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Welding helmets are one of the most common accessories in welding. Let's face it, you can't weld without one - or without at least some type of protective eye shield. But what types of questions should you be asking as you are looking for your next helmet? Below are some of the most common.

To protect yourself, never consider choosing a helmet only in price aspect. If the filter can get dark, that is not to say it will provide strong protection for your eyes. Welding helmet with auto darkening filter is composed of science and high technology in the field of liquid crystals, in microelectronics, optoelectronics, solar energy sources and optics.

WHAT DOES 1 / 1 / 1 / 1 MEAN?

The main parameters of welding filters: optical class, light diffusion, light homogeneity and angle dependence. The parameters in each position can be any value from 1 (Class 1 is the best) to 3 (worst) and determine the characteristics of the filter.

1 / X / X / X : Optical class - Optical class indicates optical quality of the ocular.

X / 1 / X / X : Light diffusion - Light diffusion class (adjustable filters only )1, 2 or 3 indicates light diffusion class of the filter lens.

X / X / 1 / X : Light homogeneity - Variations in luminous transmittance class 1, 2 or 3 indicates shade variability in the dark state of the filter.

X / X / X / 1 : Angle dependence - Angle dependence of luminous transmittance class 1, 2 or 3 indicates the shade remains consistent when looking at an angle.

OPTICAL PERFORMANCE DEMONSTRATION Each optical data has 1-3 level , “1” means best level , “3” means worst level.

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

Many people mistakenly think the lens shade number corresponds to the amount of protection provided to the eyes and hence the higher the number, the better the protection. But in reality, since all helmets that comply with ANSI standards filter out a vast majority of the harmful UV and IR emissions to protect the eyes, the choice is simply a matter of comfort.

The shade number just denotes the level of shading provided by that particular lens and should be used by operators as a guide to select the one that is most comfortable and yet provides good visibility for the particular application.

Of course, there are some suggested lens shade numbers you can use as a guide if you are unsure what to select for your application. These correspond with the amperage being welded (see shade chart, Figure 1).

Always select a shade that allows you to see the weld puddle clearly and that most aids your welding ability .

What type of helmet is better: solar-powered or battery-operated?

Remember: All auto-darkening helmets that comply with the ANSI standard for helmets, whether battery- or solar-powered, protect the operator from damaging UV and IR radiation even when they are not darkened.

However, solar-powered helmets offer the following advantages:

Since solar-powered helmets do not have an "on-off" switch, the helmet is always auto-activated when an arc is struck, therefore shielding the eyes from uncomfortable high-intensity visible light. On the other hand, battery-operated auto-darkening helmets typically have an "on-off" switch or an "auto-off" feature to conserve battery life. In either case, the operator must remember to turn the helmet on to activate the auto-darkening capability.

Additionally, solar-powered helmets do not have user-serviceable batteries requiring regular and inconvenient battery changes.

Should I choose a fixed or variable shade?

If you are always using the same arc welding process on the same material, a fixed shade is sufficient. But if - like most welders - you are welding using a variety of processes, amperages or materials, your best bet is a variable shade helmet, which can be adjusted to the correct shade level for your particular need. For instance, when you are GTAW (TIG) welding at lower amperages, you may need to lighten up the lens to see what you are doing. A variable shade will permit this while a fixed shade will not.

The filter does not switch into dark state after an arc striking or flickers during welding. What shall I do?

Increase the sensitivity level (only with Tecmen model ADF 300S/ 600S/ 710S/ 720S/730S/810S/820S/830S/ 900S) by sensitivity dial knob on filter cartridge. When TIG and low amperage welding applications are being used, it had better get closer to the arc (25-35cm) which will significantly improve the light signal.

• Make sure that the protective plates are clean and undamaged; if not, they might be the reason of reduced light signal.

• Make sure the sensors as well as the solar cells are clean and unobstructed. Do not use the filter with the broken solar cell.

• Make sure that nothing is obstructing the arc light signal. The torch, glove, cloth or other objects can shadow the filter and its sensors and therefore cause improper detection of arc light. The path from welding arc to the filter must always be free.

The filter does not switch from dark state to light state after the arc has gone. What shall I do?

• Reduce the sensitivity level (only with Tecmen model ADF 300S/ 600S/ 710S/ 720S/730S/810S/820S/830S/ 900S) by sensitivity dial knob on filter cartridge

• Make sure that there is no intensive light source from another welder's arc around you, working place illumination or sunlight directed to the filter sensors.

The view through the filter is not clear or is hazy. What shall I do?

• Clean the inside and outside protective plates with a soft cloth, if necessary slightly wetted by alcohol. Replace the protective plates (i.e., inside /outside cover lens) if they are damaged, covered by spatters or un-removable dirt.

• Clean the filter from both sides with plain alcohol using a soft cotton cloth.

• Make sure that both protective film on inner and outer protective polycarbonate plates are being removed, when changing new one.

The filter has a crack in the viewing area. Can I still use it?

• The optical part of the filter is damaged. Do not work with such product since the specified shadow level is not guaranteed for the entire viewing area.

The spatters are damaging the filter. How can I avoid it?

• To protect the filter, always use both - inner and outer protective plates(i.e., inside /outside cover lens). The spatters coming directly to the glass surface will permanently and irreversibly damage your filter.

• Old protective plates are less flexible and more fragile, therefore the spatters can pass through them and damage the filter.