A welding helmet is one of the most important protective gear for a welder. It keeps the eyes and the face protected from UV and infrared light. It also allows the welder to see the welding arc. Better yet, the helmet keeps the welder protected from health issues that arise from flames, fumes, and debris.
Auto-darkening welding helmets are so named as they have a special dark tinted glass viewing lens that becomes darker when you start welding. The dark glass protects you from the bright light coming off the welding arc.
Welding helmets are either solar-powered , battery-powered or a hybrid using both sources of power. Solar-powered helmets do not need to be left outside to charge the batteries for the helmet to work. Instead, the helmets use the UV light produced by the arc.
Clean Solar Energy
Solar energy is renewable. As such, your helmet will never run out of power as long as you keep welding. As you weld, you produce infrared and UV light – the UV light charges the batteries in your helmet. This way, you use clean solar energy for your helmet, and you do not end up with waste batteries that can destroy the environment.
With quality rechargeable batteries, a solar-powered helmet will have less waste as you do not need to replace the batteries often.
How Do These Helmets Work?
Solar-powered helmets are fitted with photovoltaic cells that capture sunlight energy to charge the batteries in the helmet. The battery stores the power for use. If you are working in an enclosed space where the helmet is not exposed to direct sunlight, the UV light from the arc will charge the helmet. Again, the batteries in the helmet will hold enough power for use when the helmet is not exposed to the sun.
Unlike battery-powered helmets, solar-powered auto-darkening helmets switch on or off automatically. This way, the helmets are functional at all times as the batteries charge or when the helmet is running on solar power. Because the PV cells charge the battery as you continue welding, you save battery life. In the long run, these helmets are economical and a great investment.
The on/off feature makes solar-powered welding helmets ideal for beginners. If you forget to switch the helmet on, it goes on when it detects the arc, therefore, protecting your eyes. If you forget to switch it off after the work, the helmet automatically goes off thereby saving battery life. Given that the helmet only has a few controls, it is lighter than a battery-powered helmet. Although batteries used in these helmets might be more expensive than those used in battery-powered helmets, they last longer and are a great investment.
Why Go for a Solar-Powered Welding Helmet
With a solar-powered welding helmet, you not only reduce your carbon footprint but also enjoy the convenience of longer battery life, ease of use, and better functionality.
While it is recommended to use these helmets in an environment with sunlight, manufacturers have made it possible for the helmets to charge from the UV light from the arc in areas with minimal exposure to sunlight. Because welding is tough work, these units sport design with lesser controls to make them lighter.
When fully charged, you can use these helmets indoors – they will charge a little from the arc. When used outside, the sun continuously charges the batteries. Each unit uses AAA batteries, which add to its lightness.
Disadvantages of Solar-Powered Helmets
If you need an auto-darkening helmet that works conveniently at all times, a solar-powered helmet will do just fine. Even with all its advantages, the helmets still have their downsides.
For starters, the batteries in your helmet will take time to recharge, especially if you work in an environment that doesn’t get enough sunlight. As such, you need to expose the helmet to sunlight. Some models also have a short lifetime.
Before you shop for the solar helmet, check online reviews to ensure you get the best. Ensure that the helmet is strong to last long. Some models will come with AAA batteries, and for some, you will have to buy the rechargeable batteries. If you have to buy the batteries yourself, choose high-quality batteries that will last for a year or longer.
Some models do not allow battery replacements, while others come with high-quality lithium-ion batteries that are expensive to replace. Always choose a model with a replaceable battery. Unlike battery-powered helmets, solar-powered units are larger as they need a space for the solar panels. The larger the cells, the faster the batteries recharge.
Even with the few disadvantages above, solar-powered welding helmets are ideal for all welders. For starters, they help reduce the carbon footprint by utilizing renewable energy and reducing wastes. Most of them feature bigger and long-lasting batteries. However, you need to take your time while shopping to ensure that you get the best quality.