The control settings of auto darkening welding helmets allow welders to make adjustments regarding the light sensitivity and delay according to their personal preference and the needs of their welding projects.
This is most likely the reason why auto darkening welding helmets have almost completely replaced the passive helmets over time. They provide more flexibility to the user, by giving him the opportunity to manually control the functionality of the welding helmet.
High quality auto darkening welding helmets come with knob and switches that control the light sensitivity, time response and delay of auto darkening filter. This fact gives the ability to the welder to ideally adjust the usability of the helmet to the specific needs of each welding process.
The proper use of the control settings is a skill that the user should obtain in order to be able to adjust the welding helmet according to the process. In this guide, we provide information about how to use the control settings of your auto darkening welding helmet in order to enhance the effectiveness of your welding helmet.
What is the role of the control settings?
The main reason that the control of the auto darkening welding helmets exist is to add flexibility to the work of the welder, by allowing him to work with more than one shades and decide how fast or how slow to activate the auto darkening filter of the lens.
Passive welding helmets had only one feature, the dark shade of the lens that they came with which usually was shade number 10. As a result, the user couldn’t make any adjustments, except from using other shade lenses for more protection, such as lenses of shade 12.
Passive welding helmets are extremely effective when it comes to protecting the eyes of the welder, this is why they were used massively in almost all industries. However, as the designs and structures of welding helmets evolved, the need for more customization in the use of the helmet led to more advanced adjustment controls with more specific settings.
Using the adjustment control settings, the work of the welder became a lot easier and faster. The user is now able to adjust in great detail all the functionalities of the auto darkening welding helmet according to the specific need of his project, and this way enhance his precision.
In addition to the above, this level of automation offered the ability to work much faster and convenient compared to past years. The control settings of the helmet determine how the ADF of the lens will work, and this way the welder can focus solely on the project.
Setting properly the control settings of your welding helmet can be a challenging task, although you can get used to it after you practice for some time. There are many factors that determine how you are going to use them, such as the welding helmet model and the specifications of the welding project you are working on.
Basic controls of an auto darkening welding helmet
There are three main controls that all auto darkening welding helmets have. These three basic control settings determine how the auto darkening filter of the helmet is going to work, and they are the things that the welder can adjust according to his current welding needs.
The three basic controls are:
- Light sensitivity
Light sensitivity. The sensitivity controls of a welding helmet determine the amount of light required in order to activate the auto darkening filter of the helmet. This means, that the more powerful the source of the light, the darker the lens is going to get when it detects it.
Delay. The delay controls of a helmet indicate the speed that the auto darkening filter will get activated once the light source hits the arc sensors. You can adjust the delay control to speed up or slow down both the initiation of the arc and the ending of it for smoother deactivation of the ADF.
Shade. The controls of the shade help the welder adjust the darkness of the lens once the arc is active. There is a shade range of 1 to 14 that can be found among different auto darkening welding helmets, 1 being the closest to natural light and 14 being the darkest.
How to use the control settings properly
Being one of the most important pieces of equipment used for the protection of the welder, the auto darkening welding helmet needs to be set correctly in order to function as effectively as possible. This is why the user must devote some time into learning how the control settings of his welding helmet work.
To start with, it is common knowledge that the lens is the part of the welding helmet that protect the vision of the user from various harmful rays produced during the welding process. For instance, ultraviolet and infrared rays are two of the most common types that threaten the eyes of the welder during most processes.
Auto darkening control settings are used to protect the vision of the user as effectively as possible from these rays. Each welding process requires different adjustments, because it produces various amounts of light, others more powerful than others.
Below, we have gathered information about how to properly use the settings of an auto darkening welding helmet in order to take full advantage of its functionality:
1 – Adjust the light sensitivity
Firstly, what you need to keep in mind is that you should always adjust the settings of the helmet in a clean environment, by placing it on a clean surface. Inspect the welding helmet properly, and find out whether or not the batteries and the lens are in position before you start.
After the inspection is over, you should start by adjusting the light sensitivity of your welding helmet. In order to achieve the best results possible, use the knobs to make the sensitivity as high as you desire. This step requires knowing the amperage and voltage levels of the welding process you are going to use.
Test the lens multiple times to find out whether it darkens enough in accordance to the arc light produced during the welding. If the arc is not too powerful, keep the sensitivity low. If it is more powerful than average, adjust the sensitivity accordingly to higher levels.
2 – Set the delay time
After adjusting the light sensitivity controls, the next things you should setting is the delay time of the welding helmet. As stated before, the delay time determines how much time it is going to take for the ADF to change from a dark shade to a brighter one.
Obviously, when it comes to detecting the welding arc you need the fastest time possible. This is called the response time. Every auto darkening welding helmet comes with a fixed response time, and high quality helmets have the smallest response times.
The difference between response time and delay time, is that sometimes you need your welding helmet to darken a bit slower. For instance, when the arc light is too strong it takes more time to go off. In such occasions, you need a slower delay time so that you can stay protected longer.
The delay switches (like most adjustment controls) are placed in the inside part of the welding helmet, so that we can avoid damaging them during the welding process. On the majority of the well-known welding helmet models, you can easily change the settings by moving the switch upwards or downwards.
You can set the delay time to your preference, and according to the needs of your welding project. If you have sensitive eyes, it is recommended that you set the delay time low, so that the lens stays at a darker shade longer for better protection.
3 – Adjust the shade
Like with all the control settings, you can adjust the shade of your welding helmet by using the shade knob or switch depending on the model. Most welding helmets have the shade adjustment control in their interior part, usually at the left side of the welding helmet.
What the shade control of the welding helmet does, is allowing the welder to decide on the darkness of the shade according to his preference. This offers more flexibility regarding the level of protection he requires from the welding helmet according to each welding process.
It is recommended for the majority of the welder, especially beginners, to keep in mind that using the darkest shade available suggest for particular types of welding process is the best solution for maximum eye protection.
Welding processes with low amperage and low voltage might not require the darkest shades. In such occasions, using darker shades than the ones recommended might lead to limited visibility and this is going to have an immediate affect on your workflow.
4 – Set the memory functionality
Some welding helmet models with high quality auto darkening filters, offer the ability to store pre-selected preferences regarding your adjustment controls, so that you can activate them immediately every time you begin a welding process.
This memory functionality applies for all three main controls of the welding helmet, the light sensitivity, the delay adjustment and the shade. This features comes very handy when you have to work under the same conditions and on similar projects multiples times in the week.
The memory functionality saves a lot of time for the welder, and makes the welding process a lot more convenient without having to go through the same adjustments each time you want to initiate a welding process.
Of course, if you use different welding methods on various pieces of metal and you work in several different working environment, you should either adjust manually the controls or store different functionality sets in the memory of your ADF.
5 – Adjust the controls according to location
If welding is your profession and your workplace has lots of light or co-workers using their own arc torches or sticks, you have to deal with multiple sources of light. This makes it harder for the sensors of your welding helmet to detect the right light source.
If this is the case, you need to make the right adjustments in order to take full advantage of the auto darkening filter of the lens. This is especially required, when you are working under the sun which is a huge light source.
When working under the sun, you need to use the control setting of your helmet accordingly. This means, that you will have to lower the light sensitivity and the delay, so that the ADF only gets active when the arc light is detected.
After setting the controls
After you have set the controls and tested the lens of the welding helmet, you should focus on the stability of your welding helmet to enhance its functionality. Test and tighten the headband so that it fits perfectly your head size, and make sure that it stays into position.
What is more, try lowering the welding helmet slowly until the lens sits properly in front of your eyes allowing you to see clearly the welding area. Make sure that the lens covers entirely your eyes, so that you avoid arc flashes from the sides.
Last but not least, always test the final result of the adjustments you have make before you start welding. You don’t want any surprises to happen during the welding process, so that you can avoid harming your vision.
How to read the welding helmet controls
Depending on the helmet model and the manufacturer, the adjustment controls are either placed in the outside part or the inside part of the welding helmet. Most commonly, the controls are placed in the inner part of the welding helmet, so that they stay protected during the welding process.
In order to avoid misreads of the control indications, newer auto darkening welding helmet models have LED technology, and use colored screens. The welder can use his touch in order to adjust the settings, and the LED technology makes this possible even in darker places with limited visibility.
The control settings of an auto darkening welding helmet are the most important tool when it comes to adjusting the functionality of the welding helmet according to the need of each welding method.
They enhance the productivity and workflow of the welder, by allowing him to manually control the auto darkening filter of his welding helmet, and providing the ability to take full advantage of the welding helmet.
Take the time to learn the controls of your own auto darkening welding helmet, and test it to find out how it affects your working process. Keep welding!