Best Soldering Iron for Circuit Boards: Complete Reviews with Comparison

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Best Soldering Iron for Circuit Boards

A soldering iron is an excellent source of heat when working on circuit boards. It joins two or more metal parts, connecting them to create a permanent bond. Soldering irons come in different models and generate different wattages hence the need to choose one that suits circuitry needs.


Using soldering irons with too high or too low a wattage when working on circuit boards can cause damage. Experts recommend using soldering irons rated between 15 and 60 W. A higher wattage damages the delicate components of the circuit board.


Another advantage of using a soldering iron over other types of soldering tools is that it has a pinpoint heat source. Thus, you are sure to work on tasks that need precision. Here are five soldering irons you can use:

​'Top 5 Best Soldering Irons for Circuit Boards' Comparison Chart

★ Top Pick ★

Hakko FX888D-23BY Digital Soldering Station FX-888D FX-888 (blue & yellow)

★ Editor’s Choice ★Hakko FX888D-23BY Digital Soldering Station

Excellent thermal recovery Heater output, T18 series tips for terrific heat conductivity


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Weller WLC100 40-Watt Soldering Station

Weller WLC100 40-Watt Soldering Station

High performance analog soldering station produces up to 900° F, control dial adjusts power from 5 watts to 40 watts for accuracy


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Ultratorch UT-100SiK Butane Powered Soldering Iron and Torch, 3 in 1 Tool with Metal Case

Ultratorch UT-100SiK Butane Powered Soldering Iron

Compact, lightweight, up to 2500 degree Fahrenheit setting, oxygen-free, copper based soldering tip, iron and chrome plating for long life and high thermal conductivity


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POWER PROBE Butane Soldering Kit (PPSK) [Automotive Diagnostic Car Test Tool, Easy Start Electronic Ignition, Adjustable Flame, with Multiple Tips, Black

POWER PROBE Butane Soldering Kit (PPSK)

Automotive Diagnostic Car Test Tool, Easy Start Electronic Ignition, Adjustable Flame, with Multiple Tips


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★ Budget ★

Soldering Iron Kit Electronics 60W Adjustable Temperature Soldering Iron, 5pcs Soldering Iron Tips, Solder, Rosin, Solder Wick, Stand and Other Soldering Kits in Portable Toolbox

★ Money Saver ★Soldering Iron Kit Electronics 60W Adjustable Temperature Soldering Iron

This package comes with soldering iron, solder wire, desoldering pump, solder wick, stand with cleaning sponge, 5 multiple soldering tips, 110v/60w, 200-450C


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​Detailed Product Info & Reviews

​1. Hakko FX-888D-23BY

Hakko FX888D-23BY Digital Soldering Station FX-888D FX-888 (blue & yellow)

It is an upgrade of its predecessor, the FX888 presenting a range of new features. First, it has an adjustable temperature control that enables users to monitor temperature through the digital display. Secondly, it has a password feature that enhances safety.


What’s more, the soldering iron boasts a higher heater output, which is an increase of 30% compared to other models in the market. It is also equipped with a T18 feature that enhances the tool’s heat conductivity and thermal recovery capabilities.


It is this function that enables users to solder at a low temperature hence reducing the impact of heat on the circuit board components. Additionally, its thermal recovery feature minimizes tip oxidation, thus prolonging its life.


Product Highlights


  • Displays temperature in F and C
  • Adjustable heat control
  • Temperature setting protected by a password
  • Temperature range of 50-480C
  • Five preset temperatures
  • A vast range of tips
  • Cleaning wire


What I Like

Its UP and Enter settings made it easy to adjust the temperature to my liking. And once I set the temperature, I didn’t need to change it every time I turned on the device. I also loved the iron holder that came with the iron. It held the iron steady when not in use and kept the working space uncluttered.


What I Don’t Like

The iron heated up pretty fast. Within 30 seconds, it reached a temperature of up to 350C, which left little time to assemble the components for soldering.


​1. ​Hakko FX-888D-23BY

What We Like

  • ​Convenient temperature control
  • ​User-friendly interface
  • ​Password protected
  • ​A wide selection of tips

What We Don't Like

  • ​Two buttons may lead to an inaccurate temperature reading


​2. Weller WLC100 40W Soldering Station

Weller WLC100 40-Watt Soldering Station

The soldering station is ideal for DIY enthusiasts and students learning how to solder circuit boards. It has a lightweight construction and is equipped with a cushioned foam grip that keeps your hand comfortable even when working for extended periods.


It also has a pencil iron tip made of premium ST3 iron-plated copper, which prolong its life. Copper is famous for its heat transmission properties but it gets corroded easily. As such, the tip is coated with iron plating to enhance durability.


The station also has variable power controls to allow you to adjust power based on your soldering requirements. It is a pretty moderate range of 5-40 watts suitable for PCB soldering needs. Additionally, the station has a power indicator button fitted at the base that alerts the user when to turn it off.


The product comes with a built-in stand to help you organize the workspace better, an ST3 iron-plated screwdriver, and a natural sponge cleaning pad.


Product Highlights


  • Variable power control (5-40 watts)
  • Produces up to 900 F
  • ST3 Iron-plated tip
  • UL listed


What I Like

I found Weller soldering station a good bargain for people looking for the advantage of replaceable heating elements, iron-plated tips, and variable power control. The additional tools (screwdriver and tip-cleaning sponge tray) add to its versatility. I also loved the fact that the tips are replaceable, and the station is compatible with third-party irons as long as they don’t exceed 40 watts.


What I Don’t Like

Its ST3 tip made it somewhat difficult to solder components on circuit boards. I am accustomed to the thinner ST 1 tip, as it makes it easy to work on smaller electronics.


​2. Weller WLC100 40-Watt Soldering Station 

What We Like

  • ​Premium quality
  • ​Adjustable power control
  • ​Iron-plated tip
  • ​UL certified
  • ​​Budget-friendly
  • ​​Up to one-year manufacturer warranty

What We Don't Like

  • ​Temperature info not included
  • ​The iron takes a little bit to heat up
  • ​Tiny dust bag


​3. UT-100Si Butane-Powered Soldering Iron

Ultratorch UT-100SiK Butane Powered Soldering Iron and Torch, 3 in 1 Tool with Metal Case

If looking for a flameless and cordless soldering iron, this butane-powered soldering iron makes a good buy. It functions as a heating tool, pinpoint butane torch, and flameless soldering iron. As such, it can perform a range of functions, including mounting elements on circuit boards, cutting materials, soldering, vinyl repair, to mention a few.


The device is equipped with a durable ultra tip and a good conductor of heat. It heats up in one and a half minutes after ignition reaching temperatures as high as 2500 degrees Fahrenheit. The temperature is adjustable.


Even at such a high temperature, the fuel lasts two hours, yielding an output equivalent to 20-80 watts of an electric iron. The device also has a viewing window where users can monitor the fuel level. The iron comes with other handy items like a hot air tip, an oxygen-free copper soldering tip, an ejector, a shrink attachment, and a wet sponge.


Product Highlights


  • Heats up to 2500 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Heats up within 30 seconds
  • A two-hour runtime
  • Power output equivalent to 20-80 watt electric iron
  • Gas-powered
  • UL & GS/TUV listed
  • Weighs 0.16 ounces


What I Like

I loved its lightweight, compact design despite having multiple capabilities. I also found its ultra-tips excellent conductors of heat and a little thicker than regular tips. Its running time of up to two hours is also a major bonus for a gas-powered soldering iron.


What I Don’t Like

It often got too hot to hold. I had to turn it off several times to allow it to cool off.


​3. ​UT-100Si Butane-Powered Soldering Iron

What We Like

  • ​Heats up fast
  • ​Has multiple purposes
  • ​Is cordless

What We Don't Like

  • ​Can get too hot to hold
  • ​Sometimes fails to light up


4. Power Probe PPSK Butane Soldering Kit

POWER PROBE Butane Soldering Kit (PPSK) [Automotive Diagnostic Car Test Tool, Easy Start Electronic Ignition, Adjustable Flame, with Multiple Tips, Black

If looking for a cordless soldering iron, the Power Probe PPSK soldering is a good buy. It makes an excellent general-purpose soldering iron for electrical work. It comes in a sturdy plastic case carrying tips and a foam pad to keep the items steady.


The kit doubles up as a soldering iron and a temperature torch. For this guide, we stick to the soldering iron, which is equipped with a self-ignition feature, so you don’t need to use a lighter. It heats up to a maximum temperature of 950 F ideal for working on circuitry boards.


The soldering iron heats up fast (within 30 seconds), which is pretty impressive for a butane-powered iron. What’s more, the electric flame adjustment feature allows you to adjust its length from 0.5-2.5 inches. This feature is extremely handy when working on the delicate components of a circuit board.


Product Highlights


  • Electronic ignition
  • Length of flame can be adjusted (5’’-1.25’’)
  • Max flame temperature of up to 930F
  • Lasts two hours between refills
  • Has tips and other attachments


What I Like

I loved the fact that the iron is equipped with an electronic ignition as well as a flame adjustment mechanism. I also found the butane easy to refill, powering the iron for up to two hours in between refills.


What I Don’t Like

The iron gets very hot even when set at the lowest temperature. While this is a useful feature for soldering applications, the heat feels a little extreme for delicate detailing required when working on circuit boards.


​4. ​Power Probe PPSK Butane Soldering Kit

What We Like

  • ​Economical
  • ​Lasts long
  • ​Cordless

What We Don't Like

  • ​Iron heats up fast
  • ​Does not have a stand


​5. Tabiger Soldering Welding Kit

Soldering Iron Kit Electronics 60W Adjustable Temperature Soldering Iron, 5pcs Soldering Iron Tips, Solder, Rosin, Solder Wick, Stand and Other Soldering Kits in Portable Toolbox

This 16-in-1 electronic kit meets all your welding requirements. Its multi-functional nature makes it an excellent welding kit for soldering experts and hobbyists alike. You will find the soldering iron, solder wick, stand with a cleaning sponge, desoldering pump, two anti-static tweezers, to mention a few.


The soldering iron is equipped with a ceramic printed heater that speeds up the heating process. The temperature is adjustable, ranging from 200 to 450 degrees Celsius. It is this feature that makes this iron suitable for electronic repair at home, motherboard repair, and computer circuit board repair.


The device has five interchangeable soldering tips and is equipped with four cooling ventilation holes that accelerate cooling.


What I Like

What sets this iron apart from others is that it uses a chip Fixed Resister to regulate high temperatures. Most devices in the market use the Color Ring Resistance, which is not as effective. I also loved that it had a range of other tools that met all my soldering needs.


What I Don’t Like

Unfortunately, the iron was not as effective when working on complex soldering applications. I needed to look for more advanced tools to execute the task.


​5. ​Tabiger Soldering Welding Kit

What We Like

  • ​Equipped with ventilation holes for fast cooling
  • ​One-size-fit kit
  • ​Powerful thermostat
  • ​Adjustable temperature

What We Don't Like

  • ​Can’t perform complex tasks
  • ​The stand is not steady
  • ​Iron keeps toppling over when placed in the stand


Soldering Iron Buyer’s Guide


Type of Soldering Iron

Soldering irons are broadly divided into three categories:


  • Basic air-cooled irons: It is the most basic type. It does not have a temperature control setting but relies on the cooling effect of air. Air-cooled irons are the most affordable and are ideal for a range of applications
  • Temperature-controlled soldering iron: This kind is equipped with a thermostat to help regulate the temperature. As such, you can easily maintain the appropriate temperature for soldering circuit boards at all times. Some temperature-controlled irons also come fitted with a temperature indicator
  • Soldering iron workstations: It comes in two parts: the soldering iron and the base. The base has a holder, temperature dial and cleaning sponge.


Additional Considerations


  • Size: Smaller soldering irons are ideal for working on circuit boards. This is because they are more accurate and precise than larger tools which are suitable for soldering items that are less delicate
  • Wattage: Basic non-temperature controlled irons have a wattage of 40 watts and are ideal for general soldering applications. However, the irons take longer to heat up and do not hold temperature consistently. Temperature-controlled soldering irons have higher wattages
  • Tip compatibility: The iron should have a replaceable tip and be compatible with a range of tips. If the tip is replaceable but with tips from the same brand, only consider purchasing an iron that allows greater versatility. Also, find out the price of the tip
  • Anti-static protection: The increasing susceptibility of electronic components makes this feature mandatory when buying a soldering iron. As such, it is essential to consider buying tools with static protection
  • Holding stand: You need a safe place to place the hot iron while working on the circuit board. With irons reaching temperatures as high as 300C it is essential to ensure they don’t cause harm to you or the working surface
  • Maintenance: Buy a soldering iron whose spare parts are accessible. Soldering bits used for soldering have a short life, and even though the rest of the iron remains functional for many years, it is essential to change the bits regularly.


FA​​​Qs


(Q) Which Accessories do I Need When Soldering the Circuit Board?


​(A)​ ​​​Circuit boards need detailed work. To achieve that level of detailing, it is essential to have a set of tools to facilitate the process. Some basic tools include:


  • Soldering wires: There are two types, the acid core for plumbing and Rosin core for soldering circuit boards
  • Wire cutters: Small wire cutters come in handy for printed circuit board work. They are suitable for trimming components
  • Wire strippers: They help strip off the wires from the circuit boards
  • Thin nose pliers: Choose a type that suits what you are working on. Small nose pliers are excellent for circuit board work while large ones are ideal for heavy-duty work
  • Solder sucker: It helps remove the solder from the joint, so the component is de-soldered for re-work

(Q) How Do I Maintain a Soldering Iron?


​(A)​ ​​​Soldering irons are in constant contact with heat and hot metals. This creates a buildup around the tip as a result of oxidation, which develops into rust or corrosion. Proper cleaning of the tip should keep the iron rust-free and prolong its life. Here are steps to help you clean:


  1. Turn off the iron and allow it to cool before cleaning
  2. Wipe off the tip using a damp sponge. Be sure to use sulfur-free sponges designed for soldering
  3. Take a steel wool pad and scrub off the stains or rust
  4. Apply a thin coat of solder on the tip to protect it from oxidization


(Q) How do I Enhance Safety When Soldering?


  • ​​​Wear safety glasses
  • Avoid soldering a live circuit
  • Work in areas that are well-ventilated to avoid inhaling the toxic fumes
  • Use the right size of soldering iron for your projects

(Q) Why is Tinning Important Before Soldering?


​(A) Tinning preps the iron for the soldering process. It enhances the transfer of heat from the iron to the item getting soldered. It also protects the tip by reducing the wear.


(Q) Which Tip is Ideal for Soldering Circuit Boards?


​(A)​ ​​​PCB soldering requires precision and detailed soldering. As such, conical tips are the most ideal as their pointed edges helps deliver heat to small areas like the tiny surface-mount components.


Conclusion

The comprehensive guide should help you choose a tool that suits your soldering requirements. The expert solder will find Hakko 888D-23Y soldering iron pretty handy. Its high power output and high-temperature range should help him work on complex circuit boards. The average DIYer will find Tabiger Welding kit useful. It is affordable and functions as a one-size kit for all his soldering needs.


About the Author Dan

Just a random guy who likes to build things. Providing tool knowledge, appliance/device testing tips, and DIY project info in an easy-to read & non-intimidating style.