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How to Choose a Welding Helmet? Factors That You Can’t Ignore

how to choose a welding helmet
Written by Brent Butterworth
Last Update: May 3, 2023

Certainly choosing the right welding helmet isn’t an easy task. Especially with so many brands and models available in the market. However, considering 15 basic factors before making a decision can save you from making a big mistake.

Today, we’ll explain you each of those factors. Also, you’ll learn the pros and cons of different types of welding helmets.

How to Choose a Welding Helmet? – 15 Factors You Can’t Ignore

1. Fixed Shade vs. Variable Shade Lens

Fixed Shade vs. Variable Shade Lens Welding Helmet

Fixed shade welding helmets automatically darken to a 10 shade in the presence of an arc light. These models are much cheaper than the rest. In addition, they’re more convenient for users who tend to use the same amperage very frequently.

On the other hand, a variable shade lens varies the shade between 8 and 14. It all depends on how intense the arc light is. These models are more expensive, but more versatile. They’re the ideal choice for advanced users, used to work with different materials and amperages.

2. Viewing area

The choice of this feature depends on the personal taste of each user. However, in certain cases it’s convenient to have a wider viewing area. For example, for light duty uses, a viewing area of ??6 square inches is enough.

On the other hand, for industrial uses, it’s convenient to have at least 9 square inches of viewing area.

3. Passive vs. Auto-Darkening Lens

Passive vs. Auto-Darkening Lens

Passive welding helmets are cheap and pretty basic. They don’t have so many fancy features like auto darkening helmets. However, they do provide the protection your eyes require. In these cases, the lens always keeps a shade 10.

Using them isn’t so easy and requires some practice. With a quick movement of the neck, the user sets the lens in position. After welding, the user should use his hands to turn the helmet over his head and inspect the final job.

On the other hand, auto darkening welding helmets are much more practical. The shade of the lens adjusts automatically, depending on the intensity of the arc light. In addition, the user doesn’t waste time putting on and taking off the helmet.

4. Functionality controls

Depending on the brand and model, the functionality controls may vary. For example, classic models use knobs and switches to control essential functions like shade, light sensitivity and delay. These controls are very easy to use in a well lit environment. However, using them in dark spaces is a totally different story.

On the other hand, newer models use illuminated touch screens. You can use them in any circumstances, regardless of the external illumination.

5. Delay controls

Best auto darkening welding helmets have delay controls. The delay time defines how much the lens will last to pass from dark to clear estate. Usually, the delay control is on the inner side of the helmet. In these cases, the more intense the arc light is, the longer the delay time should be.

6. Fit

Also, your welding helmet should perfectly fit the size and shape of your head. Also, it should cover your entire face. Any exposed skin is prone to serious burns. Also, a poorly fitted helmet will tend to move around too much, forcing the user to readjust it over and over again.

7. Number of sensors

Usually, low-price helmets use 2 sensors. Although they’re an excellent choice, they don’t respond quickly enough with every welding flash. More advanced models use 4 sensors. They have a faster response time, because they can detect the arc light from any position.

8. Light sensitivity

The light sensitivity defines how intense the arc light should be to darken the lens. Usually, this feature is very convenient in work places exposed to different light sources. For example, the arc light from coworkers and sunlight. In these cases, maintaining a high light sensitivity isn`t a good idea. The lens will remain too dark all the time.

9. Grind Mode

Grinding is usually an essential process to guarantee a smooth and eye-catching finish of the welded piece. However, most welders need to take off their helmets to have a clear view for grinding.

However, some welding helmets have a grind mode. With the push of a button, the user disables the auto-darkening functions of the lens. So, the lens immediately passes to its clearer state. That way, the welding helmet also works as a protection against grinding debris.

10. Power source

Before choosing the best power source for your welding helmet, you need to consider the job site conditions. Solar-powered helmets are better for outdoor jobs.

On the other hand, battery-powered models are suitable in any circumstance. However, you’ll have to replace the batteries very frequently. Best helmets combine solar panels and rechargeable lithium batteries. If there’s sunlight, the batteries will never lose their charge completely.

11. Shade controls

Shade controls are also important to guarantee a clear vision during the welding process. They let you to adjust the maximum shade the lens can reach. For some welders, a 13 or 14 shade is too dark and uncomfortable. However, it isn’t recommended to decrease the shade too much when working with too high amperes.

12. Color

In addition, welding helmets should have reflective colors to repel radiant heat. Too dark helmets tend to get too hot. Especially, when exposed to sunlight. A silver coloring is a better option to reduce temperature and guarantee user comfort.

13. Helmet weight

Usually, welding helmets have a standard weight between 1 and 2 pounds. In these cases, the lighter the helmet, the better. If the helmet is too heavy, the user will end up exhausted at the end of the work day. Over time, the neck and head will also suffer. So, always choose the lightest option to avoid health problems.

14. Heat shield

Also, a heat shield is recommended for applications that require high amperage. For example, an aluminum heat shield can protect the lens from any damage when using more than 300A.

15. Design

fixed shade welding helmets design

Finally, the design of your welding helmet is an aspect that you can’t ignore. Choose the design that best defines you. You can also hire a professional artist to customize your helmet.


Certainly, there are many different factors you need to consider to find the perfect welding helmet for you. To make the best decision, follow each one of the tips on this guide. Also consider other important factors like brand, model and price. Without a doubt, the more factors you consider, the lower your chances of making mistakes.


1. What does welding shade number mean?

A. The shade number defines how dark the lens is. In these cases, the higher the number, the darker the lens.

2. What is the darkest shade for a welding lens?

A. A shade 14 lens is the darkest of all.

3. What shade number do I need for MIG welding?

A. In these cases, you need a shade 10 or higher to keep your eyes protected.

4. How dark should be my welding lens?

A. It all depends on the amperage you use. Usually, a high amperage emits a very intense arc light. In these cases, the higher the shade number, the better.

5. What is the best lens shade for arc welding?

A. For arc welding, a shade between 10 and 13 can keep your eyes protected.

About the author

Brent Butterworth

A Professional Woodworker & Custom Furniture Builder

Brent lives in Wisconsin and is a woodworker, custom cabinetmaker, interior consultant, and a freelance writer who got the opportunity to write several magazine articles for different publications on home improvement and woodworking. He’s always amazed at the depth and breadth of woodworking all over the globe, and feels proud to be a part of this great effort. Brent has built everything one can imagine, from unique art furniture to different types of home furniture to canoes and even a sailboat.

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