What is the best soldering iron for electronics?

What is the best soldering iron for electronics?

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TLDR; The Weller WE1010NA Digital Soldering Station is my favorite soldering for its ease of use and quality. The LONOVE 90W Digital Soldering Iron Station is also a good choice if your budget is more limited.

A soldering iron is one of the first things you’ll to buy to go beyond the breadboard and build or fix real circuits. A quality tool can make all the difference between having a lot of fun , or messing up your circuit with ugly soldering. You’re never going to regret splurging a bit to purchase the best soldering iron: it’s a tool that’s going to follow you forever if you take good care of it.

The features to look for to get the best soldering iron for electronics are:

  • Temperature the soldering iron can reach. The sweet spot for most small electronics soldering is between 600F and 700F. A great iron will also have a temperature regulator that will keep the temperature stable: too low won’t work, and too high will put unnecessary stress on the components and will be more complex to work with.
  • You also want a decent wattage for the iron. Anything around 50W or more is good for small electronics, but if it’s higher it will warm up faster and hold its temperature better. You don’t want to have to wait for 5-10 minutes for a quick fix in a circuit! Also, at a lower wattage, it will struggle to maintain its temperature if you’re soldering many components quickly, or if you have a larger joint to solder.

Here are the soldering irons that I’ll review:

I’m focusing on soldering station here, which means they all come with the soldering iron and a stand to hold the iron while you’re working. All stands also come with a sponge (don’t forget to wet it!) and/or a brass wire sponge that are both used to clean the tip of your soldering iron while you work.

There are also stations that comes with a soldering iron AND a hot air rework gun. In my opinion it’s best to purchase both separately so you can choose according to your needs for each. For example, in my case, I’m only using the rework station for the occasional bit of surface mount circuits soldering, while the soldering iron gets a lot more use.

Soldering Irons Reviews

Weller WE1010NA Digital Soldering Station

  • This Weller digital station is 40% more powerful than the two models it is replacing to help get your soldering job done faster
  • Easy to handle high performance 70W soldering iron with a heat-resistant silicon Cable for safe handling
  • Temperature stability (+/- 4⁰f, 2⁰c) and temperature lock protects tips and components, affording a consistently high quality process with repeatable soldering results
  • This Weller Soldering Station is loaded with cutting edge features sun as intuitive navigation, a Standby mode and auto setback conserves energy and password-protection to Preserve settings
  • Includes: one (1) We1 station 120V, one (1) Wep70 tip retainer, one (1) Wep70 iron, PH70 safety rest with sponge, and Eta tip 0.062inch/1.6 millimeter screwdriver

This is a great 70W soldering station: it heats up very fast to the right temperature, and it’s easy to change the tip even if it’s hot. Since Weller is a well-known brand, it’s also easy to find the tips in a hurry in stores, even locally.

There are also many useful settings, such as the standby mode to keep your setting while you’re taking a break and auto power off, and a password protection to make sure it won’t be accidentally turned on. The controls on the station are intuitive and easy to use.

The station itself doesn’t come with a lot of extras, so you may wish to order a few tips and a brass wire sponge to go along with it.

Hakko FX888D-23BY Digital Soldering Station

This small soldering station is from Hakko, a well-known brand. At 70 watts, it heats up fast and hold its temperature well, and is easy to work with. The stand and station are robust, but more colorful than most soldering stations.

There are many features available on the station such as preset temperatures (that can be changed) and password protection. On the other hand, many reviewers report having to keep the manual close since the menu is pretty hard to navigate. It’s not as much of a problem if you use the same settings every time, since it will remember your last setting.

Weller WLC200 80 Watts Hobby Soldering Station

  • Adjustable power range from 5 watts to 80 watts provides the variable, controlled temperature needed for a range of hobbyist jobs
  • Includes station base, SPG80 lightweight pencil soldering iron ideal for midsize work, 3/8” chisel tip, pencil iron holder, and cleaning sponge
  • The fully removable soldering iron and replaceable heating element let you upgrade or customize your station
  • Produces up to 900° F of controllable, reliable heat fast and recovers that heat quickly to keep your workflow efficient
  • Comes with 3/8” Chisel Tip (MTG20) and compatible with the MTG21 1/4" chisel tip and MTG22 .375” cone tip Weller pencil soldering iron tips

If you’re on a budget but still want to buy a Weller since the tips are easy to find, or if you prefer classic analog controls over a digital display, this is the iron for you. It heats up quickly (make sure to go for the 80W model), but you won’t have any fine control over the temperature.

It’s also sold as a strained glass tool in addition to electronics if you have an interest in taking up a new craft. For electronics, I would rather purchase a soldering iron with a better control on the temperature.

X-Tronic 3020-XTS Digital Display Soldering Iron Station

  • The X-Tronic Model 3020 Digital 75 Watt Soldering Station is a Powerful “Quick Temp” Unit and is manufactured for the Beginner as well as Expert Users and will Definitely Exceed Your Expectations with its Quality & Durability compared to any Soldering Iron Station in its Class. This Unit takes less than 30 Seconds to heat up from 200°C to 480°C (392°F to 896°F)
  • The Complete Kit Includes: 75-Watt LED Digital Display Soldering Iron Station (60 Watts used for Soldering Iron &15 Watts used for Mini Mother Board in Soldering Iron) with 2 Helping Hands for Propping Up Smaller PCB’s right in front of the unit for you to work on. It also Features a Side Mount Solder Roll Holder with a 50g Roll of 60/40 Solder Included, a Spring Style Soldering Iron Holder and Brass Sponge Tip Cleaner with Supply of Cleaning Flux in the Tin plus a Wet Sponge.
  • Features: ESD Safe, 10 Minute Sleep Timer, Centigrade to Fahrenheit Toggle Switch, Blue LED Readout on Control Panel, PID (Proportional-Integral-Derivative) Technology often referred to as Magic Temperature Compensation Technology, 40 Inch Very Pliable Soldering Iron Cord (Virtually No Memory) and a 55 Inch Power Cord from Wall Plug to Main Unit.
  • PLEASE NOTE: The Main (First) Photo shows the Brass Sponge Tip Cleaner with the Flux In the Round Metal Tin Separately from the Soldering Station and also shows this same Container Mounted In the Main Unit - This is FOR PHOTO PURPOSES ONLY. There is "ONLY ONE" of these Containers that come with this Soldering Station.
  • X-Tronic is a US Brand with all of our Various Teams all centrally located in Lincoln, Nebraska. We Strive to make Customer Service Our Priority by Offering Lifetime Support from Our Experienced Technicians. X-Tronic Products also come with a 3-Year Warranty! Terms May Apply. WARNING: This Product can expose you to chemicals including lead, which is known to the State of California to cause cancer, birth defects or other reproductive harm. Scroll Down this Page for More Info on this Product!

This station will work for small jobs, but the temperature stability is reportedly not very good. The materials are also more flimsy, but it’s in a lower price range than most other stations reviewed here so it’s to be expected. It’s a bit annoying since the stand is a bit too light and may tip if you’re not careful.

The iron controls and the stand are mounted to the main body, while most other stations reviewed here have a separate stand that takes up less space in your working area.

Wrapping Up the Review

In conclusion, I believe that the Weller WE1010NA Digital Soldering Station is the best soldering iron you can get. The digital controls are easy to use, the quality of the iron is great and in general it’s easy to find replacement tips locally.

If your budget is limited but you’re still looking for a good soldering iron, the LONOVE 90W Digital Soldering Iron Station is a sturdy soldering station that will give you excellent value for the price.