Safety is the priority in a helmet, of course, but there are many captivating aspects of welding helmets to geek out on if you like. You can fantasize about what you’d do with the latest True Color Technology or buy an affordable helmet with that feature. Other common features among welding helmets include UV and IR ray protection, auto-darkening lenses, arc sensors, high switching speed, comfort, and safety.
Why buy a welding helmet?
If you’re welding, you’re exposed to flying hot debris, welding flux, intense UV rays, and infrared light, all while bending over for extended periods of time. It’s a dangerous job, but a welding helmet, along with other safety gear, can prevent injuries like flash burn and the disfiguring scars that can follow. Eye fatigue is another problem that can arise from poor protection. You need a welding helmet not just for safety, but to do a job well. Most helmets come with lens features that help you see what you’re doing clearer while exposed to unwanted, intense rays.
What should you look for in a welding helmet?
- Certified as Safe: Look for a helmet that meets American National Standards Institute and Society of Safety Engineers (ANSI) standards. Not all welding helmets marketed as “safe” actually meet the current safety standard. Check that the helmet packaging is marked specifically for ANSI and the most current certification possible.
- Lens: Know the differences between a passive helmet that’s generally lightweight and filters UV light, but of which the lens won’t switch from a light to a dark state on its own. This means that you’ll need to take the helmet on and off as you weld, and then inspect your work. Auto-darkening helmets have lenses that detect the necessary welding shade within a range and automatically adjust shade as needed.
- Fit: It’s nice to have the most up-to-date technology, and it might even be essential for some professionals, but the fit is hands down the most important thing. You need a helmet that fits your head comfortably, stays in place for the duration of your work, allows you to see the environment around you, and is breathable and lightweight.
How important are personal preference and comfort?
Comfort is extremely important. Given the heat emitted from welding equipment and the protective welding suit you’ll be wearing, you’re likely going to be hot, no matter what. So go for a lightweight helmet. It will reduce fatigue and help minimize neck strain, too. If you know the specific type of welding you’re dealing with, you can look for a helmet that will best assist you with that task.
YESWELDER True Color Solar Powered Auto Darkening Welding Helmet, Wide Shade 4/9-13 for TIG MIG ARC Weld Hood Helmet
This is an affordable helmet with a solar-powered, auto-darkening feature.
Pros: This helmet features a 1-1-1-2 optical clarity rating and True Color Technology. What does this mean for you? True Color minimizes the lime-green coloring that appears on the helmet view screen. The helmet is partially solar-powered, a feature that increases battery life. Another selling point is the updated headgear design, which is cushioned and adjustable. The YesWelder works great for TIG MIG MMA welding, and it’s affordable!
Cons: While the helmet is solar-powered, it’s not solely solar-powered. A lithium-ion battery is required. It’s rechargeable, but it might not hold a charge for as long as users would like. Also, it’s non-replaceable, which can be a problem if there’s something wrong with it.
Bottom Line: This helmet offers great clarity and clear color. Really, all of its features are of value for professional welding. It comes in two shades of black and in three different graphic designs to offer variety.
Lincoln Electric K3034-4 VIKING 3350 Auto Darkening Welding Helmet with 4C Lens Technology, Black
This is a solid welding helmet with a clear lens and comfortable fit.
Pros: The Lincoln Electric VIKING 3350 comes in different colors and graphics. That might sound trivial to some customers, but most welding helmets are made in one style only, so having color options is definitely a pro for some. Another attractive feature is the 4C lens technology. It offers a real-color view of your work, so you can clearly see the color of the arc and puddle. The optics include automatic darkening filtration to help protect from flashes and flares with variable lens shade control. The 1-1-1-1 optical clarity rating removes lens imperfections such as blurriness and distortion. The X6 headgear design contours to your head, evenly distributing weight across six key contact points.
Cons: Some buyers don’t like the way that the X6 headgear functions. The ratcheting design cinches the plastic bands together when you turn the fit nob, but loses its tension after a while. Also, the helmet is heavier compared to similar, high-performing helmets.
Bottom Line: The self-controllable 5-13 lens shades will be surprisingly helpful for grinding modes. In addition, the optimal switching speed protects against eye strain. If you’re at all convinced by the impressive optics of the Viking, this might be your next helmet. The unfortunate focus on the fancy headgear design will hopefully not get in your way.
3M Speedglas Welding Helmet
This helmet features automatic filtration and supports variable lens control between 5-13.
Pros: The screen is built around a pair of three sensors, which activate an auto-darkening filter that reacts quickly after striking an arc, switching in a tenth of a millisecond. The Speedglas lens feature also allows users to select among dark shades 5, 8, 9 through 13 for Stick (arc welding), MIG (Metal Inert Gas), and TIG (Tungsten Inert Gas) welding applications. There’s also a light shade of 3 for grinding and torch modes. The handy side windows with shade 5 filters increase peripheral vision by over 100%. The headgear is quite easy to adjust to provide a comfortable fit.
Cons: The 3M Speedglass helmet has so much going for it. It would be a shame if it all came down to a poor fit. The helmet is a one-size-fits-most design, so if your head doesn’t fit, it doesn’t fit. There are two adjustable straps, a padded headband, and a ratchet system for tightening the straps. Some find the straps bothersome. It could also be argued that the helmet lacks style, but it’s a welding helmet, after all.
Bottom Line: The pros outweigh the cons by a long shot here. The 100% peripheral vision alone is a selling point. Also, the fine-tuned sensors that power auto-darkening and the selectable shades for various welding processes are valuable details to have in a quality welding helmet.
Optrel Crystal 2.0 Auto-Darkening Welding Helmet 1006.900
This helmet uses crystal lens technology to automatically adjust the light filter, allowing you to see before, during, and after you make a weld.
Pros: The Optrel Crystal 2.0 helmet has an impressive auto-darkening process and a wide range of shade levels (4-12), which adjust automatically to protect you as the arc changes in brightness. In a dark state, welders get a high-contrast, crystal-clear view of the pool, while in a light state, their view is like looking through a clear glass window. Its True Color crystal lens technology is a huge boon to wearers. The 2.0 lens allows a 31% light transmission in bright conditions (shade protection level 2.0), while the average helmet allows only 5% light transmission. The crystal lens technology gives welders a clear view of their work environment when welding or in grind mode. Reviewers report that it’s light and comfortable.
Cons: With a professional welder helmet of this caliber, the downsides are few and far between. Some welders report arc flashing. Others report that the grind button is easily damaged. It’s also on the expensive side, but it would be a waste of time to justify a lower price.
Bottom Line: If you’re a professional welder who can take advantage of all the extraordinary features of the Optrel Crystal 2.0, this is a great buy if you can afford it. The range of auto-darkening shades, True Color Technology, and 2.0 lens is a favorable combination.
YesWelder Large Viewing Screen
No need to turn your head or take off the helmet to see your work and the space around you.
Pros: This helmet offers a sizeable 3.93- by 3.66-inch view of your working area, not just your welding. Optimal viewing makes excellent work and safety possible. True Color Technology provides clear vision and reduction of the green light. Like other YesWelder models, this one is great for TIG, MIG, and MMA welding and plasma applications and is improved with four premium arc sensors. It has a grinding feature and an optical clarity rating of 1-1-1-2, which is ideal for grinding.
Cons: The headgear shell material is lesser-quality plastic, and the pivot design material can dig into the head at certain points. Because the plastic is also lightweight, you’d think that the helmet wouldn’t be so heavy, but some users claim that the helmet is heavier than it should be.
Bottom Line: This is a great buy for beginners who are learning TIG, MIG, and MMA welding. It offers the things that you need, some extra features, and a reasonable price. For that matter, the helmet suffices for the any-level welder who needs to save money with an OK-quality helmet.
Welding requires a lot of technical skills and physical strength. It can be an art form or an industrial manufacturing process that involves intense heat, harmful metal fumes, intense ultraviolet radiation, and so forth, so it pays to have a safety-certified, comfortable, durable, lightweight helmet that has the technology you need for the specific tasks of your job. There are a lot of great helmet options on the market, so you should be able to find one that meets your needs.