This is the best review in my opinion on the comparison of a Soldering Iron with a Soldering Station. It has been specifically written for the novice users who are planning to buy a soldering machine but are confused between the soldering station and a soldering iron. This covers all the aspects like usability to price point-of-view of a Soldering Station vs Soldering Iron. Let us not waste more time and dig into the pros and cons of each of these soldering machines.
LONGEVITY & USAGE
A soldering station (like Weller, INDE, Hakko, Quick) may undergo thorough a rough use for extended time periods at a service center or on a production line, on the other hand soldering irons (like Soldron, Siron…) are useful mostly for short time periods. It concludes that Soldering Stations will have longer life than a soldering iron – and the tips of soldering stations last longer than Soldering Irons.
- - Soldering Station: Ideal for long duration operations.
- - Soldering Iron: Ideal for small repair work and for short period usage.
A soldering station has a rugged type step down transformer in the main unit which reduces the voltage at a variable high current. The variable high current supplied to the soldering pencil of the Soldering Station heats up Soldering Tip more efficiently. The voltage and current ratio to the soldering pencil gives virtually no temperature drops and thus it is easier to work on sensitive circuits using a Soldering Station. A soldering station on an overall can help in quicker, stronger and more durable soldering quality particularly on SMD circuits. Whereas, soldering irons on the other hand, have very inefficient heating systems and also have very high temperature drops, that spoil the soldering quality and also the soldering experience.
- - Soldering Station: Ideal for Good Soldering because it has a negligible temperature drops.
- - Soldering Iron: Poor Soldering Quality because of uncontrolled / inefficient heating system.
In general every soldering station is electrically isolated from mains voltage (of 220V) because of the step down transformer (inside the main control unit), thus helping prevent electrocutions if the metal part is accidentally touched. Even if touched the voltage across the unit is very low to cause any shock. On the other hand every available soldering iron (like Siron or Soldron) are not electrically isolated (as the mains 220V directly goes into the heating element inside), such type of connections can cause serious harm if the live wire accidentally comes in contact with the metal part of the soldering iron. Such shocks are very common and lethal on soldering irons.
- - Soldering Station: They are relatively safer as the mains are electrically isolated because of step down transformer.
- - Soldering Iron: They are not very safe as the 220V mains are directly fed to the heating element inside. An accidental touch of wire might give a lethal shock.
Since the current in the Soldering Station is controlled and is made variable so a soldering station has a better temperature control and it is better to use them for advanced applications that require certain temperature range. Examples: certain applications (on SMD circuitry) need 200 degree Celsius temperature whereas some applications on High Voltage Capacitors and Solar Panels need 400 degree Celsius temperature. Soldering Stations are much better placed to handle such wide range of soldering temperatures. Soldering Irons do not have any temperature controller.
- - Soldering Stations: You can easily control the temperature using a dial on the main control unit.
- - Soldering Iron: No temperature controller.
Soldering Irons scores much better in this point. Soldering Irons are very low priced starting at Rs.120/- only whereas, Soldering Station starts at Rs.1500/- In the long run however, soldering stations prove to be more value for money option.
WHERE TO BUY
Soldering Stations can be bought from INDE Enterprises who sponsored this review - I recommend DSS36 a Low Cost Soldering Station. Soldering Irons can be bought from any of your local stores. I recommend Soldron over Siron.
After taking into consideration all the points mentioned above, I suggest that if you are a novice/ beginner, or a person who does simple electronics projects on a small scale service or repair work, then go in for a normal soldering iron (from Siron or Soldron). These soldering irons are very reliable in India and comes readily available spares from your local electronic stores.
On the other hand if you plan to work on professional electronics projects (or service centers or production line) that involve sensitive SMD components or have to contain strong connections, then go for a soldering station (like INDE Soldering Stations or Quick Soldering Stations). These soldering stations are available with INDE Enterprises in India.
Further, experience is the best teacher. If you find soldering is cumbersome for you when doing it with a regular soldering iron then think about going in for a soldering station.