7 must-know tips before you buy your next Welding Helmet
Fixed/variable shade, Passive or Auto Darkening, 4+ sensors and different viewing sizes... How can you be sure you have found the right helmet for you?
If you want to make sure you make the right choice in your next welding helmet, take a few minutes to read this article before you go and buy - it will pay off in productivity, weld quality, and comfort.
Set the Standard
First things first, your helmet needs to meet the correct standard (in Australia AS/NZS 1338.1 (Auto-Darkening) and AS/NZS 1337.1 B (High Impact).)
Meeting this criteria means the helmet and lense have both passed independent testing, provide sufficient (ie 100%) UV / IR filtering no matter which shade or setting, achieve correct switching speeds and darkness shades in a range of temperatures (-5 to 55c) and will even survive impact from flying objects - don’t test this one out yourselves!)
Miller Digital Elite is one of the top rated welding helmets of 2017
Lenses: Passive vs Auto Darkening
Using UV & IR coated glass, passive lense helmets filter out harmful UV and Infrared light coming from a welder lighting up an arc. Though often cheaper than an auto darkening lense, as the glass has a fixed shade value (generally around #10) this makes it an inefficient piece of equipment unless the welder is looking at a lit arc - you simply can’t see anything else!
Auto Darkening Lense
Lense shades refer to the ability of the lense to filter out different kinds of light. For a welding helmet to meet the Australian AS/NZS 1338.1 standards, it needs to provide 100% protection against UV light, ranging from #13 shade (high amp application) to #8 (low amp applications).
When inactive, auto-darkening lenses have a #3-4 shade, making it possible to see through in relatively low light. Sensors in the helmet detect bright light and automatically change the shade of the lense in a fraction (1/12000 of a second!)
Another great benefit of auto darkening helmets is their ability to reduce neck strain - being able to see in all different light means no more head flipping the helmet to start your weld.
Auto Darkening helmets can improve weld quality and reduce fatigue - definitely a no brainer if you can afford the extra couple of bucks on one of these bad boys.
One of the important factors in choosing a helmet is the viewing size. Though not as obvious in the store (all helmets seem somewhat restrictive) after a few dozen welds you will appreciate the extra couple of square cm provided by a bigger viewing glass.
Just be careful not to trade off lense area for lense quality - it’s not worth going blind for.
As mentioned, neck and head fatigue can be a significant issue, particularly for those new to the industry. Choosing a lightweight helmet can help minimise this, particularly as you begin to use it daily!
Helmet color can have a significant impact too - a silver helmet will help reflect some of the heat away (compared to a matt-black one) which comes in handy on those long summer days in a steel roofed shed.
Finally, custom helmets are great, but remember you may need a new part one day, so choosing a one of a kind helmet may become a pain when you need a common part that you can’t find. It’s happened before!
So, which helmet is for me?
If you’re planning on making more than a couple welds per year, take the time to do your research and find the helmet that is going to be the best fit for your situation. Even though price can be a tempting factor, spending the extra couple of bucks will pay off a thousand times over, in your productivity, weld quality and comfort.
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