Helmets for welding have come a long way, especially in the past several years. They’re feature-packed and significantly improved in terms of functionality and comfort. As a result, there are many different models of welding helmets, meaning there are also many things to consider. These are the most important things to keep in mind before you press the buy button.
What to Look for When Buying a Welding Helmet
First and foremost, your helmet needs to fit. While it may sound like a no-brainer, the right fit is crucial for your safety and comfort.
To figure out whether it fits, make sure you’re properly covered. Complete coverage will keep you safe from rays. Your neck and face need to be fully protected against burns and spatter. Secondly, it needs to be fully adjustable. It should be customised to your head and offer a comfortable, snug fit.
Last but not least, you need to make sure the helmet doesn’t tilt when you move your head up and down. If it does, it should have adjustable tension to stabilise it.
When looking at the different welding helmets on the market, the viewing area they provide is a crucial consideration. The field of vision, which is another name for this, shows how much visibility you have when looking through the lens of the helmet.
To choose a helmet with the right viewing area, consider your working environment, the type of welding you perform, and your personal preference. Most welders want as large of a viewing area as possible to have a better view of the workpiece, arc and puddle. For hobby welders, a single viewing pane might be enough. Smaller viewing areas provide better concentration, making them ideal for TIG welding. They’re also less expensive than those with a wider field of view.
This is another important factor which becomes even more important if you’re working for long hours and are a professional. The more clarity the lens provides, the less fatigue you get. Moreover, you get to spot problems as you work and can fix them before they get out of hand.
The lens clarity is represented by a rating system, where 1/1/1/1 is the perfect optical clarity. Other factors that can impact clarity are fogging, light transmission, perception, visual impairments, etc.
Passive vs Auto-Darkening Goggles
Auto-darkening lenses aren’t a new technology, but they’re still newer than passive lenses. The original inventor of the auto-darkening filters was Optrel, and they do just what they claim they do – they darken automatically when you strike an arc, reducing the need to flip the helm up and down.
Passive lenses, on the other hand, stay fixed at a specific shade, regardless of the brightness. Those who don’t weld often might opt for fixed shade lenses as they’re more affordable. Some auto-darkening goggles allow you to choose the shade level based on the intensity of the arc. Shade levels are categorised on a scale known as the DIN scale, which is a German industry standard used worldwide to represent the light transmission filter level.
If you’ve ever used an uncomfortable helm, you probably know how frustrating it can be. If it doesn’t fit right, it can lack proper ventilation or weigh too much, making the whole experience difficult and uncomfortable. Many options provide comfort and safety, and you just have to find the right one.
How to Choose
When choosing welding safety goggles, the most important factor is you! If you’re like most welders, you’ll want to start with a more affordable model you can pick up at any online store or your local hardware store. It will be enough to get by. As you progress and start understanding the challenges found in cheaper models, you’ll want to pay extra attention to the things mentioned above so you know what to look out for. Besides those things, other factors to consider include:
- Type of welding you perform – If you’re a MIG welder, a model with a large shade range is recommended so it covers more amps. MIG welding also generates more heat than TIG welding, so consider a heat-reflective design that provides heat reduction.
- Frequency of use – It makes a difference whether you’re a professional or DIY/hobby welder. The more time you spend wearing the helmet, the more important it will be for it to provide optimum protection. After all, the helm is the ultimate protection for your most vulnerable body parts – your face, skin and eyes. It’s not worth risking your health just to save a few dollars. There are many great welding helmets to choose from, regardless of your budget.
- Personal preference – At the end of the day, what you feel like you’ll wear most, get that. Your preferences can change throughout your career.