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Whether you are an aspiring or an already experienced welder, you know the importance of wearing a protective welding helmet. Your eyes need some protection from UV and infrared radiations and also from spatter and/or sparks. Without a good helmet, you risk burning your eyes. When purchasing a good welding helmet, you will need to pay attention to various things among them, including the shade number.

But wait, what is shade number and how is important when picking the best welding helmet? Welding Helmet Shade Number explained in simpler terms; the shade number refers to the capability of the helmet lens to filter the incoming radiation rays. The shade number is the most critical thing to pay attention to when selecting lenses for your welding helmet. It tells you more regarding the levels of darkness of the glasses used in your welding helmet and the levels of protection you can expect when using the helmet.

If the shade number is high, your helmet lenses will be darker and hence more protection. Experts advise you to consider the kind of project you are going to work on before determining the best shade number for your welding helmet. Different tasks will dictate for different lens shade number. Choose wisely for the sake of your eyes.

How To Determine The Best Shade Number

When choosing the most appropriate shade number for your welding helmet lenses, you have some key considerations to make. The most important things to think about should be;

  • Amperage – in this case, the more the amps, the darker the shade you will need to protect your eyes. Ensure that you know the amps on which you are working, as this will give you a clue of the best shade number to go for.
  • Metal – The shade number you should go for is also determined by the metal you will be working on. Keep in mind that the arc intensity will always be different when working with the same amperage but on other metals.
  • The Sensitivity of your eyes – All welders are different. If you are a person with more sensitive eyes, you should consider a higher shade number than individuals with no eye sensitivity issues.

What is The Best Shade Lens for Mig Welding?

According to experts, the best shade lens for MIG welding ranges from 10 to 13. Anywhere in between the 10 and 13 will be useful to protect your eyes from flashes. However, the shade lens is also determined by the amperage you will work on and the kind of metal you will weld.

Take an example of a material such as steel. The amps vary from 80 – 500, and so the shade number should likewise vary accordingly. That’s from 10 – 13. For a material such as aluminum, the amps range from 80 – 250. In this case, the lens shade should also vary according to, i.e., from 10 – 12.

Similarly, the shade lens range and amperage have been predetermined for flux-core MIG welding. With this type of material, the amp range usually varies from 125 – 350, and the lens shade should be set accordingly from 10 -12.

How To Tell That Your Helmet’s Shade Number is Safe

Before you can put on your helmet and rely on it to protect your eyes, you want to have an assurance that it’s safe. In other words, you want to have a guarantee that all the indicated specifications can be validated. A simple way to do this is to check whether the welding lenses in question meet the ASNI Z87.1. The ANSI Z87.1 sets out criteria that all welding helmets must meet to be considered safe for welding purposes. If you notice that your welding helmet misses the ASNI Z87.1 qualification, avoid it whatsoever. Remember, it’s better to be safe than sorry!

Other Than the Shade Number, Below Are Other Considerations for Picking Your Welding Helmet Lenses

Lens Reaction Time

The lens reaction time simply refers to the time needed for the lenses to switch from regular to protective shades. For a simple welding lens, the reaction time is approximately 1/3,600 seconds, while for a more robust helmet, the reaction time goes above 1/20,000 seconds.

Fixed or Variable Lens

There are two types of welding lenses. These are the fixed and variable lenses. The former darkens to one shade and is suitable for passive welding helmets. The latter darken to several shades. Choose your helmet, depending on the material and process you are going to work on. For instance, if you will work on a single material and with just a single process, a fixed lens will be useful for you.

Arc Sensors

Typically, welding helmets are available with 2 – 4 arc sensors. These sensors are crucial to measuring the levels of light in the surrounding. The more the number of sensors a helmet has, the fewer the chances of encountering difficult moments. Under everyday situations, two sensors are OK for simple work. However, if you will be doing more out-of-position welding, you should consider more sensors.

Takeaway

The electromagnetic energy emitted by a flame or arc amid welding can injure your eyes and is called light radiation or radiant energy. To avoid such radiations from hurting your eyes, you are advised to use the right personal protective equipment. Such equipment may include goggles, glasses, welding face shield, or welding helmets.

Your protective equipment (in our case, welding helmet) must have proper filter lenses featuring a shade number that’s sufficient to offer the much-needed protection. As we previously mentioned, the shade number shows the intensity of light radiations that can go through the filter lenses to your eyes. A higher shade number translates to a darker filter and hence less light radiations.

Wrap Up

Wearing a good helmet with the light shade number is not just for the workers/welders alone. It’s also for the people supervising/overseeing the tasks. When choosing a helmet shade number, it’s advisable to start with a higher shade number that is somewhat dark to view the weld zones-the go to a lower shade number allows you to see the weld zone. Please make sure to never go below the minimum.

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