Golden Tips for Buying the Best Auto Darkening Welding Helmet

Auto darkening welding mask is a specialized type of headgear usually utilized while welding to protect you from dangerous radiations that are generated during the process. This particular helmet also safeguards your face and neck against the flashes and flames emitted during the welding process.

Unprotected exposure to harmful radiations can result in an arc eye or loss of vision if your retina is burnt. The radiations emitted during welding can also damage your skin causing severe skin burns. Welding helmets are crucial pieces of safety tools that every welder should use. Therefore, you need to master all the essential tips for purchasing the ideal welding mask.

Safety Standards

Ensuring that your auto darkening welding mask meets the latest safety standards is of paramount importance. Some of the helmets on the market fail to meet these standards. The current welding masks have temperature test guidelines. Some manufacturers still sell the old standards helmets that have no such guidelines. Substandard welding helmets may expose the eyes to the welding arc since their shade level, and switching speed is usually slower than indicated. Always ensure your product or helmet packaging advertises either 'Z87+' or 'ANSI Z87.1 – 2003.’ That shows that the product has the current ANSI approval.

The particular standard requires all auto-darkening lens and helmet manufacturers to ascertain all their advertised specs such as darkness shade settings, switching speeds, and other specifications, via accredited laboratory tests to ensure safety compliance. These robust tests require the lens and helmet to withstand very high-velocity impact tests from various flying objects. Regardless of the shade settings, the lens should provide a 100 percent infrared and ultraviolet filtering and comply with the advertised darken shades and switching speeds in extreme lens temperatures. The lens should engage and perform at temperatures as high as 131 degrees F and as low as 23 degrees F to ensure reliable protection.

Helmet Weight

It is crucial to purchase a welding helmet that offers the ultimate comfort and minimal fatigue. Lighter weight helmets reduce strain on the users’ neck hence reducing fatigue. There is a significant difference between a helmet that weighs 2 lb and one that weighs 1 lb. Greater weight usually causes discomfort with time.

Delay Controls and Adjustable Sensitivity

A delay control is a beneficial feature. This control allows you to set the duration the lens stays dark after particular welding arc stops. If you are tack welding on a big project, short delays assist in getting the work performed faster as you prepare for another welding activity. Very high amperages require longer delay times to prevent the welder from looking at the weld section after the arc is extinguished. These features are primarily controlled by the toggle switches for low/high sensitivity and slow/fast delays, depending on the cost and the manufacturer. Expert level welding masks typically utilize infinite range dials to offer greater adjustment ability. On the contrary, entry level auto darkening masks lack either of the particular features.

Sensitivity control feature is essential when welding at lower amperages, especially if the process is slightly brighter compared with other welding procedures. A perfect example is the TIG welding process. Both professional and intermediate level auto darkening welding helmets offer the capability to adjust the amount of brightness needed to trigger lens to darken.

Battery Life and Solar Power

Some auto darkening welding masks usually incorporate a solar assist panel and a non-replaceable internal battery. Such masks require to be charged in direct sunlight before the initial use. They also need a similar charging duration if you store them for a long time. As a consequence, they can be a great challenge if you wish to perform welding immediately. The main setback with these helmets is that the lens fails to work once the battery dies.

Always look for a welding helmet that has a solar assist panel and get power from a replaceable battery that can enable you to weld any time. Select a lens that includes an AAA battery for availability anywhere and economical replacement price. A lithium battery lens has a longer battery life. However, these batteries usually have limited availability and quite expensive to replace. The AAA battery life is roughly 2,000 hours hen performing MIG welding.

Lens Reaction Speed or Switching Speed

The lens switching speed is more often indicated on the auto darkening helmet. The particular number shows how fast the lens can switch from its natural state, mainly shade #4 or #3, to the darkened shade after the welding commences. The faster your eyes are shaded from the extreme light, the better. Arc flashes are usually caused by a very slow reaction time that causes eye discomfort. Welding helmets or lenses with high switching speeds are quite expensive compared with the ones with slower speeds.

The expert and intermediate level welding helmets switch at higher speeds (1/16,000 of a second or even faster). Entry-level lenses are usually rated at 1/3, 6000 of a second. If you spend a whole day welding with a lens with low reaction time, you will experience arc flash symptoms. Your eyes will become dry and scratchy, and you will feel extremely fatigued towards the end of the day.

Variable of Fixed Shade

Most affordable auto darkening welding helmets have fixed shades. Standard lens models are usually fixed. A majority of welders weld various materials including aluminum, stainless steel, and mild steel with different thickness that need the utilization of a variety of welding procedures such as TIG or MIG for particular works. The amperage for welding may vary from 40 Amps to 200 Amps or more. Such variance results in different degrees of arc brightness.

You can choose a variable or adjustable shade lens if you wish to get the excellent weld puddle view and protect your eyes appropriately. The particular adjustments are located outside on the side of the mask or inside the mask on the lens. A majority of variable shades mostly adjust from shade #9 to #13. Shade #13 is only used by welders with extremely sensitive eyes or when welding at very high amperage.

Standard or Auto Darkening Glass Lens

Passive or standard welding masks have been in use for many years. These helmets are quite affordable ($20 to $30) but only offer the basic protection. The filter or viewing lens consists of a specialized piece of dark tinted glass with a #10 shade and infrared (IR) coatings or ultraviolet (UV) coatings. Many welders prefer helmets with auto darkening features. These welding masks make the welding process easier because they are equipped with adjustable features and electronic filter lens.

In summary, always follow the above informative guidelines when shopping for the best Auto darkening welding mask. Purchasing your welding masks from reputable manufacturers is the surest way to choose quality products. You should only accept a welding mask that best suits your personal needs. Referring to reviews from thousands of past customers can assist you to make an informed choice.