If you like working with metal or solder, then you know that having a high-quality soldering iron is a must to ensure that you get the best results. Whether you like to do it for fun or you do it for more practical reasons, the right iron can make all the difference.
Not only does it have to be reliable, but it has to provide you with the best options so you can do the job well every time.
Also, the best soldering irons will provide extra safety precautions and features so that you never have to worry about burning yourself or damaging your materials.
Today we’ll be looking at some of the best soldering irons on the market, as well as go over the most important considerations you should have when making your decision.
The important thing is that you get the right tool for the job, so you have to make sure that your iron can handle whatever it is that you do. With that in mind, let’s see what these models can do for you.
Best Soldering Iron – Comparison
|Aoyue 968A+ SMD Digital|
|Weller WESD51 Digital Station|
|Hakko FX888D-23BY Digital|
Best Soldering Iron – Review
1. Aoyue 968A+ SMD Digital Hot Air Rework Station
While most soldering irons consist of the pencil tip and perhaps a charging or holding station, this model from Aoyue comes with everything you could need to get any job done.
Whether you’re working on electronics or craft projects, this rework station comes with the iron, a hot air blower, a vacuum for picking up small pieces, and a smoke absorber so that you never have to worry about fumes. Simply put, this is the ultimate soldering system.
What we like most is the power of the iron itself. While many models have a wattage of about 40-60, this comes with 70 watts of heating power, making it much more reliable and versatile than the competition.
That does mean that you will need to plug into a 220-volt outlet to get the full temperature range, but if you are serious about soldering that shouldn’t be a problem.
The control panel is also excellent as it uses solid state knobs that click when you move them so that you can get precise measurements when adjusting the temperature or operating the hot air blower. Best of all, it has a digital readout of everything so that you can make sure that you’re at the right spot each time.
Overall, this rework station is built for heavy duty soldering enthusiasts or professionals who need extra features and accessories to get the job done.
- Four-in-one repairing station
- Hot air system, soldering iron, smoke absorber, and vacuum pickup
- Multiple tips provided with the unit
- Variable temperature adjustment
- Holds temp perfectly when set
- Easy to use control panel
- Digital readout for both hot air and soldering iron
- Iron is a 70-watt model
- Knob adjustments for air flow
- Auto sleep function
- Smoke absorber sucks up fumes while you work
- Brass coil for easy cleanup
- System warns when hot air unit is damaged or worn down
- Auto-cool off shuts down when tip is cooled
- Some internal components may wear down easier than others
- Needs 220 volts instead of the standard 110
- In rare cases, the unit may overheat while in use
2. Weller WESD51 Digital Soldering Station
For most soldering enthusiasts, the name Weller is synonymous with quality. For decades this brand has been the gold standard of soldering irons and accessories, and the WESD51 is no exception.
While it doesn’t come with all of the added features of the Aoyue above, it has everything you need for simple soldering jobs.
The device comes with a fifty-watt pencil, a holder with a cleaning sponge, and a control unit to set the temperature. At fifty watts you can adjust the heat between 350 and 850 degrees Fahrenheit, which is more than enough for any job.
Best of all, if you prefer Celsius instead you can switch back and forth easily. The knob control is remarkably simple yet accurate, and the digital display shows you the exact temperature every time.
Overall, if you need a simple and elegant soldering iron, this one will be a fantastic buy.
- Station includes stand, control box, and pencil
- Microprocessor-controlled temperature adjustment
- Easy to use knob to increase heat
- Durable 50-watt soldering pencil
- Cooling sponge included for easier cleaning
- Digital LED display shows Fahrenheit or Celsius
- Auto shutoff for safety and longer life
- Temperature holds for consistent work results
- Variable heat adjustment between 350-850 degrees (F)Soft grip pencil reduces fatigue while working
- Long cords for easier maneuvering
- Pencil may feel a bit light and flimsy in your hand
- In rare cases, the unit may burn out and shut off unexpectedly
- In some instances, the handle may get warm at higher temperatures
3. Hakko FX888D-23BY Digital Soldering Station
Much like the WESD51 above, this soldering station from Hakko is designed with simplicity and elegance in mind. Not only that, but it’s much more compact so that you can fit it almost anywhere, regardless of how much (or how little) workspace you have.
While the size and dimensions of the station are great, what makes this unit shine is the quality of the tip and the heating element.
It is a seventy-watt iron, which gives you much better options as far as temperature control and heating. Not only will it get to temp faster than most other models, but it will cool off much quicker as well. This will help extend its life by ensuring that the internal components won’t get overheated.
The only setback is the control system. While a button is easy and convenient, it takes much longer to get to your desired temperature than it would with a knob. Nonetheless, you get used to it, so it shouldn’t be a dealbreaker.
Overall, this is a fantastic low-key soldering iron that can deliver exceptional results.
- Unit includes stand, control device, pencil, and brass wire for cleaning
- Digital LED display for exact temperature control
- Durable 70-watt soldering pencil
- Easy to use buttons for adjusting heat
- Extra long cord for increased agility while working
- Soft grip handle reduces fatigue
- Compact design fits almost anywhere
- Brass wire will clean tip much better than a sponge
- Rubber feet for stability
- High-quality tips for better heat conductivity
- Faster thermal recovery times
- Less drop off while working
- Improved shelf life
- Button control takes longer than a knob
- Readout is quite small and can be hard to read
- In rare cases, the unit may overheat and shut off unexpectedly
4. Aoyue 9378 Programmable Digital Soldering Station
Next, we have another all-in-one soldering station that gives you not only a high-quality pencil and control box but an additional ten tips and a spool of soldering wire as well. This system from Aoyue gives you everything you need to get almost any job done.
When talking about performance, this device comes with a robust 60-watt pencil with a digital control panel.
As with most modern stations, you adjust using buttons instead of a knob, but what we really like is that you can program preset options so that you don’t have to set your temperature each time you turn it on.
Another great feature of this station is that it detects vibration when you pick up the pencil, meaning that it turns on and off automatically. Not only that, but you can program a sleep timer so that you can make sure that it will never activate while you’re not around.
This way you can simply pick it up, wait for it to get to temp, and then start working. Overall, this system makes it as easy as possible.
- All-in-one soldering station
- 60-watt pencil
- Ten soldering tips provided
- Spool of soldering wire included
- Control box with easy to use buttons
- Programmable with two preset options
- Digital LED screen for precise control
- Holder includes cleaning sponge
- Pencil can use up to 50 different tips
- Programmable sleep function
- Unit detects vibration to know when you’re working
- Shuts off automatically when not in use
- Long lasting ceramic heating element
- Switch between Fahrenheit and Celsius
- Adjust between 200-480 degrees (F)
- Can be hard to get replacement parts when necessary
- In rare cases, the unit may not turn on when you pick it up
- In rare instances, the heating element may stop working suddenly
5. X-Tronic Model #3020-XTS Digital Display Soldering
If you are looking for a soldering iron that is both simple but comes with some extra cool features, then this model from X-Tronic is a fabulous choice.
While it is a relatively bare-bones setup, it does have some incredible bonuses that set it above the competition.
First of all, the iron itself is really awesome. With 75 watts of power and a temperature range of 200-480 degrees Fahrenheit, you can do a lot with it. The handle is also rubberized and designed to be easier to hold so that you can work longer without fatigue.
What we like most about this unit though is the base. It has a single control knob for adjusting the temperature, and it has a digital readout so you can be precise. Best of all, it has two cleaning stations (a sponge and brass wire), so you can keep your tips in pristine condition.
Finally, there is a wire holder on the other side so that you can keep your extra solder close at hand without having to store it separately. Overall, this device is one of the best single piece soldering irons we’ve seen.
- 75-watt soldering iron
- Temperature range of 200-480 degrees (F)Switch between Fahrenheit and Celsius
- Ergonomic grip reduces fatigue
- Control box uses knob to adjust temperature
- Digital display shows precise settings
- Programmable sleep function
- Holder built-in
- Two cleaning surfaces: sponge and brass wire
- Magic temp technology provides quick operation
- Side holder for extra soldering wire
- Silicone cord doesn’t crimp or bend (stays fluid)Extra long cables for better agility
- Self-test function to prevent overheating or damage
- In rare cases, the unit may be wired incorrectly
- In rare instances, the handle may overheat at high temperatures
6. Weller WLC100 40-Watt Soldering Station
Next, we are taking it back with a soldering station that is fresh from the days of yesteryear. Instead of sleek digital displays and microchips, this iron uses old-fashioned wattage to give you the temperature you need.
So, if you’re looking for something reliable and built to last, this can be a great option.
To adjust the temperature, there is a single control knob that moves between five and forty watts of power. This is certainly not as precise as a digital readout, but it is simple and effective.
Other than the knob, you get a power indicator light, a solid steel holder, and a cleaning sponge. This is one of the simplest and easiest to use soldering irons you can find.
- Simple soldering station
- 40-watt iron
- Solid stainless steel holder built in
- Cleaning sponge for convenience
- Easy on/off switch
- Compact and lightweight design
- Variable power control
- Solid state knob for easier use
- Soft grip handle reduces fatigue
- Power on light for safety
- Easy to replace heating element
- Temperature control is imprecise
- Tips may melt quicker than other units
- In rare cases, it may take a while for the tip to reach temp
7. Sywon 60W ESD Soldering Iron Station
Our final stop is this station from Sywon. What sets this one apart from the rest is that it has a small and compact control box.
While some of these units have a large device that can weigh several pounds, this has a much easier to use box that has a twisting knob to control the temperature and an on/off switch.
Best of all, you get extra long power and soldering cords that enable you to work much more freely than with other units. The cords are also made of silicone so that they don’t kink or bend.
Other than the compact control box, this iron comes with an incredible 60-watt pencil and a durable plastic holder. The holder also comes with a cleaning sponge so that you can make sure that your tip stays in pristine condition.
The other thing we like about the tip is that it comes with ventilation holes to prevent overheating and maintain a constant temperature.
- Durable 60-watt soldering iron
- Compact and easy to use control box
- Solid-state knob controls
- Adjustable temperature
- Operates between 200-480 degrees (F)Slim profile is easier to grip
- Cleaning sponge provided
- Silicone cord stays fluid while working
- Fast heating and cooling
- Power on indicator light
- Ventilation holes on tip prevent overheating
- Extra long cables for more agility while working
- Temperature control is imprecise
- Holder is made of plastic and can get damaged more easily than steel
- Control box is light and will move easily, which can get in the way
How to Choose Best Soldering Iron
First and foremost, the watts of your iron will tell you how well it can hold up to the kinds of jobs you’re doing. While you may have noticed that many irons have the same temperature range with different wattage, the ones that are higher (70 instead of 60, for example), will hold up longer and won’t break down as easily.
Not only that, but they will heat up much faster than those with a lower number. For high powered jobs, get something at 70 watts or above, for medium jobs, you will want something between 50-65.
This is the next most important feature as it will dictate how well you can work. We highly recommend that you get a control box with solid state knobs instead of buttons. Knobs are so much easier to control and will get you to the right temperature much faster than having to press a button a dozen or more times.
Plus, you get the feeling of the click with a knob, which tells you when it’s on and off.
The other thing to look for is a digital display that shows what temperature you’re at. If you don’t have this, then you can’t know if you’re at the right level which will affect your work. Some older units use wattage as a means of temperature adjustment, but they are far from precise, so we don’t really recommend them unless you are just a casual soldering enthusiast.
Tip Size and Shape
Finally, the tip will help ensure that you can do the right job as it will enable you to work on a variety of projects. Some irons will come with bonus tips to help you get started, so that can be a huge benefit.
As far as the base, make sure that it feels comfortable in your hand and isn’t too heavy that you have to grip it hard. You should be able to move it precisely with minimal effort; otherwise, you will get cramps and fatigue much faster.
After looking through these best soldering irons, we have to say that our top two picks are the X-Tronic and the Zeny 2-in-1. We like the simple design and features of the X-Tronic, as well as the added bonuses that come with the device.
However, if you want something a bit more deluxe, then the Aoyue is a perfect example of a rework station that gives you extra functionality without reducing the quality of your work.