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Best Helmets for Arc Welding

View all arc welding helmets and available helmet designs

Helmets for Arc Welding: Best Selection, Best Prices

All the helmets we offer for sale can be used for any arc welding process. Choosing the one best suited to your work comes down to factors like brand preference (if you have one), weight (if this is a critical factor for you), and whether you prefer a fixed shade lens or an auto-darkening lens. Whatever your preference, you can count on the lowest online price when you buy from Welders Supply, plus free shipping within the continental US on all orders over $300.

If your work involves any type of arc welding, you need a helmet capable of shielding you from the harsh arc light. You might think the lens shade number for a helmet refers to the degree of eye protection the lens affords your eyes, with the higher number providing greater protection. Actually, though, all decent quality welding helmet lenses have a screen that filters all the harmful UV (ultraviolet) and IR (infrared) wavelengths.

The numbers you see for lens shades refer to how dark the lens is. If you are working in a dark room, you would use a lighter shade of lens. Conversely, if you are working outdoors or in bright light, you’d want to choose a darker shade lens. The key is to choose a shade that lets you clearly see the weld puddle.

What is arc welding, anyway?

The term “arc welding” comes from the way in which metals are joined. In arc welding, the metals are fused together by the concentrated heat of an electric arc melting a consumable electrode. The molten electrode forms a weld puddle, which conjoins the pieces of metal as it cools.

The 5 types of arc welding:

Gas metal arc welding (GMAW) aka “MIG welding” and “wire welding”)
Originally developed during World War II to help produce weapons and military equipment faster, GMAW uses a spool of solid steel wire fed through a welding gun. The tip of the gun I electrically charged and melts the wire to create a weld puddle, which joins the metals together. The comparatively low temperatures of GMAW make it useful for welding thin sheets and sections. Due to its flexibility and comparatively low learning curve, GMAW is popular among hobbyists and artists
 
Flux-cored arc welding (FCAW)
Flux-cored arc welding is a highly productive form of welding used primarily in the shipbuilding industry, due to its ability to quickly lay down high quality welds even in windy environments. The FCAW process is similar to MIG welding, but uses a hollow wire with flux in the center instead of a solid core wire. This provides its shielding and makes it possible to work in drafty or windy conditions.
 
Gas tungsten arc welding (GTAW) aka TIG welding
Commonly known as TIG welding (Tungsten Inert Gas), this type of arc welding uses non-consumable tungsten electrodes and an inert gas to create welds. The weld pool and electrode are shielded from contamination by argon or helium gas. TIG welding is more difficult to master than other processes, but is favored for welding thin stainless steel, aluminum, magnesium and copper alloy due to the degree of control the process affords the operator.
 
Plasma arc welding (PAW)
Similar to TIG welding, plasma arc welding uses an electric arc created between an electrode and the base metal. It can be used on any metal that can be TIG welded. The biggest difference between the two processes is that plasma welding allows you to position the electrode in the body of the torch to the arc is separated from the shielding gas. Plasma feeds through a fine bore-nozzle, constricting the arc and forcing the plasma out a higher speed and higher temperature.
 
Shielded metal arc welding (SMAW) aka manual metal arc welding and flus shielded arc welding
Shielded metal arc welding was invented in Russia way back in 1888. The process as we know it today uses a flux-coated electrode to form welds. Electricity flows through the electrode and the flux forms a gas that shields the electric arc in the space between the electrode and the metal, effectively preventing contamination from atmospheric gasses. It’s a comparatively simple process done with relatively simple equipment.

Variable Shade Helmets vs Fixed Shade

Fixed shade helmets are fine if you’re using the same arc welding process on the same material in the same lighting. This is rarely the case, however. Most welders have a pretty varied workload, and if this describes you then you’ll be better off with a variable shade helmet that either adjusts automatically or manually to the right darkness for the type of welding you’re doing and the environment you’re working in.

5 Things to Look for in a Welding Helmet

Light weight: The lighter the helmet, the less strain you’ll feel on your neck by the end of the day. Most helmets today are light weight compared to those of just 5 years ago, but if you are concerned about neck strain or have cervical problems you should look at the spec charts for the lightest weight helmet you can find.

Sensor bar: A sensor bar is a great feature if you work next to other welders, as it limits the field of response so your helmet won’t keep getting triggered by the welder next to you.

Spatter shield: A clear, curved spatter shield over the lens allows you to clearly see your work.

Adjustability: To ensure a great fit, look for a fully adjustable helmet. If you wear glasses, you’ll definitely want a helmet that allows you to adjust how close the helmet sits to your face.

Availability of replacement parts: A used helmet may seem like a good low cost option, but just be aware that you will likely have problems finding replacement parts for it. New helmets from reputable manufacturers like Miller, Jackson and 3M Speedglas not only incorporate the latest technologies, but replacement parts are readily available.