How to Choose a Welding Helmet
Selecting and Welding Helmet
Choosing the right welding helmet is arguably the most important thing you can do to increase your comfort, improve your productivity
and result in better, more efficient welds. Unfortunately, choosing a helmet that meets your needs can be confusing if you’re not aware of the variety of features. Fortunately, I’ve listed a few of the most important features to consider before you purchase a helmet for yourself or someone else (nothing says ‘I love you’ like a new welding helmet!…right?)
View Screens/Viewing Windows:
View screens are the most important, and expensive, part of the welding helmet. There are two basic types of view screens: standard
(passive) and auto darkening.
Standard Welding Helmets
Standard view screens flip up by hand, allowing you to view your work and position
your torch, and then down again by a quick nod of the head to continue welding.
They are the least expensive, ranging from $20 to $50, but have a few disadvantages.
you are a beginner you may have to flip the screen up and down by hand, which
will cause you to lose your place and can result in sloppy work.
experienced welders, repeatedly flipping the view screen down with a head nod
can be taxing to the neck muscles.
those welding under cars and in tight spaces there may not be enough room for a
flip up view screen.
the view screen is inefficient for those doing a lot of tack welding.
who change amperage often will have to own a variety of helmets and/or view
Helmets that auto-darken are more expensive but are worth the added expense.
Their view screens have an electronic filter lens that adjusts based on input from light sensors that detect the intensity of the
Before an arc has been initiated, the auto-darkening filter is automatically adjusted to a #3 or #4 shade that is comparable to the shade of sunglasses. Once the arc has started the sensors on the helmet darken the lens shade to a #9 to #13. Safe helmets adjust a hundred times faster than the eye can blink, causing you to observe the change in shade before the change in light.
This helps you to see the position of your welding torch and the material you are welding and will result in neater welds.
Auto-darkening view screens are especially preferable for the majority of welders who change amperage often, or who work in cramped
spaces that do not accommodate a flip screen.
Most welding helmets are battery and/or solar powered. Helmets with non-replaceable batteries that are charged by solar power require
a charging period in direct sunlight before use or if the helmet has been stored for a long period of time. Once the battery wears out the auto-darkening lens will not work.
A more expensive and convenient option is a helmet that features replaceable AAA batteries that are rechargeable by solar power (as
opposed to lithium batteries which are more expensive to replace).
Other Features to Consider:
Another feature to consider is the weight of a helmet. You will notice a significant difference between helmets that weigh 1 lb versus
helmets that weigh 2 lbs. Those who weld all day will particularly be interested in more expensive, ultra-light helmets.
For professional welders a helmet with high impact resistance is vital to ensure protection from falling objects in the workplace.
Before purchasing any helmet make sure it is comfortable and has a large enough viewing window.
Today, nothing prevents a helmet manufacturer from selling helmets that do not meet updated standards for safety. You should look for a
product that is either a “ANSI Z87.1 – 2003” or “Z87+.” This means the American National Standard Institute and Society of Safety Engineers has approved the product. Products that say ANSI approved do not necessarily meet today’s safety
I hope this helps you purchase a helmet that is perfectly suited to your needs. Happy welding helmet shopping!