If you are a soldering hobbyist or a professional, one piece of equipment you might want to consider investing in is a desoldering station. There are quite a few options to choose from that provide flexibility for the user. However, one thing you will need to decide on is the method that you want to use to desolder or rework your PCBs. There are desoldering stations and hot air rework stations. Both accomplish relatively the same thing, but work in slightly different ways.
Hot air rework stations work better for small jobs when you are working with older PCBs. It is not exactly precise, but gets the job done by melting old solder so you can remove components. In addition, hot air rework stations are much faster to use as you can usually melt a part off and reapply a new component within a short span of time. Hot air guns are also non-contact options, which can prevent damage to your PCB. Another benefit of hot air rework stations is that many times they also double as solder stations.
With desoldering stations, you get a more precise execution. Most include vacuum pumps for removing old solder and maintaining precise control. Desoldering stations are much easier to manage and clean up from since they limit the area of rework compared to hot air gun stations. Unfortunately, one downside of desoldering stations is that there is a risk of voltage damage when using due to the contact options. However, these stations tend to be much more cost effective compared to hot air rework stations.
Best Desoldering Stations 2021
Anesty Pro Digital Desoldering Station ZD-915
The ZD-915 is designed to handle lead-free solder work. It has an input voltage range of 100 to 300 volts and consumes about 140 watts of power. It also has a temperature range of 160 to 480 degrees Celsius. The desoldering gun has an internal ceramic core that heats up quickly. In addition, the unit comes with a 0.8, 1.0, and 1.2 mm tip for the desoldering gun. It also comes equipped with three cleaning needles.
The Anesty unit comes with a built-in vacuum pump for easy solder clean up, which not all models have. It has a variable temperature range and the display is easy to use and understand. The readout shows not only set temperature, but also actual temperature of the unit when in use. It includes several different tips for various desoldering jobs. The desoldering gun is controlled by a PTC heating element that senses and adjusts the temperature accordingly to the set temperature as needed.
This unit was quite popular amongst soldering hobbyists, but did have a few notable flaws. Several consumer complaints referred to poor quality control as their units arrived broken. In addition, some users found that the desoldering gun did not get hot enough to continuously melt solder without it solidifying again during rework.