A welding helmet is easily the most valuable item a welder has to protect himself. Welding helmets have been around for a long time, and the technology has steadily improved. They are much more user-friendly and offer far more protection.
There are several misconceptions about how a welding helmet protects the welder from the environmental hazards of their job.
How Welding Helmets Protect Your Eyes
Many believe a welding helmets’ primary task is to shield your eyes from the bright lights of a welding arc like a powerful pair of sunglasses. This is only partially true. The lens’ primary job is to filter out ultraviolet and infrared light. Welding lenses enable filtering out 100% of harmful UV and IR rays from your sensitive eyes. Do not confuse this with whether or not the lens is dark or not. An auto-darkening lens will protect the welder from ultraviolet light, whether the lens is clear or darkened.
Auto-darkening welding helmets, the lens will darken within 4/10ths of millisecond to filter out visible light — this is faster than your eyes have time to react to the light. Anything slower than 4/10ths of a millisecond, and you shouldn’t purchase the welding helmet. An auto-darkening model protects your eyes 100% of the time from ultraviolet and infrared light, whether the lens is clear or darkened, and protects you from visible light 4/10ths of a millisecond after the arc is lit.
This setup is far safer than older-style welding helmets for the simple reason that you can see when the arc is shut off. After you stop welding, the auto-darkening lens will become clear. Now you can walk around or see your work area without lifting the helmet. This is important because another function of the welding helmet is to protect your face and eyes from flying objects. Metal debris and other hazards can still damage your eyes.
I Can’t See What I’m Welding
There are numerous welding helmet options: passive or auto-darkening lens, fixed or variable shade, two, three, or four sensors, viewing size. Taking the time to find the right helmet for your needs can increase your productivity and weld quality, as well as your comfort. Be sure you are using the correct Welding Helmet Shade Number.
This video covers:
- Visual acuity and positioning
- Helmet cover plates/lenses
- Shade of filter lens
Auto-darkening welding helmets are the way to go and worth the extra cost. Rest assured the technology will completely protect your eyes from the harmful effects of the welding light. The lens will darken in enough time, so your irreplaceable eyes are not damaged. A welder will not sacrifice safety for convenience. The auto-darkening models are far safer because they allow keeping your face and eyes protected even after the welding arc is extinguished.
- Related: Welding Helmet Tips, Tricks and Features to Look For
- Related: How To Restore Scratched, Burnt, or Cloudy Welding Lenses