Finding the soldering iron that works best for you can be moderately easy if you know what type of job you’re going to use it for and the corresponding type of soldering iron which that job needs. The main considerations when choosing a soldering iron include if it has the proper tip and the sufficient wattage and temperature for the job. Some soldering irons are more suited for use on delicate computer components, while others are for soldering outdoor connections and other heavy-duty stuff.
When it comes to soldering, Weller is the leading manufacturer, with innovative products like soldering tools for lead-free applications, inert-gas soldering irons and micro soldering irons. But other manufacturers like HAKKO; Hexacon Electric, which manufactured the first soldering pencil and first soldering station; Metcal; Orient-America; Ungar, etc. also offer products of good quality. So when choosing a soldering iron, you can look at the brand for an extra assurance of quality, but it’s still best to check which one agrees with the work you need it for. Here are the types of soldering irons and the kind of work they are specially made for:
- Soldering pencil and soldering gun. These are tools for do-it-yourself work and simple soldering jobs that you might encounter in the house. This won’t work as well for bigger or more complicated jobs.
- Soldering iron with assorted tips. Most soldering irons available now on the market can use assorted tips to adapt to the work that you’ll use it for, and you can simply check in your local Wal-Mart for one. The fine wire tip is for fine, precise work. If you need an iron for cold soldering, you can choose an iron with a butane-flame tip. There are cold irons specially made to stand use in a cool environment, so you can opt for that too.
- Soldering iron with different wattages or temperature control. You don’t need a high-wattage iron if you’re working on circuit boards, but you need a soldering iron that runs on higher than 25 watts for heavy-duty outdoor work or when you need to solder thick cables. Some soldering irons come with temperature control, and using a unit with such a feature will enable you to work continuously on something, since it will automatically keep the tip at the proper soldering heat while you work.
- Soldering station. A soldering station is usually made up of a cordless rechargeable unit with adjustable settings, a work bench and a unit for digital readouts. If you solder frequently, it’s advisable to upgrade to a soldering station. The cordless unit is also nice and convenient to work with if you need precision work as in the case of circuit boards and jewelry.
If you need a soldering iron for electronic devices and components like integrated circuits which are static-sensitive, choose a unit that is created to be ESD-safe. This means that you have protection against electrostatic discharge and you’re not likely to get grounded. Also choose a soldering iron with a comfortable and well-insulated grip, especially if you’re likely to spend a long time soldering things.