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Soldering Irons
SELECTING THE SOLDERING IRON THAT'S RIGHT FOR YOU

Soldering has been used as a bonding technique for thousands of years. It's fairly simple and the technique hasn't really changed - just the materials and the technology. All you need are quality materials, a steady hand and a good eye (or magnifying lens!). Read on to understand what type of iron is going to suit your projects.

What is soldering?

Soldering joins together multiple metal items with the use of a filler (solder). The soldering iron heats up the solder and the solder application area, manipulating the solder into the structure of the metal items which expand momentarily in response to the high temperature. When the solder and the metal area cools, the structure contracts, the solder turns from liquid to solid, and the bond is formed. Components which require soldering include wires, component leads, pads on printed circuit boards (PCBs), heat sinks and motor casings. Almost all types of permanent electrical connections require soldering (except when using special plug and socket assemblies). Soldering irons in Jaycar's range are priced from less than $20 to several hundred dollars; with wattage, temperature control and power delivery being the main price factors.

Wattage

Wattage is probably the most important factor to consider as it dictates the available heating power, heating time and temperature regulation. The latter is very important as you don't want to be deep into a soldering job to find your iron isn't maintaining heat, creating inconsistent solder joints. For electronics work, 16 watts is considered low, 50 watts is mid range, and 130 watts is high. Essentially you need an iron that maintains an even heat loss to generation ratio. This is especially important if your iron doesn't have temperature control. Wattage doesn't necessarily equate a specific temperature.

Temperature

Temperature control is also crucial to successful soldering. The metal tip of the iron gets scarily hot - up to 480°C! Most irons heat up in a matter of seconds, but how that heat is maintained depends on the wattage of the iron and the amount of heat it loses during operation. More expensive irons offer precise, adjustable temperature controls. Less expensive irons offer a limited range (or no range). Temperature is important to consider as different solders have different melting temperatures. Your iron will need to reach 180-300°C for lead-based solders and 220-245°C for lead-free. Your ideal working temperature is also determined by the type of work you're doing. Small electronics will require a lower temperature than soldering thick cables.

Power Delivery

The last primary consideration for selecting a soldering iron is power delivery. Mains power is most common as it's constant and reliable, but irons can also be gas or battery-powered. Gas-powered irons are great for remote jobs where access to mains power is questionable. Most of the gas-powered irons in Jaycar's range offer an average 45+ minute operating time, and are easily refilled using a portable can of Butane gas. Battery-powered irons are ideal for use where petrol fumes or explosion risks are a concern, but are otherwise cumbersome and not cost effective.

Irons, kits or stations?

Soldering irons can be purchased on their own, as part of a kit or built into a station. Stations tend to offer more precise controls and operations, and in some cases, complementary features (such as desoldering, low power idle or tip hot swapping). How you're planning to use your iron determines what features your iron will need. Do you plan to solder fine components, requiring precise control? Are you soldering larger projects which aren't as delicate? Can you rely on mains power or do you need an iron that's portable? How regularly will you use your iron? Do you expect your soldering sessions to be short or exceed half an hour?

If you're planning on using the iron for small jobs, consider the Duratech 25W soldering iron (TS-1465). It's an inexpensive option for those new to soldering and it's great for kit building and small projects. If you're planning on using your iron for larger, more complex jobs then the Duratech 48W temperature controlled soldering iron (TS-1564) is for you. The station features accurate temperature adjustment, tip cleaning sponge and stand. Both are amongst Jaycar's most popular models. Our starter kit (TS-1651) is an affordable option for younger soldering enthusiasts and includes a soldering iron, stand, solder wire and solder sucker. If you're interested in a gas-powered option, the Portasol Pro Gas Soldering Tool Kit (TS-1113) includes a quality iron, 3 interchangeable metal tips and cleaning sponge - all in a handy case.

Jaycar sells over 25 electric, gas and battery-powered soldering irons! Our staff are ready to walk you through the range and make sure you leave with what you need.

    Iron/Kit/Station Wattage Temperature Temperature Controlled? Power Delivery Special Functions Category
TS1465 Iron Only 25W 380°C No 240V   Entry
TS1538 Iron Only 16W 350°C No 7.2VDC   Entry
TS1554 Iron Only 20/130W 420°C No 240V   Entry
TS1475 Iron Only 40W 470°C No 240V   Entry
TS1536 Iron Only 30W 430°C No 12VDC   Entry
TS1535 Iron Only 6W 450°C No AA Batteries   Entry
TS1485 Iron Only 80W 530°C No 240V   Entry
TS1651 Kit 20/130W 420°C No 240V   Entry
TS1111 Iron Only NA NA No Gas Heatshrink, Cutting Entry
TS1540 Iron Only 30W 200 – 450°C Yes 240V   Entry
TS1112 Kit NA NA No Gas Braze, Melt, Heatshrink Entry
TS1652 Kit 25W 420°C No 240V Desolder, Multimeter Entry
TS1305 Iron Only 10/60W 450°C Yes Gas   Mid
TS1620 Station 40W 150 – 450°C Yes 240V Anti-Static Mid
TS1113 Kit NA 500°C No Gas Braze, Melt, Heatshrink Mid
TS1430 Iron Only 80W 320°C No 240V   Mid
TS1310 Iron Only 15/75W 580°C Yes Gas   Mid
TS1564 Station 48W 150 – 450°C Yes 240V Analogue Temp Adjustment Mid
TS1320 Iron Only 25/125W 580°C Yes Gas   Mid
TS1390 Station 60W 160 – 480°C Yes 240V Finite Temp Control Pro
TS1440 Station 70W 200 – 480°C Yes 240V Anti-Static Pro
TS1574 Station 60W 160 – 480°C Yes 240V Desolder, Finite Temp Control Pro
TS1584 Station 50W 350 – 398°C Yes 240V RF Induction Pro