Are Auto-Darkening Welding Helmets Safe?

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Auto-darkening welding helmets are essential during the welding process to protect the eyes from exposure to direct Ultra Violet rays. UV lights lead to arc eye or eye burns that can cause temporary or permanent blindness. Also, the welding helmets protect the welder's face and neck.

Auto-darkening welding helmets exist in different forms. The helmets are different in color, functioning, design, and the price of each auto-darkening helmet differ. Therefore, when buying an auto-darkening helmet, first, gain knowledge on how the helmet functions, the cost of the helmet, its advantages, and disadvantages.

So, Are auto darkening welding helmets safe? Yes. Auto-darkening helmets are safe for use as long as you follow the recommended instructions carefully. When using auto-darkening helmets, avoid taking them on and off every time to reduce risks concerning eye injuries or welding errors. The helmets have auto-darkening filter lenses that act as sunglasses to protect the eyes from exposure to the Ultra Violet rays.

Importance of welding helmets

Importance Of Welding Helmets
  • The welding process results in the emission of Ultra Violet rays that affect the human eye. Protecting the eyes from Ultra Violet rays prevents arc eye problems. Therefore, it is crucial to consider using auto-darkening helmets during the welding process.
  • Welding helmets protect the eyes from flying sparks. A flying spark can get into the eye during the welding process resulting in a welding arc. Therefore, it is advisable to wear helmets during the welding process.
  • Welding helmets also adjust the level of brightness, especially in dark places.  When welding in dark places, the eye may fail to adjust to a sudden change in brightness early enough, thus failing to prevent arc eye. Finally, the helmets protect the eye from temporary or permanent blindness.

How auto-darkening welding helmets work?

Auto-darkening welding helmets regulate excess light to darkness during the welding process. For instance, during the welding process, a lot of UV or bright light is emitted from welding metals. The helmet contains filters and cells that block out UV and infrared light once the helmet sensor detects the excess light.

 The following auto-darkening welding components aids in the correct functioning of the helmets. First, the helmet has sensors to detect the presence of an arc and bright light. For example, the bright from the welding metals triggers the helmet sensor, which sends a warning signal that triggers the functioning of the liquid crystals. After the liquid crystal is activated, the helmet darkens and provides a shielding feature that protects the eye and the eye cornea from any damage.

Secondly, the helmet contains liquid crystal cells that automatically darkens the helmet. Also, the liquid crystals adjust the level of light according to the light intensity. Also, the auto-darkening welding helmet use battery power to continue functioning in case of a power blackout. The helmet uses a power battery, solar battery, or a combination of both for a continuous power supply.

Filter present in the auto-darkening welding helmet exists in different forms. For example, the helmet has a polarization filter that filters excess ultraviolet light by automatically darkening the lens, thus protecting the eyes from any damage. Also, the filters the ultraviolet and infrared interference filter clogs bright ultraviolet rays even when the lens fails to activate automatically.

Therefore, before you begin the welding process, wear the auto-darkening welding helmet and switch it on. Activate the shading mechanism to darken the lens, protecting the eye from any injury such as eye arc.

Advantages of auto-darkening welding helmets

The welding helmets usually bring a positive outcome to the welder. The advantages of the auto-darkening welding helmets are as shown below.

  • Continuous eye and face protection:

The helmets contain a lens that blocks bright light or too much ultraviolet rays and infrared rays, protecting the eyes from injuries or eye risks such as temporary or permanent blindness. Sometimes the lens may fail to darken as usual and fail to regulate bright light emitted. Other helmet components such as polarization and ultraviolet filters activate and filter bright light emitted in such a situation.

If the lens and the helmet fail to provide constant eye protection, consider repairing the helmet before the welding process. Also, you may consider using other welding helmets available such as passive helmets. 

  • Particular auto-darkening characteristic:

Auto-darkening welding helmet lenses contain an auto-darkening feature that automatically turns on during the emission of bright ultraviolet light during the welding process. The auto-darkening feature enables the welder to see clearly without removing the helmet. Also, the auto-darkening feature protects the eye cornea from any damages such as arc eye or irritation of the eye and areas surrounding the eye.

  • Increase visibility during the welding process:

The visibility feature in the auto-darkening helmets prevents the welder from flipping the helmet continuously during the welding process, thus reducing the chances of eye flash affecting the eye. Increased visibility speeds up the welding process.

  • Reduces neck discomforts:

The welding helmets are comfortable and raised slightly above the neck, thus preventing neck irritations. Reduced neck discomforts enable the welder to carry out the welding process successfully.

Disadvantages of the auto-darkening welding helmets

Despite the many advantages of the welding helmet, there are some advantages. The cons include;

  • Expensive to replace and repair:

The helmets are expensive to maintain, repair, and replace, unlike other welding helmets such as passive helmets. For instance, the replacement is repair parts are limited and unavailable. Also, the repair and replacement parts are expensive and require skilled personnel to fix them.

  • Heavyweight:

Auto-darkening welding helmets are heavy when compared to other helmets such as passive helmets.  The helmets contain excess parts that increase irritation to the head and even the neck, thus reducing the welding speed, especially when performing projects that require more time. Therefore, it is advisable to choose the best welding helmet that suits the type of project.

  • Continuous charging of the helmet:

Most of these helmets use batter power to function normally. The batteries need continuous charging to ensure they don't fail to perform during the welding process. With the power of the solar battery in use, the welder must continuously charge the helmet. Also, it is advisable to bring along a replacement power battery if the other battery fails to function or drains all power.

  • Increased purchasing costs:

The helmets are usually expensive compared to other helmets, such as the passive helmets. The helmets have advanced technology such as arc and light sensors, solar and power batteries, and liquid cell crystals that are expensive to access and install.

  • Limited shade darkness:

The helmets limit shading darkness to 10 during the welding process and limit the shade up to 4 or 5 when the helmet is not in use.

Auto-darkening vs. standard welding helmet

Auto-darkening helmet

Standard welding helmet

The helmets are expensive to repair and replace. Also, the replacement and repair process consumes a lot of time.

The repairing process is quick and less costly.

The helmets have more weight.

Passive helmets are lighter than auto-darkening helmets.

Most of the helmets are big.

Most of them are small in size.

Easy to maneuver since the welder does not constantly flip the helmet up and down during the welding process

The welder requires continuous flipping of the helmet up and down during the welding process; hence hard to maneuver.

The operation process is done electrically and manually.

The helmet operates manually.

The helmets provide constant visibility.

The welder is unable to see if not during the welding process.

Have an auto-darkening feature to regulate bright light emitted.

Lack auto-darkening feature.

The helmets have sensors, approximately 3 to 7 sensors

They lack sensors

Expensive to purchase

Relatively cheaper than an auto-darkening welding helmet.

Factors to consider when buying the auto-darkening helmet

Auto-darkening helmets exist in different forms depending on the helmet's shape, color, size, and heaviness. Before purchasing a helmet, consider the following factors;

  • Price of the helmet:

Before purchasing the helmet, research and study all helmets to ensure you buy the best helmet that suits your preference. Different helmets cost differently. Therefore, consider purchasing a helmet that is relatively cheap and affordable.

  • Viewing area:

Purchase a helmet that has a large and sufficient lens viewing area to enable you to view the project during the welding process. Avoid using a limited lens viewing area that makes you strain when considering your project.

  • Purpose of the helmet:

Despite the helmets functioning the same, each helmet has an added functionality. Before buying a helmet, consider the added functionality that improves its functionality.

  • Power source:

Some helmet’s battery lasts longer than others. When buying helmets, consider buying helmets with replaceable batteries. For solar batteries, consider buying batteries that are chargeable to reduce battery costs.

  • Safety measures:

All helmets must comply with the national safety standards such as; in the United States, the safety standards help improve the welders' safety during the welding process.

  • Light sensitivity settings:

Settings of light regulate the amount of light emitted during the welding process. Ensure you buy a helmet that protects your welding process project.

  • Weight of the helmet:

Consider buying a lighter helmet that does not bring discomfort to your head, face, and neck. Also, avoid purchasing heavy helmets that lead to straining of the neck and increase fatigue.

  • Coziness:

The helmets must bring a coziness effect and must be easy to adjust in case of any emergencies.

How to care for and maintain the auto-darkening welding helmet?

Proper maintaining of the helmet improves its performance and accuracy. Also, maintaining the helmet ensures that it is functioning well to prevent your eyes from eye injuries. The following guidelines describe how to care for and maintain your helmet.

  • Regularly inspect the condition of the lens to detect any faults such as cracks and accumulation of dirt.
  • Store the helmet in a cool and dry place after use. Also, ensure the temperature is moderate since too much temperature or heat can damage the helmet.
  • Clean the helmet frequently after use using a clean, soft cloth.
  • Often test the helmet sensors and knobs to ensure they are functioning correctly.
  • Charge the helmet before using it, and ensure you bring along replacement or spare batteries.

Are Solar-Powered Auto-Darkening Welding Helmets a good choice?

Although the helmets have some disadvantages, they are the best compared to other helmets since they provide constant visibility and have a powerful battery. Also, they have additional functions, such as the auto-darkening feature.

Ways of detecting arc eye:

  • Eye examination and inspection:

In this case, the doctor checks the status of the whole eye, including the pupil, eye cornea, eye lens, among others, for any eye flash burns. Also, the doctor asks many questions about the last exposure to the UV light.

  • Using orange dye:

Orangedye is used together with essential blue light. The orange dye is slowly dropped into the patient's eye, and the special blue light is used to test and check any eye damages, especially the eye cornea.

  • Using microscopic lens:

A microscopic lens is usually used together with a slit lamp or welder's flash. The microscopic lens exposes any eye damages.

  • Use of anesthetic drop:

The doctor uses a syringe and drops an anesthetic drop in the eye. Anesthetic drop desensitizes your eye, giving the doctor enough time to examine your eye. When administering an anesthetic drop, it is advisable to use only a few drops and few times to increase the healing rate. Anesthetic drop is preferred since it regulates eye pain and irritability during eye surgery.

Signs of the arc eye:

  • Blurred eye vision.
  • Increased eye pain
  • High light sensitivity even when exposed to minimum light.
  • Reddening of the eyes
  • Watery or crying eyes.
  • Feeling of an object stuck in the eye, e.g., sand.

Treatment of the arc eye:

  • Using natural remedies such as boiled milk, rose water, tea bags, cucumber slices, sliced potato, Aloe Vera, among others.
  • Using ointments and antibiotics.
  • Resting the eye to speed up the healing process.
  • Using artificial tears to remove eye irritation.

Do welding masks protect the eyes?

Yes. The welding mask completely protects the eyes as long as you place it over the eyes during the welding process.

Conclusion

Welding helmets are essential in the welding process in that they protect the eye from any injuries such as eye flash burns. The helmets are safe compared to other helmets, such as the passive helmets. Therefore, it is advisable to wear helmets when welding to protect your eyes and face from flash sparks.

Finally, follow the guidelines on how to maintain care of your helmet to increase its life span. Also, before purchasing a helmet, consider the above factors, such as the price, purpose, sensors, and weight of the helmet.

Last Updated on June 16, 2021 by weldinghubs

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