Hello, and welcome to our tutorial where we’ll be looking at two different types of soldering irons and which one is going to be best for your workshop. We’ll be specifically looking at soldering irons, not how to solder, so for more info on getting started with soldering, check out our Soldering 101 tutorial. So without further ado, let’s press on.
Soldering Station vs Standalone Soldering Iron
There are two main categories of soldering irons, those that have an all-in-one unit with everything contained in the wand with a cable that plugs into the wall, and a soldering station where the iron is just a wand with a heating element that connects to a station which provides adjustable heat regulation, usually a stand and some controls. The stations come in two different flavours; analogue or digital. All stations should have an adjustable temperature, however, some are simply an analogue control which you adjust to a scale, whereas digital station may have a rotary control, or push buttons, with a digital temperature readout.
Soldering stations are ideal for a workbench where they will usually stay plugged in, offer more features, and have a stand for the iron, although they are usually more expensive.
Standalone soldering irons, however, are great for having in a toolbox for on-the-go work, or if you only occasionally need to solder something and it doesn’t warrant taking up bench space. Irons like these usually don’t have an adjustable temperature, only a set wattage, which makes them less versatile with less control. They can also be cumbersome to use due to the fact that they usually don’t come with a stand (although you can buy one separately) and have a mains power cable attached to the wand itself. They’re usually a bit cheaper than a soldering station.
Regardless of which type of soldering iron you get, it’s important to buy a good one. With a soldering iron, like most electronic equipment, you get what you pay for, and a good iron will last forever, heat up quickly, and retain its heat well. A high-quality soldering iron is also likely to use high-quality tips which will transfer heat better and protect your components. To make this decision easier, we’ve sourced two high-quality Hakko soldering irons which we stand by. Hakko is a Japanese brand, known for making high quality, yet affordable electronics equipment.
Which One Should I Choose?
If you’re looking for a soldering station then the Hakko FX-888D is going to be perfect for you. It’s got digital controls and readout, a handy brass wool and sponge cleaner built into the stand, you can store up to 5 temperature pre-sets, and it ranges from 50 degrees to 480 degrees Celsius. This is our pick if you want an awesome soldering station for your benchtop.
If you’d prefer a standalone soldering iron for odd jobs, then the Hakko 60W RED soldering iron is going to be perfect. It’s a high-quality all-in-one iron, with enough heat for even the most demanding job.
Something to bear in mind is that both the FX-888D and the Red 60W have removeable tips which allows you to use different types of tips (conical, chisel, hoof) depending on the type of work you’re doing which makes them far more versatile.
Hopefully, this info helped you on which type of soldering iron you should choose, both of the irons compared here are high-quality bits of gear which will serve you and your projects well. Happy making!