When it comes to choosing welding helmets, there is sometimes confusion as to which one to choose. In this article we aim to ease the confusion and give some guidance in the right one to choose. Welding helmets are a crucial piece of welding equipment that must be taken seriously.

Passive or Auto Darkening Lens?

Passive lens helmets will have a fixed shade value that Is usually #10. It is the economical choice as these cost less than the auto darkening lenses. It does however, come with some downsides though.

When using a passive lens helmet it is necessary to lift and lower the helmet, which can make it more difficult to do a tack weld, or short weld. Sometimes it is also hard to position the electrode whilst the helmet is snapping into position, which in turn can cause poor weld quality particularly in novice welders. There is also a risk of welding flash if the helmet doesn’t snap into position correctly when flipping it downwards.

Auto darkening welding helmets solve these issues, by having a variable shade lens. The way this works, is that when the sensors in the helmet detect an arc has begun, it will automatically darken in a fraction of a second, to a shade between #8 and #13. When there is no weld occurring then the welder maintains a lower shade of around #3 or #4 which is enough for the operator to see through and allows them to set up the weld without the need to flip the helmet into place.

The result of this, is generally better quality welds due to not having to shift the head around, whilst adjusting the helmet, and also better productivity. It will also prevent neck injury from consistently flipping the helmet into place.

Options available for Auto Darkening Helmets

Although after reading this you may think that the choice is now simple, either go with the economic passive lens, or the more expensive auto darkening lens, there is still other options available when it comes to the auto darkening welding helmets.

Fixed or variable shade

When a fixed shade helmet is triggered, it will darken to a fixed shade which is usually #10. This is particularly useful if you are welding material of the same thickness with a limited amperage range. A variable shade lens will allow the shade to adjust based on the welding process used, and the arc brightness. This is ideal if you are using a range of different welding process such as Stick, MIG or TIG.

Lens Reaction Time

This is the speed which the lens will switch from its natural state, to the darkened shade. The quicker this occurs the better it is for the operator’s safety. If you are doing many welds in a day, then it is ideal to use a helmet which has a faster reaction time. Entry level is usually 1/3,600 of a second, whereas industrial helmets can be up to 1/20,000 of a second.

Viewing Size

This really is a personal preference and this can generally vary between 26cm square to 58cm square, which is quite a significant difference when welding for long hours in particular.

Number of sensors

This can range from between 2 and 4, with the higher number being better, as it will more reliably trigger the auto darkening functioning, in particular where a sensor might be obstructed.

Adjustable sensitivity control

This is a useful feature in particular when using low amperages as those seen in TIG welding.

Adjustable delay controls

This allows you to be able to adjust how long the lens stays in it’s darkened state, after the welding has stopped. A longer delay is usually ideal when MIG welding at high amperages, while it is sometimes best to use a lower delay when dealing with larger projects where you may need to adjust the next weld quickly.

The choice is yours

After reading this, we hope that you have got some more insight into the options available for welding helmets and the extra considerations you may need to take when making a selection. When it comes to safety whilst welding, choosing the right helmet is paramount to ensuring less workplace injuries.

For more information see welding.com.au

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