The Best Soldering Stations of 2022

Don’t let an inferior soldering station melt your patience. These top models rule for any home electronics repair.

By Tom Scalisi | Updated Mar 28, 2022 2:53 PM

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The Best Soldering Station Options

Photo: depositphotos.com

Fixing electronics—such as a television, computer board, or even a drone—can be intimidating. But a reliable soldering station makes successful home electronics repair possible.

With a soldering station, you can adhere computer chips, wires, resistors, and transistors together. Small enough to sit on a desktop, soldering stations pack enough power to melt away thick layers of solder. Just set the tip’s temperature to suit your precise needs. Available in several different styles, the following soldering stations rank among the best in their categories.

Note: Soldering irons are not designed for home electrical wiring repairs. These tools are for electronics only.

  1. BEST OVERALL: Hakko Digital Soldering Station
  2. RUNNER UP: YIHUA 2 in 1 Soldering Iron Hot Air Rework Station
  3. BEST BUDGET: Weller WLC100 40-Watt Soldering Station
  4. UPGRADE PICK: YIHUA 853D 2A USB SMD Soldering Iron Station
  5. BEST CONTACT: X-Tronic 3060-PRO-ST-ACC – 75W Soldering Iron Station
  6. BEST LEAD-FREE: YIHUA 939D+ Digital Soldering Station
  7. BEST HOT AIR: TXINLEI 8586 110V Solder Station
The Best Soldering Station Options

Photo: depositphotos.com

Types of Soldering Stations

All soldering stations have a similar look, but they vary slightly in the way they work. You may wish to go very basic with a contact kit or take on high-end, pro-level projects with an infrared station.

Contact Soldering Stations

Contact soldering stations use one of the most commonly recognized forms of soldering: a gun or a pen hooked to an electrical source to heat a stick or spool of leaded soldering wire. The solder then runs onto the wires or circuit and cools, making one connection out of several pieces.

Contact soldering stations have adjustable temperature settings, which allow the user to solder a wider range of electronics and boards without overheating and damaging them. They come in a range of wattages, which determine how well the machine can maintain its temperature while in contact with a joint. Large joints can pull all the heat out of a lower wattage machine, while higher wattages will remain at optimal temperatures for longer.

Lead-Free Soldering Stations

Lead’s harmful effects on health, including anemia, weakness, as well as kidney and brain damage, have prompted a move in the electronic community to create lead-free solders. These use a mixture of conductive metals—tin, silver, and copper—to melt onto a joint and create a solid connection. Lead-free soldering stations differ from their standard contact counterparts in that lead-free solder requires higher temperatures. Standard leaded machines may not reach a high enough melting temperature for lead-free solder or, if they do, the soldering tips will often burn out quickly.

Hot Air Soldering Stations

Hot air soldering stations, also called rework stations, use a gun to wash hot air over electronic components to create a soldered bond. First, soldering paste is placed on the joint and then the two components are connected. Then, the user waves the hot air gun, set to a correct temperature, over the components to heat the paste, which then becomes shiny and pulls the parts into place.

Hot air stations allow DIY-electronics technicians to rework a board by removing components. The user simply washes over the joint with the gun (set at the proper temperature) until the solder heats enough to separate the components. This helps users save parts and replace components on functional boards.

Infrared Soldering Stations

Infrared soldering stations work similarly to hot air soldering stations in that the user places a soldering mixture between the joint and then heats the joint to create a connection. The difference is that an infrared station uses a laser to heat the joint—a faster method, both in set up and in heating.

The user can heat the component instead of the joint by pointing the laser directly onto the component. There’s also less chance of inaccurate soldering since the laser doesn’t blow components around as a hot air soldering station might.

Infrared stations tend to be more expensive and less accessible to DIYers. They’re more suitable for professional shops that need to work quickly to maintain their bottom line.

What to Consider When Buying a Soldering Station

DIY electronic repairpeople should keep the important factors below in mind when shopping for the best soldering station for their needs.

Digital vs. Analog

Some circuit boards require lower temperatures than others, and if you have a go at them with a standard do-all soldering iron, you stand a good chance of destroying them. Analog temperature settings use a dial that you turn manually to the desired temperature—and they sometimes miss the mark. To gauge accuracy, you must measure the temperature with a temperature gun at the tip, and adjust accordingly.

Digital temperature settings, generally pricier than analog, can calibrate for easier use. Simply adjust the temperature with the machine and check the temperature at the tip. If the numbers don’t match, you can calibrate the machine to read correctly. This is a far more convenient way to ensure the correct temperature time after time.

Wattage Rating

Most DIY soldering irons (non-station) have wattage ratings between 15 and 25 watts, while some stations can be as high as 75 watts. This rating determines how long a soldering iron will take to heat up and how well it will maintain its heat in a given situation. If you’re soldering a heavy joint with a 15-watt soldering iron, the tip may cool too much to move onto another joint right away. Solder with a 75-watt model and you would be able to move from joint to joint much quicker.

This recovery rate is directly related to the wattages, so DIYers looking to solder an entire circuit board will find higher wattages to be the most useful. For those creating wiring looms for vehicles or trailers, a lower wattage or standard iron would work.

Variable Temperature

DIY electronics technicians will benefit from a soldering station’s adjustable temperature settings. While the temperature at the tip of the iron isn’t necessarily the only consideration, users should use the lowest possible temperature as is effective.

The reasons for lower temperatures are many. Among the most important, cranking a soldering iron up to as hot as it can go will surely burn out the tip, creating an oxidized and misshapen tip that will lose its effectiveness. And some components handle heat better than others. If you exceed a component’s temperature, you stand the risk of damaging it, and you might not know it until you get your device all buttoned up.

Replaceable Tip

For DIYers that purchase a contact-style soldering station, the iron must have replaceable tips. Some tips work better in certain scenarios. For example, a chisel tip works well for heating large joints and removing parts. A fine point, on the other hand, can heat tiny joints without affecting the other joints around it.

Many soldering stations come in kits that include a variety of tips. Users can also buy replacements so they needn’t go to the manufacturer to replace a tip that’s no longer usable. Tips do burn up after a while, so purchase a quality station that allows for swapping them out.

Accessories

Electronic work can make for an exciting hobby. As with most hobbies, soldering and electronics repair brings with it a wide range of gear that DIYers can purchase to make it more enjoyable. Hands-free holders secure a workpiece in place while heating or melting the solder.

Tip cleaners remove flux from the end of the soldering iron and keep the joints cleaner for minimal resistance. Also, if a soldering station doesn’t come with a set of tools for placing small components onto an electronic board, full sets are available for separate purchase.

Our Top Picks

With all of that background on the different soldering station styles, must-haves, important shopping factors, and helpful tips to solder like a pro, it’s time to shop for the best soldering station. The following eight keep those key considerations in mind.

Best Overall

The Best Soldering Station Option: Hakko FX888D-23BY Digital Soldering Station
Photo: amazon.com

For an all-around, can-do soldering station, DIY technicians should check out Hakko’s FX888D-23BY Digital Solder Station. This 70-watt contact-style soldering station features a wide range of temperatures, plenty of wattage, and a good value.

A digital display allows users to dial in the perfect temperature (between 120 and 899 degrees Fahrenheit). Replaceable tips mean users can swap out burnt tips and continue using this tool for years to come. A tip cleaning station allows for cleaning off the tip of the iron to maintain the best possible soldered joints, free of excessive oxidation and flux. One note: The main station and the cleaning station are separate, which can get confusing and take up a bit of space.

Product Specs

  • Type: Contact
  • Wattage: 70 watts
  • Temperature Range: 120 to 899 degrees Fahrenheit

Pros

  • High 70-watt output
  • Wide temperature range
  • Built-in cleaning station
  • Digital display for accurate heating

Cons

  • Separate cleaning station can be confusing

Get the Hakko soldering station on Amazon and at Walmart.

Runner Up

The Best Soldering Station Option: YIHUA 862BD+SMD ESD Safe 2 in 1 Soldering Station
Photo: amazon.com

Anyone thinking of getting into a rework project should equip themselves with a top-notch hot air rework station. YIHUA’s 862BD+ could provide the ideal setup for home DIY electronic repair benches. It offers a digital temperature display, a hot air gun, and a soldering iron. It also comes with swappable tips for both the air gun and the soldering iron, so users can choose exactly the right tip for the job.

A 75-watt soldering iron, it reaches temperatures between 392 and 896 degrees Fahrenheit, while the air gun has a range of 212 to 896 degrees Fahrenheit. A safety shut-off immediately shuts the air gun down when it’s in the holder. The device includes a tip-cleaning station as well. Just keep in mind that this large rework station will require some desk space.

Product Specs

  • Type: Hot air
  • Wattage: 75 watts
  • Temperature Range: Soldering iron: 392 to 892 degrees Fahrenheit; hot air gun: 212 to 896 degrees Fahrenheit

Pros

  • Includes hot air gun and soldering iron
  • Heavy-duty output for soldering several joints in a row
  • Automatic safety shut-off

Cons

  • Takes up quite a bit of desk space

Get the YIHUA soldering station on Amazon.

Best Budget

The Best Soldering Station Option: Weller WLC100 40-Watt Soldering Station
Photo: amazon.com

Weller’s value-priced WLC100 doesn’t skimp on capabilities. Its 40 watts provide enough power for most DIY projects that don’t require soldering an entire control board.

Weller’s reputation ensures accurate analog temperature settings that produce top-quality results. A wrapped-wire iron holder keeps the work surface safe from the iron’s hot tip, and a built-in tray for wet sponges helps users keep the iron clean. Replaceable elements and tips—unusual for lower-end soldering stations—make this a standout tool in the budget price range.

Product Specs

  • Type: Contact
  • Wattage: 40 watts
  • Temperature Range: Unlisted

Pros

  • Affordable price point
  • 5 temperature settings
  • Built-in tip cleaning station
  • Replaceable element and tips (rare for value-minded iron)

Cons

  • No precise temperature control

Get the Weller soldering station at Amazon, The Home Depot, and Walmart.

Upgrade Pick

The Best Soldering Station Option: YIHUA 853D 2A Hot Air Rework Station
Photo: amazon.com

YIHUA’s hot air rework and soldering station offers some automatic features that make it worth the upgrade price. Four digital gauges show the hot air gun’s temperature, the soldering iron’s temperature, the voltage in use, and the amps the machine is drawing. While this can get confusing, it allows the user to fine-tune the settings for excellent results.

The machine’s 75-watt soldering iron heats to temperatures between 392 and 896 degrees Fahrenheit, while the hot air gun produces temperatures between 212 and 896 degrees Fahrenheit. YIHUA’s 853D 2A features automatic temperature readings and maintains its temperature, so the user can move quickly between joints without losing time. Safety shut-offs automatically engage if the fan stops running during use. It comes with a desoldering pump, swappable tips for both iron and fan, and a built-in voltmeter.

Product Specs

  • Type: Hot air
  • Wattage: 75 watts
  • Temperature Range: Soldering iron: 392 to 896 degrees Fahrenheit; hot air gun: 212 to 896 degrees Fahrenheit

Pros

  • Includes hot air gun and soldering iron
  • Four digital displays for dialed soldering
  • Power 75-watt iron
  • Automatic readings and adjustments for quick work
  • Built-in voltmeter

Cons

  • Gauges can get confusing

Get the YIHUA soldering station on Amazon.

Best Contact

The Best Soldering Station Option: X-Tronic 3060-PRO-ST-ACC - 75W Soldering Iron Station
Photo: amazon.com

XTronic’s 3060-PRO-ST-ACC contact soldering station has plenty of power and convenient features to make soldering projects quicker, easier, and more enjoyable. A 75-watt soldering station, its iron reaches temperatures between 392 and 896 degrees Fahrenheit within 30 seconds. A digital display makes temperatures easy to read.

Two “helping-hands” hold the workpiece in place while the user feeds solder and manipulates the iron. The device includes a holder for a tip cleaner (sold separately) and a space for a wet sponge. Be sure to keep it clean, as this kit doesn’t come with extra trips.

Product Specs

  • Type: Contact
  • Wattage: 75 watts
  • Temperature Range: 392 to 896 degrees Fahrenheit

Pros

  • High wattage output
  • Digital temperature display
  • Built-in arms to hold workpiece

Cons

  • No extra tips provided

Get the XTronic soldering station on Amazon or at Walmart.

Best Lead-Free

The Best Soldering Station Option: Yihua 939D+ 75 Watt Equivalent Digital Soldering Station
Photo: amazon.com

For DIYers that prefer lead-free solder, YIHUA’s 939D+ soldering station makes a solid choice. A digital contact soldering station, its iron reaches temperatures between 392 and 896 degrees Fahrenheit—hot enough to liquefy lead-free solder. YIHUA also includes a roll of lead-free solder in the kit.

Three included replaceable tips allow users to choose the right one for the job and replace the tips after they’re past their usable state. It comes with a soldering tip cleaner—important for the best possible lead-free joints. Note: While YIHUA claims that this soldering iron is “equivalent” to a 75-watt iron, the product specs do not make the actual wattage completely clear.

Product Specs

  • Type: Lead-free
  • Wattage: Claims to be equivalent to 75 watts
  • Temperature Range: 392 to 896 degrees Fahrenheit

Pros

  • Includes lead-free solder
  • Comes with 3 replaceable tips and a tip cleaner
  • Digital display for temperature control

Cons

  • No exact wattage rating

Get the YIHUA soldering station on Amazon and at Walmart.

Best Hot Air

The Best Soldering Station Option: TXINLEI 8586 110V Hot Air Rework Station
Photo: amazon.com

For those new to rework, TXINLEI’s 8586 Hot Air Rework Station comes with everything necessary to get started. This kit includes a hot air gun, a soldering iron, swappable tips, tweezers, a desoldering pump, brushes, picks, and soldering wire.

A digital display allows users to dial in the exact temperature for the type of work. The 60-watt soldering iron provides enough power for most jobs, reaching the same temperatures as most other kits with a slightly slower recovery time. The hot air gun reaches temperatures between 392 and 840 degrees Fahrenheit. TXINLEI’s station also boasts a built-in tray for wet sponges, making it quick and easy to clean the iron’s tip.

Product Specs

  • Type: Hot air
  • Wattage: 60 watts
  • Temperature Range: 392 to 840 degrees Fahrenheit

Pros

  • Comes with full kit of tools, replaceable soldering tips, and wire
  • Hot air gun with adjustable temperature
  • Built-in tip cleaning tray

Cons

  • Slower recovery rate than other models

Get the TXINLEI soldering station on Amazon.

Our Verdict

For any home electronics repair techs looking for an all-around digital soldering station with high output and wide temperature range, check out the Hakko soldering station. Anyone who wants a rework soldering tool and doesn’t mind spending a bit extra for a heavy duty machine should give YIHUA soldering station consideration.

How We Chose the Best Soldering Stations

Our list of high quality soldering stations meets the needs and rigors of DIY electronics repairs. We started by calling on our own experience in order to determine the must-have features and settings. Then, we carried out extensive product research in order to find the best soldering stations.

Next, we compared power output and temperature. We compared wattages and temperature ranges to ensure we’d be suggesting something for everyone, from the casual solderer who might be working with a DIY kit to an expert who bouncing from joint to joint. Finally, we compared prices in order to suggest something for every budget without sacrificing quality.

Tips for Using a Soldering Station

When it comes to soldered joints, oxidation—a form of corrosion between the soldering iron’s tip and oxygen, accelerated by heat—is the issue. To help combat oxidation, soldering pros use flux: a chemical cleaning agent that helps prevent oxidation and promotes the flow of solder, allowing the solder to attach itself more easily to the joint. Your best bet: use hollow soldering wire with a rosin core; rosin helps the solder flow and reduces the effects of oxidation.

Soldering creates fumes and smoke. While most smaller jobs don’t create an actual health hazard, the fumes can give users a sore throat and possibly a headache, so always ventilate the areas when soldering. Open a window and use a fan to extract the irritants from the room, and consider wearing an N95 mask and other protective gear.

When soldering a wire onto a control board, one pro move is to pre-tin the tip of the wire. Simply melt a bit of solder onto the wire end before soldering it to the board. This ensures an oxidation-free wire tip, and it allows the solder to attach faster to finish with a far more reliable result.

  • Use a rosin-core solder to help minimize oxidation.
  • Keep the area well-ventilated or wear a mask to avoid fumes.
  • Pre-tin wire ends before soldering to a control board for the best results.

FAQs

You’ve just received a crash course about the best soldering stations, but there might still be a few questions tripping the wires in your head. Following are some of the most frequently asked questions about soldering stations. Check for answers to your questions below.

Q: What is the difference between a soldering iron and a soldering gun? 

Soldering irons typically connect to a station that provides constant power to the iron to keep it hot. Soldering guns have switches that heat the tip when depressed and cool upon release.

Q: What is a soldering station used for? 

Soldering stations are for fixing electronics such as video game controllers, computer boards, remote controls, drones, and other small items.

Q: What materials and tools are needed for soldering? 

For soldering electronics, it’s helpful to have an electric soldering iron, solder, a pair of electronics tweezers, spare solder tips, and a sponge for cleaning the tip of the soldering iron.