Soldering iron vs gun, equivalent wattages?

georget98

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I've always preferred a soldering iron to a gun. My experience has been I'm much more likely to not be able to get the joint hot enough with a gun. I seem to recall Heathkit recommending a 30 watt iron or 100 watt gun. Is this about the ratio?
 

andrewwynn

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well.. having upgraded finally to a 'smart' iron (that monitors and maintains temperature).. there is no going back.. small stuff gets cooked very quickly with a gun.. but it is nice to use a gun for big connections that have no sensitive components.

My iron is technically 50W.. but it works more like a 20-30.. as in.. it doesn't over heat things by being on all the time.. it just monitors the temp and turns on and off to keep the temp constant.
 

greenLED

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for small stuff, definitely an iron; I can't seem to have enough dexterity with a gun (imagine trying to solder a sammie with those things!)
 

MikeLip

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A gun is the ideal way to ruin stuff when you are working on or near a circuit board. They are just too crude for that kind of work. Weller sells 35 watt regulated irons that can put out a ton of heat with a tip change, and they don't eat their tips like the cheapie Radio Shack unregulated irons.

If you don't want to spend $150 on an inexpensive (yes, that's cheap) soldering station, get something like the Weller controlled iron model WP35 and a couple of tips of different temperatures and sizes.

Mike
 

andrewwynn

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i paid $99 for my 50W weller 'dial a temp' soldering station.. pretty good bank-for-buck.. it has some limitations, but it works very well.. i use some special tinning goo to keep the tip clean.

-awr
 

eluminator

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I'm old fashioned. I can't help it, I've been soldering the old fashioned way for 50 years. I do all my electronic soldering with my trusty (and cheap) Weller 12 watt iron.

The tips don't last long if you keep it plugged in for hours. I modified a power strip so I can switch a diode in series with one of the outlets. If I'm going to use it again in twenty minutes or so, I just switch in the diode and let it idle at half power. Cheaper than a soldering station.

Those soldering stations are no doubt nice, but having never used one, I don't miss it.

For soldering large wires etc., I finally broke down and bought a Weller 75 watt gun. I like it. They say it heats up in 6 seconds, but I find it takes at least 20 seconds to get hot.
 

andrewwynn

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for soldering big wires onto big terminals.. now i use 'cold heat'.. heats up a terminal in about 14 seconds and cools off instantly, just like in the commercials.. only works on certain situations and you have to be able to press on it, so beware but it is cool for the things it works on.

-awr
 

Lynx_Arc

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I have an old ungar 50 watt iron, it works great for most everything but I am used to it. Sometimes a higher wattage iron in the right hands is more useful than a lower wattage iron because you can get on a joint and heat it up and solder it quicker and get off of it versus a smaller wattage iron trying to heat up everything to get the joint hot enough to melt solder.
 

eluminator

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You are right. Speed is everything. If it takes more than a couple of seconds, you are in danger of doing some damage to adjacent parts.

A high thermal transfer rate from the iron to the parts to be soldered is key. That means: Hot tip. Clean tip and parts. Solder coated tip. As large a contact area between tip and parts as is possible.

Also the thermal mass of the tip must be considerably larger than the thermal mass of the parts to be soldered. My 12 watt iron will handle most electronics that I have encountered. I've successfully soldered wires onto many NiMH AA cells with it, but that takes some practice and expertise.
 

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