Best Soldering Iron

Soldering irons are versatile tools considering their simplicity. Whether you are an engineer who fuses wires for an electronics project or a plumber merging small copper pipes, you’re likely going to need one of these devices to get the job done.

In a basic sense, soldering irons are just handheld heaters. These tools melt solder, a metal alloy with a low melting point that fuses other metals together. Despite this simplicity, though, the choices can be overwhelming when making a purchase. That’s why we’ve thrown together this handy list. Read on to expedite your buying process and get back to your project with as little hassle as possible.

4 Best Soldering Irons

Check out my picks for the best soldering iron outs there.

Hakko FX88D-23BY Digital Soldering Station

Specs

  • 2.6 pounds
  • 120 Volts
  • 70 Watts
  • Temperature Rating – 200°C – 480°C
  • Pieces Included – Station power supply, iron, iron holder, sponge, waterless cleaner

Pros

  • Quick heating and stable temperature
  • Digital Temperature readout
  • Highly customizable
  • High-quality manufacturing

Cons

  • More expensive than most
  • Some unintuitive programming
  • Watch out for foreign knockoffs

Overview

If you’re looking for a heavy-duty and long-lasting soldering iron kit, this might be your best option, especially if you’re willing to shell out a little more money for it. Though Hakko’s products are manufactured throughout Asia, they are a Japanese company, and their reputation for high-quality electronics shines through here.

There’s a lot to love about this Hakko soldering station. For one, the temperature control is highly detailed and customizable. It can heat to 400°C in less than one minute, and it stays stable for as long as you want to use it. With five pre-programmable temperature settings, you can figure out which temperatures work best for your tasks and jump back to them easily. Digital temperature readouts ensure you always know exactly how hot your iron is.

It’s a comfortable product to hold, and the part that touches your skin is well-insulated to prevent burning. There are also a variety of tips available to customize the iron further.

The only real downside is that programming can be a little confusing for some users. There are only two buttons on the power base, so some adjustments require the user to hold down buttons before turning on the device. Some others make you hold down a button for two seconds before pressing something else. It’s a little confusing, but Hakko has videos on their website to help.

Weller WE1010NA Digital Soldering Station

Specs

  • 5.51 pounds
  • 120 Volts
  • 70 Watts
  • Temperature Rating – 100°C – 450°C
  • Pieces Included – Power station, iron, tip retainer, safety rest with sponge, 1.6 mm screwdriver

Pros

  • Comfortable and safe to hold
  • High-temperature stability
  • Intuitive navigation

Cons

  • More expensive than most
  • No main fuse

Overview

This soldering station is another high-dollar but high-quality unit. Weller is an American company dating back to a radio repairman during World War II. They have been well known for the better part of a century for manufacturing high-quality soldering products.

The WE1010NA is a recent addition to their product lineup, replacing older models with a 40% increase in power. It heats quickly, keeps the temperature stable, and spans a wide range of heat settings. This is also one of the most comfortable tools to use long-term. If your job requires you to solder for hours per day, you will avoid hand cramps and accidental burns with ease.

There is one potentially major downside. This station doesn’t come with a main fuse. For most users, this won’t be an issue. Just be aware of how much power you are pumping into the device, and don’t exceed the 120 Volt limit. Many users would not exceed the limit anyway, but there is a safety hazard to note in some industrial set-ups. If you feel so inclined, you can install your own fuse.

Overall, this is an excellent, versatile soldering station. If you are willing to invest a little extra money upfront, this device should deliver on professional and personal projects for years to come.

Anbes Five Piece Soldering Iron Kit

Specs

  • 1.1 pounds
  • 110 Volts
  • 60 Watts
  • Temperature Rating – 200°C – 450°C
  • Pieces Included – iron, desoldering pump, iron tips, tin wire tube, iron stand, tweezers, wire stripper cutter  (For more information, check out our guide on the best wire strippers), electronic wires, carry bag

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Versatile
  • Great value for the price
  • Carry case allows for portability
  • A great choice for beginner’s

Cons

  • Some parts are cheaply made
  • Not the best option for professional work

We’ve entered the budget section of our guide. That isn’t to say this Anbes product isn’t a good kit, just that not everyone needs a professional level soldering station. If your soldering needs are simple and infrequent, this is an excellent choice.

For the most part, this kit comes with all the same pieces of a kit with a higher price point. Five different tips, a stand, a cleaner, and tweezers are enough to satisfy most basic soldering needs. The carry case is a nice touch too. Even if you don’t need it to be portable, it packs away neatly into your garage shelving.

We recommend this kit for electronic hobbyists and simple, do-it-yourself home projects. If you have a broken headphone jack or a remote-controlled plane that needs repairs, you don’t need more than what this kit offers. However, if you intend to solder daily, this one may not hold up. The parts are noticeably less heavy-duty than the kits with higher price points above.

Anbes Upgraded Soldering Iron Kit

Specs

  • 1.1 pounds
  • 110 Volts
  • 60 Watts
  • Temperature rating – 200°C – 450°C
  • Pieces Included – Iron, iron stand, sponge, solder sucker, tin wire tube, tweezers, electronic wires, carry bag, 8-in-1 precision screwdriver, added on/off switch

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Versatile
  • Great value for the price
  • Carry case
  • Offers multiple upgrades for only a few more dollars

Cons

  • You might not need upgraded items
  • Some parts are cheaply made
  • Not ideal for professional jobs

This Anbes kit is mostly the same as the previous entry, but with a few additional bonuses. The first is an on/off switch, which will likely come in handy more than you think. While in between soldering pieces, you won’t need to unplug the device to reduce heat. This feature improves both safety and ease of use.

The 8-in-1 precision pocket screwdriver is worth the price of the upgrade alone. Not only will this handy tool make customization easier for the iron, but it has a host of other applications on separate pieces of hardware. It’s a general tool for your garage that will come in handy when you least expect it.

Lastly, the upgraded package includes a better wire cutter, which allows you to cut and strip various sized cables more easily. Many users won’t need this tool, but it doesn’t hurt to have it anyway.

Unless you are reasonably sure that you won’t need the upgrades, we recommend the upgraded kit for budget shoppers. The few extra dollars spent can make a difference.

X-Tronic Model 3020-XTS Digital Display Soldering Iron Station

Specs

  • 1 pound
  • 110 Volts
  • 75 Watts
  • Temperature Rating – 200°C – 480°C
  • Included pieces – Power unit, iron, iron holder, solder roll holder, Sponge tip cleaner, cleaning fluid

Pros

  • A mid-level choice that balances quality with affordability
  • Excellent customer service
  • Heats quickly
  • 2 “Helping hands” for propping up circuit boards

Cons

  • Temperature control has accuracy issues
  • Frequent price fluctuations
  • Only comes with one tip

If you’re willing to shell out a bit more cash, but the Weller and Hakko units are still too costly, this might be the right purchase for you. The X-tronic is a simple to use but durable piece of equipment that’s perfect for mid-tier use.

This machine features an easy-to-read LED display that toggles between Fahrenheit and Celcius with the flip of a switch, a comfortable iron with an ergonomic grip, and a spring steel holder that reduces heat transfer efficiently.

One unique feature this kit includes are two attachments called “helping hands.” These ten-inch cables screw into the main unit and attach to circuit boards, holding them upright and making them easy to use. If your main soldering needs revolve around circuit boards, this kit is a no-brainer.

However, there are a few downsides. For one, unless you buy an upgraded version, it only comes with one tip. This might not be an issue, but you will have to buy a new one if you lose it. The heat display also displays the goal temperature rather than the current one, so you never know with total accuracy how hot the iron is. Whether or not it reaches the goal temperature is also unclear.

Another strange aspect of the X-tronic is frequent price fluctuations, particularly on Amazon. We have seen it listed at various price points, from $50 to $120. As of the writing of this article, it is listed at just over $50. The X-tronic is worth the current price, but if it creeps closer to $100, we recommend the Weller or Hakko.

Though we have not had any problems, other users have reported issues with this product’s longevity. Even if it doesn’t last, though, X-tronic has an impressive customer service presence. For one, this kit comes with a 30-day unconditional guarantee and a 3-year warranty that includes parts and labor. Should you have troubleshooting needs, their customer service line is also helpful and responsive.

Soldering Iron Buyer’s Guide

Whether you are doing at-home DIY projects or designing circuit boards, you’ll need to solder. However, As with any product type that features a range in quality and affordability, potential buyers should start by asking themselves what their specific needs are. Let’s take a closer look at a few of these needs.

Price

Everyone has a price limit. We can go on and on about the value of spending extra to get a longer-lasting and higher-quality product, but the truth is that you may not need to spend more depending on your needs. Rather than choosing your price point before shopping around, though, define your needs. If you can’t afford a needed premium model, it might be worth waiting and saving your money.

Uses

Firstly, what do you need to solder? Circuit boards, glass, and auto parts all require different capabilities. It may be that you want to become a soldering iron expert, in which case you should buy the most versatile device available. If your need is particularly niche, it may be worth contacting these brands’ customer service departments to ask what their devices offer.

Define not only your specific needs in a soldering kit, but your frequency of use too. Even if your tasks are simple, if you will be soldering for hours every day, the cheaper models likely won’t last long enough to justify the savings. On the other hand, if you expect to only break out the soldering iron for an hour every few months, its high quality might be lost on you.

Specs

For basic needs, you don’t need to concern yourself too much with spec details. The five we chose above are all versatile enough to handle simple tasks. However, some of these options won’t work in certain circumstances. For instance, if you have an industrial set-up where overpowering might be an issue, the Weller is not likely to be your best bet. If your tech-challenged grandpa will be using the iron, avoid the Hakko model.

FAQs

Do I really need a full soldering iron kit? What if I just buy the iron itself?

You can get away with just buying an iron, but we don’t recommend it. These kits provide maintenance and assistance every step of the way, from fitting tips to cleaning afterward. They also provide a level of heat customizability that isn’t possible in the standalone models. You likely won’t know exactly which tools you’ll need until you get to work. Chances are, a kit will provide whatever you didn’t know you needed.

How important are wattage and voltage?

While some tasks will require far less Wattage than is needed, covering your bases is a good idea. You don’t want to get stuck with a task your machine can’t perform. For this list, we didn’t dip below 60 Watts since that should cover most soldering needs. Voltage is less important to consider. These machines vary between 110-120 Volts, and you won’t see much outside this range. 

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