Welding is a dangerous task, and this is especially true if you’re not wearing the correct safety equipment. A crucial piece of safety gear is the welding helmet and there are various types of welding helmets on the market. Every welding helmet must be designed to meet the ANSI safety protocols with lenses that protect against, heat, UV light and infrared light. But there are still some significant choices to make and there is a wide variety of choice to meet your needs.
Why Is It Important to Have a Welding Helmet When Welding?
A welding helmet is required for safety and compliance, and they must meet the ANSI standard in the states and CSA compliance in Canada. The helmet lens must protect the welder from UV light and infrared light that can damage the welder’s eyes. Safety must always be the top priority and heat can also be a factor.
Five Different Types of Welding Helmets
1/ Auto Darkening Helmet
The auto darkening welding helmet is an improvement over passive models that require consistent lens adjustment. These models detect the light levels and make automatic lens adjustments to protect the welders eyes. This feature was widely implemented because it reduces the risk of an incorrect adjustment and it improves productivity. The auto darkening helmet is effective, but this comes at a premium price point.
Pros of the Auto Darkening Helmet:
- The shade level can be chosen for a specific welding job type.
- Welders will tend to recommend these helmets for their superior safety features.
- The lens will darken automatically when the arc is struck.
- There is no need to remove the welding helmet to check the work.
- It’s easy to see through the lens before the arc is struck.
Cons of the Auto Darkening Helmet:
- The LCD display needs power.
- The internal batteries need to be replaced.
- Solar powered units have longer charging times.
- These are the most expensive types of welding helmets.
2/ Passive Welding Helmet
This is a basic welding helmet model with no modern features to worry about. But, this is an effective helmet which is constructed with robust materials and it offers plenty of protection for the welders eyes. This is one of the best types of welding hoods for a welder that wants simple budget friendly safety gear.
Pros Passive Welding Helmet:
- This welding helmet is light, tough and easy to use.
- The lenses tend to be inexpensive and easy to replace.
- These are budget friendly models.
Cons Passive Welding Helmet:
- The lens will always be dark.
- The lenses tend to be fragile and can break easily.
- The welding helmet must be removed to check the work between striking arcs.
3/ Variable-Shade Lens Welding Helmet
The variable-shade lens welding hood can adapt to various shades of brightness and light emitted by the arc when welding. This is a preferred model by welders that typically work on a wide variety of projects that use different types of materials. These helmets adjust the darkness of the lenses and this increases the visibility field significantly.
This may seem like a trivial feature, but it’s useful when welding with very bright light. When the welder cannot see they tend to create more welding defects. In certain instances it may be necessary to redo the whole weld and this is extremely inefficient.
Pros Variable-Shade Lens Welding Helmet:
- The lens will darken automatically when the arc is struck.
- The shade level can be chosen to fit the job.
- The welder can see through the lens before the arc is struck.
- There is no need to remove this type of welding helmet to check the work.
- Many welders recommend the variable-shade helmets because they are very safe.
Cons Variable-Shade Lens Welding Helmet:
- The LCD needs power.
- The solar power takes some time to charge.
- These welding helmets can be expensive.
- The batteries need replacement.
4/ Fixed-Shade Lens Welding Helmet
A fixed-shade welding helmet has a shade level of ten and they don’t adjust to different levels of arc brightness. This makes them a good choice if the welder tends to work on a single project type with a specific material. There is no need to make lens adjustments and for DIY welders this is a good option.
Pros Fixed-Shade Lens Welding Helmet:
- There is no need to adjust the shade strength for most welding jobs.
- This is an ideal choice for welders that perform the same welding processes.
- This is a very affordable option for DIY welders.
Cons Fixed-Shade Lens Welding Helmet:
- To perform different welding processes it may be necessary to fit other lenses.
5/ Solar Welding Helmet
Certain auto-darkening welding helmets use a built-in battery that cannot be replaced. Recharging takes place via solar energy, the battery starts the helmet, but the solar power will keep the helmet working.
This can be an economical choice because the battery doesn’t do much work after startup and the lenses are switched off when they are not in use. Some welders would be reluctant to use this technology because it’s complex and the helmet must be left in the sun to recharge the day before a project starts. Forgetting this simple requirement can waste time and this can increase costs.
Frequently Asked Question’s about Types of Welding Helmets
How dark should I set my welding helmet?
The higher shade numbers are in the 8-13 range for welding processes. The lower shade numbers allow more light to pass and they are intended to be used for other types of projects. Grinding takes places at 3 and cutting is in the 5-8 range.
Do welding helmets expire?
It’s important to maintain the welding helmet and respirator to stay safe and efficient. This includes cleaning, replacing consumable parts as needed and proper storage in a clean location.
A good welding helmet will remain comfortable and perform well with less downtime when it’s well cared for. Like any piece of safety gear, it will need to be replaced eventually, but the useful lifespan will be longer with regular maintenance.
When does the welding lens need to be replaced?
The internal cover lens needs less frequent turnover with regular cleaning and good general care. This lens will need monthly replacement, but this can vary a great deal and it’s a good idea to have a spare on hand to prevent downtime.
If the lens degrades in visibility or the surface is damaged it should be replaced. Don’t weld with a bad cover lens because it’s needed to protect the auto-darkening lens from sweat, dust and other harmful contaminants.
How do you know if a welding helmet is good?
Place the sensor towards the sun for a few minutes, focus on the lens and check for a reaction. A reactive pair of lenses will darken, and this is a sign that the helmet is in good shape and ready to use. If there is no change it could be faulty, and it should not be used.
Can you remove your welding helmet while still welding?
No, the welding arc can cause photokeratitis which is a painful and debilitating eye condition. Other hazards, include weld spatter, flying particulates, noxious fumes and more.
Types of Welding Helmets In Conclusion
As you can see there are many types of welding helmets to consider and there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Some causal or DIY welders will prefer the simplicity and lower entry level cost of a passive welding helmet.
Professionals may need a variable-shade hamlet if they have a lot of variety in their processes and they work with a range of materials. Investing in a good welding helmet is essential to protect your eyes when striking the arc and other harmful contaminants