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Up Topic Welding Industry / General Welding Discussion / Are auto darkening helmets safe?
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- - By MAX04 Date 01-19-2007 00:40
Looking into this matter i have developed concern for my safety any info would be appreciated.

Parent - By welderseller (**) Date 01-19-2007 00:44
Auto darkening hoods are extremely safe, as long as you are purchasing a reputable brand. You definately get what you pay for.Miller,Jackson,Optrel, 3M(Hornell Speedglass) and Huntsman make great ones. I am sure there are other good ones that I have not mentioned here.
Parent - - By MAX04 Date 01-19-2007 00:55
Would you be so kind as to share the differences? I have seen prices from $50 (scary) to well over $300 - scary in a different way!

Some issues are not intuitive. It seems to me, given the speed of light, that the reaction time has to allow some damaging elements to get through before the final shade is reached. This may be one of those non intuitive matters. I am not interested in laying out any more than necessary to protect me eyes. Having said that I also want the best in protection.

Parent - By Molten Metal (**) Date 01-19-2007 02:13
You can get the "Hobart" brand auto helmets pretty reasonable and they are of good quality.You arn't going to damage your eye's so dont worry about it.Some models have batteries-some are uv activated and some are both.Some you have to turn on,and some you dont.I actually have had less arc problems with an auto as opposed to a passive helmet just for the fact that as you get going along,sometimes ya dont flip the passive down fast enough and ya flash yourself.If your'e gonna be doin alot of low-amp tig stuff,then you need to invest in a high dollor unit that has adjustable sensitivety.Also if you are in an enviroment where there are others welding in close proximety.Try to get one with an adjustable shade if you can afford it,and if you stick to the color black,you save about $30.00 + right there.The larger the viewing area the better,but as such the price goes up.I have an Optrel and a hobart and they work great.The only time they have ever not worked for me is when it is very,very cold out.Then they might not activate every time,but since the light state is about a 3.5 or 4???,it's really not too bad at all.They are alot better as far s I'm concerned.Do get a name brand though.Check places like Cyberweld,and Indiana Oxygen online for the best prices ,or if nothing else,to get a good idea what prices to look for at your local shop.The same helmets can vary wildly in price from on place to the next.Online seems to be pretty good.
Parent - By pipewelder_1999 (****) Date 01-19-2007 05:09
I have one of the SCARY ones that can still be bought for around $49.00 . The hood itself is nearly as comfortable as my slide lens Huntsman 490P. The edges of the lens ARE lighter than the middle. I have had one that I paid nearly $200.00 for that was in a Lincoln Box. I gave it away. The delay was too long and it was blurry. It was nearly impossible to weld up close with it.

The best in protection could be viewed a couple of ways. With an automatic hood, you may be more protected against random arcs. With a manual hood such as a flip front or slide front, you have another area for leaks (The fiber shell slide front Huntsmans are bad if you ever sweat in one.)

Parent - - By welder6g (**) Date 01-19-2007 03:02
Parent - By aevald (*****) Date 01-19-2007 04:12
Hello welder6g, I would certainly agree with your analogy concerning certain characteristics regarding using auto-darkening hoods. You said that the folks at your company experienced headaches and other things from the use of these hoods, I could see that if the hoods didn't have sensitivity and delay functions incorporated into them. As with any tool there are limitations and specific uses for this type of item and I would venture to say that if they are used properly there is little chance of damage to one's eyes. I have used a considerable number of the different types available, ranging in price from around $50 to probably $400, there are differences in how they feel, how well I have perceived them to work, how clear the images show up through them, the color of the actual shade that you are welding with, the amount of distortion that is present while you are welding with them, whether they flicker on and off while trying to use them at low amperage levels, and any number of other things that you could comment on.
     I was once told that the basic principle for their operation was a patented process and a particular company held that for a period of time and thus the cost of them was somewhat high. The only way for other companies to build them was to pay for the right to use the technology, thus the cost remained high. I believe that time has passed possibly and that is why you are now seeing a lower cost product in some cases but, not necessarily the same quality or good quality.
     I have also been told that a great majority of these lenses will protect you from UV rays whether they are turned on or not. I do not know that for certain. I certainly won't argue that a quality tempered glass welding lense will have superior optical quality, however, as I believe you also somewhat stated there are places for the autoshades. My $.02, regards, aevald
Parent - By Robert C (*) Date 02-01-2007 01:26
Auto-hoods have came a long way since 1993
Parent - - By makeithot (***) Date 01-19-2007 03:30
I think at one time auto lences were a novilty. I still use my old jackson helmet for some jobs but on others I have become dependent on the auto lens it makes some jobs that much easyer. As far as safety is concerned I don't beleave that is an issue. I do however prefere to use one with varible shades so when tig or mig welding you can darken it up a bit.
Parent - - By Molten Metal (**) Date 01-19-2007 03:42
I wouldnt go back to a passive lense unless I had no choice.I have been wlding since 1976.I always carry around my Huntsman with an 11 shade in it just incase,but havent had to bust it out yet.How many times have you been in a confined space or laying on your back and were SO freakin glad you had on your auto dark? I love them.Here at Boeing,knowbody uses a passive anymore.They make a great lampshade though.
Parent - - By clack6010 (*) Date 01-19-2007 04:04
no auto dark for me , i dont know about the safety issues , but i cant justifty a buying a $100 lens when i can buy a regular gold plated one for $5 .
Parent - By XPERTFAB (**) Date 01-19-2007 05:24
In our neck of the woods, the gold lenses now cost $24.99.  I know online they are cheaper but I am looking for the $5.00 deal if you know. 
Parent - - By MAX04 Date 01-19-2007 14:46
To all, many thanks for your thoughts nothing can beat experience.

Parent - - By clack6010 (*) Date 01-19-2007 16:07
not the glass ones . the plastic gold plated shade 9 or 10
Parent - - By SANDCOFAN Date 01-24-2007 01:56
I personally dont care for the auto dark lens after about a week of good pipline welding they tend to give out and discolor. I use the A O cool blue lens and love it but since they dont make them any more there are hard to find. which reminds me if any one knows were i can get some more AO lens can you help out?
Parent - - By DaveBoyer (*****) Date 01-24-2007 03:30
I have a Hobart "Weld It" brand-$80 at the farm store. It has an "Arc One" brand lens. I probably havn't melted as much filler in the 8 or so years I have been using this unit as a pipe welder does in a week. I do build and repair work that involves welding but is not centered on it. For Me with my way less than full time under the hood the Auto lens has allowed me to improve my quality alot by keeping the weld deposit from starting alongside the weld joint. It has worked well with stick, TIG, aluminum and steel MIG. I work alone, so it doesn't go dark from somebody else's arc. I have only gotten a few flashes when the sensors have been in a shadow. My lens has only 2 sensors, some better ones have 4. I got more flashes using the flip up, flip lens and old filter plate taped to a chunk of cardboard that I used in the past. Under a truck & other stupid places it has really been good.
Parent - - By Bill M (***) Date 01-24-2007 17:37
Just a comment, I notice that some less expensive darken in 1/2,000 of a second, some more expensive darken in 1/12,000 of a second, and some higher end ones even darken in 1/20,000 of a second.  I am not sure if the shutter speed alone is a safety concern though. 
I have a fixed 10 shade electronic & only use it for tig and stick welding. 
Parent - - By Bill M (***) Date 01-24-2007 20:07
This salesman once told me once that the auto darkening filters are a spin-off of technology developed for the faceshields wore by military jet fighters angling up to the sun.  Was he full of it (as many salesmen are...)  or what?
Parent - By billvanderhoof (****) Date 01-24-2007 23:38
I've heard also to prevent the flash from a nuclear weapon from blinding the pilot.  Earlier technique was supposedly to close one eye till the flash and then open it so you could see to get home.
Parent - By ssbn727 (*****) Date 01-27-2007 05:30 Edited 01-27-2007 05:33

Sure can! Here's their website which has a distributor locator via zip code input...

Click on the link "Welding Plates" on the right of the image, go down to the right where it says: "84910-00000 or 84912-00000", the number "10" after "849" represents shade 10 & "#12" represents shade 12... Click either one to get the order info, then scroll up to the top of the page where it says "distributors" to locate where you can purchase them closest to you via zip code input! Hope this helps!!!

Btw, here's another link to another supply house online:
They're selling the Cool Blues for $21.49 but, I have'nt really checked which distributor is selling at the best price... If you're looking to buy in bulk, have a wholesale ID or find someone that does so you get the best price - period!

Parent - - By 357max (***) Date 01-25-2007 22:14
Whether an Auto darkening or fixed shade the most important factor is; the helmet and its lenses impact tested to ansi Z87.1 or csa Z94.3? The second is to be wearing double eye protection at all times! Wear Safety glasses with side shields, again tested to ansi Z87.1 or csa Z94.3, worn AT ALL TIMES (even when tacking). Let "Hollywood" weld without eye protection, they can afford the eye surgeries.
While under the helmet; used as an arc shield or as a grinding face shield or a separate grinding face shield, WEAR SAFETY GLASSES WITH SIDE SHIELDS.
Be safe out there!
Parent - - By Sourdough (****) Date 01-26-2007 00:46
All I have to say fellas: NEXGEN!!!!!!!
Parent - - By fbrieden (***) Date 01-26-2007 01:29
Parent - By obeamweldor Date 01-26-2007 21:15
I agree with the last 2 posts, I love my Jackson NEXGEN hood.  Here in Alaska though, there's no using it outside from about early/mid October through late March or April!  I use a fixed lens outside in the cold or under nasty conditions (if you ever work in a hard rock mill you'll see what I mean...).  Those things don't like -50 very much...
Parent - - By gawelder (**) Date 01-28-2007 16:07
I have used my Nex/Gen for about two years,and I had a Jackson Executive for about five years before that.I have had no problems with my Nex/Gen. the Executive I had quit on me,I think over a period of time moisture got into the battery compartment and corroded the contacts. I use my Nex/Gen,whether I am tig welding,mig welding,or stick welding. Sometimes I may have to adjust the sensitivity or delay settings on it when I leave the shop to go outside where the light is different. I also keep my Huntsman with me just in case something does happen to the Nex/Gen in the middle of a job.
                My $.02cents worth
Parent - - By Harvard (*) Date 01-30-2007 00:05
Hello. I have been looking at the NexGens for quite a while now. How do they work outside? As 98% of my work is done out side, I dont want to spend the money and not have it work for me.
Parent - - By obeamweldor Date 01-30-2007 16:38

Nexgens work great outside, as you can adjust the delay, sensitivity, and shade to meet ambient light conditions.  I've used mine for everthing from plasma and oxyfuel cutting, to heavy (1/8" flux cored) wire welding and high amp air arc gouging.  No problems.  I wouldn't use it under cold conditions.  I've gone outside with it for a few hours, but I wouldn't keep it outside for long periods or in extreme cold.

Parent - - By Harvard (*) Date 01-30-2007 22:22
Thanks Justin. What would you call extreme cold?? I live in eastern ohio, and I know i Know some of you guys are on pipelines in Canada and elsewhere but the coldest it usually gets around here the average is about 15-20 degrees farenhieght. I dont know if you consider that extreme or not. BUt, would they work in that?
Parent - By obeamweldor Date 01-30-2007 23:28
I would consider anything below -30 f or so extreme cold.  I don't know what Jackson recomends for minimum temperature on those NEXGENs. If I'm going to be in anything below 20-25 f for more than a little bit, I look for my static lens.  Here in Alaska that's from mid October to late March/ early April!  The NEXGEN is really nice and would probably be ok most of the year down there.  They do cost quite a bit though.  My wife bought mine for me, I wouldn't dare spend that on myself!!! :-)  Good luck!
Parent - - By Sourdough (****) Date 02-02-2007 13:55
I've got 2, and when it's real cold I keep them swapped out on the dash of the truck.
Parent - By Harvard (*) Date 02-03-2007 01:10
I got one. And I love it. Thanks guys. I used my convential hood today, it was mixed rain/snow, I was already used to the Nexgen. What a difference.
Thanks ALot,
Parent - - By stever (**) Date 01-30-2007 14:52
The latest copy of "Practical Welding Today" (January/February 2007) magazine contains an article starting on page eighteen by Derek Baker about auto darkening welding helmets.  He tells about when the lens is not in the welding/dark mode that," ...This semitransparency should work while also providing full ultraviolet (UV) and infrared (IR) protection at all times, which is in accordance with ANSI standard Z87.1 2003 and comparable Canadian regulations for welding safety standards".  He goes on to say, "The UV/IR filter continually blocks harmful radiation whether the filter is on, off, or in the "light" or "dark" mode..."

I have checked several websites where the auto darkening shields are sold and most have this same information stated in various ways. Most also have the "Meets ANSI Z87.1".
Parent - - By Molten Metal (**) Date 01-31-2007 02:03
Yeah...I dont know where the notion came from that they are "no-good"? The only place they suck is in the cold,as stated above several times.I DO always carry a conventional just in case though.
Parent - By tim105 (**) Date 02-01-2007 02:34
I have a (hornell speedglass) that I bought in 2000, and have been using it ever since.
I have used it at -25 outside and it worked just fine.
They do cost between 250 and 350, but in my opinion they are worth it.
Parent - By Sourdough (****) Date 02-05-2007 02:24
My nexgens have never failed me, even in arctic conditions. I dont know what you guys are talking about. .... I have had mine on my fat head ALL day long in -36 weather, and never had a problem?! - 36 with constant 20 mph wind????
Parent - - By yorkiepap (***) Date 02-03-2007 02:01
Hey stever,
I have to concur with your post and have found that price not necessarily means it's the best. I had 2 Hobart helmets that lasted 1 year and 1 1/2 years and the lenses literally disintegrated internally. When I contacted Miller to have them sent back, they indicated I had to go thru the dealer and were out of warranty and would be subject to a repair fee. I wasn't happy with Miller, so I just discontinued buying their helmets. I researched and found the Chicago Electric helmets on sale at 50.00/ea. They are ANSI rated, have a switching rate of 1/25,000/sec, adjustable from 9-13, and sensitivity & delay settings. They have been flawless in functioning and although I don't work outdoors for extended periods, have no problems in the cold(above 0 degF). I have one at work, one in my home shop, and one in my mobile unit. Anyway, there are some good deals if one is on a budget or only needs occasional use without spending a lot and getting a good unit......Denny
Parent - - By stever (**) Date 02-03-2007 16:13
I was looking through the latest copy of "Welding Marketplace" catalog. There is an add for the ARCtic (spelled this way in the catalog) quick change lens that is advertised as working down to 13ยบ below zero.

Having bifocal glasses, I want to try the new BOSS big window quick change that is featured in the same catalog. It only says that it is 13.4 square inches. The bigger the better.

The students in my welding class have been using the $50.00 (U.S.) quick change from Harbor Freight. None of them have suggested any type of problems. A couple of these students are engineers and they are very happy with the product.
Parent - - By shooterfpga (*) Date 02-05-2007 03:19
the $50 harbor freights hood is a good one for shop conditions only. the headgear is great when new, but after awhile it becomes warped/flimsy making it slip off your head and very uncomfortable. however it is worth it if you buy the warranty and actually call it in, otherwise you're SOL. im getting the 9002x speedglas as several guys in the shop have a varient of it and love it, including the base $150 some speedglas hood.  i will be getting it with the protop system instead of the slot adapter, as it keeps it much lower center of gravity unlike when you flip it up. i've actually had my hood flip completely backwards on the suspension after hitting something, plus i hate the way it make me feel off level.
Parent - - By welder6g (**) Date 02-06-2007 03:44
Parent - By Molten Metal (**) Date 02-06-2007 05:59
A closed minded teacher. Hmmmmm.Well,okie-dokie.
so hows the ol' buckboard riding these days?
oh,wait a minute,its not 1863 anymore!!! Man I hope thats just some dry humor.......
Parent - By tim105 (**) Date 02-06-2007 19:42
Why do people think that their eyes are better protected with a 5 dollar fixed lens vs. a 100 or 200 dollar auto lens? If you set your adjustments on the auto helmet to the right settings, the helmet will work fine every time.

Parent - - By Lawrence (*****) Date 02-06-2007 20:04 Edited 02-06-2007 20:41
Safety Glasses 99.9% UV protection

External Clear lens  99.9% UV protection

Auto Dark lens (working or not) 99.9% UV protection  or a standard fixed lens

Internal Clear lens 99.9 UV protection

Cheater Lens  99.9 UV protection.

4 or 5 layers of UV eye protection we are talking about here.

This is what you get with an auto dark or a fixed lens welding hood setup.

Nobody is getting hurt if either are being worn.

If the battery is low or the sensors are covered on an auto dark helmet, it may be a bit annoying to get a bright flash at the normal #5 shade but no damage is being done.

My only suggestion for new students is that they spend the money for an auto dark hood with multiple shades so they can be comfortable with high and low amperage operations.

Auto dark lenses shorten the learning curve for beginners by a large margin. Seeing where to begin is one of the most important parts of learning to weld.

Having said that I prefer my old vulcanized Huntsman most of the time.  But I did break down and get an auto hood and for the most part I like it.


What about the bright light?

What does AWS say about all this?
Safety and Health Fact Sheet No. 26

"Retinal Exposure
In addition to actinic UVR measurements,
another study was published as a
USAEHA report (Ref. 7) in 1977 containing
an evaluation of potential retinal
exposure hazards. The eye can focus an
open arc onto the retina where an injury
might result that was photochemical or
thermal in nature. Photochemical injury
is the result of exposure to intense blue
light sources, whereas thermal injury can
result from all visible and some near-infrared
radiation, which is largely invisible.
Measurements of blue light and
other retinal-thermal emissions suggest
momentary viewing of electric welding
and cutting arcs does not exceed retinal
exposure limits; however, staring at an
open arc can readily exceed these standards.
While staring at the arc should
never be permitted, actual retinal injuries
are rare (Ref. 8) and would likely result
only from chronic staring."
Parent - - By welder6g (**) Date 02-06-2007 23:43
Parent - - By Molten Metal (**) Date 02-07-2007 00:32
Well....God has spoken.Thats it.There can be no other point of view.Why are you using a computer? You should be chipping away rock tablets with this tyraid so you dont get "soft" by using these new-fangled computers.You sure must be spoiled;what with these $700.00 + computers when a $5.00 chisel and a free rock slab will do.Dude.I hope your not really a teacher and are just some clown with a warped sense of humor.Why use a dang electric welder? Just pound two pieces of red hot iron together long enough.They'll fuse.That should keep ya from gettin spoiled an save ya alot of money ta-boot. Get real dude.
Parent - - By ssbn727 (*****) Date 02-07-2007 02:42 Edited 02-07-2007 19:46
Very, very Interesting...
Is that all you charge for your "e-books & CD's?" Who is that in the picture of the calendar you advertise that clearly shows an "American Flag" type of welding helmet, and is it an Auto-darkening type? Just curious because it seems ironic to see one in the web page that list a "Hottest Welder's in Welding" calendar after you just finished describing how useless the Auto-darkening helmets are in your own opinion... So, I guess their only worth is for someone to appear using one of those in your calendar or am I seeing things???
If you do'nt believe me, have a look for yourself:

Btw, good luck with your "Educational Materials."

Parent - - By Molten Metal (**) Date 02-07-2007 03:23
I am now snickering heavily.LOL...........
Parent - By DaveBoyer (*****) Date 02-07-2007 07:14 Edited 02-07-2007 07:17
I am not that much of a welder and I am not afraid to say so. I have been welding for 38 years and am pretty mediocre in stick tig & mig. I am nothing special in steel, stainless or aluminum. Heck, I am a tool & die maker by trade. Someday I might get good enough at welding to hate My auto lense, but I doubt it.
Parent - By Sourdough (****) Date 02-10-2007 20:06
I agree, man! My 400 dollar hoods save me a considerable amount of time in the field. After using my Nexgens, I feel feeble when I am forced to put on my traditional pancake hood. Closedminded is proper terminology to use for this MASTER WELDER for sure. Why would'nt anybody with good sense want the proper tools for the job? Why would'nt a professional want to improve his sparcin and arcin arsenal?? I don't get it!

AND, how is a hood going to ruin your eyesite when it improves your vision pre and post arc?? If it fails, it should at least provide you with a certain pre and post shade, right? Okay, so you get what you pay for. If you spend 50 bucks at harbor freight for a hood, that just shows you don't give a damn about your eyesight anyway!!

NUFF SAID!!    -Sourdough
Parent - - By welder6g (**) Date 02-17-2007 21:02 Edited 02-17-2007 21:10
Parent - - By Sourdough (****) Date 02-17-2007 23:25
I ,(individually),made over 180,000.00 gross last year with my nexgen shield. I'm sure by that statement you can figure that I'm not a tack welder.

Do enough welding outdoors to EARN your first 180k, then tell me how crappy my hoods are???!!! Wanna have a pee match about EXPERIENCE?

Talk to you then..........
Up Topic Welding Industry / General Welding Discussion / Are auto darkening helmets safe?
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