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Soldering Iron - A beginner’s guide to choosing the right soldering iron

Jun 22,2024 | WEP Tools

A student is soldering with WEP 939D+IV in the classroom

If you happened to chance upon our article, you might have dabbled with a soldering iron in the past, maybe for a school project, or a DIY endeavor. But then life happened, and the soldering iron ended up collecting dust in a corner. Now, circumstances have brought you back to the world of soldering, and you’re on the hunt for the right tools to get the job done.

 

Here’s our list of factors to consider so you can purchase the right soldering iron for your work.

 

  1. Types of Soldering Irons

          a. Basic Soldering Iron: Fixed wattage/power and temperature. Good for occasional use.a soldering iron with fixed power

      b. Soldering Iron with Adjustable Temperature: Allows you to control the temperature. Great for when soldering with different types of solder and components.a temperature-adjustable soldering iron

      c. Soldering Stations: Comes with more precise temperature control, digital display, ESD (electrostatic discharge) protection, and other additional features. This is perfectly suited for day-to-day regular use for professional or semi-professional users.

Soldering station WEP 939D+IV

  1. Power Rating: A general representation of the heating performance, often used to categorize products of a certain heating capacity.

a hand pointing to a soldering iron's power rating label

    1. Greater power doesn’t mean a better tool, the key is to find the right power for your specific application. For example, using a 300W heavy-duty non-temperature adjustable soldering iron to solder a capacitor on a gaming console circuit board would surely damage the component. Instead, using a 45~60W temperature-controlled soldering iron may the best option.
    2. Again, greater rated power doesn’t mean a better tool. To list another example, a temperature-controlled soldering station with a maximum power of 220W, and a rated power of 25W can easily rival a non-temperature adjustable soldering iron rated at 110W. This is because the temperature control function is adjusting the power draw constantly to keep the soldering iron at a steady temperature. Much like how cruise control works on a car, we don’t have to floor the gas to keep the car at 60mph.
  1. Temperature Control: An important function to provide better control over the soldering process. More advanced temperature control technology can prevent overheating and damaging components.A graph showing a soldering iron's power
  1. Quality of Construction: Consider the build quality when choosing a soldering iron or station, especially in areas prone to solder splatter. For instance, pay attention to the construction of the cleaning area, which is particularly susceptible to solder splashes during use. Without adequate protection, this area may suffer from melting or damage, rendering it unusable over time. Investing in a soldering iron or station with a considerate design can prevent such issues and prolong the lifespan of your equipment, saving you the hassle of replacing damaged components in the long run.a hand tinning the solder iron beside a soldering iron holder
  1. Safety Features: Ensuring the soldering iron has safety features such as heat-resistant grip, a stable and safe stand, and temperature control functions to prevent damages to user or the users’ work space.a soldering iron's temperature range
  2. Budget: Take into account your budget when selecting a soldering iron or station, aiming for the best value. While it's tempting to opt for the cheapest option, investing in a quality tool that suits your project needs can prevent frustration and replacement costs down the line.a blurred graph with US dollar icons
  3. Manufacturer’s Support: Opt for a brand that offers reliable technical support and advice when needed. Even budget-friendly soldering tools can come with excellent service. Insightful guidance on temperature settings and tip selection before starting your soldering project can save you time and frustration in the long run. Choosing a manufacturer that prioritizes customer support ensures that you have the assistance you need for successful soldering endeavors.

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