Thursday 19 February 2015

Quick Guide to Choose The Right Soldering Iron.

For the makers, especially the newbies, it usually gets tough to select that one right iron for your soldering work. Here's a quick guide to help you make the right choice. Happy making!
Atithya Amaresh

With a huge range of soldering irons available in the market today, choosing the appropriate one for yourself might be confusing at times. The rule of thumb here is to pick an iron that gels well into the type of work you intend to put it into. 

Getting in details, there are 3 major factors to consider while picking up your iron:

1. the type of iron,
2. the temperature system
3. the wattage.

Let's read whats what in details:

1. Type of Iron

Majorly there are 4 types of irons you can consider: Soldering pencilSoldering Gun, Soldering station, Rework/repair station

          Soldering Pencil

The most basic and simple type of soldering tool which can simply be used for small DIY projects. These pencils range from INR 130 to 700 depending upon wattage and build quality. You can find good deals at Flipkart or eBay.

Although these soldering pencil are not recommended for fine soldering as they do have any temperature control system for the iron tip. Over exposure to heat during soldering might damage the components and peel off tracks present on the circuit board.

Soldering Gun

A higher and a little more sophisticated form of soldering pencil is soldering gun. The main component that differentiate is from a soldering pencil is the transformer on the machine. This transformer is capable of converting 110 V AC to a lower voltage. As the secondary winding of this transformer has only one turn, the transformer is capable of producing extremely low voltage and several hundred amperes of current.
Also having a very small warm up time, these guns can be easily turned on and off in very short time. These guns range from INR 750 to INR 1500. You can get few good deals on eBay.

Although again these guns can generate too much heat to be used on fine circuit boards, hence they are not recommend to be used for circuit board and components.

Soldering stations

Growing in functionalities, sophistication and usage from soldering pencil and guns the third level of soldering tools are the Soldering stations. These stations consists of soldering pencil that are attached to a power station. This power station can control the temperature settings for the soldering pencil’s tip. Higher versions of these soldering stations also come with electronic temperature control that allows you to set and maintain the temperature very precisely. These electronics temperature controller automatically keeps an appropriate temperature at the iron tip.
The price ranges from INR 300 to 7000 based upon the wattage and size of the soldering stations. You can find good deals on ebay and flipkart.
Due to their temperature control capability, these Soldering station are safe to be used with most of the soldering projects like soldering through-hole and fine surface-mount components.

Rework/repair systems

A rework/repair system is even more complex soldering platform which is most commonly used by professionals in industry or by the high-volume manufacturers. These soldering systems have a combination of several hand pieces which includes soldering iron, hot-air guns, de-soldering guns, thermo-tweezers, et al.

From small rework soldering stations to sophisticated ones, these stations are comes in a price range of INR 3000 to 200000. You can find some good deals at eBay.

2. Temperature

The major types of soldering irons based on temperature designs:

1) Irons with no temperature control: these are usually the least expensive type of irons. You simply need to plug them in and they are ready to use once they are warmed up. These irons are best suited for household soldering jobs.
2) Temperature controlled Irons: like some of the soldering guns, allows the user to ensure that the iron’s tip maintains the right temperature throughout the usage. These irons are slightly more expensive than the basic soldering irons.
3) Soldering stations: Like mentioned above in types of soldering tools, we also have soldering stations in the market that comes with a separate temperature control unit.

3. Wattage

Other than choosing the type of Iron you want to use, you also need to pick up the type of wattage you desire. A typical soldering iron provides wattage between fifteen and twenty-five watts. Irons with higher wattage allows the irons store more power in reserve allowing them to remain heated for a longer duration of time which also makes them better suited for heavy-duty projects.

Note: previously the size and shape of the iron’s tip was another major factor while buying the right soldering tool, but with irons with changeable tips in the market, this problem seems solved.

Hope this guide will help you buy the right iron. Enjoy making!

Thanks to EFY..!!!

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