How to set the correct lens shade on your auto-darkening helmet
Ok so you've got an auto-darkening helmet, but what settings are right to protect your eyes from the different jobs you might be doing?
Auto-darkening helmets operate within set shade ranges, usually #6-#9 and/or #9-13. Some helmets also have an additional 'grind mode' feature, which is a lower shade setting of usually #3.5 or #4. This helps to improve visibility when grinding or doing prep-work, and reduces the need for the welder to remove the helmet. Below is a guide to selecting the right setting for the type of welding and amps being used:Different processes and applications produce different levels of UV light, so it's important to adjust your welding helmet to suit. The majority of auto-darkening helmets will have a control pad either inside the mask, or externally on the helmet. These allow you to select from a range of shades, so once you strike the welding arc, the lens will adjust to that shade.
Shade selection isn't the only thing you should be aware of. A lot of auto-darkening welding helmets also include delay and sensitivity controls. These further protect you, by tailoring the adjustments to suit your specific task, environment and lighting conditions.
give you the ability to adjust how much brightness will trigger the lens to darken. This is particularly important at a professional level, and/or when working in close proximity to other welders. Sensitivity controls help to make sure the helmet will darken as/when you want it to. For example, when other welders are operating very close by, the helmet’s arc sensor sensitivity can be reduced to help prevent triggering or darkening when fellow welders strike their own arc. It is also useful when welding at low amperage, especially TIG, when the arc isn't as bright as other welding processes.
The switch speed
describes how fast the helmet will move between light and dark modes. The faster the helmet can adjust once it senses the arc the better in terms of protecting your eyes almost instantly.
allow you to adjust how long the lens remains dark after the welding arc stops. These can generally be adjusted to a delay of 0.5 seconds up to 2 seconds. It's useful when tack welding a large project and you need a short delay to reposition for the next weld. Also a longer delay can be helpful when welding at high amperages when the metal can still emit harmful rays until it cools.
So to keep your eyes protected, make sure you've got your helmet set to the right shade level for the job, and also adjust your delay and sensitivity controls for the environment you're working in.