Check this post out for the ultimate guide to selecting and purchasing an auto darkening welding helmet. Welding helmets are critical for the safety of any DIY metal work, whether you are welding or plasma cutting. Without a good welding helmet, you can cause eye stress, skin burns or even permanent eye or skin damage.
Today I am excited to share a guest post. I reached out to Antra welding helmets and asked them to provide a run down on auto-darkening welding helmets, how to use them, and what features to look out for.
Thanks to Steve at Antra for sending me this in-depth response. Antra is a HUGE player in the auto-darkening welding helmet space, they sell thousands of quality affordable welding helmets yearly.
Without further ado, here is Steve’s writeup:
What is an auto darkening welding helmet?
An auto darkening welding helmet is a welding helmet with an auto lens that is constructed using LCD Shutters controlled by an electronic device, which senses the welding arc. Upon detecting an arc, the LCD will dim to a darkness (shade) that is preset by the control circuits until the arc is finished. The response time from clear to dark status should not be noticeable to the human eye.
What is the power source for an auto darkening welding helmet?
Most of the auto darkening helmets have a solar cell, plus lithium batteries (CR2032, CR2450, etc.). Lithium batteries are critical to power the whole unit, and most of these batteries are NOT rechargeable. Lots of people think they can put the helmet under sun to charge the battery, which is wrong, at least for all current models of Antra helmets.
The solar cell is used to convert some of the arc power of welding into electricity that is consumed by the circuit, like the LCD, control boards etc. These may prolong the life of the main lithium batteries.
Power consumption for Antra helmets, especially newer versions, are very little and for DIY users, you may not need a battery change for 1 or 2 years.
What shade auto darkening lens do I need?
Shade is the darkness that the auto lens is set to that limits the visible light that can go through the LCD of the lens. Most of the auto darkening welding helmets have variable shades, which can be used for more applications.
The most popular settings are 4 / 9-13 (4 is the non-activated shade rating and 9-13 is the variable dark shade setting, see the above chart for the different welding processes and amperages for different shades).
Grinding / Cutting shade
The first number above ‘4’ is the non-activated resting, clear, or grinding shade. Under this shade, the lens is not activated. Welders use this shade when organizing parts, checking beads finish, etc. without flipping up the helmet like traditional ones. Many welding helmets can be set to Grind mode so that the LCD will stay in clear status during the grinding process.
The Antra DP3 and DP6 Series helmets have a new feature with a Quick Grind access button, which can switch between Grinding and Welding mode. Grinding mode is activated for 30 minutes on every activation and will go back to Welding mode after 30 minutes to minimize accidental flashes.
Almost all of the Antra Welding helmets on the market have a shade range of 4/5-9/9-13. These range are useful for people occasionally do plasma cutting, or low amperage welding where shade 5-9 is very handy. This is not uncommon for home DIY metal fabricators.
Shade 14 is hard to find in the current market, but this is important to have for some welders who have sensitive eyes and/or weld with strong visible lights.
Adjusting shade numbers
According to welding handbooks and ANSI safety standards resources, it’s a good idea to start with a darker shade and try and reduce to lighter shades until the best result is achieved. You can also reference the welding handbook and set the shade specified.
What is the sensitivity and how do I adjust it?
Sensitivity is how the sensors on the helmet are responding to the welding arc as well as interference sources. There are many things other than welding that may cause false triggering of the auto lens to darken:
Sunlight, TV, TV remote, and other sources.
Sensitivity adjustments may differ between manufacturers.
Setting the helmet to a higher setting and reducing it if interference exists is suggested for Antra helmets. Antra helmets have interference suppression technologies which minimize interference so that they have excellent low DC amperage TIG performance, indoor and outdoor.
What is delay time?
Delay time is used to control the delay time from dark status to clear status. This is important to prevent eyes from being hurt by glow of beads after welding.
How do I know if the welding helmet is working or not?
There are lots of ways to test the helmet and the easiest and safest way is to use a TV remote to point to your helmet sensor. Any button should activate the lens to dark status.
All Antra Digital models, like the DP3, DP6, DP9, and X90 Series have battery low indicators.
Some models have a LED flashing warning, and some have buttons for testing. Check owner’s manual for details.
Optical class is an EU standard and not an ANSI or CSA standard. This indicates the performance of the lens. It has 4 digits. The less the better, 1/1/1/1 is the best.
1/1/1/2 is normal for most of entry level to medium level Antra helmet models.
1/1/1/1 is standard for X90 and DP9 Series.
Because this parameter is not mandatory, some markings may be misleading. Choose trusted brands and compare carefully.
Where do I purchase?
Antra has a vast selection of welding helmets on Amazon. I suggest you go over there armed with your new knowledge and check out the details and reviews:
We are giving away an Antra AH7 as seen below. It is a great helmet at a great price point.
I hope this guest post from Antra welding helmets helped you out. I know I learned some things (who would have thought to use a TV remote??).
Now YOU, go outside and weld on something! (safely)