How to Set Your MIG Welding Helmet Shading

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Comfortably protecting yourself should come first in any industry. This is especially true within the business of welding, where your eyes can be exposed to different types of harmful contaminants. Welding helmets protect against this by ensuring flexible eye protection through shade adjustment. 

Setting your MIG Welding Helmet Shading depends on the style of helmet chosen. 

Passive MIG Welding HelmetsTouchscreen MIG Welding HelmetsAutodarkening MIG Welding Helmets
No shade adjustment.Touchscreen shade adjustment.Automated adjustment by sensing weld arc, also features manual adjustment.
Sets at shade number 10.Allows the user to set shade via interface. Sets automatically, but allows the user to set the shade range.

As you see, there are multiple ways of setting your MIG welding helmet shading. It all begins with the helmet of your choosing, and within some of these are even more advanced options to increase the versatility of your shade setting. Keep reading to learn more. 

Setting Your MIG Welding Helmet Shading 

In addition to the table listed above, setting your welding helmet shading is dependent upon the level of protection that you are most comfortable working with. 

Whereas passive units set at shade 10 regardless, auto darkening helmets can guarantee total protection at a passive rate. This allows for safe flexibility within MIG welding. The flexibility range of these helmets tend to fall between 8 and 13. 

Touchscreen helmets are helpful due to the ease of shade adjustment and setting during welding. If a lighter shade is needed for inspection, you will not have to remove your helmet. 

However, understanding how to work the controls for your helmet shade setting is something you will need to be familiar with in order to comfortably and safely weld. 

Understanding the Controls 

Some auto-darkening helmets have knobs on the interior of the helmet that allow for manual adjustment. The knobs can control a number of mechanisms from shade setting to light sensitivity. 

Your MIG welding helmet should come with a packet detailing the location of these knobs and the effects of each. However, for simplicity, you will learn about those controls here as well. 

Note that it is possible for your welding helmet to have similar mechanisms in different places depending on the design. So just familiarize yourself with your helmet beforehand. 

Controlling Sensitivity to Light 

Your welding helmet should allow you to adjust the light sensitivity. This is a control that allows the user to control the amount of light that gets filtered into the lens. In other words, the more light required to complete the task will result in a darker lens. 

Most helmets allow light sensitivity to be controlled with a knob adjacent to the lens. Controlling this is an incredibly helpful feature when combined with optimal shading for project completion. Instead of exposing yourself to harmful UV rays when inspecting the weld, this control allows you to inspect safely. 

Furthermore, adjusting this knob helps guarantee a comfortable shade level for the welder. If you are highly susceptible to arc eye or other forms of light damage, keeping the light sensitivity high will ensure an incredibly dark lens. 

Changing Delay Time 

Being in control of your delay time is also an important part when setting your welding helmet shading. This option will directly impact your helmet shading after the conclusion of your welding arc. 

Basically, delay time refers to the amount of time that your helmet will remain dark after the arc ends. This is an important variable if you need to pause your welding process and continue again. 

Generally, delay time can be customizable from 0.5 seconds to 2. 

Adjusting Shade Level

When the arc is occurring, adjusting the shade level comfortably helps welders to perfect their craft with ease. Similar to the placement of the knob for light sensitivity, shade level setting knobs are generally on the inside of your helmet. 

Working with the right shade level for you is a major determiner on workplace performance. If you have chosen a shade that is too dark, you will likely have trouble seeing your weld. This will create obvious issues. And if your shade level is too low, you could risk exposing yourself to light damage. 

To choose the best shade setting for you, consider the following:

  • Is this one of your first welds?
  • Do you have lighter colored eyes?
  • Can you comfortably see your weld?
  • Are you experiencing any discomfort?

First Time MIG Welder

When adjusting your shade level as a first time or new MIG Welder, set your helmet at the darkest setting first. You will want to do this to ensure maximum protection for yourself, and then adjust from there. 

Light Sensitive Eyes

A general rule of thumb is that the darker the color of the eye, the less sensitive to light. If you have blue or green eyes, your eyes are more susceptible to light damage. To combat this, setting your helmet shading in a range between 9 and 14 is your best bet. 

During the arc, it is highly recommended to go with a shade of 10 or 12. This will grant some visibility albeit limited, in exchange for a very high level of protection against UV. 

Comfortably Viewing Your Weld

It can be troublesome to have to remove your helmet, interrupting your welding process. This can likely be avoided with a simple adjustment of setting your helmet shade setting. 

Setting your weld in between 8 and 10 should allow for better visibility of your weld. And if you have an auto-darkening helmet, you will be able to safely adjust your helmet shading within a specific range during your arc. 

Are you Experiencing Discomfort?

Once again, protecting yourself is number one. If you happen to be experiencing any discomfort at your current shade setting, immediate adjustment is required to prevent long term damage. 

Damage can begin before you start feeling any discomfort as well, therefore it is integral to begin on the darkest shading first. If you have an auto-darkening helmet, your helmet will begin to darken during your arc automatically. 

Having a passive helmet, which sets at shade 10 automatically, will also guarantee protection in the event of you struggling with shade setting. 

Setting the Shading with a Touchscreen Welding Helmet

With the invention of touchscreen welding helmets, setting helmet shading has never been easier. Similar to any touchscreen device, the interface of your helmet has options that allow you to customize your shade setting. 

Most of these helmets also have auto-darkening features or at least optimizable ports that allow for auto-darkening integration. The optimization allows for a safer range of shade setting, although your touchscreen helmet will have options that range from shade 3 to 14. 

The auto darkening properties will come in handy during your arc, and the manual adjustment you may have made will activate shortly after the delay time. All of this can be done with the touch of a button. 

Auto-Darkening Welding Helmet and Shading

In addition to those properties listed above, you can set your helmet shading with a touchscreen welding helmet by: 

  • External shade activator controls
  • On screen controls
  • Preset activation 

The external activator controls function the same as a knob, adjusting your desired shade level by a turning mechanism. The part of the helmet that is touchscreen on these particular adjusts advanced settings.

On-screen controls on some touchscreen MIG welding helmets are simplified into the touchscreen interface. You can set your helmet shading by navigating through this interface. 

Lastly, auto-darkening and touchscreen welding helmets allow for shading to be set via preset activation. This is similar to the capabilities of an auto-darkening helmet, but instead, allows for the user to set their preferences before beginning the weld. 

Setting Advanced Settings 

Adjusting Shade By Location 

Some helmets have advanced capabilities that allow you to set your shade by location. The bluetooth capability can sense the presence of light in the area, darkening or becoming more luminous depending on location plus movement. 

The capabilities above require an auto-darkening helmet however, and will not work with a passive MIG helmet. 


MIG Helmet Welding Shading

As you become more accustomed to setting your shading, you will also want to have a grasp of which shades to set and when. Setting the shading is integral to a safe weld, especially if you are inexperienced. 

The range for weld shades range between 4 and 14 typically. However, with MIG welding, it is recommended to set a shade no less than 9 during the current arc. 

Continue reading for an analysis of setting shades 9-14. 

Shade 9

As you have read above, setting the correct shade is dependent upon the current of your arc. Also known as calculating amperage, the higher the amperage the higher the shade. 

Shade 9 is a beginning shade offering the following benefits: 

  • More light for your weld
  • Comfortable viewpoint 
  • Moderate level of protection

Albeit the shade will allow you to have more visible control over your weld during your arc, the possibility of burning your eyes during the welding flash is quite high. This is further increased depending on the amperage. 

Shade 10

This shade offers a good amount of protection against the weld arc, and is recommended for an amperage of around 80. 

Setting a shade of 10 will grant you a darker hued lens that still gives the ability to comfortably see the weld arc. Moreover, a shade of 10 is what passive MIG welding helmets are set at. 

All in all, it’s a balanced shade that serves as a wonderful baseline. 

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