Best Soldering Iron Reviews
There are many factors to consider when looking for the best soldering iron. These popular hand tools come with a large choice of features to suit a variety of soldering tasks. They come in a large selection of shapes, sizes and with an equally varying range of price tags.
When it comes to finding the best soldering iron, not having all the right information can easily lead to you making a bad buying decision. The last thing you want is to end up with a soldering tool that’s simply not fit for purpose.
With the help of this well-researched guide of the best soldering iron reviews you will be able to make an exact buying decision for all your soldering needs. We will look at the most popular types of irons and their price ranges, the features and accessories that all help to make a great soldering iron and which ones are best suited for specific soldering jobs.
Soldering Iron Comparison Table
Top Rated Soldering Irons
This Vastar model is top rated by users due to its variety of tips and adjustable temperature. It comes with five different tips. Some complain that the handle heats up after extended use although not hot enough for it to be too uncomfortable to use.
Being 60 watts and having a 110 voltage also makes the tool easy to heat, some users even comment that the tip glows at the device’s highest temperature setting.
This Vastar soldering iron has a heat range of 392 to 842 degrees Fahrenheit. Not to worry though, as the device also comes with a thermostat so overheating may be avoided. Although buyers haven’t tested their devices yet for longevity, you’d be happy to know that this comes with an 18-month warranty.
This 7-in-1 package comes with a case for carrying, a solder wire, a stand with a cleaning sponge, a solder sucker or a desoldering pump, five extra soldering iron tips, a user manual and of course a 60-watt soldering iron.
Like the Vastar model, this tool has an adjustable heat range of 392 to 842 degrees Fahrenheit. Owners of this model, found it perfect small jobs such as circuit boards. They also found the variety of tips and add ons that come with the iron to be a great deal for their money.
However some complain about the poor quality of the device as it bends where the handle meets the metal tip when set at higher temperatures. Some find this problem solved by not applying too much pressure on the handle when using the device.
However, most owners find the device sufficient as it heats up fast and commends its on and off switch feature enabling for easy turn on without the constant plugging and unplugging which may also become a fire hazard in the long run.
This model from Hakko is dubbed to be the ‘next generation of variable-controlled soldering irons’.
It is slightly more powerful than the other models discussed before being 67-watt device with also a slightly higher heat range of 464 to 1,004 degrees Fahrenheit.
This iron also boasts of a lightweight design which makes it ideal for use during long periods of time without sacrificing comfort. However, most American users find the device’s temperature handle not the best as it is written in degrees Celsius instead of Fahrenheit.
However, they found the device fast to heat up achieving the desired temperature in just under a minute making it a better choice over standard one setting irons given its price.
Best Cheap Soldering Iron
At a very low price point, you get a relatively high-powered device with adjustable heat ranging from 392 to 842 degrees Fahrenheit by turning a knob. Users liked the LED light that lets you know if it’s turned on to avoid accidents and a soft, comfortable-to-hold rubber handle.
They also found the add on tips to be very useful in a variety of uses and easy to switch and change up. The ceramic heating instead of cheap wire element won over users.
However, owners who tried using the tool for long periods of time found that all tips that come with the product burn off pretty quickly at the highest heat setting. It is probably safer to use the product sporadically.
Best Soldering Iron for Electronics
It comes with six pieces of double-sided assist tools for various tasks such as press, cutting, scraping and the like. It is also equipped with convenient LED lights four steel pipe ventilation holes that helps facilitate cool down.
It also comes with a leather carrying case for the whole tool case if work requires you to travel and for tool safekeeping when not in use.
This model is best for soldering loose wires, repairing jewelry, intricate computer pieces, replacing television capacitors etc. Users found the kit great for its cheap price packing a lot of addons and retaining a low price.
However, some users complain of the handle which some found brittle (due to the heat). Another perk of this tool is its 12-month warranty.
Best Soldering Iron Kit
This Vaster is a tool made with an iron-plated tip and stainless steel which includes five soldering iron tips, a soldering stand, a pocket pack solder tube, an anti-static tweezer and a desoldering pump.
Users have found the kit useful for jobs on circuit boards, trailer wiring. They also found this Vastar model to be as good and sturdy as Wellers and Hakkos and found it sufficient for most projects. Users also found this relatively small iron to be easy to handle and use together with the built in LED light.
This tool also has no trouble retaining heat even when exposed to the draft of a small fan used by some owners to blow away smoke produced by soldering. The tool comes with an 18-month warranty.
Best Cordless Soldering Iron
This tool is marketed to be perfect for work like electrical wiring soldering, appliance repairs, alarm systems and remote controlled cars. It is recommended for use for a range of people from field service technicians to hobbyists and artists.
Some of the pros of this product as pointed out by users are its less than a minute heat up time, a high temperature powerful enough to melt lead-free rosin core solder, a power time of about two hours on Ni-MH batteries and lastly, the product does not need a stand.
However, people found its low heat capacity to be a disadvantage as the tool makes it harder to solder larger parts. People have also pointed out that the Hakko’s tips, which are the T11 series, are hard to find making replacing these difficult. More importantly, the device doesn’t have a built in temperature control and no battery meter to monitor for how long the battery may be used.
What Is Soldering?
Soldering is the process of connecting two components, mostly of metallic material, together with the use of heat. The materials are joined together through heating solder, a sort of metallic that has the capability to conduct electricity. But unlike in welding or brazing, this process only involves relatively low temperatures of about 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Therefore, parts that are being soldered are not melted. It is only the solder joining these items which is melted by the heat. Soldering is mostly done for repairs on electronic devices and gadgets.
What Are Soldering Irons?
Soldering irons are the tools used in performing this process. Users opt to use this tool for their repairs and DIY tasks as it has the capability of retaining and regulating heat not to mention it can also facilitate cool down on its own. These hand tools have two important parts: an insulated handle and a metal heating tip.
Heat, made through electricity, is transmitted through the metal tip while the insulated handle makes it possible for you to hold the device without it feeling too hot. The tips may be interchangeable depending on use. Most kits offer a set different tips. The metallic tips may heat up to over 700 degrees Fahrenheit so utmost care must be taken by always minding the device while in use and turning it off when not.
Some soldering processes may also produce hazardous fumes so always make sure that you are working in a well-ventilated room or area and avoid inhaling the smoke. Most importantly, solder, which is made of lead is poisonous, so wash your hands thoroughly after working.
As mentioned above, soldering and soldering irons are mostly used for repair and/or electronic assembly. However, soldering irons are also used, albeit non-traditionally, in plastic welding and burning designs onto wood.
Four Things To Consider When Choosing A Soldering Iron
Given its many uses and possible dangers, here are four criteria to consider to ensure that you’re taking home a quality product which will aid you in your personal DIY project or work.
First of all, you should consider wattage. Some consider this the most important feature to consider in a soldering iron. Wattage, though it doesn’t translate to hotter tips, determines how much power is produced by the tool and for how long can it retain its heat.
The wattage is also a good sign of knowing the fastness of a soldering iron’s reheating capabilities. Generally, the soldering irons used in electronics may come with watts ranging from 20-60 watts with 50-watt models being standard and common. However, it’s best to settle within the 40 up models since low range models in 20-30-watts usually lose heat faster than they can reheat thus resulting in bad solder jobs.
Aside from wattage, you should also look into the type of soldering iron that would best fit the job you plan on using it for. For starters, there are four types.
This type is the most basic and sometimes also the cheapest kind you can find. Due to its simple design and lack of means for temperature control, it is best to use this type for simple DIY projects only. Soldering pencils usually retail around $10 – $30.
Now, if you still want to buy a soldering pencil you may instead opt for this type. The soldering station is basically a power station which regulates the temperature of your soldering pencil to fit your needs. This can also facilitate the retaining of the pencil’s heat for prolonged use.
Soldering stations may be used in the mounting and assembly of very small component parts. However, it retails for much more than the soldering pencil with a price range of $40 – $150. The brands Weller, Hakko and Aoyue are popular for their soldering station models with Aoyue being the choice for quality and value.
These type are definitely not for hobbyists who will only use the iron occasionally. Soldering systems usually range from $250 – $2,500. These sets are decked out with all the various addons and features a professional may need such as hot air guns, de-soldering guns, thermo tweezers and the like. Soldering systems are commonly used in high-volume manufacturing facilities such as gadget assembly factories. For soldering systems, Pacer and Aoyue, again, are the way to go.
This type of soldering gun heats up faster than the others as it has two transformers: one converting 110 V to a lower voltage and the other which produces low-voltage currents and several hundred amperes. Guns often heat up fast so we wouldn’t recommended them for fine circuit work. Soldering guns are in the $20 – $70 range.
The third thing to consider when choosing a soldering iron is what kind of temperature control it is equipped with. It is best to buy an iron that is temperature controlled as they feature thermostats which turn the iron’s heater off when the device reaches the desired temperature.This would ensure that your tool will not overheat when in use and result in fire hazards.
It can also be adjusted to the temperature you need for the type of solder you are using. Hotter temperatures are usually used on lead-free solder while low temperatures are used for heat-sensitive small parts.
Lastly, you should get to know the different types of tips applicable to your soldering iron. Small tips heat faster but may not be applicable to big surface area projects. Be careful when choosing a bigger one though as it might damage the electronic board you’re working on.
Chisel tips have larger endings than bodies where heat is stored. They are ideal for desoldering, through hole applications and surface mounting to name a few.
Another type of tip is the Hoof tip also called CM tips used in drag soldering and soldering small gauge wires. B series tips are probably the most common tips as they come with the regular soldering irons when bought. It has a rounded tip so soldering may be done at any angle and are used for general soldering.
Meanwhile, C series tips have a slightly curved face which is ideal for spreading and applying solder in an exact manner. Different types of tips come with soldering kits.
With a myriad of uses especially in the home, finding a great quality soldering iron is super important and a good investment for you and your toolbox. Just remember four things when going on your next trip to Amazon.com or your local hardware store: wattage, type of soldering iron (of which there are four depending on use), temperature control and types of add on tips. With these in mind and the bunch of soldering irons we reviewed up here, you’re surely to find what you’re looking for.
Categorised in: Hand Tools