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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

Wattage
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.

Step 2:

Soldering stations

Soldering station consists of soldering pencil attached to a power station. The power station has controls for setting the desired temperature on the tip of soldering iron. Some of soldering stations come with electronic temperature control - that means you can very precisely set and maintain the temperature of the iron. The power station automatically keeps the iron tip at an appropriate temperature. The price of the soldering stations is in the range $ 40-150. Soldering station can cover most of soldering projects including soldering of through-hole components, and very fine surface-mount components as small as 0603 and 0805. Weller is most popular brand for soldering stations followed by Hakko. On the other hand, Aoyue soldering station is good combination of quality and price. The most popular models of soldering stations are the Weller WESD51 (read review of WESD51), Weller WES51, Hakko FX-888 and Aoyue 937.

Step 3:

Rework/repair systems

Rework/repair systems are complex soldering systems which are mostly used in industry or in the high-volume manufacturing facilities. Soldering systems usually consists of several hand pieces including soldering iron, hot-air gun, de-soldering gun, thermo-tweezers, etc. The price of the soldering systems is in the wide range $250 - $2500. Pace is the most popular brand for these soldering systems. Popular models of rework/repair systems are Pace MBT-250 SDPT, Pace MBT-350, and Aoyue 2702.

Step 4:

Soldering guns

Main part of a soldering gun is a transformer which converts 110 V AC to a lower voltage. A secondary winding of transformer has only one turn. This way the secondary of transformer produces very low voltage and several hundred amperes of current since primary of transformer is connected to 110 V AC and the secondary winding of transformer has only one turn. This high current is routed through copper tip of soldering gun and as result the tip of soldering gun is quickly heated by the high current flowing through it.
Soldering guns can be quickly and easily turned on and off and they have very short worm up time. However, I do not recommend soldering gun for fine work on circuit boards since they can generate too much heat and can therefore damage circuit board or components on it. The price of soldering guns is in the range $20-70.
<p>Great post and useful were the people can learn much more about soldering iron, Here is a different kinds of solder iron where the people can manage with various projects. Also on this article i find good information may will be good for you <a href="http://fanyit.com/review/how-to-choose-the-best-soldering-iron-for-you/" rel="nofollow">how to choose the best Soldering iron</a> for you, have a good explanation of soldering irons and Soldering irons Tips.</p>
<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>
<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>I remember here in the UK sitting at a bench soldering boards for electric blankets, I enjoyed the work so much I was sad to go, (it was gov training scheme) the skills that I learnt meant that I can repair boards should I need to, </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>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>https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adafruit_Industries</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
Great advice. Really explains the wattage vs tip temp issue clearly. Many kit instructions confuse this for the beginner.
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>
Plus it doesn't cool off the tip
<p>A small square of damp cellulose sponge works.</p>
<p>I had a job 30+ years ago soldering circuit boards all day long. I would pick up side work and make $12 per board I use to sit at home, watch TV(sort of) and solder. I use to do about 20 boards every weekend. It was a great way to make money. Then the company, and the industry, went automated ?</p>
<p><em>be nice</em></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>
<p>Are you sure the iron is 110 watts? In N.A. a soldering iron operates at 110-120 volts but could be rated as little as 20 watts. I've never encountered a soldering iron rated at 110 watts. They're usually rated 100 watts or 150 all the way to 550 watts--and heading down from 100 watts, ratings are usually 80 or 75 and continue to descend. The temperatures required to melt and solder the various lead/tin ratios that compose solder are many degrees f. higher than the temperature(s) required to partially melt and fuse plastic folders in scrapbooks. I expect what you've bought is not a soldering iron but something akin to a wood-burning iron. It could be 100 watts (or 110 watts) but set to operate at a temperature much lower than a soldering iron--and to unintentionally add insult to injury, in your instance it seems to me it's malfunctioning . If you're frustrated, I can understand. Nothings worse than the particular dissatisfaction evoked from trying to solder or melt two components together with an iron set a few degrees cooler than the temperature required. It's not abnormal to wait 10 minutes for an iron to heat up-especially older models. </p><p>;;;;</p><p>k </p><p><br><br><br><br><br><br><br><br><br></p>
<p>Are you sure the iron is 110 watts? In N.A. a soldering iron operates at 110-120 volts but could be rated as little as 20 watts. I've never encountered a soldering iron rated at 110 watts. They're usually rated 100 watts or 150 all the way to 550 watts--and heading down from 100 watts, ratings are usually 80 or 75 and continue to descend. The temperatures required to melt and solder the various lead/tin ratios that compose solder are many degrees f. higher than the temperature(s) required to partially melt and fuse plastic folders in scrapbooks. I expect what you've bought is not a soldering iron but something akin to a wood-burning iron. It could be 100 watts (or 110 watts) but set to operate at a temperature much lower than a soldering iron--and to unintentionally add insult to injury, in your instance it seems to me it's malfunctioning . If you're frustrated, I can understand. Nothings worse than the particular dissatisfaction evoked from trying to solder or melt two components together with an iron set a few degrees cooler than the temperature required. It's not abnormal to wait 10 minutes for an iron to heat up-especially older models. </p><p>;;;;</p><p>k </p><p><br><br><br><br><br><br><br><br><br></p>
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 first iron was a Weller from the mid 80's. It died many years later. I replaced it with a new Weller and I eventually bought my forth Weller within a half decade. I hadn't changed my pattern of infrequent use but it was apparent the iron had changed.</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>
<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>
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>thanks!!!</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.
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. :-/

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