People weld for various reasons. For some individuals, it is a career. For others, it is a simple hobby. Regardless of your reasons, you should always wear protection before you commence with any form of welding. But what is the best protection for welding?
Some people use welding helmets. Others prefer welding goggles. You are free to keep them both on hand. But if you could only buy one, which option is superior? You cannot answer that question without first understanding the attributes each one has to offer.
Welding goggles are exactly what they sound like. Though, you cannot necessarily compare them to ordinary reading glasses. Welding goggles are thicker and tougher than the average pair of spectacles. They are designed to cover your eyes, providing protection against heat and radiation. They will also keep your eyes safe from the intense UV light that typically blinds welders that forget to wear the necessary protection.
You can trust them to keep the sparks and debris that are produced by welding away from your corneas. Goggles are attractive because they are not as cumbersome as other forms of welding protection.
Some people ignore welding goggles because they are convinced that they can withstand the intense light produced by welding. But even if that was true (it isn’t), welding also generates harmful optical radiation that cannot be seen by the naked eye.
If you must weld, goggles are the minimum protection you should use. They have a filter that tempers the glare without limiting your vision. In the absence of goggles, not only will you suffer from a painful condition called photokeratitis but you could go blind altogether.
Welding helmets take a more comprehensive approach. They create a barrier between the user’s entire face and the intense light, optical radiation, and heat produced during arc welding. The right helmets will prevent photokeratitis and retina burns.
Both conditions can lead to blindness. Because the helmet covers the entire face, the welder’s skin is also protected from UV emissions which can create symptoms similar to a sunburn.
Helmets have a so-called lens shade that keeps UV light and Infrared light out whilst also allowing the welder to see their project.
Welding Helmet VS Goggles
You cannot confuse welding goggles with welding helmets. They differ not just in their appearance but the way they operate. Welding helmet VS goggles debates are not that difficult to resolve because it doesn’t take long to conclude that, of the two, the welding helmet is the superior choice. Consider the following factors:
The Best Protection
Of the two, only the welding helmet can offer complete protection for your face. Goggles are designed to keep your eyes safe. Once you secure them around your eye sockets, they will keep everything from chemicals and water to particulates and sparks out.
They also have special filters that prevent UV and IR Light from harming your eyes. If you don’t have any other protective tools on hand, you can definitely make do with welding goggles. However, as was noted before, welding helmets create a barrier between your entire face and the elements that want to harm it.
Like goggles, they have a lens that filters UV and IR light. However, as was also noted before, welding can produce symptoms similar to a sunburn, especially if your face is exposed to intense UV light for long periods.
Goggles cannot protect your skin from such an assault. On the other hand, you can trust helmets to cover both your eyes and your face. They even cover the neck. If you want complete protection from UV Light, IR Light, sparks, and particulates, welding helmets are the way to go.
How Well You See
This is where welding goggles shine. Yes, helmets offer better protection. However, they also limit your vision. You cannot see quite as well out of the small field of view they provide. This is why welding workshops are kept clear of obstacles.
Welders know that they can’t see that well when their helmets are on and they don’t want to run the risk of tripping. With goggles, you can see everything. This is the reason why so many welding helmets have a visor.
You can flip the visor up and away from your face whenever you need to see the results of your welding. Once you start welding, a simple nod will flip the visor down. Newer helmets have taken a more sophisticated approach to the visibility issue.
They have filters that darken automatically when you start welding and the electronic shutter detects the welding arc. As such, you don’t have to manually adjust the helmet to get better visibility.
The Level of Convenience
Some welders hate helmets because they are stifling. They are heavier than goggles. If you are not yet accustomed to their presence, they may feel suffocating. Some people gravitate towards goggles because they do not confine the face. They offer less protection for this same reason. But some welders are willing to expose their faces to intense UV light if it means enjoying the freedom that goggles offer.
It is difficult to argue against all the benefits that welding helmets bring to the table. Goggles are easier to wear. They do not restrict the face. More to the point, depending on their design, they provide optimal visibility.
Even with the darker filters that some goggles use, welders can see their work with minimal effort. That being said, with goggles, the rest of your face is completely exposed. They cannot protect the skin from flash burns, sparks, or debris.
Their convenience cannot compensate for these weaknesses. Helmets cover the face, eyes, and neck. If you buy the latest models, their LCD electronic shutters will activate the moment you start welding, They will detect the welding arc, automatically darkening to keep your eyes safe from UV and IR Light.
Even with their limitations, helmets are the only sensible choice for any welder that wants to protect their eyes, face, and neck.