I don’t know about you, but I started out with a fixed shade pipeliner helmet. I moved on from mine a few years ago, and you certainly don’t have to, but there are some benefits to an auto-darkening lens. If you like your old hood, you don’t need a new helmet if you still like it. You have options to upgrade your viewing lens but keep your trusty hood.
|Top||Lincoln Viking||KP3775-1||LINCOLN ELECTRIC 2x4 C-Series Auto-Darkening Welding Lens Variable Shade 8-13 KP3775-1||Prime||Click To See On Amazon|
|ARCONE||S240||ArcOne S240-10 Horizontal Single Auto-Darkening Filter for Welding, 2 x 4", Shade 10||Prime||Click To See On Amazon|
|AmeriArc||N/A||AmeriArc Auto-Darkening Welding Filter 2x4 - Shade 10||Prime||Click To See On Amazon|
Our Favorite Pipeliner & Pancake Hood Auto-Darkening Filters
You have some options if you have the budget. Here are the specs and why we like what we do.
LINCOLN ELECTRIC 2×4 C-Series Auto-Darkening Welding Lens Variable Shade 8-13 KP3775-1
I personally like this lens the best, but only because it suits my particular needs the best. The view on the KP3775-1 is extremely clear, making it easier to work for longer periods of time without interruption. The solar panel helps minimize battery wear as well, which is nice. Be sure to place it facing the sun though, or you will go through batteries if you use it daily.
- Size: 2″ x 4.25″ x 0.2″
- Shade: 8-13
- Brand: Lincoln Electric
- Sensors: 2
- Switch Speed: 1/10,000 of a second
- Power: Battery & Solar
The dials in the back are flush with the frame so you can fit a clear lens in the back if you wish.
ArcOne T240-10 Tradesman Auto-Darkening Welding Helmet Filter
- Size: 2″ x 4″ x 0.2″
- Shade: Range 8-11 (single units)
- Brand: ArcOne
- Sensors: 2
- Switch Speed: 0.5ms to dark, 0.2 dark to light
- Power: Solar & Battery
If you are working with only one type of metal, with the same machine settings with one technique for long periods of time, this is a very solid lens for the money. Once you buy one, your committed. There is no variability built in here, which I don’t like much, to be frank. I like options. Of course, you have to pay for options and they aren’t cheap. Then again, I’m not getting paid to chase pipe. If I needed a pancake hood for work, I think I would pick one of these up in a heartbeat.
That said this offers fantastic clarity, is nice and thin, and performs very well. It fits a variety of helmets very well, and even more with a good gasket. It stands the test of time, so if you are working a job doing the same repetitive welds day after day, this could work very well for you.
I personally need to switch things up daily as I’m a hobbyist, but if I needed this for a job on a consistent basis I would go with it.
AmeriArc 2×4 Auto-Darkening Welding Lens Variable shade 5-13
- Size: 2″ x 4.25″ x 0.2″
- Shade: 5-13
- Brand: AmeriArc
- Sensors: 2
- Switch Speed: Variable
- Power: Battery & solar
This is a very decent lens. The blue tint makes for a very clear view of your puddle and arc and is easy on the eyes. It has a variable switch speed and sensitivity available on the dials and can switch between shade levels the same way. It goes up to level 13, so unless your welding on the sun it should suit your needs even for your dual-wire GMAW projects.
I have to say, I still don’t like this one as much as the other 2.
It has decent reviews but when others have complained about the battery life, the manufacturers recommended better batteries. The thing is, it comes with its own batteries to start you off. I would prefer a company that stands beside its product a little better.
Why Should You Look At An Auto Darkening Lens?
The benefit of an auto-darkening lens is that you can set up easily and inspect your work accurately when you are finished welding without having to unmask. Taking your mask on and off cuts productivity, and it’s better to stay in position and get your project done. Taking your mask on and off all the time is just plain inefficient.
A fixed shade lens forces you to do just that. If you don’t care what your weld looks like, or even if your getting good penetration it probably doesn’t matter. Most of us need to care though.
If your only going to do soldering, for example, a fixed shade lens is just fine for you. You probably won’t be unmasking all that often and frankly, you could get away with goggles in a lot of circumstances anyway. Those folks who need a variety of styles to work on a variety of materials. Heck, even those of us who just enjoy messing around with different materials and techniques benefit from an auto-darkening lens.
Why Would I Need A Lense of This Size?
There are a couple of different helmets that rely on these size filters. These lenses will fit many pipeliner helmets and they fit most pancake hoods. Both of these styles offer benefits and drawbacks. Here’s what we can tell you, in brief, to help you know if you need this specifically sized lens.
Pancake Welding Hoods
If you own a pancake hood, you know the benefits already. Here’s a cool video to back you up.
If you’re new to them, they work fantastic when welding pipes. They are lightweight, don’t let in much light, and are easy to get on and off. You can work for hours at a time, unlike other heavier hoods. They also reduce the sun’s glare on the backside of the lens. This is HUGE if your welding outdoors in bright light and need to see your puddle and arc effectively.
The downside is they are easier to break, chip, or crack than a traditional pipeliner hood. If you work in harsh conditions, this may not be the hood for you. You should probably look at a pipeliner hood.
See more about the benefits of pancake welding hoods in our article here.
Pipeliner helmets are also used primarily for pipe welders. They are fantastic for people that work in harsh conditions as they are extremely durable. They are impact-resistant, moisture resistant, and lightweight. Those are hard combinations to beat when your in awkward positions all day!
Oh, and awkward positions. If your welding pipe, your going to need to squeeze into some tight spaces at times, and there’s no leaving your helmet behind. Pipeliner hoods offer a tight fit and slim sides to make this more doable. You won’t get that with a pancake hood.
Here’s a highly recommended pipeliner hood on amazon.
Auto-darkening lenses offer fantastic benefits, especially if you can change the filter to your specific needs. A fixed lense is great for people soldering or other set projects for a long period of time, but most need to alter techniques or materials to get a job done.