Best Soldering Station Reviews and Complete Buying Guide

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best soldering station reviews

If you’re here, it’s because you’ve been looking for the best soldering station and haven’t found any. It can be difficult to find a top soldering stations review, and that is why I have prepared this guide. I have worked with a lot of soldering stations, and I can tell if one is good or just hype.
There are a lot of great soldering stations online, but some are better than the others. After thorough comparison reviews, I’ve chosen the following because they are the best. That’s saying a lot, but if you read the following reviews you’ll see what makes these soldering stations stand out.

Why need a Soldering Station


A soldering station has several functions, but most people use them to make conductive joints between two wires, electric boards and other electric components. A soldering station is deigned for professionals, but even hobbyists will find it useful. RC (remote control) enthusiasts often have a soldering station as well as amateur radio operators.
There are many types of soldering stations. But the importance of having one cannot be over emphasized. With the right soldering iron and station, you’ll find it easier to manage connections. With a soldering station you won’t end up with messy connections that are impossible to work with.
Can you create connections without a soldering station? It’s possible, but it won’t be as easy. If you have ever done any sort of work on connections, you will know how important set up and appearance are for management and adjusting.
You can also use a soldering station for different types of electronics assembly, repairs and installation. The larger ones are often used for sheet metal joint soldering. There are even some that can be applied for plastic welding and pyrography, or burning of designs in various types of wood.

Advantages of the Soldering Station


  • The best soldering station controls the temperature of the soldering tip. It also allows you to set a wide temperature range for your project.
  • Soldering stations are available in different wattage levels.
  • Compatible with different types of tips.
  • Great for replacing capacitors.
  • Soldering stations are versatile and can be used for a wide range of applications.
  • Different sizes are available.
  • Easy enough for beginners to use.
  • Reduces the amount of work you have to do with connections.
  • There was a time when soldering stations were expensive, but now they’re within reach.
  • Useful for high volume production.

Analog Soldering Station VS Digital Soldering Station


If you read the top soldering stations review you’re bound to run into the whole analog vs. digital soldering station debate. Everyone seems to have a different opinion, but what it comes down to is this:

The difference between analog and digital is the way they provide information about the tip temperature. An analog soldering station provides adequate data, but their digital counterparts offer more precise details, have more data and have a more polished appearance. So is it worth buying a digital soldering station? The difference in most cases is just a few dollars, but the results are more precise. If your project requires professional level precision and you want different ways to view tip temperature, go digital. But if you don’t need such a high level of accuracy, an analog model should suffice.

As for the other components, it depends on the brand. The regulators on analog and digital soldering stations are the same, but those on high quality brands last longer. The same thing can be said about performance. With standard soldering stations there’s not much difference. If you want to get the most from your dollar, look for a quality brand.

Things To Consider Before Buying a Soldering Station


There are a lot of factors that come into play, but these are the most essential:

Temperature and Wattage Control: The degree of control varies. Look for one with easy to use controls and wide temperature range. As for wattage, get one with at least 40 watts, with some even going for 80. The higher the wattage the easier it is to accomplish complex tasks.

High Thermal Recovery: If you solder on a regular basis, buy one with high thermal recovery. Stations with low thermal recovery times could lead to problems like cold solder joints. The heat recovery capabilities of the soldering station determine how long it takes for the tip to attain set temperature.

Design: Ensure the soldering station has an ESD safe design. An ESD design means the soldering station is less vulnerable to leakage and device failure during operation.

Tips: Soldering irons are equipped with interchangeable tips. Their shapes range from tapered, conical, chisel and pyramid. They are also made from different materials such as nickel solder, chrome and copper.

Brand: Just like with any product you should always go for a reputable brand like those I review here. Buying from a reputable company saves you a lot of trouble, time and money.

Cost: This isn’t as big of an issue as it used to be. Back then soldering stations were considered for professional use only due to the cost. However, the price has gone down considerably. I also want to point out that some soldering stations are aimed at budget users.

Other Features to Look For: some soldering stations have unique temperature controls for delicate operations. Modern soldering stations have an ergonomic design, so you don’t tire even when you work for extended periods or in delicate situations.

Our Pick For Best Soldering Station


We made a short list of 5 best soldering station for you. Let’s take a look at our best pick.

Short Review Of Best Soldering Station


Here is the short review of each best soldering station that we selected for you.

1. Weller WES51 Analog Soldering Station


Weller WES51 Analog Soldering Station

One of the best soldering station products today, the Weller WES51 comes with electronic controls for precise temperature control. I also like how easy it is to make adjustments to the temperature. The sensor and heater accelerates the heat up time. Its temperature lockout is wireless, and it’s an effective deterrent against overheating. The pencil is also well-designed and handles are inside tall/deep recesses to prevent pinched knuckles Response time is good and it’s built for long term use. Since the pencil is stainless steel you don’t have to worry about corrosion either.

Specifications:


  1. Wattage: 50 W
  2. Temperature Range: 350° F to 850° F
  3. Temperature Accuracy: +/- 10° F to +/- 6° C
  4. Voltage Input: 120 V
  5. Voltage Output: 24 V
  6. Slim, Comfortable Pencil With Eta Tip Reduces Operator Fatigue.
  7. Tip Temperature Offset Capability.
  8. Allows User To Reset Station Temperature To Match In Tip Sizes & Styles.
  9. Temperature Dial to Select Correct Temperature.
  10. Station Includes Power Unit, Soldering Pencil, Stand and Sponge.
  11. 1 year Warranty.

Benefits:

  • Iron is easy to replace.
  • Designed for continuous use.
  • Rubber feet keeps the unit stable.
  • Ergonomic design.
  • Dial is easy to adjust.

Drawbacks:

  • Heavy.
  • Doesn’t have a digital readout.

Summary of Customer Reviews:


Reviews for the Weller are mostly in its favor. One customer said the Weller is great and easy to use. Another user posted a detailed review and said the Weller is reliable and that he highly recommends it. This view is shared by a lot of other customers who like its performance and dependability.
The Weller soldering station has been awarded numerous 5 star ratings. One reviewer says he gave the Weller to his son who’s had no problems with it. Another person gave it high marks for dependability.
These are the kinds of reviews the Weller has been getting. There are a few negative reviews here and there, but most are happy with it. With the streamlined controls and ergonomic design, the Weller WES51 is an all-round soldering station.

2. Hakko Digital FX888D & CHP170 Bundle


Hakko Digital FX888D & CHP170 Bundle

We can’t talk about the best soldering station without mentioning the FX888D. Hakko has manufactured a lot of soldering stations, but the FX888D is a major upgrade. Its thermal recovery is higher due to its use of T18 tips. What this means is you can solder at a lower temperature. The FX888D is compact and controls are user friendly. Unlike other devices the FX888D minimizes the thermal impact on the parts. It also prolongs tip life, saving you money and time.

Specifications:


  1. Digital Soldering Station ESD Safe version with CHP170 cutter
  2. Adjustable temperature control
  3. Thermal recovery graph Rise time to 350°C is 20 seconds faster and tip temperature drop is reduced during continuous work.
  4. Station body requires a space of only 100 (W) x 120 (D) mm.
  5. Temperature range 120° – 899°F (50° – 480°C)
  6. Digital display shows °F or °C

Benefits:

  • Easy to use.
  • Iron reacts fast.
  • Iron is lightweight.
  • Manual is helpful.
  • Durable design.

Drawbacks:

  • No heat resistant pad.
  • One customer says too many buttons required to make a temperature change.

Summary of Customer Reviews:


The reviews come from beginners and advanced users, most of who agree it is easy to use. A reviewer simply said the FX888D works great. Another short review called the FX888D an “excellent” soldering station, while another said it works as expected. This view is shared by yet another customer, who says it’s great for most jobs.
There are a lot of other FX888D reviews, and most of them say the same thing, that the soldering station works. One customer said it’s worth the money. This is echoed by another reviewer who said he’s never had problems using it.
There are some negative reviews. A few complain about the controls, but most people are satisfied with its performance. Overall this is a really good soldering station.

3. Hakko FX888D-23BY Digital Soldering Station with Chisel Tip Pack


Hakko FX888D-23BY Digital Soldering Station with Chisel Tip Pack

Another Hakko makes our list of the best soldering station. The FX888D-23BY is ESD safe and offers high quality digital features. Its heater output has been enhanced by up to 30%. Heating is quick too. At 65 watts there is enough power here to solder multiple wires. The Hakko pen is comfortable to use. It doesn’t heat up, and you can use different types of tips. I also like the FX888D-23BY digital display. The soldering station works fine, but adjusting the settings is easy. Compared to other Hakko models this has more features and easier to use.

Specifications:


  1. Volts: 120V AC
  2. Digital Soldering Station ESD Safe version with 5 extra tips -T18-D08/D12/D24/D32/S3 tips
  3. FX-888D KIT version with 5 extra tips -T18-D08/D12/D24/D32/S3 tips ( 6 total with the iron )
  4. Adjustable temperature control
  5. Low temperature warning
  6. Can preset your most popular temperatures
  7. Temperature range 120° – 899°F (50° – 480°C)
  8. Digital display shows °F or °C

Benefits:

  • Beautiful finish.
  • Easy to use.
  • New password protection.
  • Precision temperature control.
  • Heating takes just half a minute.
  • Tips are included.

Drawbacks:

  • Instructions are not very detailed.
  • Switching between manual and preset mode is a bit tedious.

Summary of Customer Reviews:


The FX888D-23BY soldering station has received plenty of positive feedback. A lot of people have given it 5 stars, saying it is great. One reviewer said the FX888D-23BY is worth the 5 stars and the money.
Another customer wrote that it’s a must. This view is held by majority of buyers who like its functionality. Other customer reviews agree the FX888D-23BY is superior to previous Hakko soldering stations.
There are a few complaints here and there. One customer for instance, said the manual isn’t very good. However, the complaint is an isolated one. By and large most are content with its performance.

4. Weller WLC100 40-Watt Soldering Station


Weller WLC100 40-Watt Soldering Station

My top soldering stations review list has to include the WLC100 because of its quality and performance. It’s got sufficient juice for beginners and hobbyists alike. But what I really like is the variable power control, ranging from 5 to 40 watts. The pencil iron feels solid but light. The box comes with a sponge tip cleaner, iron holder safety guard and copper tip. Even when I use it for long stretches, I don’t feel tired. It’s easy to replace the heating element. By and large the WLC100 is an outstanding soldering station that lives up to expectations.

Specifications:


  1. Wattage: 5 W – 40 W
  2. Temperature Range: 900° F
  3. Voltage Input: 120 V
  4. Voltage Output: 120 V
  5. On/off switch with power-on indicator light.
  6. Cushioned foam grip with replaceable heating element.
  7. Quality lightweight round pencil iron for rolling tip.
  8. Safety guard iron holder.
  9. Natural sponge tip cleaning pad.
  10. Includes iron-plated copper tip, safety guard iron holder, and natural sponge tip cleaning pad.

Benefits:

  • Durable.
  • Heating is quick.
  • Pencil is lightweight.
  • Variable power control built into station.
  • Perfect for DIY enthusiasts, hobbyists and students.

Drawbacks:

  • One customer complained about the tips’ quality.
  • Some find the instruction manual a bit confusing.

Summary of Customer Reviews:


The best soldering station gets positive reviews, and the WLC100 does. It is one of the top selling soldering stations today, and judging from the feedback most are delighted with it. One customer says the WLC100 is very easy to use and worth the purchase. Another reviewer said it’s perfect for his needs as a student.
Many of the reviews come from DIY enthusiasts. One said he’s used a lot of these soldering stations but the WLC100 is more efficient. Another DIY aficionado says heat startup is very good and results are better than he thought. There are a few criticisms, but the overwhelming majority is for the WLC100.

5. Aoyue 469 Variable Power 60 Watt Soldering Station


Aoyue 469 Variable Power 60 Watt Soldering Station

Last but not the least in my top soldering stations review guide is the Aoyue 469. It’s basic and aimed at starters. Even so it’s got an impressive feature set. At 60 watts there’s more power than on other starter soldering stations. The temperature range is from 392 to 897 F, so you can do a lot of work. The Aoyue 469 heats up quickly. The controls are also accessible. And because it has an off switch, there is no need to unplug it. With all these features, it’s an easy buy.

Specifications:


  1. 60 watt iron with over 50 available tip sizes (T-I is included).
  2. PTC Element for fast heat up and accurate temperature control.
  3. Temperature range 200-480° C (392-897° F).
  4. Cable length from iron to base is 2’9″. From base to plug 3’5″

Benefits:

  • Power switch is accessible.
  • Bundled tip is compatible with most tasks.
  • Solid iron holder.
  • Sponge does a good job cleaning the iron.
  • Nice build quality.

Drawbacks:

  • Does not come with a LED light.
  • Solder is not included.
  • Advanced users may find the features too basic.

Summary of Customer Reviews:


Some of the best soldering station reviews have been given to the Aoyue 469. Most of them would highlight one or more features, but almost all agree it’s great for beginners. One customer reviewer wrote that he likes the design and compact size. There is also another reviewer who says the Aoyue 469 has a solid built.
After going through the various customer reviews, I have to say feedback is very good. Yes there are a few who aren’t completely satisfied with it. But there are more in its favor than those against it. The Aoyue 469 is not the most sophisticated soldering station, but it’s really effective.

Accessories You May Also Need


Hakko 599B-02 Solder Tip Cleaning Wire and Holder


Hakko 599B-02 Solder Tip Cleaning Wire and Holder

These are heavy duty sponge cleaners. With regular use you’ll be able to get rid of corrosion on the tips.

SE MZ101B Helping Hand with Magnifying Glass


SE MZ101B Helping Hand with Magnifying Glass

The name makes its function clear enough. It’s the perfect assistant for soldering, but it’s just as good for jewelers. DIY buffs and electricians. You can adjust the clips and magnifiers to work at various angles. The magnifying glass also cuts down the need for additional visual aid.

Miniatronics Corp 1064004 Rosin Core Solder 60/40 4oz


Miniatronics Corp 1064004 Rosin Core Solder 60/40 4oz

This is one of the most popular rosin core solder online, and that’s to be expected given its versatility. This is an all-around solder for a diverse range of hobby projects. 374 F is its melting temp, and it’s smooth with a solid hold. Compared to other solders, melting is at a consistent level.

Alpha Fry AT-31604 60-40 Rosin Core Solder


Alpha Fry AT-31604 60-40 Rosin Core Solder

The Alpha Fry has a 40% lead, 60% tin combination, making it the ideal solution for electric solder. If you have some experience with soldering – and even if you’re new – you’ll find this useful. Alpha Fry makes a lot of good products, and this is one of their best core solders yet.

Kester 44 Rosin Core Solder 63/37 0.80mm (0.031 inches) 1 lb. Spool


Kester 44 Rosin Core Solder 63/37 0.80mm (0.031 inches) 1 lb. Spool

This is perfect for soldering PCB resistors and transistors. Flux core is very good and ensures your connections are secure. The Kester 44 is versatile too and is suitable for different types of electronics. This isn’t a fancy accessory by any means, but it works.

Aven 17542 Desoldering Wick, 2.5mm Width, 5' Length


Aven 17542 Desoldering Wick, 2.5mm Width, 5' Length

This de-soldering wick is a better alternative to solder sucking pumps. It takes a bit of practice to get the hang of it, but it’s an efficient way to get rid of unwanted parts on a circuit board.
Even the most experienced ones make mistakes. And that is what this desoldering wick is for. With the right application – just set it on the solder joint – and it’ll do the rest. If you do any kind of work on electronics and computers, you’ll find this useful.

Safety Tips


  • As the top soldering stations review will point out, you must never make contact with the soldering iron element.
  • Always use clamps or tweezers to hold the wires.
  • Turn the soldering station off when not in use. Unplug it as well.
  • The cleaning sponge must always be wet when in use.
  • Do not put a soldering iron on your workbench. Always put it back on the stand.
  • Wear eye protection.
  • Use solders that are free of lead. Exposure to lead leads to serious health effects.
  • Wash your hands after soldering.
  • Don’t use a soldering station if the electric plug is damaged.

Maintenance Tips


  • Read the owner’s manual. The best soldering station should have maintenance tips covered.
  • For best results, make certain the sponge is damp, not drenched in water during use.
  • If the tip shows sign of wear and tear, use a 600 grit sandpaper. Use the sandpaper only when the iron has been unplugged. Allow the soldering iron to cool down before applying the sandpaper. To clean a dirty tip, unplug the unit first. Scuff the dirt off with the sandpaper. Keep scuffing until the tip shows luster.
  • Tin the tip after cleaning it. This provides protection from oxidation, prolonging its life.

Frequently Asked Questions


1. Why is a soldering station superior to ordinary soldering iron?
Answer: A non-temperature soldering iron continuously heats up the longer it is plugged in. A soldering station keeps the temperature at a specific level, reducing risks of overheating.

2. What tips should I use?
Answer: For single and double side PC boards, 700 F is ideal, but for others 800 F is better.

3. Is the ESD safe design really necessary?
Answer: Yes. With an ESD it’s guaranteed your body’s static energy is discarded via the unit’s plastic casing.

4. How long will it take to produce a good solder?
Answer: Also known as dwell time, it depends on the soldering station and your project. With a 700 F tip it usually takes 4 seconds, but for some components that may be too much. When soldering wires it is around 1 to 3 seconds.

My Recommendations


The best soldering station is the Hakko FX888D-23BY Digital Soldering Station with Chisel Tip Pack. It is premium quality and does everything you’d expect. It is also advanced enough for sophisticated users. Even if it’s a premium soldering station, the price tag is still more affordable than other soldering stations in its range.
For best value I recommend the Weller WLC100 40-Watt Soldering Station. It’s not fancy, but it gets the job done. The Weller is a good choice for the money and is reliable too. It’s got a comfortable design and lends itself nicely to long term projects.

Final Word


A soldering station is a versatile tool that can do a lot for you. From installation to wiring electrical components and so on, it makes wiring a lot easier. The problem most people run across is the number of options available.
I believe that with this guide you’ll be in a better position to find the best soldering station. Back in the day soldering stations were difficult, complex machines, but now they’re within reach and easier to use. Even if you have little experience with soldering stations, these products, in particular my recommendations, should serve your needs.

2 COMMENTS

  1. Nice review. Very informative and it seems that you know what you are taking about in simple down to earth English. I will be starting a small audiophile speaker cable business from my home and was considering the Hakko FX 888D but it seems, for the moment, it a bit out of my budget so I am looking at the Aoyue 469 60 watt station. Since I will only be working on cables , I think that the Aoyue will fit m needs and not have to splurge on the Hakko even thought I now that it’s probably the industry standard. Can you give some advice ???

    Thank you
    George
    Puerto Rico

    • At first thanks for your compliment. If your budget is limited, I think Weller WLC100 40-Watt Soldering Station is preferable than Aoyue 469 Variable Power 60 Watt Soldering Station. Although both are good enough to fulfil your needs.

      Regards,
      Eric

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