Welding is much more than taking two joints and soldering them together. It's a prerequisite trade that requires proper training and education to perform safely and accurately. There's nothing "simple" about welding and, in fact, it can be quite a dangerous undertaking. Considering this, welding safety, including proper gear such as welding helmets, is vital for getting the job done right.
The process of welding is especially dangerous for the eyes. This is so for several reasons, including the brightness of the arc, the ultraviolet and infrared rays it emits and the fact debris can sometimes fly loose. Inasmuch, no smart welder gets started without a good helmet.
Knowing you need a welding helmet and choosing one that's appropriate for you can be two different things. The sophistication of the helmet needed will, of course, depend on the type of welding being done and how often you need it. If you just need to do a solder once in a while, a basic helmet will do. A pro, however, will likely want a more sophisticated piece of protection.
Here are some features to look for in a helmet:
* Comfort. A welding helmet should be comfortable to wear and lightweight. If it's not comfortable, or reasonably so, it can get in the way of the job, which can lead to accidents.
* It should be easy to use. A helmet should not be so difficult to use that welders try to avoid them or go without them when making a solder.
* Visibility. Being able to see what you're doing while working a weld is vitally important. The helmet should not block all fields of vision.
* Degree of protection. Welding shields must block ultraviolet rays to be considered effective. These are not sunglasses and the arc you're dealing with will not even begin to compare to a 100-watt light bulb! They should also block infrared wavelengths.
The type of helmet necessary will depend on the job being done and the kind of weld being made. Depending on the materials, lung protection might also be needed as some fumes created during the welding process are toxic. There are some other features welders can look for in a helmet to help them with more advanced jobs. They include:
* Auto-darkening helmets. These are great for shop situations where being able to see more clearly when the arc has not been stuck is important, but taking a helmet on and off is not always practical.
* Solar and battery powered helmets. These help control the auto darkening features on some helmets and some other processes as well. Either is suitable, as long as a solid helmet is chosen.
* Fixed and variable shades. The fixed offers a single darkness factor on the shade, the variable features different settings to be chosen.
* Other features in helmets can include: adjustability to make it easier for a person who wears glasses to find a comfortable fit, sensor bars to assist in determining when a helmet's features should be automatically turned on, curved shields and so on.
The key to welding and doing it safely is to not only understanding the process and the equipment, but to also have a good helmet. The helmet is vital for protecting the eyes and the face from harmful light rays, burning and flying debris.