Picture of How to Create an Adjustable Soldering Iron
Recently my old soldering gun spoiled. I open the casing and try to repair, but I think the problem is the heating element, which is not repairable. So, its time to get a new soldering tools. After some research, I bought an Antex branded 25W soldering iron, at price of RM70. Initially, I am thinking of getting a 18W or 16W Antex, but what they have there at that time is 25W, and I simply take it.

After I power it up and do some testing, I found out that the 25W is a bit over heat compare to my old soldering gun. I am a bit regret about choosing 25W, but I don’t think I can return it back because I already power it up and the colour changes of the heated tip is very obvious. So, I decide to add a dimmer to the soldering iron to make it adjustable.
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Step 1: Using a Dimmer to Adjust the Power

Picture of Using a Dimmer to Adjust the Power
To enable the adjustable power for soldering iron or soldering gun, you will need a dimmer (any home lighting dimmer will do). For me, I get an UMS 6600S Dimmer Switch from an electrical store. The wiring instruction do state that the max power supported by the dimmer is 600W, so, my 25W shouldn’t be a problem for the dimmer.

Also, you will need a box for the dimmer as a protection to the wiring. You can this kind of box (I am not sure what it is called) in a normal electrical store.

Step 2: Cut Small U-Shape at the Box

Picture of Cut Small U-Shape at the Box
From the pictures, you can see that I do cut a small U-shape clearance for the in and out wire. I do it using a cutter, you can try to use a drill (maybe you can drill holes for in and out wire), and please be careful while doing this.

Step 3: Wiring of the Dimmer and the Soldering Iron

Picture of Wiring of the Dimmer and the Soldering Iron
Now, proceed with the wiring according to the Wiring Instruction. Simply replace the Lamps with your soldering Iron.

Step 4: Completed Adjustable Soldering Iron

Picture of Completed Adjustable Soldering Iron
The complete adjustable soldering iron.

Please leave a comment if you have any suggestions or better solution.

rammstein24 years ago
well as an improvement the dimmer can be calibrated to show settings for 16w, 18W and 25 watts ;-)
I plan on doing this soon. How can I figure the different watt settings to properly label the box?
It might be easier, and better, to calibrate, and label, dimmer with the temperature. I saw some digital thermometer for soldering irons that measure the temp of the tip by placing the tip on the sensor pad. They were about $15.00US. But you can get an adjustable soldering iron for less than that (don't know about the quality), not a soldering station, just a soldering iron with a temp adjustment knob on the side of it

Labelling for temperature is a useful suggestion but a dedicated digital thermometer for soldering irons sounds preposterous. Any good infrared thermometer will measure up to 500° C—just remember to aim it at the tip.

bustatech (author)  rammstein24 years ago
Its a good idea, I never think of that before. Thanks.