Best Soldering Iron, Station & Kit: Weller, TS100, Butane, Cordless

If you have electronic appliances at home or need to create your circuit, you will need to know to solder. In terms of electronics, soldering is an important skill to master. Learning the craft is not an impossible task, but it requires precision. It is easy to learn as long as you are willing and interested.

hand holding a soldering iron

If you are new to the craft or have little experience, read the right article! In this article, we will be covering some of the best soldering irons for newbies like you. Most of what we will be going over is ideal for joining circuit boards or prototyping electronic circuits. You will be able to DIY projects in no time at all!

TS100

The TS100 is the best soldering iron in terms of portability. It is better than most regular options in the market in a similar price range. Unlike other models in the same class, the TS100 is portable and temperature-controlled. It’s also lightweight and cheap. Despite being cheap, it is high-quality and has a few smart features. You’ll love the sleep mode.

With its affordable price comes a few drawbacks. The TS100 does not come with a stand or a power supply right out of the box. When picking up one for yourself, be sure to purchase a power supply and a stand. For the stand, you have the option to 3D print one on your own.

When looking for a power supply, get one with a power source of 12 volts to 24 volts and an input interface of 5.5mm x 2.5mm. Before purchasing, be sure to check around the house. You may already have one. If you do, there is no need to buy.

Inside the TS100 package is the tip attached to the heating element and the handle. You’ll find spare screws and an Allen key. The contents of the package may differ, but the items mentioned are what you will usually get.

Setup

It is simple to set up the TS100 soldering iron. All you need to do is attach the heating element and handle with the screw included in the set. It needs a power supply within the 12V to 24V range. You may want to check around the house before purchasing one. Any power adapter within the specified range should work safely if the connector’s size is 5.5mm x 2.5mm.

If it is important to you, the power supply voltage affects the length of time it will take for the element to heat up. A higher voltage requires less time for the element to heat up. A 12V power supply takes about 40 seconds, whereas a 24V power supply only takes 11 seconds.

TS100 Common Features

Here are some of the common features of the TS100.

  • Lightweight, small, and has a comfortable grip on the hand.
  • It weighs about 30 grams and is about 16 cm long.
  • The tip is conical, which is perfect for working on most electronic components.
  • You can replace the tip with a different shape as long as it is compatible.
  • It has two buttons and an OLED display. It comes with a micro USB port and a barrel port for power.
  • Updating the unit’s firmware through a computer is done by connecting the iron via the micro USB port.
  • The iron’s operating temperature is adjustable from 100ºC to 400ºC.

Operating the TS100

Start by connecting it to a power supply. After a few seconds, you should be in standby mode. Press the A button if you want to start heating. The default temperature is 300ºC, which you can adjust. The temperature in the display can either be Celsius or Fahrenheit, depending on the user’s preference.

To change the temperature to a specific setting, press and hold the B button until you see two arrows on the screen. To increase the temperature, press the B button. To decrease the temperature, press the A button.

The working temperature and the temperature during standby mode are all configurable. You can also change the time it takes to go from operation to sleep mode. The time it takes to go from deep sleep to standby mode can also be changed. It should be in standby mode to configure the default settings. Press the B button to go over all the settings. Hold down the A button or B button to adjust your chosen setting. Leave it for at least five seconds for the new setting to take effect.

Note that older firmware versions will not allow you to configure the default settings. Connect your iron to a computer and update the configuration file to address this. It should change the default parameters for these settings.

Sleep Mode

Unlike most other models in the same class, the TS100 has the sleep mode. If you do not use it for more than 180 seconds, it puts the unit to sleep. Sleep mode puts the iron in its sleep mode temperature, which is 200ºC by default.

As soon as you grab or lift it, it goes back to the operation mode. It will slowly heat up to the temperature set before going to sleep mode. If you do not use it longer than the idle time plus sleep time, it goes to standby mode.

Testing the TS100

To test if your TS100 is working as it should, supply power to the unit and press the A button. After 30 seconds, the iron should be hot enough to get started. If it does not seem to work, your unit may have some issues. Check your settings and power supply, and try again.

There are times the nearest outlet is not near enough. If this is the case, you can use an extension cord. Several factors need consideration when using an extension. You can look into our article for a list of the best extension cords available in the market.

Unit conversion should come in handy when dealing with extension cords. We have an article that details SAE to metric conversion if you are having a hard time.

Types

There are six types available in the market. You can go through each type below to decide which one best fits your needs.

Types
Simple optionsCordlessHot Knife
Temperature-controlledSoldering stationsSoldering Tweezers
Man soldering

Simple Soldering Iron

A low-power iron is used for electronics and electrical work, typically with a power rating of 15 to 35 watts. Other options are available at a higher power rating. Still, those have higher operating temperatures. It may be unnecessary for your needs.

Other types run at a temperature that is not variable. In the case of simple iron, thermal equilibrium determines the temperature. It drops when heating a large object. On the other hand, it rises when heating a small object.

Temperature-Controlled

Thermal equilibrium determines the temperature for simple models. It is dependent on cooling by the environment and the type of materials. More high-tech options are available wherein you can control the temperature through a mechanism. To keep the temperature steady, manufacturers use a sensor.

Temperature-controlled ones either comprise a head and a tip or may also be free-standing. There are several ways to control it. The easiest way is to through variable power control. It works much like a light dimmer, wherein the thermal equilibrium changes without automatically regulating the temperature. Another way to control it is by using a thermostat, typically in the iron’s fine tip. The thermostat sends a signal to the element to turn off or on.

Some manufacturers take advantage of the magnetic properties. A switch to the supply power closes whenever the tip has magnetic properties. The contacts open and cool down when it reaches a temperature.

Different types need different types of wire sizes. For more information on this, you may refer to the 20 – 60 amp wires and 70 – 600 amp wires articles.

Cordless

When electricity is unavailable, you can heat small amounts of iron with a battery or combustion using propane or butane. You cannot directly regulate the operating temperature when using a cordless option. Instead, you can change the power by making a few adjustments to the gas flow. Ones that utilize gas mostly have an interchangeable tip, allowing you to control the gas flow.

Soldering Station

A soldering station has a control that lets you adjust the temperature. It consists of control circuitry and an electrical power supply. It also comes with a tip equipped with a sensor. The control circuitry typically has a provision that allows users to adjust the display and temperature.

Most of them come with a stand, which holds the hot iron holder when not being used. Some kits come with a sponge, which you can use for cleaning. If the one you got does not come with one, you can buy any sponge in the supermarket.

Most of these have a wattage of 60 watts. However, several options are available in the market. Some have a wattage as low as 20 watts or as high as 70 watts, such as the Hakko FX888D.

Hot Knife

The hot knife is a piece of equipment with a double-edged blade, which you can find on the heating element. Most hot knives can reach a temperature of up to 538 C. High temperatures allow for easy cutting of foam and fabric materials without beading or fraying issues. You can use a hot knife in several ways. Some applications include carpeting and automotive, although those aren’t the only ones.

Tweezers

A tweezer lets you desolder or work on small components, such as resistors and capacitors. You can also use a tweezer to pull small copper wires from an electrical board. They are either controlled by a station or free-standing on their own.

These tweezers have tips attached to separate arms. You can control these by manually squeezing the arms together, much like a regular tweezer. The primary purpose of a tweezer is to guide the solder so that it melts in the right place. Using a regular tweezer is not a good idea as it can easily move components.

Make sure to check out our guide on the best dehumidifiers as well.

Features You Should Look For

They come in a few types, each having its advantages and disadvantages. Some are heavy-duty, while others are light and portable. Some require electric power to operate, while others are battery-powered. However, all require a wire to do their purpose.

Engineer soldering
What to look for
Temperature ControlWattageHolding Stand
ApplicationTip Compatibility 

Below are five features you should watch when looking for the right one.

Wattage

Although most options can support as little as 17 watts, picking one with at least 30 watts is advisable. A low wattage rating means more time for the heating element to heat up, which might be a problem in the long run. Having a low wattage also makes it inconsistent to hold the temperature. A 30 watts option is about a 16V power supply.

Do you need information about welding glasses and welding gases? We have these just for you. For more details, please refer to our articles regarding the said topics.

Temperature Control

Having the ability to control the temperature is a great feature to have. Not all types of work you do require the same temperature setting. Some jobs may require low temperatures, while others may require higher ones. One with a temperature control feature lets you quickly and easily adjust the settings. It gives the user more flexibility and control over the device.

Holding Stand

Not all manufacturers include a holding stand right off the box. When purchasing one, consider picking a brand and model that comes with a holding stand. However, this should not be the number one determining factor as you can easily purchase a holding stand separately. It is useful to have one because it is where you can place your hot iron. If you don’t have a holding stand, placing the hot iron on any surface could lead to accidents or damage.

Application

What is your most common use case for the unit? It is the question you should ask yourself before buying one. Will you be doing occasional repair jobs, or will you be building several circuits? Knowing your use case plays an important factor in determining the set of features you need the most.

Tip Compatibility

The tip on the soldering iron should be easy to replace. Moreover, it should be compatible with various tips available in the market. It gives you the flexibility to choose which type and size to use for a specific job. Several manufacturers produce tips, so you may also want to consider the prices aside from compatibility.

Keeping yourself clean after doing some work is important. Suppose you are looking to make modifications to your half-bathroom, or you are debating a shower or bathtub. In that case, you can read about it on our website.

Best Brands

There are hundreds of brands available in the market. Honestly, it gets confusing if you do not have any references on hand. Here are some of the best brands available in the market.

Soldering table
Brands
WellerMilwaukeeTS80

Weller

Weller manufactures its products in Germany. This company offers a wide variety of equipment, which you can use for your various needs. They have several models, each one intended for a specific need.

Milwaukee M12

The Milwaukee M12 model can easily reach its operating temperature in under 18 seconds. It can maintain the temperature throughout the time you are using it. The M12 uses REDLINK INTELLIGENCE, a heat indicator that notifies users when the tool is safe to store or ready to use. The head has a three-stop pivot. It allows the user for more flexibility, especially in tight spaces. The battery technology powering the M12 allows the user to go up to 40 minutes of uninterrupted run-time.

TS80

The TS80 soldering iron is a newer version of the TS100. These two models share similar features, but the TS80 is noticeably smaller than the TS100. The TS80 uses anodized aluminum, while the TS100 uses plastic. Because of these improvements, the TS80 is a bit heavier than the TS100. They weigh 35 grams and 31 grams, respectively.

Aside from this, other brands worthy of attention are Hakko and Ryobi. Benzomatic should also be on your list. These brands offer several models.

Best Ones for Electronics

The solder is an alloy material used to bond two electrical parts together. It comes in several sizes, with 0.062 and 0.032 inches being the most common diameters. Inside the core is the flux, which is a material that aids in improving mechanical strength and electrical contact.

The best one is the lead-free rosin core solder, a type made from copper or tin. Be sure not to purchase one with an acid core, as it will cause damage to the components and circuits.

Best Soldering Iron Station

The best soldering iron station is the 853D Soldering Station. It comes with several accessories right off the package, making it easy to get started. You get several tips for the heat gun, a thing which is no longer common in other brands these days. It has a power of 60 watts with operating temperatures ranging between 200ºC and 480ºC. Despite being a powerhouse, the 853D has low operating noise. It helps you concentrate on your work.

If you are looking for lawn garden tractors, we curated a list of the best ones available in the market. You can read more about it in our best lawn garden tractors article.

FAQ

If you want to buy a soldering iron, you’ve come to the right place. You may not know where to start.

We will provide you with the best advice in this area to make the best choice for yourself and your needs.

We recommend the following:

How do I choose a soldering iron?

  1. Consider the purpose of the purchase.

    Before you buy a soldering iron, you need to think first about what you will use it for.
    For example, welding cables will require a specific type of soldering iron.

    And for projects involving SMD components, you will need a different type of soldering iron.
    Let’s say you want to buy a soldering iron to weld some thick wires.

    You will need a tool with a high power level for this project.
    It would be best if its power level were above 100 W.

    And the tip of the soldering iron should also have a large surface area.
    To complete this project, a simple soldering iron should suffice.

  2. Don’t forget about power and temperature.

    The primary purpose of a soldering iron is to increase the temperature of the metal used for soldering above the melting temperature.
    The soldering iron must have an adequate power level to achieve this goal.

    The metal usually used for welding is tin.
    It melts at temperatures between 180 and 230 degrees Celsius.

    This means that your soldering iron must be strong enough to increase the temperature of the welding tip over this range.
    Not only must the tip temperature be raised above the melting temperature of the metal, but the temperature difference must be significant.

    This significant temperature difference is necessary for fast-melting welding metal, optimizing the welding process.
    You should look for soldering iron with a tip that can withstand temperatures between 260 and 350 degrees Celsius for best results.

    It is also essential to ensure that the soldering iron you want to buy can keep the tip temperature constant.
    Maintaining a constant temperature is essential to avoid damaging the components with sensitive electronic parts.

    To make sure that the soldering iron you want to buy can meet these requirements, purchase one that has at least 100 W power.

  3. The tip type and its shape matter.

    The primary purpose of a welding tip is to transmit the heat created by the soldering iron to the welding metal.
    This process is necessary to melt the welding metal and weld the components together.

    Given this role, it becomes clear that this essential component suffers a high degree of wear.
    And after wear, a periodic tip change is necessary to maintain optimal performance.

    That is why it is essential to consider this when buying a soldering iron.
    Ensure the tip type of soldering iron you want to buy can be easily purchased and changed.

    Also, the welding tips can have different shapes and sizes.
    Among the most popular are the following forms:
    – chisel
    – mini spoon
    – hoof
    – conical
    The welding process can be influenced by the type of tip shape used.
    How the weld metal will melt on the components is determined by the shape of the tip.

    A mini spoon is considered the form that offers the most excellent versatility.
    That is why this is the preferred option for those just starting in the adventure of welding.

    But keep in mind that shape doesn’t mean everything.

    Unfortunately, some tip shapes may not be compatible with the type of soldering iron you want to buy.
    Another variable that should be considered is tip size.

    The size of the soldering tip should match the size of the metal used for welding.
    If you melt large metals to perform the welding process, you need to buy a soldering iron that uses large tips.

    This requirement is necessary to achieve a better heat exchange between the tip and the welding metal.

  4. Ease of handling is important.

    Another variable that should be considered when purchasing a soldering iron is its ease of handling.
    The shape of the handle will determine this.
    Try to buy a soldering iron with a comfortable handle to hold in your hand.
    This will significantly influence future performance.

  5. An extra utility never spoils.

    A set of accessories can be a valuable component for a soldering iron.
    Although they are not a major differentiating factor, they can add value to the soldering iron.
    For example, stable support for your soldering iron might be a handy accessory.
    Or a tip cleaner can be helpful.

  6. An increased degree of freedom is always welcome.

    Lately, the popularity of cordless soldering irons has grown a lot among people.
    And this is due to the freedom of use offered by these tools.
    Do you have to work on a project in a place where you don’t have access to any electrical outlets?
    No problem.
    Thanks to the wireless soldering irons, you can complete your project without the existence of an electrical outlet.
    So if you plan to work in the future on many projects where access to an electrical outlet is limited, such a soldering iron must be considered.

Which brand of soldering iron is best?

There are many brands of soldering irons, but one of the best in Milwaukee.
The M12 model is one of the most used and appreciated models in this brand’s wide range of products.

The characteristics of the model that make this brand so good are the following:

– Reaching the optimum operating temperature in just 18 seconds from start-up.
– The ability to maintain the temperature of the welding tip throughout use.
– The presence of a temperature sensor that informs the user when the hammer is ready for use or storage.
– Providing an increased degree of flexibility that proves helpful in tight spaces.
– Extended battery life, which offers 40 minutes of uninterrupted use.

What soldering iron do professionals use?

Most professionals in the field use the Hakko soldering iron.
And given its features, it’s no wonder why professionals prefer this type of soldering iron.

Among its many features, some of the most important are:
– the lightweight of the tool makes it easy to handle and transport.

– the handle that offers a high degree of ergonomics.
– the varied possibility of temperature control.

– the presence of a ceramic heater
– the possibility of controlling the hammer using advanced electronic controls.

Which soldering iron is best for beginners?

If you are just starting with your welding adventure, then the Weller WLC100 soldering iron is the right choice for you.
The package offered by this brand contains all the components you need to complete your project.

The 40 W soldering iron motor can handle any simple welding project of electronic components.
Even working on jewelry is not a problem for this soldering iron.
The tip of this soldering iron reaches a temperature of 400 Fahrenheit in record time.

This temperature is sufficient for working on simple projects.
Also, the tip is designed so that its lifespan is quite long.

And when it gets too worn out, you can easily replace it with another tip.
And the cleaning sponge included in the soldering iron package can help extend the tool’s life.

Because keeping a soldering iron clean ensures longer life and better performance.

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