Soldering is a process where two or more items are fused together by melting and putting filler metal into a joint. This filler metal has a lower melting point than the items being joined. This ensures that the things being joined don’t melt. These two tools are designed for the same purpose but have significant differences.
This is an in-depth soldering gun vs. iron comparison to determine what soldering guns and irons are. We will discuss their main differences and where they excel.
- Soldering Gun vs. Iron – What Are They?
- Pros and Cons of Soldering Guns
- Pros and Cons of Soldering Irons
- Soldering Gun vs. Iron – Final Thoughts
Soldering Gun vs. Iron – What Are They?
The Soldering Gun
The soldering gun is a relatively small handheld tool you can hold in one hand. It has a trigger, just like a real gun, that you pull with your index finger. There’s a copper tip that looks like a loop.
This loop heats up quickly when you pull the trigger. A transformer inside the body activates when the trigger is pulled, enabling electricity to convert into heat on the copper tip.
Moreover, soldering guns use extreme heat and are ideal for industrial applications. However, they are not the best tools for sensitive electronics due to the amount of heat.
The Soldering Iron
The soldering iron looks something like a wand. It features heat-resistant grips with rubber coatings. They’re easy to use with a single hand.
Soldering irons produce lower heat than soldering guns and have a lower wattage level. You just plug it in and turn it on.
It will take time to heat up, but it will remain on until you unplug it. Soldering irons are generally used for small projects that require delicacy.
Pros and Cons of Soldering Guns
A soldering gun has both advantages and disadvantages.
Pros of Soldering Irons
One advantage is that they can be used for various purposes such as joining cable lugs, heavy-duty connectors, sheet metal, stained glass, brass elements, and heavy-duty electrical circuits. Anything more extensive than a standard circuit board is a prime candidate for a soldering gun.
They Have Lots of Power
A soldering gun usually has a lot of power. Generally speaking, these can have anywhere from 100 to 240 watts.
Therefore, the more power a soldering gun has, the more heat it can generate. Thus, soldering guns, with their high power levels, are ideal for big projects.
Fast Heating and Cooling
Soldering guns operate very quickly. As soon as you press the trigger, the tip will get extremely hot. On the other hand, as soon as you let the trigger go, the unit will cool down more or less instantly.
This is beneficial because you don’t have to wait for the tip to heat up. Moreover, cold weather doesn’t treat soldering irons very well, but it won’t affect a soldering gun.
Another advantage is that a soldering gun enables you to keep moving quickly. You can leave them on because they quickly heat up and cool down. There is no need to constantly plug and unplug them.
A soldering gun doesn’t use much energy, and it’s highly efficient in heat transfer. This is because it doesn’t need a lot of energy to get hot in the first place. Moreover, when you aren’t using them, they instantly cool off; this saves electricity and, therefore, money.
Good for Tight Spaces
A soldering gun is excellent for working in tight spaces because of its size. However, being ideal for small and tight spaces doesn’t mean they’re suitable for small jobs.
Soldering Gun Disadvantages
The soldering gun also has a few disadvantages.
Weight and User Fatigue
Soldering guns are generally heavier than soldering irons. This makes them ideal for big jobs, but it also means that you can quickly fatigue while using them. In addition, the shape of the soldering gun can sometimes make them a bit difficult to use; they can be a bit clumsy.
Moreover, soldering guns are pretty dangerous, and it is easy to burn yourself with the tip. Finally, the tip is made out of copper, an excellent conductor, so there’s also a risk of electrical shock.
Replacing the Tip
You generally need to replace the tip of a soldering gun relatively often. If you are working on large jobs with a lot of soldering, you’ll likely have to replace the tip on the gun several times.
Pros and Cons of Soldering Irons
Let’s now look at the pros and cons of soldering irons.
Soldering Iron Advantages
Soldering guns come in many different sizes for various tasks. Many also come with a wide variety of tips that are ideal for specific jobs. They are much more specific in terms of the jobs they can perform.
When a soldering iron gets hot, it stays hot; you can leave it on as long as you work, and your workflow will not be interrupted because the iron will always be hot when you need it.
Many people like using soldering irons as they are relatively lightweight, making them easy to use over a prolonged period, especially where fatigue is concerned. In addition, their lighter weight makes them easier to use than soldering guns.
Finally, a soldering iron is ideal for relatively delicate jobs. These tools are suitable for small home projects, automotive wiring, jewelry, electric wiring, and delicate circuit boards.
Soldering Iron Disadvantages
Size and Shape
Soldering irons are not very large, but their long shape makes it hard to get into tight spaces.
Only for Small Projects
Soldering irons are not designed for big jobs because they just can’t produce the wattage or heat required for industrial jobs.
Heating and Cooling Time
Although these tools are fine for not interrupting your workflow, they take a long time to heat up. Also, they will take a long time to cool down once hot.
This means that you do need to plug in your soldering iron a few minutes before you want to start your job. You also need to remember not to touch the tip as soon as you unplug it; wait a few minutes before handling it.
The other drawback is that a soldering iron isn’t a very efficient tool. Because you have to leave them on for the duration of your job, they use a good deal of energy, which translates to a higher electric bill.
Soldering Gun vs. Iron – Final Thoughts
You now have the information needed to decide between a soldering gun and iron.
Essentially, soldering guns are best for large and industrial jobs. On the other hand, soldering irons are best used for smaller and delicate jobs.