If you own a plasma cutter then chances are you also own a welder. A common question among plasma cutter owners is can I use my welding helmet with my plasma cutter? The answer to this question is yes if you have a helmet that is rated for a shade level of a minimum of 5. A shade level of 5 is a comfortable setting for using a plasma cutter on 40 amps or less. Miller Welds has an article explaining that a shade as low as 3 can be used in certain situations, but we recommend you use the highest shade you can tolerate. The darker the better. If you must follow OSHA standards then you will need to use a minimum shade of 8 to be compliant.
Most machines will state in the manual the recommended lens shade for the power range of the machine. I know most of us blue collar guys don’t bother with reading the directions, but take a minute to read what they recommend. It’s worth your time.
What Is The Best Welding Helmet For Both Plasma Cutting And Welding?
When looking for a helmet that works well for both welding and plasma cutting it’s important to have one that has easy to use shade adjustment settings. This means that you are going to want a helmet that is auto darkening and has a variety of shade selections. Typically, welding helmets will be adjustable from shade 5 all the way up to shade 13. If you buy a cheap helmet without shade adjustment settings, chances are it will be too dark and very hard to use with your plasma cutter.
Lincoln 3350 Series Welding Helmet
One of the best auto darkening helmets with fantastic comfort and ultra clear viewing lens. Adjusts from shade level 5-13. Auto darkening switching speed is 1/25,000 sec. Has a dedicated grind setting for running a grinder with full visibility as well. Fantastic helmet for the money. This is what I use personally in my garage.
What’s Better A Welding Helmet or Cutting Goggles For Plasma Cutting?
Most machines come with some kind of cutting glasses or goggles straight out of the box. While these glasses will work, we think that using an actual helmet to protect your entire face is always safer and worth the extra money. There are times when you may need to use a plasma cutter in areas where your torch is above your face and you will have sparks falling straight down on your head. In situations like this a helmet is 100% necessary and a head cover is also highly recommended to prevent your hair from burning. Also you may encounter some “blow back” when cutting thicker pieces of metal regardless of your torch position and when this happens sparks will go flying. This can result in direct contact with your face if you’re not wearing a helmet. Long story short invest in a good helmet that can be used on both your plasma cutter and welder and you will thank yourself later.
Revco BK Armor Welding Cap
Great inexpensive welding cap that can be used under your helmet to prevent sparks from burning your hair in situations where your torch is being using over your head. For the cheap price it’s worth having one on hand for when you need it.
If you have never used a plasma cutter before be sure to read our comprehensive beginner’s plasma cutting guide. This will help walk you through the entire process of getting your machine hooked up correctly and making cuts safely.
If you are looking for help finding a new machine be sure to check out our list of the best plasma cutters that we recommend. If you need a plasma cutter with a built in air compressor you can view the machines that we recommend here.