How To Choose Your Soldering Iron

How To Choose A Soldering Iron

One of the questions that we hear quite often from our DIY customers, or those looking to get into it, is “How do I know which soldering iron I need for my project?” It’s a great question – with all of the awesome things being made by our customers, we carry a variety of soldering irons that are each suited to different projects. We asked Manny Alvear to share some of his best tips for choosing the right soldering iron for any project, based on a few factors.

As you can see, it’s important to know what you’ll be using your new soldering iron for. You should compare by looking at wattage and form factor, but also the type of iron that would work best for your project. We’d love to know what tips YOU would share with someone who is buying their first soldering iron.

Share your best ‘how to choose a soldering iron’ tips in the comments below.


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  • Doug Lynn

    Finally a subject I know about professionally. I am a certified SMT tech, did you forget you mention cooper solder for extending the life of your soldering tips? How about how to solder surface mount technology components and the types of solder and liquid rosins required for lead free solder?

    • becker

      Hi what iron solder I should use for fixing an ipodon’t touch I have done it before but I borrowed a friends so idk which one would be the best. It’s for a fpc connector

  • carey harmon

    very good video . it is the type of video (soldeering iron ) that i have looked for . need moreDIY videos . usually your email just list products by name and price . problem is i have no idea how they can improve my life .

  • Gary Litteer K7PG/VE7PG

    Back to the basics I remember from years ago. Ham Radio needs a source of parts and advice. Thanks, nice job.
    I feel you can build a solid customer base among the Amateur Radio hobby both equipment and parts.
    Radio Shack had quality equipment for hams, plus great manuals for entering the hobby in the past. A return to the training manuals for new Hams and the how-to guides were a big hit.
    Take it from a 50 year Ham and professional tech/engineer you are going in the right direction..

  • Marsha

    Choosing the right solder seems to be equally important. Would love to see a short DIY feature on types of solder with a focus on crafts.

  • Jonathan May

    Can anyone tell the if they make a chisel tip for the 70w digital station in the video. I cant seem to find one that says its for that type of iron or not.

  • Dr dolittle

    How about model making, robot making, 3d printing. College kids are broke these days, unless you are going after classroom required stuff.

  • steven

    Make sure the cord is flexible. It sounds simple, but when you get stuck with a soldering iron that has a cord that is stiff as a board, it limits your mobility.

  • Lisa Taylor

    I am wondering just what type of soldering gun and materials I would need for a DIY home project. I purchased a beautiful kitchen set about 7 years ago. The base for the table and the chairs themselves are made of metal and over the years of use. my chair legs are beginning to crack in some areas making the chair legs unstable and I would like to redo the chairs.but I want to repair and reinforce the legs> I am thinking soldering them would be best. What would I need to do this and make them sturdy for continued use.

  • Soldering Guns

    Loved this video,

    A skilled technician can spot the RIGHT soldering iron more quickly than the newbies because of his experience.

  • Alen

    Thank you so much Manny, now that’s a lot of useful info in such a short time, I really thank you guys!
    I’ll definitely keep an eye out for your other videos now!
    Respect :D!


  • William

    Here’s a crazy thought lets say that someone is not a professional tech. And that they are not sure as to which iron to get to let’s say replace cap’s or resistors in a TV board. I went to Radio Shack and there on the wall was a couple of Weller Irons. The one at 25 watts said it was the Standard duty. But the 40 watts said it was for the Medium duty. So I got confused and asked the clerk. First he told me that you could not replace the tip’s. Oddly it came with two extra tip’s and a plastic stick that appears to be used to hold the wire. But the clerk did tell me that they had this soldering station on sell for $100. And it had the variable heat with digital read out.
    Well I know to much heat will burn something up. And I do not want to do that. So I got the standard one the 25 watts. I have no way of knowing if one is any better than the other. Most likely my next visit to Radio Shack I will get the 40 watt Weller.That way I can see for myself. I am not sure if the clerk was trying to help me or he just did not know. At any rate I feel like I am being bent over. Having to buy both. Hopefully they will have the cap’s I need in stock.


    thanks for sharing this useful informations

  • wang

    If you solder electronic components a lot, I would totally recommend one of those temperature controlled soldering iron such as Weller WESD51 and Hakko FX-888d.

  • C.Reynolds

    Video was okay but please turn down that jing-a-ling-a-ling-a-ting-a-ting-a-ling-a-jing-a-ling-a-ling-a-ting-a-ting-a-ling-jing-a-ling-a-ling-a-ting-a-ting-a-ling-jing-a-ling-a-ling-a-ting-a-ting-a-ling crap in the background. Annoying isn’t it, when you’re trying to read,
    or listen. Just too much volume on that part. Thanks.

  • Charles Keffer

    What size soldering should i use to solder ni-mh batteries ??

    • Dave

      You shouldnt even be using nimh batteries anymore retire them and get lipos… mines a 60watt and worked fine on all manner of batteries. Its not the battery type its the gauge of the wire in our case that dictates the type of iron we need…

  • Naveen Kulkarni

    Hi Ricky,

    Awesome video and explanation. Choosing a good soldering iron can be easy as well as difficult, considering the overwhelming choices we have at the present. I believe your tips simplify this problem.

  • Naveen Kulkarni

    Great video !

    Having features of interchangeable solder tips is also one of the key factor in deciding a soldering gun.

  • Frankie Jones

    I have dial-up Internet, so for me to ‘hear’ the video, I need to read the closed captioning.
    Problem is — the closed captioning was obviously written by a non-English speaking person. Knowledgeable English speaking Radio Shack employees need to view this video themselves, with the “CC” on to see IT DOESN’T MAKE A LICK OF SENSE because non-sensible words were used by whom ever wrote the “CC” script.
    Better look at all your online videos!

    P. S. Radio Shack, please do NOT send me any promotional emails, thank you.