Jump to content

Soldering Irons


Recommended Posts

Im looking to buy a soldering iron to make some cables. I have done this many times before but I've never taken any notice of which soldering iron I've used; it was usually already in the workshop or school.


My budget doesn't stretch above £30 really and I would like it with a stand..


Along with this, what are the advantages of the different types of solder (Lead or Tin/Lead) apart from lead's harmful attributes.


Any help would be great

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Replies 38
  • Created
  • Last Reply

For regular use I prefer the 12 volt soldering irons made by Antex, and sold by Maplin and others, at about £15.

These can be worked from the mains via a suitable 12 volt halogen lighting transformer, at very low cost.

The ability to power it from a vehicle battery or similar can be useful.

IME 12 volt soldering irons have a much longer useful life than 230/240 volt ones, presumably the heating element is made of thicker wire and therefore more robust.

12 volts should also be safer, though the risks of mains voltage are minimal with common sense.


Solder containing lead is now frowned on due to the toxicity of lead.

Many experts claim that traditional leaded solder is easier to use and gives a more reliable joint.

Lead free solder normally requires a higher temperature than the leaded sort, which increases the risk of heat damage to the work.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

In order of size/cost.


Antex CS18 , tiny iron handy for dense connectors but not hot enough for big connectors, about 16 /17 quid


Antex XS25 , medium iron real workhorse thats been around for ever, but hot on little connectors. again 16/17 quid. Probably top choice if its your only iron on a budget.


Antex TCS , Temp controlled, with temp in handle rather than in seperate base,makes it a useable service rather than just bench tool, about 50 quid.


Weller TCP soldering stations, one time production industry standard, same eventual parent as Zero88, trafo base means it has a stand, well over a hundred new , find them on Ebay and surplus for a lot less.


Temp controlled irons are a joy to use and if you are doing anymore than a couple of soldering jobs temp controlled is worth the extra.


Gas irons , like Maplin Irimo series, great hot irons for brutal soldering jobs and use in field,literally , wouldn`t want to do much SMD work with them, sub 20 quid when on offer.


Lead solder is banned in new equipment production, can stilll be used for repair and non production one offs , to an extent.Lead based is a lot easier to solder with especially for the inexperienced.


Lead free has its problems, use lead based if its already being used, if you have to use lead free , spend the extra on the sliver alloyed stuff it flows better.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I know you said your budget is about £30, but....


Many, many years ago I bought myself a previous version of THIS which has lasted me seemingly forever. It's temperature controlled so I can adjust that to suit the solder and connectors I'm working on--it'll even work with lead free though I join to crowd saying to buy proper lead solder. I can buy spare tips and even a spare iron should I need one (I never have).


Having a decent iron makes sitting down for a session of cable making (mug of tea in hand and Radio 4 playing in the background) an pleasure and, if you can stretch just a bit, you'll have something that will last for your entire career.



Link to comment
Share on other sites

Whatever you do, don't fall into the trap of thinking that a small low-wattage soldering is needed for smaller jobs. A low wattage iron will take longer to heat a joint and will actually increase the chances of damaging things.


Even for small fiddly connectors I use an 80W iron.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

No, as said above, for connectors you need power to get the heat into the joint (unless you are doing really tiny connectors). They do a 25w iron here, but in all honesty, I'd not want to use it unless it was all that was available. Not saying it is a bad iron, just not the right one.
Link to comment
Share on other sites


This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

  • Create New...

Important Information

We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue.