How Dark are Welding Goggles?

As a welder, you will be facing sparks, high heat, high temperatures, debris, and harmful radiations regularly. Therefore, you must protect yourself at all costs before something drastic occurs.

This is where protective gear comes to play, and welding goggles are a great alternative to welding helmets because they are not as bulky, making them a much lighter and more convenient option for welders across the globe.

Even if they do not cover the entire face, they provide your eyes with a great deal of protection when welding. 

However, do you know that wearing the wrong kind of welding goggles will also be harmful to your eyes?

Welding goggles come in various shades that range from the number 2 to 14. Each of these shades represents the darkness of the lens, which is meant for all sorts of welding processes that exist. Shade number 14 is the darkest lenses of goggles that do not let more than 1% of light and radiation pass through.

How Dark are Welding Goggles

You need to read on further to learn more about welding goggles and the different shades that exist to make them more appropriate for the various welding processes.

Different shades of welding goggles 

There are different shades or shade ratings of welding goggles that cater to different types of welding processes.

The same shade is not appropriate for every welding process that there is, because some processes generate more severe light that requires the shade to be very dark to be able to shield your eyes adequately. Similarly, some processes do not need you to wear very dark shaded goggles.

I have explained each of these shade numbers by connecting them to the correct welding process, for you to have a better understanding of how welding goggles work.

The shade numbers range from 2 to 14, where 2 is the lightest shade of lens and 14 is the darkest shade of lens. 

♦ Shielded metal arc welding requires shade 7 to 14.

♦ Flux core arc welding requires shade 7 to 14.

♦ Gas tungsten arc welding requires shade 8 to 14.

♦ Heavy air carbon arc cutting requires shade 11 to 14.

♦ Light air carbon arc cutting requires shade 10 to 12.

Plasma arc cutting requires shade 10 to 14.

♦ Plasma arc welding requires shade 6 to 14.

♦ Light plasma arc cutting requires shade 8 to 9.

♦ Gas welding requires shade 4 to 8.

♦ Oxygen cutting requires shade 5 to 6.

♦ Torch brazing requires shade 3 to 4.

♦ Torch soldering requires shade 2 to 3.

These are all OSHA and ANSI recommended and approved.

Importance of welding goggles

Every individual understands that welding is a hazardous job, therefore, it is mandatory to wear protective gear when welding.

Avoiding such gear is not an option as you can seriously hurt yourself when exposed to all the radiation that is produced from welding metal and the like.

1.) If you look directly into the light produced during the welding processes without wearing welding goggles, you can get blind or damage your eyes in other forms.

2.) Wearing welding goggles helps avoid harmful UV and infrared rays that will harm your eyes extensively. You don’t need to get affected immediately by these rays, there is a chance of facing issues even several years after the incident of being exposed to these harmful rays.

3.) Welding goggles can block debris and sparks from flying into your eyes while welding.

4.) There is an eye disease called arc eye, the scientific name of which is photokeratitis. Needless to say, it causes a lot of pain in the eyes but can be treated. However, if you happen to suffer from this due to not wearing welding goggles, it means missing out on a few days of work.

5.) Cataract is another eye condition that people suffer from by not being cautious when doing dangerous jobs like welding. Even it can be cured, the experience is very uncomfortable, painful, and expensive.  

6.) A bonus point of wearing welding goggles is that they are very convenient when compared to other protective eye or face gear.

A complete guide on buying welding goggles

You must know the right features of a good pair of welding goggles that will protect you while you are welding. So, I have compiled a list of the features in this section of the article.

1.) Shade number

Depending on the kind of welding work you have in hand, you need to choose welding goggles that have the correct shade rating to protect your eyes adequately from harmful welding radiation.

As mentioned previously shade rating ranges from 2 to 14, of which the higher the rating the more protection the goggles provide.

 Here are a few examples of different kinds of welding processes and the kind of shades you will need for each of them.

      • Torch soldering: shade 2
      • Torch brazing: shade 3-4
      • Gas welding: shade 4-8
      • Gas metal welding: shade 7-14
      • Shielded metal welding: shade 7-14
      • Plasma arc welding: shade 6-14
      • Carbon arc welding: shade 14

So, if you do not have to do intense welding processes then a lower shade rating will suffice, whereas, if you need TIG or MIG welding, you know now that a higher shade rating for your goggles will be required. Choose wisely!

2.) Lens and frame material

The lens and frame of your welding goggles will have to be made from highly durable and high-end materials so that it lasts you for a long time to come.

Even if they may cost you slightly more, do not compromise on the quality of the goggles. Doing so will only cost you more in the long run as you will need to replace them more frequently.

The overall material should be thermoplastic and for the lens, it should be polycarbonate, both of which are considered to be the best for good quality goggles.

The lens should be break and scratch-resistant. It is very important that your goggles can withstand impact and are clear for you to be able to see properly.

Also, the materials used should be resistant to heat as you will be working with high temperatures at all times. Glass and nylon are other cheaper alternative materials used for welding goggles but are not the most reliable.

See also: Best Way to Clean Welding Helmet Lens

3.) Ventilation

You will likely be sweating when welding because of working with extremely high temperatures or high heat.

This means there is the possibility of your goggles fogging up due to all the moisture and heat generated from your body. Fog will compromise your vision and make you uncomfortable.

Therefore, it is wise to look for goggles with anti-fogging and good ventilation features. Apart from keeping your goggles from fogging up, it will also help in keeping you cooler comparatively.

4.) Weight of the goggles

Wearing your welding goggles throughout the day might be necessary if you are a professional welder.

Therefore, go for goggles that are lightweight but not the lightest pair there is because that would mean compromising on the quality of the goggles.

Keep in mind that the heavier the goggles, the more the features and better the quality. The extremely light ones may be made from cheap materials. All in all, you need to be comfortable while wearing them and not feel weighed down when working.

5.) Fit and size

Try on several welding goggles before finalizing on a single pair to make sure you have the right size and it fits you well.

It can be very frustrating when your protective gear doesn’t fit you well and becomes a burden more than providing you with protection from work hazards.

The goggles must come with an adjustable headband to help you adjust the fit according to your comfort level.

6.) Style and design

The style and design of the welding goggles are something to consider based on the kind of protection you are looking for and of course your comfort.

There are various kinds of goggles, such as the ones that come with separate eyecups; then there is one big section for both eyes mask style goggles, and there are the safety glasses.

They are all good when it comes to protecting your eyes, but the goggles with separate eyecups are the best ones as it covers your eyes from all sides without leaving much room for anything to enter.

7.) Auto-darkening

The auto-darkening feature is an extremely useful one to look for in welding goggles. As the name suggests this feature allows the goggles to automatically detect and sense the light level when welding, and the shade changes accordingly to be appropriate for the kind of work you are doing.

Such goggles are on the higher side when it comes to the price but are worth it, especially when you are looking for maximum convenience. They do use batteries or solar power or in some cases both to keep themselves charged.

8.) Comfort

Comfort is one feature that I have stressed throughout this section of the article. You must be the most comfortable when working to have a successful welding project.

Working in discomfort can lead to your productivity being hampered, which is not what you want. It helps if your goggles have rubber-tipped nose bridges as it does not feel like the goggles are digging into your skin.

Similarly, there are other such properties to look for when focusing on the comfort factor.

9.) Price

Of course, you need to invest in a good pair of welding goggles because your safety is more important. But if you are on a budget you do not need to worry as several brands and manufacturers have made goggles very pocket-friendly without compromising on the quality.

Wrapping up

As long as you are aware of the kind of welding work you have in hand and deal with more frequently, there should not be any confusion and problem to pick the right welding goggles for yourself. The great news is there is an end number of choices available for you online and in stores.

Steve Goodman
Experienced welder with 7+ years of expertise in all the latest welding techniques MIG, flux and stick welding, drill press, crane operation and metal fabrication. Welding certificate course graduate and 2018 Excellence in Welding award winner.

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