A welding helmet shade should provide clear vision & protection against spatter while welding. A lens is an integral part of a protective helmet & the standard of lens shade is OSHA-approved. These grades make sure that certain helmets can filter harmful UV, fumes & against everything lethal to the eyes.
The idea of the working area depends on the shade value of the lens. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, there are 10,000 eye injuries annually due to the wrong shade of helmet, so the choice of a helmet shade is a critical decision.
List of Contents
Which Lens Shade Number Actually Means?
The DIN numbers are according to German Industrial Standards used to classify the light filtering number. As the DIN number increases, the shade of the lens becomes darker. A DIN shade level of 3 provides a visible light transfer of 14%. With a DIN shade of 4, you will get only 5% light transfer. This shade number is useful if you work in dim light areas usually. The lens shades increase accordingly.
Most times, the weld arcs have a brightness of more than the sun, then you will need a lens shade number of 9, which provides light transfer of just 0.037% or, forever severe conditions, you can choose shade numbers that are as high as 13 which has a transmission rate of 0.00072%. Thus, the lens shade number you want directly depends on the type of job you are dealing with and the brightness of your welding arc.
Which Lens Shade is Best for Your Job?
The shade of lens suitable for your job depends on the amperage rating of your weld. According to OSHA, welding work ranging from 50 to 60 amps requires a shade number of at least 10. The welder’s eyesight is also an essential factor here; however, we suppose the results for ideal vision. For a welding job dealing with arcs of the range 60 to 160 Amps, you should choose a DIN shade number of 11. Similarly, this number increases with an increase in amperage rating.
DIN number 12 is ideal for arcs ranging from 160 to 200 amps, 13 for the range 200 to 240 amps, and for the welding over 250, a shade number of 14 is usually recommended. Finally, you will need that your helmet meets the location ANSI Z87.1 standard and choose a shade that is referred to for your task.
Welding Shade for Different Welding Jobs
Usually, a lower shade number is sufficient when working with TIG welding. Most of the welders recommend a shade number of 8 for TIG welding below 50 Amps. If you have a task with greater ampere ratings of up to 100 Amps then you can use a shade of 9 or 10 respectively. A TIG weld is usually done on thinner welds and by using a shade lower shade number, you will get enough light to view the workpiece and protection while applying welds.
For MIG welding, you can use a number of lens shades. The value of the number increase with an increase in the amperage rating. For lower amperage ratings like 80 to 100 Amps, you should use a shade number of 10. For welding metals up to 175 Amps, you can use a shade number of 11. Similarly, for larger amperage ratings of up to 300 amps, you can use a shade number of 12. For even greater amperage ratings, a welder can choose shade number 13 or 14 as per need.
STICK welding has similar parameters to TIG welding and you can use the same numbers of shade for it. For STICK welding of below 100 Amps, you can wear an arc welding lens of 10. This number increase with the increase in the amperage rating. Such that for the amperage of 300, you will wear a DIN number of 13. Choice of the number depends particularly on the job you are dealing with.
Fixed vs. Variable Shade
The decision between fixed and variable shade lenses is essential. The fixed shade lens will provide a predefined shading of one level. You can choose this number according to the application. While working with a fixed shade lens, you will require to put off your helmet to adjust your workpiece.
On the other hand, a variable shade helmet has a lens color, which can vary from application to application. This also has the advantage of allowing you to weld more than one material and also adjusting the tools and workpiece without having to remove the helmet.
The primary decision for your choice depends on the application and the material you are going to weld. If you are going to work with just one material, then choosing a fixed shade helmet is not a bad idea. The fixed lens can be significantly cheaper as compared to variable ADF helmets. So, you need to know your applications clearly before going to spend on helmets.
Lens Reaction Time
This is simply the time taken by the lens to darken or reach a safety shade number from the standard shade, which is usually number 3. The darkening of the lens starts with the start of the welding job, and in order to provide enhanced protection against exposure, this darkening phase should be swift.
A low-quality helmet will have a reaction time of around 1/3600; however, on the other hand, a good quality welding shade can have a reaction time of up to 1/20000. So, it best to choose a helmet that has the minimum reaction time.
Number of Sensors
With the choice of an automatic lens shade adjusting helmet, the number of sensors on the helmet also becomes essential. The minimum number of sensors is two, which are enough for a hobbyist or DIY job. But two sensors can easily get covered during your work, which can create an obstruction in your task. Blockage of a sensor means blocking your site to the workpiece, making you have no view of the material.
To provide surety for the complete working of the helmet, the number of sensors is increased to 3 to 4. An increase in the number of sensors reduces the chances of blocking the helmet. Thus, it is wise to choose a helmet with an increased number of sensors.
Solar Power vs. Battery Power
All ADF helmets need some battery source to provide proper working. The batteries can be lithium-ion or helmet may be powered by solar power. Lithium-ion batteries die out after some time and need you to recharge them at regular intervals. On the other hand, solar-powered batteries have the advantage of serving for decades.
Solar power batteries are usually cheaper when we talk about the long run because you don’t need to spend money on buying replacing batteries. However, they have the disadvantage which appears when you are working in the dark or inside your shop. Because a solar-powered battery needs to recharge after regular intervals, which require exposure to the sun, you should prefer these types of ADF helmets when you have to work on the field and outside the shop.
Additionally, many helmets come with both capabilities. They are solar-assisted and also powered by batteries. They consume solar power, and when it dries out, they start using lithium-ion batteries. Thus, it is best to choose an ADF with both options and enjoy a comfortable welding experience.
How to set the lens shade for your job?
If you have a fixed shade helmet, there is no need to adjust it or do anything. You need to put it on and start working. On the other hand, you have to adjust an ADF helmet properly before the start of work.
According to the OSHA fact sheet, to set your weld shade, you should start with a shade that is too dark for welding tasks. Then, reduce the darkness of shadows gradually in order to reach a stage that is giving the best view of your situation. Thus, you can set the DIN number for your task accordingly.
Additional Modern Technologies
- ClearLight Lens Technology: This technology provides a crystal clear view by allowing more colors from the spectrum to pass through the lens. This helps in precision arc recognition and provides assistance in welding.
- X-mode Technology: X-mode technology electromagnetically sense the weld to eliminate sunlight interference. And continuously detects the arc even if there is an obstruction in front of sensors. This technology is usually available in Miller’s Helmets.
- Auto-Sense Technology: This technology automatically senses the welding environment and adjusts the darkness of your lens. This adaptation helps welders who frequently need to adapt their shade due to variable materials in working.
- InfoTrack Feature: This technology tracks the welding arc and provides monitoring for arc time and timer functions. The helmets with this technology also feature multilanguage setting options.
This article provides you with everything you need to know about welding helmet shades. I have also mentioned PROs and CONs for different helmet styles and an explanation of the DIN number of each helmet. I have mentioned all the critical features faced during the variable shade helmets. This article provides you with all the information you will need to buy your welding helmet and set its shade. After reading it, you are all set to buy a suitable welding helmet for your job.