by Natalie Edwards

When most people hear the word 'solar' they think of something powered by the sun. This is a common misconception when it comes to auto-darkening helmets. Let's learn the truth about solar powered welding helmets, and help you decide if they're the right choice.


How solar powered helmets work

Solar powered auto-darkening helmets have both solar and battery generated power. The battery is used to initially power the mask or hood while you get the welding arc started. Once the arc is activated the UV light generated by the arc powers the solar panel in the welding hood, which then powers the electronics. So no need to find a sunny spot in order to get the job done!

Why use a solar powered helmet?

Not only are solar powered helmets typically lighter, and therefore more comfortable to wear all day, but the solar power preserves the life of your normal battery. Since the solar power is doing most of the work, it is much more economical than a fully battery powered helmet. When not in use it's best to turn the helmet to grind mode to help save your battery. But top quality helmets generally have an auto-off feature if you forget to turn it off.

What kind of batteries are best?

Let's be honest - you don't want the old style helmets with fixed batteries that can't be recharged or replaced. These helmets may be cheaper to start with, but you'll end up needing to replace the whole helmet in around 1-3 years.

Now for the newer helmets.

Most will have replaceable Lithium Ion batteries that will last 1 to 2 years before they need replacing (as long as you don't leave the helmet running 24/7). These are a good option as it's easy to replace the batteries when needed - just make sure you've got some spares stored somewhere in case you need them!

Other helmets, like the Jackson WH70, have fixed batteries that are rechargeable. So while you won't be able to replace the battery you're likely to experience a very long relationship with these helmets if they're good. Always look out for a good warranty.

Pros and Cons

As with anything there are pros and cons to choosing a solar powered auto-darkening helmet:


  • Economical - most power is obtained from the welding arc light, saving battery life.
  • Can be charged by the sun.
  • Auto-off function can save battery life, or switch to grind mode.
  • Doesn’t require constant monitoring.
  • Often lighter in weight.
  • Versatile operation.


  • Older helmet models with built-in, non-rechargeable batteries only have a lifespan of 1-3 years.
  • Batteries may need recharging before use.

Things to consider:

  • Replaceable batteries are a good option for reliability and longevity. It's a good idea to keep some spares for backups.
  • Rechargeable batteries can also be a good option on top quality helmets. Look for helmets with a good warranty.
  • Allow for charging time before welds.
  • An auto-off function is very useful for those that forget to turn their helmets off!