It’s no secret that welding can be a very dangerous task, which is why OSHA regulations require welders to utilize safety equipment when welding. Like it or not, if you want to stay safe, protected, and in compliance with OSHA regulations, you’ll need proper safety gear. Perhaps the single most important piece of safety equipment you’ll ever buy is a welding helmet. Since we care about both your safety as well as your ability to do your job at a high level, we want to make sure you get the best welding helmet for your needs.
Now, if you’re the kind of welder that want to have all of the most hi-tech, top-of-the-line equipment, you should read on for our Optrel Panoramaxx review. The Optrel Panoramaxx isn’t our top pick for welding helmets—more on why later—but if you want all the bells and whistles of a fancy helmet, you should definitely check this one out.
Get to Know the New Optrel Panoramaxx Welding Helmet
Of course, with all of the great features that we’ll outline below and the helmet’s truly snazzy design, comes a considerably higher price tag. In fact, this high price is one of the main reasons the Optrel Panoramaxx welding helmet doesn’t make our list of top welding helmets.
But, if you are willing to shell out the extra cash for an everything-but-the-kitchen-sink type of helmet, the Optrel Panoramaxx is probably going to be near the top of your list.
Again, if you’re looking for something truly high-end, this Optrel welding helmet will no doubt live up to your high standards. If you choose this helmet, you can be sure that you will be completely safe and protected from all of the dangers that go hand-in-hand with this tough job. And, to be honest, you’ll look pretty slick doing it—or, at least you’ll look like you’re about to go do some intense welding on the International Space Station!
Overview and Features
If you’ve spent any amount time looking at other auto darkening welding helmet reviews, we’re certain you’ve already been bombarded with the laundry list of features that are available in modern welding helmets. And the truth is, you could almost simply compile all of those various features and list them out to get a good idea of what features the Optrel Panoramaxx welding helmet offers. That is, the Panoramaxx probably has more features than any of the other helmets on the market.
From its truly massive field-of-view and true color view, to its feather-light 550 grams, to its practically invisible frame, to its innovated lithium-polymer battery, you’d be hard-pressed to find another helmet that can match the Panoramaxx in features. That said, these extra features will cost you, and there are certainly other more affordable options out there that will suit your needs just as well.
Starting with a Lighter Shade
One of the more highly lauded features of the Optrel Panoramaxx helmet is its default shade setting. The default shade setting for this helmet is at 2.5. With this lighter shade, it’s much easier for you to see your work area more clearly than with some of the darker shades of other helmets.
While other welding helmets may not have as light of a starting shade as the Panoramaxx helmet, some, like the Lincoln Electric Welding Helmet 3350 Series, make up for this with a wider range of shades, more generally.
Whereas the Panoramaxx only ranges from 5-12 (excluding the 2.5 default shade), the Lincoln Electric 3350 Series can go all the way up to 13—and at a much more affordable price point, at that.
The Clarity Setting for Welding
Like all of the Optrel welding hoods, the Panoramaxx certainly delivers when it comes to clarity. It features a 188.8.131.52. clarity setting, which is somewhat unusual compared to most other welding helmet manufacturers. This clarity setting allows you to change faster between shades from the default 2.5 setting.
But it also includes an innovative UV/IR filter, which presents colors more realistically and with greater clarity. Indeed, with this helmet’s “true color” capability, you’ll be able to perceive colors with clarity and depth, almost as if you weren’t wearing a helmet at all. While this is fairly standard with Optrel welding helmets, it is still a huge benefit for the Panoramaxx, as it just further adds to the clarity of vision offered by way of its other vision enhancing features, such as a field of view that is roughly six times larger than that of standard helmets.
And while this helmet features an intuitive “auto-pilot” mode, you can always turn this setting off, allowing you to operate your shades manually.
The Built-In Battery
One of our favorite features of the Optrel Panoramaxx welding helmet is its innovative power system. The Panoramaxx combines two excellent energy solutions: a high-performance solar battery cell and a lithium-polymer battery pack. And if the you battery pack starts to run low, simply recharge it with a simple USB cable! How much more simple and intuitive can it get?
What’s more, that advanced lithium-polymer battery pack has a lifespan of a whopping 300 to 500 charging cycles! That’s a pretty impressive lifespan for a battery that has to power all of the various features and functions of this hi-tech welding helmet.
Field of Vision
While the field of vision offered by the Optrel Panoramaxx is certainly impressive, if you’re looking for a welding helmet with the largest viewing area, you might also want to consider other options.
That is, while the Panoramaxx provides a viewing area with dimensions that are 2.3 to 6.3 times the industry standard (depending on how you set the headband), other helmets, like the Lincoln Electric Welding Helmet 3350 Series or the TGR Panoramic 180 View Solar Powered Auto Darkening Welding Helmet, also boast wide fields of vision, and at a much more affordable price point. Unlike the Panoramaxx’s field of vision, that of these other two options isn’t compromised by the setting of your headband.
Another favorite feature among our testers is the Optrel Panaromaxx’s “twilight feature.” This innovative functionality prevents the helmet from switching from dark to very light too quickly. When this happens, it can be quite blinding to the welder and can ultimately lead to damaged vision. That’s why the twilight feature adds an extra delay when switching from dark to light, to protect your eyes and your vision when the lights come up!
Sensors & Sensitivity
Since one of the best features of this Optrel helmet, like most welding helmets, is its auto-darkening filter, it’s quite important that we discuss the helmet’s sensors and sensitivity. It includes an impressive five sensors—that’s one more sensor than the Lincoln Electric 3350 Series. And the new model even adds to its “infinitely adjustable” sensitivity a “super-high sensitivity” option.
It remains to be seen just how much this added sensor and sensitivity setting really contributes to better performance. The Panoramaxx certainly does switch shades quickly, responding to changes in light adequately. But we didn’t notice any considerable increase in speed with the Panoramaxx over the other options like the TGR helmet and, especially, the Lincoln Electric option we mentioned earlier. All three helmets performed this function adequately with little noticeable latency when switching shades.
Swapping Out the Panoramaxx Lens
An important function that the Panoramaxx helmet offers is the ability to swap out the lens for cleaning purposes or replacement. It’s a very simple process to take out the lens for cleaning. But honestly, you might not need to clean it all that often, thanks to the clever gasket that prevents most debris from getting inside the helmet in the first place.
You might also want to note that there are “cheater” lenses available for purchase to swap in for the included Panoramaxx lens. So, if your vision isn’t quite what it used to be, the Panoramaxx cheater lenses will allow you to keep doing solid, accurate welding. There are, of course, standard replacement lenses available as well.
Lightweight Design & Comfort
The feature we liked most about the Panoramaxx helmet is its unbeatable comfort and lightweight design. Weighing in at just a bit over one pound, it is probably the lightest helmet we tested.
In fact, one of the only downsides to our number one pick, the Lincoln Electric Welding Helmet 3350 Series, is that it was a bit heavier, creating some neck fatigue after extended use. This is partly due to weight, and partly due to its “universal fit.”
However, we wonder how much the lighter weight of the Panoramaxx is really worth, all things considered. While it does weight about two pounds less than the Lincoln Electric helmet, the difference in comfort is really only very slight when comparing the two after moderate use. So, unless you’re planning on some very long, marathon welding sessions, or already have significant neck or back issues, we tend to think the somewhat more comfortable Panoramaxx might not be worth the considerable extra cost.