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X-Tronic Model 3020-XTS LED Display Soldering Iron Station
The best soldering iron
The reliable X-Tronic heats up fast and offers a safe and sturdy stand, an ergonomic grip, and a digital temperature display—features that you usually have to pay twice as much to get.
*At the time of publishing, the price was $60.
The X-Tronic 3020-XTS surprised us with its reliability. Some of its features are usually only found in models that cost twice as much. Its handle is comfortable to hold and not hot to the touch, and the iron comes with a heavy, sturdy stand and useful accessories. It is also one of the few irons we tested with a digital display—a feature that makes tracking and changing the temperature especially easy. While putting together our electronics-project kit, we occasionally had to wait for the X-Tronic soldering station to rebound to its set temperature. You could spend around $40 more for an iron with a faster temperature rebound, but we barely noticed the difference. The iron comes with a sturdy stand to hold the hot iron during use, a spool for the solder, and both a sponge and a brass sponge for cleaning the iron’s tip.
If you solder frequently
Its quick heat-up time and temperature recovery, solid build, and polished aesthetic make this a go-to soldering iron for hobbyists who plan to solder often.
The Hakko FX888D may be worth the upgrade it you plan to solder frequently. It heats up slightly faster than the X-Tronic, so you can solder with fewer pauses. It comes with a digital display plus a thin pen that’s easy to hold and able to stay cool to the touch. The FX888D feels especially sturdy, with a heavy stand and station that feel like they will last longer than the competition. Plus, the fact that the stand and station are two separate pieces lets you be more flexible with how you set up your work zone.
Vastar Full Set 60W 110V Soldering Iron Kit
Lots of accessories at a low price
It gets the job done and comes with extra tips and solder, but it lacks a stable soldering station.
*At the time of publishing, the price was $13.
If you want to spend less, we recommend the Vastar Full Set 60W 110V Soldering Iron Kit. This adjustable model is the cheapest iron we tested, but it performs well and comes with more accessories than any other, including solder and multiple tip sizes. But the included stand isn’t sturdy—we didn’t feel safe setting a hot iron on it—and this model’s grip got the warmest among the irons we tested. The temperatures marked on the Vastar’s adjustment wheel proved to be totally inaccurate as well. The Vastar produced the highest maximum temperature of all the irons we tried.
Delcast SL-WST Soldering Station Caddy
If you need a stand
The Delcast SL-WST has more bells and whistles than a beginner needs, but it’s heavy enough to be stable on a work surface.
If you already have a soldering iron pencil and need a sturdy stand for it, we recommend the Delcast SL-WST Soldering Station Caddy. It was heavier (and therefore more stable) than the other stand we tested, the popular Elenco WeMake Soldering Iron Stand. Unlike the 1.6-ounce Elenco and most other soldering iron stands, which have a lightweight design and move around too easily—and thus don’t feel safe when you’re working with a hot iron—the 2-pound Delcast stays put. It has a place for an iron, a sponge, and a spool of solder—all the necessities. It also has a handle that makes it easy to pick up and carry. However, Delcast has issues keeping the stand in stock, so we’re considering alternatives for a future update.
Source: The NY Times
Keyword: The Best Soldering Irons