Best Welding Helmet
Over half a million US adults are, wether full time or part time, in the welding profession. And the risks you are exposed to while welding are many and extreme. In fact, welding is one of the most dangerous jobs you can do, and the danger of flash burn and other eye and head injuries easily tops the list of dangers.
Flash burn is like “sunburn on the eyes” and occurs when you are exposed to very bright UV light, such as can easily happen in welding unless you have a top-quality welding helmet on. (Check out the Welding Outfitter website for a list of today’s top-of-market welding helmets!)
But what criteria should you use when shopping for a welding helmet? Aren’t all welding hoods the same? And can’t you just use that helmet that was passed down to you from your grandfather?
Well, not exactly. Here are 5 key criteria to look for when you select your new welding helmet:
1. Up To Current Safety Standards
If you’re going to use a helmet for professional welding (or any welding!) it needs to be compliant with current safety standards (ANZI standards).
These helmets must pass intense tests to ensure they can stand up to high-speed impacts, have full UV and infrared filtering on the shield, and perform on auto-shading at the advertised speed in both high and low temperatures.
Put safety first and check that any helmet you’re interested in meets the very high ANSI standards before even considering buying it.
2. Large Viewing Area
When welding, you need to be fully aware of everything going on in both your frontal and peripheral vision.
The larger the viewing zone, the better. You don’t have to have the absolute largest view area for every job, that’s true. When working on larger pieces of metal, it’s more important. But it never hurts to have a “too large” view area, so better to pay a little more and see a lot more to maximize safety.
3. A Perfect, Comfortable Fit
Never use a helmet that’s too small and leaves exposed skin. That could lead to UV burns and getting spattered by sparks and flying bits of metal. This is especially an issue if welding aluminum, but it’s always best to get the right fit.
You want a helmet that fits snug, and while you should wear a welding bib – don’t buy a small helmet and just rely on the bib.
Also, look for a lighter helmet, usually around 18 to 20 ounces these days, so your head isn’t weighed down. Heavy helmets have their place, but they could also increase neck strain and fatigue.
4. Proper Protective Shading
There are two kinds of welding helmets: passive lens and auto-darkening lens. It’s better to use the auto-darkening, but if you choose passive lens to save money, be sure the helmet has a fixed shade of at least #10 and higher if you will be doing very intense welding.
The auto-darkening feature of modern welding helmets can detect light intensity fluctuations in a split second and immediately adjust the shade number to the proper level. This adds extra protection against sudden light flashes and also saves you the need to constantly open and close your hood throughout the welding process.
You want at least two sensors in any auto-darkening helmet, but the most advanced models will have four – which lessens the risk an obstruction or your current position will block a sensor and lead to flash burns.
5. Dual Power Source
An auto-darkening helmet will have either a battery power source, a solar one, or both. Opt for the combo if you can.
Batteries have to be replaced too often, and you can’t replace the power source with solar helmets. But if solar power helps keep the batteries going, you get the best of both worlds.
An auto-off feature on your helmet is also desirable so you won’t accidentally drain your helmet power and be unable to work when you want to.
Choosing the best welding helmet is of the greatest importance to both professional and amateur welders. Looking for these 5 features in your next helmet will ensure you get the most bang for your buck.