How do I know if my welding helmet is working?
Welding is the process of fusing things together, usually metals, with high heat.
This can be used on small projects such as furniture and work all the way up to constructing bridges.
Regardless of the project, the process of welding is incredibly dangerous. Welding uses intense heat that emits harmful ultraviolet light.
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How can you test if a welding helmet is working? There are many steps you can take to see if a welding helmet is working. If a helmet is not working effectively, it could cause intense damage to your sight and overall health. Precautions before and after are crucial.
There are different helmets one can wear based on the type of welding project they are working on. Lens changes can be frequent, and the key is to make sure these lenses are secure and that you are able to protect yourself from light, sparks, and the intensity of the heat!
What are the two main types of helmets?
There are two main types of helmets, passive welding helmets and auto-darkening helmets. A passive welding helmet is manual and requires changing of lenses while an auto-darkening helmet is computerized to lighten or darken based on the light emitted during a weld.
Both helmet types are effective in protecting yourself from harmful light and heat. However, depending on your helmet, the steps to test if it is working will vary slightly.
Whether you’re a professional or hobby welder, it’s extremely important to have a quality welding helmet you can trust and rely on. After all, your welding helmet is ultimately the only thing that’s protecting your face, head, and neck from all of the rays and heat that comes from welding.
When I recently bought a new auto-darkening welding helmet, I wanted to make sure it works before I start to weld. Because I had no clue how to test the functionality, I made a comprehensive research on the internet.
That being said, auto-darkening welding helmets have become the latest rave in the market. But, how can you be sure you have a quality auto-darkening welding helmet? That’s where this guide steps in! Check out the eight easy steps you can take to test your auto-darkening welding helmet below!
Here you will find the complete summary of what I found out on how to test an auto-darkening welding helmet:
What are the different lenses?
Most welders use different processes and techniques, such as using an array of materials that range from steel to aluminium. That being said, different techniques and processes require different amounts of protection.
That’s why your auto-darkening welding helmet must have different adjustable lenses. Typically, modern welding helmets will have lenses that range from level nine to level thirteen. This range is perfect for small welding projects, as well as industrial-sized welding projects.
One of the first things that you should do to determine how to test the auto-darkening welding helmet is to review different lenses. Because welders are known for using different techniques and processes, it is important that the welding helmets have lenses that are made with adjustable features. For instance, today’s helmets are made with lenses that range from 9 to 13 level, which is best for small to large industrial projects.
Why is it important to know the type power?
There are a few different ways an auto-darkening welding helmet can be powered. Some welding helmets utilize non-replaceable batteries that are either strictly solar or battery-powered or use a combination of both. These helmets are great because you won’t have to worry about replacing the battery.
Unfortunately, when the battery dies, your entire helmet is practically useless. So, you will most likely have to purchase a new welding helmet. On the other hand, some welding helmets utilize replaceable batteries. Although you will have to replace the batteries eventually, these helmets are usually more durable and responsive.
What should be the industry standards of welding helmets?
Whenever you purchase a new auto-darkening welding helmet, it should at least meet industry standards. Currently, auto-darkening welding helmets must meet ANSI Z87.1-2003 standards. This means every certified auto-darkening welding helmet includes:
- The ability to sustain and operate in environments ranging from 23 degrees F to 131 degrees F.
- Filter a minimum amount of infrared.
- Have complete UV protection.
- Sustain impact in the event of anything flies and hits the helmet.
They have backed up data from tests to demonstrate durability, strength, and effectiveness.
Why do I need to consider sensitivity?
Sensitivity is one of the most crucial aspects of an auto-darkening welding helmet. It’s difficult for manufacturers to preprogram the right amount of sensitivity, which is why most auto-darkening welding helmets include adjustable knobs.
When you test your welding helmet’s sensitivity, it should be able to respond to changes in light adequately. But, your welding helmet shouldn’t be so sensitive that it darkens with only a slight increase in light.
Is it important to know the reaction speed?
Large sparks can happen at any moment. That’s why reaction speed is extremely important. For reference, 1/2500ths seconds is the usual standard for reliable welding helmets. If your welding helmet takes any longer than that, it might still be a good welding helmet, but it’s probably not the best auto darkening welding helmet.
Since this time is extremely fast, it’s hard to time your helmet’s reaction time. There are two ways you can ultimately determine if your welding helmet has this reaction speed.
First, refer to your welding helmet’s manual. The manual should describe and define specifics, such as the helmet’s reaction speed. Then, put your helmet to the test. Like previously stated, the recommended reaction speed is so quick. So, you’ll be able to notice if the reaction speed isn’t up to industry standards.
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Do I need to weigh the welding helmet?
Any quality welding helmet will be lightweight, especially auto-darkening welding helmets. This is because quality welding helmets use top-quality materials that aren’t dense or lightweight.
Lightweight welding helmets are great because they are designed to fit your head, instead of the other way around, which is the design many bulkier helmets use. Also, lightweight welding helmets usually have plusher padding, which makes long term wear more bearable.
Overall, with a lightweight auto-darkening welding helmet, you will be able to weld for as long as you want to without having to worry about neck strain or head fatigue.
Should I need to check visibility of helmet?
A welding helmet is ultimately pointless without optimal visibility. After all, how are you supposed to weld if you can’t see out of your helmet?
That’s why it’s extremely important to explore your welding helmet’s visibility! Of course, you should be able to clearly see everything when you initially put on your welding helmet. But, it’s also good to check your visibility as the auto-darkening feature works.
In other words, can you see just as clearly when the lens is extremely dark as you can when the environment is normal, so the auto-darkening feature isn’t in action? If so, you have a quality auto-darkening welding helmet. Unfortunately, if you can’t see clearly when the lenses are darkened, then you should consider purchasing another auto-darkening welding helmet.
Why do I need to use the sun test?
The sun test is ultimately the best way you can test the quality of your auto-darkening welding helmet because it requires all of the features on your welding helmet to work together.
Simply put on your helmet like you would if you were about to weld. Then, head outside and get into a comfortable spot. Glance towards the sun and see how your lenses react. If your helmet is durable and reactive, then your lenses should darken.
Next, glance towards the sun and slowly move your hands in front of your face. Since your hands are moving slowly, your auto-darkening welding helmet should still register the light. Therefore, your lenses should darken and remain dark. If they don’t, then you should consider fixing your auto-darkening welding helmet or replacing your helmet altogether.
Do I need to check the code?
ANSI/ISEA Z87.1-2015 is the current standard that your helmet should adhere to.
The International Safety Equipment Association set these standards in place to make sure welding helmets are safe and effective.
The regulation is subject to updates as new technologies come to the market. Make sure your helmet matches these specifications before you even attempt to weld.
Helmets that do not comply with the code could be incredibly hazardous to your health.
You want to make sure that your welding helmet fits well! You don’t want it to be too loose or too tight as this could impact your vision as well as safety.
What should be the fitting of a welding helmet?
You want to make sure that your welding helmet fits well. You don’t want it to be too loose or too tight as this could impact your vision as well as safety.
If it is too loose, there is a risk of shifting, possibly exposing parts of your neck or losing clear vision through the lens. A helmet that is too tight may be uncomfortable when working for long periods of time. Always lean towards too snug rather than too loose to ensure safety. Your helmet should click into place with a snap of your neck.
If the helmet does not lower itself with a neck snap downward, you either tightened the sides to keep it held up in place, or you may have a faulty helmet.
This downward positioning is crucial to cover your face during a weld. Welders will look at their workspace, snap their neck to put the helmet in the correct position, then begin their weld.
If your flame meets the metal before your helmet is down, you will experience a “flash.” This is exposure to intense light and ultraviolet rays. This can be incredibly dangerous and negatively impact your vision.
What should be the lens selection and security?
The type of welding you are doing will often determine the lens you will need.
Lenses often range from a #9 for lower amperage (strength of an electric current) to a #13 high amperage application.
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Your welding job will determine which lens you need.
An auto-darkening helmet eliminates the need for the lens to be switched out because it is designed to adjust to the higher amperage.
You must also make sure that the lens is correctly set into place for passive helmets.
Incorrect placement can cause eye damage.
Is my helmet working well if I get eye fatigue?
The most obvious indicator that your welding helmet is not working will be if you develop eye fatigue.
Eye fatigue is a strain on your eyes from contact with light that is too intense for the lens being used.
Eye fatigue can manifest itself through pain in the eyes, headaches, blurry vision, and/or double vision. You should adjust lenses immediately if you experience any of these symptoms.
Many welders also wear protective see-through glasses under their welding helmet. This does not block visibility but instead creates another layer of protection from harmful ultraviolet rays.
Do I need to strike an arc to check if my helmet is working well?
Warning, this method involves the risk of getting a welder’s flash.
If you are quite sure your helmet does work, you can strike an arc and start to weld. Your welding hood should instantly get dark, and it should be comfortable for you to look at the welding pool directly.
If everything is correct, the light from the arc should be not too bright so that you can see where you are welding.
When you stop welding, you should notice the change in shade levels of your helmet.
Why should I use an IR remote control?
Because welding helmets do not only block UV but also IR light, you can test your auto-darkening welding helmet with a standard TV or HIFI remote control (or similar). You need a remote that works with IR signals.
Put on your welding hood and look through it. Look at the light diode of the remote control (point the remote to your head) and press any button.
As long as you press buttons, your welding helmet should be in its dark state. If nothing happens, it also could be that the sensitivity of your helmet is too low. Try to increase it as high as possible.
Moreover, if you have a remote control that sends out pulsed signals, it could be that your helmet will flicker. To avoid flickering because of the pulsed signal, increase your welding helmet’s delay time.
If this method does not work for you, make sure your remote control is working and check the manual if it is an IR remote control.
What is grind mode?
Some masks have a so-called grind mode that disables the auto-darkening sensors while enabled. This is useful for works where you don’t need the high shade level of 9-15. Make sure grind mode is off when testing your welding goggles.
How to test a welding helmet?
Use a torch striker
A simple way to test an auto-darkening welding helmet is to use a torch strike that is used to light an oxy-acetylene torch.
Use the striker and create some sparks. The sensor of your welding helmet should instantly notice the sparks and your helmet should switch to dark mode.
Use a cigarette lighter
The cigarette lighter method is a good method for every smoker: Use your cigarette lighter to check if your cool welding mask works.
Look at the sun or bright overhead lights
Another idea is to check if the helmet switches to dark mode: Put your helmet on and directly look at the sun or at any bright overhead lights.
Test the helmet’s batteries
If you own an auto-darkening welding helmet that has batteries inside, remove those. Check their metal contacts and put them in a battery tester to make sure they do work.
Why do I need to regularly test my welding helmet?
Before you start with your welding job, you always should check if your welding helmet does still work properly. Why? Well, there are several reasons why it could have stopped working.
Without any power, your auto-darkening welding helmet will not work.
So, maybe you have a solar-powered welding helmet that charges the helmets batteries. When you have not used your helmet for a while, it could be necessary to put the helmet outside for 15 minutes until the batteries are recharged. Sometimes, welding helmets are recharged by cable. Plug it on and charge it.
Batteries have a limited life. It is not uncommon that you have to replace the batteries once a while completely.
If the helmet's light sensor is damaged or dirty, it will not notice the arc and your helmet will not switch to the dark mode.
It could be that your ADF shade is not working anymore. In this case, you will need a replacement.
The auto-darkening filter
Ensure that your welding helmet has an auto-darkening filter. This feature helps in protecting your eyes from any damage since only enough light will be provided and absorbed.
It also reduces the need to flip the welding helmet up and down between torch replacements. Your productivity rate will, therefore, be boosted because you don’t have to stop and flip your welding helmet up or down when the need arises.
Comfort is an important consideration when choosing an auto-darkening welding helmet. You should, therefore, try the helmet on to ensure that it fits you comfortably.
Put your head over the lens and try seeing through the Lens. The auto-darkening shade should remain darkened at all times, and this shows that there’s no light leakage.
You should check the standard sweatband at the forehead, it should be soft and absorbent enough to keep sweat from your eyes and also increase your comfort.
You should also try to arc to make sure that the helmet works. The helmet should also have an automatic switch button. The shell of the helmet should have a piece of material that is resistant to electricity, heat and impact. It should be opaque so that light is dimed by it.
The outer cover should be made of scratch and impact resistant polycarbonate plastic to enable it to protect you from UV radiation. The filter lens should be made of glass and contain a filter that automatically controls the light that passes through the eyes.
Each filter will have a different amount that it will let through and the come in shades from #2 to #13 0r 14. As the numbers get higher, the filter gets darker and lets less light go through the lens.
The retainer lens should be made of plastic so that it stops pieces from the filter lens that might break from getting into the eyes.
The gasket should be made from a material that is insulated against heat and should be between the filter lens and the cover lens.
This is very instrumental in protecting a welder and lens from any heat changes that may be sudden that might cause it to break. A good helmet will have all these features.
An auto-darkening helmet costs between 300 -400 dollars and it is worth whatever it costs because it will save you so much aggravation. And if you weld for a living, don’t even consider the cost of the helmet, just get the helmet with the best features with the best warranty.
Overall, finding the right auto-darkening welding helmet can be extremely difficult. But, testing your auto-darkening welding helmet is easy. So, if you’re ever second-guessing whether your welding helmet is durable and reliable, simply use this guide to test it.
Our auto-darkening welding helmet will actually provide you with the value of your money. As a general rule, spending more on a welding helmet will increase comfort, improve your welding ability, result in higher quality welds and ensure your safety.
It's worth investing in and you rest assured that you will enjoy your work. And if you are a hobbyist type of welder, getting an auto-darkening welding helmet will make your work to be a great experience and it will make you wonder why you didn’t get it sooner.
With this helmet, you will be able to see exactly where the gun is pointed before pulling out the trigger, and this will save you lots of grinding and will make the whole process to be more enjoyable. Also, injuries are reduced because your face is always covered.