If you’re new to the world of soldering, you’re definitely not alone. You may have been wondering to yourself whether you should get a soldering iron to start off or a soldering gun, and what in the world is a soldering station? Worry not, friends—this guide will help clear up any confusions you have with different soldering tools.
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What is a Soldering Iron?
Soldering irons are what you’d typically find in most large hardware store chain. They’re simple tools that consist of a soldering tip, a heating element, a metal rod that encases the heating element, a rubber or wooden handle, and a power cord. Soldering irons are much lighter than guns in build, and they provide the flexibility needed for a wide assortment of applications.
Smaller soldering irons are ideal for light-duty electronics projects, whereas larger soldering irons are made for more demanding jobs. The soldering tip can often be swapped out with narrower or wider tips, depending on the project on hand.
Using a soldering iron is as simple as plugging it in, giving it 10 to 15 minutes to reach temperature, and going to town. They have a maximum temperature of around 650°F without temperature controls, and they are often plugged in continuously for interruption-free workflow.
What is a Soldering Gun?
The most significant difference between soldering guns and irons is their design. Soldering guns come in a pistol-shape design that provides a more comfortable palm grip while in use. instead of a fine pin-point tip, it uses a loop of copper wire to join metals together. It’s also stubbier than a soldering iron so getting the tip into confined spaces is a lot easier to do.
Soldering guns come with a step-down transformer that converts low-voltage power to high amperage currents, causing the heating element to reach maximum temperature of around 900°F much quicker. The tip can go from lukewarm to skin-melting heat in a matter of seconds after plugging in, but it also dissipates heat much more efficiently.
The greatest disadvantage of a soldering gun is the copper wire loop. Over time, the wire disintegrates and needs to be replaced with a fresh loop. In addition, they’re a bit heavier than soldering irons so you might need to take frequent breaks.
What is a Soldering Station?
Of the three types of soldering tools, a soldering station is the largest and most comprehensive. It consists of a control station as well as a soldering iron, a soldering gun, or both. The soldering iron and/or gun connect to the station where users can adjust the temperature of the tip or copper wire as they see fit.
The greatest advantage of a soldering station, besides heat control, is in the design. The electrical mains are separated from the heating element which contributes to safer soldering. They also operate on lower voltage ratings to extend the lifespan of the tool by several years opposed to standalone irons and guns.
Finally, soldering station units are all about safety. They are grounded and have a dedicated fuse for overcurrent protection, and they grounded to prevent nasty discharges which can ruin your electronics entirely.