Best Gold Welding Lens

If you’ve never used a gold lens, you should know that it’s the lens that blocks out the bluest, most visible light that’s usually so bright that it’s inconvenient. That blue light is present in the arc itself, so because it’s blocked out by the lens, you’ll be able to see through the arc, and see the puddle more clearly.

Green lenses, which are the most commonly used ones, let you see a bit more of the arc, but you can also see the very front, the hottest part of the puddle, which can cause eye fatigue.

The best way to decide which type of lens is the right one for you is to try out each one. If you’re doing different types of welding, you should be aware that they each produce a different arc, so you should have a different lens for each welding process.

Radiation

Welding arcs produce optical radiation, which is a combination of UV and IR (ultraviolet and infrared) radiation, and they can seriously damage your eyes. That’s why a good welding lens is a necessity and a gold lens is the type of lens that deflects light the most.

Welding is a process that produces the most intense artificial optical radiation, and different types of welding emit a different spectrum and intensity of optical radiation. The different amperage, shielding gas, and metals that are used all contribute to the type and intensity of the radiation.

The spectrum of wavelengths from welding is very broad, ranging from 200 nanometers to 1,400 nanometers. The UV radiation is divided into three ranges: UV-A, UV-B, and UV-C. While UV-A (315-400nm) passes through the cornea and is absorbed in the lens of the eye, it’s the least harmful one.

UV-C (100-280nm) and UV-B (280-315nm) get absorbed in the cornea and can cause “arc eye” and irreversible damage. If you don’t know what “arc eye” is, I very vividly described the agony of it in this article, which you can refer to if you are interested in finding the right auto-darkening welding helmet for you. In short, I woke up in the middle of the night from the excruciating pain in my eyes, and I couldn’t open them. So I had to find my way to the bathroom, thinking the cold water would help. It didn’t. This lasted for about two hours.

In the welding process, IR radiation wavelength ranges from 700 to 1,400nm, so although that is a lot, and could potentially cause serious damage, your eyes would never be close enough to be affected by it. High infrared radiation is sensed as heat, so moving away from it is a natural reflex meant to protect you from it.

As you don’t need to get too close to the arc when you weld, all lenses provide a good enough barrier to protect your eyes from IR radiation. There is hardly any evidence to suggest that welders have suffered eye damage from IR.

If you want to learn more about the optical radiation produced by welding, check out this article where we dive deeper into the subject.

Shade Range

You can find gold lenses in the range between shade 8 and shade 14. The lower shades are generally used for lower amperage TIG welding, while the darker lenses are necessary for higher-amp welding like stick and argon MIG welding. Shade 14 is the darkest lens you can find, but the only welding process that requires a shade that dark is carbon arc welding. Another reason to wear shade 14 would be staring at the sun, i.e. watching a solar eclipse.

It really depends on your welding applications which shade is right for you, but it’s also up to your personal needs. Some people have more sensitive eyes than others, so they prefer darker shades. While shade 11 is dark enough for most people when arc welding, others could find the arc too bright and require lenses with a darker shade.

I will now go through my picks for the best gold welding lenses you can find on the market

Best Overall: Harris, 1 Glass Gold Lens Shade 12 + 10 Clear Hood Lens Cover

Made from tempered glass, this 2” x 4.25” gold lens is a great bargain. Not only is the lens itself very inexpensive, but you also receive 10 clear cover lenses which will protect the thin gold film of the main lens.

The gold-coated lens fits all welding helmets that use its size. Although this particular filter lens is a shade 12, you can also find the same model in shades 9, 10, and 11, and they all come with the additional 10 cover lenses.

Pros:

  • Tempered glass is tough;
  • You also receive 10 extra cover lenses;
  • Fits all helmets that use this lens size.

Cons:

  • A bit heavy.

Best Value-for-Money: TW Supply, 2 pieces Shade 10 Glass Gold 2″ x 4.25″

Now, this is a great deal. For around $10, you get two gold-coated lenses made from hardened glass. This lens will fit any helmet that uses 2” x 4” or 2” x 4.25” welding lenses.

The link above is for a shade 10 lens, but the same model is available in shades 9, 11, and 12.

The only issue with this product is that the lenses are packaged in a plastic bag only, so they might end up breaking during transport.

Pros:

  • Hardened glass is tough;
  • Fits all helmets that use this size;
  • Great value for the money.

Cons:

  • Items might get damaged during transport.

Upgrade: Best Welds, Hardened Glass Gold Filter, Shade 10

Made from hardened glass, this gold welding lens is very tough and durable. However, it’s a bit on the heavy side.

This is a 10-shade welding lens, but you can usually find the same model in shades 9 – 12. The size of this lens is 4.5 x 5.25 inches, and it will fit any helmet that uses that size.

The issue with this product is again the packaging, because it’s just packed in a plastic bag, so there’s a possibility that you’ll receive a scratched lens.

Pros:

  • The hardened glass is durable;
  • Fits all helmets that use this size;
  • Great value for the money.

Cons:

  • Items may get damaged during transport.

Best Glass Lens: US Forge, 99078 Shade 10

This gold-coated welding lens by US Forge is made from hardened glass, so it’s very durable. It’s 4.5” x 5.25” and can be used on all welding helmets that require welding lenses of this size. Although this particular item is shade 10, you can usually find the same model in shade 9 and shade 11.

Some users have complained about the cheapness of the packaging. The lens doesn’t come with protective film, so the bubble wrap sometimes leaves stains that cannot be removed because of the thin gold coating.

Pros:

  • Hardened glass is tough;
  • Fits all helmets that use this size welding lens.

Cons:

  • A bit heavy;
  • Damaged items have been reported.

Runner-Up: House, GLASS GOLD 2″ x 4.25″ (Shade 12 GOLD)

This is a standard 2 x 4.25-inch lens, so it fits a wide variety of welding helmets. It’s made from tempered glass which is very tough but a bit heavy.

This particular lens is a shade 12, so it’s suitable for high amperage welding. If you need a different shade number, you can find the same model in shades 8-13.

The price of this gold welding lens is quite affordable, and the product works great. However, some welders have received damaged lenses, and in such a case you should contact the seller to get a refund or a new lens.

Pros:

  • Fits all helmets that use this welding lens size;
  • Very affordable.

Cons:

  • A bit heavy;
  • Damaged items have been reported.

Best Plastic Lens: Radnor, 4 1/2″ X 5 1/4″ Shade 11

A pack of four polycarbonate gold lenses for around $20 is a great bargain. The lenses work great and they weigh next to nothing.

They fit any helmet that uses 4.5 x 4.25-inch welding lenses, and you can pick any shade from 9 to 12. The only issue is that there are no shades darker than that, so if you have sensitive eyes you wouldn’t be able to do high-amperage welding.

Pros:

  • The polycarbonate is light yet tough;
  • Fits all helmets that use this size;
  • Great value for money.

Cons:

  • Darkest shade is 12.

Runner-Up: Sellstrom, Gold Coated Polycarbonate, 4.5″ x 5.25″, Shade 12

A polycarbonate welding lens is a choice for many welders because it’s much lighter than glass but very tough. It weighs around 0.3 ounces.

This model fits all helmets that use 4.5 x 5.25-inch lenses. This particular lens is a shade 12, but you can usually get the same model in shades 9 – 13.

On the downside, some users have reported receiving damaged lenses with a scratched gold coating, which really makes the lens unusable.

Pros:

  • The polycarbonate is light yet durable;
  • Fits all helmets that use this size.

Cons:

  • Faulty items have been reported.

Most Lightweight: Gateway Safety, 24G11

This gold-coated welding lens is made from polycarbonate which makes it very light but tough.

You can choose between shades 8 – 11 and two different sizes, 4.25” x 2” and 4.5” x 5.25”. The only issue with this welding lens is that you can’t use it for high-amp welding because there are no shades 12 and 13.

Pros:

  • The polycarbonate is light yet tough.

Cons:

  • No shades above 11 are available.

Best for Professionals: Forney, 57070 Shade-9

This gold welding lens by Forney is made from tempered glass so it’s a bit heavier than a plastic lens.

Forney claims that it provides 99.9% protection from IR and UV light, which is more than most lenses can provide. This particular product is a shade 9, but you can usually find the same-sized gold lenses in shade 8 to shade 13.

This model fits Forney’s 55647, 55669, 55672, 55673, 55684, and 55686 welding helmets.

Pros:

  • Tempered glass is tough;
  • 99.9% UV and IR eye protection.

Cons:

  • A bit heavy.

Highest Quality: Phillips, Gold Coated Green Welding Filter, 2″ x 4.25″

Phillips is a high-end brand, and this gold-coated welding lens is a high-quality product. It’s made from top-quality German Schott glass that’s very durable.

The standard 2” x 4.35” lens will fit all helmets that use this size. Although it’s a bit heavier than plastic lenses, this lens can take some serious damage before breaking. You can choose between shades 9 to 14.

Although it’s not the cheapest gold welding lens you can find, receiving damaged items is still a possibility.

Pros:

  • Top-quality glass;
  • Fits all helmets that use this welding lens size.

Cons:

  • A bit heavy;
  • A bit pricey;
  • Damaged items have been reported.

Upgrade: Hobart 770406

Hobart’s gold lens is made from tempered glass which is very tough but a bit heavy. This particular model is 2”x4” and will fit any helmet that uses lenses of that size. Keep in mind that the gold coating is very thin, so it can get scratched very easily, making the lens practically unusable.

This particular lens is a shade 10, but you can usually find shade 9 and shade 11.

Pros:

  • Tempered glass is tough;
  • Fits all helmets that use this size.

Cons:

  • A bit heavy.

Best Gold Welding Lens: Buyer’s Guide

There are a few things you should consider before buying a gold welding lens…

Type of welding

As I mentioned at the beginning of this article, different types of welding produce different arcs with different levels of brightness. You shouldn’t buy a welding lens before you decide what type of welding you need it for.

Stick welding requires darker shades, while the other types of welding work with a wider range of amperage, and therefore the shade you need for each type can vary.

Shade number

Golden lenses can be anywhere between shade 9 and shade 14, so once you know what type of welding you will be doing, you can choose one that’s right for you.

Lens size

While I like a large viewing area, other welders prefer old-school, narrow lenses. This is really a matter of personal preference, and you have to try both types before deciding which one suits you best.

If you already have a welding helmet but you don’t know the size of the lens, you can take it out and measure it so you’ll know what to replace it with. This list features differently sized lenses, so make sure your choice matches your existing helmet. 

Lens cover

Because the golden coating on lenses is very thin, it can get scratched easily, and that will make the whole lens unusable. If the helmet you’re using can fit a cover lens, then you should definitely use one.

Conclusion

The Harris gold lens is my top pick for a few reasons, it’s made from hardened glass which is quite durable, the clarity is great, and the price is incredible. Plus, you receive 10 extra cover lenses.

If you’re looking for something a bit more “high-end” then the US Forge 99078 is a great option, and the price is very affordable. Forney's 57070 is another great choice in the same price range. The Phillips Safety Products' gold lens costs a few dollars more, but it’s a really high-quality welding lens.

If you prefer a plastic lens, Radnor offers a pack of four, high-quality polycarbonate welding lenses for about $20. Sellstrom's S18712 is another great polycarbonate gold-coated lens, but it’s a bit more expensive.

FAQ

What is the darkest welding lens?

Shade 14 is the darkest shade when it comes to welding lenses. It’s the only shade that is recommended for watching a solar eclipse and the only welding application that needs a shade that dark is carbon arc welding.

Can you weld with shade 5 glasses?

You could, but it’s not a good idea. Shade 5 is not much darker than a pair of dark sunglasses, so it will not protect your eyes from the brightest, most dangerous UV radiation. This could cause a dazzle and maybe even “arc eye”, but long-term exposure could lead to permanent damage. If you don’t know what “arc eye” is, ask any welder and you’ll hear a great, scary story.

What is the minimum shade for welding?

Very low-amp TIG welding requires at least a shade 5. No shade lower than this should be used for any welding process.

Do you need to wear a welding helmet when using a plasma cutter?

At least a shade 4 lens is necessary for eye protection when using a plasma cutter. If you need to cut thicker metal, you need to use a higher amperage, and in that case, a darker shade is required.

Is a welding arc brighter than the sun?

No, it’s not. It may seem that way because of how close you are to the arc, but it’s not nearly as bright as the sun. Refer to this article for more information on the subject.

Does welding ruin your eyes?

It could if you don’t take the recommended precautions. For optimal eye protection, scroll up and pick one of the welding lenses on the list.

About Pierre Young

Photo of author
Hey, I'm Pierre Young a qualified AWS Certified Welder. I got into welding in 2009 as a side hustle. Ever since then, I've been doing all kinds of welds - both for business and pleasure. While immersing myself in this wonderful hobby, I've learned from hands-on experience what welding gear works and what doesn't. Welding Headquarters is the site where I share everything I've learned.

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