There are many Maker enthusiasts that do their own repairs on their equipment. For many of these people their primary tool is a soldering tool. This can come in the form of a soldering iron or a soldering gun. These irons and guns can also run off of electric or butane. With all of the differences between soldering irons and soldering guns, maybe it would be a good idea to go a little deeper in-depth about these repair tools.
What makes a soldering iron different from a soldering gun
The first difference that can be seen between a soldering iron and a soldering gun is the way that they are physically arranged. A soldering iron is arranged in a linear fashion, sort of like an awl, with a pointed tip. The iron is plugged in and the tip heats up. This heated tip is what is used to melt the solder and apply in to the PCB. It looks very basic, but it gets the job done. Typically, the heat of the tip cannot be regulated and there are no lights affixed to the soldering iron.
In contrast, a soldering gun looks like just that –a gun. It has a trigger that controls the heating of the tip of the unit and can also control a light mounted on the unit that gives the user more pinpoint light where they are soldering. Some of these soldering guns run off of electricity and plug into a device that regulates the amount of current that is going through to the soldering gun. This, raises, or lowers, the heat of the tip. This is especially useful when the user is applying different types of solders that have different melting points. There are some soldering irons on the market that are ran by igniting butane fuel in order to heat the solder. These soldering guns are typically used in the field where access to electricity is not possible.
How it works
As mentioned earlier, the tip of the soldering iron or gun is heated by using electricity or butane. Once the tip gets up to temperature, the tip can then be used to melt solder and apply it to various parts of PCBs. Soldering irons are most commonly used to affix electrical components such as resistors, transformers, and diodes, but they also are used to splice copper wires together, install audio/video jacks, and have other related uses. Need to point out that soldering gun is just too hot for soldering electronic components.
A few soldering guns we recommend
Weller D550PK 120-volt 260/200-watt Professional Soldering Gun Kit
Recommended for much more experienced users, this soldering gun heats up very fast. Some may complain that it may become too hot to touch even with two heat settings. LED lights sometime do not last too long. You need to watch out for. Compared to most soldering gun kits, it is cheaper. It is handy for home use and even for electrical connections. Here is our review (link).
Weller D650 Industrial Soldering Gun
Best used for repair and maintenance, even involving electrical and automotive items, this soldering gun does the job and has even exceeded the expectations. It’s a high-powered machine that can take on soldering wires of all sizes and heats up fast, letting you finish the job quickly. This soldering gun is perfect for heavy-duty jobs that the more compact soldering guns are of no use. Detailed review here.
Weller 8200PKS 120-volt 140/100-watt Universal Soldering Gun Kit
This soldering gun managed to exceed the expectations of many. At its compact size and affordable price, it’s great for use at home as it heats up quickly and cools down just as quickly and the kit has different tips for you to use for different projects. Some people even used it as a cutting tool. The link to the review.
How a soldering iron/gun is used
A soldering iron is used by plugging the unit into a wall outlet until it reaches the desired temperature. After this is achieved then the solder is melted using the tip of the iron. There are varying methods on how this is done. Some users prefer to heat the component that the solder is going on with the tip of the iron while other users prefer to melt the solder on the tip of the iron and then apply it to the component.
A soldering gun is used in a similar fashion but with some differences. A user can regulate the current that the soldering gun is drawing, and this translates into variable heat settings. Once a user has the desired setting dialed in, they will press in the trigger on the gun until the tip heats up and the light comes on. After this is completed, they will either apply the solder directly to the tip of the unit, or they will use the tip of the unit to heat up the component that they are applying the solder to.
What to look for when purchasing a soldering gun
Some things to look for when purchasing a soldering iron are price, portability, durability, and flexibility of use. For example, someone that is just starting out using a soldering gun should purchase one that is not only affordable to them, but one that will give them the options that they are looking for. As the user’s soldering abilities increase, the user may want to purchase a higher end soldering gun so that they can perform more intricate soldering. It is important to purchase a soldering gun from a reputable manufacturer. This is due to the fact that there is electricity or combustible gas involved. Typically, purchasing one from a reputable manufacturer will help to guarantee that it will be a self product to use. Of course, for different purposes, you may use it for shrink tube in wiring, embossing, or electronics, every single task has its uniqueness. Think carefully before make the buying decision.
Soldering irons and guns are used by many Maker enthusiasts when they are building or repairing. By knowing the difference between the two, how they are used, and tips for purchasing one a user can make a more informed decision when it comes to purchasing and operating a soldering gun.