According to NASA, you can use a welding helmet to look at the Sun only if the helmet is equipped with a lens shade 12 or higher. There are helmets that are specially designed for viewing the Sun. 

The right precautions and strict safety measures are the only way to view the Sun. Your ordinary glasses are unsafe to do the job. Thereby, a high-quality welding helmet should be preferred for viewing the Sun. 

Features of Welding Helmets 

A welding helmet is a headgear worn by the welders for protecting their eyes, face, and neck. They use helmets during the process of welding so that the process does not damage their corneas and retina. 

Following are the specific features of the welding helmets that are particularly designed for viewing the Sun. 

1. The Lens Shade

There are some specific numbers that are assigned to the welding helmets. These numbers indicate the ability of the lens to filter the infrared and UV rays. Thereby, it is a must to choose an appropriate shade number for looking at the Sun. Often, level 13 is the best shade and 14 is too dark for looking at the Sun. 

However, lenses are not always labelled to indicate their shading, so it is very important to have complete knowledge regarding the shade levels of the welding helmets.

2. Auto Darkening

The welders prefer an auto-darkening welding helmet because a one-size-fits-all approach is not useful for welding, especially when they are working with different metals. Thereby, an auto-darkening shade adjusts according to the varying levels of brightness. This feature protects the eyes regardless of the material that welders are welding. 

For viewing the Sun, if you want to opt for an auto-darkening lens do keep in mind that not all auto-darkening welding helmets reach up to a lens shade of 14. Most of them have a range that ends at the shade level 13.

If you have chosen the auto-darkening helmet for viewing the Sun do make sure that you change the sensitivity up and turn the delay down. This adjustment helps the lens to adjust according to a higher shade quickly. If the adjustment takes too long to transition, you can surely damage your eyes in no time.

What Happens If You Look at the Sun With Naked Eyes

Since childhood, all of us must have heard that looking at the Sun with naked eyes will make you blind. It is 100% true but it doesn’t happen in a blink of an eye. Before blinding, a person suffers badly through different stages. If you view the Sun with naked eyes even for a couple of minutes it badly hurts and it’s intolerable! 

Stage One

There are three types of Sunlight, visible light, infrared light and the ultraviolet (UV) light. The UV light is the deadliest one and does the maximum damage compared to other lights. So the first hurt will start where UV lights make the first damage on eyes.

Stage Two

When your eyes are exposed to the UV rays for a long time, the cornea cells of the eyes burn and cause blisters. Furthermore, it cracks the eye just like when the skin gets a sunburn. The second stage is called Photokeratitis.

Stage Three

You will feel a constant discomfort, irritation and burning sensation in your eyes. This effect stays for a longer time. 

Stage Four 

The retina gets overstimulated after sensing the light. It happens when the retina releases some chemicals. These chemicals impair the tissues of the eyes. The more damage is caused to the tissues, the harder it becomes to recover the damage. However, it is curable within the time frame of 12 months. If the tissues are sufficiently damaged, it leads to partial blindness.

Stage Five

The macula is the smallest part of the retina located near the centre of the retina. When the retina gets highly damaged because of the excessive exposure to the UV rays, the macula is affected as well. Once the macula is damaged, a person suffers from complete blindness, and the chances of cure are almost impossible.

Top 5 Welding Helmets That Meet Standards for Viewing to The Sun

Not all welding helmets are manufactured equally with regards to the lense shade. Companies manufacture welding helmets in a variety of shades. 

Here are the top 5 welding helmets that offer the minimum darkening level for being able to view to the sun.

1. Lincoln Electric Viking 3350 Welding Helmet

Welding is a strenuous task that demands a lot of protection and precautionary measures. That is why the 3350 helmet series by Lincoln Electric is designed to offer the best protection and comfortable wear.

Lincoln Electric Viking 3350 Welding Helmet
Lincoln Electric Viking 3350 Welding Helmet

It is available in 10 unique styles, from the standard black welding helmet to the frighteningly stylish zombie helmet, the Lincoln Viking 3350 is one of the remarkable and the safest helmets in the market.

PROS

  • Durable
  • Comfortable
  • Great value for money 
  • Adjustable sensitivity
  • Auto-darkening feature
  • Perfect optical clarity
  • Massive view window size

CONS

  • Heavyweight
  • The glossy black coating is scratchable (a buyer reported)

2. ESAB Sentinel A50 Welding Helmet

The view screen of this helmet is excellent, having a size of (3.93” x 2.36”, or 9.27 square inches of viewing space the screen gives a wider and a clear view. The helmet has an auto-darkening feature with a speed of 1/25,000 of a second.

ESAB Sentinel A50 Welding Helmet
ESAB Sentinel A50 Welding Helmet

The unique feature about the shade selector for this helmet is the LCD screen, which can easily be adjusted while giving a very clear view in both dark and light conditions. Conveniently, the shade 4 grinding selector is on the exterior of the helmet. It is easily reachable and you don’t have to take it off to look at the HUD inside the helmet.

PROS

  • Comfortable.
  • Lightweight (only 1.4 lbs).
  • Low profile to avoid frequent “collaring” in tight spaces.
  • Durable 5 point construction.
  • The LCD screen is easy to read and use.
  • Extremely fast auto-darkening.
  • Good all-around specs for general use.
  • Worthwhile accessories included
  • Compatible with all common welding processes.

CONS

  • Higher price point

3. YESWELDER True Color Solar Power Auto Darkening Welding Helmet

YESWELDER is great For TIG MIG MMA. Having a plasma application with grinding feature this helmet gives a super large viewing size 3.93″X3.66″ with 4 premium sensors. 

YESWELDER True Color Solar Power Auto Darkening Welding Helmet
YESWELDER True Color Solar Power Auto Darkening Welding Helmet

The clarity view is 1/1/1/2. Interestingly have an increased battery life, giving you superior comfort with the pivot style headgear. 

There is a smaller version of this product that can be considered for those who do not want a large viewing screen.

PROS

  • Solar-powered
  • Auto-darkening
  • External Control Panel
  • 14 square inch viewport
  • True colour

CONS

  • Not significant

4. DEKOPRO Solar Power Auto Darkening Welding Helmet

DEKOPRO gives ultimate protection with an auto-darkening filter that switches from light to dark in 1/25000 sec, in case of electric failure. The welder stays protected against UV and IR radiation according to shade 16.1/2/1/2, making it a smart choice for safety.

DEKOPRO Solar Power Auto Darkening Welding Helmet
DEKOPRO Solar Power Auto Darkening Welding Helmet

It is also equipped with sensitivity and delay settings for adapting according to the varying environments and task durations; Enjoy enhanced visibility and colour recognition. The light level of the filter is DIN4 and the time needed to switch from dark to bright state is within 0.1s to 1.0s.

PROS

  • Meets the safety and technical standard
  • Lightweight and fittings can be adjusted
  • 6 square inch viewing area
  • Can be used for both grinding and welding
  • 5000 hours of battery life
  • Powered by both lithium and solar
  • Auto-darkening filter

CONS

  • Sometimes shade adjustment does not function (a user reported)

5. Antra AH6-260-0000 Welding Helmet

The Antra AH6-260-0000 is designed for full protection against UV and IR. It protects against flash burns. Furthermore, this welding helmet is compatible with MMA, TIG or MIG and plasma application.

Antra AH6-260-0000 Welding Helmet
Antra AH6-260-0000 Welding Helmet

It is also equipped with a grinding feature at a lower price. Antra AH6-260-0000 should be your immediate option if the affordable helmet is your preference. In addition to that, it also arrives with a compatibility magnifying lens that will help easily work over the details.

PROS

  • The protective lens makes this helmet comfortable and safe
  • Durable
  • Minimal design 
  • Lightweight and comfortable to use
  • Affordable 
  • Wide viewing lenses

CONS

  • Does not support overhead welding

Welding Helmets That Do Not Protect Your Eyes From Sun 

The following welding helmets are suitable for welding tasks but will not protect your eyes from the sun:

  1. YESWELDER welding goggles might be a great choice for ordinary welding tasks, but because the shade level is 11, you will damage your eyes if you use them to look directly at the sun.
  2. This welding helmet by Miller Electric is another example of a helmet to perform ordinary welding processes but it is unsafe for looking at the sun because it has a maximum shade level of 12.
  3. Another example of a helmet with inadequate shade for looking at the sun is this helmet by Lincoln. This model (K2800-1) has a shade control to 11, which is below the standard shade 12 to 14 for looking at the Sun. 

Bottom Line

Welding helmets are the most essential equipment which should never be taken for granted. The article clearly explained the significance of welding helmets and also provided some of the best welding helmets. Do ensure to make the best choice before surveying in the market.