Butane Vs. Electric Soldering Iron: Which Should You Choose?

A soldering iron is one of the most essential tools that you can have. Two of the most popular types of irons are butane and electric, but which one is best for you?

Butane and electric irons essentially perform the same task but in different ways. Since they use different heat sources, they are better suited for different tasks. While butane may be more user friendly, more and more users are choosing electric irons for convenience.

Depending on what your project may be, one soldering iron may be better than the other. Let’s talk about both butane and electric soldering irons to help you decide which is best for you. 

What Soldering Iron is Right for You?

For many jobs and projects, a soldering iron may be the most essential tool that you have. Rather you are on a job site or in your garage; there will come a time in specific projects that you will need one. Butane and electric are both popular soldering iron types due to their simplicity and how effective they are. 

Butane soldering irons are mostly used on the job site. You do not need an electrical outlet in order to use it, and butane irons tend to hold their temperature quite well. These irons also tend to be on the smaller size and are quite portable. For those working in more industrial settings, butane soldering irons are often preferred.

On the other hand, electric soldering irons are just as popular. 

What You Need to Know About Butane Soldering Irons

When you think of butane soldering irons, you typically are thinking of a lighter. Butane soldering irons are very popular as they are easy to use, cost-effective, and portable. Let’s talk about why a butane soldering iron may or may not be right for you. 

Why a Butane Soldering Iron is Right for You

  • Accessible and Easy to Find: One of the leading reasons people choose a butane soldering iron is that they are easy to find, and they can be used almost anywhere. Butane is also relatively easy to find. 
  • Portable: Butane soldering irons use no cords, and there is no need for electrical outlets for them to operate. Their portability makes them a top choice for remote job sites where electricity or other outlets may be hard to find.
  • Efficient and Affordable: Butane soldering irons are a quick-start tool that has benefits over other types. They are often affordable to start with, come in a range of different sizes and types, and butane is decently affordable as well.
  • Great for Several Jobs: Depending on what you are getting a butane soldering iron for, there is an iron out there that is in your price range and will do what you need it to do. Make sure you are aware of what specific projects need when you go shopping for your iron.

What are the Downsides to a Butane Soldering Iron?

Even though there are many benefits to using a butane soldering iron, everything has negative attributes as well. Many of the benefits and negatives of using a butane soldering iron are dependent on the person using them and the job they are using it for. Here are some negative aspects of using butane soldering irons. 

  • Additional Costs: For many users, the idea of having to purchase butane to use in their soldering iron may be a huge negative. Not only do they have to make extra trips to find it, but they also have to absorb a cost that is not necessary if you used another kind of iron.
  • Temperature Control Problems: One of the most significant issues with butane irons is the lack of temperature control. Although your iron may heat up quickly and be able to stay at a temperature longer, adjusting your iron may lead to issues in heating as well as performance.
  • Butane is Not Sustainable: Although this may be a very niche negative of using a butane soldering iron, it is worth noting that there is no renewable source for butane. If you are trying to take a more sustainable approach, this is not the right choice. 

What are the Best Butane Soldering Irons?

Now that you know the advantages and disadvantages of using butane soldering irons, it is time to explain some of the leading models on the market today. Here are a few recommended butane soldering irons. 

Master Appliance Butane Soldering Iron

With a maximum temperature of 932 degrees Fahrenheit, the Master Appliance Butane Soldering Iron is one of the best on the market. It also includes a limited warranty that is good for up to one year. This iron also can be ready to use in as little as thirty seconds. 

Another benefit of this iron is that it has a fuel window so that you can keep track of how much butane you have left and how much fuel you are using on specific projects. This iron’s average run time is up to two hours and only uses around an ounce of fluid. There is also a steel case to help you carry and protect your tool. 

Dremel Butane Soldering Iron

Dremel is a trusted brand name that many people prefer to use. It has an impressive maximum temperature of over 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit, making it ideal for those in more industrial settings or with expansive or large projects. It also features a two-year warranty that protects the Dremel Butane Soldering Iron. 

This tool stands out because it comes with an impressive number of accessories to help you perform many different actions with one tool. The Dremel iron also comes with a carrying case and has long-lasting performance with average use.

Weller P2C Butane Soldering Iron

If budget is your primary concern, then the Weller P2C Butane Soldering Iron is a great choice. Not only is it small and powerful, but it also has many protective features that you may expect from the Weller brand. This is an excellent tool for beginners since it is relatively easy to use.

For those looking to work in remote or rugged conditions, the flame and tip of this work at many different angles can be quickly refueled. In addition to being affordable, this can also be ready to use in as little as forty seconds. It even has safety features available.

Power Probe Butane Soldering Iron

For those looking to maximize their tools, the Power Probe Butane Soldering Iron is a perfect choice. Not only does it provide butane power, but it has some electrical power as well. This tool has a lasting power of up to forty minutes and can even act as a torch if needed. 

With different tips, you can perform different tools, and it is quite powerful considering how affordable and small it is. This tool also features a one-year limited warranty and multiple different tips to ensure that you are getting the tool’s best results. 

What You Need to Know About Electric Soldering Irons

With constant electricity advancements, it was only a matter of time before electric soldering irons made a name for themselves. The introduction of the electric soldering iron made it possible for people to begin soldering items at home recreationally. Here are a few things you need to know about electric soldering irons.

Why an Electric Soldering Iron is Right For You

  • Cost-Effective: For those who prefer electric soldering irons, they love the convenience of being able to plug-in and go. There are no additional items needed to make your iron work, and you do not have that extra cost. 
  • Easy to Use: Unlike a butane iron, electric irons are incredibly easy to use. They are as simple as plugging them in and waiting for it to become hot enough to operate. Most electric ones heat up rather quickly and use switches and lights to use your iron correctly.
  • Less of an Investment: Maybe you are one of those people who are looking to purchase your first soldering iron. Electric soldering irons are typically one of the cheaper options and can help you get started on different projects.

What are the Downsides to an Electric Soldering Iron?

  • Less Portable: As you can imagine, electric soldering irons are going to limit your portability. Not only are they often corded, but even battery-operated irons have issues in keeping your soldering iron hot and ready. 
  • Can be Cheaply Made: Since this style of iron is easier to make, there are a lot of affordable options on the market. If you plan on purchasing a cheaper iron, make sure you are reading reviews to see how the iron performs. This can help you avoid wasting your money.
  • Have Temperature Issues: Depending on the wattage you select, your electricity current may have an issue keeping your iron strong enough. Some electric irons have trouble staying at a specific temperature or taking a long time to heat up if you have electricity issues in your home or workplace.

What is the Best Electric Soldering Irons?

How do you even know where to start with so many different electric soldering irons on the market? Picking the perfect iron for you is a matter of knowing your budget, your tasks, and what features are important to you. Here are some of the best electric soldering irons on the market. 

Weller WE101NA Soldering Station

With a powerful 70-Wattage power output, the Weller WE1010NA is one of the best soldering kits on the market. Coming in at just under $100, it has many unique features to use and can even remember unique settings that you can save as presets. It is a small set that provides everything you need. 

Using a digital face, you can easily see what temperature your tool is running at, and you can also lock it at a specific temperature so that you don’t have to worry about it changing. The tool also has a decently long cord so that you can use it no matter where you are. 

X-Tronic Model #3020-XTS

One of the best on the market, the X-Tronic uses 75 watts, which results in it being ready to use in very little time. What sets this kit apart from other soldering irons is the Magic Temp Technology, which helps to stabilize the temperature setting on your device, as well as a sleep timer option. 

Many accessories come with this kit, which helps you work on different projects. It is one of the safer kits on the market since it has an auto cool-down function and is also ergonomically designed to fit your hand. You can enjoy a thirty-day warranty and a three-year repair warranty with this tool. 

Vastar Soldering Iron Kit

This is the most affordable option out of the recommended kits. Although it does not have the nice and sleek soldering station to house it, it still has many of the same features that you can expect but at a fraction of the price. Coming in at under twenty dollars, this kit features different tools and 60-watt temperature control. 

You also receive a desoldering pump and up to five different soldering tips. While you do not have the station, there is a small holder that you can secure on different surfaces. 

Hakko Digital Soldering Station

The Hakko Digital Soldering Station is a favorite among hobbyists and workers alike. It is known for having a great range of wattage, perfect for working on a magnitude of projects. There is also a digital display that can help you know the running temperature of your tool. 

Another benefit of this soldering iron is that it comes with additional tips, and you can even purchase replacements. There are many features to this station that you typically don’t find with affordable options at such a great price. It also has a cleaning station to help keep your tips in working order. 

What Factors to Consider When Choosing a Soldering Iron

No matter what type of iron you choose, a few determining factors can help you know which is right for you. Most of these factors are used in both butane and electric irons. Here are four factors that you need to know about. 

  • Type of Iron: As you may guess, the type of iron you choose should be directly related to what you are working on. For those who work on job sites, an electric soldering iron may not be practical.
  • Average Wattage: The wattage of your iron is the single most crucial factor to consider when shopping for a new iron. Irons can range anywhere from twenty to sixty watts, with the higher wattages being ideal.
  • Maximum Temperature: Not all irons have the same temperature. Some can go up to over 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit, while others may not even reach 800. You also want to ensure that the iron can maintain a temperature, and you should ideally have one with a temperature setting. 
  • Tip Size, Shape, and Purpose: The majority of the irons on the market now actually come with a wide variety of tips. These can help you do specific projects as well as perform different actions. 

Even though all of these are essential factors, what is most important is if a specific iron fits your lifestyle. There is no point in spending a fortune on iron if you are using it as part of a hobby. On the other hand, investing in a high-quality or multi-use iron for your profession may end up making your life easier.

An additional factor is to make sure that the iron you are looking at fits into your budget. With soldering irons becoming more and more popular, you can get them almost anywhere. Take the time to research what is best for you and to compare and contrast different soldering kits. 

Which Soldering Iron is Right for You?

If you are looking for a soldering iron that you can use and expect great results from, then a butane soldering iron is the way to go. Although they may cost a little more in terms of the tool kit and fuel, they will give you the best result. They are often more reliable, hold temperature better, and you can use them anywhere on different tasks.

As always, you need to consider when and how you are going to use your soldering iron. If you are only going to use it for a hobby, you can get away with a more affordable option. A butane iron is going to be able to take you further into your projects without having to replace your tool. 

Final Thoughts

With so many different soldering irons available, how do you know which one is right for you? Butane and electric irons are the two most popular options, and they each have their advantages and disadvantages. Here is a quick overview of butane and electric soldering irons.

Why Should You Choose an Electric Soldering Iron?

  • Easy to Use
  • Affordable
  • Portable 
  • Great for Different Jobs

Why Should You Choose an Electric Soldering Iron?

  • Cost-Effective
  • Easy to Use
  • Less of an Investment

Depending on the iron you choose, you need to make sure that the iron works best for your tasks. Consider the wattage, the temperature, budget, and even the average tip size of your tool. Ensure that you read reviews, watch videos, and use your warranty period to get your perfect soldering iron.

Sources:

https://butanesource.com/blog/108-need-a-new-soldering-iron-here-s-why-you-should-go-with-a-butane-powered-model
https://www.electronicshub.org/best-butane-soldering-iron/
https://www.instructables.com/How-to-Pick-the-Best-Soldering-Iron/
https://www.bobvila.com/articles/best-soldering-station/

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If you liked this article, have a look at my other articles I wrote about the topic!

Alexander Berk

A bit about myself: I am a certified international welding engineer (IWE) who worked in different welding projects for TIG, MIG, MAG, and Resistance Spot welding. Most recently as a Process Engineer for Laser and TIG welding processes. To address some of the questions I frequently got asked or was wondering myself during my job, I started this blog. It has become a bit of a pet project, as I want to learn more about the details about welding. I sincerely hope it will help you to improve your welding results as much as it did improve mine.

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