Temperature controlled soldering iron

digital temperature controlled soldering iron

Temperature controlled soldering iron allows you to solder a wider range of electronics and circuit boards without overheating and damaging them. It has the capability of controlling and adjusting the temperature of the iron tip. That means that operator can set the desired temperature of the tip with knob or push-buttons located on the front panel of the base unit.

Temperature controlled soldering irons come with a built-in adjustable temperature setting. Electronic temperature control allows precise control of the heat level at the tip of the soldering iron. Most of the soldering irons produce tip's temperature in the range of 662-842 degrees Fahrenheit (350- 450 degrees Celsius).

Electronic temperature control means you'll always know if the tip of the soldering iron is hot enough for the material you are soldering. It makes your soldering work a whole lot easier.

If you do not pay attention to the temperature of the iron’s tip you can accidentally damage or ruin your soldering project by applying too much heat. For every soldering task, you need enough heat to quickly and reliably melt the solder and apply it to soldering joints, but you do not want too much heat that can burn or melt delicate electronic components or circuit boards/

The first attempt at temperature controlled soldering iron was made in 1949 by American company American Beauty. It was a simple system that allowed some adjustment of the temperature of the soldering iron. Later, in 1960, temperature controlled soldering iron was patented by Weller company.

Many new models of temperature controlled soldering irons have been introduced on market in the USA in recent years. Various manufacturers offer new models of variable temperature soldering irons.

Even dough brands such as Aoyue, Lonove, X-Tronic, Vastar are not as famous as Weller, Hakko and Pace they offer a solid quality of the soldering tools at a lower price.

Temperature controlled soldering iron

These days it is possible to buy a good temperature controlled soldering iron with a digital display for under $50.

Top-quality temperature controlled soldering irons are in the range of $100 -$140 (Hakko FX-888 is around $100 and Weller WE1010 is around $140) but you can buy them at a lower price when they go on sale.

Many soldering stations are capable to accurately maintain the temperature at desired level – for example on WESD51 Weller soldering iron you can precisely control the temperature of iron within +/- 9 degrees Fahrenheit.

Weller temperature controlled soldering iron

Temperature controlled irons should be used whenever we have to solder temperature-sensitive components.

Three basic designs of soldering irons regarding temperature control.

The first type of soldering iron does not have any form of temperature regulation.

This is a simple unregulated soldering pencil - just plug it in the power outlet and in a couple of minutes it is ready for soldering. This soldering pencil is usually sold as a separate soldering tool but it can be a part of a soldering kit.

It is good only for do-it-yourself projects, soldering a wire and some standard soldering projects in households. This type of soldering irons is the simplest and the cheapest type of soldering irons. 

The price for a simple soldering pencil in the USA is in the range of 15-30 dollars.

variable temperature soldering iron

The second type of soldering irons is a temperature controlled soldering iron. These soldering irons are used for fine, precise work.

These soldering irons have built-in temperature control to ensure that the temperature of the iron bit is maintained at a fixed level. A thermocouple is built into the iron tip or shaft, which monitors temperature. Some soldering irons have a bimetallic strip thermostat built into the handle.

These soldering irons come with a low-voltage power station (typically around 24 Volts DC) and a rotary control knob on the station as a controller for setting the desired temperature on the iron's tip. The power station automatically keeps the iron tip at an appropriate temperature.

Some models have a digital display to show the current temperature of the iron tip.

It is easy to adjust the desired temperature - turning the knob clockwise increases iron's temperature while turning a knob counterclockwise decreases temperature. Some models of temperature controlled soldering iron come with "+" and "-" buttons instead of the control knob, so increasing heater temperature is done by pushing the "+" button while decreasing temperature is done by pushing the "-" button. The temperature of the iron can be precisely adjusted within 10°F with the front panel temperature control knob.

The wattage of these irons is usually in the range of 50 -70 watt. .

These soldering irons are more expensive than unregulated soldering pencils. The price for decent temperature controlled soldering irons on the USA market (including soldering irons that have very accurate electronic temperature adjustment) is in the range of 50 -150 dollars.

From this group, we recommend the following irons:

Pace temperature controlled soldering iron

The third type of soldering irons is a complete soldering system for repair and rework.

This soldering system usually consists of a complete benchtop control unit where you can plug in a variety of soldering tools including temperature controlled soldering iron, hot air soldering gun, de-soldering gun, thermo–tweezers, stand for iron, etc. Thermo–tweezers are an excellent tool for removing surface-mount resistors and capacitors,

These soldering stations are designed for professional use, continuous production line, rework and repair stations in high volume manufacturing. They are also recommended for those who need to use a soldering tool regularly.

This is the most expensive type of soldering iron. The price for a professional soldering system (rework and repair) is in the wide range of 200- 2500 dollars.

From this group, we recommend Pace multichannel rework station MBT350.

Three different versions of temperature controlled soldering iron

In the first version, an operator can increase or decrease the voltage across the heater and therefore change the temperature of the iron tip. As we mentioned earlier,, basic soldering irons have constant voltage applied to the heater without the possibility to vary it.

In the second version, the temperature of the iron tip can be set with a temperature-controlled magnetic switch within the heater block. Here we have a small magnet that has been designed to lose its magnetic properties at a certain temperature. This magnet forms part of the switch within the heater assembly, and when the magnet loses magnetic properties (at a certain temperature) as result, the switch opens and cuts off the voltage to the heater.

The third version of temperature controlled soldering iron is a soldering iron that contains a temperature sensor built within the heater assembly. The operator sets the desired temperature for his soldering project and then the temperature sensor within heater assembly, through the feedback system, turns on and off the heater element to maintain the temperature at the desired level.

Digital Soldering Iron

Some models of temperature controlled soldering iron might have built-in digital temperature readout. The current temperature of soldering iron is displayed on digital readout all time during soldering.

As soon as you push one of the buttons to adjust the temperature of the heating element, the digital readout shows a set temperature.

When you are done with setting the digital readout switches back and shows the current temperature of the iron's tip.

Digital soldering iron

Updated: April 08, 2021