ESAB (an acronym based on the Swedish words for Electric Welding Limited company) is one of the oldest and most trusted brands for welding supplies. Since their founding (by the man who invented the stick welding electrode himself) they’ve frequently been on the cutting edge of welding, in both their dedication to improving safety and improving the processes and technology behind welding machines themselves.
ESAB Sentinel A50 is a great representation of that, a highly advanced welding helmet that doesn’t sacrifice on form or comfort for its function.
Esab Sentinel A50
Detailed Esab Sentinel A50 Review & Breakdown
The Sentinel checks pretty much all my boxes for what I want in a welding helmet, starting with how it wears. The trademarked Halo design is ergonomic and feels good when strapped on, with minimal weight pulling at your neck (1.4 lbs in total). It gives you a lot of room to look around when flipped up too, making life easier, and still keeps a very low profile, meaning you’re not going to get collared all the time trying to navigate through narrow spaces with it up.
Beyond the comfort, it of course performs exceptionally. The True Color lenses on this auto-darkening helmet make it look almost like you’re wearing nothing at all over your eyes, except for the fact that the searing brightness is filtered out. The clarity of vision is exceptional, with an Optical Class Rating rating of 1/1/1/2.
For a quick breakdown, that’s based on a rating scale of 1 (best) to 3 (worst), and the ratings in order are on:
- Optical class (accuracy of vision) which determines level of distortion.
- Diffusion of light, which showcase the level of glass impurity (which can affect vision similar to scratches in lenses).
- Luminous transmittance variation, or more simply put the consistency of shading at any shade. EX. If you have the helmet set to shade 10, it shouldn’t be shade 5 at one of the corners.
- Finally, angle dependence. This is in reference to the above, where some helmets have great luminous transmittance, but are less good when looking upward or down instead of straight on.
The Sentinel gets top marks in everything except angle dependence, meaning it might occasionally be a little off when doing out of position welds, but not to an unacceptable degree; it‘s middle of the road there.
View Screen and Shade Selector
The view screen itself is excellent in all similar areas as well. It’s got a good sized view screen (3.93” x 2.36”, or 9.27 square inches of viewing space), auto-darkening with a speed of 1/25,000 of a second.
It can swap from shade 5 to 13 for welding. The unique thing about the shade selector for this helmet is the LCD screen, which is quick and easy to adjust, while also being very clear in both dark and light conditions. It comes with 8 memory presets if you have any more commonly used settings you want to stick in there and be able to swap to with one touch.
Conveniently, the shade 4 grinding selector is on the exterior of the helmet, within easy reach without you even needing to take it off to look at the HUD inside the helmet. Click it once to grind, then click it again to go back to your previously selected weld shade. Convenient and saves a lot of time.
If you need some accessories, the best ones available are probably the hard hat “adapter”. A lot of job sites require at least minimum PPE, so you’re out of luck if your welding helmet doesn’t clip onto a hard hat or something. Magnification lenses (diopters, “cheater” lenses, however you prefer) are of course available, along with replacement cover lenses.
The cover lenses themselves are great; they snap off and back in very easily (takes about 10 seconds, if that) and are curved to shed droplets for overhead welds. Only issue is some users report premature warping if you need to get super close for a very delicate TIG weld, for example), so it might be worth getting the heavy duty polycarbonate variant if you’re having that issue.
While not available from ESAB themselves, the Sentinel A50 is compatible with respirators if they’re needed on your job site.
Specs, Pros and Cons
The ESAB Sentinel A50 is a top of the line welding helmet with a lot to recommend it. It’s comfortable, high performance, and even pretty stylish, while not running you more than similarly high end helmets would, which is surprising given the usually increased material cost for using more glass and adding an LCD screen.
It’s hard not to recommend this helmet for welders looking to upgrade from a simpler helmet to one that will make their jobs quicker and easier.