How to Choose a Welding Helmet

Last week, in Basic Welding Safety, the basic PPE’s necessary for welders to be protected was discussed. This week, we will focus more specifically on choosing the best welding helmet.

The cost of welding helmets ranges from about $15 for a basic standard helmet to over $100 for auto-darkening helmets depending on the features. Welding Design and Fabrication says that “as a general rule, spending more on a welding helmet will increase comfort, improve your welding ability, result in higher quality welds and ensure your safety.” With that being said, let’s consider the various options available on welding helmets to help determine the best helmet for the situation.

Pyramex Leadhead Welding Helmet

Auto-Darkening Helmets like the Pyramex LeadHead reduce or eliminate the need to constantly raise the hood to view your work.

There are two basic lens types for welding helmets: standard glass lenses and auto-darkening lenses. Standard helmets are ones such as the Pyramex LeadHead Passive Welding Helmet Shade 10. These helmets:

  • Provide basic protection in a low price range from about $15-$30.
  • Provide sufficient head and face welding protection.
  • Have a viewing lens that is a piece of dark, tinted glass, usually with a #10 shade and ultraviolet (UV) and infrared (IR) coating.
  • Must be manually lifted and lowered after lighting the welder and prior to welding as well as when finished welding or to inspect work before proceeding.
  • Can present a challenge when the individual must keep the gun/torch in proper position while simultaneously lowering and raising the helmet. This can be especially difficult for beginners.
  • Can be difficult to use in restricted spaces that have limited room for moving the helmet face up and down.
  • Can lead to neck discomfort from having to move the helmet face up and down multiple times a day, day after day.
  • Can result in less efficiency from having to move the helmet up and down regularly.
    • Are a good choice for the home welder and handyman who does the occasional welding job.
    • May not be a good choice for anyone doing heavy welding or who does TIG welding.

Auto-Darkening Helmets are ones such as the Pyramex LeadHead Auto Darkening Welding Helmet with IR9-13 Sensitivity Adjustment and the Pyramex LeadHead Black Auto Darkening Helmet with Adjust IR9-13. These helmets:

  • Cost quite a bit more than the standard welding helmet with prices generally starting at just over $100.
  • Provide sufficient head and face welding protection.
  • Have an electronic filter lens.
  • Have an auto-darkening lens with a liquid crystal display (LCD).
  • Are equipped with adjustable features such as sensors on the helmet that darken the lens to a #9 or #13 shade, depending on the settings.
  • Almost instantaneously darken and lighten automatically.
  • Typically shade to #3 or #4, which is easy to see out of for inspecting work or lighting the welder, when the lens is not activated. Welding Design and Fabrication notes that this is especially helpful because the “arc starts easier because the welder can see the position of his MIG gun, TIG torch or stick electrode relative to the material he is welding.”
  • Generally have a switch outside the helmet to allow the user to adjust the darkness settings manually. This can be especially helpful for welders who work with various materials.

With all that being said, some welders believe that an auto-darkening helmet is not a necessity. One welder said that he believes they are “a luxury, not a necessity.” He further said he recommends spending “your money on your welding machine and your welding rods”  because “the more you practice welding, the more you will realize your welding rod or welding gun are nothing more than an extension of your hand, and it’s pretty easy to figure out where that is at all times, even if you’re not looking. After all, practice does make perfect.” On the other hand, some say that “many injuries have been eliminated by auto darkening helmets because they cover a welder’s eyes at all times without risking exposure to irritating fumes and flying debris.”

Knowing what’s available as well as what you prefer is the best approach to deciding on the type of welding helmet you should purchase. Use the above tips to make the best-informed decision possible.

About Michael Eldridge

Michael Eldridge is the President and Founder of Safety Glasses USA, one of the web's largest providers of safety glasses and goggles. He's a US Marine Veteran who's particularly passionate about protective eyewear and helping people learn about vision safety. In his spare time he enjoys target shooting, fishing, camping with his family and watching Detroit Tigers baseball. You can follow Michael on Twitter @MikeEldridge73, Google or via the Safety Glasses USA Facebook Page.

Comments

  1. It’s important to understand all of your options when it comes to choosing the correct welding helmet. Safety equipment isn’t something to be stingy with. After all, it could be the difference between a minor injury and a life threatening one. Don’t risk it.