Here at the Strategist, we like to think of ourselves as crazy (in the good way) about the stuff we buy, but as much as we’d like to, we can’t try everything. Which is why we have People’s Choice, in which we find the best-reviewed products and single out the most convincing. We’ve written about the best home-repair tools and under-$20 DIY tools, but this time we’re covering the best soldering stations, according to reviewers on Amazon. (Note that reviews have been edited for length and clarity.)
Best soldering stations under $50
“For the money spent, it would be hard to find a better assembled kit for the average hobbyist or homeowner. You get almost everything you need to solder just about any kind of electronics around the house, and even better, none of the stuff included is junk. It’s all decent-quality equipment. I’ve owned three or four soldering irons in my life and none of them was adjustable like this one. The only thing missing is a small tub of flux. I understand that it would only add to the cost, but I’d pay another $3 or $4 for a small tub of it just to complete the set. The included case is also very nice to keep everything together. Excellent set.”
“I wish I could go back 20 years and have had this station. It works so much better than my cheap $15, 30W iron probably bought at RadioShack. Everything about this soldering iron is NICE … the separate on/of switch and temp control, the iron itself, the holder, etc. … Some things look nice in the photo but are cheap when you get them, but this is as nice in real life. Also, nice touch, the chord from the controller to the iron is flexible silicone (I think), it’s not stiff and doesn’t kink.”
“Great soldering station; this is the one to buy! I use this soldering iron frequently and I’m totally pleased with the performance. From making solder connections in my car or ham/CB radio connectors or electrical connections in my radio-controlled cars, this does it all with ease. The station has great temperature control and a nice place to keep your hot iron safe when not in use. The tray on the right holds a small sponge that you wet with water to wipe your tip shiny clean prior to applying to the solder joint, and it would be easy to replace when it gets dirty and burnt. You don’t have to be a professional to appreciate the value that this station provides. It’s obvious to me that this should last for many years.”
Best soldering-iron stations under $100
“Maybe I’m old, but I’ve never seen an iron get that hot that fast. Wow. Want 400 degrees? Bam. Done. That’s insane. My soldering has gotten better, too. Used to be I’d have to turn the iron on and have a beer or two while waiting for it to get up. Now, it’s so fast that I have to wait till I’m done soldering to have my beer. Crazy how the increased speed has made the quality of the solder better.”
“Why am I always so skeptical??????? I read the reviews and ordered it. Well … I am amazed. Works WAY BETTER than I ever expected. We are a Car Audio Store in Oregon and we need this ON all the time. This has the most amazing feature … when you are not using it … the unit goes to a low 200 degrees, but as soon as you grab the soldering iron, it almost instantly goes to your desired temp. This is great, so it is not just sitting on your bench full throttle all day. Everyone loves it so far. I am ordering another one for home. This little thing will spoil you.”
“I have had this for about six months now and it has worked flawlessly! This soldering station has made it a JOY to solder, and I LOVE working on circuit boards now! The iron temperature can be adjusted easily so that I can set it depending on the type of part I am soldering. It heats up REALLY quick, ready to solder in a fraction of the time of my old iron. Plus it gets HOT, and I don’t have to hold the iron on a part forever waiting for it to get hot enough to melt the solder. The iron handle is a very nice shape with a rubber boot at the front, so it is very comfortable to hold. The tip that came with it is a nice standard pencil fine point, but conveniently this iron has a standard tip connection that can be swapped out to any other standard sized tip with the twist of a ring nut. The little metal sponge reservoir is an invaluable tool! It has really helped keep the iron tip in a pristine condition. There is only one thing I wish this had — an actual temperature gauge. Not exactly a deal-breaker, and an easy fix if you have a temp sensor. That is the one and only negative thing I can say about it!”
“All I can say about this thing is, ‘It’s Fantastic!’ After using an el-cheapo soldering station for a number of years, this is like moving from driving a Yugo to driving a Cadillac (like moving from a Citroën to a BMW for you folks on the other side of the pond). It comes up to temp in under a minute (my old one took five minutes or more) and holds that temp with ease. The handset is lightweight and easy to maneuver, and the stand stays right where you put it. I haven’t even started to explore the range of alternate tips yet, but there seems to be one for just about every task. If you don’t have a station yet or if you’ve got a cheap one, do yourself a tremendous favor and get one of these.”
Best soldering-iron stations under $150
“If you need to buy a soldering iron, buy this one. No, not the $130 digital one. The analog works just fine. No, not the $50 orange Weller. I’ve had one. They’re decent, but they’re not that much better than the crappy black self-contained RadioShack ones. It goes without saying that you should skip those, too. No, this is the soldering iron you want. Why? Right away, the iron just feels right in your hand. Balanced. Nimble. It heats up ridiculously quickly. Like, in a matter of seconds. It gets crazy hot. And it MAINTAINS that temperature. If you are working with any kind of electronics, that’s super important. Nothing burns a pot up quicker than holding a lower-temp iron to its surface for long periods of time waiting for the solder to melt. You want that get-in, get-out blast-off heat. I generally work on guitar electronics, but I’ve gotten all other kinds of uses out of this. If you are a hobbyist looking for a soldering iron, this is the one you need. Do not skimp. Do not overspend. Get this one. You’ll be glad you did now; you’ll be glad you did 50 years from now when you’re still using it.”
“Professional-grade solder station at consumer-grade price. High-quality silicone cords. Super simple and solid design. Two knobs, two switches, and two temp readouts. I haven’t used the hot air on any SMT components yet, but found it to be great for properly heating heat-shrink tubing. Heats up in seconds. When you turn off the hot air, the fan keeps blowing until it cools off. Seems built to last. I thought the lamp was a little strange, but found it surprisingly useful. Comes with an assortment of tips, tweezers, and even spare heating elements that I haven’t needed but are really nice to have. Wish I would have taken the leap from my soldering iron to this long ago.”
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