Best Welding Helmet Under $100

If you need a welding helmet under $100 for little projects around the house, or you simply want to pick up a new hobby and you don’t want to spend a small fortune on the tools and gadgets it requires, I’ve prepared the perfect list for you.

Because auto-darkening welding helmets can cost up to $600, you might have trouble deciding which of the cheaper helmets are actually worth buying. And this is understandable – there are so many cheap welding helmets out there, and some of them are made quite badly, which could result in serious injury.

Welding is a skill that includes many health hazards, most of which target your face and eyes, and that’s why you should aim for the best welding helmet according to your budget. The welding helmet must be able to protect you from sparks, spatter, and flying metal debris, but also from UV and IR rays.

The plastic that the helmet is made from should be sturdy and should conform to ANSI safety standards. The welding lens can be with a fixed or a variable shade. With auto-darkening helmets, you can usually switch shade levels between 5-8 and 9-13, depending on the welding process.

There are four types of welding processes: stick or MMA, MIG, flux-core, and TIG welding. Each of them uses a different amperage, so each requires a different shade level. If you can’t really decide which welding process suits you best, having a helmet that works for all of them is a great benefit.

For that reason, all of the welding helmets listed below have an auto-darkening feature.

Overall Best:  DEKOPRO MZ980E

This is a good-looking, solar-powered, auto-darkening welding helmet with a big screen and a clear picture. The 980E really has all these features and it’s a welding helmet under $100.

That large screen has a viewing area of 12.5 inches and it has a 1/1/1/2 optical clarity rating. Not only that, but the display is true color, which is always a big plus in my book. Truth is, once you get used to true color, there’s no turning back.

The 4 arc sensors are very reliable and they switch from light to dark in 1/25,000th of a second. The shade range is a standard 5-8/9-13 with a DIN 4 in light state. To choose the shade or any other setting, you have to lift the hood because there are no external controls, not even a grinding mode button.

Although the plastic seems a bit flimsy and thin, it does meet ANSI Z87.1 safety standards, so your eyes, face, neck, and head will be safe from sparks and debris. The headgear, however, is not of satisfactory quality. Although comfortable, it doesn’t seem to last too long. If it does break eventually, you can re-modify the helmet a bit, and you can replace it with better quality headgear.

Another great thing about this welding helmet is that it weighs less than 2 pounds. The way the helmet is designed makes it fit in tight spaces so it’s appropriate for the automobile industry, among others.

Overall, this is a very well-made auto darkening-welding helmet, for a very decent price. Dekopro has great customer support, so if you have any issues with the helmet, don’t hesitate to contact them.

Pros:

  • Large viewing area;
  • True color;
  • Light and comfortable;
  • Great value for money;
  • Great customer service.

Cons:

  • No external controls;
  • Headgear is not too reliable.

Runner-Up: YESWELDER, EH-091XL

It’s not easy to find an auto-darkening welding helmet for such a low price and with as many features as this one has. The size of the screen is very impressive with a 14.8” viewing area, but it’s not only the size that matters – it has a true color display with an optical clarity rating of 1/1/1/1. The shade range is 4-13, with a shade 3 light state.

The 4 arc sensors react in 1/30,000 sec which will keep your eyes safe. My favorite part, however, are the external control dials. The three dials allow you to control the shade, sensitivity, and delay settings, and there’s also a grind mode switch.

It’s too bad all these features are put on such cheap plastic, but something has to take the price down after all. This welding helmet feels quite flimsy, and it doesn’t look like it can take a lot of beating, but even if it lasts about a year, it’s still worth it.

Another detail that bothers me is the headgear. It’s so flimsy that some welders claim it broke after only a week or two, and a common solution seems to be buying Lincoln Electric headgear, and just replacing this one. It’s a good thing they’re compatible.

Despite all this, the worst complaint I’ve run across is that some welders report getting flashed even with a full battery. Nothing is worse than getting flashed, it is the whole purpose of a welding helmet after all.

Luckily, this doesn’t appear to be a common issue, so it must be just a few faulty helmets. A good thing is that YESWELDER has very good customer service, and will do their best to resolve your issue.

Pros:

  • True color display;
  • Large viewing area;
  • 4 arc sensors;
  • External controls;
  • Great value for money.

Cons:

  • Flimsy headgear;
  • Poor quality/faulty items have been reported.

Most Budget-Friendly: Tanox, ADF-206U

Now, this is a bargain. For the price, not only do you get a very decent auto-darkening welding helmet, but also an extra set of cover lenses and Tanox’s 16-inch welding gloves, and they’re worth every penny and more.

Although the lens isn’t large, it has a very clear picture with an optical rating of 1/1/1/2. Lenses this size usually only come with 2 arc sensors, but this one has 4, so you can feel safe even from arcs that aren’t right in front of you. Their reaction speed is also admirable with 1/25,000 sec to switch from dark to light state.

The dark state has an adjustable shade of 5-13 and the light state is a fixed shade 4. To control the shade, you simply turn the dial which is on the outer left side of the helmet. To switch to grind mode, you need to turn that dial all the way right. The rest of the controls are placed on the inside of the helmet, right above the display.

The plastic that this solar-powered welding helmet is made of does feel thin and flimsy, but it conforms to EN 379 and ANSI Z87.1 safety standards so your face and neck will be safe from sparks and debris. I like the design of this particular welding helmet, but if you prefer a plain black design, you can get it here.

Comfort is obviously something Tanox paid attention to when designing this welding helmet, but not to the quality of the headgear. Some welders have complained that it broke after a month or two of moderate use. This seems to be a recurring issue with low-budget welding helmets.

Pros:

  • Clear picture;
  • Reliable sensors;
  • External shade/grind dial;
  • Light and comfortable;
  • Great value for the money.

Cons:

  • Small viewing area;
  • No true color;
  • Flimsy headgear.

Best Panoramic View: Tekware, X3

There aren’t many auto-darkening welding helmets under $100 that you can find which feature a panoramic view, but the Tekware X3 is one of them. The main auto-darkening lens is 3.94″X3.27” and it features 4 arc sensors that react in 1/10,000 sec, which is not great, not terrible.

The display shows true colors and has an optical clarity rating of 1/1/1/2. There’s no green tint, so the overall quality of the picture is on a high level. The two side windows have independent arc sensors which will darken the lens if they sense an arc. This might be the coolest feature of this welding helmet.

The shade range is 5-13 with a shade 4 in light state. The side windows are at a fixed shade 5 and cannot be controlled. To control the shade, you don’t have to lift the hood, because it’s placed on the outer left side. However, to switch between welding and grinding modes, you have to reach inside – the switch is on the control board which is right above the display.

The size of the main lens and the two side windows really add to the overall weight of the welding helmet, making it the heaviest helmet on this list with 2.7 pounds. To make things worse, the headgear is not very well-made, so it will take a while for your neck to build up the muscle to carry that weight.

A good idea would be to just replace the headgear with one made from a high-end brand because the ratchet for adjusting the fit is not very durable and might break rather quickly.

Pros:

  • Panoramic view;
  • Side windows work independently (shade-wise);
  • True color display;
  • Clear picture;
  • External shade control.

Cons:

  • Unreliable headgear;
  • A bit heavy.

Upgrade: YESWELDER, LYG S400S

YESWELDER has quickly become a serious brand when it comes to welding equipment. They have such a wide range of welding helmets that it’s almost impossible not to include at least two when making a list of the best welding helmets you can find.

This auto-darkening welding helmet features two side windows to provide a panoramic view. The front lens is quite small, but it provides a very clear picture with true colors. The optical rating is 1/1/1/2, so no need to worry about blurriness. Because of the size of the welding lens, there are only two arc sensors, and they have a reaction speed of 1/10,000th of a second, which is not the best, but it’s OK.

The issue with the side windows is that they’re not auto-darkening, so if you have to weld in a confined space the arc will bother you. A good solution for this would be to find a bigger golden lens and cut it into shape, so you can replace the original lenses.

Another issue with this welding helmet is that there are no external controls. To switch to grinding or cutting you have to take your gloves off and lift the hood up.

It seems that all of YESWELDER’s welding helmets have the same issue: the headgear is very cheap. Some welders have reported the headgear to break after only a few weeks.

Pros:

  • Panoramic view;
  • True color display;
  • Clear picture;
  • Great value for the money.

Cons:

  • Side windows aren’t auto-darkening;
  • No external controls;
  • Flimsy headgear.

Best Value for Money: Hobart, 770890

This auto-darkening welding helmet costs a few bucks more than $100, but it’s a Hobart and that means reliability. The helmet is made from polyamide nylon so it’s very durable and sturdy.

The lens is 9.3 square inches, so it’s not huge, but it’s still quite large. Most importantly, the optical clarity is a perfect 1/1/1/1, so you don’t have to worry about eye strain. A minor drawback is the green tint of the display, as most of the other helmets on this list feature true color.

With an adjustable shade between 9-13, this helmet can’t really be used for low amperage TIG welding. The light state is fixed at shade 3, so you get a very clear picture of your surroundings. The four arc sensors are very reliable and react immediately, switching to dark state in 1/25,000th of a second.

What really bugs me about this welding helmet is that all the controls are inside, including the grind/weld switch. On the upside, the headgear is super comfortable and sturdy. The front side is padded and the backside has a sponge that is very soft but durable. The total weight of this Hobart welding helmet is only 1.25 lbs, so there’s no neck strain.

Pros:

  • Large viewing area;
  • Very clear picture;
  • Sturdy and reliable;
  • Very light and comfortable.

Cons:

  • Not good for low amp welding;
  • Green tint;
  • No external controls.

Upgrade: Antra, AH6-260-0000

This is great value for the money you actually pay. The screen may be small but it offers a very clear picture, even though it has a bit of a green tint, which some welders can’t stand. Overall, the clarity is exceptional.

The 4 arc sensors it features are very reliable and have a great reaction time at 1/25,000th of a second. The variable shade ranges from 5-13 and a shade 4 light state. A great thing is that you can control the shade or switch to grinding mode without having to take the helmet off, as these controls are external. The rest of the controls are inside the helmet, just above the display.

Like most welding helmets under $100, the Antra AH6 is not made from very sturdy plastic, but it is better than most. It’s a shame I can’t say the same thing about the headgear though. Although quite comfortable, it’s flimsy and doesn’t look like it will last too long.

This welding helmet is hard hat-compatible, if that is one of your concerns, and it can also fit a magnifying or cheater lens if needed. You can also choose from several different designs depending on your taste.

Pros:

  • 4 arc sensors;
  • External shade/grind dial;
  • Great value for money;
  • Comfortable.

Cons:

  • Green tint;
  • Flimsy headgear.

Most Reliable Sensors: Lincoln Electric K3419-1

This is the only auto-darkening welding helmet under $100 by Lincoln Electric, but it’s also the helmet with the least “modern” features on this list.

Its lens is tiny at 3.82”x1.73”, and the tint is green, which some welders find annoying, but the picture is very clear so it shouldn’t be a dealbreaker. The variable shade ranges from 7-13, there’s a grind mode, and the control dial is external, which is always a plus. The delay and sensitivity controls are inside the helmet, right above the lens.

This welding helmet only has 2 arc sensors, but that’s actually enough for a lens of this size. The most important thing is, the sensors are reliable. They have a quick reaction time and seem to never fail, unless you’re out of battery.

That’s another drawback this auto-darkening welding helmet has: there’s no solar strip, so you have to buy batteries every few months. Some batteries can actually last for up to a year, but there are a few factors that come into play here, like time spent actually welding, forgetting to turn off the helmet, etc.

There are no complaints when it comes to comfort, as this welding helmet is very light and the headgear is just right. It’s padded in all the right places, and it’s just the right amount of sturdy yet flexible. The ratchet works perfectly fine and should serve you for a long time.

Unfortunately, there’s one more issue with this particular welding helmet: some users report receiving faulty items. Some of the examples include dented or bent hoods and marks on the protective lens. Be careful when you open the box, and if you find any defects, just contact the seller.

Pros:

  • External shade/grind mode dial;
  • Light and comfortable;
  • Sturdy and reliable.

Cons:

  • Green tint;
  • Small viewing area;
  • Faulty items have been reported.

Most Comfortable Headgear: Monster & Master, MM-WH-001

This is a very decent auto-darkening welding helmet, despite the weird brand name. Just kidding, I actually like the name. The helmet looks quite alright and has some admirable features.

The solar-powered lens is 12.8 squared inches and it includes 4 arc sensors. However, with 1/10,000 sec, their reaction time is not great. It doesn’t seem like a big difference compared to the other welding helmets on this list, but after a full day of welding, your eyes will feel some strain.

Although the display is in true color, the clarity is not that great. The clarity rating is not displayed anywhere, and there’s probably a reason for that. This is another factor that affects eye strain, so long welding hours might result in eye fatigue.

The helmet has a shade range of 5-13 and a shade 4 fixed light state. The dial to control the shade or switch to grinding is on the outer left side of the helmet, so it’s always within reach. The sensitivity and delay settings are controlled from the inside of the helmet.

The comfort this helmet provides is really surprising. The headgear is padded and the weight distribution is perfectly balanced. This is very important because the MM-WH-001 is not a light welding helmet – it weighs 2.12 pounds which could put serious strain on your neck.

There are some recurring issues being reported by welders. The headgear ratchet might end up breaking after a while, and the fit seems to be too snug for some.

Pros:

  • Large viewing area;
  • Comfortable headgear;
  • External shade/grind dial.

Cons:

  • Picture isn’t very clear;
  • Reaction speed could be better;
  • A bit heavy.

Biggest Lens: Instapark, ADF Series GX990T

This helmet is perfect if you’re working on a large project. With 15.2 inches, this display is as big as it gets. However, it doesn’t offer true colors like some of the other welding helmets on this list, and the optical clarity is not specified anywhere, but it doesn’t seem to be a perfect 1/1/1/1. It does, however, feature 4 arc sensors with a reaction speed of 1/30,000th of a second, which is great.

Besides the huge screen, this welding helmet offers external controls for the shade, delay, and sensitivity settings. There’s also a button for switching between grind mode and 5-8 and 9-13 dark shades. The light state is at shade 4, so it’s a bit darker than what most welding helmets offer, but that’s not a big deal.

What surprises me is the weight of this welding helmet – it weighs only about 1.5 pounds which is very light if you take into consideration the sheer size of the lens. The quality of the headgear is spot-on for a helmet of this price, and it’s quite comfortable as well. The adjusting ratchet works just as it should, no skipping or loosening whatsoever.

Pros:

  • Very large viewing area;
  • External controls;
  • Light and comfortable.

Cons:

  • No true colors;
  • Not too reliable.

Most Durable: Jackson Safety 46129

This welding helmet by Jackson Safety costs a few bucks more, but it’s a Jackson, so for the few extra dollars, you’ll get a reliable helmet. Although the design is a bit too simple for my taste, it’s slender, and offers great face protection.

The viewing size may only be 3.94” x 2.36”, but the display is true color with a perfect 1/1/1/1 optical clarity. Having four reliable arc sensors on such a small display means it’s very unlikely you will ever get flashed. This is one of the most important features when it comes to eye safety, so this Jackson Safety welding helmet is really a safe bet.

The shade range is a standard 9-13 for dark state with a shade 3 in light state. The digital controls inside the hood allow you to set the shade, sensitivity and delay settings with ease. The drawback is that the grind mode button is inside, so you can’t switch without taking the helmet off.

This helmet weighs 2 pounds, so it’s not the lightest welding helmet you can find, but the weight is well distributed thanks to the headgear, so it won’t cause neck strain. Although the headgear is well designed in that matter, it does have an issue. The backside knob is not very well made, and one user says that it feels like someone is tweezing hairs from his head one by one. An issue like that can seriously take the focus away from your work.

Pros:

  • Four reliable arc sensors;
  • True colors and a very clear picture;
  • Appropriate for narrow spaces.
  • Very sturdy.

Cons:

  • No external grind button;
  • Issues with the headgear are possible.

Coolest Design: TOOLIOM, TL 21800F

We have to get this out of the way, it really does have a resemblance to Darth Vader’s helmet, which is probably why I really like this design. Fortunately, that’s not the only thing I like about this auto-darkening welding helmet.

External controls are always a positive feature in my opinion. You can change the settings to your own preference without having to remove the helmet, and with big dials like these, you don’t even have to remove your gloves, and this kind of convenience is important.

Another impressive feature about this auto-darkening welding helmet is the lens. The viewing area is 14.45 squared inches, and the display shows true colors. Most importantly, the optical clarity rating is 1/1/1/2, which is satisfactory and shouldn’t cause any eye strain. What may cause eye strain though, is the 1/10,000 sec reacting time, which could be improved.

That lens is a blessing and a curse though. It makes this welding helmet weigh 2.3 pounds which will give your neck some serious exercise. On the plus side, the weight distribution is quite balanced so it shouldn’t be too much of a problem.

Comfort is another thing TOOLIOM has worked on. The headgear features a soft, padded piece on the backside which keeps the headgear from moving around. The front of the headgear is also padded, but the adjustment gears may poke you. At least this seems to be the case for some users.

Pros:

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

Cons:

  • Reaction time is a bit low;
  • Headgear not too reliable;
  • A bit heavy.

Buyer’s Guide

There are a few general factors you should consider when deciding which welding helmet to get for yourself. After all, you should be extra careful when you buy a helmet that costs less than $100.

Viewing Area

This very much depends on personal preference. While most people prefer a large viewing area, others (especially old-school welders) like a more narrow view while wearing a helmet because it helps them focus on the welding alone.

Old-school welders are used to using passive lens helmets instead of auto-darkening, so they only put the helmet on while welding. For other activities such as grinding or cutting, they would wear safety goggles and that’s it. The issue with that is that they don’t protect the rest of your face and neck.

Nowadays, you can perform any of these tasks without ever needing to take the helmet off. A large viewing area will give you a full view of your surroundings which is particularly useful when working on larger projects.

Lens Clarity

If you’ve ever tried wearing someone else’s spectacles, you must have noticed how quickly your eyes got strained, and had you kept wearing them for a while, you would definitely have ended up with a headache. Using a helmet that doesn’t provide great clarity will have the same effect. This article by Occupational Health & Safety magazine will really clear things up for you on this subject.

Optical clarity is rated based on 4 different criteria and graded 1-3, with 1 being the highest. That’s the “1/1/1/1” or “1/1/1/2” that keeps appearing throughout the article. 1/1/1/2 is not bad at all. In fact, the difference between that and 1/1/1/1 is so tiny that you won’t even notice it. However, after long hours of welding, your eyes might feel slightly fatigued.

Shade Range

In recent years, most auto-darkening welding helmets have a shade range of 5-8 and 9-13. This means that you can use the same lens for all the different welding tasks. Whether it’s low amp TIG welding or arc welding which uses high amperage, you simply set the shade level you need and your eyes will be protected.

Some helmets go up to shade 14, but a shade that dark is only required for carbon arc welding.

Weight

Two pounds doesn’t sound like a lot of weight, but if you have to carry that weight on your head all day long, your neck will definitely feel it. Of course, while your neck will eventually build up the muscle to the point where you won’t feel it anymore, the process can be annoying and quite unpleasant.

If you have neck problems caused by an injury, or even from sleeping on the wrong pillow, you probably won’t be able to handle wearing a helmet that weighs more than 1 pound or so. Keep a lookout for the weight of the welding helmet before deciding if you want to buy it.

Comfort

Even if a helmet isn’t heavy, it can still be uncomfortable. In some cases, weight distribution is more important than weight. Different headgears have different properties and adjustment settings. Some provide a comfortable fit while others can really take away the focus from your work.

Imagine trying to weld while someone keeps poking you in the exact same spot over and over. You probably won’t produce a high-quality weld. Another issue with headgears could be tweezing your hairs out one by one. If you have the chance, it’s always a good idea to try a helmet on before buying it. Or, if you order online, you can take advantage of the grace period to try on the helmet and return it if you find it uncomfortable.

If you really like the rest of the features of some helmet and you don’t want to replace it just because of the headgear, you could just buy a headgear which is more comfortable and replace the original one.

External Grind Button

Now, this is very important in my opinion, especially for beginners because they will make mistakes while welding all the time, so constant grinding and cutting is required. That’s why I think it’s important to be able to simply press a button or turn a dial to switch to grind mode, without actually having to take the whole helmet off.

Best Welding Helmet Under $100: Conclusion

That was a lot of helmets, twelve to be exact. So a quick memory refreshing will do you good before you decide which welding helmet under $100 is right for you.

The DEKOPRO, DNS 980E is number one for a few reasons. To start off with, it has a huge viewing area, with a display that shows true colors and gives perfect clarity. The adjustable shade makes it perfect for all types of welding so this is the only welding helmet you will ever need.

The YESWELDER, EH-091XL is a close second because it has all the features of a high-end brand for a fraction of the price. If it didn’t have the flashing issue it could have been my top pick.

The Tanox, ADF-206U is a very inexpensive helmet that offers great features. You also receive 16” welding gloves which are worth about $20, so basically, the helmet will only cost you about $25.

If you’re looking for a welding helmet with a panoramic view, the Tekware X3 is a great choice and it costs less than $100. It also has a very clear picture and side windows that darken when they sense an arc. Another option to look at is YESWELDER’s LYG S400S, although its side windows aren’t auto-darkening.

The 770890 is Hobart’s cheapest model, but it costs a few bucks over $100. But it is a Hobart, and that means that you can expect reliability and long shelf life from this welding helmet.

Lincoln Electric is another big name that has a helmet under $100. The K3419-1 is a very reliable auto-darkening welding helmet, but it lacks the features of the other helmets on this list.

Monster & Master, MM-WH-001 is a welding helmet with very comfortable headgear, a large viewing area, and four arc sensors, so it should be taken seriously. However, although comfortable, the headgear is not very reliable. Some welders have reported that it broke after only a few weeks.

The Jackson Safety 46129 is the sturdiest welding helmet on this list. The plastic it’s made of is way tougher than what the other budget brands have to offer. It also features a perfectly clear picture and true colors. I also really like the design, which is suitable for narrow spaces.

But the best-looking helmet on this list is the TOOLIOM, TL 21800F. That Darth Vader look is very intimidating, but also practical because there’s a vent for your breath, so your display won’t fog up.

FAQ

What is the best welding helmet for the money?

The YESWELDER, EH-091XL is the most reliable auto-darkening welding helmet with the most features that money can buy. It has a perfect clarity score and a true color display. The four arc sensors are very reliable and have a quick reaction time. The only real issue with this welding helmet is the cheap headgear, which seems to apply to most welding helmets under $100.

How long do welding helmets last?

There are too many factors to be able to give you a straight answer to this. How you take care of the helmet, the quality of the make, and the time spent on actual welding are only some of them. However, batteries do have a limited life, but batteries are replaceable, and so are the lenses, so in theory, a decent auto-darkening welding helmet could last up to 10 years.

To learn more about auto-darkening welding helmets, you should read this article of ours.

What is the clearest welding lens?

All of the welding helmets on this list that have a 1/1/1/1 optical clarity rating have a perfectly clear lens that is guaranteed to prevent eye strain from blurriness.

Does welding ruin your eyes?

Potentially, it could. Even just by getting flashed a few times a day, your eyes can suffer irreversible damage. If you take the recommended precautions, however, your eyes should be fine. Welding lenses protect up to 100% from UV radiation. If you don’t have a welding helmet on, DO NOT LOOK AT THE ARC.

Even if you don’t look directly into the arc, your eyes could get damaged. UV radiation can affect your eyes even from 50 feet away.

About Pierre Young

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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.

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