Safety comes first. That is the main concern for every welder, and this is why welding helmets with built-in respirator were designed for. They are considered one of the best ways to protects the user’s lungs from the harmful fumes and smokes produced during the welding process.
After research, we recomment the 3M 36-1101-30SW Powered Air Purifying Respirator as the best possible choice, since it has all the necessary features and specifications for your welding requirements. If you are looking for a more affordable solution though, you should check out the Breathecool II Supplied Air Respirator System, which you can pair with the welding helmet of your liking and achieve great respiratory protection.
Fumes contain elements that are dangerous for the health of the welder. These elements become extremely hazardous when they get exposed to heat and high temperatures, or when they get mixed with fibers or coatings. In such occasions, they might cause breathing problems if inhaled.
ALSO READ: Optrel Welding Helmets – A Buyer’s Guide
There are many types of welding helmets with respirators available in the market. In our article, we have researched and made a list of 5 of the best models, which we think that will protect the welder the best way possible.
Welding helmets with built-in respirators are more expensive than common welding helmets, and this is because of the respirator system included in their design. They tend to be heavier too, so they need to be used with caution.
If you need to buy one of the best welding helmets in the market, we suggest that you take a look at our massive Buyers Guide, which analyzes in depth the pros and cons of the top welding helmet models.
What is a welding respirator?
The welding respirator is the piece of equipment that is used for the protection of the welders from fumes. There are various types of welding respirators available in the market. Such respirators are:
- Half-mask respirators
- Powered air-purifying respirators
- Air supplied respirators
These are the three main types of respirators used in the welding industry. Their use depends on how much fumes and smoke are produced in the workplace during the welding process. There some specifications provided by the OSHA for the effective protection of the welders.
Such specifications indicate that welders should not inhale elements such as zinc fumes or hexavalent chromium, both of which are produced during most welding processes. There are certain limits of exposure that should not be exceeded regarding these elements, called the PELs.
Before using a respirator, we should try to reduce exposure to these elements by using appropriate ventilation, substitute materials and clean the workplace properly. If we apply these steps and cannot eliminated the hazardous elements effectively, then we move on the respirators.
Why do we need to use a welding respirator?
There are lots of dangers that take place during the welding process. The use of a welding helmet with a built-in respirator is one of the best precautions we can take against these dangers, because of the large variety of materials that cause them.
Different types of materials may produce different types of fumes, and as a results different types of hazards. The heat is responsible for making these materials harmful for the lungs of the welder, when it contact with shielding gases, filler metals or coatings.
All respiratory systems can be damaged. Except the limitations regarding their amounts which are provided by the OSHA, welders should always keep in mind that there is a wide variety of fumes produced by several materials when heated that can cause problems when inhaled.
In order to achieve the desired results for the protection of our health, we need to pay attention to the size and position of the respirator. When used correctly, the respirator system can protect the welder from vapors, fumes and particles.
As mentioned above, the first thing we need to take care of is the proper ventilation of our workplace. After that, we should acquire a welding helmet with a built-in respirator for maximum protection from asthma, lung issues, nose and throat inhalation problems or issues regarding our central nervous system.
All these health issues can be avoided is we work in a non-contaminated environment, and if we use a high quality welding helmet with a built-in respirator. Welders must avoid long exposure to such fumes at all costs.
There is no way we can measure the exact exposure of the welder to fumes. What we need to keep in mind, is that they will become hazardous if we insist to inhale them in a constant basis without using any type of protection.
The job of a respirator, is to allow you to breath clean air without any of these dangerous elements and fumes keeping them out. This is the main reason why it is considered one of the best ways to work safely on your welding projects.
Precautions for the protection of the welder
Welding processes take place in various different places and many different industries. This is why all industries need the appropriate professional consultation, so that they can decide what measures to take for the better protection of their employees.
What is more, the consultation of an industrial hygienist is a necessary tool to ensure that all the essential precautions are taken in the workplace of the welder. Consultations should take place in regular periods of time, for instance once every six months or once in a year.
Workplaces and safety measures should be reviewed also, in order to determine whether they comply with the latest welding safety requirements, and what changes they need.
As far as respirators are concerned, they must be tested and qualify the NIOSH safety requirements to avoid the exposure of welders to hazards. The quality standards of a respirator should always be met, so that we can make sure that the protection of the welder is always on a priority.
How to select a welding respirator
Welding helmets with built-in respirators should always be used in workplaces that don’t have proper ventilation. In such occasions, you need to select a high quality welding helmet with respirator, for effective protection from fumes and gases.
There is a wide variety of welding helmet with respirators, that offer specific benefit for specific welding processes. This is why every welder should always search and test the welding helmet and the respirator system he is about to purchase, to determine whether or not it is the right tool for the his specific job.
In order to be able to determine which is the appropriate welding helmet for our project, we need to refer to the Assigned Protection Factors, known as the APF. The APF indicate the levels of protection a respirator is able to provide, when used correctly in an average workplace during a welding process.
In order to decide which welding helmet respirator can handle the specific concentration of a substance, what we need to do is multiply the APF of the respirator by the substance’s exposure limit. This way, we can make sure that the particular model of welding helmet with the built-in respirator is able to protect us from substances with the specific concentration.
Best welding helmets with built-in respirators
Finding the right welding helmet with a built-in respirator is not an easy task. You need to determine whether it can provide the appropriate protection levels for your welding process, and choose a trustful manufacturer.
Below, we have made a list with 5 of the best welding helmets with built in respirators, which will hopefully help you make the correct decision.
1 – 3M 36-1101-30SW Powered Air Purifying Respirator
- Flip-up assembly for grinding and prep work 8" x...
- Side windows - Shade 5 side filters that increase...
- Ergonomic, adjustable head suspension for...
- 3M Speedglas Auto-Darkening Filter 9100XX with...
- Selectable Shades 5, 8-13 and Shade 3 light state;...
The 3M 36-1101-30SW Powered Air Purifying Respirator is my top choice when it comes to welding helmets with built-in respirators. It is not considered the most affordable solution, although its price is within logical limits regarding the technology involved.
The respirator, provides the appropriate protection from dangerous fumes constantly by filtering the air. The welding helmet wears comfortably on the head, and it is especially designed for tight spaces as its compact structure allows the welder to move conveniently around the place.
The viewing area is large, more specifically the largest of the 9100 series of the 3M Company. The view filed which can be expanded, allows the welder to have a full view of the process of his welding process, for better inspection.
The 3M 36-1101-30SW Powered Air Purifying Respirator which you can find on Amazon, is one of the best air purifying respirator systems that I have come across. Along with the high quality 3M Speedglas Welding Series 9100 FX, they provide the desired protection to the welder, no matter the welding method he decides to follow.
2 – Allegro Industries 9934-W EZ Air Pro
- AIR SHIELD/HELMET: NIOSH approved, Made of ABS,...
- LENS (SHIELD): Eye Protection: ANSI Z87.1+,...
- VISOR (WELDING HELMET) w/ AUTO-DARKENING FILTER...
- BLOWER: ABS lightweight blower - weighs only 2.8...
- Complete assembly NIOSH approved and equipped with...
The next respirator system has been tested over time and proven its high quality and effective performance. It can be used in many industries, and can be applied in various ways such as aluminum plants, fabrications or metal working.
The welding helmet along with the respirator system is able to provide protection mainly from airborne contaminates. Some of the most important elements from which this welding helmet can protect the welder, are hexavalent chromium, sparks and debris.
In addition to the above, there is a flip mode feature. This means that the welder can flip the shield and can inspect the weld, clean or grind the project with high level visibility. The clear visibility is provided by the ANSI face shield.
The respirator is NIOSH approved, and can be used to constantly filter the air from fumes and gases. There are two HEPA filters included in the package, which are also NIOSH approved to ensure maximum effectiveness of the respirator.
This auto darkening welding helmet is also very lightweight, and as a result very convenient for welders that work on long-hour projects. For more information about the price and the specification of this amazing welding helmet respirator system, check the Allegro Industries 9934-W EZ Air Pro here.
A great respiratory system
3 – Jackson Safety 40839 Airmax Elite
- Protects from the respiratory dangers of welding...
- Air welding helmet with flame-retardant face seal...
- Contains NIOSH HE filter assembled with pre-filter...
- Features dual-speed blower unit
- Includes breathing hose with flame retardant cover...
The particular model from Jackson Safety is one of the best ways to protect yourself from hazardous welding fumes and high temperatures while welding. The sturdy structure of the welding helmet protects the face of the welders from sparks and debris, while offering a large viewing area for convenience.
The optical clarity of the helmet is excellent. The auto darkening filter works significantly well, and prevents eye fatigue. An amazing tool for every welder, as far as safety and comfort during the welding is concerned.
The Jackson Safety 40839 Airmax Elite which you can find on Amazon, offers a HE filter that is NIOSH approved along with a spark arrestor. I consider this a great solution regarding welding helmet respirator systems, that is worth the investment.
A respirator system for protection
4 – ArcOne SR500 Respirator PAPR Kit
- Hard Hat / Visor: ANSI Z87.1-2010 Eye Protection,...
- PAPR: APF (Assigned Protection Factor) of 1,000,...
- Flip Down Welding Visor with 5500V Digital Filter
- This loose fitting hard hat provides complete...
- Includes PAPR system, PUR hose and hard hat /...
When it comes to purifying the air from vapors and particles that threaten the well-being of the welder, working with the ArcOne SR500 Respirator PAPR Kit is the absolute solution. It effectively protects the user’s lungs from all types of gases, enhancing his workflow and improving his productivity massively.
This PAPR Kit designed by the ArcOne company has awesome durability, since they have invested in its longevity and ability to work under the most difficult circumstances. Although it has a very tough exterior part for maximum protection, it has one of the most lightweight welding helmets of its price range.
What is more, it very easy to learn how to use the settings of the helmet so that you can adjust it according to your particular needs. Along with the welding helmet, you are going to get a hard hat and a visor for extra safety and convenience, since you can use them for any type of construction process.
One of the most fascinating capabilities of the ArcOne SR500 Respirator PAPR Kit, is that it can keep purifying the contaminated air for several hours with only a single charge. This way it saves lots of time for the user, making the welding process fast, fun and safe.
A high quality air supply system
5 – Optrel 4550.100 E3000 PAPR System with E680 Helmet
This a welding helmet with a built-in respirator manufactured by the Optrel Company that we review in this article, and there is a good reason why. Optrel has some of the best and most effective welding helmets with respirators, as they pay full attention to their customers’ needs.
The Optrel 4550.100 E3000 PAPR System has one of the fastest auto darkening filter in the market. It changes shades in about 0.1 milliseconds. In simple terms, it goes from bright to dark shades instantly after the arc sensors detect the arc.
The welding helmet has a solid structure, it is lightweight and it offer great comfort when it comes to the breathing of the welder. Of course, it protects the eyes of the user from UV and IR rays effectively, while providing excellent optical clarity.
Welders have the ability to control the temperature of the air that enters the helmet, by using the air-cooling valve. The excellent filter of the Optrel E680 helmet filter prevents eye fatigue, increasing the desired protection to the welder. You can find the Optrel 4550.100 E3000 PAPR System here.
The cheapest Supplied Air Respirator in the market
Breathe-Cool II Supplied Air Respirator
- 1 Year Manufacturer's Warranty
This model has great flexibility and is considered a highly mobile respiratory system. It works great in tight spaces because of its compact size, and you can transfer it pretty easily especially if you work outdoors or in multiple places.
The air system can help with the heat stress during hot days, or in hot working environments because of the great air flow. The pump works perfectly, and the respirator cowl is made of high quality material. As a result it is highly flame resistant, although the face guard which Is sawn to the cowl is a little loose.
The quality of the hose is good, but you should be careful and use it with caution. Last but not least, the particular model is one of the most affordable welding helmets with built-in respirators in the market. For more information about the Breathe-Cool II Supplied Air Respirator and its features, visit Amazon.
Respirators for welders
It is a common truth that the majority of welders take their protection very seriously, this is why they use respirators in addition to their welding helmets. The most effective and easy-to-use respirators when it comes to welding are half-face respirators, such as the N95 (3M Particulate N95 Respirator with Valve).
This is because of the fact that welding masks do not usually provide too much space under the hood for additional headgear, and half-face respirators are convenient because of their very small size and flexibility.
Apart from respirators such as the N95 or the more advanced N99 (Debrief Me One Mask Military Grade N99), welders also have the ability to choose between using a welding helmet which can be connected to a compressor for particulate filtering and air purification.
What is more, there is a section of welding helmets which have embedded filters for maximum portability and convenience. These hoods are massively used by the welders when it comes to working in contained or very tight environments, as well as uncomfortable positions and places.
Processes such as Plasma Cutting or Grinding require the use of respirators no matter the circumstances. The production of fumes and smokes are extremely harmful for the lungs, this is why the air needs to be filtered with a respirator mask.
PAPR Welding Helmets (Powered Air Purifying Respirators)
Powered Air Purifying Respirators are the ultimate solution when it comes to filtering and purifying contaminated air during a welding process. Although their prices tend to be higher than the average welding mask or respirator due to their technical features and designs, they are absolutely worth the money.
PAPR welding helmets such as the Allegro Welding PAPR System have the complete package when it comes to keeping welders safe, both by protecting him from the arc and the hazardous fumes produced while welding.
They combine excellent Auto Darkening Filters, fast responsiveness, the best arc sensors in the market along with maximum air filtering which makes it impossible for particulates to reach the respiratory system of the user.
PAPR welding hoods provide maximum comfort, and they are the go-to option when it comes to heavy industrial applications. If you are looking for amazing airborne particulate protection, you should consider acquiring one of the following Powered Air Purifying Respirators:
Best Powered Air Purifying Respirators
Like we mentioned above, PAPR systems are the number one solution for the complete protection of the welder, no matter the welding process. Instead of using both a welding helmet and a respirator underneath the hood, PAPR helmets are the perfect combination.
Here are the best PAPR welding helmets in the market:
Allegro Welding PAPR System. Undoubtedly, this PAPR welding helmet is one of the top in the market. It offers extensive protection from all types of contaminates, ranging from hexavalent chromium to chemical fumes or even molten debris. There is a face shield included, and the helmet can be flipped for more accuracy when it comes to grinding or inspecting metals.
3M Speedglas Welding Supplied Air System. The optical clarity and the general vision quality that the particulate PAPR welding mask offers to the user is more than fascinating. Apart from its excellent peripheral vision due to its curved visor, this helmet offers great protection from all types of hazards during any welding process.
Allegro Pureflo PAPR White Helmet. If you are looking for an all-in-one protection solution as a welder, the Allegro Pureflo PAPR White Helmet is the right option for you. It is designed to provide safety for your respiratory system, as well as your head, face and eyes. Despite its many technical features, it is considered a relatively lightweight PAPR welding hood. A great feature of the helmet is its awesome indications regarding the filtering, the state of the air flow and the remaining battery.
Sparxlift 1000 APF Shroud. Last but not least, we need to mention this fresh-air system by Sparxlift. It is one of the most flexible and adjustable PAPR helmets of the list, because of its universal size, headbands knobs and belts. It comes with a breathing tube and a smart battery charger for convenience, and it contains and air flow indicator for better workflow.
Welding shields – Are they necessary?
Face shields are a very useful type of headgear for many type of industrial applications. More specifically, welding shields are used for cutting and grinding process by the welders, because they provide clean vision along with protection from debris and dust.
Using a welding shield like the Sellstrom S32151 DP4, indicates that we do not need to protect ourselves from particulates and contaminates at the particular moment. This is why welding shields are not used in combination with PAPR systems and welding helmets with respirators.
Very rarely, they can be used with simple respirators, in order to provide an additional protection from heavies debris or small pieces of metal. Other than that, their protection is limited to the face and the eyes of the user, and this is why PAPR welding helmets are the preferable headgear for both respiratory and visual protection at the same time.
Welding ventilation – How important is it?
Ventilation during welding is an extremely important topic, which will ensure the safety of the welder in addition to wearing a high quality PAPR system. Below we can learn more about the purposes of ventilation during welding:
Ventilation is required for places where welding process take place in order to prevent atmosphere from becoming oxygen rich or deficient. In addition to this, the prevention of gases or vapours that are highly flammable also takes place under the proper ventilation circumstances.
Finally, all working areas, places and environments where welders work need to be ventilated so that that are free of air contaminates and pollutants.
Companies are required to install ventilation systems and keep them functional while welders work in order to maximize their protection. If this is not possible, then the companies or the welders are required to be supplies with a functional PAPR welding helmet or system, for keeping their respiratory system safe, as well as their head and vision.
To sum up
Welding helmets with built-in respirators are necessary when it comes to welding in workplaces without properly installed ventilation systems. They protect the lungs of the welder from breathing harmful fumes, smokes and gases. What is more, they filter the air and provide control over the temperature that enters the respirator.
In order to enhance your safety levels and avoid health dangers, make sure that you research read all the features of the welding helmet respirators listed in our article. Test them before you make a purchase, and decide which is best for your welding projects. Happy welding!