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View Full Version : The dangers of to cheap a welding helmet.



plunger
08-28-2011, 01:50 PM
I bought a auto darkening welding helmet. It has helped my welding emmensly. However I dont trust it.
I am from Africa and often wonder if some things go here that will not be allowed in america.I hate spending money I dont have so I bought a cheap chineese solar helmet that is not adjustable.
I did google first and it seemed as if the cheap ones and the expensive ones only differ in the quality of the hood.But this might only apply in america.
I seem to sometimes get a flash while I am welding and it basically blinds me while I am tigging.This often happens when I am already welding comfortably and not on start up. I dont know what causes this, I normally work through it untill it comes right again but this is after a few seconds and it disorientates me. I am wondering if the batteries are flat .My helmet has never been in the sun so are workshop lights enough to charge this thing.
Also is it true that the protection is there regardless of if it darkens or not? My helmet is non adjustable and has a speed of 1/10000 of a second. I understand this is to slow and should be 1?20000 of a second. Can this be bad for your eyes or is it just uncomfortable?
It astounds me the type of English used on the box that both my welder and helmet use. I would think the cheapist part of manufacturing these two items would be to get someone to write the product description in proper english. If they are prepared to skimp on that then what stops them from skimping on other manufacturing details?
I dont want to go blind for the sake of 40$ Do you think I am worrying for nothing as I am not a pro welder?

rollin45
08-28-2011, 02:00 PM
Is it possible that the "sometimes " flash is caused by your inadvertent blocking of the sensor? I have done this before, and on less expensive hoods, there is often only one sensor, if you move your hand in front of it, or something else blocks the light from the sensor, the "hood will think you are finished and lighten up."

My first auto darkening hood had two sensors, and I still at times in difficult position welds would block them,,, my newer hood has four of these and while much better, it is still possible.

If you are actually getting flash burned, hold the hood up to the sun and see if you can detect any light leaks, sometimes the lense doesn't fit right, or the gasketing doesn't seal the light, reflections from behind you will also cause some bad burns if you are unaware of them.

rollin'

rode2rouen
08-28-2011, 02:06 PM
I've read that there is protection from harmful rays even when an AD helmet is not dark. Occasionally I get flashed when I am welding in an awkward position and the sensors are momentarily blocked.

Myself, I don't want to trust my eyes to a ChinCom outfit with questionable manufacturing skills. My Jackson AD has given excellent service for over 15 years of home shop use. It uses replaceable batteries (AAA or AA size, I don't remember which) as well.


Rex

Tony
08-28-2011, 02:07 PM
I always wondered if you couldn't put a little lens of some sort on the
sensor hole.. like a fish-eye.. to increase its effective detection angle?

-Tony

alanganes
08-28-2011, 02:11 PM
The glass used to make the LCD window of the hood will block most all of the harmful UV that causes flash burns. It is a inherent quality of most any glass. So even if the LCD does not turn dark, the UV is blocked. The darkening of the LCD does not add to that, it just cuts the total visable light transmission down to a level that allows you to see while welding.

CountZero
08-28-2011, 02:14 PM
One possible cause might be it has problems detecting the stable arc you might have while TIG:ing.

Evan
08-28-2011, 02:16 PM
Also is it true that the protection is there regardless of if it darkens or not?

Yes, it is true. The primary protection filter is a special multi layer dichroic filter that blocks infrared and ultraviolet regardless of the apparent darkness of the entire filter assembly. The LCD layer darkens to prevent dazzle only and even without it your eyes are fully protected.

radkins
08-28-2011, 02:20 PM
TIG welding, and to a much greater extent carbon arc gouging, seem to cause problems with the cheaper helmets that lack sensitivity adjustment. The failing to go dark is not dangerous from IR/UV exposure since the changing of the shade has nothing to do with these wavelengths but if it happens often enough it could cause eye strain and irritation from intense visible light not unlike staring at a bright light bulb. Blocking dangerous UV/IR rays is simple enough and it is the visible light that the lens going dark filters to a more comfortable level.


Around the turn of the last century when electric arc welding was in it's infancy it was common to use just a thick piece of glass that had been "smoked" over a fire or with a torch for a welding lens. I AM NOT SAYING THIS IS SAFE!!! It was however common and people did weld that way without "flashing" themselves. Back in the late 60's I talked with an old fellow who had worked many years ago at a coal mine in west Virginia that had actually done that himself and had no apparent problems resulting from it, seems that clear glass will absorb the harmful rays and the smoke cut the glare of the visible light to a manageable level. While I would not attempt to arc weld with a piece of smoked up glass and I would never ever recommend anyone else try it either the point is filtering the harmful rays is simple enough and there is no reason for an undamaged auto-dark helmet to be dangerous.

rode2rouen
08-28-2011, 03:14 PM
I always wondered if you couldn't put a little lens of some sort on the
sensor hole.. like a fish-eye.. to increase its effective detection angle?



As infrequently as I have been flashed, it's not even an issue. I adjust my position and get on with it.


Rex

Timleech
08-28-2011, 03:14 PM
I've had problems with tired, sore & red eyes after long periods welding with auto helmets, respectable brands but at the lower end of the market. Moved to Speedglas a few years ago, and little or no trouble since.

Tim

radkins
08-28-2011, 03:35 PM
I've had problems with tired, sore & red eyes after long periods welding with auto helmets, respectable brands but at the lower end of the market. Moved to Speedglas a few years ago, and little or no trouble since.

Tim



I have used these things since the first one's hit the market and they have come a long way since then but even the best one's I have tried still suffer from the same problem of distortion that the early one's did, just not quite as bad. This distortion will cause some people to suffer eyestrain after long periods of trying to focus, the key here being "some people" since not everyone is affected to the same degree. This distortion problem is not severe but still it is there in varying degrees and I have never seen any auto-dark unit regardless of price that is as clear as an old fashioned lens. I know some people may not agree and will insist that their favorite brand is "perfect" and does not suffer from any distortion and while I could be wrong and there may be one out there somewhere I have yet to see one, all I can say is try an old fashioned conventional helmet side-by-side with your favorite auto dark.

psomero
08-28-2011, 03:54 PM
I agree that TIG, especially at low amperages, makes cheap helmets work even more poorly. The older the helmet, the worse the problem I've seemed to notice in my own experience...

J Tiers
08-28-2011, 03:56 PM
I noticed in my limited experience with 4 helmets, in class and now elsewhere, that even with CHEAP helmets (read the harbor Fright ones that don't even fit over safety glasses) TIG welding is easy, NO visibility issues.

STICK (SMAW) welding is where the visibility problems start for me, and to a slightly lesser extent with MIG (GMAW). Totally same or worse than stick with FCAW wire-welding. 6011 was just "willy pete" as far as I could see, nothing but a total glare of light no matter what setting the helmet was on. Even 7018 was kinda hard to see, One 60 series with AC was pretty tolerable... maybe 6012? I'd have to look it up.

I do not think I have EVER really seen the pool when stick welding...... but with TIG (GTAW) I have ALWAYS seen it perfectly, SAME helmets.

Frankly, the very best I EVER saw what was going on is with an old-school blue lens helmet...... Can't see squat before you start (unless in sun), but once the arc is there, it's all totally visible..... except for stick where all the smoking and exploding flux makes it hard to see.

As for no-name chinese helmets, who KNOWS if the lens is any good. I'm confident it will darken, but not AT ALL confident it is blocking UV...... But if you don't get "flashed" I guess it's OK. Weld a few minutes with the helmet one day, and see if you get scratchy eyes..... If not, probably OK.

It's pretty scary when you think that HF is a decent enough brand to guarantee basic quality vs no-name.

radkins
08-28-2011, 04:07 PM
Probably the worst place to see with an auto dark is when doing light MIG welding such as when welding thin auto body sheetmetal. Small wire and low AMPs result in visibility so bad in most cases it becomes hard to follow the seam, so bad in fact that I personally along with a few others I know, have resorted to the old fixed shade lens for that type work. I know these things are extremely popular for body work because of the ability to precisely position the wire just prior to starting the arc but that advantage is all but lost for me by the lack of visibility after the arc is initiated. I have a $400 Jackson but honestly in this respect it is no better than a $50 HF helmet, probably the best I have ever used is a SpeedGlas.

Evan
08-28-2011, 04:14 PM
Probably the worst place to see with an auto dark is when doing light MIG welding such as when welding thin auto body sheetmetal. Small wire and low AMPs result in visibility so bad in most cases it becomes hard to follow the seam, so bad in fact that I personally along with a few others I know, have resorted to the old fixed shade lens for that type work.

Precisely my experience too. I'm thinking of taking one of my helmets apart and see if I can lighten the shade a bunch. It's too bright with no autodark but too dark at the lightest setting.

radkins
08-28-2011, 04:22 PM
It's pretty scary when you think that HF is a decent enough brand to guarantee basic quality vs no-name.



I have mentioned before about HF vs Hobart/Miller and while I think that both brands uses a different lens these days that was not the case just a few years ago. In 2004 I bought a Hobart "The Hood" for $200 including tax and at the time it was a good helmet, BUT about a month after buying the thing I was looking at the $49 HF helmet and although the shell was different something looked awfully familiar. Turns out that they both had the exact same "Chemelon" brand lens, that is the cheapo HF helmet had the same electrics as the $200 Hobart! :mad: Not sure if the lens in the HF helmet is still made by the same manufacturer as the one used in the Hobart/Miller these days but you can bet that most "brand name" lens are still from China and possibly the HF is from the same factory. The HF shell and headgear may not be top quality but the lens sure has a good track record as evidenced by the good reviews and loyal following it has developed on most of the forums where they are discussed.

Evan
08-28-2011, 04:30 PM
The primary safety part is the UV/IR filter and those are made by only a few specialized optical companies. It is a separate part from the rest of the LCD system and is the second item in the stack after the spatter shield. Every manufacture of helmets buys from those same few optical companies so there isn't much chance of buying a helmet with insufficient eye protection regardless of price. Selling helmets in China with a phony UV filter would be a good way to meet a firing squad.

The Artful Bodger
08-28-2011, 05:32 PM
I can barely see anything through my auto darkening helmet except when welding in bright sunlight. Seems that a bright light shining on the work might be useful.

rohart
08-28-2011, 06:13 PM
I use a 400W light over my TIG work. The downside is that it makes my 9-13 helmet darken before I've started the arc. The upside is that I can see the puddle very slightly better. I'm still looking for a better way to see everything when I'm on low amperage. Most of the time I'm just stabbing in the dark. I'll finish a small (1 - 2 inch) bead, and find I veered off by 1/4 inch, and I haven't even attached my work pieces together.

I can't find the money for a more expensive lid that'll go down to 7-13 or 5-13.

My welding's improving in terms of heat input, torch speed and penetration, but it veers off, and keeping the electrode close to the puddle while I can't see it is very hard. I sometimes have to grind electrodes every minute or so.

wierdscience
08-28-2011, 06:35 PM
I bought an Accu-strike helmet a little over a year ago.I won't ever use an AD lens again.
They are chin activated and use a regular filter plate.I like this feature most since I much prefer a gold film lens.All that's really needed for accuracy is to see clearly until the instant before you arc up.This helmet delivers that plus it doubles as a safety sheild.

http://www.accustrike.com/orderform.htm

vpt
08-28-2011, 07:02 PM
I like my old time flip down tinted glass helmet, only times it failed me is when I forgot to flip it down. http://cur.cursors-4u.net/smilies/images1/smi20.gif

radkins
08-28-2011, 07:50 PM
I bought an Accu-strike helmet a little over a year ago.I won't ever use an AD lens again.
They are chin activated and use a regular filter plate.I like this feature most since I much prefer a gold film lens.All that's really needed for accuracy is to see clearly until the instant before you arc up.This helmet delivers that plus it doubles as a safety sheild.

http://www.accustrike.com/orderform.htm


The only reason I don't own one of those things is that I retired before I got the chance to use one and now I no longer need it, after trying one the only advantage I can see for the auto dark would be working in tight places but then we did that for many years with the old helmets and thought nothing of it. :) While the auto-dark may be convenient the Accustrike has a big advantage in visibility and reliability and gives up little in ease of use compared to the auto dark.

CCWKen
08-28-2011, 08:26 PM
I've had my second HF AD helmet going on six years now. The first lasted about three years then the head band broke but otherwise worked. Both would activate with just a grounding spark (triggering the MIG for clean wire then discharging the capacitor) or even a spark from a butane lighter. I never had a problem with it not darkening even on sheet metal. I expect the second helmet will give up it's battery shortly and I'll go back to HF for a new one. Or dig into the old one and make it so I can replace the battery. ;)

SGW
08-28-2011, 09:02 PM
FWIW, here's something Richard Feynman, the physicist, said about UV and glass. He was at Los Alamos about to witness the Trinity test of the atomic bomb:

"They gave out dark glasses that you could watch it with. Dark glasses! Twenty miles away, you couldn't see a damn thing through dark glasses. So I figured the only thing that could really hurt your eyes (bright light can never hurt your eyes) is ultraviolet light. I got behind a truck windshield, because the ultraviolet can't go through glass so that would be safe, and so I could see the damn thing.
Time comes, and there is this TREMENDOUS flash out there is so bright that I duck....
Finally, a big ball of orange. All this took about a minute. It was a series from light to dark, and I had SEEN it. .... I am probably the only guy who saw it with the human eye."

From "Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman."

radkins
08-28-2011, 09:13 PM
That works for the same reason you will not get a sun burn through a car window!

wierdscience
08-28-2011, 09:25 PM
The only reason I don't own one of those things is that I retired before I got the chance to use one and now I no longer need it, after trying one the only advantage I can see for the auto dark would be working in tight places but then we did that for many years with the old helmets and thought nothing of it. :) While the auto-dark may be convenient the Accustrike has a big advantage in visibility and reliability and gives up little in ease of use compared to the auto dark.

I still got my 15 y/o Huntsman for straight up blow and go long duration welding,but all the short fit up and tack work gets done with the AS helmet.I think I'm gonna spring for another one with the cooling fan,should help out in the Summer.

jack3140
08-28-2011, 10:15 PM
I bought an Accu-strike helmet a little over a year ago.I won't ever use an AD lens again.
They are chin activated and use a regular filter plate.I like this feature most since I much prefer a gold film lens.All that's really needed for accuracy is to see clearly until the instant before you arc up.This helmet delivers that plus it doubles as a safety sheild.

http://www.accustrike.com/orderform.htm
how did you select the lens ? i see different numbers there but have no idea what they mean can you help? i would like to buy one of those accustrike helmets thanks .jack

J Tiers
08-28-2011, 10:30 PM
I think I'm gonna spring for another one with the cooling fan,should help out in the Summer.


I didn't know that was an option, but its a GOOD one..... I was TIG welding some stuff at work the other day*, at 10AM it was 92 deg, and I was sweating up a storm..... and BOTH the safety glasses AND the helmet were steaming up because it was an HF that was so tight my glasses needed wedged under it..... I blew two holes in the 0.075 material from not seeing what I was doing..... I want a fan!


* Yes, I am somewhat expensive welding help, but it's either me or the boss (I have seen our Tech's welding), and because I am newly eddicated about welding with 3 credits to prove it, I'm elected. Its for a proto of a product we are working on, so.....

wierdscience
08-28-2011, 11:39 PM
how did you select the lens ? i see different numbers there but have no idea what they mean can you help? i would like to buy one of those accustrike helmets thanks .jack
The higher the number the darker the lens.
The number you select is a combination of the type welding you do and personal prefrence.
Typically for stick and Aluminum MIG you want darker,say an 11 or 12,while TIG and Mig for steel maybe a 9 or 10,but personal prefrence means YMMV.

The AS helmets take an odd sized lens that AFAIK are availible only through them.You might consider a selection of lenses and give several shades a try.

wierdscience
08-28-2011, 11:48 PM
I didn't know that was an option, but its a GOOD one..... I was TOG welding some stuff at work the other day*, at 10AM it was 92 deg, and I was sweating up a storm..... and BOTH the safety glasses AND the helmet were steaming up because it was an HF that was so tight my glasses needed wedged under it..... I blew two holes in the 0.075 material from not seeing what I was doing..... I want a fan!


* Yes, I am somewhat expensive welding help, but it's either me or the boss (I have seen our Tech's welding), and because I am newly eddicated about welding with 3 credits to prove it, I'm elected. Its for a proto of a product we are working on, so.....

Ya,I want one too for the same reasons,and it if it helps keep the sweat band dry all the better.I'm thinking it should help in the winter too.

Description says it takes two AA batteries so I'm thinking it must be one of those little muffin fans like go on a CPU processor.

plunger
08-29-2011, 03:06 AM
It seems to flash me when I use my filler rod .Is the speed to slow at1/10000?

J Tiers
08-29-2011, 09:42 AM
It seems to flash me when I use my filler rod .Is the speed to slow at1/10000?

Wouldn't think so, maybe you need to clean the sensor and lens.

or maybe you are shorting the arc for a very short time when you add metal..... (of course I NEVER do that..........;) ) That would cause a sort of "flash" when your lens starts to lighten while the arc is shorted, and then darkens again when the arc forms again.

vpt
08-29-2011, 09:51 AM
Ol reliable, no batteries, no sensors, no problems.

http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/31VEagaOMfL._SL160_.jpg