Soldering and desoldering electrical components are particularly convenient with the aid of a soldering station. It usually consists of a plunger with replaceable soldering tips, a tray and a power supply unit. The operating temperature can be regulated very precisely with a digital soldering station.
Make sure that the heating time is as short as possible, no more than 60 seconds so that preheating does not become the ultimate test for your nerves.
You will get particularly durable soldering tips if you pay attention to the highest possible quality of workmanship when buying your soldering station.
How do I recognize good soldering stations?
If you are not yet familiar with the topic of soldering stations, the first step is to familiarize yourself with the various features of these practical devices. To do this, think carefully about which functions are important to you and what performance you need.
Power: Up to 80 watts
For most work with the soldering station, a power of between 50 and 60 watts is sufficient. This refers to the heat energy that the station can generate per unit of time. at higher power, it applies more heat to the soldering tip, so you can achieve higher temperatures.
However, for standard work and for soldering SMD components, lower wattages are not enough. If you want to work with heat-conductive or voluminous objects, you need a soldering station with at least 80 watts. This has enough power to solder even sheet metal parts and copper leads.
Soldering temperature: Between 300 °C (572 °F) and 350 °C (660 °F)
Depending on the power of the soldering station, it will generate a certain temperature. Since the melting point of standard solder is 227°C, this would actually be sufficient. Nevertheless, most soldering stations offer at least 350 °C to compensate for the fact that the soldering tip cools down quickly as soon as it comes into contact with the material.
At the same time, when buying, make sure that the temperature is not too high. Otherwise, you run the risk of melting your solder or burning the flux. Between 300 °C and 350 °C have proven successful for most work.
Extra features: Avoids wear and tear
To protect the device and achieve good performance, you should also pay attention to the extra functions.
A standby function lowers the soldering tip temperature to 100 °C (212° F), while you are not working with it.
In this way, it is possible to preserve the tips and avoid wear and tear. In addition, this function is a safety bonus.
Thanks to an automatic shutdown that cuts off the power supply after a long period without use, you can also make sure that the soldering station is spared. If you ever forget to use the device, you’ll be protected from fires thanks to the automatic shutoff.
Last but not least, it is important to ensure potential equalization for grounding. This is because it is possible to avoid static discharges when working with electronic components. In the worst case, this could damage the components. If, on the other hand, you only want to solder robust parts, equipotential bonding is not necessary.
How does a soldering station work?
Unlike a simple soldering iron, which is connected directly to the power outlet via a cable, a soldering station has a special power supply unit – also known as a base station – via which the soldering iron is supplied with power and controlled. The great advantage of this is that the soldering process is electrically isolated from the power supply, which ensures that the soldering tip remains potential-free and sensitive components are protected from leakage currents.
The soldering station is supplied with power via a cable or battery and is usually equipped with a power switch and a fuse. Its most important feature: a temperature controller. Depending on the type and model, the station is also equipped with additional functions. A soldering iron holder and a sponge make handling the iron more comfortable.
Soldering Station – Best Choice
Best Soldering Station on the market:
LONOVE Soldering Iron Station Kit
Hakko Digital Soldering Station
YIHUA 2 in 1 Hot Air Rework and Soldering Iron Station
PROSTORMER 2 in 1 Digital Soldering Station
What are the different soldering stations?
There is a basic difference between analog and digital soldering stations. You can get special models such as the hot air or SMD station as both digital and analog versions.
The analog soldering station
The analog soldering station is the simplest form of the device. It contains a manual temperature controller on the power supply and a light that shows you when the selected temperature has been reached. Thanks to this simple technology, the device requires little maintenance and is not prone to malfunctions. For model making and other small soldering jobs, the analog station is quite sufficient.
- Easy to operate.
- Low maintenance.
- Not susceptible to interference.
- Few control options.
- No extra functions.
The digital soldering station
In contrast to the analog station, the digital version gives you many control options. You set the temperature via a button and can then see on the display how the set and actual temperatures are. Some models have a particularly short heat-up time.
If you want additional functions, such as a temperature memory, a standby function, a calibration function, or an acoustic error message, a digital station is the best choice. More precise and very comfortable work is well possible.
- Accurate temperature control.
- Additional functions for precise work.
- Significantly more expensive than an analog soldering station.
- More susceptible to faults due to digital technology.
The hot air soldering station
If you work a lot with delicate and sensitive components, a hot air soldering station is helpful. With it, you can both solder and desolder. The hot air stream makes it possible to connect and disconnect components without touching them.
The station does not require a classic soldering iron. Rather, it is a hot air gun with a base station that melts the solder. Professionals often opt for two soldering stations in order to be able to process both delicate components and larger ones.
- Suitable for delicate, sensitive components.
- Soldering and desoldering possible.
- Connection and disconnection of parts without touching.
- Soldering iron missing.
- A large area is heated.
The SMD soldering station
The SMD soldering station is suitable for soldering small sensitive parts with pinpoint accuracy, as is necessary for CPUs, mainboards, or other computer hardware components. SMD refers to surface-mounted electronic components that function without wire connections.
Unlike the hot air soldering station, you can work selectively with the fine soldering iron of the SMD station. The temperatures can be adjusted optimally and thanks to an electronic sensor it is possible to keep the desired temperature constant for a long time.
There are both analog and digital variants of the SMD station, whereby the digital variant offers you more possibilities. At the same time, with a high-quality normal soldering station in analog or digital, you can perform most SMD projects. Therefore, the SMD soldering station is only necessary for certain situations.
- Ideal for small work in the filigree area.
- Ideal for SMD parts.
- Spot work thanks to fine solder seats.
- Much dexterity required.
- Only suitable for fine solder joints.
Which soldering station suits me?
Unlike a welder, soldering stations do not heat up too much and there is only a connection between the solder and the workpiece.
- A mini soldering station for model makers
If you are active in model making, it is enough to solder smaller parts. For this, you need a station with low wattage. 30 watts is enough to solder the fine parts of the models. The station can be both digital and analog
Also, make sure that your soldering station for model building offers a handy soldering iron with different tips. A station with a magnifying glass is helpful when working with tiny parts. Flexible and bendable silicone cables and a temperature memory are also good features of a soldering station for model making.
It is advisable to opt for a practical set of permanent soldering tips. This is because you always have to maintain the classic copper soldering tips with a file and occasionally re-tin them. This is not the case with the permanent tips.
- Digital soldering station for electricians
As an electrician, you should choose a digital soldering station with extra functions such as potential equalization, a standby function, and an automatic switch-off. This way you are on the safe side and can get rid of static charges
Digital controllability is helpful for soldering different cables, wires, and other materials at the appropriate temperature. You may also need a desoldering station if you want to unravel existing connections more frequently. Alternatively, you can opt for a practical 2-in-1 model, which is, however, more expensive.
- SMD soldering station or hot air soldering station for computer fans
If you mainly work with cell phones and computers, whether as a hobby or professionally, it is recommended to choose an SMD-compatible soldering station. This can be the classic SMD station as well as a hot air station. The latter allows you to remove parts that have already been soldered.
It is important that you have a wide selection of fine soldering iron tips to be prepared for the different parts. With the SMD soldering station, precise work is possible at points, while the hot air soldering station has the advantage that no direct contact is necessary.
As you can see, there are many variants for soldering stations. Once you have decided on digital or analog, an important step has already been taken. To summarize, here are the most important recommendations from our buying guide once again:
- The power depends on the desired use of the soldering station, usually 50 to 60 watts are sufficient.
- Model makers need a power of about 30 watts.
- A temperature of 300 °C (572 °F) to 350 °C (662 °F) is recommended.
- Choose a model with the shortest possible heating time.
One thing is certain: thanks to the new soldering station, you no longer need individual soldering irons. You will quickly see that your life has thus become much easier and that soldering is much more fun from now on.