How to Test Auto Darkening Welding Helmet for Suitability?
Welding poses a variety of hazards such as heat, sparks, splatter, and UV light, and a helmet that automatically switches to dark mode complements a welder’s gear. Unless you know how to test auto darkening welding helmet, you cannot find out if it is ready to protect you against those threats.
In this article, you’ll learn several ways to test your helmet and find out when to replace it for better performance.
Checking the Auto Darkening Feature
It is perhaps the first thing you want to get right because it requires all other features to work together. Following any of these methods should help you.
Doing a Sun Test
Go outside with the helmet on and glance directly towards the shining sun to see how the lens works. If it is reactive, it should darken almost instantly. Move one of your hands slowly over the shield that covers the face. This won’t prevent a good helmet from registering the light and its lens from darkening remaining that way.
Using an Arc Striking Method
Wear your helmet and prepare for striking an arc. You should be able to see the dark mode turned on as the arc has been initiated. At the same time, the welding zone will be clearly visible.
Using a Torch Strike
Strike your welding torch with the helmet put on. The sensors mounted on your helmet should sense the sparks and trigger the lens to go dark. This is how you’ve got a functional helmet.
Using a TV Remote Control
Wear the helmet and find a remote that works on infrared signals. Point it with the light diode to your head. Press a key and see the reaction. The helmet should switch to the dark mode. It may flicker when a remote emits pulsed signals. Either way, the helmet is okay.
Inspecting the Standard and Safety Features
A welding helmet that is sold commercially should meet certain requirements introduced by the industry. Don’t forget to verify them, no matter what the manufacturer claims.
You may have purchased a model knowing that it meets the latest standard in terms of technology and safety. Did you check that yet?
Look at the product and see if it has “ANSI Z87.1- 2003” labeled on it. It is actually a series of tests in which the helmets are put to so that the advertised specs such as switching speeds and shade settings can be validated.
The standard requires that the products being tested survive impacts from flying items, high velocity, and extreme temperatures (from 23 °F to 131 °F), and also have UV protection and a built-in system to filter infrared rays.
Whether your helmet is inactive or the auto darkening feature is active, you should enjoy optimal visibility. Check it with and without the lenses darkened. Any unspecified compromise on this quality indicates a critical issue that needs to be resolved right away.
Although a ‘grind mode’ is not a must-have feature, many helmets offer this lower shade setting which enables you to keep the shade within #3.5 to #4. The grind mode, if switched on, allows you to get optimal visibility only for prep-work or grinding, and you don’t need to remove your helmet between multiple passes. But you want to switch it off for higher numbers.
Number of Sensors
A typical helmet includes three or four sensors depending on the purposes. More sensors ensure better coverage. So, three sensors can be good for production work, but one extra sensor means that you’ll have a greater coverage for visibility while undertaking an out-of-position or comprehensive fabrication job.
Testing the Basic Controls
Modern welding helmets feature a wide variety of shade selections plus a few more controls to let people suit the lighting conditions and environment of their workplaces so they can get the best possible view of their weld puddle.
Different amperage settings (of the welding machine) result in varying degrees of brightness and levels of UV rays. This is the reason you’ll find lens with adjustable/variable shades on your auto darkening helmet. Most shade lenses are adjustable from #6 to #9 and/or #9 to #13.
Some helmets allow for a greater range of 1 to 14. Shade #13 or #14 is recommended for those with sensitive eyes and needs for welding at higher amperage settings. Shade #1 offers visibility which is almost similar to natural brightness (light).
It determines how much of brightness (light) activates the auto darkening mode. The higher the amount of light, the darker a helmet’s lens can be. These controls help the user ensure that the helmet darkens just as required.
You can benefit from sensitivity controls staying alongside other welders who might be working very close to you. Unless you adjust sensitivity correctly, you may have the auto darkening in action as another welder in close proximity strikes the arc. TIG welding professionals can the perks more appropriately than others because the arc may not be very bright due to low amperage settings.
Switch Speed/ Reaction Time
Your helmet takes a very small amount of time to move between the modes (light and dark). It’s called the reaction time. It determines how fast a helmet is able to adjust and provide protection to your eyes after sensing the arc.
Some identify this feature as the “darkening speed” which should be 1/12000 to 1/20000 of a second. Basic lenses are usually rated at 1/3600 and industrial ones are at 1/20000 of a second. Don’t rely on anything that doesn’t fit these estimates.
The lens stays dark for a brief period of time (0.5 to 2 seconds) even after the cessation of the welding arc. Delay controls enables the user to adjust this time.
Sometimes, you may expect a shorter delay (<2 seconds) to get ready for the next welding job, especially when you’re working on a large project that involves tack welding. Welding with high amperage settings may require a longer delay (>0.5 second) because the harmful rays can still be emitted after the welding of the metal is finished.
Advanced models, if not all, come with a feature that lets you store preset preferences for the aforementioned controls. You can activate this function to see if the pre-selected controls work properly. This option saves a lot of time when certain settings are required more than once.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do Auto Darkening Welding Helmets Have Batteries?
Answer: A welding helmet draws its power either a non-replaceable lithium or a replaceable battery. Some models include a solar power system alongside the battery. The non-replaceable type usually lasts for 7 years, but a replaceable one may feature a shorter lifespan.
How Long Does an Auto Darkening Helmet Last?
Answer: An entry-level helmet lasts approximately 3 years, but the higher end models may give you 5000 hours of continuous welding before wearing off completely.
Is the Weight of a Helmet Important?
Answer: Yes, a lightweight welding helmet goes easy on the neck minimizing the exhaustion, strain, and fatigue from continuous operations. Choose a helmet that weighs between 18 and 21 ounces.
Which Shade Is Better – Fixed or Variable?
Answer: A fixed shade works well for people who don’t change much of their arc welding processes and materials. A variable lens is recommended for those who weld various types of materials and adopt different applications.
What Is the Typical View Size of a Welding Helmet?
Answer: For simple applications, 6 square inches of viewing size should be sufficient. Helmets with 9 square inches of viewing field are ideal for industrial welders.
Visibility is one of the two reasons (the other is protection) why you must understand how to test auto darkening welding helmet. Helmets with curved spatter shields over optics offer finer clarity than the ones with sensor bars that may significantly affect the reaction time.
Finally, you have one more thing to consider. Lots of brands are available, but you don’t want to rely on just about any manufacturer. Buy from the company that is reputable and offers replacement parts and warranties on their products. Feel free to shoot us a message if you have more inquiries. Safe welding!