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    Default Soldering iron recommendations

    What is a good soldering iron that I can use on the bench or off? How many watts do I need? Is there any reason to spend big dollars on an iron that isn't being used for tiny electronics?

    Thanks, Cole

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cole2534 View Post
    What is a good soldering iron that I can use on the bench or off? How many watts do I need? Is there any reason to spend big dollars on an iron that isn't being used for tiny electronics?

    Thanks, Cole
    Soldering "stations" with separate power supply are bit clumsy for "field use" so for general purpose I'd look for something like weller W60 https://www.amazon.com/Weller-W60P3-...ateway&sr=8-12

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    Quote Originally Posted by MattiJ View Post
    Soldering "stations" with separate power supply are bit clumsy for "field use" so for general purpose I'd look for something like weller W60 https://www.amazon.com/Weller-W60P3-...ateway&sr=8-12
    Perfect!!!

    And ordered. Amazon 1-click is a dangerous little thing.

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    We use Metcals at work, very nice but pricey
    I use this at home, no complaints
    https://www.amazon.com/Weller-WES51-.../dp/B000BRC2XU

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    Thermaltronics makes cheaper stations identical or better to the Metcals, i think the patent ran out.

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    Metcal uses a high frequency generator to get the tip hot. The tip becomes hot quickly and when the power supply is turned off the tip gets cold fast.

    The only thing about my Metcal is when the power supply is plugged in and the unit is turned off there is a barely audible hum probably from a transformer.

    (Thought the company went out of business or was sold).
    Last edited by rons; 06-19-2019 at 04:38 PM.

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    Our techs seem to love Hako. They are not cheap but heat up fast and maintain tip temperature fairly well as the thermal load changes. I think its because the thermocouple is actually built into the very end of the tip itself. Also there are tons of tips for any task from fine pitch SMT rework to heavy wire soldering.
    FX951 is one of the more affordable models. Once you try it, you will never want to go back to a plug in iron.
    We also use Thermaltronics, but the fact that temperature is set by the tip itself and not adjustable, makes it difficult for some applications and requires stocking a lot more tips

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    I love my little Weller SP12 for electronics:

    https://www.amazon.ca/Weller-Coopert.../dp/B00002N7S9

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    I see the OP has already ordered an iron. It seems to be a fairly good one. Weller is a well known brand and they have been in the business for a long time. I got my first Weller close to 50 years ago and it is still working fine.

    Choosing a soldering iron depends a lot on what you will be doing with it. You will not be doing much sheet metal work with a 40 or even a 100 Watt iron. And a 100 Watt iron may do more damage than good with modern printed circuit boards which can easily be damaged with too much heat. And then there is the style: an iron for sheet metal work is not really designed for circuit boards and vice-versa.

    For electronic work I like:

    1. An iron with temperature control. This allows you to keep the temperature low enough to prevent damage to PCBs.

    2. A moderately high power level. I like around 60 Watts. This, along with the temperature regulation, provides the capability of bringing the temperature up to the set level quickly when working on large parts that soak up the heat.

    3. Interchangeable tips so you can use the proper tip for the job at hand.

    I worked at TV stations and have seen many irons come and go. The first one that impressed me was a Weller WTCP which is a temperature controlled tip. It has sufficient Wattage for most electronic work so you are not frustrated waiting for the joint to heat up. It also has the temperature control built into the tip. This may seem like a disadvantage, but in a shop environment where people are going to just crank up a temperature knob or digital control to the max, it is a very valuable safeguard. I bought one for home use back in the 1970s and it has been my first choice whenever I needed to buy one for my employer's shop. That 1970s purchase is my near 50 year old iron that I mentioned above.

    When I retired I planned a shop in the garage and an electronic table here, in my office. I purchased a second temperature controlled station: a Tenma model 21-9350. It features a digital temperature control and a power rating in that 50 or 60 Watt range. I figure I will be the only user and I am well acquainted with the problems associated with setting the temperature too high so that will not be a problem. I keep it at 600°F and that works for almost all the soldering I do with it. Better technique is a better solution than higher temperatures.

    The current Weller irons in the WTCP series are well over $100. The Tenma iron is a lot more reasonable and they are often on sale. My Tenma model number is no longer available but they have a range of irons to choose from.

    If this is for a commercial shop, GET THE WELLER. I have seen them left running 24/7/365 for year after year and they just keep on ticking. For home use (occasional) the Tenma may be all that is needed.

    PS: Hakkos are good, but grossly overpriced.

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    Best to get, within reason, a bigger iron than you absolutely need.

    The deal there is that you use timing..... a larger iron can get in, solder the joint, and get out before most of the part even gets hot. yes, if you dawdle around you may overheat it, of course, but with an iron that is just barely big enough, you are pretty much forced to wait while the underpowered iron gets everything hot enough to melt solder. The bigger iron will heat the local area you need heated fast enough that the rest of the part stays cooler.

    I've done surface mount stuff with a "too big" iron, and prefer that... same reason, the parts and PWB actually get less hot than with a smaller iron.

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    Quote Originally Posted by MattiJ View Post
    Soldering "stations" with separate power supply are bit clumsy for "field use" so for general purpose I'd look for something like weller W60 https://www.amazon.com/Weller-W60P3-...ateway&sr=8-12
    I had one of these for lots of years. although in 240volt. I would suggest you order a larger tip for the bigger work I think you want to do.

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    Quote Originally Posted by JST View Post
    Best to get, within reason, a bigger iron than you absolutely need.



    The deal there is that you use timing..... a larger iron can get in, solder the joint, and get out before most of the part even gets hot. yes, if you dawdle around you may overheat it, of course, but with an iron that is just barely big enough, you are pretty much forced to wait while the underpowered iron gets everything hot enough to melt solder. The bigger iron will heat the local area you need heated fast enough that the rest of the part stays cooler
    100%! Way more damage done with an iron that is too small than one that is too big. Splicing high voltage cable we had to solder the fine gauze shielding over the semiconducting rubber tape and not damage the tape. You do that with a big old 1” diameter soldering copper. Just a light tap and the fine bare wires are soldered instantly.

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    Intended use would have been a good thing to add- soldering wires from 10-20ga.

    Sent from my SM-G973U using Tapatalk

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    It is not the Wattage or power of the iron that does the damage. It is the temperature and the time. Too hot for too long and the circuit traces peel right off the board. Yes, you need an iron with enough power. But, unless you can insure that the technique it is used with is almost perfect, then temperature regulation is essential. A 60 Watt iron set to 600°F will do it all. A 25 Watt iron at 800°F is taking a real chance of board damage.

    It's the "more power is better" attitude is what does it. That's why, in places where there was a way to set the temperature with a knob or digital control, I always found the bench soldering station set to the max. And I, not the offenders, got the job of fixing the ruined PCBs. And I did it at 600°F or 700°F at the absolute maximum.

    As for surface mount components, currently my favorite technique is with a hot air gun. That works well for both assembly and component removal.

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    " Is there any reason to spend big dollars on an iron that isn't being used for tiny electronics?"

    Strongly suggest, for general purpose shop work, a weller solder gun. 100/140 watt size.
    Buy an older used one that has the nuts that screw down the tip.

    Make the tip out of 5-1/4 inches of no. 12 house wire, you can bend the working
    end into any shape you want.

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    I have a Weller soldering station ( can't remember off-hard wes -51?) and after using it for i while i think the most feature is the auto-shutoff. It heats up really quickly, so it's not annoying.

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    40 watt Weller for me is my go to. Don’t remember the model, but they are left on for most days the bench get used whether or the any soldering gets done. Don’t think I have done any maintenance on them short of replacing worn out tips.

    Milwaukee makes a battery operated M12 soldering iron that I really like. The big draw back is it a bit bulky. Wouldn’t want to do a big project with one, but for quick stuff in the field it’s great!

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    My go-to is a Hakko 888D and a variety of tips. I can do 8AWG wire down to magnification-required SMT work, and everything in between. It's been reliable for 6 years of regular use and counting, and it's no stranger to bouncing around in my bag.

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    I have 2 sizes of Weller gun, a little 60 watt pencil type, a 150 watt "American Beauty" with its wire cage that my Jr. High school metals shop teacher gave me. Mr. Eide where are you? and a big old soldering copper with its propane heating station. My go to soldering iron over all others? a Blue Point YAK10 cordless butane soldering iron. Blue Point is a snap on brand and just a reseller, I have no idea who makes it. It is hands down my favorite, comes with 6 tips, changed in seconds. it will solder the tiniest wires up to 10 gage with no problem. No cord is a wonderful thing!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cole2534 View Post
    Intended use would have been a good thing to add- soldering wires from 10-20ga.

    Sent from my SM-G973U using Tapatalk
    One is allowed to have more than one, and for that range SHOULD HAVE.... JST nailed it, too. Go bigger, get in and get OUT fast. Do not dally and lift traces off a PCB, destroy insulation, nor cripple yerself with polymer fume fever, either.

    I use SIX different "irons" for that range (and smaller, clear down to # 60..).

    An Antex needle-point, three Weller TC's of the 50 series with different tips in each, the oldest in black-case with exposed terminals.

    At #12 to #10, its a Weller, not Weiler "gun" - 100 Watt or so, IIRC.

    My old "field" take-with when traveling light to "parachute" in and sort a truant telco gateway switch or a server was a dual-voltage 120/240 VAC corded Taiwanese stick-type with a pushbutton "boost" mode.

    Above 10 ga. I prefer to use a plumber's butane TORCH, then MAPP gas for the bigger-yet stuff.

    It all scales according to how much copper is carrying heat away. Or NOT.

    I get good joints, regardless.. but that came more out of first making a few BAD ones than which iron was to-hand.

    "Practice joints" are allowed, too. Iron or Iron-plated tips are good. A moist sponge or such for wiping clean is essential. Spend on high-grade solder, and more than one kind OF it, is well-worth it.



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