Whether you are a part-time or full-time welder, you must get yourself a quality welding helmet. Your helmet protects your face, head, neck, and eyes from the heat and light that comes when welding.
Although most top-rated welding helmets promise various functions, it is relevant to conduct proper tests before using them. So, how do you test auto-darkening welding helmets?
This is where we come in. In this guide, you will get the right information on everything you require to get the best helmet possible and test it.
How to Test an Auto-darkening Helmet
There are several factors to consider when testing welding helmets. Amazingly, most of these test methods are easy to undertake and require the use of easily accessible materials at home.
But before you start an auto-darkening helmet test, ensure your helmet has the grind mode or nit. If it does, then turn it off because the ADF filter will not work when the grind mode is activated.
So, to test auto-darkening helmet, you can do any or all of the following:
Look at the Sun
It sounds a bit funny, but it is a very effective method of testing welding helmets. Wear your helmet and glance directly at the sun. In the process, if your welding mask switches to dark mode, then it means it is working fine.
However, if your ADF filter refuses to switch after staring at the sun, then it means you have a faulty helmet.
Strike an Arc
This method may seem risky as you will risk subjecting your sight to very bright light if your helmet refuses to darken.
However, it is very efficient and used if you are sure your helmet is working fine. All you need is just a split second of striking the arc. So after hitting the arc, your helmet should darken immediately. It should also be dark and comfortable enough for you to look at the welding pool directly.
After striking the arc, you should also see the changes in your helmet’s shade.
Using Remote Control
A quality auto-darkening welding helmet should be able to block UV rays and IR rays. So, we will be using remote control from TV with IR signals to test the helmet’s quality.
After wearing your helmet, point the remote to your face and continue looking at the light diode. Keep pressing and unpressing various buttons on the remote control to keep this light on.
If the helmet keeps going to the light and dark state correspondingly, then the helmet’s ADF filter is functional, but if it doesn’t, then your helmet is faulty.
Using Cigarette Lighter
Using a cigarette lighter is another powerful method of testing your welding hood. After putting on your helmet, strike the lighter in front of your helmet. If you do this, your helmet will immediately go dark.
Using the torch striker used for lighting an oxy-acetylene torch is another simple way of testing the welder’s helmet.
When you create some sparks with your helmet after wearing it, your helmet’s sensor should notice the flash immediately and activate the dark mode.
Do Auto-darkening Helmets Go Bad?
Yes. An auto-darkening helmet can go bad as a result of several reasons. It may result from how you store the helmet, frequency of usage, and how old it is. So, it can become rusty, bend, crumble, or break. Also, welding helmets with auto-darkening features tend to be more fragile and should be handled with care.
How To Fix A Bad Auto-darkening Helmet
Fixing an auto-darkening helmet is quite easy. Sometimes what is required is just clicking the off button or changing the battery, filter, and other parts. However, do not quickly conclude on the problem with your helmet without taking time to examine the issue. If you do, you may find out the problem is simple and can even be fixed yourself.
Having said that, here are seven ways to fix your auto-darkening welding helmet:
If Your Helmet Is Having A Poor View – If you cannot see your welding clearly, it is probably due to accumulated dirt, dust, and other reasons.
The first thing to do is to create time to perform a thorough cleaning of the helmet, especially the lens. If the problem persists, then you should consider changing the lens or buying a new helmet entirely.
When It Darkens Too Much – Sometimes, you may observe that your helmet darkens too much. This is why we advise you to do the sun tests regularly, mostly if you use your helmet all the time.
In most cases, if your helmet becomes too dark, it is due to a faulty battery, which is very easy to solve. But, before jumping into that conclusion to repair or change the battery, consider adjusting the sensitivity. Often, it’s as a result of high sensitivity.
When It Flickers – Flickering is very frequent with welding helmets that use batteries. So, if your helmet side sensor flicker or the auto-darkening filter shakes, then you need to replace the battery of your helmet. But if the battery is not replaceable, then you have to consider getting a new welding helmet.
Weld Is too Bright – This usually is true, especially when you start engaging in more advanced or industrial welding. It can be a bit scary and cause you to think your helmet is faulty. In most cases, seeing extreme brightness is normal when doing advanced or industrial welds. But if you are using an auto-darkening helmet and still experiencing this brightness, then it means you are using the wrong shade.
To fix this, consider using a darker shade. Most auto-darkening welding helmet shade ranges from 9-13, so you should consider using the darkest shade.
Eye Strain Problem – When you start experiencing eye strain, which is a hazardous circumstance, it means your helmet is not darkening as fast as it is supposed.
There’s no need to fret. What this means is that your reaction time is not high enough. So, it would help if you lowered your reaction time so that your helmet can darken fast.
Routine Helmet Inspection Before Use
Just like every other equipment, welding helmets may stop to function at one point or the other. So, it is expedient that you check your helmet regularly, especially before you start welding.
So, as a welder, here are some parts you should check daily before using your helmet:
Check the Battery
The test for auto-darkening helmets also includes the battery. In most cases, the battery of your helmet may be dead and requires changing. If it’s a solar-powered welding helmet, there is a high tendency for the battery to be depleted and needs charging. If you haven’t used your helmet for a long time, it is best to let it charge outside for about 15 minutes before use.
If it’s a fixed battery, they may die after six to one year, and you have to change the battery completely.
As time goes by, the helmet’s sensor may damage or get covered with so much dirt. When this happens, it will be unable to detect the arc, causing the ADF filter not to switch to the dark mode. So ensure to check them periodically.
Optical clarity is essential because you can’t possibly work without seeing what you are doing precisely. You can check the visibility of the helmet as the auto-darkening features work.
How Does an Auto-darkening Helmet Work?
The way auto-darkening helmets are constructed makes them among one of the high tech helmets. The mask has features that make it easy for welders to use them.
They have auto-darkening filter lenses. It comes in a type of LCD (liquid crystal display) like that of televisions and clocks, making it easy to operate the device. The device has both solar and batteries, which make them work for a long time without issues.
The helmet comes in different light sensors, which makes it easy to detect the welding arc immediately. This helps welders to work better and faster because the lens works in three or four shades when it’s not activated. It gives the welder a view like having a pair of quality sunglasses to protect your eyes while allowing you to perform your task effectively.
This is a very functional feature as it helps welders locate their tools such as MIG gun, torchlight, and the progress of work without removing the helmet.
The lens filter activates when the arc strikes then the sensor detects the arc and shades up to about 10 to 13. This shading protects the eyes from UV and IR rays; thus, you are protected from harming your eyes.
What Are the Features of a Quality Auto-darkening Helmet?
Getting the best auto-darkening helmet is one of the most satisfying moves anyone would love to make. But there are some essential factors you can look out for like:
If you are a welder using different processes and techniques such as MIG welding, or you work with different materials, from steel to aluminum, you should get a welding helmet with an adjustable lens.
Most quality helmets have lenses from level nine to thirteen, which is a perfect range for both small and industrial welding projects.
Type of Power
Helmets have different ways you can power them. Some come with fixed batteries that are strictly solar-powered, battery-powered, or a combination of both solar and battery. They are very reliable welding helmets since you won’t bother about replacing the batteries.
However, when the battery is dead, you can’t use the helmet anymore and have to buy a new one. But those with replaceable batteries can be used for a longer time and are usually more responsive and durable.
Before buying your welding helmet, ensure it meets the current auto-darkening helmet standard. The current one is the ANSI Z87.1-2003 standard. Also, every certified helmet should be able to sustain and function in environments of about 22-131°F, filter the lowest infrared, have UV protection, and sustain
imparts from anything that may hit it.
Weight and Comfort
Helmet weight is also an important consideration. Lighter helmets are preferable as they will protect your neck strain. Also, the helmet should fit comfortably at a comfortable distance from the face while offering maximum face protection.
Most quality helmets have plusher paddings that make wearing them for a long time much more comfortable. It should also be well balanced when you wear it.
Your helmet sensitivity is another vital factor to put into consideration when getting your helmet. The sensitivity of your helmet should be able to respond to varying shades of light. However, its sensitivity shouldn’t be too much that it darkens at the slightest increase in brightness.
For this function, some welding helmets have adjustable knobs while others do not.
Tips and Tricks to use an Auto Darkening welding helmet
The chances that you will get the right way to test your auto-darkening welding helmet is sure. After all, we have given you a concise guide on how to test your welding helmet. If you are still skeptical about your helmet’s quality and durability, then come back to this guide.
So, how do you test your welding helmet? The answer is simple; it’s all written in the guide. So do well to engage the best and most suitable method you can lay hands on. Or better still, try them all.
It is our utmost desire that you get the best from using your welding helmet. We will love to get your feedback, but for now, enjoy your welding experience.
William Demello is a professional biker and racer with over 10 years of experience. He believes in safety first, that’s why he analyzes the helmet before other relevant elements. With this long experience, now he has decided to share his experience with others. Know more at the about page.