What is a soldering iron?
A soldering iron is a great tool to have in your toolkit. Sometimes called a soldering pencil, it’s a simple method for creating a strong physical bond between more than one metal.
Available in many different shapes and sizes, choosing the right one for your future projects depends on quite a few variables such as the wattage, type, temperature and tip compatibility.
Soldering isn’t a difficult skill to learn and can be easily mastered by watching a few online tutorial videos.
What can soldering irons be used for?
Soldering irons can be used for repairing electronic appliances, creating new circuit boards, for automotive metalwork and even very intricate work on stained glass panels.
What’s the right wattage for you?
When choosing a soldering iron, you should always look at the wattage rating. Most soldering irons fall in the 20–60 watts range. The lower the wattage the longer your iron will take to heat up.
At the lower end of the scale (less than 30 watts) the irons don’t always maintain a consistent temperature, resulting in uneven solder joints.
Soldering irons in the 40–60 watts bracket are more powerful and give you greater control, as they reheat the tip more quickly after each solder joint is completed. Some soldering stations come with functions that give you very accurate control over the wattage and are worth considering, when you require the neatest of finishes.
The right type and temperature control
The two main types of machine are soldering irons and soldering stations.
Standard pencil soldering irons are plugged directly into a socket and don’t come with an adjustable temperature function. However, there are also soldering irons available in an adjustable format, allowing you to control the temperature by hand.
There are also cordless versions, which are great for portability. Many of these cordless soldering irons (or torches) are powered by butane gas canisters, making the flame easy to control and the kit easy to carry around.
A soldering station is basically a soldering pencil that has been pre-connected to a power station. The major benefit of soldering stations is that they give you far more temperature control at the tip of the soldering iron. Some stations even come with an automatic electronic temperature control, so you have absolute precision and consistency over your heat settings.
Tips about soldering iron tips
When choosing a soldering iron, it’s better to buy one that comes with replaceable tips. Because tips come in various sizes, there are different ones available for a variety of jobs.
If you’re going to work on multiple projects, it’s probably worth purchasing a few extra tips when you buy your iron. Always check the price and compatibility of replacement tips to see if the generic ones, which can be cheaper, will work with your new iron.
Find the best soldering iron for you
The sort of soldering work you want to do will help you decide the type of iron you buy. If you need more help working out which one to buy, take a look at our wide range of soldering solutions or speak with one of our helpful team.