Safety is your number one priority when performing welding projects, like working with the Chicago Electric 240. You need a reliable, durable welding helmet for that. Chances are you’re already asking how to choose the right one. More to the point: “What makes a good one?”
That’s a good question to ask. But suppose you want to maximize the many benefits of wearing one. You should be asking yourself this question instead: “Which one is the best for me?”
To find the one that best suits your needs, some deliberation is required. Remember, safety is the last thing you want to compromise when working. Wearing a faulty product comes with numerous potential hazards. Some of them include temporary or permanent blindness and neck strain. You’re also prone to making mistakes or getting fatigued.
Why Should You Use One?
The quick answer couldn’t be simpler. Protect yourself from UV rays and sparks. Bright light can hurt your eyes while using a welding machine or torch.
“Protect yourself at all times,” as a boxing referee would put it.
Chances are you’ve already seen a welder at work. Seeing the sparks alone should be telling enough why wearing one is critical to safe welding. The light from a torch is bright enough to burn the cornea, resulting in temporary or even permanent blindness. Wearing one protects your face and body from flying sparks, leading to potential burns.
It is also used for utility purposes. It comes with auto-darkening properties. They allow your eyes to adjust to sudden changes in brightness that are typical in every job. If you’re doing higher AMP welding, you need one with variable shades. They help your eyes adjust to frequent changes in brightness. If you’re welding in steadier amperages, an option with a fixed shade will serve you better.
You might be wondering: How does it do all that?
The components include:
- Filter lens (reduces the amount of light that’s reaching your eyes).
- Outer cover plate
- Clear retainer lens
To determine which one is best for you, you need to establish first what you’ll be using it for. There are many types to choose from. If you choose the wrong type, it will not do you much good. That is, even if the one you purchased isn’t a bad product.
And with that, let’s go over the different types one by one.
Are solar-powered ones any good? That depends on your personal preferences and the types of projects you’re working on.
So, what makes solar-powered welding models different from other types?
The first reason is obvious: it uses the sun’s light as its main power source. These models do so via photovoltaic cells placed on top of them. They also come with batteries to serve as an additional power source once the power sourced from the sunlight has run out. It bears noting that these batteries can also store energy through solar means.
Another advantage of using them is that it reduces energy costs, saving you a lot of money. They also have automatic features. Some turn on automatically as soon as an arc is detected, protecting your eyes from potential hazards. Because they are mostly automatic, most of them have smaller controls. It makes them lighter than traditional ones.
Last but not least, using solar-powered welding glasses is effective for all types of projects. It doesn’t matter whether you’re working indoors or outdoors.
Traditional ones have a fixed shade. When you put one on, your vision will be dimmer than usual throughout the welding process. This helps protect your eyes. Flipping it up every time to see what you’re doing “in a better light” can get annoying. It’s also a waste of time.
To do away with the endless flipping, you can use auto-darkening models instead. When an arc is struck, they darken automatically to protect your eyes from light emissions. When the arc is down, your helmet automatically lightens up. In return, it allows you to see better.
Auto-darkening models can pull this off using auto-darkening LCD technology. You can adjust and position your equipment and materials while keeping them down by wearing one. It can be done throughout the entire process. This helps with productivity and accuracy, allowing for a more efficient process.
When picking an auto-darkening model, you must pick one that meets ANSIZ87.1 and CSA Z94.3 safety standards. You don’t want to strike an arc expecting the auto-darkening lens to adjust accordingly and then fail. You might also want to buy one with a lime green color spectrum to make your helmet more UV- (Ultraviolet) and IR-(Infrared) resistant.
Reviews: Top Picks from the Best Brands
If you want to pick the best welding helmet off the lot, you should always go to the top brands. The market is fierce, with many pieces of equipment and accessory manufacturers vying for market share dominance. There’s been a lot of development over the last decade.
Whether you’re a beginner or a long-time welder, that can only mean good news for us.
There are many good selections of metals out there, but we understand how overwhelming it can be to pick one out of the lot. To help you out, we listed our top picks and wrote a review for each. Go over them, and you’re bound to find the best one for you. We’ve got the best welding helmet to find any budget.
Miller Black OPS Digital Infinity Auto-Darkening
If you want an auto-darkening model, you can’t go wrong with the Miller brand. A Miller product like Digital Infinity Black Ops is great. It is equipped with clear light lens technology. It makes it easier for you to see the position of an arc no matter how dark your surroundings are. Coupled with a 13.4-inches wide viewing area, Black OPS has much to offer in the way of visibility. It’s great when you have to work with awkward angles.
It is packed to brimming with useful features. First and foremost is the amazing Info track technology, which allows you to track time. You can set different timer functions and adjust arc time. Those are among some of the great features it comes with.
Despite its attractive and stylish design, the Digital Infinity is comfortable to wear. It offers a premium range at the same time with its full range of support and adjustability features.
Also coming in handy is the X-Mode feature that allows it to sense if an arc is present automatically. Adjusting the darkness of the filters without any effort on your part has never before been this easy. Even if the sensors are deactivated.
To top it off, this “hood” has intuitive controls that let you adjust the settings on the fly and when it’s necessary. Whether using TIG or MIG, the Miller Digital Infinity provides you with everything you need to make that perfect weld.
- Big viewing field
- Info track technology for better visibility
- Superior comfort
- Automatically turns on and off
- 4 modes (including X-Mode)
- Intuitive controls
- Not cheap
- A little heavy
Jackson Safety 46120 True Sight II
Visibility is critical to great welding. And when it comes to providing superior visual clarity, the True Sight II by Jackson Safety is simply one of the best. For starters, its digital lens offers multiple adjustment settings. It ensures that you can maintain optimal clarity even under variable conditions. Better yet, it boasts a massive square viewing area. It’ll give you full visibility even when you’re working with odd angles.
One drawback with the True Sight II is that it’s made of thin material, making it susceptible to impact damage. It could be a non-issue. Make sure you take care not to drop it or not use it in conditions or places that would expose it to heavy-duty damage.
- Stunning visual clarity
- Multiple lens settings
- Big viewing area
- Auto-dimming hood offers variable shade settings.
- It automatically adjusts sensitivity and delay settings.
- Made of thin material
- The narrow build takes some getting used to.
Lincoln Electric VIKING 3350
The VIKING 3350 by Lincoln Electric is equipped with 4C Lens Technology. It gives the experience of much-improved visual clarity and enriched colors. You’ll notice the difference the moment you put it on!
This one also comes with a solar battery—so there is no need to worry about it “dying” on you while you work. As long as you’re working in a location with good access to sunlight, you’re good.
The Electric VIKING 3350 is equally effective in variable conditions thanks to its 2A TIG amp rating. Does your welding project require you to switch modes often? Its grind mode lets you do that in seconds.
It has a lightweight design that puts a premium on comfort. The weight distribution is such that it prevents neck strains. It comes with easy-to-reach controls and knobs that allow you to make adjustments with minimal effort.
- Lets you see more colors
- Superior comfort
- It provides stunning visual clarity.
- Designed for easy adjustment
- Quick responses to different lighting and arc conditions
- It can be used in many situations
- Padding at the back can be uncomfortable for some
- It feels a bit awkward when overhead welding is involved
ESAB Sentinel A50
If you want one that delivers functionality and comfort, you can’t go wrong with ESAB’s new offering. The Sentinel A50 is a great choice!
It has a lot to offer when it comes to enhancing visibility. It’s equipped with True Color lenses to provide clarity of vision while protecting your eyes from extreme brightness. The view screen is so wide you won’t feel like you’re wearing anything at all on your face. The 4 grinding shade selector is within easy reach, allowing for easy shade adjustment.
The ESAB Sentinel A50 only weighs 1.4 lbs. Coupled with its ergonomic “Halo” design, neck strains and calluses will be a thing of the past. You’ll be hard-pressed to find another option that is as comfortable to wear as this one.
- Wide-sized lens
- Superior comfort
- Full-color LED screen with touch screen functionality
- Responsive 4 sensors
- Grinding shade selector for easy adjustments
- A bit pricier than most other options (although justified)
3M SPEEDGLAS 9100
The 3M Speedglas 9100 is the choice option by most professionals. Maybe you sit a professional down and ask them which qualities they want—this latest offering by SPEEDGLAS ticks all the right boxes. There are many good reasons for that!
First and foremost, its 9100XX lens is the largest in the Speedglas catalog. It doesn’t hurt that the visual quality is just as impressive. Its Auto-Darkening filters come with 3 arc sensors, allowing for quicker transitions even with variable lighting conditions. It’s equipped with 3-channel exhaust vents that allow exhaled air to escape. It helps prevent the buildup of heat and fogginess. Avoid excess humidity as you work.
Is the Speedglass 9100 safe? You bet! Thanks to its UV/IR-resistant face and eye protection, you don’t need to worry about sparks or heat. The 3M SPEEDGLASS 9100 will avoid spattering, compromising your safety!
- 3 arc sensors offer fast transitions
- Minimal chance of overheating and fogginess
- Massive view area
- Superior comfort
- Very safe
- A bit expensive
- A little heavier than most other options
Kobalt Auto Darkening Variable Shade Hydrographic
The Kobalt Auto Darkening Variable Shade model offers a lot for novice and professionals alike. It has a large viewing range, allowing you to perform precise welds even when working with awkward angles. Even with variable lighting conditions, the Auto-Darkening lens is super reliable. It has a response time of 1/20,000 of a second! With the filters always keeping the brightness of the arc at bay, you can work without any blind spots compromising your vision. It has a lightweight construction for easy transport as well.
Suppose you want an affordable option with all the essentials. You can’t go wrong with the Kobalt Auto Darkening Variable Shade Hydrographic model.
- The viewing range is huge
- Auto-darkening lenses respond fast
- Lightweight build
- Easy to use
- Lens replacements aren’t readily available all the time
Solar-powered vs. auto-darkening
Maybe you’re looking for one of the brands that consistently produce products you can rely on. Do you know the key differences between one type versus the other?
By knowing the differences between the two and comparing them, you will make a great choice that matches your needs.
We previously touched on the two types. This section aims to ensure that you are making the right choice in the process. You don’t want to spend hundreds of dollars on a piece of equipment you won’t be excited about.
It is the most important piece of safety equipment in the welding process.
It ensures your eyes aren’t getting damaged in the process. Many different safety precautions need to be taken when working with metal. However, you won’t simply be able to repair your eyes if damage occurs to them.
We recommend you avoid simply buying a cheap model from a company you can’t trust. Rather consider spending slightly more money on a reliable model.
With the right one, your eyes won’t just be protected. You will be able to comfortably engage in the activity you have been looking forward to getting better at. It ensures proper protection from the harmful ultraviolet and infrared rays you would otherwise be exposed to.
The right one gives you the visibility to see what you are working on while viewing through a protective filter you can rely on.
Fumes and flames it will end up protecting you against. The damaging rays to your eyes are arguably the most dangerous ones. They are able to damage your eyesight permanently!
With the main distinction being whether it uses either solar power or batteries, here are things to consider.
The short answer is that we prefer the auto-darkening welding helmets because they combine the best of both worlds. Keep reading to understand better the advantages and limitations that each type may have. With the auto-darkening models, you are getting an option that doesn’t rely on either of the two power sources. Auto-darkening helmets can use battery and solar. The ones considered the most technologically advanced ones would last longer than any of the other types. With their superior longevity, they do cost a little bit more.
There are various of these options to choose from. You may even have formed some preferences based on the article you read above. You figured out that a helmet that relies on solar power will need to have its power coming from somewhere. That place is outside. If you plan on welding a lot outside, this may be the right option for you. If you plan on doing most of the work indoors, we wouldn’t recommend an option that relies fully on solar power.
When it comes to safety, it comes down to ensuring you have properly produced and provided the level of protection promised. Our article talks about the different welding glasses and shades that they will be able to offer. You should also be buying one manufactured by a manufacturer that you feel you can trust. The shade is what provides the necessary level of protection for your eyes.
The power source isn’t what provides safety but rather a convenience in many different situations. If you are doing a lot of indoor projects, it is inconvenient to have one that solely relies on the sun’s rays.
When you get a better power source, you end up with a type that will last you long. There are some models that will have better batteries than others.
When you plan on welding for a long time inside, you must consider the battery every time you are working. Are your welds briefer, on the other hand? The battery’s longevity may not be quite as crucial. For someone picking up a hobby, you may not need one of the more expensive models that can weld for longer. Suppose you are running a metal workshop. You don’t want your capacity to be limited because your helmet can’t provide the continued safety you need.
Welding helmets range anywhere from $15 to over $100. For a higher price, you can get superior features. But multiple options within a suitable price range get the job done.
The ‘Miller Black OPS Digital Infinity Auto-darkening’ helmet is the top-listed one.
Yes. Not only do they use it, but they also deem it absolutely necessary. It makes welding a much safer and more efficient process.
Yes, multiple budget-friendly options offer state-of-the-art features.
Yes. Especially in comparison to the passive welding helmet, they’ve got a clear upper hand. Not only are they safer, but they drastically reduce the risk of errors.
Yes. Over time, the helmets start to wear off. However, you can stretch them to comfortable use of up to 10 years with sufficient care.