Which soldering iron is best?
Today’s best soldering irons all have a few of the same features, but depending on your budget, your needs and what kind of soldering you’ll be doing, the model you end up with could vary. Whether you’re a beginner and need a simple, cheap soldering iron, or you’re looking to upgrade your rig to a soldering iron station with additional features, there are numerous options available.
The YIHUA 9470-V Basic Style Analog LED Solder Kit contains what you need in a soldering kit and comes in a portable case.
What to know before you buy a soldering iron
Use and experience level
Beginners may not need an all-out soldering station, while professionals may struggle and become frustrated with soldering iron kits that don’t let you fine-tune temperature for one reason or another.
Soldering iron wattage
While most cheap soldering irons have wattage ratings between 10 and 35 watts, you can find others that have even more. For beginner solderers, it might be worth considering a soldering iron of up to 60 watts, while professionals could handle 100 watts or more.
The type of soldering you plan to do determines the soldering iron you need. The majority of soldering kit buyers will be performing soft soldering, used for light electronics and plumbing, and using a low-temperature heating element to bond alloys to the host. Others who require a more firm connection will practice hard soldering, which uses a blowtorch and silver solder to join brass and copper elements.
What to look for in a quality soldering iron
Preferred soldering iron tips
A soldering iron’s tip does most of the work, although it’s largely a matter of preference that depends on which tip the user prefers. This may require some trial and error to find the perfect tip, but most soldering iron kits come with multiple interchangeable tips, allowing the user to try out different kinds.
Variable temperature control
Even basic soldering irons tend to have temperature control these days, with more advanced soldering iron stations often offering temperature fine-tuning features or interfaces that make it easier to manage the iron’s temperature than a simple rotary dial.
Soldering irons should be used with caution since they can get extremely hot and therefore dangerous. For that reason, some soldering irons include safety features such as auto-shutoff after periods of activity, and most include safety stands for holding the soldering iron between uses.
How much you can expect to spend on a soldering iron
Depending on what you need, different models and stations vary significantly in price. Cheap soldering kits may only cost $20-$30, while mid-tier kits may range from $30-$80 – with many pieces of professional soldering equipment costing even more.
Soldering iron FAQ
How do you turn on soldering irons?
A. In most cases, economy-level soldering irons can be turned on just by being plugged in, while most soldering iron stations will include an on/off switch. The answer to this may also vary depending on which model and type of soldering iron you go with, although you can refer to a given model’s manual to confirm.
Can soldering irons be used for wood burning?
A. While it’s best to get a wood-burning tool for burning wood, especially because their tips are designed for that purpose, some soldering irons may be able to get hot enough to burn wood – although they’ll wear out much more quickly than a tip that was designed to be used for wood burning.
What’s the best soldering iron to buy?
Top soldering iron
What you need to know: This kit contains everything you need for a quick soldering job, including a roll of solder, extra tips and other bonus items like a handy tool case and desoldering pump.
What you’ll love: For everything offered, including the soldering iron, multiple tips, anti-static tweezers and more, this kit offers excellent value. The portable design and case also lets you take this kit wherever you need to go, and the foam on the inside guarantees your tools won’t be rocked around when in transit.
What you should consider: This kit is corded, so you’ll need to be near an outlet or extension cord to operate the solder iron.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Top soldering iron for the money
What you need to know: For those on a budget, this simple soldering iron kit is a great and affordable option, featuring everything you’ll need to solder, as well as a convenient carrying case.
What you’ll love: This 60-watt adjustable temperature soldering iron from Tabiger features all the essentials, with a soldering iron, five different interchangeable tips, a carrying case and a few other tools – perfect for beginners and coming at a price most buyers can afford.
What you should consider: Some had difficulty getting precise temperature control with the dial, and others reported that the unit occasionally overheated.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Worth checking out
What you need to know: This powerful soldering iron station from Weller is a great mid-tier option, featuring variable temperature control, an iron holder and a useful cleaning sponge.
What you’ll love: Weller’s WLC100 lets the user control the iron’s temperature from 5-40 watts, along with a durable soldering iron that users can use for more than just one project. It comes with an ST3 iron-plated soldering tip that makes precise soldering possible.
What you should consider: Unlike many units, this model doesn’t include any extra interchangeable tips.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
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Peter McGuthrie writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.
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