Someone might ask: why would I want to buy a passive welding lens when there are so many auto-darkening welding helmets available on the market? That’s an understandable question since the electronics built into auto-darkening helmets will adjust the darkness level according to the light of the weld.
But what happens when an auto-darkening helmet stops working or starts malfunctioning? Worst case scenario, you’ll get flashed and potentially damage your eyes.
That’s where the old-school, passive lenses take over. Passive lenses are reliable and pretty cheap to buy. Plus, it’s always great to have one around in case your ADF (auto-darkening-filtering) breaks or its batteries need charging.
Dependable Protection from Radiation
Regardless of whether you’re an experienced welder, or you’re just starting to learn about welding, keeping your eyesight safe is the top priority. Welding arcs create optical radiation – a mixture of ultraviolet (UV) and infrared (IR) radiation, which can cause severe damage to your eyes.
That being said, it’s obvious how important a good, reliable welding lens is. Welding emits the strongest artificial radiation. Different kinds of welding release different ranges and strengths of optical radiation. Key factors that determine the type and intensity of optical radiation are the amperage, shielding gas, and metals used while welding.
The range of wavelengths produced by welding is very wide, and it spans between 200 and 1400 nanometers. There are three ranges of ultraviolet radiation: UV-A, UV-B, and UV-C.
UV-A (315-400nm) is the least harmful, since it penetrates through the cornea and gets absorbed in the eye lens. Harm caused by UV-C (100-280nm) and UV-C(280-315nm) is impossible to repair, since the cornea absorbs the radiation.
When it comes to IR radiation, the wavelength spreads between 700 and 1400nm. IR can also produce severe harm, but the welder’s eyes won’t get near enough to be influenced by it, since infrared radiation is perceived as heat. We should also note that there’s no evidence of IR damaging the welder’s eyes.
Now that you know the details on why you should do your utmost to protect your eyes, we can move on to our list of the best passive welding lenses.
Best Passive Welding Lens
Overall Best: Save Phace Shade 10 Welding Lens
This passive welding lens is my top pick! It was built as a combination of well-balanced design and top-grade craftsmanship. Save Phace Shade 10 is made of high-quality materials with the help of the newest equipment, so you can be sure that this product guarantees reliability and long-lasting endurance.
The Save Phace will make the welding process easier since it comes with an anti-fog coating. It also provides great eye protection, as it features an anti-scratch surface and UV coating.
With a broad view of 3 x 3 x 5inches, it allows you to see more while welding. The only downside of this product is the shape that reminds me of sunglasses, which makes Shade 10 only usable for a small number of passive welding helmets.
- Will help you complete even the most demanding tasks with ease;
- Champion of convenience and reliability;
- Built from the highest-quality materials;
- Doesn’t fog up.
- Unusual shape, so it won’t fit any standard welding helmet.
Runner-Up: 3M Speedglas Welding Lens 9100, 06-0005-P10
This passive welding lens is dark, and it is one of the best picks both for beginners and professionals. It is a replacement lens, sized 2.8 X 4.2 inches, which means that it can be used with any passive welding helmet that uses this size lens.
This is another supreme-quality product by 3M, made to be durable and last a long time.
- Doesn’t fog up;
- Great for welders with any level of experience.
- None worth mentioning!
Best Plastic Lens: ArcOne 03IP-2 (SSIP-2) Passive Shade 2
Formerly known as SSIP-2, ArcOne 03IP-2 is a plastic passive welding lens. Plastic lenses are lighter than glass ones, but not as scratch-resistant. ArcOne 03IP-2 Passive Shade 2 is among my favorite recommendations for professional welders and all those who want to upgrade their existing welding equipment.
Keep in mind that a shade-2 passive lens must not be used as a stand-alone filter. Rather, you can use it for cutting and brazing, or to upgrade your existing auto-darkening lens.
This passive welding lens is 4 inches wide and 2 inches high, and it can be installed into any passive welding helmet that uses lenses of that size.
- Made of plastic, so it’s lightweight;
- Can be used as an upgrade to an auto-darkening lens.
- Can’t be used on its own for arc welding.
Best Value-for-Money: 3M Speedglas Welding Lens 9100
The passive shade 13 is a lightweight welding lens, designed as a replacement lens only. It is a universal fit that can be used with any helmet compatible with 4.2 x 2.8 inch-sized lenses.
It also comes with 2 EA/Case, which can be a great substitute for a welding helmet. The downside of this passive welding lens is that the package doesn’t include a welding filter adaptor.
- Comes with 2 EA/Case included;
- Large size gives a great view.
- The package doesn’t include a welding filter adapter.
Best For Hobbyists: Save Phace Shade 5 Welding Lense
This product is a great choice for welding hobbyists. Each lens is covered with anti-fog coating, so no fogging will bother you while working. This item is also designed with an anti-scratch surface and UV protection coating, which guarantee longer durability and increased safety.
3 inches long, 3 inches wide, and 5 inches high, Save Phace Shade 5’s design looks like sunglasses, which gives the welder a wider view. On the other hand, that means that most of the standard welding helmets wouldn’t be compatible with this lens.
- Anti-fog coating;
- Anti-scratch surface;
- UV coating.
- Unusual design, unable to fit most welding helmets.
Best Passive Gold Lens: 2 EACH Shade 10 Glass GOLD Lens
I can’t miss this opportunity to mention one of the greatest gold lenses available. In case you haven’t used gold lenses, here the scoop on them: they’re considered to be among the best welding lenses. Why? Because of their capability to block out the bluest, brightest light and make the arc visible to the welder. The more commonly-used green lenses will let you see more of the arc, but at the same time, you will also see the hottest part of the welded metals, which can induce eye fatigue.
This shade 10 gold lens provides the welder with a clear view of the weld pool and decreases any possible retinal fatigue. Its gold-tinted glass filters keep the high-frequency ultraviolet rays, which allows for longer welding sessions without pain.
This product was built from optical quartz fiber, so you can depend on its durability and long-term use. Keep in mind that the 2 EACH is compatible with a wide range of different welding helmets and lens hoods that use lenses sized 2 x 4.25 inches.
The visibility and safety that come with the 2 EACH makes it one of the best. Although the shade is quite dark, it provides a wide field of view, which makes it a great option for any type of welding.
- Blocks out the bluest and brightest light;
- Made of optical quartz fiber so it’s very durable.
- Fogs up sometimes.
With so many different welding helmets available on the market, picking the best passive welding lens for you might be difficult, so here’s a few aspects you should focus on:
Type of Welding
There are a few different types of welding, which create various arcs with different levels of brightness. So, take the time and think about the lens with its utility in mind. Except for the type of welding, the amperage will also play a role in how dark your lens should be.
- MIG welding requires a lens between a shade 10 and shade 13;
- TIG welding bellow 50A requires shade 8, between 50 and 150A the lens shade should be 10, and for amperages between 150 and 500, you will need shade 12 or higher;
- Arc welding requires a lens shade between 7 and 11, depending on the operation.
Welding lens size mostly comes down to the welder’s preference, since some welders prefer larger lenses while others like welding while looking through a narrower viewing area. I think that it’s for the best if you simply try out different types of lenses and see which viewing area suits you best.
In case you already own a welding helmet but are uncertain about its lens size, you should just take out the lens and then measure it. In this article, I covered lenses of various sizes, so remember to make sure that your lens of choice is compatible with your existing welding helmet.
Never underestimate the importance of having optimal comfort. In order to feel comfortable, you’ll need to use a lens that goes easy on your eyes. Oftentimes, the best way is to test out different lenses – you can’t be sure if green tint bugs you or not until you’ve tried. Whether it’s a gold lens or a tinted lens, make sure you choose something you can work with for an extended period of time.
Another thing to keep in mind is that lenses ought to be lightweight. If it’s too heavy, it will quickly cause strain on your neck and nose (depending on the shape).
A welding lens is one of the most essential pieces of equipment for welding. Passive lenses are one of the best ways to upgrade the protection of your eyes from damage caused by UV and IR light and other types of radiation.
Once again, I would like to point out my favorite: the Save Phace Shade 10. This piece is made using the best materials that will provide the welders with great reliability and convenience. This product is a great pick for professionals, as well as for hobbyists.
What Is a Welding Lens?
A welding lens fitted into the opening of a welding helmet that serves as a window. Lenses are meant to protect the eyes from light, sparks, and flying debris. Overall, it’s the most substantial piece of equipment when it comes to eye and face safety. Welding lenses are way more efficient than goggles and other traditional eye-protection tools.
What Are the Types of Welding Lenses?
The two types of welding lenses are passive and auto-darkening. Passive welding lenses are more affordable, and usually more durable and reliable. Auto-darkening welding lenses use electronics to adjust their shade depending on the light arc. Although this feature is great, auto-darkening welding lenses and helmets can malfunction more often than passive ones.
What Is the Minimum Shade for Welding?
Shade 5 is the lowest protection any welder should use during the welding process. Keep in mind that Shade 5 is only sufficient for lower-amp TIG welding.
Can You Weld with a Shade 5 Lens?
Technically yes, but we wouldn’t recommend that you do so. Shade 5 offers weak protection (it’s not much more reliable than sunglasses) that’s not capable of stopping the most harmful ultraviolet radiation from affecting your eyes. Short-term welding with Shade 5 can induce a dazzle and even “arc eye”. Naturally, prolonged exposure to UV radiation can cause serious and irreparable harm. In case you still haven’t heard of “arc eye”, just Google it or talk to a more experienced welder, and prepare yourself to learn something scary.
What Is the Darkest Welding Lens?
The darkest shade of welding lenses is shade 14, the only solar eclipse-watching “tool” recommended by doctors. When it comes to welding, shade 14 is only required during the carbon arc welding.
Is a Welding Arc Brighter Than the Sun?
No, that is simply impossible. When you get really near the arc it might seem extremely bright, but it wouldn’t be able to compete with the brightness of the Sun.
Does Using a Plasma Cutter Require Wearing a Welding Helmet?
Yes. Plasma cutting can also lead to serious damage to the eyes so at least shade 4 (and only for low-amp plasma cutting) is a must. In case you’re cutting thicker metal, that will require higher amperage, and therefore a darker lens shade.
Does Welding Have Consequences On Your Eyes?
This might be the scenario if you don’t follow the recommendations when it comes to eye protection. In case you don’t know what the steps are to securing your eye-sight, go to the top of this article.
Why Are Welding Lenses Green?
If you take a look through the welding lens, you’ll notice a green tint coloring everything you see. As I stated before, the harmful light can either be ultraviolet or infrared. The lens should keep your eyes safe from UV and IR, but it allows the green light to pass through so you could see what you are doing.
How Should I Clean My Welding Lens?
Too much dirt on the welding lens can result in a blurry view. Lenses can be cleaned pretty much the same way as anything else.
With passive lenses, cleaning is simpler and easier. You only need a piece of soft cloth and you’ll be ready to remove the dust from your lens. Make sure you don’t use anything rough, as it can scratch the surface and result in harmful rays passing through, which may, in turn, cause damage to your eyes.
On the other hand, with an auto-darkening lens you need to make sure that the lens, sensors, and solar panel are all clean. Auto-darkening lenses are more complex and sensitive, so even small amounts of dirt in the sensors can cause the lens not to work properly. On the other hand, accumulated dirt in the solar panel might cause the battery to stop charging.