Working with modern electronics without a soldering station is simply impossible. You need at least an excellent compact soldering iron with interchangeable tips and temperature settings for serious work. Ideally, it would be best if you had a heat gun to unsolder “many-legged” cases and work with BGA elements, with which ordinary soldering irons are not able to cope at all.
However, it is not so easy to choose a quality soldering station for up to 100 dollars. Of course, it is possible to surf profile forums, read reviews – but you do not want to waste time on it, right?
In today’s rating, we can’t cover all the variety of soldering equipment. However, there is no need to: leaving aside highly specialized models. Instead, we will consider the most typical applications and common soldering stations best suited for them.
Weller WLC200 is an excellent choice for beginners in electronics. The 5 watt to 80-watt range of adjustable temperature heats the iron fast and recovers that heat again after use, speeding up your workflow and making the long wait for a heating iron a thing of the past.
Weller WLC100 is a great soldering station for this price. Capable of producing heats up to 900°F to work on many soldering projects. The station includes a Weller certified ST3 iron-plated copper tip to help keep the temperature consistent while making soldering joints.
Variable power control dial adjusts power from 5 watts to 40 watts
Sometimes long delivery
Eastvolt Digital Soldering Station
Eastvolt soldering station is a good choice for electronics for this price. It’s a durable, efficient soldering system. This station is equipped with 75W high power, which can heat up to 662°f (350°c) in 15 seconds. The temperature is adjustable from 392°F – 896°F/200°C – 480°C.
The digital screen can clearly show the precise temperature
Autosleep safety function
Good quality extras
Hard to find other tips
Aoyue 469 Soldering Station
Aoyue 469 is a miniature soldering station with a 60W ceramic heater. The main features are a rotary knob for temperature control and a two-color LED status indicator. In addition, it comes with a soldering iron stand and solder holder.
It is equipped with a fast acting PTC ceramic heater
There are 50 available soldering tips
Built-in iron and sponge holder
Sometimes useless for soldering
Duratrax TrakPower TK-950 Soldering Station (DTXR0950)
Duratrax TrakPower TK-950 soldering station is the right tool for many functions. Superior electronics ensure long-lasting performance; The slender, insulated grip provides comfortable control. It heats up fast to the selected temperature within a wide 392-896°f range and holds that setting within 1.8°F while idle.
Includes chisel point tip, pencil tip, iron stand, sponge, and vinyl wrap
Easy to use
Some quality issues
Let’s start with what kind of work is supposed to be done. A large amount of soldering of SMD components with a large number of pins and especially their disassembly will require the use of a heat gun, and the soldering iron will be needed at the minimum – here it is worth looking at the thermal air stations. If you often need to solder elements mounted through a hole, on the contrary, stations with a “classic” soldering iron are in demand. Well, the combined version is the most universal. It does not hurt to connect optional “peripherals” – thermal tweezers, tin suction. Of course, this is a feature of professional stations, quite expensive – but it will pay off in professional work.
Pay attention to the quality of the soldering iron – and its reliability, and how the heater stingers fit. Unfortunately, those same cheap Eastvolt bad contact with the tip with the heater has long been a byword, so without refinement, they poorly solder elements with a good heat sink: the tip is overcooled, no matter how to twist the temperature.
The Best Manufacturers of Soldering Stations
To date, professionals make their choice based on the benefits identified in the process. The most reliable and popular brands such as Weller, Yihua, Hakko, Eastvolt, and Duratrax are considered.
If we talk about any specific models, then experts recommend paying attention to such soldering stations as Weller WLC200 or WLC100.
The brand Weller or Hakko will suit professional electronics hobbyists. They are powerful, have the most comprehensive temperature range, and have antistatic protection, which is essential. In addition, these soldering stations can easily handle overloads, and you don’t have to worry about the quality of soldering with them.
Soldering Station for the Beginner in Electronics
For beginners, of course, the choice will not be easy. How to choose a soldering station? You can start from the price policy. For example, the cost of hot air rework stations and infrared soldering stations differs significantly: hot air rework stations will be cheaper. Also, you need to understand that some soldering stations are large, while others are more compact. All of these characteristics play a role and ultimately influence the further choice.
I want to point out a few essential points to ensure that the assembly soldering station serves its owner as long as possible. These tips will help the equipment to last a long time and not cause unnecessary hassle.
It is very important to monitor the integrity of the cords, they should not be kinked, and the insulation should not be broken. Also, you can’t unplug the heat gun with the button while it is resting on the holder. To clean the solder from the tip, you need to use a special sponge. Under no circumstances should you use a sharp object for this purpose. And the last rule is to turn off the station with the on and off button, not just by unplugging the cord from the socket.
If the soldering station breaks down, it is better to have it repaired by knowledgeable.
What are the Differences Between a Soldering Iron and a Soldering Station?
In short, a common soldering iron does not allow you to set the heating temperature, and it does not adjust the power of the heating element. As a result of its sting constantly burns, the solder does not adhere well to its surface, and during the soldering process, there is a risk of overheating the radio element, the tracks on the board, or vice versa not to solder the contacts. The soldering station allows taking control of overheating to get a stable process with safe soldering.
Of course, modern soldering irons are already equipped with temperature control but with a widespread and narrow power range, making them less versatile. In other words, if you need to solder something thicker or, on the contrary, too small, an ordinary 20-40W soldering iron might not do the job.
And modern soldering iron comes with heaters, without which working with chips is just not possible. In general, soldering stations can be divided into contact and non-contact, among which there are subspecies.
What to Look When Choosing a Soldering Station Under $100
The choice of device depends on many factors that must be considered. For example, which soldering station is better? Before buying, you should carefully weigh the purpose of the device and pay special attention to the following criteria:
The heating element, its type, and type. They are represented by nichrome and ceramic variants. The first option is more budgetary but is not subject to long-term and regular use. If you need something to make at home – feel free to buy it. But for production purposes, it is better to opt for ceramic. But such an element has its disadvantages. In particular, it does not tolerate uneven heating and can even crack. However, the presence of thermal stabilization in the station device will contribute to its durability and strength.
Temperature control interval. Here, the question already depends directly on the purpose of using the soldering iron. Still, in any case, the wider the temperature range, the better and more functional the device will be.
Heating time. Another important moment that provides convenience in the work. Again, the less time – the better.
The power of the device. One of the most important criteria which provides high-quality work. In order to select the device with the right power, it is necessary to know in advance what will be used later. Particularly careful should choose the power required to work with electronics and sensitive devices, such as smartphones, laptops, etc. 40-70 watts is quite enough in such a case, but it is still better to leave some reserve.
Voltage. If you plan to work only with sensitive circuits, I suggest choosing low voltage versions which will not damage the board.
Note. The type of device will affect the kinds of work you do. For example, non-contact soldering is used for disassembling parts and helps you work in hard-to-reach places, but it is not always convenient when working on small pieces.
If you choose between analog and digital units, digital is the better choice because it provides better temperature control. However, when ordering one or the other device, pay attention to additional stingers. If you don’t have them, it’s also worth buying them in stock.
Useful Video: How to Solder / Soldering Basics Tutorial
A soldering station is a device that every electronics enthusiast should have. People who have decided to buy such a soldering iron should familiarize themselves in advance with all the nuances of choosing the device. This is the only way to buy a high-quality soldering station.