In need of a new welding helmet, but unsure what to look for? Read the answers to these frequently asked questions to help you select the perfect welding helmet for your needs!
WHAT IS AUTO-DARKENING?
The auto-darkening feature in welding helmets allow you to clearly see your weld while you’re welding. Auto-darkening welding helmets make welding protection easier and safer. Essentially, this feature eliminates the need to constantly lift your welding helmet which can reduce the chances of burns and arc flash, and save time!
WHAT DO THE SHADE NUMBERS REPRESENT?
Welding shade numbers represent how dark the lens filter gets when an arc is struck. Industry standard welding shades range from 5-13, with a ‘light’ shade (what you see through the lens before the arc is struck) at a 3 or 4. The shade number should directly correlate to the welding application. A good rule of thumb is the higher the number, the darker the shade. Some general guidelines include;
- Torch brazing and soldering should be a minimum shade 3.
- SMAW/Stick welding, depending on the amperage, should be 8-12
- GMAW/MIG and GTAW/TIG should be minimum 8-10,
- carbon arc welding should be minimum 14.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) provides a more detailed a chart with the full specifications for each type of welding and the appropriate shade. It is very important that you wear safety equipment that encapsulates the proper shade for whatever application you’re performing!
ARE THERE HELMETS FOR DIFFERENT WELDING LEVELS?
As a matter of fact, there is! Forney Industries carries three varieties of welding helmets for different levels of metalworkers. The Forney Easy Weld series are perfect for DIYers, hobbyists and novice welders, The Forney series of helmets are great for metalworkers at an intermediate level, and the Forney PRO series are designed with the professional in mind. However, each of these helmets can be used at any skill level. To read more about the differences, check out this blog.
HOW MANY ARC SENSORS SHOULD MY WELDING HELMET HAVE?
Sensors, which are located on the auto-darkening filter of a welding helmet, detect when an arc is struck. Auto-darkening welding helmets are typically equipped with two to four sensors. Essentially, more sensors mean more coverage. If there’s a flash when you weld out of position, a two-sensor helmet may fail to register it and not darken. However, a four-sensor helmet is likely to catch any flash and darken the lens accordingly.
In the United States, the industry standard for welding helmets is ANSI Z87. This standard requires that auto-darkening helmets provide full protection against both UV and IR even when they are not in the darkened state. All of Forney Industries’ welding helmets comply with these safety standards!
WHAT ARE THE DIFFERENT COMPONENTS OF AN AUTO-DARKENING WELDING HELMET?
Auto-Darkening Welding Helmets have three main components: Outer shell, auto-darkening filter and headgear. Each component plays a key role in the safety and productivity in welding applications.
- Outer Shell: Provides protection to the face and head from heat and provide a level of impact resistance.
- Auto-Darkening Filter: Filter lenses made of glass containing a filler which reduces the amount of light passing through to the eyes providing UV and IR protection when a welding arc is struck. Every filter provides different shade numbers ranging from 2 to 14.
- Headgear: The headgear is attached to the inner portion of the shell. Headgears in auto-darkening helmets are typically a ratchet-style headgear which allows for a custom adjustment to fit the head.
WHAT IS THE IMPORTANCE OF AUTO-DARKENING LENS QUALITY?
All auto-darkening filters are rated in accordance with DIN Standards. Optical ratings are based on 4 criteria. Each criterion is given a rating of 1-3, with 1 being the best and 3 the worst.
- 1/X/X/X = Accuracy of vision- Rating of 1 is clear and crisp, rating of 3 would be like looking through rippled water.
- X/1/X/X = Diffusion of light – A rating of 1 is clear, defect free, and uniform vs. a rating of 3 would be like looking through a car window with mud splatters on it.
- X/X/1/X = Variations in luminous transmittance. A rating of 1 indicates the lens provides a consistent shade across the entire surface. A rating of 3 would be comparable to a car window that has dirt in the corners of the windshield.
- X/X/X/1 = Luminous transmittance. A rating of 1 indicates a clear view through the lens while welding without stretching, dark areas or blurriness when viewed at an angle. A rating of 3 would be the opposite.
WHAT IS ARC COLOR FILTERING?
Welding helmets with auto-darkening filters are very similar to televisions, phones and tablets related to high-definition viewing. Arc color filtering allows for a greater range of colors within the visible light spectrum which gives welders a clearer view of the weld pool and surrounding workpiece while welding. Forney has a diverse line of welding helmets that include a high definition ‘view through the lens’ offering.
WHAT IS THE IMPORTANCE OF VIEWING AREA SIZE?
Viewing area relates to the size of the auto-darkening filter and is typically measured in square inches. Viewing areas typically range from a 5 sq. in screen up to a 13 sq. in screen. The size of the viewing area can play an important role in welding comfort and productivity. The most important thing an extended viewing area has to offer, is the fact that it can make the work of a welder much easier when it comes to welding in difficult or uncomfortable positions that require minimum movement. The main advantage of the helmet of course is the extended viewing area, covering completely the view from right to left, giving the welder the opportunity to work without vision obstacles between him and the materials.
WHAT IS THE IMPORTANCE OF HEADGEAR?
Easy to set ratcheting headgear assures a comfortable, secure fit. Most ratchet headgears have padding to relieve internal pressure points while providing good balance and stability. The overhead band has multiple adjustments to achieve the best working position and optimal weld viewing. The main goal of many of these solutions is to reduce and better distribute the helmet weight to help alleviate strain and discomfort for the weld operator. Both reduced weight and improved balance reduce neck strain and improve welder comfort.