The 4 Best Soldering Irons For Hobbyists And DIY
In an age when new technology is accessible at every corner, there are still hobbies that require some good old soldiering. Soldering irons are essential for anything regarding electronics. Whether it be repairing, modifying or creating something completely new, they are the must have tool at every home. The best soldering irons are easy to use, small and most importantly reliable. So you don’t even have to worry about space.
It’s also really easy to get started with soldering. Just watch some basic guide videos on YouTube and you are good to go. Just make sure that you get enough tin-lead. I personally recommend getting a pool of it. There are also project kits for beginners in case you are really thinking of getting into electronics. Those include soldering LED’s, micro controllers, batteries and more. Or maybe you are looking for a good soldering iron for a hobby. Drone racing is incredibly popular and involves tons of soldering. Mostly wires onto boards.
And that’s what the soldering irons here are fantastic for. I didn’t just list all of the most expensive options but the very best at different price levels. So there is something for every requirement. You don’t need the most expensive and fanciest soldering iron to fix a pair of headphones or few wires now and then. But if you want one for a hobby, such as drone building, then of course I recommend investing in soldering stations, as they do make your life much easier.
1. Vastar Full Set 60W 110V Soldering Iron Kit – $16
If you want to get started with soldering and don’t want to spend much, then I recommend getting the Vastar 60W 110V Soldering Iron Kit. The kit has everything you need to start soldering. It’s a fantastic combo for beginners especially as it comes with all the extras and even the solder. So even if you plan on upgrading the soldering iron later on, you can still use all the extra accessories. And despite being relatively cheap, it’s still one of the best soldering irons available for beginners.
The Vastar soldering iron does look pretty cheap but that is fine. It comes with a dial for adjusting temperature (in reality it limits wattage). There is also a small LED light that indicates when it’s working. You can choose any temperature between 200°C and 450°C. The only thing I’m not sure about is how reliable the temperature set actually is, as there is no actual display for it. The iron itself is 60W and what I was mostly surprised about was how well it works. I set the temperature to 300°C and it reached that super fast. The temperature also didn’t drop throughout using it and it had no problem melting the solder. And it seems like I’m not the only lucky one. The soldering iron has tons of reviews on Amazon as well and it’s still one of the best rated irons.
What makes it such a good beginner iron is that it comes with accessories. The kit also includes 5 soldering iron tips, a stand, a tube of solder, anti static tweezers and a desoldering pump. The 5 tips that come with the iron are pretty standard. You can also use those with other soldering irons. Also the stand is a nice addition as well, despite being pretty basic. Definitely something to be careful with as the soldering iron can still slip off it.
2. Weller WLC100 Soldering Station – $40
The Weller WLC100 is one of the best bang for buck soldering stations available. It is perfect for hobbyists and DIY enthusiasts. The best part about the WLC100 is it’s simplicity. It has a typical station look but at the same time it’s much easier to use as there aren’t any complex gauges. Which does also set a limit to what you can control on the station. So if you are looking for something more professional, where you can control the temperature at the tip, then this isn’t enough for you. But for hobbyists, it’s one of the best soldering stations in my opinion.
Weller is known for quality and their best soldering irons. The exact same can be said about the WLC100. The iron has materials such as nickel and chromium to protect it from corrosion. Which assures that the soldering iron will last you for years to come. Even the tips have been pre-tinned with both lead and solder. I also really like that it’s a station as it makes your life much easier. The station has a special spiral hold for the iron so you never have to worry about dropping it or burning something.
The WLC100 is a 40W soldering station. It doesn’t sound like it has much power but it operates just as well as all other irons. It does take some time to reach higher temperatures of course. The station also has a knob for controlling the wattage. Which does also control the temperature but it’s not that accurate. The max temperature the soldering iron can reach is 482°C / 900°F. What I do recommend is get a smaller ST7 tip as well. The ST3 tip that comes with the iron is good but I find the end too big for my like. But that’s personal preference and you can always change the tips later on as well.
More information: Weller WLC100 review
3. X-Tronic Model 3020-XTS Soldering Station – $50
If you are going to be working with circuit boards, then I recommend getting the X-Tronic Model 3020-XTS. It’s one of the best soldering stations available in it’s price range. The best part about it is the LED screen that displays the temperature. This way you know what temperature the iron currently has and adjust it based on need. This is especially needed when working with circuit boards as too high temperatures can sometimes ruin the board.
The X-Tronic Model 3020-XTS features a complete solution. The station comes with a stand, temperature control, solder tip cleaner, a sponge and even a place for your solder. Not to mention one of the best soldering irons available! I’m especially fond of the tip cleaner as it makes the entire set compact. You don’t have to waste room having to use a separate one. Plus the solder holder is a very nice touch as well. Although I personally don’t use it often as my tin solder comes in a tube. But if you are using one on a roll, then it will definitely be useful.
The X-Tronic station does come with a very nice 75W soldering iron. Which is more powerful than the average soldering station. That allows you to choose a temperature between 200°C / 392°F and 480°C / 896°F. It also heats up really fast. After about 15 seconds the soldering iron was ready to melt tin. So I’m really impressed with it. Another feature that I really like is that you can choose between celsius and fahrenheit. Downside? Perhaps that the soldering iron is attached to the station and you can’t replace it. But then again you’ll only need that feature if the soldering iron should break. And by that time, you’ll probably be looking for a new station anyways so it’s not really an issue in my opinion.
4. Hakko FX888D Soldering Station – $97
When it comes to soldering tools, no other company has as much experience as Hakko. They have been producing quality soldering irons for over 60 years. So when you get yourself one of their best soldering irons, then you know you’ll be receiving only the highest quality product. The Hakko FX888D soldering station is the perfect example of high quality and best value. The FX888D is designed for both professionals and serious hobbyists.
The Hakko FX888D has a pretty unique design when it comes to soldering stations. First of all it comes in 3 different parts: the base unit, soldering iron and an iron stand unit, which also has a cleaning sponge. This does provide you some more flexibility on how you position it on a desk. Unlike the bigger one piece soldering stations, this one you can move any way you want. Which is excellent for left handed people.
The best soldering irons are known for heating up quickly and not dropping the temperature. And that’s exactly what the Hakko FX888D is also known for. The station has 70W of power and it operates at 120V. Which means that it’s designed for the USA market. Besides the fantastic job it does at keeping the temperature, you also have full control over it. There is a digital LED screen where you can monitor the temperature and adjust it according to your requirements.