Most Popular in the USA
WES51 Weller soldering iron - analog $ 93.37
WESD51 Weller soldering iron - digital $ 132.17
Hakko FX-888 FX-888 Hakko soldering iron $ 91.33
Aoyue 2702 2702 Aoyue soldering station $ 249.00
Weller SP23LK SP23LK Weller soldering iron $ 21.21
Pace MBT-250 MBT-250 Pace soldering station $ 2413.96
WES51 Weller Soldering Iron - Review
WES51 Weller soldering iron is solidly built. It has a very durable design and you can count on using one for several years with no problems. It is perfect for all kinds of soldering applications including repairs, rework, and industrial manufacturing. Its economical price makes it also a good soldering iron for occasional users such as hobbyist or home electronics enthusiast.
Weller soldering station WES51 is an excellent low cost soldering iron. It is one of the best soldering irons on market that can be found under $100. Weller soldering iron WES51 is best-selling soldering iron on Amazon.
And Weller company has been around for generations. Weller has started manufacturing soldering irons in 1940s. Even though Cooper Tools acquired Weller Soldering in 1970s, the Weller brand name is well-respected and recognized throughout USA and rest of the world as one of the best manufacturer of soldering equipment.
What will you get when you buy Weller soldering iron WES51
When you buy Weller soldering iron WES51 you will receive:
- main power unit
- detachable 50W soldering pencil (PES51)
- pencil stand and tip-cleaning sponge
All of those tools combined into the soldering station setup, provide you everything that you need to start your soldering project.
Main features of Weller WES51 soldering iron
- 50 watt iron is ideal for most soldering tasks
- Temperature range at the tip of iron is adjustable from 350 to 850 degrees Fahrenheit
- Non-burnable cord made of silicon rubber (cord length 4 ft.)
- Temperature lockout control so you do not burn up your circuit board with a careless mistake
- Easily switch between Fahrenheit and Celsius readouts
- Electronic temperature control is accurate to within 9 degrees Fahrenheit
- Station automatically powers down after 99 minutes of inactivity
- Static proof so you do not destroy delicate circuit boards
- Fast heat up of iron from cold to hot, even with bigger tips
The WES51 Weller soldering iron comes with PES51 soldering pencil that has a comfortable foam grip that improves the ease of use and reduces heat transfer from the iron into your fingertips. I found the soldering pencil to be really quite comfortable to grip for extended periods. It features a stainless steel heating element which extends the soldering iron’s life by minimizing corrosion.
Electronic temperature control on WES51 Weller soldering iron
Another great feature of the WES51 Weller soldering iron is that it has very accurate electronic temperature control. Temperature of iron can be adjusted with the front panel temperature control knob - you can precisely control the temperature of iron to within 9 degrees Fahrenheit.
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 task a whole lot easier. In addition, electronic temperature control allows precise control of the heat level at the tip of Weller soldering iron. This means that you can rest assured that your Weller soldering iron is hot enough and ready for soldering, and at same time you know that it is not too hot to burn some temperature-sensitive components on circuit board.
If you do not pay attention on temperature of 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.
Safety features of WES51 Weller soldering iron
Main problem with most of soldering irons is that you need to wait for them to heat up from cold stage to ready-for-soldering stage, not only when you start using them, but also in between jobs if you leave them alone for a long period of time. For example, one of my soldering irons automatically powers down after 15 minutes of inactivity. Unfortunately, this particular setting is not adjustable so you cannot customize it for your needs. In other words, you cannot increase this time if you do little bit of soldering with a long periods of time between two soldering jobs.
WES51 Weller soldering iron has a built in activator that allows it to automatically powers down after 99 minutes of inactivity. That is right setting of this shut down time – you have enough time even if you have some longer interval between two soldering jobs.
What kind of solder tips are used on WES51 Weller soldering iron
WES51 Weller soldering iron uses ET series tips. Weller has a huge range of tips in ET series to suit all kinds of soldering jobs.
What is price of soldering iron Weller WES51
Price of soldering iron Weller WES51 is in wide range from $ 90.00 to $ 150.00. Price of WESD51 on a few websites of major online vendors of soldering irons in the USA is:
- Amazon.com - $93.37 with free shipping
- Digikey.com - $129.00 (plus shipping costs $8.00)
- Mouser.com - 129.00 (plus shipping costs $20.00)
- Newark.com - 129.00 (plus shipping costs $8.00)
Of course, vendors of soldering irons change price of soldering irons very often.
Free shipping of soldering iron Weller WESD51
The soldering iron Weller WES51 comes with free shipping if you buy it from Amazon.
Digikey, Mouser and Newark offer free shipping on orders over $ 200.00.
The WES51 Weller soldering iron is great soldering iron that is designed and manufactured by famous Weller Company. It comes in well-known Weller-blue color. It is very comfortable to use this Weller soldering iron, even if you spend several hours of continuous soldering on your soldering task. It is one of the best soldering irons available on the market. In conclusion of the review of Weller WES51 soldering iron I give 5 out of 5 stars for this extraordinary soldering iron.
How to use soldering iron
Safety precautions before soldering with soldering iron:
- - Keep flammable liquids and materials away from the work area.
- - Soldering with lead may produce fumes that are hazardous. Flux containing rosin (colophony) produces solder fumes that, if inhaled, can be hazardous. Use smoke absorber - smoke absorber absorbs most of hazardous smokes from flux and solder.
- - Solder only in a well ventilated area.
- - Soldering iron is HOT. Never touch tip of the soldering iron.
- - Never set your hot soldering iron down on anything other than a soldering iron stand.
- - Wear eye protection.
- - Never cut off a grounding prong on a soldering iron plug to make it fit an ungrounded receptacle.
- - Hold wires to be heated with tweezers, pliers or clamps to avoid receiving burns from objects that are heated.
- - Always wash your hands with soap and water after soldering.
How to solder with soldering iron
Preparation for soldering with soldering iron:
- Turn on your soldering iron. Set desired temperature on soldering iron. Dampen the sponge in the stand (sponge should be damp, not soaking wet). Turn on smoke absorber if you have one.
- Clean the soldering area and dirty components. All components must be clean and free from oxidation, grease, and other contamination. Solder will not stick to dirty component or dirty area on printed circuit board.
- Tip of soldering iron must be clean as well. Clean the tip of soldering iron using the damp sponge.
- Before soldering, the tip of soldering iron should be “tinned” or, in other words, coated with solder. Apply some solder to the tip of soldering iron, then wipe on the damp sponge.
- If you are soldering static sensitive components, wear anti-static protection (ESD) like a wrist strap.
Soldering with soldering iron
1) Insert component into metalized hole of circuit board.
2) Take soldering iron from stand and hold it as a pen.
3) Apply a tip of soldering iron to the joint and hold for few seconds. Make sure it touches both the track on circuit board and the component lead.
4) Continue heating and apply some solder to the joint, not the soldering iron. Heating one part but not the other will result in poorly formed joints. Solder should melt and flow smoothly onto the track and component lead to form volcano shape. The most common problems with soldering are adding too much or not enough solder.
5) It only takes couple seconds to make a perfect joint. The heating period depends on the temperature of your soldering iron and size of the joint. First remove the solder, then remove the soldering iron while keeping the joint sill. Do not move circuit board for a few seconds to allow the joint to cool.
6) Inspect soldered joints. Adjacent components may be bridged together or the joint may need additional solder for good electrical continuity.
Price range of soldering irons
Price for simple soldering irons is in range 15-30 dollars. These soldering irons are good only for do-it-yourself jobs. We recommend Weller SP23LK soldering iron from this category.
Price for good soldering irons on US market (including soldering irons that have very accurate electronic temperature control) is in range 90 -150 dollars. This type of soldering irons comes with power station and controls for setting desired temperature. Station automatically keeps the iron tip at an appropriate temperature. Some models have digital display to show the current temperature of iron tip. These soldering irons are used for fine, precise work. We recommend Weller WES51, WESD51 (with digital display), and Hakko FX-888 soldering irons from this category.
Price for professional soldering system (rework and repair) is in wide range 250- 2500 dollars. This soldering system usually comes with bench station and 3 or 4 hand pieces including temperature controlled soldering pencil, hot air gun, de-soldering gun and thermo–tweezers (thermo–tweezers is an excellent tool for removing surface-mount resistors and capacitors). These soldering systems are recommended if you need to use a soldering tool regularly. From this category, we recommend Aoyue 2702 soldering station which is an excellent soldering station for most of fine soldering and de-soldering projects and much more expensive Pace MBT-250 soldering station for top professinal soldering needs.
What is a soldering iron
Soldering iron is tool used in soldering process for generating heat. Soldering irons come in a wide variety of shapes, sizes and wattages.
What are main parts of soldering iron
A soldering iron is composed of a heater block and an insulated handle. Iron’s handle is made from thick plastic and usually have additional foam layer that reduces heat transfer from the iron into your hand. Heating is often achieved electrically, by passing a current, supplied through an electrical cord or a battery, through a heating element.
How does soldering iron work
The heater block is a source of heat. Simple heater block consists basically of the heater element and the tip (or bit). The iron tip transfers heat from heater element to the soldering joint. Resulting tip temperature depends on the capacity of the heater, and mass of the iron tip.
Iron tips are made of a copper core enclosed by iron, because solder does not stick to nickel or chrome but sticks to iron. A new tip needs to be coated, heated, and then covered with solder before its first use. This procedure is called "tinning" and its purpose is to form a thin layer around the tip which provides the better transfer of heat from the tip to the solder joint. Only clean tip transfers heat well. During soldering work the tip needs to be kept coated with a thin layer of solder by occasional wiping the tip on dump sponge to clean it and then applying a small amount of solder directly to the tip.
Temperature controlled soldering irons have capability of controlling and adjusting the temperature of the iron tip. That means that operator can set desired temperature of the tip with knob located on front panel of soldering station.
There are mainly three different versions of temperature controlled soldering iron. In first version, operator can increase or decrease the voltage across the heater and therefore change the temperature of the iron tip (basic soldering irons have constant voltage applied to heater without possibility to vary it). In second version, temperature of iron tip can be set with temperature controlled magnetic switch within the heater block. Here we have a small magnet which has been designed to lose its magnetic properties at certain temperature. This magnet forms part of the switch within the heater assembly, and when magnet lose magnetic properties (at certain temperature) as result, the switch opens and cuts off the voltage to heater. Third version of temperature controlled soldering iron is a soldering iron that contains a temperature sensor built within the heater assembly. Operator set the desired temperature for his soldering project and then the temperature sensor within heater assembly, through feedback system, turns on and off the heater element to maintain temperature at desired level.
Temperature controlled irons should be used whenever we have to solder temperature-sensitive components There are many soldering stations which are capable to accurately maintain temperature at desired level – for example on WESD51 Weller soldering iron you can precisely control the temperature of iron within +/- 9 degrees Fahrenheit.
How to choose the best soldering iron
Soldering irons come in a variety of sizes and shapes. Which soldering iron is the best for you will depend largely upon how you plan to use it and the types of soldering projects that you plan to do.There are several things to consider before you decide which soldering iron to buy.
How to pick soldering iron in the USA
Three primary factors to consider when choosing a soldering iron are:
- temperature control
- the tip size and shape.
Wattage is the most important characteristic of a soldering iron. Soldering iron with higher wattage, of course, has more heat available. It is very important to understand that higher wattage does not necessarily mean a hotter soldering iron. Soldering irons with higher wattage just have more power available. In other words, the wattage of soldering iron is the amount of energy available to heat the joint. Therefore, a soldering iron with low wattage may not keep its temperature on a big joint because it can lose heat faster than it can re-heat itself. On the other hand, a soldering iron with high wattage is capable to apply so much energy into the joint that the joint cannot dissipate it quickly enough.
Most soldering irons used for soldering work on circuit boards have a power rating of 20-60 watts.
Electronic temperature control allows precise control of the heat level at the tip of the soldering iron. Most of soldering irons produce tip temperature in the range of 750-850°F. There are three basic temperature designs of soldering irons.
The first type of soldering iron does not have any form of temperature regulation. This is simple unregulated soldering pencil - just plug it in and in couple minutes it is ready for soldering. It is good only for do-it-yourself projects and some standard soldering projects in households. This type of soldering irons is the simplest and the cheapest type of soldering irons.
The second type of soldering irons is a temperature controlled soldering iron. 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 low-voltage power station and a control knob to enable you to set the desired temperature. Some models might have built-in digital temperature readout. Temperature of iron can be precisely adjusted within 10°F with the front panel temperature control knob. These soldering irons are more expensive than the unregulated soldering pencils. From this group we recommend the following iron: Weller WESD51 (digital soldering iron), Weller WES51 (analog soldering iron) and Hakko FX-888.
The third type of soldering irons is complete soldering systems for repair and rework. This soldering system usually consists of a complete bench top control unit where you can plug in a variety of soldering tools including soldering iron, hot air soldering gun, de-soldering gun, thermo–tweezers for removing surface-mount resistors and capacitors, etc. This is the most expensive type of soldering iron. These soldering stations are designed for or for professional use, continuous production line, rework and repair stations in high volume manufacturing.
Size and shape of the iron tip
The function of the soldering tip is to efficiently convey heat from the heating element to the joint. Most modern soldering irons have changeable tips that will allow you to swap tips depending on the project you are doing. Selecting the proper tip for any soldering application is very important because iron tip should be properly matched to the intended project. The right iron tip is the one that is the right size and shape for the job that you are doing. Choose the one that will melt just enough solder to do the job right.
The tips usually have a copper core, since copper conducts heat well. The copper tip is coated first with nickel and then with iron to preserve its life. The iron layer protects the copper from molten tin in the solder, which would dissolve the copper if it touched it directly.
The amount of heat that an iron tip can hold is dependant largely upon its total mass. The efficient delivery of heat through the tip is dependent upon its length and diameter. Fast transfer of heat through iron tip from the heating element to the joint is vitally important. A small iron tip will take too long to transfer enough heat to joint. A large iron tip can create problems regarding the accessibility to the intended soldering area and even damage circuit board or components with delivering too much heat. A blunt short chisel style iron tip is the most efficient iron tip - the width of the chisel should be equal to or slightly greater than the width of the material that is being soldered. Conical iron tips are used for fine, precise soldering projects. Longer iron tips are used in the case when the area in which the soldering is going to take place is not completely accessible. Longer iron tips and conical iron tips are less efficient than chisel iron tips.
Each manufacturer recommends a line of iron tips for particular soldering iron (for example Weller soldering iron WESD51 uses ET series soldering tips). It is important to recognize that you can use ONLY iron tips which are recommended by manufacturer. You cannot use any other iron tips even if they physically fit in your soldering iron.
Well, which soldering iron is the best to buy in the USA? Which soldering iron is best solution for your application?
Another thing that can help you to decide which soldering iron is best for your application is to read some reviews of best soldering irons available in the USA.