How to Select the Right Welding Helmet

Using quality personal protective equipment and taking safe welding practices are a top priority for welders, regardless of the type of welding process. Welding Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) encompasses, but is not limited to, eye, face, hand, and body protection. Welders must always wear safety glasses under the welding helmet. Besides, they need to vigilantly evaluate the welding environment to ensure appropriate ventilation and respiratory protection.

One of the basic features of any helmet is safety and compliance. In the US, welding helmets need to meet ANSI standards, and in Canada, the helmets must be CSA compliant. General standards ensure that the helmet lens guards the welder against anything that could affect the eyes, including ultraviolet and infrared filtering regardless of the shade settings. Safety must always be a high priority.

Different Types of Welding Helmets

Welding helmets include two typical types:

Passive Helmets

A passive helmet contains a dark tinted lens, generally a shade #10. When the helmet is down, you can see through the dark lens. The helmet’s lens will not switch from a light state to a dark state. Therefore, when inspecting the welding work, you will need to remove the helmet. These helmets are typically lightweight; however, because you cannot select your shade level and the constant dark tinted lens, specific weld processes and viewing your work area in-between welds may be complex.

Auto-Darkening Helmets

Auto-darkening helmets are available for every welding level, from hobbyists to professionals. They fall into two categories:

  1. A fixed-shade auto-darkening helmet combines the economy of a fixed-shade helmet and the advantages of auto-darkening. It may be the best choice if most of your welding involves similar material utilizing the same welding process.
  2. An Auto-darkening helmet with variable shades enables you to select the shade preference; this allows you to adjust the shades depending on various welding processes and applications. Typically, weld shade ranges are between shade #8 to #13. When you hold the helmet downward, you will see through a light lens allowing for clear visibility and inspection of the weld piece and the surrounding region. Once you have struck the welding arc, the helmet will automatically darken to the shade you have selected.

General Features of an Auto-Darkening Helmet

Welding Light State

It signifies how light or dark the welding filter is when you are not welding. Note that the lighter the welding filter, the better the welder can view the work area and weld piece. MillerĀ®’s auto-darkening helmets have a light state of 3.

Welding Shades

It determines how dark the welding filter gets when the welding arc is struck. Market standard shades include 8-13, with 13 being the darkest. You can refer to a welding shades standard chart to select the correct shade number for your welding applications.

Number of Sensors

The sensors range from two for a hobby-level helmet to four for an industrial-grade helmet. More sensors indicate better coverage, particularly for out-of-position welding where a sensor could be obstructed. Three sensors may be adequate for production work or when you have a clear line of sight to your work. Four sensors are optimal for most fabrication as well as out-of-position welding.


This feature determines the amount of light required to darken the welding filter. Most auto-darkening helmets enable the welder to select the helmet’s sensitivity to light.

Viewing Area

Welding helmets are available in a multitude of viewing areas. Obviously, a larger viewing area provides more visibility to the weld and the welding area, while a smaller one provides a more focused view. When looking at a larger viewing area, the helmet’s weight may also be a consideration.

Remember these tips once you have selected your welding helmet:
  • Always wear the appropriate protective clothing while going through your welding process. Besides, never forget to wear your safety glasses under the welding helmet.
  • To guarantee consistent visibility of the weld, ensure the outer cover lens of the welding helmet is free from any slag and spatter.

If you are a professional welder, take the time to find the right helmet, one that facilitates your work and guarantees your safety. While it might be tempting to purchase the least expensive helmet in the market, making an effort to explore all the options available at the local hardware store can bring you long-term benefits.

If you need help finding the helmet that suits your requirements, feel free to contact our experts at Helios Helmet.

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