A Buying Guide To Help You Find The Best Soldering Iron

A Buying Guide To Help You Find The Best Soldering Iron

A soldering iron can be an incredibly useful piece of equipment for people who enjoy working on electronics or even making crafts or jewelry. These tools can create a strong bond between metals, but they can also be used for wood burning crafts as well.

When you’re trying to find the best soldering iron, it is important that you consider your purchase very carefully, because if you choose the wrong one, you could ruin your project due to too much heat or the wrong tip.

Using Soldering Iron

In this guide, we are going to talk to you about how to choose a soldering iron and then we’re going to look at five products that are worthy of being considered one of the best soldering irons available on the market today.

Let’s get started, shall we?

Product Name

Our Rating

Best Electric Soldering Iron

Winner: Weller WLC100 40-Watt Soldering Station

Runner-Up: Hakko Digital Soldering Station

Best Butane Soldering Iron

Winner: Power Probe PPSK Butane Soldering Kit

Runner-Up: Weller P2KC Professional Self-Igniting Cordless Butane Soldering Iron Kit

Best Soldering Iron For Electronics

Weller WES51 Analog Soldering Station

Best Electric Soldering Iron

As you look for the best soldering iron, many of the irons you’ll come across will use electricity to work. These two options are among the best in this category.

Winner: Weller WLC100 40-Watt Soldering Station

For DIYers and hobbyists, you will want a soldering iron to attach metals together or make a strong electrical connection. This soldering iron by Weller very well may be that go-to product to suit your needs. It features a pencil iron that is designed to be lightweight, but without compromising quality. Notable features of the product include:

  • On/off switch with power-on indicator light
  • Variable power control produces 5 to 40 watts
  • Quality, lightweight pencil iron
  • Cushioned foam grip with replaceable heating element
  • Includes iron-plated copper tip, safety guard iron holder, and natural sponge tip cleaning pad

The pencil has a cushioned handle so you can work with the unit for long periods without feeling discomfort. What’s nice about this soldering iron is that you can also control the heat settings so you can do a variety of projects, all you have to is adjust the heat setting and switch out the tip on the pencil. It’s that easy.

Weller WLC100 40-Watt Soldering Station

OUR RATING

When looking at what people had to say about the Weller WLC100 40-Watt Soldering Station, we were impressed by all the positive things people had to say about it. Case in point, customers liked that the base of the kit was sturdy and solid.

They felt that they could put the pencil in the holder and not worry about it being knocked over and burning anything while they worked. They also liked that the unit was compatible with other Weller tips, which lends to the versatility of the unit.

With every good there will be some complaints, as customers found that the soldering kit stopped working shortly after they bought it, much to their dismay. People also had a problem with the heat controls.

They did say that while it was nice that they could adjust the heat setting, they would have rather been able to adjust the actual temperature for more precise applications.

Some people also pointed out that if you wanted to do delicate soldering, you would have to purchase smaller tips right off the bat because the kit comes with a large chisel tip, which is too big for electronic work.

Runner-Up: Hakko Digital Soldering Station

If you’re looking for a soldering iron that has everything you need to get started, then the Hakko Digital Soldering Station with Chisel Tip Pack is certainly going to be a great option. Notable features of the Hakko Digital Soldering Station with Chisel Tip Pack include:

  • Digital Soldering Station ESD Safe version with 5 extra tips -T18-D08/D12/D24/D32/S3 tips
  • FX-888D KIT version with 5 extra tips -T18-D08/D12/D24/D32/S3 tips ( 6 total with the iron )
  • Adjustable temperature control
  • Temperature range 120° – 899°F (50° – 480°C)
  • Digital display shows °F or °C

While you’re working on a piece that needs to be soldered, you’ll notice that the device is capable of heating up in less than a minute. With that said, the pen portion of the device does not get hot, despite the fact that the set has 65 watts of power.

You will also receive six T18 series tips with the set, which is nice because they can transfer the heat at low temperatures, reducing the thermal impact on your soldering project.

Digital Soldering Station with Chisel Tip Pack

OUR RATING

When looking at what people had to say about the Hakko Digital Soldering Station with Chisel Tip Pack, the vast majority of customers had a good experience with the set. They commented that they liked that the instruction booklet was easy to follow and that even beginners could use the soldering set.

Customers appreciate that the soldering pen stays cool to the touch, despite the fact that the unit can reach up to 899°F when it is at its highest setting.

With every good there will be some complaints and there are very few complaints with this soldering iron set. A few people said their set stopped working shortly after using it.

One person said their unit didn’t work at all when they took it out of the packaging, and the replacement died shortly after. Another customer said they found programming the set was very difficult and confusing.

Best Butane Soldering Iron

While electric soldering irons may be a go to device for crafters and DIYers, those who want a little more freedom and power when using their irons may want to consider a butane powered iron instead. The next two products are great options worthy of being included in this list of the best soldering irons.

Winner: Power Probe PPSK Butane Soldering Kit

When you have multiple tasks that require a soldering iron, you don’t want to be restricted to where you can actually use it. For those who want to ability to go from the garage to the craft room without having to deal with power cords, then the Power Probe PPSK Butane Soldering Kit is going to be a great option. Notable features of the product include:

  • Electronic ignition and flame adjustment
  • Maximum temperature: 2500 Fahrenheit
  • Maximum temperature: 950 Fahrenheit when used as a soldering tool

This soldering iron can be used as a heat gun as well because the torch can reach temperatures up to 2,500 degrees. If you do want to use it as a soldering iron, it can reach up to 950 degrees, which can be perfect for a variety of soldering jobs.

POWER PROBE Butane Soldering Kit

OUR RATING

When looking at what people had to say about the Power Probe PPSK Butane Soldering Kit, a wide majority of customers praised the usefulness and versatility of the soldering iron.

Customers liked that they didn’t have to worry about tripping over a cord or getting tangled up in it while working with the torch. Customers have also commented that they liked that it came with a sturdy carrying case that keeps everything nice and organized.

Though many people had great things to say about their experience with this kit, there were some customers who didn’t care for the device. Some concerns people had was that the electronic ignition wasn’t as reliable as they would have expected it to be.

Some people also said that when they used the unit too long, various pieces of it (the tip and the flame resistor) was prone to melting, which could be a hassle and quite dangerous.

Runner-Up: Weller P2KC Professional Self-Igniting Cordless Butane Soldering Iron Kit

For those who are looking for a lightweight, cordless soldering iron that runs on butane, this kit from Weller very well may prove to be your go-to soldering iron. Notable features of the Weller P2KC Professional Self-igniting Cordless Butane Soldering Iron Kit include:

  • Portasol Professional Self-igniting Cordless Butane Solder Iron
  • ESD safe to protect sensitive components
  • A lightweight, compact cordless butane soldering and hot air tool
  • Piezo ignition with push-button ease & convenience
  • Fast heat-up for high productivity, melts solder in less than 40 seconds
  • Gas capacity allows up to 1 hour of continuous use, ample for most jobs
  • Refills in less than 20 seconds so you can stay on the job
  • Automatic cut-off switch when cap replaced for safety
  • Run Time: 60 min
  • Limited Lifetime Warranty

The Piezo push-button ignition mechanism is incredibly easy to use and you can adjust the power from 25 watts to 75 watts. The unit heats up very quickly, and within 40 seconds, you can begin your soldering projects!

Weller P2KC Professional Kit

OUR RATING

When looking at what people had to say about the Weller P2KC Professional Self-igniting Cordless Butane Soldering Iron Kit, an overwhelming majority were more than happy with their purchase. Customers raved about how useful they find having the tool around is.

They like that they can use the tool for an hour before having to refill the butane. When they are using the tool for soldering, they appreciate that the kit comes with a soldering sponge. They also appreciate the versatility of the tool, as they can use it as a soldering iron, a torch, or even use the hot knife for cutting nylon rope.

With every good there will be some complaints, as customers found that the product stopped working shortly after they purchased it. Customers shared their frustration of a faulty ignition on the iron, while others commented that the operating instructions weren’t detailed enough. Customers were disappointed that the iron didn’t live up to their expectations.

Best Soldering Iron For Electronics

Weller WES51 Analog Soldering Station

If you’re looking for the best soldering iron for circuit boards, then you are going to like the Weller WES51 Analog Soldering Station. This soldering iron features an innovative sensor and heater combination that allows the unit to heat up quickly, but maintain that temperature while you use it. Notable features of the Weller WES51 Analog Soldering Station include:

  • Receptacle For Easy Iron Replacement
  • Designed For Continuous Production Soldering
  • Slim, Comfortable Pencil With Eta Tip Reduces Operator Fatigue
  • Tip Temperature Offset Capability
  • Allows User To Reset Station Temperature To Match In Tip Sizes & Styles
  • Station Includes Power Unit, Soldering Pencil, Stand and Sponge
  • New Receptacle For Easier Iron Replacement

There is a temperature lock out that prevents you from accidentally adjusting the temperature while using the iron, which ensures that you have optimal control over your soldering project. Also, when you use the kit, you’ll notice that it features a comfortable soldering pen that can be used with other Weller ET series tips for added versatility.

Weller WES51 Analog Soldering Station

OUR RATING

When looking at what people had to say about the Weller WES51 Analog Soldering Station,  a lot of them had great things to say. Customers who are big on crafts like using the soldering iron because it works as well as digital sets, but without the high price tag.

Customers also point out that when you’re using the soldering pen, it is comfortable in your hand and it doesn’t get hot while you are working.

With every good there will be some complaints, as customers found that since the Weller company was acquired by another, the overall quality in their products and parts have declined slightly, causing their products to not be as reliable as they once were. Some pointed out that their units were not able to reach temperature, let alone maintain it.

What To Look For In A Soldering Iron

As you prepare to work on an electrical project, you’re going to need to form a bond between the metal components. In order to do this, you’re going to need a soldering iron—but you don’t want to choose just any old soldering iron. You’re going to want to look for the best iron for your project.

There are three main factors you need to consider when purchasing a soldering iron:

Wattage

The wattage of your soldering iron is going to be the most crucial aspect of the iron. Many soldering irons that people use for electronic work will use between 20 watts of power upward to 60 watts, although irons that use 50 watts tend to be the most common.

In most instances where the iron runs on a higher wattage, it is going to work more efficiently because it provides more heat to the joint that you are soldering. If possible, avoid soldering irons with low wattage (30 watts and below) because it is going to result in a poorly soldered joint.

Temperature Control

In most instances, a cheap soldering iron is not going to have any way for you to regulate the temperature. These devices are basic and simple to use because all you have to do is plug it in and turn it on.

These basic devices can be useful when working on smaller projects, but if you are hoping to solder larger joints, you’re going to want some kind of device that will let you control the temperature.

Soldering Iron Temperature Control

The irons that will let you control the temperature are going to be more costly, but they are going to give you a much more stable tool. Some models will have a built-in digital temperature readout and also have a knob that you can use to adjust the temperature.

This knob will allow you to raise the heat for those larger joints, or lower it when working with more delicate objects like a circuit board. Some of the best soldering iron stations will even feature a thermocouple that has been built into the tip or shaft of the iron which will monitor the temperature.

Shape And Size Of Soldering Tip

Most soldering irons will have a tip that you can change out. These tips (also called bits) will vary in size and shape, which you can pick and choose depending on the job that you’re working on. Some of the most common tips for a soldering iron include pyramid, fine conical, tapered, and chisel.

Before starting your project, you’re going to want to consider what you’re going to be doing, as some will work better than others. Also, we recommend that for durability, look for tips that are made from copper, chrome, and nickel.

Other things you may want to consider when looking at soldering irons include:

Portability

If you’re a crafter that plans on using their soldering iron in one place, then you may not care much about portability. However, if you want to be able to use the iron in different locations without worrying about a cord getting in the way, then perhaps you may want to consider a cordless soldering iron.

Brand

Like with anything else you purchase, there are going to be branded devices and then unbranded. An unbranded soldering iron may seem like a great choice because it is more affordable, it doesn’t always mean it is going to live up to the same quality standards that a branded tool may have.

While we aren’t suggesting that you buy name brand tools only, we are saying that branded tools know what works and they tend to be leaders in that regard.

Gas Powered Vs. Electric

Butane irons tend to be the preferred choice for more intense soldering jobs because you can reach higher temperatures and have the ability to move around freely. Electric based soldering irons aren’t going to be as powerful and you’re going to be reliant on an electrical source in order to use the device.

Now that you know what to look for in a soldering iron, let’s take a look at five items that have received high reviews from the people who have bought and used the irons.

We are going to be discussing three electric soldering irons and two butane operated irons. These devices range in price, from under $40 to as much as $130. In this buying guide, we are also going to discuss which item is, in our opinion, the best soldering iron for circuit boards.

Conclusion

AS someone who is in the market to find the best soldering iron, it’s understandable that you may become overwhelmed by all of the options that are available.

Man Soldering

You may ask yourself which is better, and electric iron or a butane. Both types of devices have their pros and cons, and depending on what you want to use the soldering iron for, one type is going to be better than the other.

If you only want a soldering iron for small craft projects, then you’d be better off with an electric unit like the Weller WLC100 40-Watt Soldering Station. It is affordably priced and really simple to use. If you are working on delicate computer circuitry, you may want to consider the Weller WES51 Analog Soldering Station include, which is also quite affordable, too.

For larger tasks that require more power and the ability to move around freely without worrying about the cord getting in your way, you will want the Weller P2KC Professional Self-igniting Cordless Butane Soldering Iron Kit, as it is highly recommended by those who have purchased and used it frequently.

Whichever product you choose to be the best soldering iron for your tasks, we hope that this guide was able to give you the information you need so that you can pick the product that will be able to meet your needs. Leave us a comment below and let us know which soldering iron you like the best, be it one of these options or something all together different!

Resources:

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