Soldering is a complex task that can bring a lot of joy to a hobbyist and which can allow anyone to create or repair all sorts of important products. But soldering can only be done if you have the correct equipment, and there?s nothing more important than the soldering iron that you select for your project.
In this article, we?ll examine the features of the Weller D550PK soldering gun kit. This product is a pistol-grip soldering iron that comes in a kit with several important pieces you?ll need to get started soldering. The Weller iron offers a lot of power, but there are some serious concerns about this iron you should know about before purchasing it.
The ultimate decision we want to know, though, is whether or not this iron is right for you and the work you want to do. When deciding on the right iron you always want to first decide exactly what you plan on doing with it. Only then will you understand whether the strengths of a particular iron are going to work well for you.
Let?s take a look at the ins and outs of this Weller kit and see if it is right for you.
What?s in the kit?
The product we?re looking at today is a kit, not just an iron on its own. This kit from Weller comes in a strong plastic carrying case which you can absolutely use for storage for a long time.
Inside the case are your pistol-grip iron, three soldering tips, and even some solder you can use for your first project. It also comes with an instruction manual that gives you some good advice on setting up the iron and how to use it.
Some kits are aimed only at inexperienced users and contain a lot of junk that someone who?s been soldering for years won?t really need. That is not the case here. Having the carrying case and the extra tips are helpful for anyone who buys a new soldering iron, so even if this is not your first iron you might want to pick up this kit.
The star here is, of course, the iron. This Weller iron runs on either a 260-watt setting or a 200-watt setting, with both settings heating up very quickly. The grip has a trigger which allows you to switch between settings on the fly.
The iron itself also has two forward-facing lights that help illuminate whatever it is you?re soldering. These lights do fade in and out depending on the setting you?re using but they do provide adequate lighting to see where you?re going.
The biggest thing you?ll notice about this iron when you pick it up is the weight. This thing is heavy, even heavier than other irons of similar shape and power. Unless you have a very strong grip, you are going to have trouble using this iron for more than an hour or so at a time.
The tips that come with this kit are three different sizes that are suitable for different projects. Switching between the tips is very easy and the Weller system has lots of other options you can purchase and use.
There are three tips here and even the smallest one is too large to really use for delicate work on circuit boards. As we?ll see, this is a bit of a theme with this iron, that it is meant for larger projects like wiring and not necessarily for smaller electronics work.
It takes just a few seconds for the heating element to get up to speed and once it reaches the right temperature it can run for a long time.
There is something a bit peculiar about the power settings on this iron. As we mentioned earlier, this product runs on either a 200 or 260-watt setting and can be adjusted by the trigger in the grip. What is odd is that when the trigger is not engaged, you?re on the higher wattage. To get to the lower wattage you have to engage the trigger, and there?s no easy way to just keep it engaged while you wait for the iron to cool off.
This isn?t the worst design flaw I?ve ever seen, but it does seem a bit backward. I would usually expect that the disengaged trigger would give me the lower setting.
For those not familiar, this iron is shaped like a gun handle would be shaped, meaning that your hand grips the iron at a 90-degree angle from where the iron itself is pointed. There are benefits and drawbacks to a grip like this that you should consider.
The biggest benefit is that when working with an iron this size, the pistol grip is much more comfortable. This gear simply would not be able to fit into a pen-style grip; it would be much to wide to hold in the hand.
The drawbacks are that this grip just doesn?t allow you to be as precise as you can be when you?re gripping up closer to the tip. Especially for those just learning to solder, it can be very easy to foul your work area just because you can?t keep the tip exactly under control.
You?ll need to consider your own experience level, any experience with pistol grips, and the kind of work you?ll be doing to decide whether or not this grip is right for you.
Pros and cons
- Heats very quickly and works well for hours
- Comfortable pistol grip that sits well in the hand
- Kit is designed to quickly let you jump into soldering
- Lighting makes it easy to see what you?re doing
- Several tip options for different projects
- Comes with a carrying and storage case
- Extremely heavy
- Difficult to be precise with the weight and grip
- Tips are a bit too big for some projects
- Confusing trigger setup
- Limited range of temperatures available
Who should buy the Weller D550PK iron?
As we mentioned earlier, it is important to understand what you want to do with your iron before you go shopping for one. The Weller kit is perfect for some things but not for others.
With the high heat, lighting, and tip options, this kit is best suited for wiring work, or for large projects like stained glass. Your tips are all pretty sizable here and the iron itself is super heavy. It works really well for when you need to make joins, or get intricate wiring laid out and ready to use.
The lights on this iron make it ideal for projects where there?s a concern about being able to see where you?re going. The major category that comes to mind there is in automotive wiring, where it isn?t always easy to run a light down to wherever you?re making connections. This iron makes that problem go away completely.
The Weller kit here is not great for doing work on electronics or circuit boards. You just can?t get the kind of delicate movement you need from such a large iron, and you?ll end up fouling more often than not if you try to do so.
Bringing it all together
So there you have a rundown of what this kit does well and what it doesn?t do well. For your next wiring or stained glass project, you might want to reach for the Weller D550PK. When you consider purchasing the product, think about the added value of getting all these pieces at once.
I often have the issue of picking up a new iron and not really knowing how the tips will perform until I get them in my hand. That means even once I have the iron, I often need to wait until I can pick up the right tip before I proceed with a project. Having lots of options right out of the box solves this problem and lets me jump right into whatever I want.