Generally, it is recommended to use welding lens shade number 10 to 13 for MIG welding. These shade numbers can greatly protect your eyes from flash burn in the long run. If you’re not aware, the higher the MIG welding shade number, the darker the lens.
Learn more about selecting the right shade lens for your welding projects below.
When I started my career in welding, I also wondered what shade lenses for MIG welding is best to protect my eyes from long welding hours. Hello! My name is Jaxon J. and I have got to help you select the right MIG welding helmet shade for your welding endeavors.
I, along with my friends, have worked on almost all types of welders MIG or TIG, stick, and almost every multi-process welder out there. So, what shade of lens should you use for MIG welding?
Why You Need MIG Welding Shade Lens?
The primary goal of welding a shade lens is to protect your eyes from getting burnt during welding.
Almost every experienced welder has burned his eyes once at least once in their lifetime career – including me. And trust me, it’s no fun.
Thus, it is important to have the right welding shade lens – along with other welding safety equipment.
Now, getting a MIG welding shade lens is no big deal, but understanding the welding lens shade numbers is important before you make the final purchase decision.
Here are the two key factors you must consider before selecting the ideal welding shade lens to spend more time with your MIG welder:
Before we move on to the shade number of the lens, note that the welding amperage is directly proportional to the shade number. The higher the amperage, the higher shade lens you’ll need – thus, the darker shade. This is because the higher amperage welding operations are stronger than the lower amperage.
Lens Shade Number
As stated above, the best shade lens number for MIG welding range anywhere from 10 to 13. The exact shade number depends on the amperage of the welder.
Generally, lower shade numbers offer more visibility than higher numbers. So, the 13-shade number will be darker than 10 – choose accordingly!
How to Choose the Right Lens Shade?
Here are some simple MIG welding lens shade charts we constructed to help you decide what shade lens for MIG welding you need.
MIG Weld Mild Steel
Following is the shade numbers chart to weld the typical mild steel with your MIG welder:
|Welding Material||Amperage||MIG Welding Lens Shade|
|Mild Steel||80-100 Amps||Lens Shade 10|
|Mild Steel||100-175 Amps||Lens Shade 11|
|Mild Steel||175-300 Amps||Lens Shade 12|
|Mild Steel||300-500 Amps||Lens Shade 13|
MIG Welding Aluminum
Here is the MIG welding aluminum shade numbers chart:
|Welding Material||Amperage||MIG Welding Lens Shade|
|Aluminum||80-100 Amps||Lens Shade 10|
|Aluminum||100-175 Amps||Lens Shade 11|
|Aluminum||175-250Amps||Lens Shade 12|
|Aluminum||250-350 Amps||Lens Shade 13|
MIG Welding with Flux Core
Flux core welding requires you to wear darker lens shades – even when you’re using the welder at a low amperage. The welder burn is a lot brighter in flux core welding. Here is the complete chart to select the right flux core lens shade:
|Welding Type||Amperage||MIG Welding Lens Shade|
|Flux Core||125-175 Amps||Lens Shade 10|
|Flux Core||175-225 Amps||Lens Shade 11|
|Flux Core||225-275 Amps||Lens Shade 12|
|Flux Core||275-350 Amps||Lens Shade 13|
More About MIG Welding Helmet Shades
With a lot of options available in the market, you might be getting confused between choosing simple hard-core welding shades and auto-darkening MIG welding shades.
For starters, note that a shade number between 3-4 has enough visibility for the welder to adjust the MIG welding machine before taking off the helmet. If you don’t want to keep putting your helmet on and off when working, consider purchasing an auto-darkening welding shade.
Learn more about the auto-darkening welding lens and passive welding lens below:
Auto-darkening Welding Lens
As the name suggests, an auto-darkening lens automatically changes the lens as you’re working. When you turn on the welding gun and the flash from the welder reaches the lens, it automatically turns to a darker shade.
This switch between the lighter shade to darker is quite instantaneous and does not flash burn your eyes. The biggest advantage of having an auto dark welding lens shade is that you don’t have to flip up and down the helmet every time you want to adjust the welding material.
Following are some pros and cons of auto dark MIG welding lens shade:
- Auto-darkening welding shades enhance your welding output. You can focus more on the welding than flipping up and down the shade.
- Makes it easy to weld tough welding spots without worrying about the helmet’s darker shade.
- Quality auto-darkening shades have little to no ADF delay. There are hardly any issues with switching between lighter and darker shades.
- Auto-dark helmets are expensive than passive helmets.
- You don’t have many options in getting the exact shade number. For example, you may be limited to a shade number 10, while your welding requires 12 or 13.
Passive Welding Lens
Passive welding lens shades are generally a glass or plastic plate that is coated with a special material to filter out the specified amount of light.
Unlike auto-darkening helmets, passive helmets do not have any sensors attached to them and will always stay dark.
We have used both auto-dark and passive helmets and I must say both have their own set of pros and cons.
I like my auto-dark helmet for quick welding shots – where I don’t have to weld for more than 10-15 seconds. On the other hand, passive helmets are better suited for long welding durations.
Following are some pros and cons of passive welding lens shades:
- Passive helmets are cheaper.
- They’re more comfortable and lightweight.
- Passive helmets offer a single shade, be it lighter or darker, making it easy to see through.
- You can’t make adjustments to passive welding helmets.
Problems You May Encounter When Using MIG Welding Lens Shade
Your hunch to save your eyes from burning does not end after purchasing a quality lens shade. Following are some welding shade issues people come across and how you can prevent burning your eyes:
Put Your Auto-Darkening Lens to a Test
The auto-dark lens shade works with a battery and there is a fair chance that the battery may have died. This happens especially if you have not used the lens for over a week.
If that is the case, the lens may not be able to filter out enough light or even not work at all. Sometimes, when you’re expecting shade number 13, the low battery may just output shade 8. Getting me?
Thus, it is recommended to double-check your auto-darkening MIG welding lens shade before you get to work.
Check Your Helmet and Lens for Cracks
Make sure to check your helmet or lens does not have any cracks. This often happens after you drop the helmet. Even the slightest hairline crack can compromise your welding quality and burn the eyes.
The burning may slow down but you’ll start realizing something is burning your face and eyes without realizing it. Thus, it is best to replace your lens if it has a crack. If you have a faulty helmet, replace the whole unit at once!
Selecting the best MIG welding shade lens can be quite hectic – especially with a lot of options available in the market. Make sure to go through the above-mentioned shade numbers chart, put forth your MIG welder usage, and then select the best choice for yourself.
If you’re a beginner MIG welder or have your MIG welding setup at home, I’d suggest selecting a simple passive lens. For professionals, auto-darkening lenses work better.
In case of further questions, don’t hesitate to leave a comment below. For expert advice, contact us!
Jaxon is an integral part of Welding Rage team. He’s a writer and working closely to the welding industry for years. Jaxon is helping us shortlisting the best MIG welders on the market with his welder friends.
1 thought on “What Shade Lens for MIG Welding? An Expert’s Verdict”
There is no doubt that some welding helmets are expensive especially auto-darkening models, which are costlier than passive models are.