Welding helmets are the most important piece of equipment for welders. They are designed to protect the eyes and face from harmful radiation, usually infrared and ultraviolet, and allow the welder to see the welding arc while protected with the lens filter.
This is also not the only type of protection they offer. They also protect the welder from health issues caused by fumes, flames, and debris.
The three main types of helmets are battery-powered, solar-powered, and those that use a combination of both power sources.
How do solar-powered helmets work? Unlike their name, they do not require direct sunlight to work. The solar panel is there to use the UV light given out by the arc. However, to power the mask or hood, you do need batteries.
How Solar-Powered Welding Helmets Work
Solar-powered helmets use photovoltaic cells that are placed on top of the welding helmet to capture sunlight that they transform into their power source. The helmets also have a battery for the necessary power.
Many people believe that the batteries are there as an extra source of power, but in actuality, these batteries provide power to the helmet and are charged by solar power. They store energy and can be used for power, as long as they are charged or exposed to the Sun.
Even if you are not directly under the Sun, the batteries are used to power up your helmet, and then the UV rays created when the arc is in play is used as a solar power source and charges the batteries.
The advantage here, of course, is that you are preserving regular battery, and the solar cells are doing all the heavy lifting, which is an economical way of using your helmet.
Solar-powered auto-darkening welding helmets, unlike battery-powered types, do not have any on/off switches on their surface. In contrast, they have automatic on/off features so that they are functional at all times, while the batteries are charged or if they are currently using solar power.
The fact that you can save battery life while also using your equipment fully is one of the biggest advantages of a solar-powered welding helmet. It saves you a lot of money and is a good investment over time.
For beginners, solar-powered helmets are usually the best choice because of their automatic features. For example, if you forget to turn your helmet on or off, it won’t cause such a huge loss since the solar-powered helmet turns on automatically when it detects the arc, and hence, protects the eyes of the user. It also saves issues of battery drainage from forgetting to turn the helmet off, because it is automatic.
With a smaller number of controls, it is also lighter than battery-powered helmets, which makes them easier to wear. Although the batteries for these helmets are more expensive, they are a good investment to make.
Advantages of Solar-Powered Welding Helmets
Solar-powered welding helmets are the preference for a majority of welders – both beginners and professionals. The reason is that they are more convenient during welding in terms of battery life and functionality.
It would make the most sense to use solar-powered welding helmets when working in an environment with sunlight. Not only are the helmets solar-powered, but also because welding is tough work, and these helmets have lesser controls, making them lighter and easier to work in. Not to mention, they have practically unlimited battery life.
They are considered the most flexible type of welding helmets because they work equally well for all kinds of welding projects, indoors (when fully charged, and also because they use UV rays produced during welding), and outdoors (because the Sun will constantly charge their batteries).
Most welders prefer solar-powered welding helmets that have the option to replace batteries because you can change them instantly and keep working. In case the batteries get damaged, you can replace them for affordable prices and get back to your work.
Solar-powered welding helmets usually use AAA batteries that are more economical than lithium batteries, which are harder to find. AAA batteries are not only easier to get, but they are also inexpensive, and you don’t need the manufacturer’s specified batteries for your model.
Solar-powered welding helmets are also beneficial in that they can harness the energy of the welding arc rays while you are working, which means that you are recharging your batteries even as you use them up, which adds to their longevity. The automatic on/off features also contribute to longevity, which makes them the most convenient options in terms of functionality.
Disadvantages of Solar Powered Welding Helmets
As with everything else, there are also downsides to using solar-powered welding helmets.
Although most models of solar-powered welding helmets are a good investment, some models have a short lifetime, which makes them a bad investment. Solar-powered helmets also take time to recharge using solar energy.
There have also been reports of solar-powered helmets that have stopped working properly after some time after having been charged so many times. This is not a small problem and can cause major work disruptions.
Additionally, some models use specifically lithium batteries, which can be an issue since lithium batteries are difficult to replace and expensive. Some models don’t have the option to replace the batteries at all, which can cause a lot of problems, and have a smaller lifespan.
Solar-powered helmets are also usually larger than battery-powered helmets since they need the space for the solar panels. Although solar-powered helmets are usually lighter because of the reduced number of controls, the fact that they’re larger can mean that some are heavier than battery-powered models, which can be a problem for welders.
Are solar-powered welding helmets better than battery-powered welding helmets?
Although they have some disadvantages, solar-powered auto-darkening welding helmets are the best choice for welders. They are suitable for all environments and have automatic features that don’t require the user’s attention and have a bigger and stronger battery life because of their use of solar power. However, it also depends on personal preference and the models in the question of each type.
Why do welders need to wear helmets?
It is important for welders and anyone watching the welding process to wear helmets. This can protect both from the very bright light given off by welding. This light, when viewed with the naked eye from too close or for too long, can burn the cornea, which can cause blindness, whether temporary or permanent. It also protects from the flying sparks and the welding arc.
What does auto-darkening mean?
Welding helmets often have auto-darkening lens filters. The viewing lens or filter is a special piece of dark tinted glass, which ideally becomes darker when it detects a welding arc.