you’re interested in, the TOOLIOM TL 21800F is the winner. But that’s not the only good feature of this helmet. It’s equipped with a very large lens that offers true color so you can see everything clearly. Plus, the external controls really make it practical.

If you want to go with a big brand name, Miller offers a cheap welding helmet that you can always rely on. However it does lack the features that all the other helmets on this list do offer. The screen is quite small, the lens has a green tint, and there is no grinding mode.

There’s also a Lincoln Electric model that you can consider, but just like the Miller, it lacks “modern-day” features like a big lens and a true color display.

FAQ

What is the best welding helmet for the money?

I can’t really decide between the TACKLIFE and the YESWELDER. There’s a price difference of around 25 bucks, but the YESWELDER does have some better features like the external control dials. On the other side, the TACKLIFE is more durable. Honestly, it’s a very tough choice.

Are cheap welding helmets any good?

If they weren’t, this list would not have existed. You can get very decent welding helmets for less than 100 bucks. The best examples I can offer are the YESWELDER, the TOOLIOM, and the TACKLIFE listed above.

How long do welding helmets last?

This is not an easy thing to answer. It really depends on the quality of the product, how much you use it, and how you maintain the helmet. The batteries can die after a few years, but if the helmet is also equipped with a solar strip, it can theoretically last for 10 years or more (you can read our article about solar powered helmets if you want to know more about this).

If it doesn’t use replaceable batteries, it’s usually specified how many working hours you can get out of it.

Can you weld with shade 5 lenses?

You can, but you might go blind. The shade 5 is only good for low amperage stick welding. For every other type of welding, you need darker shades.

About Pierre Young

Photo of author
Hey, I'm Pierre Young a qualified AWS Certified Welder. I got into welding in 2009 as a side hustle. Ever since then, I've been doing all kinds of welds - both for business and pleasure. While immersing myself in this wonderful hobby, I've learned from hands-on experience what welding gear works and what doesn't. Welding Headquarters is the site where I share everything I've learned.

Leave a Comment