Auto Darkening Welding Helmets
How to choose the right auto darkening welding helmets?
Helmets are probably the most common, yet important type of protection equipment in the welding business, since without a special protection for the eyes, welding is nearly impossible. Auto darkening welding helmets are the most advanced models of protective apparel, but let's see why. We should start by saying that it is essential to understand the way the arc flash works, in order to explain the efficiency of auto darkening welding helmets. There are several types of light that radiate from the welding arc: ultraviolet (UV), high-intensity light and infrared (IR). Without protection against UV and IR eyes can suffer from permanent and severe damage: retinal burns and sight loss.
Auto darkening welding helmets immediately change color the moment the electric arc is stuck, but even here there are variations in the quality of the product depending on the manufacturer. The only reliable helmets to use are those that read ANSI standard Z87.1 on the auto-darkening cartridge; this is the best certification possible to convince any buyer that eye protection is insured. Furthermore, some auto darkening welding helmets provide a higher level of comfort than others, and such features depend on the speed of darkening response to the light emission. Sometimes even a millisecond in the time of darkening can make a difference.
The next choice you need to make is for the type of power used by the auto darkening welding helmets: should they be solar-powered or battery power? First of all, the big advantage of the solar-powered auto darkening welding helmets is that they provide UV and IR protection even when the eye shield has not changed color. They go on without having to switch any button and protect the eyes against high-intensity light right away. On the other hand, the battery-powered model has an on-off switch as well as an “auto-off” device necessary for preserving battery life.
Don't ignore the type of shade specific to the auto darkening welding helmets: it can be fixed or variable depending on the model. The fixed type of shade is useful to welders who operate on the same type of material; however, due to the diversity of welding operations and materials, you should probably go for the auto darkening welding helmets with a variable shade option. Thus, when the welding process uses lower amperages, you may lighten the shades or when the amperage is too high you'll be able to darken the lens at will.