Most auto-darkening helmets are designed to draw the required power from either a battery or a solar system built-in inside them. Some models are technologically advanced and therefore use both of them for better results and service life.
You know those batteries won’t last for a decade, and you want to be capable of changing them yourself when required. Well, this article is intended to help the users of battery-powered auto-darkening helmets.
Let’s start with the signs that tell you should replace the battery.
When to Replace The Battery of Your Welding Helmet?
Not only putting a replacement takes time, it costs money too. So, you don’t just want to throw a battery away when there is nothing wrong with it. But how do you find out?
Pay Attention to the Alert System
Helmets manufactured over the past few years usually come with a specific signal to alert the user of a drained battery. The alert shouldn’t be on unless, of course, the battery has already drained or about to die very soon.
If yours is one of the advanced models, its low-battery alert should not come as a surprise. Fortunately, standard models these days have this feature as well. Check the user manual to know whether your helmet has this or not.
Weld with Variable Intensities
The helmet is supposed to darken or lighten automatically depending on how much light exists in the environment. A good way to be sure if the batteries are good is to weld with variable intensities of light.
Try sparking up deliberately and keep doing it. A lot of flash from the helmet indicates something wrong with the very feature (auto-darkening mode) the equipment is for. Weak batteries can cause the helmet to not adjust to the spark (light level) properly.
However, don’t ignore the possibility that you might have set the sensitivity adjustment too high or low. Too high sensitivity leads to prolonged darkening while too low sensitivity is the reason a helmet doesn’t darken at all upon exposure to light, no matter how bright it is. So you should check these particular settings before reaching any decision about the battery.
Take the Sun Test
Put the helmet on and go outside when the sun shines brightly. Face the sun and wave one of your hands in a relaxed and back-and-forth manner across your eyesight path. This action will block the sunlight intermittently and just enough to trigger the response of the helmet.
Now, the auto-darkening feature should do its job. If it does not work even with all settings done without issues just as I mentioned in the previous section, the battery must have been the problem. However, I don’t think this method should be tried before the above two.
When you see all of these things check out, the next thing is to think of getting a replacement. Not all helmets have their parts placed exactly the same way inside. It means the initial steps may differ from models to models.
General Guideline to Change Batteries of Welding Helmets
I’m now laying out the common steps, so you at least know how to do it. Don’t worry! I’ll talk about the procedures for some popular brands too.
Choose the Batteries
Auto-darkening helmets feature either lithium batteries or combinations of solar cells and lithium batteries. Some helmets have a solar power system and non-replaceable batteries. Note that the lithium batteries can be replaceable or fixed. Replaceable batteries are, in my opinion, better than their non-replaceable versions.
I won’t say much at this point because this article is not about choosing a battery but about the method of replacement. I think you should consult the user manual where the recommended battery specs are clearly mentioned. Typically, four AA or AAA batteries are required.
Gather Your Tools
In addition to the battery and helmet, you’ll need a few other tools to do it. Check the following list and get them:
- Hot glue
- 1 Dremel Diamond Wheel
- 1 Thin Screwdriver
- 1 Solder and a matching iron
- 3VDC Cell Holders
Upon procuring these items, you can get to work, and it starts with finding the location of the batter, which as I mentioned, may vary.
Find the Battery
Most helmets have their batteries which are accessible through their front casing section. Examine that section which is located near the lens. You should see a solar cell. Dissect the battery using the Dremel tool. You don’t need more than a minute to do it.
Place your helmet on a table to get some support. The Dremel tool is required to dissect to cut an area that is like a small square and about the size of a typical postage stamp. Keep the part or plastic you’ve cut because it might be of use later. Once you see the battery; use a pen to note down some details like the exact location of the battery and its polarity.
Remove the Battery
It is the part where you stay as focused as possible. You need a screwdriver to loosen all the tabs designed to secure the battery. You don’t have to loosen them all the way up because they may get broken. Do it just enough to let go of the battery. Apply as much force as you need but don’t risk breaking them by applying brute force.
Install the Battery
Take the solder and connect the battery holder with the leads. Make sure the red lead goes to the positive sign and the black lead goes to the negative. After having the leads connected, you need to make a small incision which will be like a slot to allow all the wires to run externally. The slot also allows the wires to connect to the other parts of your helmet.
Place the new batteries in the holder. Now, you have to reconstruct your helmet. Place the holder where the original battery was placed. Use glue to seal the plastic cutout and wires or whatever you’ve opened in the process.
Test the Battery
Do I need to repeat the testing methods? I think you already learned how to test the functional state of the battery. Look at the section called “When to Replace” and try the suggested ways. The only difference this time is that you’re trying to know if the new batteries are working instead of figuring out any potential need for a replacement.
If you’ve purchased from respected manufacturers like Miller, Hobart or Lincoln, I would like you to note a few things which are mostly about the lens assemblies. Helmets from these brands require that the lens assemblies be removed before replacing the batteries.
In practice, the way you need to replace a battery doesn’t change much. It is the lens assembly that may vary from brand to brand. Let’s see how the steps can be somehow different.
Additional Read: Best 2×4 Auto Darkening Lens
How to Change the Battery for Helmets from Different Brands?
Miller’s helmets are very popular, and so are those from other manufacturers. Some of the models require the users to remove both the inside and outside lens covers. Go through the steps below.
Locate the bottom retaining arms and push down on them. Push the clips simply toward outside. Lift up the assembly and then pull free of your helmet. Now, work on the lens covers.
- Outside Cover: Push the cover into your helmet and you’ll see a rubber lens gasket. Remove it.
- Inside Cover: Push the lens freely upon the top retaining tabs. Slide the cover out of any side.
Removing the lens assembly from your Hobart or Harbor Freight helmet is pretty much the same. So, I’ll just tell you how to replace the battery (for both brands).
- Start with removing the battery trays. Slide them out to bring the drained batteries out.
- Replace with the recommended lithium batteries. Two batteries will be required.
- Keep the battery’s Positive (+) side faced up, of course toward the inside of your helmet.
- Reinstall the trays.
- Press the “On” button to test. Look at the display screen. It should be turned on.
- Reinstall the helmet’s lens assembly.
Don’t forget to install the right and left battery trays according to their direction because wrong placement of the trays leads to zero battery functionality.
Chicago Electric Welding Helmet Battery Replacement:
Miller Elite Welding Helmet Battery Replacement:
Antra Auto-darkening Welding Helmet Battery Replacement:
How to Change a Battery on the Viking™ 3350 Welding Helmet
Oh, by the way, I should tell you something about Lincoln helmets. All I found out about their models is that few of them use batteries. So, having a Lincoln helmet means you may not have to worry about any replacement.
I guess you’ve learned all I intended from this article except one thing. Auto-darkening helmets that have both solar panels and batteries are by far the best choices around, but those replaceable batteries don’t usually last longer than two years.
Non-replaceable batteries usually last 5 to 7 years without a problem. But replaceable batteries offer you the potential for an overall longer service life of the helmet. So, you should take the steps carefully as you won’t be doing this every now and then.
Got further questions about auto-darkening welding helmets or its parts? Don’t hesitate to ask.