If you want to know how to test the auto-darkening welding helmet before use, then this article will help you to find the easiest ways to check the quality of your helmet. There is a wide variety of welding helmets in the market. So, picking one that suits your needs is a difficult task. However, testing the auto-darkening welding helmet becomes easy after reading this article.
If I share my experience, when I purchased my first welding helmet, then I didn’t know how auto-darkening welding helmet work. I was feeling an auto-darkening feature as an extra burden. Then I could understand why some old professional welders feel uncomfortable with the auto-darkening helmet.
When I share my feeling with a senior colleague, he gave me a set of instructions about how to test the auto-darkening welding helmet. After following these instructions, my point of view completely changed. Now I have not only learned how to test an auto-darkening welding helmet but also able to understand how auto-darkening welding helmet work. And believe me, these instructions changed my professional life. After that auto-darkening feature not only increase my performance but also enhance my welding skills. After this experience, I am very excited to share these instructions with you.
Although all top-rated auto-darkening helmets come with a list of their fancy quality promises. However, I recommend you to test them through this easiest way before using them.
Use sunlight or a bright bulb
Sunlight test is the easiest way to check almost all the features of the auto-darkening helmet. Simply put-on helmet and look toward the sun in the afternoon and then follow these instructions step by step to learn how to test the auto-darkening welding helmet. You can also use a bright bulb in place of the sun in cloudy weather or if you are working indoor.
1. Test for damaged sensors
The auto-darkening helmet has 2 or 4 independent arc sensors in the corners of view area. Cover all other sensors with finger tips except the one which you want to check. Look toward the sun if the sensor works properly, then it turns the filter into the dark shade. In this way, check all the other sensors of your helmet. If anyone of these sensors doesn’t work properly, then change your helmet.
Through this test, you cannot only know the position of sensors but also figure out the best working position of the helmet in the excessive abstracted view field.
2. Sensor response test
Now move your hand in front of the view area. Sunlight act as a spark light and lens shade becomes dark. When your hand comes in front of the sun then lens offers standard light shade. Now move your hand slowly so that lens takes its time for shade shifting. And try to make a rough idea about the time taken by the sensors in shifting shades.
Welding helmet manual defines shade shifting speed in the specifications. So, you can notice if sensor reaction speed is not matched to given standards.
3. Sensitivity and delay control test
All good quality auto-darkening welding helmets have sensitivity and delay time adjustment settings. These adjustments allow you to stick with your work during outdoor or indoor light changing conditions.
Light to dark shade shifting speed (sensitivity) must be very fast, more than 0.0004 seconds. Make sensitivity adjustment in such a way that the lens should be able to respond with the change in light. But the lens should not be adjusted too sensitively that it gives shade change for a small change in light.
And dark to light shade shifting speed (delay time) can be within 0.1-1 sec. Delay time prevents you from being flashed when blockage of sensors occurs for a moment. So, when you work in an excessive abstracted area then set slow delay time speed.
4. View area clarity test
If there is any kind of scratches or manufacturing fault in the lens, then you cannot be able to see the weld zone clearly with spark light. It is the same as you cannot see appropriately during driving in the night when other car lights coming from opposite side scatters on your car rough screen.
You can see clearly everything in standard light shade with a scratch lens. But you are not able to see properly when a spark ignites and dark shade becomes active. At this time you should consider changing the lens or purchase a new helmet.
Welding helmets have EN 379 optical clarity rating. Select the helmet which has maximum optical clarity rating 1/1/1/1.
5. Shade adjustment test
Every auto-darkening welding helmet has shade range 9-13. Because a welder uses different amperage from 40-200 for different types of welding. With the change of amperage spark light brightness also changes. So, a welder needs different shade 9-13 protection according to different amperage 40-200.
The auto-darkening helmet has an adjustable knob or digital control for shade control. Look at the sun and change shade step by step from 9 to 13 as you move from 9 to 13, the shade darkness increases. Select that shade which can give you proper eye protection as well as you are also able to see weld puddle.
Also read: Welding lens shade guide
6. Grind mode testing
If your helmet has separate grinding mode than switch it ON. If auto-darkening sensors are still working then grinding mode doesn’t work. Auto-darkening shade lens works only when the grinding mode is switched off. Make sure grinding mode is switched-off before you start welding.
Grinding mode is useful only when you don’t need dark shade 9-13. It allows you to do work with standard light vision.
7. Test for UV and IR rays
Your auto-darkening filter does not only block visible light but also UV IR invisible rays to protect your eyes. To check that your auto-darkening filter works for invisible IR light or not, you need a TV remote.
Put your helmet. Look at the remote light diode and press any button. As long as you press the button, your lens should be in dark shade. If nothing happens, change the sensitivity of your helmet. If it’s also not working then think about changing the helmet.
Other things you need to check before purchasing
Consider helmet weight
We welders with helmets on the head have to move a lot around the welding object. The lightweight helmet helps to minimize neck & head strain during a long time session. On the other hand, a heavyweight welding helmet causes a lot of discomforts. So, helmet weight is a key feature that directly affects our performance.
A quality helmet has top-quality material. Top-quality material is not dense enough but has high impact resistance according to safety standards. So, try to choose one which has a weight between 0.8 to 1.5 pounds and also meets impact safety standards.
Check for battery type and life
Some auto-darkening welding helmets come with non-replaceable batteries. When the non-replaceable battery dies, you have to purchase a new helmet. But there is a plus point that you don’t have to worry about any issue related to the battery for 7 years. But after 7 years of battery die the whole helmet becomes useless.
One the other hand some helmets utilize replaceable batteries. You can change the battery at any time when it dies. You need to check battery charging from time to time. But these helmets are more durable and can be used more than 7 years if properly maintained with time.
Some helmets batteries come with solar assist. Solar assist helps the battery for prolonging lifetime, no matter it is replaceable or not.
I prefer you to purchase a helmet with a replaceable battery and solar cell. Solar assist helps to prolong battery life, and you can also change battery whenever you want.
Industrial safety standards
The main purpose of welding helmet is to
- Protect your eyes from intense lighting.
- Protect your face from the impact of flying object.
- Provide you UV and IR rays protection.
- Protect our face skin from heat burns.
We cannot confirm these protection tests in any other place but a laboratory. So, the American national standards institute makes standards for these protection tests. ANSI gives certification to a helmet after its passing through ANSI standard safety tests in the laboratory.
ANSI Z87 .1-2003 is the most recent safety standard for helmets. According to these standards
- A helmet should operate well according to advertisement between temperature ranges from 23’F to 131’F.
- A shell can stand against a steel ball ( 0.25-inch diameter) hit with a velocity of 7 m/s.
- Lens has to be of 2 mm thickness to resist such impact.
- Provide 100% UV and IR filtering.
Before purchasing make sure the helmet you are choosing meet ANSI Z87 .1-2003 standards or not.
Frequently Asked Questions