Hi everyone! Today’s guest post comes from my husband – thanks for reading!
If you’re new to welding, you probably know that you’ll need a good welding helmet to protect your face and head from flying sparks and to protect your eyes from the damage that can be caused by long-term exposure to highly-concentrated infrared and ultraviolet light rays coming from the welding arc. The right helmet should also be comfortable enough to minimize neck strain. Finding the right model to fit your needs is easier if you go into the hunt with an understanding of the features and options you’ll come across.
Welding helmet eye shields or lenses are available in fixed-darkness or adjustable-darkness versions. Fixed darkness models are available in various levels of darkness. Most welding helmet lenses are pretty universal and can be swapped out readily. On the adjustable side, some models automatically adjust based on current conditions; others have to be manually adjusted. If your work always involves the same kind of welding, you’ll likely be okay with a fixed-darkness lens. If you work on multiple types of welding projects, it probably makes more sense to go with an adjustable model. You’ll usually pay a little more for self-adjusting lenses, but if a typical welding session involves several different light-intensity changes, it’s probably worth the extra cost to avoid extra stops and starts. Some adjusting models allow you to manually control settings for sensitivity, darkness level, and delay time, allowing you to further customize the helmet based on your workload and preferences. These controls could be mounted either on the inside of the helmet (harder to adjust on the fly, but more protected from sparks, heat, and drops) or on the outside (easier to adjust quickly, but exposed to sparks and could be damaged in a fall). You’ll also be able to choose whether you want more old-fashioned knob controls or a digital control and display.
Another lens feature to consider is clarity. Some models tend to offer a slightly blurry, night-vision like view that isn’t ideal for lower-light environments. Some are designed specifically for lower-light indoor situations and won’t be great for any outdoor, bright sunlight work. A lens with the best clarity also makes it easier for you to inspect close-up work without having to remove your helmet. Again, you might spend more for the best clarity, but excellent clarity can make the work go quicker.
When it comes to how much overall face and head protection you need, let your work dictate that. If you’ll be doing overhead or tight-space welding, you definitely want to find a helmet that covers as much of your face and head as possible — — you’ll learn this from articles and websites giving out welding safety tips.
Next, you want a helmet that’s as light as possible while still meeting your needs. A one-pound difference might not seem like much, but when you’re wearing a helmet for many hours or with your head bent over, one pound can seem like a ton of weight putting a lot of extra strain on your neck. Some of the best helmets are not the lightest, but do such a great job of distributing their weight that they feel much lighter than they actually are, which is a good thing. Such a helmet will feel balanced and not seem to be heavier on one side or another.
One feature that’s a sheer convenience for some but a timesaver for others is whether or not the helmet’s face mask can be flipped up. Some models don’t flip up at all and have to be removed altogether if you need to take a naked-eye look at your work or just take a quick breather. Other models allow you to flip up the face mask, which can save some time and aggravation. Some flip-up models will lock in the upright position, which can be a time saving convenience.
Many welding helmets are battery operated. Finding one with an auto-shutoff feature can help make sure you don’t find yourself with a dead battery at the start of your next project.
With prices starting at around $50 and going up to $500, you’re sure to find a model that fits your needs and your budget.