Whilst welding helmets are designed to protect you from the visible and invisible (ultraviolet and infra-red) rays emitted from a welding arc, not all helmets are created equal. There are numerous options: passive or auto-darkening lens, fixed or variable shade, two, three or four sensors, viewing-area size and grinding protection.
Any auto-darkening helmet you choose should meet EN 175B and EN 379 standards, which ensure that the shell and lens have passed independent testing, to show they can survive high-speed particle impact from, provide 100% ultraviolet and infra-red filtering (regardless of shade setting) and meet advertised switching speeds and darkness shades.
To meet EN379 standards auto-darkening cartridges undergo evaluation in four important categories, all referring to optical clarity. Each category is graded on a scale of 1 to 3, with a score of 1 being the best (perfect) and a score of 3 being the worst. Cartridges are now available that pass all tests with the highest scores, yielding a 1/1/1/1 rating, the best available.
Passive vs. Auto-Darkening Lens
A passive lens helmet uses UV- and IR competent dark-tinted glass with a fixed shade value, usually shade 10. The user flips the helmet into position immediately before striking an arc.
An auto-darkening lens usually has a 3 or 4 shade light state, which is relatively easy to see through. When sensors on the helmet sense an arc start, the lens darkens, in a fraction of a second (typically 1/12,000 to 1/20,000 of a second for industrial-grade helmets), to shade 8 adjustable to 13.
The auto-darkening helmet stays in position before, during, and after the weld, enabling you to set up your weld joint with the helmet already in position. This not only has the potential for improving weld quality, it can ease the neck strain associated with nodding the helmet into place.
Taking the time to find the right helmet for your needs can increase your productivity and weld quality, as well as your comfort. The best quality Helmets are registered with DIN Certo and can be found on their website stating the various aspects of their conformity.
DIN Certco Register Of CE-Compliant Welding Helmets