Hi there! Hope you all are having a good time.
Though almost these days every PCB is done by machines, but one just cannot truly ignore the importance of soldering. It is fun, and can be a healthy hobby, like you decided to go on with this like that.
I guess, you may not know at this point that good soldering without a quality soldering station is near to impossible. Yes, you can have soldering with a cheap soldering station as well, but you will never get satisfied with your soldering.
So, a best soldering station is a must for anyone into soldering.
I think when you are investing into soldering station as hobbyists, you may not have enough information. Like what are the famous brands for making quality stations, the price range, the parameters, and perhaps some few other considerations.
In this post, I am trying to help you in clearing all the above said questions, and recommend some stations that I think would be best for you.
Hopefully, you will enjoy this post
Table of Contents
The Best Soldering Station for Hobbyists in 2019
There are a lot of low price stations out there in market. The problem is, they are claiming themselves the best, while in reality they are not that good, and there is no reason buying it. It will give you bad results and a bad soldering.
What I really mean by bad results?
The answer is very simple, investing in bad station will eventually lead you into the following results:
- You may burn your devices. A lot of bad stations have bad temperature control. The temperature doesn’t always constant. By which there is always a chance of burning the small devices.
- Very tedious to work, wastage of time and effort
- Wastage of soldering wire
Enough talk on not to invest in a cheap station.
Now, the question arises. How to know what station is actually the best.
The answer is, first the brand and second the parameters.
I want to start with the later one.
Parameters to look for in a soldering station
Following are the parameters I consider the must have in any soldering station. I myself have looked for all these parameters in my recommended best soldering stations for hobbyists.
It is the power of soldering station or iron. The higher this value the quicker your device will get heated.
A good rule of thumb is, for a best soldering station the wattage must be higher than 40Watt. Less than this value and you will end in soldering iron taking years to get heated and even worst, get cool down during working.
Who wants that?
So, never take this parameter for granted, select the soldering iron with wattage rating more than the mentioned threshold value.
2. Temperature control
It is the main feature next to wattage, using which you adjust temperature of your stations.
A station with compromise on this feature will lead you to burn your components on board for sure. So, any station without this feature is waste of money.
There are analog and digital temperature controllers, digital is preferable as it is more precise than the first mentioned.
The rule of thumb is, it temperature range on any station must start from 340 – 850 F.
3. Auto turn off function
This is a must have function in any station.
A station must turn off after sometime when you are not working with it. This is very good, like why a station must be on and goes on wasting power when you are not even working with it.
This function, the auto turn off, makes the station efficient, and increases the tip’s life.
4. Solid stand
A lot of people miss it, but trust me never comprise on quality of a stand. It doesn’t seems to be a high technical parameter but just don’t ignore it.
A bad stand can lead to many bad situations in your lab. In worse case you may end in burning your body parts. Always check for solid stand.
5. Soldering iron tips compatibility
Wear and tear is the part of every device. Same goes for soldering station tips.
With time tips become out of order and need to be replaced. Or sometime different projects need different type of soldering tip.
So, a close attention is needed when it comes to tips compatibility.
Your soldering iron’s tips should be replaceable and the it should be compatible with a wide variety of tips.
Now, coming towards my recommended stations.
Brands for making quality soldering stations
Brand signal is the key factor in trusting the quality of any device.
There are a lot of manufactures out there making cheap stations. Only way to avoid them is to look for the brand strength and trust of customers.
I am brand guy myself, never buy non-branded thing. In my research, I found Weller and Hakko the top brands out there in the market. People used their products are happy with them.
See the following Google trends.
Above trends are live, meaning you are always getting the updated data.
The time I am writing this article, both brands average points are quite the same. In actual, Weller is beating the market currently. So, I am taking Weller the best between these two.
Now, let talk about the model I recommend for you based on the above informations.
Recommended soldering stations
Alright! I think upto this you have a very clear idea of the parameters and the famous brands.
The best soldering station for hobbyists that I recommend is either the Weller WESD51, or the Hakko FX888D-23BY. They are the best because they come from the trusted brands of proven track record, high quality, ESD safe, having more than one year warranty, reasonable prices, and reliable.
In the rest of this article, I talk in detail about these models.
1. Best hobbyists soldering station from Weller, The WESD51
Weller is a very old company of a well proven track record.
It was founded in 1945 and from then it is continually making quality products. On their Amazon page it is written that Steve Wozniak, co-founder of Apple, had used it when he was soldering first Apple computers.
How cool is that.
Let’s see what we get in its features.
Speaking of its features
- First thing is the brand trust, I got it.
- It is 50W, more than the threshold vale we mentioned above i.e. of 40W.
- It has options for many tips compatibility, which I can change according to my board requirements.
- It is ESD safe to protect sensitive components.
- It has solid stand, which is not attached to the station. I don’t like the stand attached with the station. Reason is sometime I am looking at my board and trying to place the iron in its stand and what happens? It touches the station body, making it ugly.
In summary, the Weller WESD51 (Amazon link) is my first choice for you all. It is expensive than the rest, but it is worth investment.
2. Best hobbyists soldering station from Hakko
Hakko is a Chinese brand. People usaully don’t like these brands. I am one of those too, but Hakko is exception. This brand is competing with the top brands, and you will find online famous youtubers having this in their labs.
Lets talk about its features
- Adjustable temperature control
- Thermal recovery of 20 seconds, which is too amazing.
You can see other features of this model on Amazon.
Is there any alternative to the above stations?
There must be no reason reading this section rather than just your budget.
I get it, may be you don’t have that money to buy Weller or Hakko. I recommend, wait. Collect the money and buy the above.
Then for you people, I recommend the X-Tronic 3020 XTS (Amazon link).
It has price tag of below $60, which is fair enough. If you make it very cheap you will end in bad quality which I don’t think would be a good decision.
The X-Tronic is the brand people really trust because of its care for its customers. It might be the station for you if you take a good care of it.
Let’s talk about the features I like about it.
Speaking of its features
- It is auto power off, meaning it turns off after sometime automatically if you are not working with it. I think this is the most useful feature. It saves a lot of power and makes the life of soldering tip much longer.
- It is 70 Watt, making it really quick to heat.
- The thing I like the most about it, the company gives you 30 day unconditional money back warranty – 3 year fix/repair warranty with parts/labor included.
A complete bundle
I am sure you have selected your best soldering station.
No doubt each one is best in its own place.
The next thing after a good station is to have other necessary accessories for soldering. I will make a separate on them, but for this I just want to give a hint. Like alone soldering station is not enough for best soldering, you also need other things in your lab
As there exists no complete ideal best soldering kit. We have to combine things for different companies to make a kit best for our budget and requirements.
So, up till now, we have our best soldering station. Now we need the following tools to make a complete soldering station for our lab.
- Solder suckers and soldering wick: For desoldering the damage devices on board or for giving the board a nice finishing look.
- Helping hands and wire cutter: For keeping the board in proper position so that we can easily and properly solder it.
- Dual Solder Reel Stand: If you use different types of solder, or solder with different diameters, and want to keep them organized, this is just great
Final useful words
Well guys, in this article I talk about the best soldering stations for hobbyists. I first look for the famous brands, then go for the parameters that make a station great.
In view of these information I further recommend some models from those brands and try to compare them with each other.
Above are the words I wrote for people who just directly come to the end, after reading the end words they go and restart the article from beginning.
Now, other useful words I want to share are the following.
- Play safe with these tools as they may harm you, never touch the soldering iron tip with fingers to check whether it is getting hot or not. I have done it that’s why I am telling you, my finger burnt so badly I can’t put it here in words.
- The other thing, never leave the solder station plugged into power cord when you are not working with it even if it has an auto turn off or going into sleep mode.
Hopefully, I have helped you somehow and you have enjoyed making up to this far end.
Thank you so much for reading and have a good life.
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