Welding with an auto-darkening welding helmet part 2
Many people who are holding on to their fixed shade helmets are afraid that something could damage their eyes if an auto dark were to fail. That is really an unfounded fear. Most, if not all modern auto darkening welding helmets provide 100% protection to UV and IR light even in the clear stage. That means if you were to accidentally flash yourself, you won’t be painfully searching around for potato juice that night. And it also means that if you are welding around other people in production or repair situations where multiple welders are running, you can be protected fully without losing your range of vision until you are ready to strike an arc. Clear state shade range from shade 2.5 to 4, depending upon the manufacturer.
Generally, the lower the clear state shade grade, the better the quality of the filter is. This shade range is generally no darker than your average pair of good sunglasses, so visibility is not hampered much even in darker environments. Some helmets, have a grind mode, which fixes the helmet in the light shade to prevent darkening in the presence of sparks.
This is a helpful feature to have, but often increases the cost of the welding helmet by as much as 30%. It is most helpful for people involved in fabricating on a production level, where constantly changing shields and eye wear waste time and money. Additionally, some helmets have a cut mode as well, where the welding helmet filter will darken automatically to a lighter fixed shade to provide the necessary protection needed for plasma cutting or oxy acetylene cutting.
This too is a nice feature, and is usually found on helmets with a grind mode as well. Of course it does increase the cost as well, so be prepared to pay the price if a grind mode and cut mode are in your short list of requirements.