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Choosing a Welding Helmet

Choose the right welding helmet with the help of Blain’s Farm & Fleet.

With any type of welding, keeping yourself safe and protected should be the number one priority. The first step to welding safety is having the right clothes–and that includes a welding helmet. Choosing the right helmet comes down to a few key features. With the help of Blain’s Farm & Fleet, you can find the right welding helmet for you.

Choosing a Welding Helmet
When you’re welding, your number one priority should be safety. The first step to welding safety is choosing the right welding helmet.

Standard Fixed Lens vs Auto-Darkening Variable Lens

Welding helmets come with either a fixed shade lens or variable shade lens. They both have their advantages and disadvantages. A standard lens–usually a #10 shade–will come with a fixed shade. While they’re less expensive, they’re also not as versatile when compared to a variable shade. If you’re welding different kinds of metal, or using different processes, the brightness of the welding arc will change. A variable shade lens adjusts to the varying brightness, still protecting your eyes. An auto-darkening lens can switch from #8 or #9 to #13, keeping your eyes protected from arc flash. A variable lens allows you to keep the helmet in the welding position before you actually start the weld.

With a fixed shade lens, you have to be able to keep the torch in place and steady as you flip the welding helmet into place. If you’re an inexperienced welder, this can be quite difficult. They also don’t work too well in tight spaces where there isn’t room to flip the helmet. However, if you’re always going to use the same welding process on the same thickness of material in the same environment, a fixed shade lens will work just fine.

Switching Speed

With an auto-darkening welding helmet, you’ll see a switching speed. Switching speed indicates how quickly the lens will change from its natural light state to a darker shade for when you’re actually welding. Depending on your job, you may only need an entry-level switching speed or as high as a professional level switching speed. The faster the lens switches, the more comfortable you’ll be. Beginner speeds start around 1/3,600 of a second, whereas the professional level is around 1/25,000 of a second. The longer you’re exposed to the arc’s brightness, the more uncomfortable you’ll be and the better the chance you’ll have of getting arc flash.

Solar Power vs Battery

You have a few options when it comes to powering your auto-darkening helmet. Some helmets come with a non-replaceable battery and solar panels. There are also some with replaceable batteries–either lithium or AAA. Lithium batteries have longer battery life, but they’re more expensive and harder to find. AAA batteries are easily available and cheaper. Some auto-darkening helmets with solar panels have to be charged in direct sunlight before you start welding.

ANSI Standards

When you’re shopping for a welding helmet, make sure it’s up to the latest ANSI standard–ANSI Z87. 1-2003. This standard requires that manufacturers have tested and validated the specifications of the helmet, such as darkness shades and switching speeds.

The Right Fit & Style

Safety should be your main concern. However, you also want to make sure your welding helmet fits comfortably. You also should like the style–whether that’s the color, shape, etc. You’ll be wearing the helmet for the entire work day, so you need to have a helmet that’s comfortable for you.

Blain’s Farm & Fleet is your one-stop weld shop. You’ll find welders, welding rods, welding gloves and more from top welding brands like Lincoln Electric and Hobart. Take a look at different welding processes and safety tips with our Welding blog.

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