A soldering iron is pretty much the essential tool if you’re interested in working with small electronics. If you’re just beginning on this fascinating journey then it can be hard to tell which option to go with, but we’ll make the choice a whole lot easier for you.
Read on and we’ll show you five of the best and help you decide which to add to your tool box for the best results.
Best Overall !
This is the perfect kit for an amateur, however, and it the affordable price means it’s something which should be in the home of anyone who cares to tinker with electronics.
Top 5 Best Soldering Irons
|Tabiger Soldering Iron Kit|
|Power Probe PPSK||120W||Butane|
|Hakko FX-901/P Cordless||6W||Batteries(4 AA)|
|Hakko FX888D-23BY Digital||70W||Electric|
Who Needs a Soldering Iron?
If you don’t already have a need in mind, it’s time to start thinking before we discuss how to make a final decision. For the most part, soldering irons are a small hand tool which is designed to melt solder for working with electronics.
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Depending on if you’re just making occasional repairs or getting into taking care of a ton of electronics for a starting business or as a hobby you’ll find that your needs shape what soldering iron is desirable quite a bit.
Basically, if you’re planning on working with electronics in a serious way, having a soldering iron in your available tools isn’t just a good idea, it’s pretty much a necessity.
What Should I Look For in a Soldering Iron?
For the novice, there’s a ton of different qualities which won’t make a whole lot of sense. Compounding the issue, there’s a wide range of different features which may or may not actually be necessary for the novice although marketing will generally lead you to believe you need it all.
Keep an eye on the following when you’re looking into getting one.
A lot of soldering irons are vastly overpowered for those who don’t intend on using one throughout their work day. For most people 25W will be about the sweet spot. This is especially essential if you’re looking to go cheap and don’t want to spend the extra money on temperature control.
If you are looking into getting an advanced model or soldering station going then wattage has a much different function than just heating the tip. In a temperature controlled soldering iron, wattage represents the resilience of the tool’s heat retention. Basically, a higher wattage tool will have less trouble when it comes to remaining at the desired heat.
While you can generally invest in different tips after selecting an iron, it’s a good idea to make sure that you have an understanding of what each is best used for before you start spending money.
Conical tips are the usual “sharp” tips that people think of. They’re mostly used for applications involving small electronics since they allow you to get a whole lot of precision. They’re also used for just general soldering, since they’re probably the most common tip type.
Chisel tips are larger than conical tips and great for general soldering. For applications where you’ll need to apply a decent amount of solder, chisel tips are ideal but they’re not quite as useful for super precise work.
Hoof tips are used for drag soldering. Their slightly concave, wide surface will allow you to “drag” some solder across the surface. They’re used when you want to have your solder already on the tip when you apply it.
Needle tips resemble a conical tip but come to an even finer point. For super precise work there’s no real equal, but they’re not really suitable for larger projects. Make sure you know the difference here, needle tips are actually pretty specialized despite their superficial resemblance.
Knife tips are used for broader repairs and drag soldering for the most part. They can also be used for less precise point soldering but don’t think of them as a “catch all” since they’re a lot less precise than a conical or needle tip.
There really are a ton of different tip types out there, but these are the most common and the others have highly specialized uses for the most part.
Temperature control can be essential for some projects. In addition to the lasting heat, rather than just hoping the tip isn’t too hot for what you’re working with, you can also change things up when you’re working with different kinds of circuits.
For really delicate stuff it’s pretty much required, as heat can damage components and render the entire item fried instead of allowing you to repair things.
While lead-solder melts at around 370°F, you’ll usually be running at 500°F or above. This will make things run more freely.
If you choose to invest in a temperature controlled soldering iron then you want to make sure it’s accurate. A runaway thermostat can cause quite a bit of damage if you thought you were operating at a lower heat and sometimes precise application of thermal energy can be quite important.
An ergonomically designed iron is super important when you’re picking your tool, particularly if you’re planning on using it on a regular basis. Your hand cramping while you’re trying to put together a board can be disastrous, ruining your project with a simple slip of the hand.
With all other factors equal, it’s always worth looking into making sure that you get the most comfortable tool possible.
Make no mistake, all things being equal an electrically powered iron is always the better choice.
However, there are butane powered soldering irons on the market. While less precise in their temperature control they can be used in situations where power isn’t readily available.
Battery powered options also exist, but in most situations where you’re going to be using one of these tools you’ll be at a work bench anyways which leaves the plug-in models pretty far ahead when it comes to actual usage.