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Best Soldering Stations: Take Your Wiring Skills to the Next Level

Let’s repair wiring issues together like pros.

With decades of combined experience covering the latest news, reviewing the greatest gear, and advising you on your next car purchase, The Drive is the leading authority on all things automotive.

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BYHank O'Hop/ LAST UPDATED ON June 16, 2022

A soldering station doesn't necessarily replace your soldering iron. It's simply the next step up as your soldering skills develop. It's the kind of tool that makes it easier to add a touch of professionalism to your workmanship thanks to useful features such as variable temperature control. It's a worthwhile investment for anyone tackling wiring repairs in the workshop and is a must-have for those who intend to take on higher-level electronic work. As you might expect, different soldering stations are available to serve the various levels of involvement. This guide will provide some insight on what you need to consider and which station best fits into your life as a gearhead.

Best Overall

Weller Digital Soldering Station

Summary
A well-built, aptly priced piece of equipment suitable for automotive wiring. It’s loaded with features and design elements that’ll serve you well on the workbench.
Pros
  • Great balance of price and quality
  • Easy-to-read digital display
  • Ample power for heavier automotive wiring
  • Great ergonomics 
  • Standby mode improves safety
Cons
  • Relatively big footprint 
  • Safety rest can see improvements
Best Value

Yihua Digital Soldering Station

Summary
Affordable does not need to mean limited. While this isn’t packed with gimmicks, it’s got everything it needs to get the job done.
Pros
  • Affordable 
  • Easy-to-read digital display 
  • Includes accessories and cleaner
  • Fast heating
Cons
  • Short lived
  • Quality control issues are common
  • Relatively large footprint
Honorable Mention

Hakko Digital Soldering Station

Summary
There’s simply no substitute when space is limited. Though this station has a small footprint, it’s built to perform well enough for DIYers and pros for many automotive wire repair jobs.
Pros
  • Compact design 
  • Preset mode makes setup simple 
  • Base holds sponge and brass tip cleaner 
  • Fast heating
Cons
  • Interface needs improvements
  • Small display
Best Soldering Stations: Take Your Wiring Skills to the Next Level

Summary List 

Best Overall Runner Up: Hakko Soldering Station

Why Trust Us

Our reviews are driven by a combination of hands-on testing, expert input, “wisdom of the crowd” assessments from actual buyers, and our own expertise. We always aim to offer genuine, accurate guides to help you find the best picks.

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Our Methodology

The soldering station that best serves a professional probably isn't best for the typical automotive enthusiast with a DIY attitude. It's worth doing the research to find which brands are worth trusting as well as what features are important. I made sure to consider the kind of work we're likely to perform in this segment and base my list of recommendations on it. 

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Specs

  • Manufacturer: Weller
  • Model number: WE1010NA
  • Wattage: 70 watts

Pros

  • Great balance of price and quality
  • Easy-to-read digital display
  • Ample power for heavier automotive wiring
  • Great ergonomics
  • Standby mode improves safety

Cons

  • Relatively big footprint
  • Safety rest can see improvements

Weller's digital soldering station’s quality, performance, and functions are perfect for most DIYers in this field. It's a 70-watt soldering station with an operating temperature range of 200 to 850 degrees Fahrenheit. A large digital reading makes setting the temperature easy, and the standby mode prevents burns and other accidents when setting the iron down. The ergonomic iron also deserves recognition because it is a step up from the clunky, fatiguing irons you find on many others. Despite everything this station gets right, it's also well within budget for many home mechanics. The one drawback is the footprint. Though it's not the largest soldering station, it does take up considerably more space than some other options. The safety rest can also see improvements. While it's functional, it leaves a lot to be desired when compared to similarly priced options.

Specs

  • Manufacturer: Yihua
  • Model number: 939D+
  • Wattage: 75 watts

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Easy-to-read digital display
  • Includes accessories and cleaner
  • Fast heating

Cons

  • Short lived
  • Quality control issues are common
  • Relatively large footprint

The Yihua is the best way to go if you need something functional on a budget. Performance-wise, it's a 75-watt soldering station that's working temperatures range from 392 to 896 degrees Fahrenheit. One of the characteristics customers praise is how quickly it heats up. While that's good, it also includes additional tips, solder, tweezers, a cleaning sponge, and some brass tip cleaner. As you would expect of anything in this price range, there are some problems. Quality control is an issue. A few too many reports of faulty units exist in the reviews, and the overall lifespan is relatively short. The station is also large.

Specs

  • Manufacturer: Hakko
  • Model number: ​​FX888D-29BY/P
  • Wattage: 70 watts

Pros

  • Compact design
  • Preset mode makes setup simple
  • Base holds sponge and brass tip cleaner
  • Fast heating

Cons

  • Interface needs improvements
  • Small display

This 70-watt soldering station from Hakko is the clear choice when space is tight. The compact package minimizes the amount of room it takes up on the work surface. Small does not mean incapable, though. This unit has a working temperature range of 120 to 899 degrees Fahrenheit and has an impressively fast heating cycle. The system is equipped to hold temperature presets for an even faster setup. The safety stand also makes use of the space it must take up by including room for a sponge and brass tip cleaner in the base. Unfortunately, the size comes at a cost. The interface works with only two buttons and is notoriously difficult to learn. Also, the small, angled display is awkward.

Specs

  • Manufacturer: Ryobi
  • Model number: P3100
  • Wattage: 45 watts

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Can use battery or be plugged in
  • Shares battery with extensive tool line
  • Effective use of size

Cons

  • Battery and extension cord sold separately
  • No digital display
  • Not suitable for some automotive wire

Ryobi has a cordless soldering station, and you need it in your life. It's not entirely cordless, however. While it can work with the same Ryobi One+ battery shared by more than 260 Ryobi tools, it can also be plugged into the wall like any other soldering station. It's a 45-watt station that's perfect for small wire joints. It’s not the most powerful, but it’ll cover the wires you’ll work with most of the time, and it makes good use of its large size by melding everything into a single unit. It also has the kind of price tag you've come to expect of Ryobi. You do need to buy the battery, charger, and extension cord separately. Those batteries will seriously hike up the price, making it a worthy expense only for those who run other Ryobi tools. Also, the lack of a digital temp display is a setback to be aware of.

Specs

  • Manufacturer: Hakko
  • Model number: FX951-66
  • Wattage: 65 watts

Pros

  • Small footprint
  • Base holds brass tip cleaner
  • Fast heating times
  • Useful features to improve safety

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Small display

Hakko’s 65-watt soldering station reduces the overall footprint, but this unit has a few more features than the last. It has a much easier-to-use interface than the previous model, incorporates a larger brass tip cleaner into the iron safety holder, and comes with a few accessories to keep you working efficiently and organized. What's particularly nice about this model is that it incorporates a few safety features, such as a lockout key card, low-temperature alarm, and automatic shutoff. This is an excellent addition to any garage but just misses out on being our top pick due to the price. It's much more expensive than many others. Also, the small display is an issue for many.

Our Verdict

The Weller Digital Soldering Station is a clear choice for the top pick. It's built well, it'll do everything you need it to in the garage, and it's fairly priced. However, the Yihua Digital Soldering Station is excellent for those on a tight budget. 

Consider Secondhand

When we start shopping for tools and products, we never overlook the secondhand market. In fact, it’s usually the first place I look. Whether you’re scrolling through Amazon’s Renewed section, eBay for car parts or tools, or flipping through the pages of Facebook Marketplace and Craigslist, you have hundreds of thousands of used tools, parts, and gear ready to be shipped to your doorstep. Refurbished to like-new status, they’ll be willing to give you many more years of faithful service all while saving you money.  

Secondhand Tips

To make your secondhand search easier, here are two tips to finding the best deals and making sure your new-to-you stuff wasn’t destroyed by the previous owner. 

  • Buy a high-end unit if you're going to buy used. They often list for similar prices as cheap new units but will deliver better performance and longevity. 
  • If you buy a used unit, be sure to get a new set of tips. A new tip can revitalize an old soldering iron. 

Things to Consider Before Buying a Soldering Station 

Key Features 

Wattage Rating 

Wattage is a key number to pay attention to when selecting any soldering tools. It relates to how hot the soldering iron can get and how fast it heats up. The higher the number, the hotter it will get and the faster it will heat up. Most soldering stations have ratings of about 15-75 watts, and bigger isn't always better. Lower wattage ratings are necessary for smaller, more delicate projects. For automotive wiring, however, 50 watts is usually good. 

Heating Function

Heating type and the ability to control heat are essential functions to keep an eye on. Soldering irons use different heating methods to work. In the case of automotive work, a standard contact-based soldering station will work just fine. Another option to consider is a lead-free soldering station, which is only different in that it runs hotter to use lead-free solder. Infrared and hot air stations are two other options you'll hear about, but they're generally targeting high-detail electronics work and can get really expensive. 

Replaceable Tips 

Soldering stations often come with a mix of interchangeable tips. If the one you're considering doesn't, it's important to find out if they are at least available. Interchangeable tips make it possible for you to use your soldering iron for multiple scenarios effectively. The basic chisel tip is what you'll use the most, but smaller conical tips and hot knife attachments can make a major difference in certain situations. Soldering tips do wear down with time and eventually require replacing. So even if you only intend the supplied tip type, it's essential that you have the ability to replace it later on. 

Pricing 

Soldering stations can cost less than $100 to more than $1,000. For DIY automotive wiring repairs, you want something that's not bound to fail after just a few jobs. Expect to pay about $100 to $200 to achieve that. Spending more usually means you'll get more features and functions. If you find that a soldering station on the low-end of the price scale is loaded with features, you can almost guarantee it's lacking in quality. 

FAQs 

You’ve got questions. The Drive has answers.

Q: How many watts should my soldering iron be?

A: Wattage should be based on the type of work you're doing. Around 50-75 watts is what you'd want for automotive wiring projects. Anything on either side of that range can cause difficulty working or damage to the work piece.

Q: Can I solder without flux?

A: Flux is used to protect solder from oxide layers and helps to create a strong, long-lasting joint. You do not want to solder without it. However, flux-core solder is an option if you want to simplify the process.

Q: What’s the difference between a soldering iron and a soldering station?

A: A soldering station offers temperature control while most soldering irons do not.  A soldering iron is also independent of a base, making it ideal for use in tight spaces you might encounter while performing repairs to wires that are still attached to a vehicle.

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