The soldering iron has come a long way from the days of a pencil you plug into the AC.
From cordless operation to temperature adjustment and induction heating, you're sure to find a soldering iron with the exact range of features you need.
What's the powerplant?
Curie-point heating is arguably the most advanced method of reaching operating temperature. It relies on electromagnetic induction, making the tip itself the heating element.
Butane-fuelled soldering irons have a catalytic heater in the head that ensures a more stable temperature than ordinary flame combustion. Many are supplied an interchangeable blowtorch head for a high-temperature flame up to 1300°C.
How do you tweak the heat?
Soldering stations allow temperature adjustment by regulating the power supplied to the heating element.
Analogue units are the simpler variety, often incorporating a variable power control (similar to a light dimmer) to select the temperature, and a thermostat to keep it constant.
Digital stations offer greater precision thanks to microprocessor control, and include an LED readout showing the tip temperature.
For a self-contained alternative, gas soldering irons have an adjustable throttle that adjusts the flow of fuel to the catalytic heater.
See below to learn more about soldering irons.
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 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 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.
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 (TS1465). 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 (TS1564) 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 (TS1651) 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 (TS1113) 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.
|TS1535||Iron Only||6W||450°C||No||AA Batteries||Entry|
|TS1540||Iron Only||30W||200 – 450°C||Yes||240V||Entry|
|TS1620||Station||40W||150 – 450°C||Yes||240V||Anti-Static||Mid|
|TS1564||Station||48W||150 – 450°C||Yes||240V||
|TS1440||Station||70W||200 – 480°C||Yes||240V||Anti-Static||Pro|
|TS1648||Station||60W||50 – 480°C||Yes||240V||
|TS1584||Station||50W||350 – 398°C||Yes||240V||RF Induction||Pro|