For a welder, the ultimate means of protection regarding his face is the welding helmet. There are different types of welding helmets available in the market, each one designed with its own specifications and features, with the purpose to provide a convenient tool to the welder.
Regardless of its shape, size, viewing area and controls each welding helmet must meet the National Safety Standards, which were created to ensure that the helmet users are able to work comfortably with the maximum safety.
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Each type of welding helmet is designed to offer different advantages to the welder. This is why most of the types, the features of these types are combined by the manufacturers in order to create more effective and protective headgear for the welders.
In our list of welding helmet types below, we are going to do an in-depth analysis of the advantages and disadvantages of each welding helmet type, and recommend specific welding helmets for specific welding processes.
Type 1 – Auto darkening welding helmets
Auto darkening welding helmets are the first type of welding headgear I am going to explain. As their name suggests, they have and ADF (auto darkening filter), which means that they detect the arc automatically as soon as their sensors spot it.
When the arc is not active, they are still able to protect the vision of the welder. The reason why, is because their lens sits at a shad of 3 or 4 depending on the welding helmet, which is fairly bright for the user to inspect his project in detail, and dark enough to protect the eyes from unexpected flashes.
Those bright shades that the lens uses, are also a huge advantage because they allow the welder to operate the welding gun, the torch or the stick with convenience, without having to remove the welding helmet and put it back on before the process starts.
As we can see, aside from protection, convenience is another major advantage of the auto darkening welding helmets. By making the welding process faster, they enhance the workflow of the welder and guarantee bigger productivity and more satisfying results.
There is a wide variety of auto darkening welding helmets available in the market, as they have become the most essential tool for the welder the last few decades, no matter professional or beginner. They have almost replaced passive welding helmets because they are safer and easier to use.
Their prices range a lot. If you are on a limited budget, you can find quality auto darkening welding helmets for less than $100, such as the Antra AH6-260-0000.
On the other hand, if welding is your profession and you work daily on difficult projects you probably need to invest in a high quality welding helmet of a higher price range, for instance between $100 and $250. A great welding helmet in this price range is the Welding Helmet Black 3350 Series by Lincoln Electric.
Last but not least, you have to keep in mind that auto darkening welding helmets need a power source to function, which may lead to certain limitations occasionally. Make sure that you always charge your welding helmet before you initiate a welding process.
Type 2 – Passive welding helmets
Passive welding helmets were used massively by welders throughout the years, since the beginning of welding. They were (and still are) the main tool for any welding process, although they have been hugely replaced by auto darkening helmets for a variety of reasons.
The structure of this type of welding helmets is very solid, and its longevity is amazing as they can withstand any rough uses and welding processes. They are made of solid materials and they are far more affordable than the high quality auto darkening welding helmets.
They meet all the National Safety Standards like all welding helmets have to, and they offer great protection from debris and welding arc light. The reason why passive welding helmets are so effective, is because they have a standard shade, usually 10 or 12, no matter if the arc is active or not.
What is more, they are very easy to use. The only thing the welder has to do is put them on before he activates the welding arc, and hold the helmet steadily in front of his face during the entire welding process. Putting them off is similarly easy.
This type of welding helmets, which are also called standard helmets, are preferred mainly by the experienced welders. They are not recommended to beginners, because you have to be extremely cautious not to put them off while working as there is the danger of getting flashed by the arc.
Another disadvantage of the passive welding helmets is that they slow down the welding process. You need to put the helmet on every time you need to start the welding process, and put it off every time you have to inspect your project. This can be very time consuming.
Lastly, the majority of passive welding helmets do not surround both the head and the neck, and this is why they cannot offer complete protection. Having to hold them during the entire process, can also lead to fatigue and inconvenient positioning, making the welding difficult.
A great example of a passive welding helmet, is the Passive Welding Helmet Black Classic MP-10 by Miller Electric. It is the preference of many welders, both professionals and beginners and it is considered a very protective headgear for welding.
Type 3 – Welding helmets with Fixed Shade Lenses
Although welding helmets with fixed shade lenses can be used for many different welding processes, you should take advantage of them if you are mainly welding a standard type of material. This way, you can rest assured that the fixed shade lens you use works properly, without having to test it on unknown materials.
Fixed shade lenses do not have auto darkening filters, and this is why they cannot adjust to multiple levels of arc brightness. The welder, has to make sure that he work with standard voltages and materials, that don’t require extra levels of darkness to protect his eyes.
Welding helmets with fixed shade lenses usually come with a shade 10 lens, which is the most typical. That said, it is also common to find helmets with a shade 12 lens available in the market, although it would be a bit more difficult.
If your job requires you to work with various different materials, then fixed shade lenses are not recommended for you, as they are going to limit your flexibility. If you choose a single welding method for all your projects, then welding helmets with fixed shade lenses will be appropriate for the job.
One fascinating welding helmet with a fixed shade lens (shade 10) that I have come across, is the Shark 14264 Red Racing Helmet Shade #10 which you can check here. It offers great protection, and it is a highly comfortable headgear with a nice design.
Type 4 – Welding helmets with Variable Shade Lenses
The next type is welding helmets with variable shade lenses. This type is considered a lot more convenient in comparison to the fixed shade lenses, because it can adjust to any type of welding method and the welder can use them to work on any type of material.
A significant example of such a welding helmet is the Jackson Safety Insight Variable Auto Darkening Welding Helmet which has a high quality variable shade lens. It allows the welder to work with multiple welding processes, even if he needs to switch between projects simultaneously.
Welding helmets with variable shade lenses can adjust to any type of material, which means that you can use them to join all kinds of metals together. They darken automatically, and they protect the welders eyes under any circumstances.
Flexibility is the main advantage of these welding helmets. They work great, especially if welding is your profession and you need to work on various different welding projects in the same workplace. You don’t have to replace the lens of your helmet. The variable shade lens is going to provide the necessary protection for every level of arc brightness.
Type 5 – Solar powered welding helmets
Welding helmets that utilize solar power are very common in the welding field. They use the power of the sun to charge, and they are especially useful if you take on outdoor welding projects. They are very easy to charge, as you can leave them at a sunny place when you don’t have to work, and they will re-charge.
The main advantage of the particular type of welding helmets, is that you don’t have to worry about buying or replacing the batteries of your welding helmet. This is the reason why they are so low-cost and a great investment, as they can save you lots of money long term.
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If you take on long welding projects, you don’t need to worry. Solar powered welding helmets last for many hours when charged, meaning that you don’t have to charge them regularly. Make a case of leaving them under the sun enough time to charge completely.
The solar powered welding helmet that I recommend is the Antra AH7-860-0000 Solar Power Auto Darkening Welding Helmet. It has an affordable price, and it is a high quality solar powered welding helmet that works great for all types of welding processes.
Type 6 – Battery powered welding helmets
The next type of auto darkening welding helmets is the battery powered helmets. The main advantage of these welding helmets, is the fact that the welder can start using them immediately, assuming that their batteries are charged.
With the particular welding helmets, you need to keep in mind that having a spare set of batteries is always the smart move. This is because you don’t want to be left without a power source for your welding helmet in the middle of your working process.
The most common type of batteries used for this type of welding helmets is lithium. You can find them in every decent shop, and they come as one-time batteries or as rechargeable. It is up to your preference which of the two types you are going to use.
Battery powered welding helmets are considered more convenient than solar powered helmets because you can use them immediately after you place the batteries into the welding helmet. In contrast, solar powered helmets need to be left under the sun in order to charge, which takes some time.
My recommendation regarding battery powered welding helmets, is the Lincoln Electric Welding Helmet Black 3350 Series, which you can check on Amazon. It comes with a variety of excellent features, and has been a magnificent headgear to work on various projects.
Type 7 – Solar & Battery powered welding helmets
This type of welding helmets is considered superior compared to the last two types. It uses both solar power and batteries for maximum effectiveness, and guarantees that you will keep welding under any circumstances.
An awesome solar and battery powered welding helmet that I have come across and worked with, is the Deep Sea Solar Powered Welding Helmet Auto Darkening Professional Hood by the Dekopro Company. It has great optical clarity, and a huge battery life which allows you to complete any welding projects you take on.
Solar and battery powered welding helmets have the advantages of both other helmet types that use separate power sources. When the solar power wears off, batteries provide the necessary energy to the auto darkening welding helmet, in order to allow the welder work more.
They are also a nice investment. Because they use both power sources, the user doesn’t need to spend big amounts of money on batteries, as the solar power extends the battery life and, depending on the helmet model, it recharges them too.
These 7 types of welding helmets are the main ones, and you can easily search and find the one that sounds more appealing to you in the market. They all come with various advantages and disadvantages, and they can be used for different welding processes.
Manufacturers usually combine two or more of these types to create better and more effective welding helmet, to enhance the convenience of the welders. The price ranges differ a lot between various welding helmet types, this is why you need to do your own research and act according to your budget.