Safety is the main concern of every welder, professional or not. This is the main reason why welding helmets were invented in the first place, and they are the best means for keeping you safe during any type of welding process.
Auto-darkening welding helmets take safety to the next level. Although passive helmets have served exceptionally well welders over the years, they have limitations regarding to how much they can offer when it comes to protecting the user.
Welding helmets in general protect you from various harmful situations during the welding process, such as damaging your eyes from infrared or ultraviolet rays that are produced by the arc. In addition to this, it protects the skin of your face from burns, debris and high temperatures.
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While passive welding helmets offer the standard levels of protection, auto-darkening welding helmets are far more effective. They make the welding process faster and more safe, which has an immediate effect to the quality and convenience of the work a welder can produce.
How do auto darkening welding helmets work?
Auto darkening welding helmets, which are considered a high-tech piece of equipment due to their construction, allow welders to work without distractions or pauses. This is what makes them a valuable tool for every person that wants to weld effectively.
This type of welding helmets uses auto darkening filter lens. The ADF, is a type of LCD, a liquid crystal display similar to what televisions, clocks and other machines used to display indications that help you operate the device.
In order to power the filter cartridges, manufacturers have combined the solar power with batteries, and as a result auto darkening welding helmets can work for many hours without issues. In order to detect the welding arc instantly, there is a number of light sensors placed near the lens.
The reason why auto darkening helmet help welders work faster, is because when not activated the lens applies a shade of 3 or 4. This means that the welder can see pretty easily through the lens, and he doesn’t have to remove the welding helmet from his head in order to check the details of his work.
Think of it like this: using the shade 3 of a welding helmet, is like using a quality pair of sunglasses to filter the sunlight during summer. The sunglasses protect your eyes, while at the same time they allow you to do your tasks, for instance drive your car.
This comes very handy during the welding process, because when the arc is not active the welder is able to locate his tools, such as the MIG gun or his torch, or check details of his work without having to remove his helmet.
The filter of the lens activate once again when the welder lights the arc. The sensors of the helmet detect the arc, which filters automatically and the shades go up, from to 10 to 13.
This means that the lens of the welding helmet darken immediately after they sense the arc, and they start protecting your eyes using UV and IR filters. This way you make sure that you are protected from every kind of ray that could potentially harm your vision.
Important considerations for an auto darkening welding helmet
Before you purchase an auto darkening welding helmet, there is a number of factors that you need to consider in order to select the one that will work properly. Below, we have compiled a list with the most important considerations you need to take into account:
This one is one of the most important things you need to consider if you want to achieve better welding results, and enhance the efficiency of your work. The viewing area of your helmet must be sufficient, so that you can comfortably see your projects while welding, and work on them in detail.
To acquire the best view possible, I would advise you to look for welding helmet models that have a full-coverage shell, such as the Lincoln Electric VIKING 3350 Code Red. This type of welding helmets have great impact resistance, and their large viewing area helps you work better when the welding takes place out of position.
Take your time, and look for helmet models like the one that we suggested above, as their viewing size can go up to 97 x 62 mm. This means, that the helmet will allow you to have a natural view of the entire environment around you, and inspect your work in great detail.
Controls that determine the functionality of your auto darkening welding helmet are essential for its effectiveness. The best the controls are, the more convenience and speed they offer to the welder, who can adjust the helmet according to his needs.
The functionality controls can either be place in the interior or the exterior part of the welding helmet. They are placed so that the welder can adjust the shades or the grind, and the easier they are to handle, the better workflow they provide to the user.
Preferably, your auto darkening welding helmet should have external functionality controls. A great helmet with very convenient controls is the 3M Speedglas Welding Helmet 9100. It has been a pleasure working with this fascinating protective tool, which helped me weld even faster than before because of its easy controls.
Although internal functionality controls can slow you down a little bit, they stay more protected in the inside of the helmet. This is why most manufacturers choose to design their auto darkening welding helmets this way, in order to avoid damages on the helmet during welding.
Another very important factor for an effective auto darkening welding helmet, is the light sensitivity. You need to make sure that the helmet you are going to purchase has the appropriate light sensitivity settings, so that you can switch between different shades.
Helmets that provide scaling for light sensitivity help a lot during the welding procedure. They offer great levels of convenience to the welder, making the welding extremely effective and detailed, like for instance the Hobart 770756 Impact Variable Auto-Dark Helmet, which has amazing light sensitivity settings.
If a lot of light sensitivity scaling takes place, then it is more than certain that other changes are required too. For instance, you might need to change the amperage or the welding machine voltage. This usually happens to the thickest pieces of metal that require high amperage, which means regular changes to the shade levels upwards.
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Sensitivity controls can be found in high quality auto darkening welding helmets. They provide great flexibility to the user, as he can determine the exact levels of the light sensitivity he wants, according to the needs of each project.
These controls can prove very useful for the welder. He can adjust the sensitivity settings so that the shades change only when appropriate. For instance, if other welding processes take place in the same area, the welder can adjust the sensitivity so that the shades are not activated when his co-workers light their welding arcs.
You can understand, that these particular settings determine the quality of the welding process. Less distractions means best workflow and better focus on the particular project. A great example of a helmet with easy-to-handle sensitivity controls, is the Jackson Safety 46131 Insight Variable Auto Darkening Welding Helmet.
Another essential feature for an auto darkening welding helmet. Delay controls determine the time it takes for the light sensitivity settings to apply. More specifically, the time it takes for the darker shades to turn into lighter shades, after the arc gets inactive.
Very generally, with the delay controls the welder has the ability to adjust the delay in a range of around to 2 seconds. For instance, according to the welding process, he can set the delay to either 0.5 seconds if the welding process is short, or up to 2 seconds if the process lasts longer.
It is my suggestion that every welder no matter how experienced, should be really cautious with the particular feature. Preferably, when you are about to purchase an auto darkening helmet, search for a model that has up to four arc sensors for maximum protection and effectiveness.
My top choice regarding helmets with 4 arc sensors is the Jackson Safety TrueSight II. You can rest assured that the particular model by the Jackson Safety Company will protect you at all times, while it is going to provide clear, large view that will allow you to work the best way possible.
Welding helmets with 4 arc sensors are my go-to option most of the times. Like all welders, I want to make sure that the helmet I use is going to darken when needed without any issues, so that I can keep myself protected during every project.
Various auto darkening welding helmets use different power sources. It all comes down to your personal preference and the limitations of your budget, but there are many options available in the market, no matter the power source you prefer.
You can find welding helmets that use lithium batteries or a combination of solar power with batteries. You can choose between either of those options without the fear of failure, because there is no right or wrong choice in the particular case.
One of the main differences between welding helmets that use replaceable batteries to those that use non-replaceable ones, is that the first type of helmets has the potential to last longer. The second type has an anticipated lifetime (5 to 8 years), which varies between different manufacturers and welding helmet models.
The main disadvantage of auto darkening helmets with replaceable batteries, is the fact that it is the user’s responsibility to turn the power on or off when he starts or stops the welding process. In addition, the welder should always have a replacement set of batteries.
Comfort and position
You need to test the welding helmet you are going to purchase, in order to decide whether or not it is suitable for your needs. One of the most comfortable welding helmets I have used, is the Esab SENTINEL A50 Auto Darkening Welding Helmet.
It helped me work efficiently without any neck or head annoyances, which was always what I was looking for in a welding helmet. Having a comfortable helmet will make the process much easier and effortless for you, while it will be way less tiring.
During your search for a helmet, prefer the ones that tighten easily and securely around your head. It is extremely important that your welding helmet stays in position while you work, otherwise you will find it difficult to focus on your project if you spend your time adjusting it.
Make sure that the auto darkening helmet you choose allows you to have a clear and wide view, so that you can work in detail. Avoid helmet with small viewing areas, especially if you are going to work in space-restricted projects, as they will make it hard for you to move around.
The balance of the helmet is another thing you need to focus on. Make sure that it is stable while working, especially when you use it in an upward position. This will depend on whether the helmet tightens appropriately like stated above, and on its structure and design.
Last but not least, it is highly recommended that you go for a lightweight auto darkening welding helmet. If your welding processes tend to last for a significant amount of time, then it is a necessity that you acquire a helmet with limited weight to avoid pressing your head too much.
Fortunately, nowadays most auto darkening helmet models are designed to be lightweight so that they can offer convenience to the welder. Safety also depends of the weight of the welding helmet, as it becomes too difficult to wear a heavy helmet and work efficiently at the same time.
The Jackson Safety Insight Variable Auto Darkening Welding Helmet has been one of the most comfortable welding helmets I have used for long projects. It was really convenient to wear for at least 2 hours before taking a single break, and it kept my neck stable during the entire process.
Auto darkening welding helmets are a necessary tool for every welder. You need to know the way each model works in order to decide whether it is the right one for your projects, as various ones have different specifications and features.
It all depends on the manufacturer, and the structure of the helmet. It is up to you to decide which one works best for you, so that you can take full advantage of it. Happy welding!
For more information on how to use an auto darkening welding helmet, here is a very helpful video: