Here, we reviewed a few relatively inexpensive top-rated soldering iron on Amazon. Just to be clear, these irons (except one model) do not have temperature regulation mechanism, ESD protection and other features that $100 soldering station usually offer. If you need to do some serious electronics soldering, we would recommend you to buy these soldering stations for electronics purposes. Now, let us find out what could be the best soldering iron for your next project.
Weller Red Soldering Iron
This is a Weller-made basic soldering iron that would prove useful in any workshop. It has 4 models, light (15W), standard (25W), medium (40W) and heavy duty (80W). We recommend the medium duty unit. According to our experience, it is good for a wide variety of soldering jobs. It comes with 6mm tip with two spare ST3 (3.2mm) and ST7 (0.8mm) tips. We did 12 AWG wire connection with it. No problem there. The kit also comes with a basic iron stand and lead-free solder to get you start right away. We really love the round and soft grip handle design. It just helps relax your hand during use.
We do not use that little iron stand very often since most of the time the soldering iron is put on the table. It has a triangular front housing at the end, which prevents it from rolling. The LED lights in the housing also help a lot when there is not enough light in the area we need to work on.
Weller WLC100 40-Watt Soldering Station
The soldering temperature is critical during the use. If it gets too hot, you may burn the copper traces or components. If it is too cold, you will have cold solder issues (most of time, it means bad connection). Then, the preferred soldering temperature changes from application to application. So, you may need your soldering iron has some sort of output power control capability. This station has that. It has a variable power control that can produce 5 to 40 watts. You will be interested in level 3+ most of time. We did some measurements (we have too much time…). The number changes from one station to another. But, it should be in the ballpark.
level 3 = ~16 watts
level 4 = ~30 watts
level 5 = ~40 watts
It should be noted that the power control knob works like a light dimmer. There is no temperature feedback from the tip, not like those $100 soldering stations. The grip is quite comfortable. The standard tip supplied with this unit is good enough for general use but too large for most electronic work All in all, this is a soldering iron with Weller quality and durability that you can trust.
If you still think that it is beyond your budget, here is one alternative, Elenco soldering station. It also has a variable output power from 5W to 40W. It comes with a 40 Watt soldering iron with a basic conical tip.
Cheap soldering irons perfect for first timer
If you are a beginner, just start learning how to solder, and need something cheap to try it out. This inexpensive small soldering iron kit is great for you. It is cheap yet usable. It has everything you need to start soldering today.
Last but not least, if you want to do some soldering for electronics but do not want to invest $100+ for those feature rich soldering station from either Weller or Hakko. Wait no more. Here is the perfect soldering station for you.
Aoyue 937+ Digital Soldering Station
This is a 45 watt digital soldering station that has a 1 degree C feedback control. This is the real temperature control which means the unit senses the soldering tip temperature and regulate it to the preset value. It is also an ESD safe unit, which means the electronic components will not be damaged by the ESD stress during soldering. Lot of people call it a Hakko 936(an entry level soldering station for electronics) clone since it has all the features Hakko 936, looks and feels like a Hakko 936. If you want to do some serious electronic soldering but with less budget, this is a very good soldering iron for you. It is worth every penny you.
Have said some many good things about Aoyue 937+, here are two things we feel that it could be improved on.
1. The temperature is digitally displayed in Celsius. No way to switch to F.
2. The power cord is a bit short.
So, which one is the best soldering iron for you?
Above, we reviewed a few soldering irons. In our opinion, if you want to soldering electronics soldering for a budget less than $50, Aoyue 937+ soldering station is the best soldering iron for you. Otherwise, Weller red soldering iron is the best soldering iron if you do a lot general purpose soldering.