A soldering station might seem like a pretty professional tool.
So you might at first think that you need to bust out the big bucks to get good quality, but this isn’t the case.
When it comes to soldering irons and soldering stations, they aren’t actually all that complicated.
There’s no need to spend more than $100 on a station, especially if you only plan to use it for your hobbies.
Soldering is a delicate and difficult process. It takes a steady hand and a fair bit of practice and patience.
So if you’re going to dedicate both your time and your money to a project that involves soldering, you’re going to need the right tools and tech.
These are some of my favorites!
Whether you’re an expert or a newbie, choosing the right tool for your projects is important.
You don’t want to buy something that won’t be up to the task.
However, you also don’t want to invest too much in something that is only really necessary for professional engineers.
When it comes to buying soldering equipment, it can be difficult to work out which is for the professionals and which is best suited for a hobbyist.
That’s where this guide comes in. Read on for the best soldering stations for under $100.
Plus, you’ll find some guidance and a few tips for the buying process.
Got a new project in mind and want to get started ASAP?
No problem. Skip the browsing, and check out our top pick for the best soldering station under $100.
Review of the Best Soldering Station Under $100
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Temperature Range: 194°F – 896°F
My top pick is this LONOVE soldering station. It is a very impressive device and also provides the best value for money.
Although not the cheapest option on this list, you get a lot for your money, and it’s still more affordable than some other, simpler options.
So what’s so great about this soldering station? Well, there is a lot going on.
At first glance, it might even seem like a little too much, especially for a hobbyist.
The main difference between this station and others is the addition of “helping hands.”
These are two crocodile clips attached to movable arms that can be used to hold pieces of your project in place.
This is the sort of attachment that you might not have considered before, but once you have tried them out, you will wonder how you could ever have done without them.
The setup of this station is very practical and more compact than it looks. Everything you need is attached to the main power box.
The iron dock is just above the digital display screen, the cleaner is just below it, and there is a wire spool next to it.
But this doesn’t mean that your range of motion will be restricted. The iron cord is still long and will allow you to reach all the awkward angles you need.
The temperature is controlled using a dial, but the display is digital.
So, you can be 100% accurate with the temperature but not have to work out any complicated controls.
At 60 watts, this station has more than enough energy.
It also comes with five different additional heads, so you will be able to use this station to work on every project you can think of.
This is a great station for a regular hobbyist.
If you spend most of your weekends working on projects and need to level up your tools, then this is the station for you.
- Two helping hands
- Additional tips
- Wire spool attached
- Sleep and sleep-wake modes
- Digital display
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Temperature Range: 176°F – 896°F
This soldering station is a compact setup that has a lot going on.
Some soldering stations are simple and just have a dock for the iron, temperature settings, and maybe a tip cleaner.
However, these are often all connected through wires that can get in the way.
This station has all three, and more, set within one compact station. You will be able to work on your project without the station getting in the way.
As well as the cleaning pad, this station has a spool attached for solder wire and a space to keep the five additional tips that are also included.
As this soldering station is digital, it has some impressive technological features.
The temperature is controlled by an easy-to-use dial. The exact temperature is displayed on a screen, so you can watch it rise as you turn the dial.
This will give you complete control. You can also see the temperature as either Celsius or Fahrenheit.
Another useful digital feature is the lock button. Once you have set the temperature, you can lock it so that it won’t change.
This means that you can’t accidentally lower or increase the temperature by knocking the dial.
This is useful for soldering correctly but is also a good safety feature.
The auto-standby and auto-sleep settings are also good safety features.
If the soldering station is not used for 10 minutes, it will switch to standby mode. This will keep the temperature at 392°F.
If it is then left for a further 10 minutes, it will switch to sleep mode and cool down.
- Temperature lock
- Standby and sleep features
- Heats up quickly
- Best for beginners but not experienced users
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Temperature Range: 392°F – 896°F
This is a very simple analog soldering station. If you are an occasional hobbyist, then this is ideal for you. It’s also the most affordable option on this list.
So if $100 still seems like too much to spend on your hobby, then you will be very happy with the price of this soldering station.
As the station is analog, it is controlled with a dial that displays the temperatures. Usefully, they are displayed in both Celsius and Fahrenheit.
Other than the dial, the plughole for the iron cord, and an on light, there is nothing else on the station display.
But this isn’t a bad thing. If you only plan to use a soldering iron for a few projects every now and again, then you don’t really need more.
Also included is a separate nib cleaner. This is useful if you have a large workspace and like to spread out.
You will be able to arrange all the pieces you need for your project, set the temperature, and then move the station out of the way.
Then, you only have the iron and cleaner in front of you.
This soldering station also comes with a tube of solder wire and five additional nibs, all of which are different.
It has a good temperature range and can reach up to 65 watts.
- Nontoxic and lead-free tin wire
- ESD and FCC safe
- Easy to use
- Good wattage
- Good temperature range
- Very simple
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Temperature Range: 200°F – 850°F
This soldering station is an easy-to-use and sturdy device.
Using something digital and technical in any workspace can be a bit concerning.
So if you have a messy workspace with a lot of different items and substances lying around, this is a good choice for you.
Soldering requires a steady hand and is a delicate process, but that doesn’t mean the station has to be delicate.
Although this is a digital station, it is still very simple to use. The temperature is displayed on a screen and controlled through up or down buttons.
This means that you have complete control and can easily adjust the temperature with the touch of a button.
With 70 watts of power, this soldering station will be able to reach pretty high temperatures. It will heat up quickly and do exactly the job you need it to.
This device is actually separated into two stations with the power and the display screen on one and the iron dock and cleaner on the other.
It also comes with a longer-than-average iron cord, so you will be able to take up as much space as you need to focus on your work.
This soldering station is definitely one of the more expensive options on this list.
It is a little more than average for such a simple device, but it is still relatively good value for money.
- Easy to use
- Long iron cord
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Temperature Range: 392°F – 897°F
Although this station has three different versions and kits (all still under $100), I’ve still chosen the cheapest.
Although it is very affordable, this station has everything you need. It features an iron, a temperature dial, and a cleaning pad.
At 51 x 59 x 85 millimeters, this is a very small and compact station, but it still has a lot of power with 70 watts.
The temperature range is quite a bit smaller than most other options, but the iron will still get as hot as it needs to.
(Scroll down to the Buyer’s Guide for more information on temperature ranges and why they don’t matter as much as you might think.)
A slight difference to other soldering stations is the cleaner.
Most soldering stations will have a metal cleaner, but this station features a sponge.
This won’t make a huge difference but it’s something to consider.
One downside is the temperature control. As is to be expected for the price, this is an analog soldering station.
It has a small dial that is used for controlling the temperature, but rather than accurately displaying the degrees Fahrenheit, the dial goes from 1 to 8 which is simply “low” to “high.”
This might make the temperature a little tricky to accurately control. It will take a few tries to work out how hot each number is.
However, once you have done that, you will get used to the settings and be able to use the device easily.
- Multiple versions available
- High wattage
- Iron can fit 50 different tips
- Temperature dial not very accurate
When it comes to soldering, the temperature of the soldering iron will make or break your project. The soldering iron should melt the solder on contact.
This means that the iron needs to be hot when in use.
If the iron is too cool, then it will need to be held against the solder in order for it to melt.
Not only will this be frustrating and time consuming, but it can also potentially damage whatever you’re working on.
To properly melt the solder and make a proper connection, a soldering iron should be between 600°F and 700°F.
660°F is the ideal temperature.
This means that you should invest in a soldering station that can reach at least 600°F. But it also means that you don’t need a station with a bigger temperature range.
A range bigger than 600°F to 700°F is pretty unnecessary.
Solder has a specific melting point so any soldering station that has a bigger temperature range advertised as a great feature is just trying to get your attention.
As well as temperature, the power of the soldering station is also incredibly important.
In fact, it’s more important as without power you’re not going to be able to get the iron hot.
You will be able to control the temperature of the iron but the power will usually be set.
To get to the ideal temperature, try to find a station that has at least 40 watts.
Less than that won’t quite give you the heat and longevity that you will need. More will be useful but not 100% necessary.
So as long as you have a soldering station with 40 watts or more, you should be good to go.
Digital Stations Vs. Analog Stations
The main differences between digital and analog stations are the user interface and controls.
Analog stations will be controlled by using dials, switches, or knobs. Digital stations will have a screen that displays the exact temperature.
The choice between digital and analog is really down to personal preference.
There are a few things to consider. One of the most important is accuracy.
With a digital station, you will be able to choose the temperature more accurately.
This is because you will be inputting a number or pressing a few buttons to turn the temperature up or down.
With an analog station, turning a dial or a knob won’t have the same level of accuracy.
Digital stations are also easier to use. This is because they are more accurate and are generally simpler.
If you don’t have a personal preference, then I recommend a digital station. It will be able to provide you with a better overall experience.
One aspect which shouldn’t be overlooked is the base of the station itself.
Although the iron, additional features, and power of the station are very important, they won’t mean much without a good base.
The main things to consider for the base are material and weight. You don’t want anything too heavy as it will be awkward to move around.
But you also need something that won’t move around as you do.
As the cord of the iron will be attached to the base, the base will need to be heavy enough to stay still.
For the material, you need something durable. This is for longevity but also heat defense. The base should be made from a thick and durable material.
If, for example, the base is made from a thin plastic (as some are), then you run the risk of it melting, especially if you use very high heat. This is, of course, not ideal.
So make sure to check the material, weight, and overall size of the base as well as the additional features.
The material of the base is as essential as the soldering iron itself.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do You Need Flux to Solder?
One thing that hasn’t been mentioned throughout this article is flux.
Some of the soldering stations on this list come with several different accessories and additional materials, but none come with flux.
This is because it isn’t really necessary. Flux is a chemical agent that can aid soldering as it reduces oxidation and allows the solder to flow better.
This is useful, and it isn’t an expensive product.
So if you find you struggle when soldering, then it might be a worthwhile investment. Otherwise, it isn’t really necessary.
How Do I Know If My Soldering Iron Is Hot Enough?
This depends on the type of soldering station you’re using.
If you have a station that has an accurate temperature gauge (whether digital or analog), then the iron will be hot enough when it has reached 660°F.
If your soldering station doesn’t tell you the exact temperature, then the iron is hot enough when the solder melts as soon as it is touched.
This means that the iron is only hot enough if the solder melts immediately.
If it doesn’t, then the iron isn’t hot enough and you need to turn the temperature up.
Last update on 2023-02-07 at 08:18 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API