Power Options in Modern Welding Helmets
Modern welding helmets offer a slew of amazing features that can make the entire welding process significantly easier and more manageable than any point in the past. Most notably, helmets with an auto darkening filter lens have completely changed the welding process, but also come with a specific and unique issue – power. Let’s take a look at the nature of power sources in welding helmets, and discuss the benefits and drawbacks of the different options.
Why Do Helmets Need a Power Source?
The power source issue for welding helmets only arises in models that include an auto-darkening filter lens, as they use internal electronics to detect the presence of an arc and, as the name states, automatically set the shade of the lens to protect your eyes. The automatic process requires an internal power source to drive the sensors and the special filter, compared to traditional passive models that only offer a single shade setting via a piece of tinted glass.
Within the auto-darkening filter lenses, you’re most commonly going to see two types of power sources – replaceable batteries and a solar-powered lithium battery. The good news is that, in most cases, neither choice has a significant impact on the final price, and there aren’t any models that require you to plug the helmet into an outlet or anything truly troublesome like that.
Solar Powered Options
Lithium battery helmets with a solar backup are the most common type of power source you’re going to find in welding helmets, as they also offer a good number of benefits. The solar backup allows these helmets to charge the internal battery through exposure to sunlight, meaning that you won’t ever have to buy any additional batteries to power it. Solar power also causes less waste and helps conserve natural resources. However, some helmets can take a good while to fully charge and become usable, which can lead to delays in starting a welding project.
Replaceable Battery Models
These models will have a removable panel where you can insert your own batteries to power the filter, just like you would on a television remote or an alarm clock. The main benefit here is that you won’t have to wait to use the helmet, as long as you have a fresh set of batteries installed. Similarly, the biggest drawback is that, without proper working batteries, there is no way to power the helmet. For some welders, the cost of purchasing batteries for the helmet can also add up over time, and become a significant financial setback.
Looking Into the Future
Some models of solar-powered welding helmets can experience battery failure down the line, though this is highly dependent upon how the owner uses and cares for the helmet. If this does happen, then you will need to replace the internal battery, which can definitely become expensive in certain models. Removable battery powered models are not likely to experience these issues, though they can also undergo other damage if old batteries are left in the helmet for extended periods of time.
Powering a Conclusion
Choosing between the two options comes down to your own preference on buying batteries as well as how you feel about your impact on the environment, even if it is a relatively small one. Also, if you prefer to bypass this entire debate completely, you can always choose a passive lens model.