The question for a beginner choosing a helmet with lesser features and thereby being low cost just does not apply to a welding helmet. The dividing line between a novice and expert welder helmet is not the cost.
As regards the best welding helmets for beginners, I’d like to say that helmets, like the YesWelder starting at a price most people can easily afford, have all the features of the expensive top of the range helmets like the little expensive, Lincoln Electric 3350 helmet and in fact, some features are better.
While the Antra AH6 that costs ok is a truly lightweight helmet weighing just around 1 lb, making that much more comfortable to use.
The only downside is that the Antra helmets have just entered the market and yet have to make a name for themselves. So if the novice can sacrifice big names, one can get quite the same features, some even better for an under 40$ helmet as compared to a 270-300$+ helmet.
As for Beginners welding helmets, they are something like that a sports car buyer would say “MORE BANG FOR THE BUCK”.
The key for a beginner buyer would be discernment in technical specs, and avoid following a big names rat race. Of course, the beginner would have a problem to judge as to which features have what implication. Here I’d like the buyer to do some research on the Internet and plenty of things would tend to sink in.
YesWelder welding helmet Review
Is our first choice for a beginner’s welding helmet. Priced low, the good helmet has most of the virtues of a more expensive $250-300 helmet, Anyone seeking a more long term robust headgear can change the headgear for an extra cost of about $20-25. (Speaking in terms of current prices, at the time of writing this blog post)
Most extremely lightweight helmets are a shade over 1 lb in weight while one of the most top-rated helmets, the Lincoln Electric 3350 weighs 3.2 lbs. The YesWelder helmet weighing in at 1.95 lbs is reasonably light and comfortable.
The lens area is generous and wide, measuring 3.93″ * 1.67″.
One can view true neutral, real colors through the lens with the true color feature engaged. The optical clarity is absolutely top end with a 1-1-1-2 rating. Such a clear optical clarity is usually found on the very expensive helmets. Just like in the top end helmets there are four well-placed arc sensors that very swiftly activate the ADF lens (Auto-Darkening function).
This gives the helmet a very fast auto-darkening response time of just 1/10000 of a second or 0.001. The helmet is equipped with a grind mode. Such a mode is usually carried out with a lens darkness rating of 3. The Auto darkening function is executed with solar energy.
Alternately when less Sunshine is at hand, a lithium-ion battery is also provided with an average 3000 hours life span. The arc Sensor lens shades span from 4~5/9-9/13 used for TIG MIG, Arc Welding, plasma and other adaptations.
Pros. & Cons.
- Exceptional lens clarity 1-1-1-2 ADF Auto-darkening Function
- True colour mode available
- ANSI Z87.1 USA compliant
- Excellent price.
- Grind mode available
- Lightweight at 1.95 lbs
- Swift auto-darkening time of 1/10000 second or 0.0001 seconds (1.001 milliseconds is what the normal human eye gets damaged without protection.)
- Dual operation auto-darkening, consisting of solar power and a lithium-ion battery.
- 3 spare replacement lenses and one spare lithium-ion battery are provided.
- The headgear is not too robust for the long term use but can be altered economically.
Antra AH6-260 Review
Our second choice is the Antra AH6-260 Auto-darkening helmet.
The helmet is versatile and popular with prices.
Pros. & Cons.
- Suitable for TIG, MIG, MMA and Plasma welding.
- Weld, grind and cut functions
- About 1 lb in weight, making that extremely light and comfortable, one of the lightest available.
- Very tough helmet shell, made of polyamide nylon.
- The helmet comes with ON-OFF switch, thus saving electric power when not in use.
- Adjustable, sensitivity knob, with step-less delay.
- A clear line of work sight along with a magnifying lens.
- Huge 4.33″* 3.54″ operating lens area.
- ANSI Z87.1 USA compliant
- Lens shades of 4/5-9/9-13, adequate for the entire normal and extreme welding range.
- Battery power total life duration is inadequate with a 2000 hours normal battery life.
- The battery needs to be charged regularly.
Some of the main reasons we chose the YesWelder as first choice over the Astra was the YesWelder price (at the time of writing this review).The Yes Welder has both solar and battery power while the Antra is only battery powered and the batteries need regular charging. The YesWelder has a true color option with the true color mode. A person can view the natural shades without a green tint.
DEKOPRO Solar powered Review
This helmet has a very fast auto-darkening reaction time being 1/15000 of a second or 0.000066666…. In case of an electric failure, the lens still gives the eyes UV and IV protection.
Pros. & Cons.
- The helmet weight being 1.8 lbs makes that a lightweight one.
- Can be used for TIG, MIG, arc welding and grinding
- The viewing area is large being 3.62” *1.65” in dimensions.
- The helmet is solar powered with no batteries.
- Qualifies for the USA ANSIZ87.1-2010 measures.
- Lens shade 1/2/1/2
- Low starting prices
- Manual adjustments include sensitivity and delay settings.
- This solar-powered helmet does not work very well in the absence of Sunlight.
Why we chose the Antra AH6 as our 2nd best helmet over the Dekopro Solar was The Antra is one of the lightest helmets available, weighing just about 1 lb, thereby making that very comfortable to use. The Dekopro does not work very well in the absence of Sunlight, lens clarity is also rated at 1-2-1-2, otherwise, a very good helmet.
Some Important Points to Consider:
- Most of the new helmets have significant ADF, Auto-darkening function.
This means that the helmet changes lens shades from 8 to 13 in under a fraction of a second. The good helmets responding to shade changes required in just 1/20,000th of a second or 0.00005.
The human eye does not perceive changes less than a millisecond or .001 second. So the faster the ADF is in less than a millisecond the better or at least up to a millisecond or 0.001.
Here I’d like to add that the majority of the ADF function is carried out to at least three zeros after the decimal, which is well above the .001 millisecond requirement.
An example being 0.0001 seconds, reaction time. I think there is little point in buying an older type helmet with one fixed lens shade for the same or higher price when one can get an ADF helmet cheaper.
- Most helmets are UV and IV protected.
The visible wavelength of the human eye is 400 to 700nm. Ultraviolet light with wavelengths shorter than human visible light, that is under 400nm and IR, Infrared radiation light wave frequency longer than visible light, that is over 700nm are protected in helmets from IR and UV even with the lens ADF is switched off.
The darkness shade adjustment of the ADF lens is to prevent damage to the eyes with the very bright visible welding arc light during the welding process.
Another point of significance in choosing for the Beginners welding helmets beginner would be the lens clarity.
That is very rare to have a 1-1-1-1 rating and most of the best are rated 1-1-1-2 in clarity. Some helmets have a true colour function that shows the actual condition without a green tint, when ever needed.
- Helmet weight would be of importance, some of the top helmets weighing close to a pound.
A helmet weighing up to about 1.8 lbs would be considered comfortable enough to use.
- The lens area would matter.
A wide viewing window is what the beginner should aim for.
A smaller viewing window, with the welders, head at an angle, thereby spoiling the view could lead to a low-quality weld.
- Solar or battery-powered helmets are a personal preference.
Many helmets have both. One should just make sure that the battery charging time and battery life is adequate. Some helmets are purely solar-powered.
In the case of a cloudy or overcast day, the helmet would have to be charged at least a day before use.
Forgetting to do so would prove a waste of time effort and planning.
As for the battery-powered helmet, a spare battery should be available at hand.
Some helmets have an electric charge meter reading and many don’t. For this reason, a spare battery at hand seems to make a lot of sense.
- Helmets with a grind and cut mode would be a boon.
While cut and grind are used in the same breath for marketing purposes, lens darkness is shade 3 for the grind mode and 7 for the cut mode.
As for normal welding, lens shades from 8 to 13 are used.
A helmet without a grind feature has the added hassle for the worker of removing the helmet to view the grind work with the naked eye.
The main purpose of the welding helmet is to protect the eyes from damage as well as burns on the neck ears and other exposed areas. As for eye damage, a common condition is the arc eye.
A painful condition that results in inflamed cornea.
Retina burns can lead to temporary as well as permanent blindness if un-cared for frequently. Both these conditions are caused mainly by IR and UV wavelengths.
Extreme pain and discomfort happen in such a condition. Like mentioned before most ADF helmets are inbuilt with protection from IV and UV, even with the ADF switched off.
The beginner must validate this point before purchase, so very important for eye care.