When you are welding, you need to keep your eyes protected at all times. Eye protection for welding considers two different factors. You need to protect your eyes from actual physical damage from sparks and metal that could damage your eyes, but you also need to protect your eyes from harmful UV rays. Welding produces UV rays and other harmful wavelengths of light. The helmet you choose needs to protect your eyes and head from both physical damage and light damage. There are many different ways to do that. So, when you are choosing a helmet, you need to decide between manual and auto-darkening lenses, the proper shade level, the weight of the helmet, and the number of sensors.
Manual or Auto-darkening
An auto-darkening lens uses sensors to determine when light levels increase. A well-functioning lens will automatically darken to the appropriate level to protect your eyes from harmful light. A manual helmet will have one or more lenses that you flip up and down to set the proper shade level. If you are a novice welder or just someone who doesn’t weld very often, manual welding helmets can be difficult to use.
You have to position your welder in the right spot and then flip down the helmet. You will have to start each weld without being able to see. For a veteran welder, the process of flipping down the helmet and beginning the weld is routine; however, if you are not a veteran, you may prefer an auto-darkening lens. You’ll also need to consider the shade levels.
Shade levels for welding lenses range from #3 to #12. Sometimes you will see higher or lower numbers, but this is the most common range. A #8 shade level will block the harmful rays from low-amperage welding. On the other hand, #12 helmets block the light from high-amperage welds that are very bright. On occasion, you will see some lenses that are lower than #8. Shade levels three to eight are typically used for grinding and cutting, which can throw off sparks. You should choose a shade level that is appropriate for your uses.
A helmet is going to put some strain on your neck; this can lead to neck pain and headaches, which will be exacerbated if you do a lot of welding out of position. The difference between a half-kilogram and a one-kilogram helmet might seem fairly insignificant, but after a few hours of welding, you will really start to notice the difference. Choosing the lightest helmet possible is a great idea, but they are going to be slightly more expensive.
Finally, you will need to choose the number of sensors in your auto-darkening helmet if that’s what you choose. The sensor picks up the light and darkens the helmet. So, if you are doing a lot of out-of-position welding, you will need three or four sensors. If a sensor gets blocked, the lens won’t darken properly and you could damage your eyes.
These are just a few of the considerations you need to make when choosing a helmet for welding.