Finding a good soldering iron is not an easy job. But once you find it, it will simplify the rest of your life – I mean, the rest of your soldering life 🙂
One of my preference brand is Goot from Taiyo Electric, Japan. Although there are several affordable and also durable brand, but I think I’m quite OK with this Goot soldering iron (but remember, this is not the only brand in the world and the important is the man behind the gun, I mean, the solder).
I’m quite happy with CS-30 series which I bought maybe more than 7 years ago. It’s very durable. The main reason for me to change is the screw to remove the tip has broken (so I can’t change the broken tip). The new replacement is CS-31 which carries similar spec (25W version).
Although frankly speaking, I dream to have the temperature controlled version like below. But the cheapest (analog control) around $200++ and the digital around $400++, I think I have to delay the dream for the next few years ahead.
Beside the Wattage, the most important thing during picking your new soldering iron is the tip temperature. As the cheap version doesn’t have a temperature control module, then you will stick to a fix temperature, normally mentioned on the spec sheet like below.
On below spec sheet, the CS-21 (20W) has 380 degrees Celsius, meanwhile the bigger brother (CS-31) has up to 420 degrees Celsius. Remember, the higher the temperature, the melting process will happen faster (needed especially for non-leaded solder which has higher melting temperature). But on the other side, you can easily ruin your PCB, your chips, or even the Teflon on your RCA connector – if this iron is applied excessively. So, use it carefully especially for the higher wattage iron. I don’t see any reason to go with 100W iron for daily DIY life, unless you want to fix your mom’s cooking set! 🙂
Some solder mentions the melting temperature. WBT leaded silver solder has around 180 degrees Celsius only. The lead-free one needs 40 degrees higher. Watch this spec, and use adequate temperature (add 50-100 degress is ok – if you have temperature controlled one).