Deciding Between Hot-Air Rework & Desoldering Stations

When you’re deciding on which rework station to get, you’ll need to consider the differences between a hot-air rework station and a desoldering station. Although the difference between the two types of rework stations isn’t terribly significant, you should know how each works before deciding which one best suits your needs and budget.

Hot-Air Rework

Hot-air rework stations are ideal for small jobs that you need to finish quickly. A hot air gun, which will melt the solder and enable you to remove the components, is great for removing parts from an old circuit board. While this process isn’t exactly surgical, it will save you a great deal of time as well as existing solder and parts that otherwise would have been discarded along with the circuit board. Another benefit of using a hot-air rework station is that it doubles as a soldering station, which is to say that you desolder, say, a resistor and then solder on a new resistor immediately, saving you time in the process.

You can resolder several components simultaneously — quickly remove a problematic electrical part from the circuit board and resolder the area in around an hour. In addition, hot-air stations are typically non-contact, enabling you to avoid damage to other parts of the circuit as you work.

One downside of using a hot-air rework station is that they are much more expensive than a desoldering station. Hot-air rework stations are also very large and difficult to move, so you’ll need to bring your work to the station itself, which can be problematic in certain circumstances.

Desoldering Stations

Desoldering stations come with a variety of features; some include vacuum pumps that enable you to precisely desolder wherever you want. Because the parts are smaller, a desoldering station is also much easier to clean than a hot-air rework station. Desoldering stations pack a lot of power, yet have fewer buttons and nozzles than hot-air rework stations. On the downside, there is a greater risk of voltage leak damage when using a desoldering station.

The most significant benefit to choosing a desoldering station is probably its cost: you can save upwards of two hundred dollars by opting for a desoldering station rather than a hot-rework station. Furthermore, desoldering stations are easier to move than their hot-air counterparts. Although you can certainly get by with just a soldering iron and desoldering station — as many people have for years — a hot-air rework station may be better for you if you’re actually going to use all of its additional features.


George Leger has a Masters in Electrical Engineering from Stanford University, worked in private industry pioneering surface-mount technology and in government research labs for twenty years, published several papers on surface-mount technology, co-authored papers published in national symposiums on accelerator technology, was past president of SMTA and an adjunct professor at the community college level, holds a patent, and is a certified microchip design partner, serving as a consultant to many companies developing electronic circuits.

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