Certain kinds of welding make dangerous fumes or occur in toxic environments
Welding fumes can cause harmful conditions
Powered Air Purifying Respirator (PAPR) systems solve this problem.
The PAPR welding helmet is integrated with powered air purification for safe breathing.
These systems have important components with a lot of details to consider.
We checked out the best PAPR welding helmets to bring you a nice list of great helmets.
A quick comparison
3M Speedglas Adflo
Optrel Crystal E3000
Perfect optical clarity
High end professional helmet
True color filter
Flip up front plate
Lincoln K3930-1 PAPR
High impact resistance
1/1/1/1 optical clarity
Jackson BH3 Airmax
Best optics available
Adjustable height, eye distance
Best PAPR Welding Helmets With Reviews
Here a list of the best PAPR welding helmets we found on the market:
1. 3M Speedglas Adflo 46-1101-30i PAPR Helmet
- 3M’s Natural Color technology
- 2.8 x 4.3-square inch viewport
- Reconfigurable G5-01 helmet
- Auto on/off
- Adjustable airflow direction
- Variable shade level 5, 8-13
- Tack welding mode
- Modular PAPR filter
- High altitude respirator
- Heat reflecting finish
- Somewhat pricey
- Helmet not available separately
The G5-01 helmet is the latest update to 3M’s Speedglas line, upgrading the design of the 9100 Series. This model also includes a 3M Adflo PAPR powered respirator system for a top-shelf kit from top to bottom. The Adflo built in respirator features a stackable filtration design that lets you tailor your gear to suit your environment. You can run minimal fresh air filtering that only removes particulates or you’re able to stack different types of filtration elements for different vapor and chemical hazards.
The 3M Speedglas Adflo 46-1101-30i continues the 9100 design with minor changes. This is one of the most respected helmet brands in the entire industry. This helmet offers auto-on/off and 3M’s Natural Color technology for a true color view of your work. One complaint by some owners is that the curved front shield can produce distracting reflections in some shop lighting.
The tack welding mode offered by the 3M Speedglas Adflo 46-1101-30i lets you vary the shade level’s reaction time. TheAdflow PAPR features the ability to redirect the airflow for greater comfort through the work day. Documentation, stats and settings are available through your phone’s Bluetooth connection.
2. Optrel Crystal 2.0 e3000x PAPR Helmet System
- Sphere Crystal 2.0 Welding Helmet
- Twilight fade to light
- 1/1/1/1 optical clarity
- Hard hat adapter
- ShadeTronic auto-adjust shade level
- FadeTronic adjustable fade speed
- SensorSlide adjustable sensor angle
- IsoFit advanced headgear
- TH3 safety class
- Some reports of arc flashing
- Easy to damage the grind button
The Optrel Crystal 2.0 e3000x PAPR System combines Optrel’s outstanding Sphere Series Crystal 2.0 with the e3000x PAPR system for a high-end professional package for welding in hazardous environments. The Crystal 2.0 is a favorite in the aerospace industry for its compact design, which lets you get into some pretty slim spots. The IsoFit headgear is a highly advanced design similar to a bicycle helmet liner. These ventilated helmets are highly praised for light weight and great comfort.
The lithium-ion battery pack is rated for 18 hours of operation. The e3000 PAPR system on this helmet comes with a TH3 safety rating, the highest you can get in a PAPR. The TH3 rating means this system can filter viruses out of the atmosphere, something to think about in today’s COVID-19-aware environment. The Optrel Crystal 2.0 e3000x PAPR System is equipped with a forced air blower unit that weighs less than 3.5 pounds.
The Optrel Crystal 2.0 e3000x PAPR System incorporates Optrel technology like FadeTronic (vary time to return to light state) and ShadeTronic (dynamically adjusts shade level on the fly). This helmet features a perfect 1/1/1/1 optical clarity rating.
3. Miller T94i-R Air Fed Welding Helmet
- Top-shelf T94i helmet with respirator
- Quick-release lens cover
- Designed for hostile environments
- Clearlight true color filter
- Dualtec manifold design
- Face cover flips up to grind
- 9 square-inch viewport
- Built-in grinding shield
- Low power light
- 4 modes of operation
- Reports of headgear quality problems
- Difficult to tighten hard hat adapter
The Miller T94i-R pairs a state of the art welding helmet with a state of the art PAPR system. The helmet has a true color filter. The T94 design features a statistics system called InfoTrack 2.0 that records timing events for accurate time keeping. The helmet included here is the T94i, which has a faceplate that flips up without removing the helmet.
Miller’s Dualtec design is a six-direction air delivery manifold that cools with targeted air. There’s a spark guard in the air intake system. This system uses lithium-ion batteries rated at 8 hours per charge. The Miller T94i-R is designed with a low profile attachment point on the breathing tube to minimize snags and make it easier to maneuver inside the helmet for better viewing angles.
The Miller T94i-R comes with a headgear design that has four contact points and a swiveling, oversized pad at the rear to distribute weight better. That’s an important approach when you’re adding pieces to the system. The PAPR power system has shoulder straps to distribute weight better as well. The T94i-Ri front viewport design has side windows for a 180-degree view.
4. Lincoln K3930-1 PAPR Helmet
- HEPA filter system
- Lincoln 3350 helmet
- 0.3-micron filtration
- Power management system
- Six-point X6 headgear
- 12.5-square-inch filter
- Very comfortable helmet
- Perfect 1/1/1/1 optical rating
- Light weight
- Intelligent blower control
- Too narrow for some welders
- Light can get inside the helmet
The Lincoln K3930-1 PAPR system matches the industry-leading Viking 3350 welding helmet with an industrial-grade HEPA filtered powered air purification setup. This system is certified to remove over 99 percent of particulates, down to the 0.3-micron level. Even odors will be filtered out at that size. The multiple point air delivery system is designed for adjustable direction of the airflow. The power system features LED lighting, vibration and audible alerts, along with automated power management.
This helmet has one of the largest viewports available at over 12.5 square inches of filtered viewing area. This helmet has a perfect 1/1/1/1 optical clarity rating and uses true color technology, which Lincoln brands “Natural Color” technology. The helmet is designed specifically for TIG welding, with current sensitivity down to 2 amps. The Lincoln K3930-1 PAPR is well-known for comfortable headgear with its X6 six-point harness design.
The Lincoln K3930-1 PAPR features a pivot design that puts the front shield above your line of sight when it’s in the raised position. This helmet features digital controls located inside and a solar-rechargeable battery system. Lincoln sets the industry standard. This is a nice helmet.
5. Jackson Safety Airmax Elite PAPR System with BH3 Helmet
- Two-speed blower for power management
- Top-rated 1/1/1/1 optics
- Adjustable mask height and eye distance
- Top-shelf BH3 welding helmet
- Fire-retardant face seal
- Hard hat adapter
- Internal dial adjusters
- Industry favorite headgear
- Fire-retardant fresh air supply hose
- Audible and vibrating alarms
- Air supply isn’t directional
- Some complaints of glare on curved glass
Jackson Safety’s Airmax Elite PAPR System with the BH3 Welding helmet is a well-designed combination of components. The BH3’s PAPR air flow features a fire-resistant face seal. The air supply hose is fire-retardant. The Airmax Elite PAPR has a two-speed blower for consistent volume of clean air no matter what the battery charge. The Airmax Elite features a three-layer air filter and the lithium-ion batteries are rated for 8 hours per charge.
There’s a smart battery charging system that won’t overcharge. It has both audible and vibrating alarms for low batteries or a when a filter change is required. The Jackson Safety Airmax Elite PAPR System uses the air fed BH3 helmet. It’s shaped specifically for tight spaces and it’s rounded to minimize and deflect impacts. The outward curve at the base of the helmet makes it easier to tilt your head down to see what you’re doing.
The Jackson Safety Airmax Elite PAPR System with BH3 Helmet features top-rated optical clarity with a rating of 1/1/1/1. The BH3 helmet comes with a big 10.2 square-inch viewport and the infinitely adjustable dials are located on the helmet’s inside.
The usual reasons you might have for buying a welding helmet PAPR system are that your employer requires one, State or Federal regulations mandate one, or because you’re serious about protecting your own health and want the extra safety.
You don’t have to be welding in a noxious atmosphere or a special environment to make use of a PAPR system.
The single most common contaminant in the welding shop is smoke and fumes from the welding process, including hexavalent chromium, which can cause problems with the nervous system.
Fortunately, a relatively low-tech P100 filter will remove welding smoke from the air supply.
Anytime you don’t have much ventilation in the workspace, a PAPR respirator is something to consider.
PAPR Welding Respirator Components
The Powered Air Purifying Respirator or PAPR systems used in the welding industry are designed to work with welding helmets in place.
The latest generations of these designs are integrated into the helmet construction, with both systems working together as a single unit. Almost every system features a box worn around the waist or shoulders that contains a blower motor, fan, filters and a hose for air delivery.
- Mask: In this case, the mask is integrated into the design of the welding helmet. PAPR systems seal the user’s face from outside air using a rubber seal.
- Air Supply: There’s a hose connecting the helmet to a filter box that brings fresh air to the welding helmet.
- Filter System: The main power box uses a system of filters which can be stacked or combined to yield different levels or types of protection.
- Powered Air Movement: These systems use a fan powered by rechargeable batteries to provide air movement.
Reasons to Wear PAPR When Welding
The most obvious use for a respirator system is for protection from hazardous chemicals or fumes. When welding, there are serious hazards when welding galvanized material or treated metals such as aluminum coated with the zinc chromate primer used on aircraft repairs.
Clearly, a PAPR protects the welder from dangerous fumes when welding these types of hazardous materials. Other common uses include welding in smoke-filled environments and in hazards like fine grit found in deserts.
Some less obvious benefits of having a moving air supply into the welding helmet include extra cooling ability and increased ventilation.
In addition, there’s less fatigue for the welder than a passive filter because of powered air delivery.
So you don’t have to work so hard just getting air, preserving your stamina for the work to be done.
Selecting a Welding Helmet with PAPR
Like other protective equipment, the PAPR needs to be evaluated based on your needs related to work environment, hazards, work to be done and pricing.
Hazards: What are you needing to protect yourself from? If the main concern is welding in a confined space or in a spot with little or no ventilation, the filters provided with these units will perform this task well. For more sophisticated hazards like noxious odors, chemical fumes or inert gas atmospheres, different filters can be added or substituted to provide appropriate protection. Are these filters and seals easy to reach and service? What is the cost for replacement parts?
Type of Welding: The type of welding you’re planning to do will determine the features you need on your helmet. Then choose your level of PAPR protection based on your choice of helmet. Do you need extra sensitivity for low-amperage TIG? Is true color viewport or top-rated optical clarity important? These choices need to be made for the helmet first.
Personal Preferences: The usual way to wear a powered respirator unit is on the waist using a harness designed for the power unit. There are ways to customize some brands to hang off the shoulders or to be placed in a stationary position, for instance if you need to lie down to reach your work.
Convenience Features: Almost every system now offers digital power management to provide long life and efficient charging. Most have protection from overcharging. There are also features available to sound alarms or vibrate buzzers when a filter needs replacing or it’s time to charge the batteries. Battery usage needs to be efficient because the PAPR system still needs to deliver sufficient volume even when the batteries begin to run low.
Brand and Company Preferences
The helmet and the powered air supply are two separate systems that are joined by the air delivery hose. In general, most PAPR helmets can be used with most PAPR power units. This isn’t hard and fast, and you need to ask questions for specific applications.
Most combinations can be made to work, but in the end, these systems are designed within brand and corporate networks, so your favorite brand of helmet is probably going to be your best choice of PAPR system as well.
When considering factors like warranty period, helmet quality, field reports on PAPR quality and the general usability and quality of each system, we’ve chosen the 3M Speedglas G5-01 Adflo as the Best Overall choice for a good PAPR welding helmet.
It’s a further refinement of 3M’s 9100x series, which already has ten years of development and industry-leading usage in the field.
The Lincoln K3930-1 PAPR helmet is another great choice because the Lincoln 3350 is the most popular helmet in the welding industry. This is a high-quality helmet with a lot of viewing area, great optics and the sheer number of these helmets in use means that parts are in every town.