Auto Darkening Vs Passive

Wondering what kind of welding eye protection to get?

Auto Darkening Vs Passive

Welding Safety LensesWhat is the difference between auto darkening and passive welding lenses?

The obvious difference is that auto-darkening welding lenses get dark as soon as you start your torch and turn clearer when the torch isn’t in use, while passive lenses are made of a colored glass and don’t change colors.

There are positives and negatives to both types of eyewear. Auto-darkening lenses are obviously more convenient than standard passive glass welding lenses. While wearing auto darkening lenses, you do not need to take your helmet off to see your work.

Passive welding lenses, on the other hand, are generally more optically clear (giving you better vision while torching) and much cheaper than auto-darkening lenses. Glass welding lenses are easily replaced and discarded because they’re cheap, and you still get better vision with them.

If you’re having trouble deciding between auto darkening vs passive welding lenses, here’s what you should know:

  • Experienced welders should have no problem with passive lenses, but new welders may find that they have bad starts with their welds because they cannot see the electrode / tip of the torch when they’re starting the weld.
  • Auto darkening welding helmets are generally slightly less optically sound compared to some of the German glass passive welding lenses on the market today.
  • Unless you invest in an adjustable shade auto darkening helmet, you are typically stuck with a shade 10 darkness while welding and a shade 3 or 4 darkness when not welding. Passive welding lenses can be swapped out, so you can have as many shades as you need right at your fingertips.
  • Many lead welding companies do not use passive welding helmets because they commonly cause repetitive stress injuries. These come from the motion of snapping the helmet down, which requires a flick or nod of the head.
  • Passive welding lenses have withstood the test of time and are still widely used in all welding and manufacturing industries.
  • Passive welding lenses are cheap and easy to replace, whereas auto darkening helmets are expensive to replace if damaged.

If you are a welder and debating the decision of auto darkening vs passive welding lenses, you’re not alone. Countless people research this topic online every day.

Shop Welding Lenses

Hopefully this guide helps you decide which welding lens type to purchase for the type of welding you do. It is always important to consider safety, working environment, and cost factors when deciding between auto darkening vs passive welding lenses.

If you have any questions about welding helmets, welding lenses, or what type of helmet is right for you, please don’t hesitate to give us a call or leave a comment below. As always, thanks for reading, and stay safe!

9 Responses to Auto Darkening Vs Passive
  1. eric
    January 7, 2016 | 11:43 pm

    You mean an outermost layer of plastic, then glass, then plastic on other side. Correct?

  2. eric
    January 7, 2016 | 11:42 pm

    You mean there should be an outermost layer of plastic, then glass then plastic, correct?

    • Bill Brown
      January 8, 2016 | 2:38 pm

      Regarding the stacking of the lesnses. Most people start with a cover lens then a welding shade. We recommend a gold mirrored glass lens. Then the drop in filter and then another cover lens. This can be a little tight in a pipeliner or other sinmilar helmet. Anyone who has seen the results will definetly figure out how to stack the lenses because the results are fantastic. The arc is erased so you can see the stick, the puddle and your work the most clearly.The Magenta Drop In is made of acrylic, so it has the same optical properties of a glass lens. So if you use glass covers, a gold mirrored glass shade and magenta drop in , it is as if you are looking through glass exclusively. This will absoluetly give you the clearest view you have ever seen.If you want more information, or a special package price on a setup, feel free to call nme directly at 732) 722-1640- Bill Brown

  3. Ben
    April 22, 2015 | 8:30 am

    The auto darkening is very convenient. However, some people still prefer the older style, I was no exception. :)

  4. William Livingston
    April 8, 2015 | 1:21 am

    I am a senior in high school and plan to take welding in the fall.I will be doing all types of welding and srltarting out what is the best welding helmet, jacket, and gloves.
    Thank you very much,
    William Livingston

  5. Rowdy Payton
    August 16, 2014 | 11:54 am

    I recently purchased blue and magenta drop-ins and an alloweld lens. I use a Fibre-Metal Pipeliner and really have a hard time stacking any combination of the lenses without scratching them or leaving the inner most lens exposed. Can you suggest a helmet that works well with that many lenses stacked? Small and large sizes please. I plan on getting some of the 4 1/2″ x 5 1/4″ drop-ins and maybe even an alloweld in the near future. Thank you

    • Bill Brown
      August 25, 2014 | 3:53 am

      One quick observation. The best stack is a clear cover, Gold Mirror, Drop in filter then another clear cover. If you are using a Magenta AND a blue, it is definitely overkill and might be causing the tight fit.Each drop in filter has specific properties best suited to the welding that you are doing. If you are using just one of the drop ins, it should probably work OK. Either way I will contact my welding contact at Air gas, and a few of the other customers using the stacked combos to see how they have dealt with the setup, and see what brand they are using.Shoot me an email so I can respond to you directly.
      Bill Brown
      Technical Specialist

  6. Seth Flaum
    April 25, 2014 | 10:07 pm

    i called the number below with a question regarding the lenses i just purchased from Phillips is the outermost lense on my welding helmet supposed to be clear glass or polycarbonite plastic?

    i received a number not in service recording from your phone number

    • Kieran Hunt
      April 29, 2014 | 12:52 pm

      Hi Seth,

      I’m sorry, I’m not sure how we have a bad number listed! We’ve had some changes in our phone system, so I’m assuming this number never got transferred to the new system. I’ll be sure to make sure that gets changed.

      The outermost lens should be glass.

      If you have any other questions, you can ask here or call 888-440-9797.

      Kieran Hunt
      Phillips Safety Products, Inc.

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