Whether you are a novice or professional welder, you need a good welding helmet to ensure you are protected and can work in the best conditions possible, whether you're doing ARC welding, MIG welding, TIG welding, or any type of welding process you can think of.
Thanks to modern technology and a bit of creativity, there are a ton of best welding helmets to choose from, with an array of features and designs suitable for everyone in the industry.
Whether you are a beginner with few preferences in features or a professional welder looking for something “top-of-the-line,” consider these factors before making any final decisions about the best welding helmet for you.
Welding Helmets and Why They Are Important
A high-quality and durable welding helmet or welding hood is one of the best ways to ensure you are as safe as possible in your workspace. It protects your eyes and face and allows you to be productive for extended periods.
One injury seen most frequently with welding is eye damage. Welding helmets create a dark shade that reduces the light from the weld and lessens intense eye strain. Modern designs have implemented auto darkening helmet technology, which helps protect your eyes from the light.
Types of Welding Helmets
There are a variety of welding helmets on the market today, offering users the ability to choose from features and options that matter the most to them.
- Passive (Basic) - While a passive welding helmet doesn’t offer anything high-tech (including auto-darkening features), it is very effective at face and eye protection against ultraviolet rays, burns, and particles getting into your eyes while working.
- Auto-darkening - Auto-darkening is one of the most popular high-tech features, allowing users to keep their hands on their project, with the helmet darkening on its own when needed. This comes in a few varieties, including solar-powered, battery-powered, and fixed shade.
- Powered air-purifying respirator (PAPR) helmets - These helmets come with built-in respirators to protect welders from sparks, welding fumes, gasses, and heat that can be very harmful to your health. While they may be a little pricey, they are worth every penny.
- Welding helmets with built-in fans - It can very quickly get hot and sweaty underneath a welding helmet when you’re working with a flame. A helmet with a built-in fan will make you comfortable for a more productive day.
You can also find welding helmets in various colors and with an endless library of designs. As long as it doesn’t affect how it works, you can customize your welding helmet to represent who you are or where you work.
Factors to Consider When Choosing a Welding Helmet
There are a few key features to remember when choosing the perfect welding helmet. Ensuring you have the proper headgear will reduce the chances of injuries and increase the productivity and accuracy of your weld.
A Quality Viewing Area
There are two common viewing area sizes on welding helmets. Basic helmets for project-based or DIYers will be fine with one front pane.
However, if you work in fabrication or are constantly working in different positions and angles, a panoramic helmet with a front and two side panes would be the better selection.
Optical clarity is a must in the welding field. Purchasing the right welding helmet will provide an optimal view, reducing your need to strain, keeping you from enduring frequent headaches, and potentially preventing mistakes on your project.
This feature takes us back to lens technology. Choose the shade level most effective for your situation and utilize whichever options make sense.
If your welding helmet doesn’t fit properly, it will not be nearly as effective, nor will it be very comfortable. Ensure you can see perfectly, are comfortable, and the helmet fits snugly without hurting your head or neck.
Some helmets can be overly heavy or loose; this can cause some painful neck and back injuries that will affect your work and health. When choosing the right fit, you also want to factor in adjustability. A good welding helmet will have room for adjusting the size and tightness to ensure you are at peak comfort level.
Auto-darkening technology is excellent. However, the number of sensors will make the biggest difference when achieving the best shade. The auto-darkening lens feature only works when the sensors are triggered as an arc is struck.
While the typical auto-darkening welding helmet has 2-4 sensors, it is best to search out as many as you can get. Think of it like this: the more sensors, the more coverage. While two is just fine for the average hobbyist, four is required for anyone working industrial welding jobs.
Welding Helmet FAQs
What is the difference between a passive helmet and an auto-darkening welding helmet?
While passive welding helmets only offer one shade on the lens (often requiring the user to pull it up when not using it and back down when working), an auto-darkening helmet keeps the lens clear until the arc is struck and darkens it automatically.
How do I choose the right sensitivity and delay settings for my welding helmet?
You should choose the light sensitivity and delay on your helmet based on your job and the time you will be working. Some welding helmets provide touchscreen shade adjustments, making switching up your settings easier.
Can I wear glasses under my welding helmet?
While glasses are essential to wear while welding for precision and proper sight, it can be hard to keep them on comfortably. Those with less-than-perfect vision are suggested to use helmets with special lenses with a magnifier that amplifies the welder’s view.
Can I wear a respirator with my welding helmet?
Some respirators can be very uncomfortable under a welding helmet. However, welding respirators are specifically designed to fit under welding helmets.
How do I care for and maintain my welding helmet?
To maintain superior protection on your welding helmet, clean the lens often, check for damage before every use, ensure all small parts are in order, and store your helmet in a dry, cool place with a proper protective cover.