Which soldering irons are best?
Whether you work with jewelry or circuit boards, a soldering iron can be an extremely helpful tool to have in your workspace. Soldering irons generate targeted heat that can be harnessed to melt, combine and repair small metal parts.
The perfect soldering iron for your hobby or profession is going to depend on a few factors, including your desired power level and tip size. For a versatile soldering device that’s adjustable and loaded with features, check out the ToAuto Soldering Station 90W.
What to know before you buy a soldering iron
The power level of a soldering iron is typically measured in wattage instead of temperature. Although it may seem like a high-wattage soldering iron is going to be the wisest choice, a tool that generates too much heat can actually burn and damage parts if you aren’t careful.
A basic soldering iron may have an on/off switch and no power control, while a more advanced model can let you adjust the power settings to your needs. Either way, a power level of 10 to 65 watts should be enough to get most jobs done.
Anatomy of a soldering iron
In its most basic form, a soldering iron consists of a heating element, a handle, a power cord and a tip. The tip covers the heating element and is used to direct the heat wherever you want it. Most soldering irons have replaceable tips, and tips come in a variety of shapes and sizes. A short tip is going to transfer heat faster but can be difficult for beginners to control. A long tip is easier to maneuver but may have difficulty heating up if your iron can’t provide sufficient power.
The handle is usually constructed from heat-resistant plastic or silicone, and the power cable typically runs into a control station or conventional power outlet, depending on the device. There are also wireless USB and battery-powered soldering irons as well as butane-powered soldering irons.
What to look for in a quality soldering iron
A soldering iron with adjustable power levels and temperature control can be extremely helpful if you want to work on a wide variety of projects. These devices usually include a display screen or dial that shows the iron’s current temperature.
Many soldering irons are sold in kits that include all of the necessities for soldering, including interchangeable tips, specialized tweezers, wire cutters and even a carrying case. Elevated stands are usually included in these kits so you can set aside your iron while it’s heating up or while you’re focusing on other tasks. You can also look for a kit that includes a desoldering pump, which can be used to remove existing solder or undo a mistake.
Certain tips are better suited for different soldering purposes, so look for a tool that comes with additional tips that can be switched out depending on your needs. These can range from an assortment of sizes that let you control the heat precision to sharp tips that are specialized for pyrography, also known as wood burning.
How much you can expect to spend on a soldering iron
The cost of a soldering iron can vary widely depending on its features and any included accessories. Expect to spend around $10-$60 for a basic tool with no accessories and $80-$150 for an advanced, comprehensive soldering kit.
Soldering iron FAQ
What are some uses for a soldering iron?
A. Many people think of circuit boards and electronics when they think of soldering irons, but these tools can also be used for a wide variety of other tasks, including jewelry, plumbing and even creating stained glass or mosaic art pieces.
Can kids learn how to solder?
A. Soldering irons are safe and simple tools that can be great for teaching young minds the inner workings of their favorite electronics, but they should never be used by kids without adult supervision.
What’s the best soldering iron to buy?
Top soldering iron
What you need to know: This versatile soldering station comes with interchangeable tips and tons of features.
What you’ll love: This soldering iron kit has adjustable temperature controls and heats up fast. There’s also a built-in display screen that shows your current heat level and safety features like an automatic standby setting and sleep mode.
What you should consider: The display screen only shows temperature, not wattage.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Top soldering iron for the money
What you need to know: This budget-friendly kit comes with some accessories and a power cord that plugs directly into a wall outlet.
What you’ll love: Perfect for a beginner or hobbyist not looking to break the bank, this soldering iron kit comes with five interchangeable tips, a cleaning sponge, a container of soldering paste and a portable stand.
What you should consider: The temperature controls are marked in Celsius instead of Fahrenheit.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Worth checking out
What you need to know: This simple soldering station comes with an adjustable wattage control dial and can reach temperatures of up to 900 degrees.
What you’ll love: Manufactured by an industry leader, this soldering station features a lightweight soldering iron with a comfortable foam grip and a built-in stand for storage. The heating element is replaceable, and there’s also a sponge cleaning pad built right into the station’s base.
What you should consider: The station doesn’t come with any additional soldering tips.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
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Patrick Farmer writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.
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