A soldering iron is a hand tool used in soldering. There are many soldering irons available on the market. They come in a variety of sizes and shapes. Which soldering iron to choose for yourself depends on the soldering projects you are planning to do, as well as how often you are planning on using it. This Instructable will cover choosing a soldering iron that will be used for projects in electronics for soldering and de-soldering work on the circuit boards.

The four main factors to consider when choosing a soldering iron are:
1) wattage
2) type of the soldering iron
3)temperature control
4) tip size and shape

The wattage of the soldering iron is one of the most important factor of a soldering iron. Most of soldering irons used in the electronics are in range 20 – 60 Watts. Soldering iron with wattage 50W is very common these days and it will provide sufficient heat for most of soldering projects on the circuit boards.  Soldering irons with higher wattage (40W -60W) are better. It does not mean that soldering irons with higher wattage apply more heat to the solder joint- it means that soldering irons with higher wattage has more power available. Since most of soldering stations comes with knob on power station for setting iron’s temperature, it is possible to regulate amount of the heat on iron tip. On the other hand, soldering iron with low wattage (20W - 30W) can lose heat faster than it can re-heat itself - this results in bad solder joints.

Types of soldering irons
Generally, there are 4 different types of soldering irons:
-Soldering pencil
-Soldering station
-Soldering systems (rework /repair stations)
-Soldering guns

Step 1:

Soldering pencils

Soldering pencils are very simple (and very cheap) soldering tool that can be used only for simple do-it-yourself projects. The price of the soldering pencils is in the range $10-30. I do not recommend soldering pencil for fine soldering projects since they do not provide any control of the temperature on the iron tip. Too much heat applied during soldering can damage components and peel off tracks on the circuit board.
<p>If people are interesting in do repair in motherboards or any board with IC's or any other chip then the hot gun is a must and they sale really cheap ones on ebay (chinese made).</p>
Nice station. Can you give me the model number of it? Also, what is the heat gun used for when soldering? I've been soldering for many years for RC applications mostly but find that the Weller heat gun and tips to be too large for many of the smaller projects as u cannot be precise in any way due to their size. What would you recommend? I am a big eBayer and do not mind purchasing items overseas if they are worth it. Thanks for your help
The heat gun is used for the IC's and if you go to youtube and search for repairing motherboards then you will see how that works, I use it besides computer/laptop boards for playstations (3,4) which I buy on ebay.
You can see on this youtube video one of the uses:<br> <br> https://youtu.be/AxYhF6Ab2CU<br> <br> yihua 898d&nbsp;<br> Really good station and is about the same as my weller.<br> <br> <br>
<p>On the right is a Weller WES51 and I use that one for soldering only, the black one with a heat gun is a Chinese brand I got on ebay, Yihua 898D. See this youtube video I found on the net:</p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="281" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/MLkfmu1lwQc" width="500"></iframe></p>
Nevermind, I see that the Yahua 898D comes in a 2in1 which the blues older ingredients station is a part of. Would that 2in1 unit suffice or did you purchase the WES51 because it was inadequate? Thanks
<p>I use the black one only to desolder but the iron side works really good when I tested soldering a few caps but I always had a Weller and I updated to the 51 a few months ago.</p>
Thanks for the reply and video. It was VERY helpful. What is the blue block with the yellow handle in between th hot gun and weller? Thanks
<p>99% of the electronics we buy/use/depend on here in America, comes from China...the other 1% comes from all them other oriental countries. </p><p>There is not one electronic thing sold in America, that is made in America. 99% of everything we buy(except for the food) comes from over seas...That other 1% is the food.</p>
<p>That is very sad! :( I did some soldering in my time, why can't Americans sit on at a workbench and solder all day? I did. WE need those jobs in the US.</p>
<p> First contruction processes have changed significantly. Where don't seem to understand that I have to question your clam you sat at a work station and soldered all day. Modern circuit boards are constructed automated processes. A machine place solder past on the appropriate pads another machine place the parts on the bord, then the board is then sent to an oven where the past is heated to where the paste flows thereby soldering the component to the board </p>
<p>Americans can (and do) sit at a workbench and solder all day. The trouble is that the very minimum an American is permitted to work for is significantly higher than what many other countries work for. Your government priced you out of the market a long time ago.</p>
<p> The real problem are those like yourself who blame everyone other than those to be blamed. I seriously doubt you would be first in line to work for wages comparable to what those in other countries are paid. The first problem is the insane notion that the ever growing profits of those who buy and sell pieces of paper that represent shares of a corporation are the most important part of the business commerce model. I would hazard a guess you are a key player in the war on labor world wide, benefiting from the exploitation of labor for your own profit. Those who now do the work done by American in time will loose their jobs to a country whose government is an active player in exploiting it's workers force for the profit of the business and government elite. This stuff isn't rocket science, without labor producing goods and purchasing good made by labor the world economy comes to a standstill. That means that those whose wealth depends on extracting a percentage from each of those transactions go broke, by going broke they loose their power. Setting the stage for an upheaval the world has yet to see. One that's not good for most except for the very few at the top of the heap.. In time their days will be limited as well. Abe Lincoln wasn't anti-capital, but he understood with out labor there's no capital.</p>
<p>Because our (American) gov't is so greedy &amp; corrupt, is why all the American jobs went overseas.</p><p>The U.S.A. that I have come to know &amp; love is slowly becoming a 3rd world nation.</p><p>Our gov't does not give a rip about its own people, they are only concerned with themselves, hence why all the jobs we used to have here are now in the middle &amp; far east.</p>
<p>&quot;secondary winding of transformer has only one turn&quot; SOMETHING IS MISSING HERE THOSE I HAVE USE IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD O 5 TO EIGHT??, REGARDS</p>
<p> Now Im retired and love to scrapbook. I recently purchased a craft soldering iron (supposedly the wattage was 110) that solders the plastic folders in scrapbooks to make 'pockets.' The iron they enclosed took more than 10 min to heat up. If it ever got hot enough (after waiting at least 20+ min) it would not heat enough to adhere to the plastic sheet beneath. </p><p>So my question is what heat do you recommend for this kind of craft soldering iron.</p>
Interesting introduction to soldering tools. Thanks. <br> <br>As for a specific recommendation, I've been using a Goot ks-20r iron for a couple <br>of decades. It's a simple tool -- no temp control -- but reliable and it does what I <br>need it to do. Replacement tips are hard to find, but I'm still using the original tip, <br>which shows no sign of damage or wear.
<p>How do you clean the tips?</p>
<p>&quot;...A small square of damp cellulose sponge works...&quot; this is true, but I have a brass scrubber, like what you might use for washing dishes, that I use for cleaning the tip. it lasts longer &amp; in my opinion, it cleans better. For about $1.50 I get 3 of them per package.</p>
<p>A small square of damp cellulose sponge works.</p>
I switched to a butane powered iron a few years ago and love it. It heats quickly and provides enough heat for fast wire joints. It's also portable if you have to move around a site.
<p>I had a cheap one clog and then burst into flames.. so i don't reccomend anyone use a cheapo one.</p>
<p>Same here. I used to have one made by Iso-Tip seen in the link below and it worked quite well for i'd say two years, then one day I was soldering in my garage and it made a loud hissing noise so I quickly put it down and as I was backing up it blew up. It wasn't a &quot;Bang&quot; like an M80, but was more of a fireball. It would have really sucked if I was soldering something in my car, or some place where I couldn't have escaped quickly.</p><p><a href="http://www.amazon.com/Iso-Tip-7971-SolderPro-Butane-Soldering/dp/B001RIDT84/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1442537644&sr=8-3&keywords=butane+soldering+iron" rel="nofollow">http://www.amazon.com/Iso-Tip-7971-SolderPro-Butan...</a></p><p>The soldering station that I've used for the last decade is a Hakko 936 ESD. It's an outstanding product but unfortunately they don't make it anymore. All their new soldering stations are all colorful and plastic. </p><p>And be careful buying any soldering station on the internet because there are TONS of clones out there, and most of them are crap quality made in China. </p>
<p>Yep. uh-huh, uh-huh. I could not agree more.</p><p>Unfortunately, for every good one on the online market, there is about 1 or 2 million pieces of junk.</p>
<p>Now if you are happy with the butane model you have, then I think that's great for you, &amp; I will be the last one to condemn anyone on their choice of soldering irons/guns/stations.</p><p>HOWEVER, my personal opinion of the butane models I have seen &amp; used, are less than stellar to put it politely....I just do not like the idea of having a bomb that close to me with a fuse that is forever ticking...</p><p>again, this is just my opinion &amp; if you are happy with it, great! </p>
<p>Most of decent electrical soldering station (Weller WESD51, WES51, etc.) <br>automatically powers down after 99 minutes of inactivity to prolong tip life <br>and save power.</p>
<p>nice stand I'm on a budget so chepo stand for me</p>
<p>thanks. This is a big help. Just learning, and am buying third tool. Hope the new one will really let me learn to solder electronics. 68 year old grandma never did this stuff, so it's time to learn. Thanks again jeri</p>
<p>thanks. This is a big help. Just learning, and am buying third tool. Hope the new one will really let me learn to solder electronics. 68 year old grandma never did this stuff, so it's time to learn. Thanks again jeri</p>
<p>Thanks so much for the guide. Helps me more ways than you know and now I know why I sometimes have problems. I was wondering if you have experience with the Ungar brand? If so, will you recommend their tools?<br>Thanks again!!!</p>
Thanks for your comment.<br> Sorry, I have no experience with the Ungar brand. I am using soldering station Pace MBT 250 for most of my soldering needs especially for soldering of small surface-mount components. I use also Weller WESD51 and Weller WES51 for regular soldering jobs in electronics. I have also good experience with Aoyue 2702 soldering station. I did use several other soldering irons and soldering pencils but i prefer those ones listed above.
how to pic the best soldering iron? <br>-Weller or metcal. And this comes from experience from working in several electronic factorys.
<p>Atten is a nice soldering iron brand with best value. Not as good as Weller, but much lower cost.</p>
<p>My favorite is Weller <a href="http://www.bestsolderingstation.com/wesd51-soldering-station/" rel="nofollow">WESD51</a> and Atten <a href="http://www.bestsolderingstation.com/at-90dh-fast-soldering-station/" rel="nofollow">AT-90DH</a>.</p>
Great info! Wish there was more elaboration on temperatures... but thanks!
Very handy guide.Thank you.
I don't really see an answer to the title, &quot;Pick the best soldering iron.&quot; It feels like a Wikipedia copy/paste and the 'Experienced User&quot; element seemed to not really be at all of a factor. <br> <br>I am not trying to be harsh or mean, I'm just trying to help through constructive criticism. It would be foolish of me to critique you and not offer my solutions. <br> <br>It is obvious that you know your way around soldering and specifically soldering irons. Instead of telling me what wattage is suitable to what kind of task, tell us your experience in using certain wattages on certain components/boards/tips etc. <br> <br>It would have been very helpful to know if you should buy tips when you buy a soldering iron, or roll with what you got in the package. As some tips that come with irons are better then most. <br> <br>Also I think that if you would have critiqued more then one brand (Weller) then the whole Instructable would have been better. If the title says how to pick the best soldering iron, then it's implied people want information o. How to make the best purchase. So telling us about brands would have been terrific. Most know about Weller, they're everywhere, but what about any others...? <br> <br>Overall I think there's a ton of room for improvement, and this is a good thing. I look forward to future Instructables from you &amp; to see the progress. Good day!
great info!
Thank you for your corrections, suggestions and comments. I really appreciate it. <br>I edited text and added more information about principle of electrical soldering gun (how soldering guns work). Electrical soldering guns do have to be plugged into a power outlet, of course. (Butane style soldering tools do not require electrical power and they are not a topic of this instructable.) This instructable is mostly about picking a soldering tool for fine soldering jobs on circuit boards.
soldering guns do have to be plugged in. :-/
Very informative ible. Thank you. <br> <br>One question (which might mean a slight edit); In the last section, when you say; &quot;.. they (soldering guns) are ideal for mobile applications since they don't have to be plugged into a power outlet&quot;, are you talking about the cordless/butane style soldering irons/pencils, or a soldering gun? <br> <br>I was always under the impression that a soldering gun was a handheld soldering tool which was shaped like a pistol..ergo, 'gun' (like in the last image, which incidentally, is corded) and that a soldering iron was simply a straight handled version such as the one in your first image. <br> <br>Aside from that, great job and sincere thanks!
Good explanation about tipes of soldering. Thanks (sorry for my English).