Which Shade Filter For Welding Helmet Lenses

Welding helmet lenses are to protect the welder from eye damage and flash burns. Welding helmet lenses are available in a variety of optical densities that are designed to filter intensity of light produced by the arc. The light properties of the lens depends on the welding type being used, the welder current and material being welded. lenses are available in different colors, the most popular being green, gold or blue.

Auto-darkening welding helmets.

Advanced welding helmet lenses are to be found on auto darkening helmets. the best of these offer variable controls that can be adjusted to suit the shade required. New technology using liquid crystal displays, (LCD) can darken the lens in milliseconds giving the welder utmost protection from the harmful welding rays.

The benefit of this type of helmet is that the welder is able to accurately see the area to be welded before striking an arc, as the lens is clear until the arc is struck. This not only is a more safer approach but also allows greater accuracy and neatness of the weld. This type of helmet is a must for continuous stop start welds used in production work, less stressful on the welder and more productive.

Choosing a Auto-Darkening Helmet.

Look first for comfort. Wearing a helmet all day is no fun if its overly heavy or has poor head mountings. Many new helmets can weigh only  18 to 21 ounces ( 602 grams , even with a full-coverage shell. Some models, with smaller view sizes and more compact shells, are approaching weights as low as 15-13 ounces.Next opt for full cover shells that will safely protect from sparks, grinding and weld splatter, also check that the helmet is capable of unexpected impact.

lens controls

View size, there are several here with the larger being  3.82 x 2.44 inches (97x 62 mm) Most Auto Welding helmet lenses available  have settings that can switch between between the different shade ranges, providing shades  from 6 to 9 or 9 to 13. As a general rule heavy welds will require a higher shade lens as the currents are higher. For lower amperage work with MIG and TIG, you can use a lower shade lens so as the weld puddle remains easily visible.

More expensive welding helmet lenses will  allow the user to control delay and sensitivity, depending on model, these controls can be either internally controlled or externally controlled.

Suggested Lens Shades

Welding operation Metal Thickness Or
Welding current.
Filter Shade Number
Gas Welding (Oxy)
Less than 1/8, 3mm
1/8″ to 1/2″, 3 – 12mm
More than 1/2″ 12mm

4 or 5
5 or 6
6 or 8


Stick Welding
(Shielded Metal Arc)
Less than 5/32″ 4mm
5/32″ to 1/4″ 4 to 6mm
More than 1/4″ 6.4mm
Mig Welding
( Gas metal arc)
Base metal – Non ferrous
Base metal ferrous




TIG Welding
( Gas Tungsten arc )
 All  12

Welding Helmets – Choosing the Best Lens

Obviously welding helmets are a must for any type of welding, however not all welding helmets and lenses are equal. Different welding processes will emit different qualities of light brightness and because of this we require a welding lens to suit the work being welded.

welding helmetsGenerally for a fixed welding mask lenses are available in various shades, the industry standard offers welding lenses in shades from 9 to 13, 9 being the lightest and 13 being the darkest shade. If you were to weld using a mig welder of around 175 Amps for example the weld lens used would be most likely a shade 9 or 10. Should you be doing heavy work using a high powered welder of say 400 amps then a lens of 11 to 13 would be the best choice.

Tig welders also emit brighter arc than a mig and would require a darker lens than you would use on a mig welder. In most cases the choice of welding lens is a matter of personal choice, on one hand you will need good visibility of your weld to see where you are going thus using a lighter lens, but you also need to protect your eyes with the darkest welding lens possible. Having a darker lens will cause less eye stress over a long welding period.

Auto Darkening Welding Helmets and Lenses.

Auto darkening welding helmets are a great innovation and will boost the productivity of any welding job, give the operator better control over the work and reduce the possibility of any arc flash. Auto darkening lenses are available on their own or with a complete welding helmet assembly.

Whenever shopping to find a new welder helmet the superior the quality the better the eye protection will be. A number of the less expensive varieties of auto darkening helmets and lenses possess a reduced darkening response period with the darkening in the lens whenever a welding arc is begun, even though it might seem instantaneous that your lens darkens there are actually micro second delays with certain low cost auto darkening lenses.

Lenses are also available in glass or plastic, glass lenses are the better option as they will not contain any color variations or distortions that may be found in a cheaper plastic lens. An auto darkening welding lens can be found as manually adjustable or automatic in the shade protection level. The best advise here is to buy a reputable brand and the best quality you can afford, you only have one pair of eyes.

Clear Welding Lenses

Always be sure to keep stock of the clear lens that protects the main welding lens, these are cheap and will become opaque, scratched and pitted from general use and weld sparks. This in turn over time will reduce your vision of the welding and may cause inaccurate or faulty welding.

Another innovation for welding helmets and the welding lens is the introduction of magnifying welding lenses. Typically sold in similar strengths as you can expect to buy when buying reading glasses of the shelf. For anyone who needs reading glasses a magnifier lens will be godsend.