Welding helmets provide welders with the best shield throughout their welding career. After gloves, my welding helmet is the second thing that I wear for hours. The core purpose of welding helmets is to protect the head and skin from spatter, metal debris or harmful UV rays during welding processes.
The American National Standard Institute (ANSI) focuses on the quality requirement for welding helmets. The manufacturers follow these standards throughout the world. In light of ANSI Z87.1-2003 safety standards, the welding helmets have different types based on the welding process. Therefore, today I decided to guide you about the helmet types. After reading this blog, you can confidently choose the proper helmet for your safety.
List of Contents
Passive Welding Helmets:
These helmets are some of the cheapest helmets available in the market. Being passive equipment, they do not have any power source and have fixed lens shade. Usually, manufacturers use the dark lens with shade #10 for passive welding helmets. Therefore, you have to remove it regularly to check the quality of the arc. And hence, these helmets are not recommended for amateurs.
Professionals prefer such passive helmets because they are lightweight and low cost adds to their affordability. Moreover, the lens is also cheap so, you can replace the lens of desired shade according to your task. Their durability is another feature worth appreciating.
Auto-Darkening Welding Helmets:
Auto-darkening welding helmets appear to be a blessing nowadays because they act as catalysts for quick and efficient work. These helmets have an auto-darkening filter (ADF) that senses the concentration of rays produced in the arc and hence, adjusts the lens shade itself. Amazingly, some helmets are capable of switching shades 10,000 times in one second. Wow!
When you put on this helmet, you see everything. Once you begin working, the LCD controlled by light sensors darkens your view to protect your eyes. In welding, the shade variation lies between #8 to #13.
Although they are expensive but one helmet can serve you for any welding process. If your base metal and welding technique remain the same in most of your tasks, you need not buy this expensive helmet.
Fixed Shade Lens Welding Helmets:
Auto-darkening welding helmets also come with fixed shades. There is a wide range of such helmets with different shades of lenses. If you work on a specific metal through the same welding process, you can buy a helmet with an appropriate fixed shade.
Uniquely designed pancake helmets are one of the lightest helmets because they comprise balsa wood. These welding helmets are named ‘pancake’ because of their flat circular face. The eye strap of these helmets is like a lid that opens and shuts. It darkens the view during work. Welders usually use the term ‘balsa box’ for this eye strap.
These pancake helmets find their application during pipeline welding. They are best suited for outdoor welding tasks because they block more sunlight than conventional helmets.
When we hear the term, ‘helmet’ usually a hollow spherical thing of plastic pops up in our minds. But I am considering these leather masks in my list because they function almost similar to other helmets.
As they cover the whole head and neck, leather masks are not often used by welders because of the risks of sweating and suffocation. Their darkening lens flips up and down. The scope of these masks covers enclosed places or while working in overhead positions. In such conditions, the sparks or spatter may damage the covering of other helmets. The leather used is synthetic with incredible durability.
Battery Powered Helmets:
For active helmets like variable shade auto-darkening, a power source is necessary. Most of the helmets use lithium batteries as an energy source. These batteries last very long. Furthermore, they are lightweight, supply constant power, and are tolerant to temperature variation. The Rechargeability of Li batteries is their most advantageous feature. Therefore, you’ll see many day-to-day use electronic products with this battery in the marketplace. Once fully charged, you can use your helmet for the long projects without any interruption. And in rest hours, you can leave your helmet for recharging.
Solar Powered Helmets:
Well, you might encounter unfavorable situations like electricity shortage and your deadline to deliver work is near. In such cases, you can rely on solar-powered helmets that will enable you to work in sunlight. Due to their inexhaustible power source, solar-powered helmets help complete time-consuming processes.
The biggest perk of using solar light-powered welding helmets is that they free you from the tension of recharging or replacing the battery. Owing to this fact, they prove to be cost-efficient.
Key Things to Notice:
When buying welding helmets, make sure you check these things before making a final decision:
Switching Speed of Welding Helmets:
Switching speed represents how fast a lens can change its shade automatically when it gets data from the sensor. Basic auto-darkening lenses change their shade in 1/3,600th of a second. But after the technological advancements, modern helmets can change shades in 1/10,000 to 1/25,000th of a second.
View Screen Area:
The area of the lens ranges from 6sq to 9 sq. But it is totally up to you what you prefer.
The Number of Sensors in Welding Helmets:
The number of sensors directly controls the efficiency of your work by increasing the work positions from where you can weld. Plus, it also introduces precision in the shade switching. For hobbyists, auto-darkening welding helmets with two sensors will work enough. While helmets for professional welders have up to four sensors but three sensors will be good as well.
Sensitivity Controls of Welding Helmets:
It would be best if there are sensitivity controls for helmet sensors. Through these controls, you can change the threshold for switching to the next lens shade. This feature will be handy in TIG welding in which the plasma-arc at low amperage is not as brighter as in stick or MIG welding.
Sometimes, you have done welding but, the metal cools slowly. And there is a high possibility of ultraviolet rays in the surroundings. This situation is most likely to happen when the metal remains red hot because of the high amperage plasma arc. Hence, here comes the use of the delay control feature found in advanced welding helmets. You can set a suitable delay for your lens to remain in the previous shade even after the sparks and plasma are over.
Preferences for Your Ease:
- Always consider the type of welding process and the requirements of ANSI while buying a welding helmet.
- For professionals, passive helmets can serve as a backup or someone who constantly keeps changing his welding technique and lens shade.
- Variable auto-darkening welding helmets are the most recommended ones due to their versatility for welding yard owners who work on different base metals.
- You can go for the fixed lens shade helmets for your DIY projects.
- Leather masks can help shield your head and neck from the molten metal globules while welding in overhead positions.
What Do Weld Shade Numbers Mean?
Shade number reflects the amount of light radiation that is allowed to pass through a lens/filter. A higher shade number is associated with darker lenses which allow minimum light to pass through them. Shade number 14 is the darkest. The selection of the shade number for the helmet depends on the type of welding. Casually, welders use lenses with #8 to #13, #10 being the standard for passive welding helmets.
How Long Does A Welding Helmet Last?
The life of a welding helmet depends on the quality of material, lenses, and power source. As observed, the non-replaceable battery helmet lasts for seven years. Others with high quality or solar power sources can serve you for more than a decade.
Are There Different Types of Welding Helmets?
Yes, the different welding helmets depend on the lens ( fixed or variable) and the power source (solar or battery). You can choose the proper welding helmet depending upon your welding task requirements.
What is a fixed-shade welding helmet?
These are passive welding helmets having standard lens shade number 10, with UV (ultraviolet) and IF (infrared) protective layers. They are cheap. Plus, welders can replace the lens according to their needs.
Why do welders wear helmets?
Welders wear welding helmets to protect their head and especially eyes from metal debris. The lens of helmets resists harmful invisible light radiations entering the eyes.
According to the standard requirements of ANSI, several welding helmets are available with varying features based on the severity and hazard of welding techniques. Welders choose either a passive helmet with a fixed lens shade or a mask with the variable auto-darkening lens. Hobbyists prefer passive helmets. But for those who earn their bread through welding, buying helmets with ADF might be a bit costly but worth it.