If you haven’t done much soldering in the past you may be wondering, Should I get a soldering gun or a soldering iron? Conveniently operated with a trigger using one hand, a soldering gun is shaped like a pistol and is used for joining metal surfaces.
A soldering iron, which is also used for joining two pieces of metal, is wand-shaped and utilizes a heated metal tip. While both tools are used for soldering, each has its advantages and disadvantages.
Soldering guns typically have more power than soldering irons (from one hundred to two hundred forty watts). A soldering gun provides you with greater flexibility while working as well. Capable of working in confined spaces, which is far more difficult with an iron, a soldering gun has a tip shaped like a loop of copper wire. Soldering guns are useful for both heavy electrical connections as well as metal work requiring a lighter touch.
Because guns have a special step-down transformer that converts power from the mains to a low voltage with a high amperage current, a soldering gun heats up considerably faster than an iron: the tip is warm enough to solder seconds after plugging in your soldering gun. A soldering gun is more energy efficient as a result of its ability to quickly heat and cool. In addition, soldering guns provide better visibility since, when you depress the gun’s trigger, a small light lights up the area on which you are working.
One disadvantage of using a soldering gun is that the copper wire loop that forms the gun’s tip gradually dissolves and must be replaced frequently, increasing the time it takes to finish a soldering project. Another limitation of soldering guns is that they are heavier than irons, potentially causing strain and limiting your ability to solder cleanly. Furthermore, due to their size, soldering guns can lead to clumsiness when working on smaller jobs. Because soldering guns are best used for intermittent work due to the way the transformer works, they can disrupt your flow while soldering.
Soldering irons are much lighter than guns, making them easier to work with — especially over long periods. A soldering iron provides flexibility in that there are a wide variety of sizes to choose from; small irons are best for light electronics projects while larger irons are better for heavy-duty jobs.
The majority of soldering irons have many different soldering tips that allow you to use them for myriad types of projects, and this variety of tips allows you to be more efficient with an iron. Unlike a gun, a soldering iron doesn’t need to be turned off on on repeatedly because it stays hot longer, which contributes to a smoother workflow.
Soldering irons, however, are less effective when working on heavier jobs; irons have less voltage than soldering guns, making them more appropriate for light, low-power jobs. Since soldering irons heat comparatively slowly and, consequently, use more energy, they are less energy efficient than soldering guns.