Soldering irons are an essential tool if you work with electronics. They let you make precise adjustments to circuit boards and solder components together without damaging electronics.
Since you?ll be working with sensitive electronics, it?s important to find a soldering iron that has plenty of precision. Unfortunately, many irons out there sacrifice performance for affordability. As soon as you turn them on, they fry your circuit board.
That?s why we?re here to help. Here, we?ll walk you through everything you need to know before picking out a soldering iron. Then, we?ll review some of the best irons on the market across a number of different categories and price points so that you can find the one best suited to your needs.
Best Soldering Irons Buying Guide
1. Best Overall: Hakko FX888D Soldering Iron
The Hakko FX888D soldering iron is one of the best all around tools out there. It has the perfect blend of performance, ease of use, and versatility, making it a great option for anyone from DIYers to pros.
The Hakko heats up quickly, so you won?t have to wait long to get started. It also has some of the best thermal recovery of any of the irons reviewed here, so the tip stays at a steady temperature as you work. This means that you?ll get even soldering along all of your components, ensuring that the circuit works.
The Hakko makes use of T18 soldering tips, which have better heat conductivity than most other tips out there. This means that you?ll be able to work at a lower temperature, which reduces the risk of damaging sensitive electronics. It also reduces the amount of fumes emitted as you solder.
By using a lower heat, the tips have a longer lifespan, as they won?t wear out from high temperatures. This saves you money over time, especially if you use your soldering iron frequently.
The base allows you to quickly dock the iron when you?re not working. The digital thermometer gives you plenty of versatility, letting you adjust the temperature so that you get the exact right heat for each job.
The compact build of the iron means it won?t take up too much space on your workstation. The grip is comfortable, so the tool will great in your hand throughout long periods of use.
Although the Hakko can be adjusted easily, it can take some getting used to the two input buttons. You?ll need to pay careful attention to the instruction manual so that you get the settings right.
If you?re looking for the best all around soldering iron, it?s tough to beat the Hakko. This is a powerful, reliable tool that can be used by just about anyone. And it?s affordable, so you won?t have to spend much to get it.
- Accurate, quick heating tip
- Easy to adjust digital thermometer
- Excellent thermal recovery
- Comfortable grip
- Compact and durable build
- Can take some time to get used to controls
2. Weller WLC100 40 Watt Soldering Iron
The Weller WLC100 40 watt soldering iron is one of the best entry level stationary irons you can find. It offers a great mix of affordability and performance, giving you enough power without breaking the bank.
If you don?t need as much power, you can dial it down to just 5 watts. This makes the Weller a great option if you work with sensitive components that can easily be damaged by heat. You can also quickly adjust the temperature from the base, with a maximum of 900 degrees. This level of power isn?t usually found in an entry level iron, so it?s great to see it here.
The ST3 iron plated copper tip does a great job of conducting heat and keeping the temperature consistent as you work. Since it conducts heat well, you won?t have to use as high of a temperature, protecting components.
An outer layer of chromium keeps the tip from wearing down over time, extending its lifespan and saving you money.
The iron has a rubber grip that prevents cramping during periods of extended use. The body is quite lightweight, so your hand won?t wear out halfway through a project.
The base has a station that lets you dock the iron when you?re not working, and it also comes with a sponge that makes it easy to wipe off the tip and keep it clean, preventing old solder from building up.
All settings are controlled with the dial on the base. This makes it easy to switch the power settings, although there are a limited number of settings to choose from.
For the price, it?s hard to beat the Weller. Although it won?t give you quite as much precision as the Hakko, it makes up for this with its price and ease of use. It?s one of the best all around soldering irons you?ll find.
- Max temperature of up to 900 degrees
- Adjustable power output
- Comfortable, no slip grip
- Docking station and sponge included
- Tips keep heat and have a long lifespan
- Limited settings
3. UY Chan Portable Soldering Iron
If you need a soldering iron to take with you on the go, the UY Chan is one of your best options. Most portable soldering irons make you sacrifice power, but the UY Chan still has enough punch to get most jobs done.
The iron heats up in just a few seconds, reaching a maximum temperature of 712 degrees. This gives you enough heat for difficult wires and components. If you are working with more sensitive electronics, you can lower the heat to around 200 degrees, preventing heat damage to components.
The LED screen gives you a readout of the current temperature, and you can easily adjust it with a few button presses. An automatic overheating warning lets you know if the temperature is getting too hot, and there is also a night mode that shuts off the tool, lowering the risk of burns.
If you need to make more adjustments to the settings, you can plug the iron into a computer. You can create custom functions, as well as to adjust temperature rising curves.
The main benefit of using the UY Chan is that it?s portable and lightweight. You won?t have to plug it in to use it, and you can take it with you wherever you go. It feels great in your hand, so you won?t get tired over periods of extended use.
The one main downside of the UY Chan is that it isn?t compatible with many tips. Although the BC2 tips that come with the iron are great, you won?t get as much versatility as you would with some of the other irons that are compatible with a greater range of tips.
If you?re looking for the best portable iron, the UY Chan should be at the top of your list. It?s a fully functional iron that you can take just about anywhere. Although it won?t give you as much power as station irons, you should still be able to handle most soldering jobs with ease.
- Lightweight and portable
- Great maximum temperature for a portable iron
- Easy to customize functions
- Digital LED temperature readout
- Heats up quickly
- Durable build
- Won?t give as much power as other irons
- Not compatible with many tips
4. Vastar Soldering Iron Kit
The Vastar soldering iron isn?t the most powerful or fully featured tool reviewed here. But where it does stand out is with its price and its versatility. This kit gives you all of the tips that you?ll need to handle common jobs, and the iron itself, while not outstanding, is reliable.
The steel pipe design does a good job of quickly heating up the tip, so you won?t spend time waiting around. The iron has decent thermal resistance, not cooling off too much as you solder. That said, the temperature doesn?t stay as constant as other irons on this list, so you should check the heat as you work to make sure it hasn?t dropped.
Without a base, the iron is light and easy to use. Just plug it into the wall and you?re good to go. You can make temperature adjustments on the iron itself. Although you won?t get quite as much precision as you would with a stand iron, the Vastar still has enough settings to handle a variety of jobs.
The main upside of the Vastar is the wide range of tip types that come with the kit. You?ll get 5 different tips with the iron, allowing you to easily customize it for the job at hand. Given the affordable price, the tips that you get with the iron make this one of the best values out there.
The Vastar isn?t without its faults. Although reliable, it?s not nearly as durable as more expensive tools. It also doesn?t have as much power, so you won?t be able to handle soldering jobs that require high temperatures.
These downsides, however, are just a trifle when you consider how little you?ll be paying for the kit. It?s one of the best options if you need a full featured and affordable soldering iron kit.
- Comes with 5 different tips
- Easy to adjust temperature dial
- Compact and light build
- One of the best values you?ll find for an iron
- Quick heating and good thermal resistance
- Not very durable
- Not as powerful as other irons
5. Master Appliance Ultratorch UT-100SiK Butane Powered Soldering Iron
If you?re looking for a powerful gas powered iron, the Master Appliance is one of your best options. It can reach temperatures that you just won?t be able to get with plug in irons, making it excellent for specialized jobs.
Since the Master Appliance soldering iron requires butane, it?s not as convenient as most of the other irons reviewed here. If you already have butane tanks sitting around your workshop, this won?t be an issue. But if you?re looking for a plug and use iron, this isn?t it.
But the benefit of using butane is the power that you?ll get. This iron can reach temperatures of over 2500 degrees, making it far more powerful than most of the other irons on this list. If you need an iron with a serious punch, the Master Appliance is an excellent option.
Although the iron is designed to pack a powerful punch, it can also be controlled so that you don?t damage sensitive electronics. The power dials back to a minimum of 20 watts, keeping the tip from frying components.
The solder tips have an extra coating of copper and iron, helping them withstand high temperatures and not wear down over time. The tips have great conductivity and thermal resistance, so the temperature stays constant as you work.