How to set auto-darkening on a welding helmet

Written by chris gilliland Google
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An important part of a welder's selection of tools, auto-darkening welding helmets have lenses that instantaneously darken to shield the wearer's eyes from the light emitted from the arc of a welder. It also transitions to a lighter state once the welding arc dwindles. Although the harmful ultraviolet and infrared light emitted by an arc is negated by a helmet's shield, even when it isn't activated, many helmets offer variable shade settings to compensate for different welding techniques and materials.

Skill level:


  1. 1

    Set the helmet in front of you, placing it on a clear, clean surface. Lift the front of the helmet upwards, swinging it over the headband. Confirm that the battery is in place.

  2. 2

    Adjust the shield delay time, or the amount of time the shield takes to transition from a darkened state to a lighter state. On most auto-darkening helmets, the delay is adjusted by a switch on the inside of the shield. Depending on the helmet, delay times can be adjusted between .25 to .35 second on a fast setting to .6 to .8 second on a slow setting. The delay selection is a matter of personal preference, select the delay you are most comfortable with.

  3. 3

    Adjust the shade setting by turning the adjustment knob. One most helmets, this knob is located on the left side of the helmet and allows you to adjust the intensity of the shield darkening depending on the type of welding you will be doing (i.e. MIG, TIG, etc). Shade settings typically run between 9 (lightest) to 13 (darkest). Select the darkest shade recommended for your particular application.

  4. 4

    Put the helmet on and adjust the headband until it is secure. Lower the helmet and adjust the angle until you can see through the shield without obstruction. Most helmets offer an adjustable limitation washer to hold the helmet at the desired angle.

  5. 5

    Test the helmet's auto-darkening shield before welding by keeping your head turned slightly to one side and eyes turned away while briefly striking an arc. If the lens is operating properly, the lens will darken evenly when not directly facing the arc. Do not use the helmet if the shield does not darken or darkens partially.

Tips and warnings

  • Although the difference is not noticeable to the human eye, select a helmet that offers a darkening response time of 4/10ths of a millisecond for the highest degree of comfort.
  • Consult the helmet's owners manual for the recommended shade settings for your welding application.
  • Do not use a helmet with a partially-darkened shade.

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