Auto darkening welding helmets work by using light sensors that automatically activate a liquid crystal filter to darken the lens. Using a self-darkening welding helmet can save a lot of time. The auto-darkening helmet means you don’t have to flip the lens up and down or adjust the darkness of the lens yourself.
Using an auto-darkening welding helmet (also called solar-darkening) adds an essential layer of safety when welding metal. The intense ultraviolet and infrared radiation emitted by the arc can cause severe eye damage. In addition, when constantly lifting and lowering the helmet, it can be easy to forget to protect your eyes and face from sparks and harmful light from the welding process.
The auto-darkening welding helmet works so fast that it self-darkens within milliseconds from striking the welding arc. So, as soon as you activate the arc, the lens automatically darkens to the appropriate degree. Thanks to the shade adjustment found on the best self-darkening welding helmets, you can use the helmet for all types of welding, cutting metal, and grinding.
But how does an auto-darkening welding helmet work? How can you know if the self-darkening helmet is working correctly? And is it worth buying a welding helmet with a self-darkening lens if you enjoy welding as a hobby? This article answers these questions and more.
What Is an Auto Darkening Welding Helmet
An auto-darkening welding helmet is an advanced type of helmet with a lens that darkens automatically. Unlike traditional welding masks, the user doesn’t have to keep removing the helmet once finished welding. Instead, the sensors in the welding helmet adjust the lens darkness without the welder having to do anything.
How Do Auto Darkening Welding Helmets Work
A self-darkening welding helmet works using a series of filters and sensors. The sensors auto-adjust the polarization filters and the liquid crystal cells to darken as soon they detect bright light and UV and IR light radiation from the welding torch. The auto-darkening helmets typically work using batteries or solar power.
Components of the Auto Darkening Lens
Auto-darkening welding helmets stop welders from working in the dark. To do this, the sophisticated lenses have several components to adjust the darkness levels automatically. So, if you are wondering how the auto-darkening welding lens in the helmet works, here are the necessary components.
UV/IR Interference Filter
The ultraviolet light and infrared filters are located on the lens surface. This interference filter constantly protects the user from UV and IR radiation whether or not the lens is activated. The UV/IR filter consists of several metallic layers—six aluminum oxide and five silver layers.
The interference filter can absorb 99.9% of the infrared radiation within the auto-darkening lens (ADL) shade range. As a result, this filter offers maximum eye protection in two ways. First, it protects the welder’s eyes from injuries and harmful radiation. Second, it protects the liquid crystal panel from heat damage.
Polarization Filter of the Auto-Darkening Lens
The auto-darkening filter lenses also contain several polarizing filters. These work in combination with the other filters and the liquid crystal cells to darken the intense light from the welding arc. The polarizer filters are angled up to 90° to provide maximum protection from the arc of welding light.
Auto Darkening welding lenses has Liquid crystal cells (LC cells)
Liquid crystal cells are a crucial component of auto-darkening welding lenses because they help defer the light. Like the polarization filters, the layers of LC cells reflect light depending on their position. The helmet’s power source will activate the liquid crystal cell layers to change the light entering the lens.
Power source of the Auto Darkening Helmet
To operate correctly, an auto-darkening filter lens requires a power source. The helmets are usually powered by rechargeable batteries. However, the best self-darkening welding helmets also use solar energy to prolong battery life.
How Do I Know if My Auto-Darkening Welding Helmet Is Working
Ensuring the auto-darkening feature on a welding helmet works properly is vital. The welding helmet protects you from harmful ultraviolet light, intense heat, and flying sparks. Therefore, before striking the welding arc, it’s always a good idea to test the auto-darkening function.
The sun test is the easiest and safest way to know if the auto-darkening filter lens is working as it should. Put on your mask and stand in the sun with the sensor facing the sun. The lenses should darken significantly. If there is no change, it could be a sign that your helmet is faulty.
Here are some other ways you can test to see if the auto-darkening welding helmet lenses are working correctly:
- Use a spark from a lighter: The spark can closely replicate a weld flame. So, you can see if the spark and lighter flame cause the lenses to darken.
- Use a TV remote: Auto-darkening lenses react to IR radiation. To test your helmet, you can wear the helmet and point the remote control at the lens. The auto-darkening feature should engage when you press the buttons.
- Use a bright fluorescent light: With your helmet on, look at a bright fluorescent light. This should be enough to trigger the auto-darkening functionality to test the helmet’s effectiveness.
Are Auto-Darkening Welding Helmets Worth It?
An auto-darkening welding helmet can make the welding process easier and more accurate. No longer do you have to start welding in the dark. Instead, with the auto-darkening lens, you can position the welding gun at the right spot to start welding. Then, when the arc strikes, the lens will darken automatically.
Here are several additional reasons why it’s worth buying an auto-darkening welding helmet:
- They offer better eye protection than traditional helmets
- Adjustable time delay depending on the type of weld
- Works without activating the auto-darkening function
- No need to constantly take your helmet on and off
- You enjoy better control of the arc, more accurate welds, and increased efficiency on welding jobs
How Long Do Auto-darkening Helmets Last?
An auto-darkening helmet should last between seven and ten years. To ensure longevity, you should clean the helmet and store it appropriately after each use. Buying a high-quality auto-darkening helmet also means it lasts longer. Unfortunately, cheap equipment is prone to break, and many parts can’t be replaced.
Here are some top tips on making sure your auto-darkening helmet lasts as long as possible:
- Don’t drop or misuse the helmet to avoid damaging the lens
- Buy a helmet that allows you to change the lens if necessary
- Choose a solar-darkening helmet that uses a combination of battery power and solar power
- Don’t store the helmet for extended periods without switching it on and testing it every so often
- Avoid storing the helmet where temperatures dip below freezing.
What Happens if Auto-Darkening Helmet Fails?
The auto-darkening helmet can fail because of a technical fault or loss of battery power. If the helmet fails, you will get an alert to stop welding immediately. You should cut the arc and replace the welding helmet if this happens.
It’s good to remember that the auto-darkening filter continues to provide protection from harmful UV radiation and IR light even if the self-darkening feature malfunctions.
Why Does My Auto-Darkening Welding Helmet Flicker?
A flickering auto-darkening lens usually indicates that the power is low or the light sensitivity is too low.
The simple solution is to recharge the batteries or put the helmet in the sun to charge the solar panels. At the same time, you should ensure that the shading, delay, or light sensitivity settings are correct for the type of weld.
How Often Should I Change My Welding Lens?
You should replace the lens when it becomes scratched or extremely dirty. If you weld professionally, this could be as often as once or twice a week. However, buying a welding helmet with a scratch-resistant lens will be a more cost-effective solution if you are a professional welder.
The auto-darkening lens is crucial for protecting your eyesight during welding. Therefore, you must keep it in good condition.
It is also necessary to replace the inner cover lens regularly. Usually, this needs replacing whenever visibility becomes poor, or the lens is damaged. Under heavy use, you may need to replace the inner cover lens once a month.
How Do You Clean Auto-Darkening Lenses?
The best way to clean auto-darkening lenses is with a soapy water solution and then wipe the lens dry with a microfiber cloth.
First, remove the lens if it’s possible. Then, remove surface contaminants like dust by using compressed air. Next, fill a spray bottle with soapy water, spray on the lens, and leave for a few minutes. After that, dip a microfiber cloth in hot (not boiling) water and rinse the soapy solution.
The last step is to dry the lens with a clean, dry microfiber cloth by blotting the cloth on the lens rather than wiping it. This way, you’ll avoid scratching the delicate lens.
Conclusion–Auto Darkening Welding Helmets
A welding helmet with auto-darkening technology is one of the best pieces of safety equipment for any welder.
The lens provides an adjustable shade level offering UV protection and a shield against infrared light to keep your eyes safe from retina burns and welding sparks. In addition, sensors immediately darken the lens to the required degree, meaning you don’t have to start welding in the dark or remove the helmet to inspect welds.