MIG welding is used for a wide variety of applications, from large scale fabrication to more precise automotive work. MIG welders tend to create less spatter than stick welding, but you still need to wear proper welding safety gear such as cotton clothes, MIG welding gloves, and a safe welding helmet. Though MIG welders don’t have to feed filler metal into the weld joint, as is the case with TIG welding, MIG welders will still want to consider the following features in a welding helmet, especially auto-darkening:
The Cost of a Welding Helmet
The best welding helmet for your MIG welding setup isn’t necessarily the most expensive one. There are some excellent helmets that will keep your eyes and skin safe. You can spend between $50-$100 and pick up a solid welding helmet that will offer a good deal of protection, but it will be limited in what it offers by way of features and extra safety measures, such as auto-darkening.
The welding helmets with more safety features, lighter weight, auto-darkening, and a wider viewing area will cost between $100-$300. Which helmet you choose will depend on how often you weld, where you weld, and your concern about getting flashed while welding.
Welding Helmet Weight
The weight of a welding helmet is an important factor to consider if you’re working in a lot of unusual positions while MIG welding and if you’re working on any projects for an extended period of time. You can strain your neck if your helmet is too heavy. If you’re working as a full time welder, then a lighter helmet is a must.
Auto-Darkening for a Welding Helmet
Though MIG welders may not feel the same need for auto-darkening as a TIG welder, it’s still an excellent safety feature for any welder, since it can protect your eyes from getting damaged by a flash. The less expensive auto-darkening helmets will have two sensors for picking up flashes, but if you’re MIG welding in an awkward position (such as under a car), you may want to consider a helmet that offers 4 sensors so that an obstruction in your way won’t block all of your sensors.
Auto-darkening helmets use a variety of shades, and the more shade options you have, the better your vision and protection will be while you work. Some helmets even offer a grinding mode so that you can keep working without having to switch your head gear.
Protection from UV Rays and Welding Helmets
If you are wearing a welding helmet, then your skin will be protected from UV rays. The kind of shade you use will not impact your protection (eye comfort vs. eye protection); however, it is important to use a helmet that covers your neck completely and still fits comfortably.
Any exposed skin while MIG welding will get severely sunburned. You don’t have to look hard in the welding forums for stories about painful welding UV ray burns.
Welding Helmet Viewing Area
Some of the premium welding helmets offer a larger viewing area, which can be a real asset if you’re MIG welding on a project where you need to make precise welds.