Whether you’re interested in soldering your own circuits, or simply doing some minor electronic repair, at some point, you’ll need to buy a soldering iron. Soldering is a very important part of repairing electronics, and if you intend on doing it, then you’ll want to get the best iron. However, that doesn’t always mean the most expensive model or the one with the most features. It’s usually the ones which serve your needs the best.
Sorting through the hundreds of different soldering pencils and irons can be a real pain though. At first, when you begin to sort through the results, you just see pages and pages of similar looking products. However, if you do a little bit of research, then you can actually come up with a pretty short list of really good irons. Which is what we did when we’ve selected some irons we really liked and why we’ve assembled what we feel is a list of the top ten best models currently available.
10. Aoyue 469 60-Watt Variable Power Iron
This basic soldering station is designed to give the user just what they need to get a simple job done. It features a 60-watt iron, an iron stand that has a solder spool holder and a sponge. The iron is ESD safe and has a ceramic heating element that’s designed to last for years, and provides a variable temperature range of up to 480-degrees Celsius. It has a dial with 8-different temperature settings, and the whole set comes with an instruction manual. And since there’s a wide variety of different tips that can be purchased separately for this station’s iron, the user should have no problems replacing tips when they’re used up.
9. Sealody Digital Soldering Station
Manufactured to be very useful to both professionals and amateurs alike, this soldering station has many of the common features that users want when they’re considering a tool for their soldering. It comes with a 55-watt iron that heats up in only a few minutes. This unit has the SSA51 power station which has a conveniently located on/off switch, allows the temperature to be set from 180 to 450-degrees Celsius and has an easy-to-read LED display. This set also comes with an aluminum soldering stand, a cleaning sponge, a user’s manual, a 900m series tip and brass tip cleaning wire.
8. Tabiger 15-in-1 Soldering Kit
This 15-in-1 soldering kit comes with many of the accessories a person might need for soldering work. It comes with a 110-volt 60-watt soldering iron that has an adjustable control that allows it to be adjusted from 200 to 450-degrees Celsius. That isn’t the only thing this kit comes with, however. It also features a desoldering pump, solder wire, a soldering stand with a sponge, wire strippers, 22awg electronic wire, 5 iron tips and soldering tweezers. All in a PU carrying bag that is easy to take from place to place. This makes this kit suitable for everyone from hobbyists to professionals.
7. OMorc 60-Watt Iron Kit
This 11-in-1 soldering kit has many common items necessary to take soldering work to a new level. It comes with a 60-watt iron that has an on/off switch, a steel-pipe design with ventilation holes that offer better heat dissipation than comparable brands and has 5-interchangeable tips. This iron has an anti-slip handle that’s insulated against the heat. This kit also comes with a stand with a spring coil holder that keeps the iron safely in place until it’s needed again. This kit also comes with a cleaning sponge, solder sucker, solder wire, anti-static tweezers, and a carry case to carry everything needed for most soldering jobs.
6. Anbes 60-Watt Soldering Kit
This kit not only has a 60-watt soldering iron with a temperature range between 200 and 450-degrees Celsius, but it also has a number of other items which make the act of soldering much easier. Some of these things include 5 different soldering tips, a soldering stand, tweezers, wire cutters, 22awg electronic wire, a desoldering pump, a 900m series tip, a tine wire tube and a PU carrying case to store everything. This makes this kit ideal to not only the home hobbyist but also to professionals who need a quality soldering kit to get their work done.
5. Weller 40-Watt Soldering Station
With a variable control dial that adjusts power from 5-watts all the way up to 40-watts, an ST3 iron-plated copper tip and an iron that can produce temperatures up to 900-degree Fahrenheit, this soldering station is designed to take care of just about any soldering task. Its high-quality soldering pencil has a cushioned grip that allows it to be easily held during soldering projects. This UL-listed kit has easy-to-adjust controls, a conveniently located on/off switch and an iron stand that gives the user a place to set their hot iron when they’re not working with it.
4. 2-In-1 SMD Rework Station
Although it’s a little more expensive than other soldering stations, and kind of looks like it just came out of a spy movie, this rework station is designed to provide the user with the tools they need to handle sensitive electronic components. It has a 60-watt soldering iron that can heat up from 100 to 500-degrees Celsius and comes with 6-tips, 3 nozzles, and an IC pick. This unit also has connected hot air for shrink wrapping components and other applications and has a large LED display that displays both the temperature of the iron and the hot air gun. And the final feature that needs mentioning is its ESD design which helps protect sensitive components.
3. Weller WES51 Analog Soldering Station
This soldering station comes with a power unit, soldering pencil, stand and sponge. It also comes with two alligator clips on a 4-way swivel that serves as helping hands for holding projects in place. Another thing that comes with this unit is a magnifying glass with a 4x magnification level that allows the user to do very detailed work. Soldering temperature is easily adjustable from 350 to 850-degrees Fahrenheit by turning the nine to one of 9 different settings. This unit also has an auto-off feature which just down the power if it doesn’t detect it’s been used in the past 90-minutes.
2. X-Tronic 3020-XTS Iron Station
Amateurs and experts alike will benefit from the use of this soldering iron station. It features a 75-watt iron with an ergonomic grip that produces temperatures between 200-degrees and 480-degrees Celsius. This product also comes with a stainless-steel iron holder, a solder roll holder, and brass sponge tip cleaner. It has a 10-minute sleep timer that will shut off the unit after 10-minutes and is equipped with temperature compensation technology that monitors the temperature of the tip every 20-milliseconds and makes adjustments to ensure that a constant temperature is maintained throughout the soldering job. It also has an easy-to-read display that tells the user what temperature the unit is operating.
1. Hakko Digital Soldering Station
This digital soldering station comes with an iron that has a temperature range of 50-degree to 480-degrees Celsius, which is about 120-degrees to 899-degree Fahrenheit. That’s enough heat to handle just about any soldering project it’s used for. This product has an adjustable temperature control and comes with 5-extra tips. Some of the tips which come with this set include the T18, D08, D12, D24, D32 and an S3 tip. This product heats up quickly, maintains a constant temperature and is easy-to-use. It also comes with a stand that keeps the soldering gun safe when not in use and comes with slots to hold a sponge and cleaning wire.
A Guide To Buying Soldering Irons
A common problem people face when they decide they want to try soldering for the first time is that they feel a little bit intimidated by the whole process. Soldering is seen by these people as an activity to be done by computer technicians or electronic enthusiasts. However, that’s not the case at all. Anyone can learn how to solder in only a few minutes, and true proficiency can be realized in under an hour.
Another thing that often prevents people from soldering is they don’t know what to look for in a soldering iron, especially nowadays. In the past, there were fewer models of irons, so it was easier to choose one. Nowadays, there are dozens of different models so it can seem daunting to try to choose one. And that’s why we not only listed the models we feel are the best ones but also have included the following guide on buying a soldering iron.
The following guide is designed for people who are new to soldering. Its intent is to give beginners some basic guidelines to choose a good iron. In this guide, we’ll cover some of the basic soldering products, size, wattage, voltage and other factors that go into buying a soldering iron. So let’s get started right away and look at some of the more common features found in today’s soldering guns.
Different Types of Soldering Irons
When it comes to soldering irons, there are three basic types, let’s take a look at them below.
- Basic Irons – The most common type is the basic air-cooled soldering iron. This product doesn’t offer the user any type of temperature control. Instead, the temperature of the iron is cooled by air and by interaction with the applications the iron is used. These irons are usually very inexpensive and are good for basic soldering jobs that aren’t affected by thermal variations.
- Temperature-Controlled – Temperature controlled irons have a thermostat built into them that allows the user to control the temperature of the iron tip at all time. While these irons have controls to adjust the temperature, not all of them provide an indicator of the tip’s actual temperature.
- Soldering Workstation – A soldering workstation comes with a lot of the items that a person needs to do solder work. These sets usually include a temperature controlled iron, a stand to hold the iron, and other items that help a person do soldering work.
Common Soldering Iron Features
- Size & Wattage – Size and wattage are two features which usually go hand in hand. The larger irons tend to have more wattage, but that’s not always the case. Generally speaking, a person will want to buy an iron that’s not too big to handle detailed work but is big enough to have enough power to do what they need to do. A 40-watt iron is generally big enough for non-temperature controlled solder pencils, but if heavy soldering is required, then irons with more wattage are going to be needed. If you’re working with printed circuit boards, then you’ll probably want to get an iron that’s around 25-watts.
- Voltage – Unless a person is doing very specialized applications that require low voltage irons, then they are probably not going to have to worry about voltage. It just has to be the correct voltage for the country they reside in; For instance, 115-volts for irons in the U.S. and 230-volts in the U.K.
- Temperature Controls – Soldering irons either have temperature controls, or they do not. Basic models don’t have a built-in temperature control, so the user has to rely on air and their application work to control heat levels. And this can make these irons difficult for beginners to use. Models with thermostats allow the user to control the temperature more accurately, and completely than basic models. This is not only better for beginners, but also allows the advanced user to handle a wider variety of different applications.
- Soldering Bits – Bits come with most of the irons sold today. This is a necessity because while the rest of the iron may last for years and years, the bits tend to have to be changed on a regular basis. Which is why it’s important that people choose an iron that has bits which can be easily sourced. Many of the high-end stations even come with several bits which can be used for different applications.
- Iron Stand – A stand is an important accessory to have during any soldering project. It allows the user to have someplace safe where the soldering iron can be stored when it’s not immediately being used. Stands are necessary since iron temperatures can exceed 300-degrees Celsius.
- A Sponge – A sponge allows the user to remove excess solder from their tips. Which is why more and more soldering stations come with sponges. Some people find it useful to buy a station with a sponge, and others prefer to use their own sponge. Decide for yourself if you want to use your own or need to buy a station that has one.
- Helping Hands – Soldering stations often frequently come with a feature called “Helping Hands.” These are basically clips which hold on to the user’s work, so the user can more easily solder their projects.
- Anti-Static Protection – Something that needs to be considered if you’re working with sensitive electronic components is anti-static protection. Some soldering stations have addressed this concern by equipping their stations with anti-static wrist straps. It’s definitely something worth considering if you work with sensitive components. However, even if a station doesn’t have anti-static wrist straps, nothing prevents you from purchasing your own separately. So whether you actually need this feature or not is up to you.
The above guidelines are a good start for anyone looking to buy a soldering gun. Considering those basics will enable you to buy an iron that handles the projects you need to be done and does it quickly and efficiently. While advanced users may need to consider a few more features than what’s listed, we feel this is a good start for those getting started on their soldering journey.