The Optrel US Blog

7 Things To Look For When Buying a Welding Helmet

Weldguru welding helmet - article image for Optrel Blog: 7 Things To Consider When Buying A Welding Helmet.

Welding helmets have come a long way since the first arc welding helmet. While today’s helmets are feature-packed and much improved, all helmets are not created equal. There are many variables to consider when selecting a hood. In this article, the guys over at WeldGuru give us the top 7 factors to consider before pressing the “buy” button. 

What to look for when buying a welding helmet

what to look for in a welding helmet

1. Helmet fit 

First things first, your welding helmet must fit properly. While this sounds like a no-brainer, a proper fit is essential for both safety and comfort. To figure out if your helmet fits properly, ask yourself the following questions: 

  • Am I completely covered? A proper fit provides the utmost protection against welding rays. To protect your face and neck from burns, spatter and UV rays, make sure your face, neck, and ears are covered by the helmet. 
  • Is the headgear adjustable? Headgear is one of the most important components of the perfect fit. The best headgear is customizable to your head and offers a snug yet comfortable fit, regardless of your head shape and size. A good example of customizable headgear is optrel’s IsoFit headgear, compatible with all optrel hoods. 
  • Does the helmet tilt? Another way to ensure proper fit is to move your head up and down in the helmet. Your helmet shouldn’t tilt during this process. If it does, make sure you’re able to adjust the tension and stabilize the helmet.

2. Size of the viewing areahow to buy a welding helmet weldguru

When selecting a welding helmet, the viewing area is an essential component. Also called the field of vision, the viewing area is how much visibility you have from behind the lens. Welding hoods offer various viewing area sizes. What to look for depends on a few factors including your welding environment, the type of welding you do and your personal preference. 

Many welders prefer a large viewing area as it offers a better view of the arc, puddle, and workpiece. If you are a hobbyist, a single viewing pane might suffice. A smaller viewing area can offer greater concentration, which may be advantageous for TIG welders. It’s also typically less expensive than a helmet with a large field of view. In contrast, hoods with larger viewing areas offer a bigger view of the work environment, allowing you to see mistakes and self-correct. 

When fabricating or performing out-of-position work, a larger area, often called a panoramic view, provides greater visibility of your welding project and your environment. The Panoramaxx CLT gives a wide true-color view of the weld pool to help reduce eye strain and improve performance. Additionally, the high-resolution Panoramaxx lens allows you to see more clearly, making it easier to detect discoloration and imperfections. For this reason and many others, we rated the Panoramaxx CLT the best welding helmet, over at WeldGuru.

3. Clarity of the lens

The clarity of your lens is so important. It becomes even more crucial if you’re welding professionally or for long hours as a clear lens is thought to prevent fatigue and increase productivity. Superior lens clarity also makes it easier to spot problems as you weld, before they get out of hand.

Lens clarity is designated by a rating system. A rating of 1/1/1/1 describes perfect optical clarity—an undistorted view from behind the lens. 

Aside from the ranking, other factors can hinder clarity, including:

  • Visual impairments: if you wear glasses to see better close up, often called “cheaters,” consider choosing a helmet that offers a magnifying lens. Optrel offers mag lenses for the Panoramaxx Series in strengths ranging from +1.00 to +2.00. 
  • Fogging: if you’re welding in a humid environment or you tend to sweat under the hood, consider a helmet with anti-fog components. The nose cut-out design of the Panormaxx offers one of the best ways to eliminate fogging of your lens.
  • Light transmission: light transmission describes how much light transmits through the lens. The industry standard welding helmet has a light transmission of 5% which isn’t great for setup and makes prep work difficult. The optrel CLT 2.0 set a record of 31% light transmission in bright conditions (protection level 2) for a practically unclouded and clear view of their work environment. 
  • Color perception: this refers to the ability to see untinted, real colors of the weld pool and metal. True colors allow you to see your weld in detail and offer a clear view of the welding area. The Crystal 2.0 is a very reliable option if you’re looking for a lid with excellent color perception. 

4. Auto-darkening vs. Passive Lenses

While auto-darkening lenses aren’t new, they are considerably newer than passive lenses. Optrel was one of the welding industry’s original inventors of auto-darkening filters (ADFs). An ADF lens does exactly as the name states; it darkens automatically when you weld or strike an arc, eliminating the need to flip the hood up and down. 

Passive lenses stay fixed at a certain shade, regardless of the environment or brightness. Hobbyist welders or those who don’t weld often might choose a fixed shade lens as they are usually less expensive.  

There are two types of ADFs. The less common is a fixed shade, that auto-darkens to a fixed shade. The more common ADF is a variable shade. This allows you to select the appropriate shade level, depending on the intensity of the arc. 

Shade numbers are categorized on a sliding scale called a DIN rating. This German industrial standard is used worldwide to gauge the light transmission filter level. Darker filters have higher DIN numbers and block more radiation than lighter filters with lower DIN numbers.

ADFs are much easier to use overall, especially when welding in low-light conditions. If you’re looking for a variable shade welding helmet, check out the optrel Crystal 2.0. This welding hood automatically adapts to the welding arc and changing light conditions. The ultra-bright viewing area provides a clear view of weld puddle and reduces eye strain and fatigue.

5. Comfort

If you’ve ever used an uncomfortable welding helmet, you know how frustrating it is. If the hood doesn’t fit right, lacks sufficient ventilation or weighs a ton, the entire welding experience hits different—and not in a good way.

There are many different helmets available that offer comfort and safety. One of the best examples of this is the Panoramaxx CLT, mentioned throughout this article. The Isofit headgear in the Panoramaxx is widely hailed as the most comfortable headgear on the market. Moreover, the patented nose cutout design ensures your helmet will not fog up easily. And, despite its massive viewing area, it’s also one of the lightest helmets available.

6. Overhead welding

When the topic of overhead welding comes up, typically someone in the room advises you to avoid overhead welding at all costs. For obvious reasons, gravity is not your friend when it comes to welding. Still, there are times when overhead welding is necessary. What I’m about to say might surprise you…the majority of helmets on the market are not approved for overhead welding.

The good news? All of the helmets in optrel’s sphere series are approved for overhead welding, including: 

One of the best features of optrel helmets is the spherical design. The spherical design of these helmets prevents slag and debris from burning a hole in your lens. Instead of filler material or metal slag sticking to your hood, the debris rolls off the lens of your helmet, protecting your eyes and face. 

7. Shadetronic 

One of the coolest features available in many optrel helmets is the Shadetronic feature. Shadetronic is unlike anything available on the market. This built-in sensor automatically changes the shade level of your lens based on the intensity of light it detects. 

Other helmets require you to adjust the shade level manually. Manual shade adjustment means you need to know the exact shade level you need. If you’re like most welders, you’ll go for a shade that feels right, based on your personal preference. This strategy works until it doesn’t. The problem is, you won’t know if your shade level provides adequate protection until it’s too late. 

If you weld at a higher amp than your shade level protects for, you’re out of the range of protection. In the short term, you’ll experience fatigue. In the long-term, a lack of sufficient protection has been proven to damage the eyes irreversibly.

One school of thought is to always weld at a higher shade level, for instance, shade level 13. The disadvantage to this is the strain it puts on your eyes when you weld at lower amps and everything becomes dark. This can increase the risk of future eye problems.  

With Shadetronic, you’ll always get the right shade protection and clarity. Automatic shade level adjustment helps boost productivity and reduce fatigue. This patented technology is available in the Panaromaxx range of helmets, the Crystal 2.0 and the e684.

How to choose a welding helmet

When it comes to choosing a welding helmet, the most important factor is you. If you’re like most welders, you’ll start out with a bottom-of-the-line helmet, something you pick up at the local hardware store just to get by. As you progress in your career, you’ll begin to understand the challenges inherent in cheap helmets. In addition to the 7 key features of a welding helmet that we listed above, a few other things to consider include: 

  • Type of welding: If you’re a MIG welder, look for a helmet with a large shade range to accommodate more amps. MIG welding also tends to generate more heat than TIG, so you might consider going with a heat reflective helmet such as the Crystal 2.0 in silver. The silver paint on the Crystal 2.0 provides more than a 30% reduction in heat than the same hood in black.
  • Welding frequency: Are you a weekend welder or a professional? The more time you spend under the hood, the more important it is to have top-of-the-line protection. Welding helmets provide the ultimate protection for your face, skin and eyes. It’s not worth it to risk your eyesight and health to save a few bucks. There are many excellent welding hoods to be found, regardless of your price range. 
  • Personal preference: What to look for in a welding helmet will likely change throughout your life.  For instance, helmet ergonomics or weight might not seem like a big factor now. These two factors become very important as you weld more or for longer durations.

We hope this article helps you better understand what to look for when buying a welding helmet. If you have a specific question, contact us at [email protected].


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