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Picture of How to Pick the Best Soldering Iron
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
 
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slanwar1 month ago

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).

2015-03-26 13.22.18.jpg2015-03-26 13.22.07.jpg
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

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:

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

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.

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
Godzilla541 month ago

nice stand I'm on a budget so chepo stand for me

Jericroucher2 months ago

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

Jericroucher2 months ago

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

thegrendel1 year ago
Interesting introduction to soldering tools. Thanks.

As for a specific recommendation, I've been using a Goot ks-20r iron for a couple
of decades. It's a simple tool -- no temp control -- but reliable and it does what I
need it to do. Replacement tips are hard to find, but I'm still using the original tip,
which shows no sign of damage or wear.

How do you clean the tips?

A small square of damp cellulose sponge works.

DanielD103 months ago

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?
Thanks again!!!

soldering iron (author)  DanielD103 months ago
Thanks for your comment.
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.
fredellarby2 years ago
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.

I had a cheap one clog and then burst into flames.. so i don't reccomend anyone use a cheapo one.

soldering iron (author)  Bullfrogerwytsch.3 months ago

Most of decent electrical soldering station (Weller WESD51, WES51, etc.)
automatically powers down after 99 minutes of inactivity to prolong tip life
and save power.

mkarvonen2 years ago
how to pic the best soldering iron?
-Weller or metcal. And this comes from experience from working in several electronic factorys.

Atten is a nice soldering iron brand with best value. Not as good as Weller, but much lower cost.

My favorite is Weller WESD51 and Atten AT-90DH.

jebuslizama2 years ago
Great info! Wish there was more elaboration on temperatures... but thanks!
nwlaurie2 years ago
Very handy guide.Thank you.
I don't really see an answer to the title, "Pick the best soldering iron." It feels like a Wikipedia copy/paste and the 'Experienced User" element seemed to not really be at all of a factor.

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.

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.

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.

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...?

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 & to see the progress. Good day!
great info!
soldering iron (author) 2 years ago
Thank you for your corrections, suggestions and comments. I really appreciate it.
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.
bears02 years ago
soldering guns do have to be plugged in. :-/
Termyte2 years ago
Very informative ible. Thank you.

One question (which might mean a slight edit); In the last section, when you say; ".. they (soldering guns) are ideal for mobile applications since they don't have to be plugged into a power outlet", are you talking about the cordless/butane style soldering irons/pencils, or a soldering gun?

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.

Aside from that, great job and sincere thanks!
tamietti2 years ago
Good explanation about tipes of soldering. Thanks (sorry for my English).