Welding helmets are a type of personal protective equipment that is necessary for workers who engage in welding. A hard hat welding hood, specifically, is designed to protect the wearer from intense light, heat, and flying sparks.
Hard hats with welding hoods have been around since the 1930s, but there has been a recent resurgence in their popularity due to advances in technology. This article will discuss how hard hats with welding hoods work and what they are made of.
Welding helmets are essential because most injuries happen when welders don't have their helmet on or put it on correctly.
The intense light level alone makes welding so dangerous. It can be up to 20 times as bright as sunlight on a clear day. If exposed to this intensity for extended periods without a welding hard hat with hoods, it can cause blindness and cataracts. On top of that, it can result in inflamed corneas or serious eye problems.
You are also at risk of exposure to dangerous levels of ultraviolet radiation that can cause skin irritation or cancer. Welders who don't use proper protective gear are also vulnerable to flying sparks, which pose a big risk for fires and burns.
Wearing a helmet with a welding hood isn't just about protecting your eyes or face from damage; it's also important because you'll have better visibility while welding.
Welding helmets with hoods have two types: fixed lens and auto-darkening.
A fixed-lens hood is made out of a single piece of glass with no moving parts to adjust the shade. It is the more common type, but it has fallen out of favor because it doesn’t offer any convenience for modern welding techniques; however, it is still good for beginners.
Modern welders prefer auto-darkening helmets since these have a lens that automatically darkens when exposed to intense light. In addition, the darkness is adjustable through a knob, making them more versatile than fixed-shade hoods. Auto-darkening helmets also come with other features such as timers and sensors for amperage or arc length.
The most common hard hat welding helmet is the fixed-lens type. It has a lens that you have to manually tilt up or down to find the right angle to work with.
These come in different shades depending on the welding conditions. However, the shade is fixed, which means you have to pick the shade that offers the best visibility for you.
If you damage the glass or window, replacement options that fit your hood model are available.
The main benefit of using a fixed-lens hood is that it's inexpensive. It costs more or less $30, which makes it affordable for just about anyone who works with welding or other dangerous equipment.
Additionally, it is easy to use. All you have to do is flip up the protective lens when you need it and flip it down again when your workday is over.
If you're a beginner at welding and want to start practicing, then this hat is for you. You may use this to try out what working with a welding helmet feels like and have an idea of what kind of hood fits your taste and comfort.
You can’t adjust a fixed-lens hood for different conditions, and the lens isn't easily removable. It means you'll need several of these helmets if you're doing multiple types of welding in varying lighting conditions, which increases your overall costs.
The second type of hard hat with welding hoods is called an auto-darkening filter helmet. It has a lens that can automatically adjust from light to dark in only a matter of milliseconds. Admittedly, it is more expensive than fixed-lens welding helmets, but they are ideal for people who constantly work with different lighting conditions.
Auto-darkening hoods come in two types: single shade and dual shades. The former has one level of darkness that's suitable for most light settings you'll be working in. On the other hand, a dual-shade welding hood has two levels of darkness: one is more suitable for low-light conditions, and the other is good for bright lighting.
Auto-darkening helmets are helpful because they are designed to protect your eyes from different kinds of lighting conditions.
For example, suppose you're welding outdoors on a sunny day. In that case, the lens will automatically go dark to protect your eyes from ultraviolet radiation. At the same time, it will allow enough light in so that you can see what's in front of you and complete the work as needed.
As mentioned, auto-darkening helmets are more expensive than fixed-lens hoods. Also, some lenses do not darken fast enough to protect your eyes if you're working with high-intensity light sources like plasma cutters. The knob or dial that allows you to change the light setting manually is also easy to turn, so you might be startled by the sudden light change when you accidentally brush it.
The ideal welding helmet depends on the lighting conditions in which you weld. Aside from that, preference and comfort will matter for those hours and hours of welding.
Here are additional factors you should consider.
The window size of the welding hood matters in choosing a welding helmet. The reason is that you want to make sure your field of view is appropriate for what you're doing and how much light there is from other sources nearby.
For example, suppose you work with multiple people on a construction site or industrial plant. In that case, you want a welding helmet with large windows so that you can see what's going on and move accordingly.
The shape of the welding hood also matters in choosing a good one. It should be comfortable and fit your head well. Otherwise, you might feel fatigued after a few hours of wearing it, which can affect the quality of your work.
In most cases, wearing a welding helmet with a hard hat is a requisite to weld as an added safety measure. However, since hard hats and welding hoods are sold separately, you need to purchase a welding helmet hard hat adapter. It will help secure your hat and helmet together.
The weight will also factor into choosing an appropriate helmet that fits with what you do daily for several hours at a time.
For example, you don't want one that's too heavy and bulky, which might make your neck and shoulders uncomfortable. On the other hand, you also don't want something too light or flimsy since it won't provide adequate protection for you while welding overhead.
It's also important to consider what type of maintenance you'll need for the welding helmet. For example, auto-darkening helmets require more frequent replacement than fixed-lens hoods, so if your workplace is not set up or equipped for such replacements, it might be better to choose a different option instead.
Last but not least, you should only use a small amount of mild soap and water on the face of your welding hood for regular cleaning purposes (but not necessarily after every use). Check for leftover residue before putting it away in its protective case or hanging it up.
A fixed-lens welding hood and auto-darkening helmet are the two basic types of welding helmets. Each has its pros and cons, but with the rise of technology, the new models available have varied features that may suit your taste and hopefully make welding easier.
For more information about welding hoods and welding safety, be sure to check out more of our blog posts!