We’ve talked about the best welding helmets, which is going to offer more protection. Welding glasses do not protect the face and are not adequate for welding without additional face protection.
However, welding safety glasses have a role in the workplace, and we’re going to discuss some of the best ones here.
These are designed to reduce welding flash as well as to protect the eyes from flying debris. Professional welders will generally wear the goggles under their masks. Additionally, they are a great choice for cutting metal with a plasma cutter or oxy-acetylene torch.
You can’t put a price on eye protection.
- Clear Welding Goggles
- Shade 3 Welding Glasses
- Shade 5 Welding Glasses
- Shade 10 Welding Glasses
- Shade 12 Welding Glasses
- Shade 14 Welding Glasses
- Auto Darkening Welding Glasses
Best Clear Welding Glasses
Every professional welder should have a pair of either clear goggles or shade #4. These are goggles that you wear all the time, from the moment that you walk onto the shop floor.
The habit of wearing welding goggles guarantees that your eyes are always protected. Even if your coworker makes a mistake and sends a chunk of metal flying, you’ll be wearing your goggles.
The 3M Safety Glasses Protective Eyewear 11872 are what I think are the best safety glasses for welding. The padding helps to provide better side shields for your eyes against dust particles. They also help make the glasses more comfortable.
The shape of the temples helps to relieve pressure, especially on larger heads. This makes them extremely comfortable to wear for long shifts.
However, they sit close to the face, making them suitable for wearing under helmets.
Plus, they have a corded earplug control system for holding the earplugs in place.
These are a high-quality pair of glasses for keeping you well protected, year after year.
Shade 3 Safety Goggles
Shade #3 welding glasses are a little more challenging to find. These are a tad lighter than the #4’s, making this great for wearing all day long. The Pyramex Emerge glasses are the best safety goggles for day-to-day use.
These are tinted lightly enough that they are great for wearing in all environments. Whether you are working in an organic chemistry lab under fluorescent lights or need something for the shooting range, these will fit the bill.
The shape on the earpieces is perfect, making them comfortable for all-day wear. The scratch-resistant, polycarbonate lenses help keep the image crisp even after years of use.
Due to how comfortable these are, the Pyramex Emerge might even be a better choice than the 3M glasses.
Shade 5 Safety Goggles
Shade 5 welding goggles are some of the most popular, so you have a lot of choices. I’m going with Hobart 770726 shade 5. These eye-catching glasses look like any other robust pair of sunglasses, but with added safety features that help it meet ANSI z87.1 standards.
A Shade #5 is still a little light for MIG or TIG welding, but are great for running a plasma cutter or oxy-acetylene torch for cutting or brazing.
The wraparound design does a good job of protecting the sides of the eyes. There is a little flare around the edges to help block out flying metal. The mirrored exterior helps to block out 99.9% of the harmful UV rays.
As extremely dark sunglasses, these are an excellent choice.
Another option is the Miller Electric Shade 5.0. These safety glasses work well for protecting your eyes when cutting metal. It has 99.9% UV protection that protects your eyes from the UV production of both sunlight and modern industrial processes.
Finally, Jackson Safety 3004761 Nemesis is another strong contender for this category. Their lightweight frame design makes these a favorite. However, their sporty lens shape does not make them as well-shielded as the other two that we looked at.
That said, they are ANSI Z87.1 compliant and meet the impact standard to protect your face from flying objects. They also offer better peripheral vision, and you almost forget that you are wearing them. The black frame is striking against the green lens color.
You can’t wear these to drive, as the green lens completely blocks out red stoplights. However, for shop use, these glasses offer some of the greatest comforts.
Shade 10 Safety Glasses Protective Glasses
A lot of welding is done with shade #8 or darker. These shade #10 glasses are a little harder to find but work well for the occasional spot welding work. They are also popular for those short stints where you are working on structure fabrication and can’t get your head in close enough when wearing a helmet.
These glasses with a lens shade of 10 help you work in those close quarters.
If you only do tiny bits of welding, these are a cheap option for eye protection. However, if you are welding for more than 2-3 minutes, you should wear a full hood to protect your face from sunburn from the welding arc.
The green lens gives you a decent color to work with when welding, and the vented side protection helps protect the sides of your eyes while still keeping them cool.
There is a very niche need for Shade #10 welding glasses, but these do a good job.
Best Shade 12 Welding Glasses
Shade 12 glasses have a surprising amount of popularity when solar eclipses happen. Most people buy welding glasses to protect their eyes when looking at the sun.
NASA recommends using shade 12 or darker for looking at the sun, and, even then, to only do so intermittently.
These glasses can do that.
Once again, these are too dark to just wear as sunglasses or for cutting metal. These are great for wearing in those tiny moments where you need to spot weld something, and a helmet won’t fit into tiny spaces.
Shade Level 14 Welding Safety Goggles
As with the shade level 12’s, there is a limited supply of shade #14 glasses on the market. If you don’t mind the retro look, these might be the most versatile welding googles on this list.
These Titus Retro C Cup Goggles is an excellent set of glasses that might be even more comfortable than the #12 lenses reviewed above.
I’ve used #14’s for eclipse viewing before but appreciated the greater clarity of the sun that came with wearing the lighter #12’s. The same goes for welding. If you are doing something that requires a shade number 14, you might want the additional protection of a helmet.
With this kit, you can insert different shades. It comes with #5, #8 and #14 in darkness levels. These goggles cover the eyes completely to keep shards from reaching them. Additionally, the venting works well as an anti-fog mechanism.
You might look weird wearing these all day, but they offer an excellent level of protection.
Best Auto-Darkening Welding Glasses
There are a few different models of these on the market, and they are better suited for a wide array of welding applications.
The nice thing about auto-darkening lenses is that you can see your pieces of metal clearly to get everything lined up. Then, the second you strike an arc, the glasses go dark to shade your eyes.
Miller Electric Adjustable Welding Goggles
The Miller lenses look like a futuristic lens that you would find being used in a space mining colony. When you begin welding, they automatically adjust to shades #5, #7, #9, #11, or #13, thanks to buttons on the side.
As a more lightweight option than a welding helmet, you might appreciate the comfort that comes from wearing these lenses. These will also allow you to get into tight places where a helmet will not fit.
The dual eye-tracking technology helps to track your eyes to provide complete protection from welder’s flash at all times.
You can wear these separately from the face mask, but If you are going to wear these for a long day of welding, you will want to pair them with the Miller protective face mask. Servore Auto Shade Darkening Welding Goggles is an identical auto-darkening glasses and face mask combination that is sold by a competing company.
Hailed as the first, auto-darkening welding goggles, right now, they are getting the heaviest use among early adopters. It is quite possible that we will see more of these on the market as time goes on.
The included RX/ Prescription glass adapter allows you to fit prescription lenses in. Miller sells the frames for these internal lenses on their website.
Lens Material of Safety Glasses
There are a few different types of lens materials that are commonly sold for safety glasses.
- Polycarbonate: Poly-carbonate lenses are sought after as they are quite lightweight. They also provide excellent protection against UV rays. However, they are not quite as clear as some of the other materials an may have a bit of distortion on the edges.
- Trivex: NXT polyurethane is one of the more sought-after brands, but is more expensive. They offer the same, lightweight and protective advantages of polycarbonate, but with better optics.
- Acrylic: Acrylic is cheap and scratch-resistant, but doesn’t offer as much impact protection. It is not as common to find them in safety glasses.