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  • The dangers of to cheap a welding helmet.

    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?

  • #2
    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'

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    • #3
      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

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      • #4
        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

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        • #5
          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.
          Last edited by alanganes; 08-28-2011, 02:13 PM.

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          • #6
            One possible cause might be it has problems detecting the stable arc you might have while TIG:ing.

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            • #7
              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.
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              • #8
                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.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Tony
                  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

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                  • #10
                    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

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Timleech
                      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.

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                      • #12
                        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...
                        -paul

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                        • #13
                          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.
                          Last edited by J Tiers; 08-28-2011, 04:01 PM.
                          1601

                          Keep eye on ball.
                          Hashim Khan

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                          • #14
                            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.

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                            • #15
                              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.
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