Types of Soldering Irons The first thing you need to decide upon is what type of soldering iron you want. In most cases, any of the following types would be more than adequate for work on electrical wiring and printed circuit boards.
Pencil irons are the simplest, cheapest, and in turn the most common models out there. They plug straight into the outlet and offer no ability of temperature adjustment. The temperature they produce is determined by the thermal equilibrium. Simple irons are good for basic repairs but limited in their capacity of performing more precise soldering. Plus, you might need to buy accessories for tinning and cleaning, different tips, a stand, and so on.
Cordless irons offer greater autonomy and therefore they are popular among automotive and aircraft technicians. They are powered by batteries that drain in about half an hour. Moreover, even the best soldering iron of this type heats slower and up to much lower temperatures. There are also gas-powered torch irons that aren’t really irons at all – not to mention that torches are completely inappropriate for electronics. Overall, we don’t recommend them unless wirelessness is an absolute necessity for you.
Adjustable irons are kind of halfway between pencil irons and soldering stations. They just don’t have a base. Instead, the temperature adjustment equipment and the dial are integrated into the iron itself. Temperature control is a welcome addition and in some cases a must. While not ideal for beginners, they’re better than pencil irons in the long run. Also, you’ll still need to buy some of the accessories. So, if you’re new to soldering, you might as well skip them and get a full kit. But, if you have the best professional soldering station accessories and only want to upgrade your iron, there are plenty of tremendous models to choose from.
Soldering stations are complete, all-in-one devices. In addition to having everything you need for serious soldering, all the components are optimized to work best with each other. A typical soldering station consists of a base that provides consistent power and a temperature adjustment dial. It also has a stand where you put your hot iron when you’re not using it; a sponge used when tinning and cleaning the tip; differently sized tips for various types of soldering; and, of course, the soldering iron. Seeing as you can get them cheaply, there’s no reason not to go for them as your first choice. Our best soldering station 2018 champion is really quite affordable for what you’re getting in the package.
When it comes to power, while some irons use only 15 W, we recommend you to go for models that use a minimum of 30 W. More powerful models heat up quicker and maintain the temperature when placed on cold surfaces. As a result, you won’t have to wait much for your iron to heat up, and you won’t have to take breaks while working for it to heat up again. Some models pack much greater power, but they also cost more. Just keep in mind that even the most powerful iron can’t best a soldering gun in terms of the heat they’re capable of producing.
In terms of temperature, we’re looking at two things we want out of a soldering iron – adjustability, and consistency. It’s a no-brainer – always go for models that offer temperature control. Not only does the necessary temperature depend on the type of project you’re working on, but also on the size of the area, and the metals involved. Some models’ operating temperatures varied greatly. We only chose the ones that were accurate and consistent enough in maintaining the optimal temperature.
Though not essential, some additional features can make your life easier. Look for ergonomic and light tools that won’t tire your hand easily. Also, go for models with easily replaceable tips and the ones compatible with commercially available tips. Some kits come with a large variety of tips out of the box. Other useful features can include a nice case, a kickstand, and maybe some things you don’t actually need. So, it’s important to decide what you might find useless and not pay extra money for it.
And finally, we come to the dollars and cents. The models we presented vary quite a lot on the price spectrum. Some are extremely affordable, while the most expensive stations cost over 10 times as much. That’s still honestly not too steep for the quality they offer. When looking for deals for your favorite soldering iron, Harbor Freight, Home Depot, Amazon, and other retailers offer them at competing prices. eBay deals for more expensive models can be particularly appealing. Save money by taking advantage of discounts on good quality soldering kits, not by opting for cheaper ones.
And that’s really all there is to know about soldering irons. Our ultimate guide is bound to have the one that’s just right for you. When I look at this list, I can only say that having even the cheapest model around for small repairs is better than owning no soldering iron at all. It’s not necessary to buy the best soldering iron out there. You’ll see as well how easy and rewarding it is to do your own repairs when you have the right tools. We’re sure you’ll learn to do it in no time. Later on, you’ll wonder how you managed without it.
We’re kicking off our reviews with this best-selling X-Tronic model #3020-XTS which is also our overall champion. It features an ergonomic 75 W soldering iron; an adjustable and very stable temperature range of 392 – 896 °F; a stainless steel iron holder, a solder roll holder, a brass sponge tip cleaner, and a cleaning flux. Additionally, it has “magic temp technology”, and a C/F switch. If you’re looking for a discount for this soldering iron, Walmart deals can help you, although, it’s amazingly affordable considering its superb quality. Some other models come with a lot more accessories, but buying this model will give you the perfect foundation to build your ideal soldering station. What made it top our list is the fact that it has the essentials for diverse soldering tasks in one well-constructed yet very reasonably priced package.
When looking at other soldering station review lists, Weller is the name that most often makes its appearance on the top. The first of the two Weller models that finished near the top of our list is the Weller WLC100. Truly a staple, this is a durable, reliable, top-notch soldering station backed up with a 7-year warranty. Unlike the X-Tronic, it doesn’t have a display. Instead, it has a 5-step power controller for a 5 – 40 W output. The base unit has an integrated iron holder and a cleaning pad. Finally, the pencil iron itself has replaceable tips, it’s lightweight, and easy to hold with its cushioned foam grip. Overall, this is a fantastic setup. If you want to get this soldering iron, Lowes has it in stock.
Hakko is another premium manufacturer. The FX888 model can be found on Amazon in many different configurations depending on the accessories. This powerful, 70 W digital soldering station with adjustable temperature comes with an ergonomic pencil iron. The iron has an excellent thermal recovery when used with any of the T18 series tips that boast terrific heat conductivity. To put it differently, it heats up to 660 °F in about 20 seconds. Considering the substantially higher price tag compared to the previous models, if you’ve settled on this soldering iron, Home Depot coupons can be your best friend. This particular configuration comes with the fx-8801 soldering iron, a t18-d16 tip, the Fh800 iron holder, the A1559 sponge, and the A1561 cleaning wire.
Finally a model with an included tip pack. You’ll get five extra tips in this amazingly-designed Sywon 60 W ESD kit. Perfect for DIY soldering, iron tips give you the versatility needed for performing a number of different tasks. With up to 60 W and adjustable temperature, you also get the adequate power. Of course, same as with previous models, there’s a soldering stand a cleaning pad. The pencil iron is very comfortable to hold, ESD safe, and connected to the base with a high-quality silicone cord. The kit is also very affordable and, all in all, a great value purchase.
Next, we come to the Anbes kit. Mind that this is not a soldering station but a kit that comes in a convenient carrying bag. This portability and overall great performance make it one of the best soldering irons for automotive wiring. Still, it’s powered by a regular 110 V outlet, you can’t plug it into your car outlet and use it on the road, but you can conveniently keep it in your car. The kit includes the 60 W soldering iron with a temperature dial on it, a digital multimeter, two soldering tips, a stand with a cleaning pad, and a plethora of other tools.
We’re still in the top half of our list, and with the second soldering iron, Weller takes the lead. Again, no temperature display, just an analog soldering station. But the Weller WES51 is so straightforward and reliable; it will last you forever. The temperature is, of course, adjustable via a dial on the base unit. It ranges from 350 – 850 °F, and it’s accurately measured within nine degrees. Furthermore, there’s a temperature lock-out feature that prevents excessive temperatures from damaging your equipment. As you can expect, the soldering pencil itself is first-rate, and the stand and sponge are included. Note that this model is just as expensive as the Hakko FX888. So if you choose this soldering kit, Lowes promo codes might come in handy.
This 11-piece Tabiger soldering kit comes packed in a carry case. Besides the decent 60 W soldering iron with adjustable temperature, there’s a desoldering pump, five tips, a stand, tweezers, solder, and a sponge. The desoldering pump is a high-pressure vacuum aluminum tube used for removing solder. Though best used for DIY welding of watches, jewelry, and other trinkets, it’s also good for electronics and chipboards. I like to keep my soldering iron near me, so I carry it around in my car. If you’re like me, this is another interesting and very inexpensive kit that’s first and foremost ultra-portable.
Next, we have the Aoyue 469 soldering station. It’s quite similar to a Weller in terms of the overall configuration, but not as pricey and a lot less sturdy. Still, it offers truly great versatility, with over 50 tips available for it. Although, only one tip is included in the box. It’s a 60 W iron that heats up fast and operates within a 392 – 897 °F range that’s adjusted via an analog controller. The stand is part of the base, and it’s solid. The cleaning sponge is good and large which makes tinning a walk in the park. This model proved to be very popular and dependable for DIYers. In fact, it might just be the best soldering station for hobbyists. Get a fair discount for it by using Sears coupons.
This Vastar kit is ridiculously affordable and therefore very popular. It even has great customer reviews who often say they were pleasantly surprised with what they got for their money. Though we have to note the absence of a lot of the staples we’re used to, such as a cleaning sponge, or a simple on/off switch, and perhaps a case. You do get an adjustable “plug and play” 60 W pencil iron, a simple stand, five tips out of the box, tweezers, and even a desoldering pump. Certainly not the best soldering kit out there, but without a doubt a very capable starter kit.
This massive 21-piece set by Handskit contains every imaginable accessory associated with soldering. You may or may not need all of this stuff, but there’s no denying that it’s super handy to get all of these things in one go and one case. The question is, is the main equipment any good? Well, the adjustable 60 W pencil iron heats up quickly and performs as expected. For the most part, this is a good soldering iron, coupled with a huge range of accessories. We recommend it to total beginners who need all the extra tools as well. While the set is affordable, shipping from China can be expensive, so check out AliExpress coupons for a free shipping coupon.
Going back to the simple, stripped-back “Holy Trinity” configuration of soldering iron – stand – cleaning pad. The SSVT by Stahl Tools looks like another, less expensive, Weller knock-off. But it stands on its own as a very capable soldering iron for electronics and other uses, thanks to the adjustable temperature and replaceable tips. No extra ones included though. The only noteworthy “extra feature” we can point out is its cushioned rubber grip of the 40 W pencil iron which makes it pleasant to hold for long periods of time. This model is best for people who like to stick to the basics but don’t want to pay for more premium kits.
And again we’re moving back to larger kits, as this Kusonkey adjustable temperature kit offers a well-balanced range of good quality accessories. The first thing you notice is the PU leather carrying case. When you open it, you’ll find a soldering iron, a solder sucker, a tin wire tube, a stand with a sponge, tweezers, scissors, five regular tips, and six “aid” tips. As you can see, no unnecessary clutter. The adjustable temperature 60 W pencil iron heats up fast and has great heat dissipation. This kit is a bit expensive. As with all other items on our list, for this soldering iron, Amazon offers deals almost unmatched by any other online vendor.
The second, outstanding FX-951-66 model by the first-class Hakko company may as well be the best one we’ve reviewed. It’s also by far the most expensive, resulting in a rather low position on our list. Beneath the recognizable blue and yellow exterior is a mighty, 75 W professional digital soldering station by the best soldering iron brand capable of performing any task precisely and reliably. Just set the desired temperature and watch the display in awe. It’s amazing how quickly it heats up and how accurately it maintains the specified temperature throughout your soldering sessions. Though it does not come with a sponge cleaner nor additional tips, it is expected for pros to get all the accessories they find most suitable. Since it’s so expensive, make sure to keep an eye on Groupon promo codes for a chance of landing a much-needed discount.
The UY CHAN TS100 is unique in its appearance and adaptability. The temperature is displayed on an OLED screen on the pencil soldering iron itself. It’s a highly portable soldering iron that heats up in seconds. The temperature can be precisely and easily adjusted from a range of 212 – 752 °F. It has smart temperature sensors and other advanced functions such as a sleep mode, and an overheating warning. For ultimate portability, it can be powered with a DC 12 – 24 V AC adapter/power bank. So it can both be adapted for home and field use. You can even connect it to a computer via a USB port to monitor temperature curves and other custom functions.
OK, so, one can definitely argue that Magento toots its own horn a little bit too confidently with this “Superb” 14-piece set, especially when you see the price. However, this all-inclusive kit that – similarly to its more expensive counterparts – contains everything you need for soldering and tinning a soldering iron performed just fine in our tests. This versatile 60 W pencil iron even features some innovative ceramic-core induction technology and a smart design with large venting holes that improve heat dissipation. They even thought about environment-friendly materials. All this in a practical case. Ultimately, we can say that this kit is on par with its high-end competitors.
And finally, we’ve made it to the last model that barely qualifies as a kit. If you’ve decided that you don’t need a full kit, get this model for a price of a homemade soldering iron. The GLE2016 electric soldering kit consists of a stainless steel 60 W pencil iron, five different tips, and some solder wire. Technically, all you need to start working, even though a stand and a cleaning sponge would make your lives so much easier. This iron too has a ceramic heater core that ensures good and stable heat levels. It heats up in about two minutes, and the built-in thermostat has a solid temperature range.