Are Auto Darkening Welding Helmets Safe?

Welding helmets do provide safety during work but the problem is you need to take the helmet off over and over again to watch the weld. This is tiresome and decreases your efficiency at the same time.

As auto darkening helmets control the amount of light entered inside, you don’t need to take them off very often. But here arises the question, are auto darkening welding helmets safe?

Yes, auto darkening helmets are safe as long as you choose a good helmet and use it properly. Let’s get to know some more details about auto darkening helmets.

Disadvantages of Using Welding Helmets with Standard Lens

When you use a welding helmet with standard lenses, it may cause several issues during welding. Here are a few things you will commonly deal with when working with standard welding helmets.

  • When you close the helmet after aligning the weld, the welding torch can move from its position. This can lead to faulty welds if you are a beginner.
  • You need to reach the helmet every time you want to move it up or down. If you are welding for a longer period, it can be great pain.
  • If you are working in tight spaces, under a vehicle, for example, there might not be enough space to move the helmet.
  • Moving the helmet up and down consumes a good amount of time which decreases the efficiency of a welder.

An auto darkening welding helmet can fight these problems and let you work more comfortably.

What Happens When You Weld Without an Auto Darkening Helmet?

The most common hazard for welders is the arc eye. When the eyes of a welder are exposed to high-intensity ultra-violet rays, eye membranes get damaged. This can lead to temporary or even permanent blindness if your eyes are repeatedly exposed to such rays.

You will commonly see these symptoms if you have an arc eye.

  • Temporary blindness
  • Severe pain in the eyes
  • Bloody membranes
  • Irritation or twitching
  • Constant tearing

If your eyes are exposed to ultraviolet radiation for longer, cataracts or even cancer can be caused.

How Do Auto Darkening Helmets Work?

To understand how safe auto darkening helmets are, you need to understand their working principle. Here is a brief overview of how they work.

Auto darkening filter lens or more commonly known as ADF is a liquid crystal display. It has such a filter that blocks all ultraviolet and infrared rays even when the auto darkening mood isn’t activated.

In such cases, the filter has a lighter shade so that light can enter inside. As a result, you can see the welding material or welding torch easily. As soon as you strike the welding torch, the ark is detected by the light sensors mounted on the helmet.

These sensors then activate the LCD and increase the darkness of the lens. This happens in microseconds so that your eyes stay protected from high-intensity light. 

As long as you are using the helmet in the right setting, you will be safe from facing UV or IR.

How to Ensure the Quality of an Auto Darkening Welding Helmet

As this type of helmet is directly related to personal safety, you should never spare any of these factors to ensure a safe helmet.

Lens Shade Adjustability

The environment you work in might not be the same every time. For example, different amperage is needed to work with different materials. So, the intensity of the arc will never be the same.

Your helmet should have an adjustable lens so that it can turn the shade darker or lighter depending on the brightness of the arc. At the same time, these lenses will ensure you can see the weld area clearly when there is no arc.

Safety Standards

Other than just the safety of your eyes, welding helmets should comply with other safety standards as well. The most recent safety standard for helmets in the United States is the ANSI Z87.1.

Check whether your desired helmet complies with this safety standard to ensure it protects you from possible hazards during welding.

Sensitivity Settings

The helmet you buy should come with ample sensitivity and delay settings. You can adjust the sensitivity of the sensors to determine how they will react to light. The delay setting is useful if you don’t want to look directly at the hot weld puddle.

Battery and Solar Power

Most auto darkening helmets come with either a removable or non-removable lithium battery with solar power mode. The solar power mode is useful if you are working in bright daylight.

But if you are working under sheds, the battery will power the lens. Taking a helmet with removable batteries will be a good decision as you can change the battery whenever needed.

Reaction Time

This is crucial because if the reaction time of the lens is slow, you might not get enough protection for your eyes. A good helmet should darken the lens in about 40 microseconds.

Anything slower than that won’t be good enough for ultimate protection. Keep that in mind.

Weight and Comfort

Gone are the days when welding helmets were too heavy. Modern auto darkening helmets are made with lightweight material. Still, some helmets can be considerably heavy that will affect you in the long run.

Try choosing a helmet that weighs about 1 lb. Also, ensure the helmet has enough padding and straps to wear the helmet comfortably without causing neck pain.

Conclusion

Auto darkening welding helmets will safeguard your eyes against intense arcs caused during welding. Still, the question flies around, are auto darkening welding helmets safe?

We can assure you that auto darkening welding helmets are safe enough to leave you in a comfortable condition even after passing a hectic day at work. You just need to choose a good helmet and use it in the right manner to be safe from occupational hazards.

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