Safety is a top priority when welding and a helmet is essential every time. There are a number of alternatives on the market and they broadly divide into three different types, those powered only by batteries, those that rely on solar energy and a small number that combine both. Deciding which of the options to buy is the first decision before looking deeper into the different models available. The technology that has resulted in auto darkening helmets has added to the protection of the welder’s eyes, a real advance.
There are different grades of welding helmet and your choice can depend upon the kind of welding you are expecting to do. It is not worth buying cheaply if you want the chance to use the helmet for a number of different scenarios where advanced lenses and sensors will be beneficial.
Solar Powered Welding Helmets
When it comes to choosing the best welding helmet, it is important to know everything about the alternatives available. That exercise begins by understanding those that are solar powered and what they offer. Solar in this case does not automatically involve sun, but instead light. In fact, welding outside in bright light is often not the best way to work although sometimes it is essential. ‘’Solar’’ here simply means ‘’light’’ and the light is provided by the welding arc once activated.
Even then, a solar powered helmet needs battery power to give it initial power until the welding arc can take over. Those batteries will last a long time because their only function is that initiation. Another aspect to consider is that solar powered helmets are lighter, and hence tend to be more comfortable because they do not rely on the type of batteries that are needed for the whole operation of welding.
It is the flexibility of solar powered welding helmets that has really led to their acceptance as an advance in welding technology. They only need inexpensive AAA batteries for the minor power role the helmet requires rather than the more expensive lithium batteries in battery powered helmets.
Automatic settings are of major benefit, especially for those who are just starting to develop their welding skills. The helmet switches on automatically when it ‘’sees’’ the arc and likewise will switch off automatically as well.
Battery powered welding helmets
The prime advantage of a battery powered welding helmet is that you can start work immediately because of the instant power the alkaline or lithium batteries provide. If the batteries run out, you simply have to replace them and continue although you need to recognise that lithium batteries can be expensive and suitable ones not always easy to source. Recharging spent batteries is the other alternative. In general battery powered welding helmets will work for longer without needing attention but that is not always the case.
Welders can control battery consumption using the on/off switch with usually an LED giving the current status/life of the charge. You are unlikely to find yourself in trouble in the middle of a job if you have kept an eye on the remaining charge. Batteries do tend to have a finite life after which it is not possible to recharge them it has to be said. You should always look to replace ‘’spent’’ batteries with similar ones because they are what the manufacturer will have recommended.
While they will get you starting quicker, battery powered helmets require operation that is manual so there is an increase risk or mistakes as well as that being time consuming. Just a quick tip; ensure you switch off or your batteries will drain completely.
Choosing the right welding helmet does require some thought and research. On balance, even though there are some small disadvantages with solar powered helmets such as the time it takes to get the helmet charged before use, they do tend to win over those that are solely battery operated. They work well in most environments and being automatic, users need not worry about manual setting. In addition, solar power reduces the demands on batteries. Welding and safety go hand in hand and whatever you buy, ensure it comes with a reputation that it is suitable for the jobs involved.