Best Welding Mask Buyers Guide

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Welding: the process of joining metals by the application of heat and pressure.

Welding is one of the most demanding and potentially dangerous jobs in the industrial sector and so protective measures must be taken to ensure the safety of anyone undertaking either a professional or domestic welding task. A welding mask is a ‘must’ in terms of safety when it comes to protecting the welder’s sight, skin, hair and scalp from light exposure; sparks; splashes of hot metal and UV/IR radiation.

Best Pick Welding Mask

Only got 5 minutes

When it comes to choosing the best welding mask, one of the first decisions you’ll need to make is the type of welding mask lens technology you’re going to need: passive or auto-darkening.

Passive Vs Auto-darkening

Lens technology ProsCons
Passive Relatively inexpensive TraditionalRequires repeated lifting and lowering of the lens
Potential safety risks should there be a delay in the lens being lowered
Auto-darkeningNo intermittent lifting or lowering required
Mask remains stable potentially improving weld quality and increased comfort levels
Solar powered requires sufficient light level
Lithium battery powered – batteries will need to be replaced
Lens reaction time means there’s inevitably a marginal amount of exposure to the welding arc

The Lens

When it comes to protection, it’s the lens of the welding mask that stands between you and the potentially harmful light and radiation levels produced from welding. The best welding masks will have a lens that’s made from heat-resistant, high-quality mineral glass, with a decent shade rating and of a decent size – generally speaking, the bigger the better!!

Shade rating

Lens shade level is measured according to DIN specification, which is the German industrial standard. A welding mask with a lens shade up to DIN 8 is regarded as being suitable for low-amperage welding; masks with a lens shade level ranging from DIN 9 up to DIN 13 are used for high amperage tasks. A welding mask with a rating of around 11 DIN should be sufficient for the majority of mid to high amperage welding jobs.

Lens size

When comparing lens size, you ideally want to go for the biggest surface area that your budget allows. Sizes tend to range from around 44mm x 93mm up to 73mm x 107mm.

Lens technology explained

Passive welding masks

Traditionally, welding masks had passive lenses, which means the lens has a fixed shade value. Consequently, the lens is raised during the preparation stage and prior to welding, and then lowered directly before the welding work begins. In order to check the weld, the user will be required to manually raise and lower the mask as and when needed.

As passive welding masks are equipped with a fixed shade lens and cannot be adjusted, you’d need to be sure to choose one which has a sufficient shade value for the type of welding work you intend on carrying out.

Auto-darkening welding masks

In the early 1980s, the first auto-darkening welding masks were launched – welding masks equipped with light sensors and variable shade lenses. Unless the sensors detect a welding arc, the lens, in its inactive state, remains fully transparent giving the wearer clear visibility without having to raise the lens. Once it detects welding is in process, it automatically applies a dark filter to the lens. This automatic adjustment is powered either by an integrated solar battery and/or lithium batteries. A decent solar battery can provide between 2000-3000 hours of use however the downside comes when working in low-light conditions; having a welding mask which has the option of switching to a lithium battery is handy for when working inside; in the evening or on particularly overcast days.

When comparing auto-darkening masks, pay particular attention to the lens filter activation speed/reaction time; this is the time it takes for the lens to darken once welding commences – you want the quickest speed your budget allows for; speeds vary from  0.1 m/s to 0.04 m/s. Granted, there’s not much in it but, when it comes to protecting your sight, every fraction of a second count!

Additional features

The best welding masks will be both functional and comfortable.

Functional features to look out for

  • Auto-darkening filter technology (ADF)
  • Flip-up lens
  • Grinding function
  • Storage bag
  • Low battery indicator
  • Adjustable sensitivity
  • Extra lenses supplied
  • Flash decay time control
  • A lens which offers the maximum level of UV and IR protection
  • Lengthy warranty – some manufacturer’s offer lifetime warranty
  • Arc sensors (2 min/4 max)

Comfort features to look out for

  • Forehead cushion
  • Adjustable headband – no-slip fit
  • Ergonomic adjustable shade and sensitivity knob/dial
  • Removable & machine-washable sweatband
  • Lightweight
  • Magnification lenses for users who normally wear glasses and/or adjustable headband rack/pinion adjustment

Best Budget Welding Mask

Antra AH6-260-0000 Solar Power Auto Darkening Welding Helmet Wide Shade Range 4/5-9/9-13 with Grinding Feature 6+1 Lens Covers Great for TIG MIG/MAG MMA Stick Plasma
3,317 Reviews
Antra AH6-260-0000 Solar Power Auto Darkening Welding Helmet Wide Shade Range 4/5-9/9-13 with Grinding Feature 6+1 Lens Covers Great for TIG MIG/MAG MMA Stick Plasma
  • 【Safety & Protection】Passive Filter with Permanent shade 13 to UV/IR, combined with double-layered auto dimming LCD shutter, providing sufficient and accurate shade range within 4/5-9/9-13 to visible lights; Full face neck coverage protecting welders from spatters and harmful radiant; Meets EN379 Standards
  • 【Comfort & Convenience】Very light total weight, reduces head and neck stress; Fully automatic auto darkening lens, eliminating flipping up and down the hood; Exterior Shade settings and Grind switch.
  • 【Performance】4 Premium redundant arc sensors, with highly responsive detecting and controlling units providing super-fast switching time and accurate auto shading, minimizing harmful radiant bypass, avoiding eye stress
  • 【Reliability】Interference Suppression Technologies, minimizing false triggering: less sensitive to sun lights, workshop lights while very responsive to welding arc, even the hardest to detect DC TIG: Rating > 2 Amps
  • 【Versatility】A great personal protection equipment that can handle multiple processes of Plasma cutting, abrasive wheel cutting/grinding, DC TIG, AC TIG, MIG/MAG, MMA/Stick welding, which are popular in metal fabrication industry, welding schools, welding shops, auto manufacturing and repair industry, ship factories as well as DIY hobbyists projects

Last update on 2022-06-22 / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API / As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases

Choosing the safest welding mask

The two main safety standards to look out for when choosing your welding mask are EN175 and EN379.

EN175 is the European standard for all face and eye personal protective equipment. A welding mask with this standard means the design has been found to offer sufficient levels of protection against potential radiative, flammable, mechanical and electrical hazards. If the welding mask you’re considering doesn’t have this standard, move on and look for one that does!!

EN379 is the standard known as ‘optical clarity’ and is governed by CEN specifically for the welding industry. This standard is relevant to auto-darkening welding masks as it relates to the auto-darkening filters that darken in response to the welding arc. The filters are graded on a sale of 1-3 (1 being the best and 3 being the worst) across 4 categories:

  • Optical class
  • Diffusion of light
  • Variations on luminous transmittance
  • Angle dependence.

The best welding masks would achieve the maximum grading of EN379 1/1/1/1 whilst the lowest possible score would be EN379 3/3/3/3.

Best of the Rest

Sale
Silverline 868520 Welding Helmet Passive DIN 11EW
579 Reviews
Silverline 868520 Welding Helmet Passive DIN 11EW
  • Suitable for MIG, TIG and Arc ( mmA/GMAW) electric welding
  • Durable, wraparound head shield for face and neck protection
  • Flip-up lens for improved vision
  • Face shield certified to EN175 / green infrared lens (DIN 11) certified to EN169
  • Spatter shield certified to EN166

Last update on 2022-06-22 / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API / As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases

Esab Warrior Tech 0700000400 Welding Umbrella Black
78 Reviews
Esab Warrior Tech 0700000400 Welding Umbrella Black
  • Heat protection, sparks and splashes of water, suitable for all types of welding and cutting
  • Developed with the latest drain technology, has four front arc sensors which guarantee a quick and precise response.
  • 97 x 47 mm filter provides a larger field of view and spatial perception
  • DIN9-13 filter with 1/2/1/2 optical class for visibility and comfort soldering iron
  • The adjustment level can be set externally, while the sensitivity and brightening of the time in the mask is adjusted.

Last update on 2022-06-22 / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API / As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I clean my welding mask?

The welding process creates large volumes of dust so your mask will need cleaning after each use. Use a soft-bristled brush to gently remove the dust from the lens and then rinse the screen with warm water or a specialist lens solution; finally, wipe it down with a soft cloth or tissue and leave to dry.

How should I store my welding mask?

You should store your welding mask in a safe and secure location; ideally in a dark room with low humidity. The best welding masks will come with a storage bag or case, which protects the lens from scratching; if your mask doesn’t come with a bag, it’s a good idea to store it in the original packaging.

About Mike Jones 193 Articles
I have been a keen DIY enthusiast for over 15 years, I’m constantly tinkering in my garage, taking things apart and building things. Along the way, I seem to have acquired a bit of a tool collection, as you do. The issue I found was that the information online when it comes to finding out what you need to know when buying new tools was somewhat limited. I didn’t necessarily need to know which tool to buy, but more what was important when making that buying decision. Also, a bit like a child in a sweet shop when I see new tools and things I can do with them I find it hard to resist. I started this blog back in 2017 to try and put together some buying guides, not really reviews but more what you may want to know before going and deciding on a new tool. I’m also a keen gardener and if there is a tool or gadget that helps me in the garden I’m going to let you know. I hope these musings and buyers guides are of use to you in some way. All the best, Mike.

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