Welding helmets are the most important piece of equipment for a welder. They are designed to protect the user’s eyes and face from harmful rays such ultraviolet and infrared, and allow him to see the welding arc while staying protected with the filter of the lens.
What is more, this is not the only type of protection they offer. During the welding process, fumes, flames and debris are produced. These elements can cause health problems to the welder, and this why it is essential that he always wears a welding helmet.
There is a wide variety of different auto darkening welding helmets available in the market. The three main types of helmets are battery powered helmets, solar powered helmets and the ones that use a combination of these two power sources.
Recommended Solar Powered welding helmets:
Recommended Battery Powered welding helmets:
The last years, the welding helmet technology has evolved and manufacturers managed to utilize photovoltaic shells in order to make their auto darkening welding helmet models even more effective and convenient for the welders.
The technology behind solar power is responsible for the massive improvement of the welding helmets, and it is used to create auto darkening welding helmets, and more specifically the auto darkening filter that is required for the protection of the eyes.
There is also a piece of information about solar powered helmets that confuses people. It is believed by most people that solar powered welding helmet do not use batteries, in really however they do. They have a PV panel which powers the solar cells, and they also have batteries that power the initial functionality of the helmet.
Solar vs Battery powered welding helmets – What to choose
My recommendation is to go for a solar powered auto darkening welding helmet. It is common sense that auto darkening welding helmets need to have a power source in order to be able to function, due to their auto darkening technology which activates the ADF. There are two main ways manufacturers power their welding helmets, using either batteries or solar power.
It is up to the preference of the welder which one he is going to choose, as both types of auto darkening welding helmets have advantages and limitations. If you are a welder, you need to know the requirements of your projects, in order to be able to choose which type is the most suitable for you.
There is also a third type of auto darkening welding helmet, which utilize both power sources for better results. These welding helmets are solar and battery powered. They are considered to be the most advanced technologically, and they usually have bigger longevity than the other two types of helmets.
A remarkable example of a welding helmet that uses both types of power sources, is the Antra AH7-860-001X which you can check out on Amazon. It combines the best of both worlds, and is extremely effective both for indoor and outdoor welding projects.
As far as protection is concerned, you can rest assured that all types of welding helmets guaranteed maximum safety for the welder, no matter their power source. In fact, every type of power source is designed to make the auto darkening filter of the helmet function as well as possible, so protection is their main purpose.
The main difference of all types of power sources, is the longevity of the functionality regarding the welding helmet. The better the power source, the longer the welding helmet is going to stay functional and protect the welder effectively.
For example, the battery of the Instapark ADF Series GX990T is one of the best I have personally come across. It has helped me with long hour projects, as it sometimes doubled the time I was able to use it compared to other similar helmet in the same price range.
Battery powered welding helmets
Regarding auto darkening welding helmets that use batteries as their only power source, they are the fastest helmets to start a welding project with. This is because you can replace their old batteries or recharge them (depending on the model) and start working immediately.
As far as the workflow and productivity are concerned, this is a great factor when considering what welding helmet to acquire. You will never have to wait, and in case you run out of battery in the middle of a welding process, you can replace the batteries and start again.
Battery powered welding helmet use lithium batteries, which are either rechargeable or not. If they are not rechargeable they may require standard type AAA batteries such as the Energizer AAA Batteries, or AA batteries like the AmazonBasics AA Performance Alkaline Batteries.
Different brands place the power switch of their battery powered helmets in different locations of the welding helmet. Most commonly, batteries are placed near the controls of the auto darkening filter, so that they can power up the arc sensors instantly.
Advantages of the battery powered welding helmets
To start with, a great advantage of the battery powered auto darkening welding helmets is the fact that it doesn’t take long for their batteries to charge. The are many types of battery powered helmets in the market, such as lithium or alkaline, although that depends on the manufacturer.
The welder is able to have complete control over how much power the welding helmet is going to consume. This is because of the on/off switch, which is usually placed near the lens or the ADF controls and the welder can use to save the power of the battery when needed.
The longevity of battery powered welding helmets is most of the times bigger than the longevity of solar powered helmets, although this is not absolute. There are indicators on the LED screen that provide the ability to the user to monitor the life of the batteries.
Disadvantages of the battery powered welding helmets
The advantages of battery powered welding helmets may seem intriguing, however there are some limitations some limitations that you need to consider. Firstly, there is an expiration date for lithium battery after some years, which is something you need to keep in mind.
In addition to this, in order to replace the batteries of your welding helmet you need to refer to the manufacturer and get an original set of batteries. Although it is possible sometimes to find similar working batteries for your helmet, it is not something I recommend.
If you have decide on a battery powered auto darkening welding helmet, I would recommend a model like the Antra AH7-X90-0000 which is a high quality helmet model. Although this particular model utilizes lithium batteries, alkaline batteries are way easier to replace.
Lastly, battery powered helmets require manual operation from the welders. This can be both time consuming and easy to make mistakes. For examples, welders sometimes forget to turn the switch on or off, resulting to dead batteries and malfunctions.
Solar powered welding helmets
Solar powered welding helmet use photovoltaic cells, which are usually placed at the top of the welding helmet, in order to capture the light of the sun that they transform into their power source. In addition to solar power, these helmets also have a battery to provide the necessary power.
Although most welder believe that the batteries are there as an extra power source, the truth is that they are charged by the solar power, they store the energy, and they provide power to the welding helmet as long as they are charged or under the solar power source.
Solar powered auto darkening welding helmet, unlike the battery powered type, they do not have on/off switches placed on their surface. In contrast, they have an automatic on/off power feature, so that they are functional at all times while the batteries are charged or when they currently use solar power.
The fact that the user can save the life of battery while the solar cells are providing the necessary power for the functionality of the welding helmet, is one of the most important things regarding the solar powered welding helmet. This fact, helps you save a lot of money and it is a nice investment over time.
For beginner welders, solar powered helmets are usually the best choice because of their automatic features. For instance, if the welder forgets to turn on the switch it doesn’t really matter because the solar powered helmet turns on automatically when it detects the arc, and this way it protects the eyes of the user constantly.
Because of having smaller numbers of controls, solar powered welding helmets tend to be light than the battery powered ones. A perfect example is the Deep Sea Solar Powered Welding Helmet which is pretty light and comfortable to wear for long hour welding projects, or weldings in inconvenient positions.
Regarding the price, the solar powered helmets that use the assistance of batteries tend to be more expensive than the ones that use only solar power. I recommend the ones that use both solar power and batteries for better performances, such as the Antra AH6-660-0000.
Advantages of the solar powered welding helmets
Solar powered welding helmets are the preference for the majority of the welders, both beginners and professionals. The reason why, is because they are more convenient during welding regarding battery life and functionality.
The fact that welding helmets like the Nesco 4656 Auto Darkening Solar Powered Welding Helmet utilize solar power to function, makes them the number one choice, especially when it comes to working under the sun. In such occasions, the solar powered helmet has literary unlimited battery life.
They are considered the most flexible type of welding helmets because they work equally well for all types of welding projects, both indoors (when completely charged) and outdoors (because their batteries charge constantly from the solar power of the sun).
Most welders prefer solar welding helmets with replaceable batteries, because of the fact that you can change them instantly and keep working in no time. In addition, in case the batteries get damaged, you can easily replace them for affordable prices, and return to your work.
Solar powered helmet models that use AAA batteries are more economical than the ones that use lithium batteries. Lithium batteries are harder to find, cost more and sometimes you may need to refer to the manufacturer in order to acquire the required lithium battery for the particular welding helmet model.
Additionally, the fact they can harness the energy of welding arc rays and the automatic on/off features included in most solar power welding helmet modes, makes them even more convenient regarding the longevity of their functionality.
Disadvantages of the solar powered welding helmets
There are also some disadvantages when it comes to working with solar powered welding helmets. The two main ones are the fact that some helmet model have short life time, and this makes them a bad money investment, and secondly the time it takes to recharge using the energy of the sun.
There have been reports for many solar powered welding helmets that have stopped working properly after some time, because they have been recharged too many times. This is not a minor problem, which may lead to serious work disruptions.
What is more, the high prices of the lithium batteries is another significant issue that welder have to deal with. They cost a lot more than AAA or AA batteries, and sometimes the user may not be even able to replace them.
Last but not least, solar powered helmets tend to have bigger sizes than battery powered helmets, because of the required space for the solar panel. This makes them a little heavier too, which might be a problem for welder that work in difficult welding positions or tight places.
To sum up, I think that despite their minor disadvantages solar powered auto darkening welding helmets are the best choice for welders. They work amazingly well in all working environments, they have automatic features that don’t require the user’s attention and they have bigger and stronger battery life because they utilize solar power.
It all comes down to personal preference, although it is my belief that battery powered welding helmets come with a little bigger number of disadvantages when compared with solar powered.
To decide, you should do your own research and test thoroughly the helmet models you like. Find out if they work properly for the welding processes you need them, and if so, purchase them and start using them. Happy weldings!