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  • Hoods - Solar vs Battery powered ?

    Trying to decide on a helmet but don't understand how a solar powered auto helmet can work if it's never used outside or sees infrequent use? But I like the idea of not having to mess with batteries which tends to be a PITA when you aren't expecting it. Then there's the solar and battery models. Is this worth consideration or am I just suffering from information overload?

    Thanks for any feedback!

  • #2
    Solar Pwr

    I have a solar powered hood that works pretty well, but it relies on a battery that is charged from solar power. When that battery is dead, it will mean the hood is worthless. Some have button battery backups, so look around the web sites for specifics.
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    • #3
      The solar only masks use the ultraviolet light given off by the arc. The don't need to be in the sunlight; in fact, its better not to weld in the sunlight as it gets really annoying when the mask changes while you're NOT welding.

      The advantage of the battery vs. solar-only is they change faster than solar only thus saving your retinas from burning quite as much.

      The trick masks detect the electromagnetic pulse when the arc is struck and switch then (much sooner than battery or solar-only).
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      • #4
        Solar vs Battery

        Thanks guys - that explains it. Guess I'll just pony up and get best I can afford. Now that I know the light is so intense maybe I'll ask my wife if she can ace the tanning salon and lay out next to me and my Miller

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        • #5
          Now that I know the light is so intense maybe I'll ask my wife if she can ace the tanning salon and lay out next to me and my Miller
          she may end up with more tan then she was looking for.

          as for the battery?solar option ?? i have the Miller BWE witch is battery with solar assist or solar with battery assist ?? one or the other ?? aether way, the battery lasted about 6+ years before needing changed. the battery low flashing light let me know it was time to change it and i still used it for a good 2 months before changing it ( time and use may very) without any problems. so its not like the battery will just be dead one day when you go to weld, it will give you plenty of warning. so look for a model with a warning system and you should be fine.
          keep in mind a soler hood will still have an internal battery (just not changeable) that will only accept so many charges before its toast. the difference is one with a changeable battery you can replace them easily when its time. i don't know what you would do with a soler hood when its internal battery will no longer take a charge ???

          tasslehawf
          in fact, its better not to weld in the sunlight as it gets really annoying when the mask changes while you're NOT welding.

          you just need to adjust the sensitivity of the hood and it will work great out in sunlight. i suppose it varies by model and maker, but my BWE adjusts and is great outside in sun light or in the shop under florescent lights. its just a quick turn of a knob and its good to go. guess you get what ya pay for,

          sticking to the big name makers and you should be happy with your hood. you will have it a long time, its a good investment to get a good hood even if ya have to use a solid hood for a wile wile saving up for the auto.
          thanks for the help
          ......or..........
          hope i helped
          sigpic
          feel free to shoot me an e-mail direct i have time to chat. [email protected]
          summer is here, plant a tree. if you don't have space or time to plant one sponsor some one else to plant one for you. a tree is an investment in our planet, help it out.
          JAMES

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          • #6
            Originally posted by fun4now View Post
            you just need to adjust the sensitivity of the hood and it will work great out in sunlight.
            I have welded a lot outside recently using my Miller Elite and have been able to adjust the sensitivity to make it work. However changing light conditions and clouds etc. call for on the fly sensitivity adjustments. Also in bright sunlight, having the sensors blocked becomes more erratic.

            If you can afford it, the Miller Digital Elite is a really amazing mask. You don't have to worry about any lighting conditions.

            And the ultraviolet light from arc welding is very dangerous not only for your eyes, but also your skin. Be sure to cover your arms (and legs, if necessary).
            Miller Maxstar 200 DX
            RMLS-14 Momentary Hand Control
            Miller Syncrowave 180 SD
            Porter Cable 14" dry metal saw
            Hitachi 4.5" grinder
            http://mhayesdesign.com

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            • #7
              I'm a newbie welder (SMAW) and I bought the Northern Equipment $50 solar-only autodark helmet. (It relies on solar only and has no battery backup.)

              It works well, but as I understand it, here are the caveats:

              1. The "solar-powered" aspect of it is that sunlight makes the lens CLEAR (when there is no arc). In other words, when I'm just walking around, I can see through the lens if I'm outdoors or in the shop facing the open door, but if I shut the door, the lens goes dark, even if there is no arc. It doesn't need direct sunlight, but it needs enough. Without enough sunlight, it's dark all the time, like a regular helmet/lens.

              2. On the other hand, striking an arc produces enough light that it will darken the lens EVEN AT NIGHT. My theory is that there is enough ultraviolet, infrared, etc etc etc in the arc flash that it will SUBSTITUTE for the sun in making the lens darken.

              In other words, there are basically three "levels" of environmental light that govern whether the lens is dark or clear, and going from pitch black to arc flash, they would be:
              a. At night or indoors without much daylight: Lens will be dark.
              b. Outdoors in the sun or in fairly bright indirect daylight: Lens will be clear (assuming no arc light), and
              c. Arc light: Lens will be dark, whether you're indoors or outdoors, daytime or night time.

              It confused me at first, but if you think about it, it makes sense.

              With all that said, if given the choice again, and assuming I had $$$$, I would probably get a solar auto-darking helmet with battery backup. That way, you kind of have the best of both worlds. It will stay clear in the shop (or outdoors at night) unless and until you strike an arc. If there's enough sunlight, you won't use the battery. And even if the battery is dead, it will still work properly outdoors during the day.

              The Northern Equip $50 helmet I have does work very well (I think it darkens in 1/25,000 of a second) for what I use it for...

              Good luck with your choice.
              Last edited by Kludge; 07-26-2008, 08:19 AM.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by fun4now View Post
                Now that I know the light is so intense maybe I'll ask my wife if she can ace the tanning salon and lay out next to me and my Miller
                she may end up with more tan then she was looking for.

                as for the battery?solar option ?? i have the Miller BWE witch is battery with solar assist or solar with battery assist ?? one or the other ?? aether way, the battery lasted about 6+ years before needing changed. the battery low flashing light let me know it was time to change it and i still used it for a good 2 months before changing it ( time and use may very) without any problems. so its not like the battery will just be dead one day when you go to weld, it will give you plenty of warning. so look for a model with a warning system and you should be fine.
                keep in mind a soler hood will still have an internal battery (just not changeable) that will only accept so many charges before its toast. the difference is one with a changeable battery you can replace them easily when its time. i don't know what you would do with a soler hood when its internal battery will no longer take a charge ???

                tasslehawf
                in fact, its better not to weld in the sunlight as it gets really annoying when the mask changes while you're NOT welding.

                you just need to adjust the sensitivity of the hood and it will work great out in sunlight. i suppose it varies by model and maker, but my BWE adjusts and is great outside in sun light or in the shop under florescent lights. its just a quick turn of a knob and its good to go. guess you get what ya pay for,

                sticking to the big name makers and you should be happy with your hood. you will have it a long time, its a good investment to get a good hood even if ya have to use a solid hood for a wile wile saving up for the auto.
                My solar Optrel has a nonreplaceable battery that died out of warranty. My only option was to buy a new cartredge for as much$ as I paid for the hood new.

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                • #9
                  My solar Optrel has a non-replaceable battery that died out of warranty. My only option was to buy a new cartridge for as much$ as I paid for the hood new.
                  i was afraid that was the option. the battery's for the BWE were $3.50 each, takes 2. thats a lot easier to handle than starting over. i wonder if people think that far ahead when purchasing a soler hood ?? i know i was not thinking about the battery's when i got mine, but glad they are easy to replace.
                  sorry to hear about your hood, that would really tick me off. no way i could afford a new hood.
                  thanks for the help
                  ......or..........
                  hope i helped
                  sigpic
                  feel free to shoot me an e-mail direct i have time to chat. [email protected]
                  summer is here, plant a tree. if you don't have space or time to plant one sponsor some one else to plant one for you. a tree is an investment in our planet, help it out.
                  JAMES

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