Last Updated on February 19, 2021
You cannot deny the importance of safety gear if you are working in the field of welding. I was using a regular welding helmet and often struggled to work because it wouldn’t block light rays emitted from sparks. I couldn’t focus on certain areas because bright light kept hindering my vision. Then, I came to know about the currently trending auto-darkening welding helmets. I knew I had to get one because the regular ones weren’t just working for me anymore.
As a professional welder, I tested my new auto-darkening helmets in unique methods. Read on to know how you can test yours.
What is an auto-darkening welding helmet?
Auto-darkening welding helmets are getting popular by the day. These helmets are made from the combination of multiple elements including UV filters, liquid crystal cells, and polarization filters.
When exposed to high light ray emission, the helmet automatically adjusts the lens, so that you can see the subject clearly. Adjustment of the lens ensures that you do not have to lift your helmet again and again while welding.
How auto-darkening welding helmets work?
The safety features in an auto-darkening welding helmet protect the eyes of the welder. When you switch the helmet on, the lens will drop down the shade to a lower level. The front liquid crystal panels have some photosensors which will sense the light ray and automatically select the darkness level.
After welding, the lens of the helmet will return to the normal state. So you will be able to work continuously without having to lift your helmet again and again.
How to test the auto-darkening welding helmet?
Let’s imagine that you bought your first auto-darkening helmet. But do you know if it works or not? How will you test it? Don’t worry. We got you covered. Follow the next steps, and you can check your auto-darkening welding helmet too!
1. How safe is it?
The first tip to test the auto-darkening helmet is to see how safe it is. The helmet should meet the industrial standards to save you from any mishaps, and the model must be updated with safety standards as well.
You will be fine if you see that the helmet comes with UV-protection and heat protection (from 22-130 degrees F). Meeting these standards is crucial for auto-darkening welding helmets.
2. Adjustable Lenses
The lenses in your helmet need to be adjustable. They should have different levels which usually range from 9-13. Welding different materials require different levels of protection.
So you have to be careful while checking which type of lens you are getting with the welding helmet. With the lenses within these levels, you will undoubtedly get the job done.
3. Clear Visibility
The helmet’s point is to let you see what you’re working on without damaging your eyes. But if you can’t see through it, it invalidates the whole point. This is why you need clear visibility.
Check the visibility of the lenses initially, and while welding; compare them as well. If you can see in both states, you are good to go. If you cannot make out what’s in front of you while wearing the helmet, you might want to return it.
Optical clarity is the utmost priority while choosing auto-darkening welding helmets.
4. Reaction to Sun
This is another excellent way to test out the helmet. You can quickly determine how good or bad the helmet is with the help of the Sun Test. This test will eventually help you check out all the features of the helmet.
To test this out, pick a sunny day and go out wearing the helmet. Look up and stare at the sun, you should feel that the lens of the helmet is darkening. This tells you that the feature of the helmet is working.
If the helmet reacts otherwise, there is a chance that you might need to replace it. Place a hand in front of your lens to try and block the view. If you see that the lens is brightening up again, there is a problem. This means the helmet will automatically brighten up before you are done with your welding.
5. Reaction Speed
You need to consider how fast or how slow the lens of the helmet is working. This is crucial as you experience loads of sudden flashes if you are in the field of welding.
Some helmets come equipped with delay controls; this feature saves your eyes from suddenly experiencing harsh flashes. For instance, a fantastic helmet will react as fast as 1/2500ths seconds. Any slight delay may occur depending on the brand of your helmet but the timing is constant for the best helmets in the market. You will get this info quickly from your manual.
The reaction time is so little that you can’t notice it in a good helmet. So if you can see the helmet darkening slowly, chances are you got a faulty one.
6. Check out the Sensitivity
The amount of sensitivity on the helmet slightly differs depending on the manufacturers. The top-notch brands will provide you with the right amount of sensitivity.
Most helmets also come will manual knobs to adjust the sensitivity. To determine the adequate sensitivity, check out if the helmet usually is responding to light change. If it flickers, you have got a problem.
7. Weight of the Helmet
Are you comfortable wearing the helmet? Is it too heavy that you cannot keep it on for a while? Or is it too light that you don’t feel satisfied? The lightweight feature of auto-darkening helmets is one of the essential elements.
As a professional welder, you have to move around a lot with the helmet on your head. If the helmet is too heavy, you can’t move around quickly. The excess weight might even end up giving you a neck strain.
So, while choosing the helmet and testing it, check if you are comfortable. If you aren’t, it’s a definite NO! The lightweight factor significantly reduces the strain on your neck, so that you don’t get tired quickly.
8. Eye Fatigue
Another thing to consider while testing auto-darkening helmets is eye fatigue. If you will be welding for hours and hours, you need good quality lenses on your helmet to help you see clearly.
If your eyes start to hurt after a few minutes of wearing the helmet, you probably got a faulty version. Typically, a good helmet will let you work for long periods. So get it replaced ASAP.
9. Check the Power Type
The source of power also varies from helmet to helmet. The types can be typically classified into two. You can either go for replaceable battery helmets or non-replaceable battery helmets.
If you opt for the ones with the replaceable batteries, you can reuse the helmet again and again even if the batteries die. But if you go for the fixed solar-powered ones, you will have to throw the entire helmet away if the batteries die.
10. Use A Torch Striker
The final tip to test your auto-darkening welding helmet is to use a torch striker. Hold a torch striker in front of the helmet to check its sensors. If they detect the sparks, the helmet will immediately turn dark.
If the helmet isn’t darkening or it delays a bit, your one may be faulty. So return it while you still can.
To recapitulate, with the current rise of auto-darkening helmets’ popularity, some manufacturers might not keep up with the industry standards. So, you must test out their claims as it is a matter of your safety.
Check out the above steps and test your newly purchased helmet out. If you followed the steps correctly and found a problem, you might want to return your helmet and get a better one. Make sure to consult with your welder friends who have already used an auto-darkening helmet, they’ll be able to recommend a good brand. I hope this helps. Good luck!