Welding involves fusing metals under high heat. You can weld small projects like furniture or huge projects like construction bridges. Either way, you need proper welding gear like a welding helmet. Regardless of your project, the working space is highly dangerous because welding uses intense heat and releases harmful UV light.
That’s why most welders prefer an auto darkening helmet. You should make sure the auto darkening feature of your helmet is working properly. We will explain how to test auto darkening welding helmet.
Why is it Important to Test your Auto-Darkening Welding Helmet?
The main reason is safety. It’s mandatory to use a welding helmet whether you are handling a small or big project. Remember, you are dealing in a dangerous environment that needs proper protective gear to protect you from harmful UV light and intense heat. The two cause fatal injuries when safety standards are disregarded, so don’t.
The same welding helmet protecting you can easily harm your eyesight or general health. Welding helmets have an auto darkening feature allowing you to see your weld more clearly. The helmet eliminates the need for you to lift it up to see the work which exposes you to arc flash and burns. Having a well-functioning auto darkening welding helmet protects your face and eyes from sparks. Besides, it improves your work quality and overall productivity.
Buying the right auto darkening welding helmet goes beyond the basic occupational safety concerns because your vision is taken into account. The sensors automatically choose the lens shade depending on the welding process and brightness of the light.
Getting the best welding helmet protects you from welding related injuries and accidents. Ensure your helmet meets the OSHA standards. Research the welding helmet’s certification details before purchasing.
How to Test Auto Darkening Welding Helmet?
Sunlight has UV rays that are useful in testing the quality of the auto darkening feature on the welding helmet. Wear your welding helmet and stand in the sun outside with your sensors facing the sun. A well-functioning auto darkening helmet lens will darken, which proves you have a good helmet. If there is no change in the lens shade, then your auto darkening helmet is faulty.
Learn more in this article, can you look at the sun with welding helmet?
Strike an Arc
This test involves giving your helmet a welder flash.
First, put on all safety gears as the test exposes you to direct risks of welding. The precautions keep you safe.
Put on the auto darkening welding helmet, then strike an arc. Check the lens reaction if the lens shade darkens, it means the helmet is effective. This is the best test as you will deal with a similar environment when welding.
Infra-Red Remote Control Test
Auto darkening welding helmet lenses have IR and UV protective layers in the lens coating.
You can test the effectiveness of the protective layer using your TV remote control. Wear the helmet then point your TV remove straight at it and focusing the light diode towards the lens then press any remote key. Check if the welding helmet automatically switches to a darker mode.
Remotes that emit pulse signals or RF don’t work in this test.
Electric Igniter Test
This is an unconventional way to test the effectiveness of your auto darkening helmet.
First, wear the welding helmet, then ignite the lighter. Point the flame towards the helmet’s auto-darkening sensor. If the lens shade darkens, then your helmet is effective.
Alternatively, use a cigarette lighter and use the same procedure.
Delay Control and Sensitivity Test
Some helmets have arc sensors that control lens shades. Check if the controls are there because they are crucial settings in any auto darkening welding helmet.
Once you find the control settings, try adjusting them while checking for lens shade changes. The lenses respond to variation and adjust appropriately for better functionality.
The delay feature averts flashing and keeps your helmet in proper lens shade.
This tests optical clarity and ensures you receive satisfactory weld clarity to avoid injuries or accidents.
Wear the welding helmet and look through the lens, you can strike an arc to see if you still get better clarity. It’s pointless having a welding helmet with poor visibility. The welder should see everything when they put the helmet on.
Confirm that the auto-darkening feature has clarity. When you put the helmet on, you should still be able to see normally because the auto-darkening feature is not activated.
Auto-darkening Filter Test
The filter protects your eyes from damage and improves the usability of the welding helmet. The filter automatically adjusts the lens shade to limit the light amount passing through, giving you maximum protection. You can test the effectiveness of the filter using the tests mentioned earlier.
Auto-darkening helmets protect the welder by meeting all safety standards. The safety standards make the welder safe from welding injuries and accidents.
Check that the helmet meets ANSI Z87.1-2003 standards by checking the certification details. A good helmet should have features and properties like an infra-red filter, impact-resistant, complete IR and UV protection, and can withstand high temperatures.
The reaction of the helmet lens is the switching speed. This is the time your lens takes to darken.
Ideally, the lens should take microseconds to darken. Delayed darkening or reaction time exposes the welder to risks like injuries from sparks.
Testing the lens is as simple as putting the helmet on under different test conditions which noticing the reaction time, and light intensity.
Auto-darkening welding helmets mostly use lithium batteries and have a solar panel as the power source. Some helmets even use replaceable batteries.
When you buy a welding helmet, ensure you get a warranty card because it’s hard checking the battery defects.
If the helmet uses solar, go outside to confirm if your battery is charging in daylight.
Helmets with both power combinations are better because there is no need to replace the battery.
However, if the battery dies, your helmet is rendered useless. Replaceable battery is better because you can replace them if there is a power source problem and are more responsive and durable.
Grind Mode Test
Some helmets have buttons allowing you to switch activate auto-darkening. Press the button or flip that switch off. Auto-darkening shade lens only works when the button is off. Remember to switch off the button before you weld.
Frequently Asked Questions
Does auto darkening welding helmet wear out?
The welding helmets wear out when exposed to extremely cold water, dirt, and other elements. Maintain the helmet to get a longer lifespan and proper face and eye protection.
A well-maintained welding helmet can last several years. A compromise of the welding helmet’s safety puts the welder’s eyes at risk of retina burns and loss of vision or arc eye.
Why is my auto darkening welding helmet not working?
Sometimes you have productivity problems with your welding helmet, making them ineffective in protecting your eyes and face from the welding heat and rays. Most problems are easy to fix with a new battery, new lens shade, or switch of a button. The welding helmet may not be working because of:
You put on your welding helmet and your vision is poor. You can resolve it by cleaning the helmet because it may have accumulated dirt, dust, or other things. Take a moment and clean the welding helmet effectively or replace the lens if poor visibility still persists after cleaning.
Too much Darkening
When you perform a sun test and the darkening is too much, you may have a faulty battery. First, try adjusting the sensitivity because it may be too high. If not, replace the battery.
Weld Looks too Bright
This can frighten or trick you that the auto-darkening is not working, especially when doing industrial or advanced welds. In a real sense, it means you need a darker lens shade.
Too much brightness means you are using the wrong lens shade. Most welders love lighter lens shades for better visibility. Advanced stronger welds need darker shades so up your lens shade.
When your eye is straining, it means your lens is not darkening faster enough. Resolve the problem by reducing the reaction time settings to low. A higher reaction time means the lens darkens slowly. The ideal reaction time is 1/10,000 second.
Flickering of the side sensor light happens because of a problem with your power source. This mostly affects battery-powered helmets. Replace the welding helmet batteries. You may need to buy a new welding helmet if the current one is not using replaceable batteries.
How Good are Auto Darkening Welding Helmets?
Some helmets have lenses that can handle different welding lights to protect your face and eyes. The helmets show the exact color of your arc, base materials, and puddle.
They are adjustable to suit different light variations or welding environments. The helmets have digital controls and grind modes for easy switching between delay and sensitivity.
Besides, they have four auto-darkening cartridges as angle dependence, optical class, light diffusion for greater optical clarity, and luminance transmittance variations. This gives you a large viewing field.
How Dark should my Welding Helmet be?
This depends on the type of weld. Industrial welds or advanced stronger welds need darker lens shades than ordinary welding.
Welders can set the darkening setting manually or use an automatic feature. Lens shades range from 4 to 13. adjust the lens shade to get better visibility and comfort using the darkening variation. A lighter shade gives you enough light for seeing the weld. The minimum shade for welding is 10.
Are Cheap Auto-darkening Welding Helmets Safe?
The safety of a welding helmet depends on the brand. A cheap welding helmet from a reputable brand is still safe because it meets industry safety standards and has the best protective features. Test the welding helmet to see if it’s still efficient. Try adjusting the control buttons to see if you can control the lens shade darkening.
The above tests confirm if your auto-darkening welding helmet is as effective as advertised or not. Consider the comfort and weight of the helmet because a welder should not strain or be under stress.
The welding environment is dangerous, and any slight problem or accident can result in serious injuries. The greater the comfort, the safer you are as a welder. However, weight is not tied to safety, but a lightweight helmet is necessary for comfort because it reduces fatigue or neck strain.
As you now know how to test auto darkening welding helmets, if the welding helmet fails the tests or you have poor visibility, then you need a better auto-darkening welding helmet.