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Welding Helmets

Welding helmets, visors, eye and face protection

What's important when choosing  welding helmet?

Obviously, you can't work without a good welding helmet or other protective eye shield. What questions should you be asking as you are looking for your next helmet?

What is the correct lens shade to use in my welding helmet to properly protect my eyes?

All well-constructed quality welding lenses in welding helmets filter out 100% of the harmful ultraviolet  and infrared  wavelengths and protect the eyes. The lens shade number denotes the amount of darkness provided by that particular lens. Use the number to pick a lens that's comfortable and lets you see your weld. Pick a shade that allows you to see the weld puddle clearest and that most aids your welding ability.

Is an auto-darkening welding helmet safe?

Auto-darkening welding helmets don't darken until the welding arc is struck, and some folks wonder if the instant will damage their eyes. Welding arcs put out IR and UV light. Your eyes can be damaged (this hurts!) by these wavelengths if they aren't protected by a good welding helmet. You don't have to worry about the split second of exposure with a good quality, auto-darkening welding helmet because you're always protected. Lincoln Electric recommends, for comfort's sake, that you use a welding helmet with a darkening time of 4/10 of a millisecond.

Solar-powered or battery-operated welding helmets?

Most of the time, this depends on what kind of welding helmet you like. One word of caution, though: with a battery powered welding helmet, it's easy to get flashed if your batteries run dry and you don't know it. Some of these helmet automatically turn off the battery. If the welder isn't careful, he could get arc flash thinking that his helmet is still dark. Solar powered also offers the convenience of not having to worry about changing batteries.

Welding helmet fixed or variable shade...

If you are always using the same arc welding process on the same material, a fixed shade is fine. But most welders, are using a variety of materials and welding a number of different applications, your best bet is a variable shade, which will adjust to the correct darkness for your particular process.

Besides looking for something that is lightweight, you may want to find a helmet that has a sensor bar. With this feature, it will limit the field of response so the helmet won't be triggered by the person welding next to you. A helmet that has a curved clear spatter shield over the optics will provide the best optical clarity so you can see what you are welding. In addition, a helmet that is fully adjustable is important. Some helmets can only adjust the tilt of the helmet to the chest. A fully adjustable helmet also provides adjustment on how close the helmet is located to the face. This is especially important for those who wear glasses. Lastly, look for a reputable manufacturer that offers a warranty and replacement parts.

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