View Full Version : How Do I Check My Auto Darkening Helmet?

09-09-2013, 08:20 AM
I have an auto darkening helmet that I haven't used in a couple of years. How do I make sure it's still working without getting flashed? There are no batteries to change. Looking at the sun does not cause it to darken.

09-09-2013, 09:10 AM
I don't know about yours but if I am indoors in a dark room and flick on the lights mine goes dark for a couple seconds


09-09-2013, 10:40 AM
Ditto what DMAC said. I find that when I run my ambient lights low in my garage for low amp welding, if I point a light at my sensor it will trigger my autodark.


09-09-2013, 03:01 PM
Mine will darken when I grind metal with my angle grinder

09-09-2013, 07:18 PM
I'm going to go with, it works. Went into the laundry room, no windows, closed the door and turned on the lights. The lens went dark for a fraction of a second. I did this a couple of times with the same results so I think it's O.K. Guess I'll find out this weekend. That is if I still remember how to weld.

12-02-2013, 11:40 AM
I have complained in another post that it is difficult for me to see the puddle. Having not done any welding since high school, 40 years ago, I wasn't sure what the different shades should look like. Back then they gave you a helmet and you welded with it. I couldn't see much of a difference in the settings on my Harbor Freight auto darkening helmet. I thought that a 9 was a little brighter than a 13 but I wasn't sure. When welding over the weekend, with the helmet set to 9, all of a sudden everything got very bright. Not painfully so, kind of like looking into a 60 watt light bulb. I had no pain and was able to finish the bead, I was even able to actually see the puddle, when I stopped I had some spots before my eyes but they cleared up in a couple of seconds. When I went to run the next bead everything was back to what was used to, I can barely see the arc let alone the puddle. The brightening happened a couple of more times during the day, I even tried different shade settings but being as I couldn't tell when it was going to happen, I really wasn't able to tell if it was making a difference.

So after all that here are my questions. I know my helmet is malfunctioning, but has it been bad all along? I'm thinking that it has been stuck on a shade 13 the whole time. Is there a big difference between a 9 and a 13? If anyone has done any MIG welding with a shade 9, should it look look you're looking at a light bulb? If you've used a 13 was it so dark that you could barely see the puddle?

I wish I had a frame of reference. Maybe my helmet has been bad the whole time and that's why I can't follow the joint in the work and I wander off line. That's another thing, I can't see the joint except for maybe 1 mm in front of the arc, with my helmet operating the way it normally does.

12-02-2013, 12:28 PM
I just look at a bright light bulb to see if its working.

Racer -ITS MY UNDERSTANDING (you might want to research that before taking it as gospel) that the auto darkening isn't what protects your eyes. It simply keeps you from seeing spots for awhile. OSHA requires that the helmets give full protection from UV and IR, even when they are not on dark. In other words, a malfunctioning auto-dark helmet wont do permanent damage to your eyes even if it doesn't darken. That's not a recommendation to use one that won't darken, but I wouldn't worry too much about it doing permanent harm.

My Northern Tools helmet came with a table of suggested settings for various amps. The highest settings for when you using a lot of amps. I generally have mine set on 9 or 10 when I weld, unless I am using oxy-acetylene where I use a 5. I weld outside.

Here is a video by Kevin Caron, who generally seems to know what he is talking about in his videos on settings he uses.


12-02-2013, 09:22 PM
....I have 2 auto helmets that flash me continuosly when welding, no matter what settings I use. Never been able to figure why, can only guess they're no good for low amp TIG. Now use basic manual helmet.........

12-02-2013, 10:02 PM
Trikeman, I watched that video, very informative. I found a #10 fixed glass shade. It's one of those cheap ones that Lincoln gives you when you buy one of their inexpensive MIGs. I did a back to back test with my helmet. The handheld was not as dark as my helmet when it was set to 9.

While running a bead with the helmet, adjusting the knob has little to no effect on the darkness of the shade. I've had this helmet for a few years but it sat on the shelf for a while before I started using it. I think it may have been bad from the beginning and I just didn't know it. Anyway, with the flashing problem that it has started doing, I think it's time for a new helmet.

12-03-2013, 01:15 AM
Keep in mind that if it has solar batteries and sits unused for a while, it should be left out in the sun for a bit to let the batteries recharge.


12-11-2013, 11:39 PM
It seems that the problem with my helmet was dead batteries. Please see my new thread on how to replace the batteries in a Harbor Freight helmet: http://forum.atomiczombie.com/showthread.php/8478-Harbor-Freight-Welding-Helmet-Repair?p=84416#post84416 And, no you don't just open a cover, remove the old ones and replace them.