Choosing the right helmet is critical.
Price is a minor consideration when it comes to protecting your eyes but even the cheapest welding helmets meet EU and BSI standards. Always ensure your helmet is ANSI Z87.1 or EU CERTIFICATION.
If you're just doing the occasional MIG welding then one of the lower specification helmets would suit your needs just ensure it has the correct shade adjustment for what you want to do. TIG welding requires more sensitivity due to the lower weld currents.
The weight of the helmet can be important too, as the difference could mean fatigue if welding for long hours.
The correct welding ranges are:
- Aluminium MIG - 80 amps shade 10. 350 amps shade 13
- Flux Cored - 125 amps shade 10, 350 amps shade 13
- TIG - 15 Amps shade 9, 200 Amps shade 13
- MIG - 80 amps shade 9. 300 to 500 amps shade 13
- MMA - 20 amps shade 9. 300 to 500 amps shade 13
You need to be able to see the welding pool so always set the shade light enough so you can see it clearly but dark enough so that you don’t get sore eyes after a time of welding.
To enable you to see better Magnifying lenses are available and most new helmets provide slots for these to slide into if required.
Reactalite welding helmets have a switching speed where they go from their inactive state (typically shade 3 tor 4) to the shade you have selected in a fraction of a second (typically 1/3,600 to 1/20,000 of a second).
The Hobby helmets tend to switch at the lower speeds and the industrial at the higher. Your eyes are faster than the helmets so they do get a minute glare every time you arc up. If you have a lower speed lens and do a lot of start ups in a day then you may get sore or tired eyes by the end of it.
Choose the fastest switching helmet you can afford.
Helmets have different viewing areas and this can also be reflected in the price.
Choose the largest view area you can afford.
Helmets The sensors are the “eyes” for the helmet. They need to see the weld so they can switch on the reaction. Hobby helmets generally have two sensors while industrial helmets have four. Four “eyes” gives better sensing and switching especially in out of position welds. More Sensors is also desirable for TIG welding due to the lower welding currents achieved and smaller arc to view.