Important considerations while selecting a welding helmet

A welding helmet is essential equipment required during welding to protect the eyes against sparks, flying materials and blinding light. Irrespective of the type of welding application, a proper welding helmet is necessary for safety. There are many models of welding helmets in the market. The key is to select the right kind of welding helmet as per your requirements.

Here are some major factors which should be taken into account when comparing various welding helmets.

Shade Number

Shade number of a Welding helmet is the ability of its lens to filter light. The shades are designed for providing adequate eye protection for particular welding applications. It is imperative to know about the amps produced during a particular weld process so that the correct shade number is selected for your specific welding style. Consider the following list of shade numbers for various kinds of welding.

  • Stick welding(30-500 amps)- 9-13
  • MIG welding(80-500 amps)- 10-13
  • MIG welding aluminum(80-350 amps)- 10-12
  • TIG welding(5-300 amps)- 9-13
  • Flux core welding(100-400 amps)- 10-13

Auto or Passive Lens

The passive lens is made of tinted glass which is coated to provide protection against UV rays and IR radiation. The shade number of the passive lens is usually 10. This type of welding helmet needs to be worn in the up position and needs to be put in place by snapping the neck or a quick nod after the electrode is positioned and before striking the arc. Passive lens welding helmet might be inconvenient for inexperienced welders because it may become difficult to keep the electrode in position while snapping the helmet. This type of welding helmet is also not suitable for multiple short welds and tack welding because of the need to lower and lift the helmet frequently.

Welding helmet having an auto-darkening lens, on the other hand, can be worn during the positioning of the electrode. This is because the shade number of the auto-darkening lens remains at 3 or 4 when the welding process has not commenced, and there is no problem to see through it. As soon as the sensors on the lens detect an arc, it automatically darkens to 8, 10 or 13. There is no need to snap the neck to put the helmet in position or lift it up because the helmet stays in place during the entire welding process. This is particularly beneficial for newbie welders and for multiple short welds.

Fixed or Variable shade

Fixed shade welding helmet has a fixed shade number which is usually 10. Fixed shade auto-darkening welding helmets are also available in which the lens automatically darkens to 10 on detecting arc. If the welding process involves the same material, same thickness and a fixed amps range, then a fixed shade welding helmet is suitable.

Variable shade welding helmet, on the other hand, has an auto-darkening lens which adjusts the shade number to offer the best view and protection. It can range from 9 to 13. This type of welding helmet is required for different types of welding processes covering a wide amps range.


Apart from considering the above mentioned factors, it is necessary to ensure that the welding helmet is not too heavy as heavy helmet can cause neck injury. The fitting of the helmet should also be perfect because exposed skin can burn on exposure to UV rays or sparks.