In our last post, we stressed the importance of reading and adhering to MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheet) when you’re working with propane or any type of welding gases. We mentioned protecting your eyes from propane burns by using among other items, a welding hood, otherwise known as a welding helmet.
However, the process of welding itself, no matter what type of gas or which welding method you’re using, requires the use of a welding hood. Even hobby welders, people who just do the occasional DIY weld spot repair, and the student who needs to weld something for a class project need to wear a welding hood. No matter how much welding you do, it’s essential you have a welding helmet as part of your safety gear. But how do you know or decide on which type of welding helmet?
Here at Vern Lewis Welding Supply, Inc, we’ve come up with four factors to get you on your way to choosing the right welding hood for you.
1. Current Standards
Maybe your grandfather was a welder back in the day and he gave you his old welding helmet. The problem with using his helmet is, it’s not going to be up to the current ANSI safety standards, which are the ANSI Z87.1 – 2003 standards.
For a helmet to meet these standards it must pass independent testing to show it can
Survive a high-velocity impact from flying objects, provide 100% ultraviolet and infrared
filtering regardless of shade setting. and meet advertised switching speeds and
darkness shades in temperatures as low as 23◦F and as high as 131◦ F.
2. Passive Lens
The lens on a welding hood is what protects your eyes from the bright, hot arc. Without
this lens, your eyes would get burned and could be permanently damaged. The shade
the lenses is measured by a number system and typically ranges from a #8 to a #13.
Passive lens helmets are the least expensive and the lenses are a fixed shade, most
Commonly a #10. Its design is what most people think of when they think of a welding Helmet. You wear the hood up until you’ve positioned whatever tool you’re welding with, then snap your neck to bring it down as you weld.
If you’re new to welding or someone inexperienced who only welds occasionally, the price of a passive lens welding hood might be tempting. However, they’re not the best choice for beginners because the lack of variability in the lens shade means it’s not easy to see what you’re doing. That translates to mistakes and poor quality welds.
If you do a lot of welding, having to flip the helmet up and down puts strain on your neck, and can even injure it. Plus tack welding and short welds can be difficult and tedious because you have to constantly raise and lower your welding helmet, further straining your neck muscles.
3. Auto-Darkening Lens
A welding hood that has an auto-darkening lens is one that you can keep down all the
Time. There’s no need to raise and lower it because the lens starts out as a #3 or #4 which is about as dark as a typical pair of sunglasses, but has sensors on the helmet that detect when the arc starts to darken in a fraction of a second to shades from #8 to #13. That means you can see what you’re doing and since the helmet stays down, it doesn’t cause the level of strain to your neck that a passive welding hood does.
There is a wide range of cost for a welding hood with an auto-darkening lens and how much you spend depends on the type of lens, size of the viewing area and the number of sensors on the helmet.
The least expensive is the fixed shade lens hood. It only darkens to one shade, normally a #10 when the arc is detected and is good if you’re a beginner, or you just do one type of welding.
Price starts going up with a variable shade lens. These welding hoods have a lens that allows you to adjust the shade depending on the type of welding process and the what amperage you’re using. The latest, top of the line welding helmets even use smart technology to remember the settings you choose for various amperages.
Other features that affect cost are things like the size of the viewing area and the number of sensors on the welding hood. However, depending on how often and what type of welding you’re doing, you might want to spend more money on a welding helmet that has four sensors and a larger viewing area than cut corners and choose a hobby level welding hood that only has two sensors and a smaller viewing size.
If you do a lot of welding, you definitely need to feel comfortable. If you’re new to
welding, you don’t want a poorly fitting welding helmet to discourage you and put you off
welding for good. These days, the average welding helmet weighs about 18 oz. That’s lighter than your grandfather’s old helmet. If you get a helmet with a larger viewing area, then the weight will increase as well.
Other things to consider as far as your comfort goes are how many size and angle adjustments the headgear on your welding hood has as well as the amount of coverage your helmet provides for your neck. It’s also extremely important that you protect your skin from ultraviolet and infrared rays when you’re welding.
Welding hoods are absolutely a must when it comes to keeping your eyes safe when you’re welding. We know it can be overwhelming when you’re new to welding and unsure of which type of welding helmet is right for you, especially with so many types on the market. Plus it can be tempting to just go with the cheapest one, or use that old helmet from your grandfather.
Vern Lewis Welding Supply has eight locations in the valley. If you’re still confused about which welding hood is right for you, or you’re ready to purchase one, we’re happy to help. Call or stop by one of our locations today.
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