Best Soldering Iron Reviews 2018

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.

Victoria, Homethods Author
Victoria

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

NameWattagePower Source 
Tabiger Soldering Iron Kit
(EDITOR'S CHOICE)
60WElectric
Vastar 16-in-160WElectric
Power Probe PPSK 120WButane
Hakko FX-901/P Cordless6WBatteries(4 AA)
Hakko FX888D-23BY Digital70WElectric

Tabiger Soldering Iron Kit

Tabiger Soldering Iron Kit 60W

Tabiger presents you with a pretty nice kit to get the amateur started off, and it’s definitely priced right. This 60W kit comes with a variety of different heads to get you started with and a nicely formed soldering iron to get the work done.

With 60W of power you can handle most tasks easily enough, and it also comes with the basic tools you might lack. There’s a pair of tweezers, a stand, some soldering wire and a solder sucker to clean up your work or remove the previous solder when you’re making a new connection.

All of this comes in a convenient carrying case, but the kit does lack super precise temperature control which can be a pain for those who want to make sure they have complete control.

Pros
  • Complete kit for an amateur
  • 60W of power
  • Variety of tips
  • Temperature control
  • Cheap
Cons
  • Stand is low quality
  • Not suited for a professional

Vastar 16-in-1

Vastar 16-in-1 60W

If you know you’re going to get serious with your soldering, but aren’t quite ready to spend the money on a soldering station just yet then the Vastar 16-in-1 offers you some pretty impressive value for your dollar.

This kit comes with a variety of tools to allow you to manipulate the solder after you lay it down, a 60W power supply and smooth temperature controls.

The soldering iron itself, however, is a wonder to behold. It’s slim and ergonomically designed, with an emphasis on user comfort that’s impressive. The stand is also nice, and the whole kit can be put away in the included hard case quite easily.

The kit is pretty inclusive, coming with pretty much all of the tools you’ll need and allowing you to get to work right off the bat.

This is the kit to go for if you’re certain that you’re going to be soldering for a considerable amount of time, and it provides an impressive value to cost ratio.

Pros
  • 60W power supply
  • Comes with everything you need
  • Wide variety of tips
  • Ergonomic pen design
  • Hard case included
Cons
  • Temperature knob can change easily in use
  • Solder sucker has some problems

Power Probe PPSK Butane Soldering Kit

Power Probe PPSK

It’s not always possible to have a plug around when you need to get some serious repairs done, the Power Probe PPSK is a butane powered soldering iron which will allow you some pretty impressive versatility when you’re in the field.

Coming with the equivalent of 120W of power it’ll stay hot through pretty much anything and you’ll be able to use it outdoors if that’s your plan. Since it doesn’t require a plug to operate you’ll be glad to know it comes with a convenient carrying case which holds each of the five tips easily while you’re on the go.

It can also be used as a torch, adding that extra bit of function which makes it invaluable for those who are considering it. The whole build is high quality and fits in your hand remarkably well.

Be careful, however, as it can get too hot for some purposes. This isn’t something to be used on particularly delicate objects like computer chips, but in places where it’s needed it definitely steps above the competition.

For emergency usage or those who want a soldering iron/torch that can be used easily for automotive purposes, the Power Probe PPSK kit is a sure winner in its class.

Pros
  • Butane powered
  • Torch function
  • Complete kit
  • Awesome hard case
  • 120W equivalent
Cons
  • Too hot for delicate usage
  • Included tips are low quality

Hakko FX-901/P Cordless Soldering Iron

Hakko FX-901:P

For specific applications, it’s hard to beat the Hakko FX-901/P. It’s a small, low powered iron which works for niche applications but you’ll want to pass it up if you’re looking to do seriously heavy duty repairs.

Despite the low power, only 6W or so, it’s a well-made iron that should hold up for a long time thanks to being constructed by Hakko which is a go-to name in the small electronics repair world.

You’ll want to invest in good, rechargeable batteries if you intend to use this iron, it’s powered with 4 AAA batteries but the stock ones have a tendency to run out of juice really quickly. Most people find that it works best with Ni-MH batteries so pick them up when you buy one.

The low power doesn’t make it suitable for a whole lot, but for simple things like repairing an RC car without having to go find a plug it’s pretty invaluable.

If you need a portable soldering iron for the in-the-field repairs for your hobby, then add this to your tool box. You’ll want to give it a pass if you’re needing something for big jobs however.

Pros
  • Lightweight
  • Cordless
  • Solid construction
  • Ergonomically designed
  • Heats quickly
Cons
  • Suitable only for lightweight work
  • Not suitable for normal batteries

Hakko FX888D-23BY Digital Soldering Station

Hakko FX888D-23BY Digital Soldering Station

If you’re looking for a soldering station that can handle pretty much anything you might come across, then this is exactly what you’re looking for. Coming in with 70W of power and a ridiculously quick heating tip it’s the perfect bench top solution.

Keep in mind, this is just the station. It’s pretty much perfect for those who know what they’re doing, but you’ll have to buy everything you might need separately.

The pencil shape and design also makes it extremely easy to use, which is a huge plus over some of the unwieldy messes you can end up with if you opt for an inferior soldering station.

If you know what you’re doing and you’re willing to invest in your soldering future, you won’t be let down by this kit.

Pros
  • Super ergonomic
  • Quick heating
  • Cleaning wire built into the station
  • Uses Hakko tips
  • Easy access power switch
Cons
  • Expensive
  • Comes with only one tip and station

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.

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.

The best Soldering irons

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.

Wattage

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.

Tip Types

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

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.

Ergonomics

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.

Power Source

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.

References

  1. http://www.instructables.com/
  2. https://www.circuitspecialists.com
  3. http://www.dummies.com/
  4. http://store.curiousinventor.com
  5. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solder
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