Soldering Station Comparison: Weller vs Circuit Specialists vs Atten

We recently decided to put our Circuit Specialists soldering stations to the test and to compare them to some of the better known brands.  In this experiment we chose the Weller WE1010NA MSRP $129 to see which station provided the best heat transfer for the price. In order to do this I performed an experiment using a 5mL beaker and evaporated 1mL of water using each soldering station.  The experiment allowed me to compare the heat transfer rate of each of the stations I measured from Circuit Specialists to the Weller station. The goal was to allow us to quantify which stations performed the best among the ones we sell.  The data would also allow us to determine the rate of heat transfer per dollar that each station offered.  Since one station, the CSI8786D, includes both a hot air gun and soldering iron we applied a correction factor to the account for the 2 in 1 nature of that station.

The experiment was performed by using a 5mL beaker, an FG-100 soldering thermometer, a CSI6500 digital thermometer, an infrared thermometer, and my cell phone for stopwatch. The FG-100 was used before each tip was submerged to ensure all the tips were within close temperature proximity before being submerged. Each station was set to 300-310 (avg 304) degrees Celsius before each measurement. I then measured the temperature of the room walls with the infrared thermometer to test the environmental temperature. The CSI6500 was used to measure the temperature of the water. The stopwatch was started at the same time as I submerged the tip into the beaker. The results are below.

Model Room Temp Water Temp Evap Time (MM:SS) J/s Price J/s per dollar
ST-60 23.3° C 31° C 0:59 293.73 $75 3.916
ST-100 23.4° C 32° C 0:50 341.58 $135 2.530
CSI8786D 23.2° C 31° C 2:51 101.35 $75 2.252
CSI-STATION 75D 23.5° C 30° C 1:20 219.76 $49.94 4.400
CSI-PREMIER-75W 23.5° C 28° C 0:52 347.76 $59.95 5.800
CSI4550 23.3° C 31° C 6:00 48.14 $29.95 1.607
BK2000 23.2° C 28° C 2:56 102.75 $56.19 1.829
CSI-2900 23.3° C 33° C 2:11 128.46 $75 1.71
BK3000lf 23.6° C 31° C 2:31 114.77 $100 1.148
9378 23.6° C 33° C 1:58 142.61 $
WE1010NA 23.4° C 29° C 1:51 160.65 $129 1.25

The data collected was extremely surprising to me. I had no idea that the Circuit Specialists CSI-STATION-75D and CSI-PREMIER-75W stations would perform so well. At their respective price point, they really are a good buy if you’re looking for best heat transfer for the price.  I’m still a fan favorite of the Atten stations and use one on my bench.  Since the Atten ST-60 and ST-100 soldering stations also performed well I’m glad to see that the data supported my preference for those stations and it isn’t just subjective. Some relevant specs in the metric used here are excluded and will be compared in future posts.  The J/s per dollar dimension does a pretty good job of capturing the fundamental value of each soldering station though. It also should be a good indicator of its ability to melt solder effectively for the price. The other dimensions that have yet to be tested, such as quality of circuit design, warranty, ruggedness, cost of heater replacements, and lastly cost of extra tips should quantify which stations really are the best for the money.  However, even with the data given, it’s not hard to see which stations are better for each dollar spent when it comes to raw thermal transfer. My next set of data collection will be on the quality of the circuit design, and some way to test the life cycle of each station, and heater. I have yet to formulate a test, but stay tuned.

If you’d like to see a few of the experiments, and watch how I test the evaporation, the videos are below in a playlist. Thanks

Watch 3 of the experimental Tests

One thought on “Soldering Station Comparison: Weller vs Circuit Specialists vs Atten

  • December 2, 2018 at 8:18 am
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    I’ve used Ungar, Weller and Hakko over the decades.
    I recently purchased the CS18786D. I was VERY surprised how well this unit functioned.
    Both the hot-air and iron work better than I thought.
    The Iron can accept the Hakko T-18 tips – a big plus but it solders I think better than my new Hakko FX-888D. I keep the Iron at 320 deg C. using Kester 63/37 rosin core solder.
    The “feel” of the Iron is just as good as the Hakko in both balance and cord suppleness.

    The hot-air unit I set at 300 deg. C and the air flow at mid-scale 4.5 or 12 o’clock position.
    That setting if more than enough for both smd removal and for heat shrink tubing.

    The unit is compact and a pleasure to use.

    -TommyR

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