Soldering Gun Buying Guide
What is a Soldering Gun?
It’s not uncommon for do-it-yourselfers to be intimidated by soldering guns. But what most people don’t realize is that the tool is actually quite simple and easy to use. The soldering iron will give you enough heat to melt the solder that is the connection point between two electronics products. This heat is created by an electrical current that easily passes through the resistive heating element.
This kind of gun was once only used by electronics repair professionals on televisions and gaming consoles, but today the soldering iron is a common hand tool that you can use in your own home. The tool is perfect for performing installations and repairs, but on high-volume industrial sites they still use industrial strength irons that have programmed power levels.
You can find brand name soldering guns at hardware shops and home improvement stores near you. You can also get a good secondhand soldering iron at smaller hardware shops if you’re looking to save a bit of money. Before you purchase a soldering gun, it’s a good idea to learn about the types that are out there, and what features they provide. There are many factors involved when it comes to finding the right soldering kit for you, and we’ll highlight some of the factors that may go into your decision.
Types of Soldering Irons
There are many different kinds of soldering guns on the market, and these are meant to handle different kinds of jobs. Some irons will emit an intense heat that leads to quick melting points, while others have a design that works best for entering small openings. There are many different ways in which you can use a soldering gun, and that’s why most stores will have the following varieties:
- Simple Iron: A simple soldering gun is the most common type that you will find, and it operates on a power rating that falls between 15 and 35 watts, which is going to provide you with more than enough wattage to handle a simple electronics repair job. These simple guns will run at uncontrolled temperatures that are determined by the thermal equilibrium. Take for instance when you’re heating larger objects, the temperature is automatically going to decline for more uniform heating. If you’re someone who mostly works on electronics then you’re going to find that a simple iron is the only kind of soldering gun that you’re going to need.
- Soldering Station: This type of soldering tool has an electrical power supply, as well as temperature and display control circuitry. You also get a soldering heat that has a tip temperature sensor. The station is going to come with a stand for storing the iron when not in use as well as a wet sponge for cleaning the drippings that come from the soldering iron surface. Some other features that come with the station are the hot air gun, vacuum pump for desoldering through-hole components, and vacuum pickup tool. Keep in mind these are really only necessary for soldering professionals.
- Soldering Tweezers: This kind of soldering tool is a specialty niche iron, and they solder and desolder small surface-mounted components like those that you’ll find on an electronics unit. These tweezers are freestanding and/or operated from a station. You’ll get two tweezers that have heated tips on thin arms and these are manually controlled when you gently squeeze against a resistant spring. You need steady hand control to use this kind of soldering tool.
- Soldering Gun: This is the most popular kind of soldering tool, and they are similar to a cordless hand drill. The guns possess a wire looped tip that is meant to rapidly cool, so the guns don’t need holsters for safe storage. Because of this rapid cooling rate you don’t have to deal with fire hazards, and those who work at home prefer this kind of soldering tool because it has an easy to grip handle and a convenient trigger mechanism. You get a tin-constructed tip that activates when you pull the trigger mechanism.
- Soldering Torch: The torch is powered by acetylene or propane gas, and that’s why it delivers a great deal of heat in short bursts. You’ll find that this type of soldering tool is often used by jewelers who intend to melt precious metals that need an above average heat, such as silver, copper, and gold. These temperatures can reach levels that require a flame-resistant area and special clothing to perform the task. Due to safety concerns, soldering torches are usually only used by electronics professionals and are not recommended for newbies.
Factors to Consider
Although you don’t need a soldering gun for most home repair tasks, it can be an integral tool for the home toolbox. It’s not difficult to learn how to use a soldering tool, but once you learn you’ll find that it can become an integral part of your arsenal in no time. For electronics professionals, there are many factors to consider before purchasing a soldering gun, but for newbies it’s smart to just go with something simple. Consider the following buying factors before you make your purchase.
- Going Cordless: When portability and convenience are on the top of your list, then you should consider buying a cordless soldering tool so that it’s easy to carry on the go. When you’re not restricted by a cord you can easily move the gun from point A to point B, and this helps to increase your productivity. Cordless soldering guns are going to operate on gas combustion that comes from a separate self-contained tank.
- Temperature Control: With a technologically advanced soldering gun you get a method for controlling the temperature, and this means controlling ranges for variable temperature control. You can also get thermocouple which works in conjunction with the station circuitry that helps you to adjust the tip temperature. Some guns even work with a thermostat that will automatically switch power on and off, dependent upon how much power you require for your specific job. Professionals use temperature controlled soldering guns for delicate soldering jobs like needing to desolder an internal speaker connection.
- Tips: You’ll find that soldering irons come with interchangeable tip features. The tips are often referred to as bits, and they can vary in size and shape giving more flexibility to the user. The most common tips that you’ll find are fine conical, chisel, pyramid, and tapered. You want to consider what type of tip you need for your specific job. You’ll also find tips made from different materials, such as copper, chrome, and nickel. These provide the most durability.
- Wattage: The wattage of the soldering gun will give you the necessary power to heat various objects. When you have too much wattage you can burn through various electronics components or you can even boil the flux. Most home soldering kits will give you 15 to 35 watts, but professionals can go up to 60 watts of power.
- Brand: There are a number of major electronics brands that make soldering guns, so you can be sure that when you go with a name brand you’re probably going to be getting a great product. When you purchase from a major brand you’re ensuring that you’re getting something that is built for longevity and high performance. Consider purchasing a brand that has a good track record, as this increases your chances of getting something that is easy to grip, has firm handling, and rarely overheats.
Owning a soldering gun is a smart choice if you’re someone that likes to do electrical repairs at home, and operating one is not nearly as difficult as you may assume. The top rated soldering gun kits give you everything that you need to handle even the toughest jobs, and they’re durably constructed so that they will stand the test of time.
The top rated kits are also lightweight and easy to take on the go, so you can bring them to various different job sites. When you’re ready for a high quality soldering gun, you can purchase one of these top rated models with confidence.