|Name||Heat up time||Power|
|iKKEGOL Portable USB Soldering Pen||< 15 Sec||8W|
|TurnRaise Portable USB Soldering Iron||< 15 Sec||8W|
|Energlite USB Soldering Iron||< 15 Sec||5W|
|Lokeke USB Soldering Iron Pen||< 15 Sec||8W|
|Mega-Power MSD-086 USB Soldering Iron||< 15 Sec||5W|
For small jobs, fixing electrical equipment and other hobby applications, a soldering iron is a must. These handy devices can put your dolls house lights back into action, for example, or perhaps you collect old radio equipment, and restore it wo working use. For hobbyists and professionals alike, a soldering iron is an essential part of the kit, and while simple items, they can be very clever. Anyone can learn to use a soldering iron – if they are younger, it’s important that they are supervised as these items do get very hot – and it is a handy skill to have.
While soldering irons are generally mains electricity powered, the arrival of the USB port has brought greater versatility, just as it has to many other items, household and otherwise. You most likely charge your mobile phone using a USB connection –via your computer – for example, and they can be used for many other applications. The beauty of USB soldering irons is that they, too, use a USB port for power, making them very portable indeed. There are many different models available, from a variety of manufacturers, and we took a look at the 10 best on the market now. Before we go into detail, let’s talk about what they do, and how they do it.
Table of Contents
- 1 How It Works
- 2 Our Top 10 Best USB Soldering Irons 2017
- 2.1 1: iKKEGOL Portable USB Soldering Pen
- 2.2 2: TurnRaise Portable USB Soldering Iron
- 2.3 3: Energlite USB Soldering Iron
- 2.4 4: Lokeke USB Soldering Iron Pen
- 2.5 5: Mega-Power MSD-086 USB Soldering Iron
- 2.6 6: VOSO USB Soldering Iron Pen
- 2.7 7: GHB 60Watt Soldering Iron Kit
- 2.8 8: A-SZCXTOP USB Soldering Iron
- 2.9 9: Malloom Mini Portable USB Soldering Iron
- 2.10 10: Mega-Power MSD-086 USB Soldering Iron
- 3 Important Features to Consider
- 4 Let’s Wrap It Up!
How It Works
A soldering iron works by heating the tip of a metal rod, often referred to as a pen. This in turn is used to heat and melt the solder; solder is an alloy of various soft metals, designed to melt at a certain heat. It is used to bind together two further metal items – perhaps connecting wires – and it does so as it melts at a lower temperature than the pieces it is connecting, and hardens very quickly. It can be tricky for the beginner to get it right, but once the technique is mastered, soldering can be used to connect electrical wiring, plumbing pipes and more, and is widely used throughout industry.
For the home user, it is mostly used for various hobbies, as well as for small jobs around the home. Model railway enthusiasts, kit builders, and many more people use soldering as part of their hobby, while DIY enthusiasts may use a soldering iron for plenty of jobs around the home. It is strongly recommended, however, that you use a professional for important electrical jobs, as there can be dangers present. Why USB soldering irons? These are the latest version of the tried and tested device, and are very versatile indeed, so here’s our list of the top 10 best USB soldering irons available right now.
Our Top 10 Best USB Soldering Irons 2017
We begin our list with a model that is absolutely typical of the breed, and which sets the standard to begin with. It’s from iKKEGOL – not a household name but a brand with an impressive range of products – and it’s a very neat design. In fact, the actual design of a soldering iron is limited, thanks to its very nature, so you’ll find most of these look very similar. It has a USB power connector, but is only 5volts so not suitable for use with a mains adapater, and it offers 8watts of power, which is more than adequate for a device such as this to function efficiently.
This soldering iron has a number of safety features: there is a LED light to indicate when it is heated – it heats very quickly taking just 15 seconds to operating temperature – and it will shut down automatically when left unused for 25 seconds. It has instant reheat so you don’t have to wait, and it will cool to be safe to touch in just 30 seconds. It comes with a protective cap, and the heating tip can be replaced (they do wear out after a while) easily for a longer life. Are there any downsides? Not that we can see, and at less than a tenner, this is a handy item to have around the house for occasional use.
Part of the appeal of a USB soldering iron lies in the fact you don’t have a bulky 13amp plug to deal with, so it can be packed away neatly in a very small space. If you are operating it at home, you don’t even need an adapter as you can plug it into your laptop. This model, from TurnRaise, is very similar to the one above – in fact, it is practically identical in just about every way. It comes with a protective cap for a long life, and is surprisingly light at just 20g.
As with the above, it will shut down when the tip is not touched to another item in 25 seconds, and will also reheat immediately. It heats quickly – 15 seconds – for energy conservation, and cools down in half a minute for safety. It also has a LED indicator, and the cord is sufficiently long to allow it to be used in those awkward places. As with all these items, use by youngsters should be supervised, and it also comes with a stand for extra safety. At around ten pounds it is good value, so one for the shortlist.
Reading these descriptions, you probably get the impression we are getting bored with USB soldering irons! That’s not quite the case – we like a bit of soldering, it’s fun – but the fact remains they are very, very similar throughout. This one, from Energlite, is a nice design with a plastic handle that is easy to hold and use, and comes with a 150cm cable and a stand for safety purposes. It also features the 15 second heat-up function, so you can get to work very quickly after plugging it in to your USB port.
It features a quick cool-down time – just 30 seconds – and will shut off if not used for 25 seconds; simply touch the tip to another metal point and you have instant re-heat to operating temperature. The tip comes with a protective cap and can be replaced for longer life, and it also offer 8watts of power for effective use. All in all, it’s a nice little soldering pen – like the two above – and is good value at around a tenner.
The simple fact is that all these are similar because there is not much leeway in terms of design and function; a soldering iron has one primary use, and that’s it, and it needs to be small and light for added versatility. They are a pen shape simply for function, and all come with similar features. They are, however, rather cool items that do a great job, and we like this one as it comes with all the usual features, and at only £10 is similarly priced to the above.
You get the usual quick heat function – it’s ready for use in 15 seconds – and fast cooling feature, which is great for safety, as is the LED power-on indicator. It has the auto shut-off feature, too, so you can place on its stand (included in the package) and it will switch off after 25 seconds, and power back to full heat when you touch the tip against metal. The tip is replaceable, and has a protective cap, and that’s about it! It’s going to be hard to choose one of these to recommend above the rest!
Pros: Neat design, safety features, replaceable tip
Cons: Once again, none in sight!
This one makes many claims that appear to put it ahead of the above four in terms of capability, but we will come back to that in a moment. It is an impressive device, and does the job beautifully, and it develops a massive 480degrees of heat so is extremely powerful. It comes with a replaceable tip, as you would expect, and – an unusual touch this – also features a 9-volt adapter for those occasions when you don’t have a USB port to hand (the adapter is battery powered).
It heats to full operating temperature in 20 seconds, cools down very quickly, and has an LED light to tell you when it is heating. It also shuts down when not in use, so you get the safety element too, and is – all in all – an impressive and usable portable USB soldering iron. So, why are we having reservations? Well, the manufacturer makes claims that it is ‘the first of its kind’; it’s not, there are others – see above – that do the same job, just as well. Also, while the four above are all less than a tenner, this one is a shade more than £30, and we can’t really see why.
This is another typical design, apart from the fact it is very small. It’s from the VOSO brand – not one we’ve heard of but the quality is all there – and it is the usual slim pen design, with a very thin tip for getting into awkward spaces. As such, its perfect for hobbyists. The 8watts of power is more than adequate, and it heats to 480c in 20 seconds, so you get plenty of heat and are ready to go very quickly. It also shuts down after 25 seconds, and restarts instantly when the tip is touched.
The tip comes with a protective cap and is replaceable, so you get the guarantee of longer life, and it is a nicely designed model in terms of being easy to handle. A red LED light signifies when it’s heated, a 150cm cable is more than enough, and it comes with a handy stand as well as a small coil of solder to get you started. Perhaps the best thing about this one is the price: it can be yours for £6.99, which is very good value indeed.
Before we go on, this one is not a USB soldering iron; it is included here to give you an idea of what you get when you choose a mains powered model. This is a nice design – a typical traditional soldering iron – that is easy to use, but is considerably larger than your average USB version. It has adjustable heat for added versatility, and comes also with a set of five different sized tips. This is useful for when you are tackling larger jobs, and is a nice touch.
It is packaged in a handy carry case, complete with all accessories including the stand, the tips, the cable, and a sponge for wiping the tips clean – an essential operation if you wish to prolong the life of your tips. It is, we must say, a decent kit if you want a mains-powered soldering iron, but why would you when you can have the added versatility of a USB model? Perhaps the set of extra tips would sway some, and we should say that at £15.99 it’s good value.
This is another one that is typical of the USB soldering iron breed, and it comes with the usual features. The pack includes the pen itself, the cable – at 150cm it’s easily long enough – and a protective cap, plus a small coil of solder to get you going. It has an LED indicator light to tell you when not to touch the tip – remember, kids should be supervised if allowed to use this device – and it heats up in a few seconds so you can get to work very quickly. It cools completely in 30 seconds, and will shut down after 15 seconds of non-use.
This is a small, light and portable iron that is easy to use, and it has a nice grip handle so you have full control over it all the time. When in sleep mode, all you need to do is touch the tip against the metal bond and it will come back to life. There’s not really a lot more to say about this one that hasn’t already been said – it’s a good model, with all the necessary features – except that it costs less that £8, so is worth another look.
The Malloom brand is well-known for a range of cheap home and DIY items, and this portable USB soldering iron is typical of the brand. It is small and light, comes with a nice t grip handle, and does the job it is designed for. It heats to a maximum of 480c – more than enough for all your soldering needs – and has a LED light to remind you that it is heating. It will heat to temperature in around 15 seconds and cool down in 30 seconds, so you get all the efficiency of its competitors.
This one features auto shut-off when not used for 25 seconds, and will come back to life when the tip is touched to metal. It comes with a protective cap for the tip, so you get longer life. The tip can also be replaced, so you have added longevity, too. What’s not to like? Well, the plastic construction doesn’t feel quite as durable as some of the others, but when you consider you can but this for under £4 – and that is including free delivery in the UK – it has to be considered a bargain, and we simply don’t know how they do it!
Think this one sounds familiar? That’s because we already reviewed it, at number 5! But, we include it here as a precautionary tale about searching for items to buy online; the previous incarnation was priced at more than £30, while this one – and it is exactly the same deal – is less than £20! Let that be a warning to you, and here’s a recap of the main features:
It is an impressive device and it develops a massive 480degrees of heat so is extremely powerful. It comes with a replaceable tip, as you would expect, and – an unusual touch this – also features a 9-volt adapter for those occasions when you don’t have a USB port to hand (the adapter is battery powered).
It heats to full operating temperature in 20 seconds, cools down very quickly, and has an LED light to tell you when it is heating. It also shuts down when not in use, so you get the safety element too.
So, that’s 10 soldering irons and, as you will have seen, they are surprisingly similar with a couple of exceptions. Before we sum up, let’s have a look at the features to consider.
Important Features to Consider
A USB soldering iron serves one simple purpose – applying solder to metal to tie two things together. As we have said, most of these are very similar, and that’s down the function of the device. Let’s recap some of the features you need to look for in a USB soldering iron.
- Portability – the whole purpose of a USB soldering iron is that it is small and portable, and we can safely say that each one we have reviewed above fits that requirement.
- Changeable Tip – the tip will wear over time – especially if used regularly – so it is important that you choose a model with a tip that can be replaced if you want to get the most out of your soldering iron.
- Safety Features – you need to take care when using a soldering iron as they do get very hot, so youngsters need to be supervised at all times if allowed to use the iron, so you need one that shuts down when not in use, cools very quickly, and has a light indicator for when it is heating.
- Price – as always, price is a consideration, but with a couple of exceptions, these are all very much in the same price range.
So, there you have it, all you need to know about USB soldering irons, and all that remains is to wrap things up.
Let’s Wrap It Up!
We’ve given you details of ten USB powered soldering irons, and while most are very much of the same ilk, there are a couple that stand out, for various reasons. We will dismiss the mains-powered example, as it is here only for comparison purposes. That leaves nine to choose from – well, in fact, eight, as two are the same item, but from different suppliers and at widely different prices.
And this is where we have a dilemma: we believe the Mega-Power model, at number 10, to be the best of the bunch. It may be a little more expensive than most at £18, but it is a quality item, and the only one that comes with the option of a battery adapter for added versatility. However, there is a fly in the ointment, and it’s the remarkably cheap model from Malloom. While it is cheaply made, it does the job, and at under £4 cannot be overlooked.
It’s a difficult choice because these are so similar – in both price and capability – so you are getting the same thing whichever you choose. It’s up to you, and all we can suggest is that you choose the one you like the look of, and get soldering right away!