Soldering station recommendations

So my old Weller has been forcibly retired and I’m looking to buy a new station rather than spend the time/money repairing the old one.

The go-to amateur soldering station appears to be the Hakko FX-888(D) with the Weller WE-1010 being their counterpart.

Considering how long my first station lasted (23 years) I think I want to spend a little extra and get something more professional (under $500). I’m considering the following:

  • Quick 3202 (90W) or Quick 3205 (150W) which are both induction based, but I have not been able to find trustworthy reviews for either of them
  • Weller WT1013 (95W)

Do you work with soldering stations daily? Which one do you use? Which one do you recommend?

Thanks for reading!

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Pace ADS200 (nominal 120W) is very solid and has a nice handpiece design and relatively cheap tips for a design with integrated heater. It was my choice and I can recommend it. I’m not using it for production and am just a hobbyist myself, but I’ve used it regularly for the past few months and it’s a noticeable step up from the Hakko 936 (fundamentally the same as FX-888) I had before.

Hakko FX-951 is the comparable design from them, at around the same price point. I think the Pace design is a bit nicer, and the tips are substantially cheaper, but I haven’t used this.

Weller WT1013 seems to use ‘traditional’ separate tips and heater, I don’t think I’d consider such a design at this price point.

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I upgraded to a cheaper Hakko T12 clone via amazon a few years ago, and i love it. quick to heat, you replace the whole element, not just the end piece, so the element never wears out, and I could mod it to run off of 12v lipo if I were so inclined. there’s a good review on eeblog about it, and other irons:
https://www.eevblog.com/forum/reviews/(tip)-best-budgetcheap-soldering-stations-and-tools/

edit:
here’s the exact model I got, $80 new:
https://www.amazon.ca/Soldering-station-portable-Temperature-Controller/dp/B075PDNTMK

do you have a hot air station yet? if not, spend some of the leftover budget on one of those too.

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Weller > Hakko, I will fight you

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From my past journeys on the road, every Hakko I came across in a makerspace or classroom didnt work. May be poor maintenance or whatever, but never, not once, did a Hakko serve as an iron that worked for any of my travels and buildathon events.

It’s not about brands … I would take a Hakko FX-888(D) over a Weller WTCPT any day. It’s about marketing and price points.

The T12 is probably the best iron under $100 and it’s probably debatable if it’s the best under $200 as well. But the reality is that Hakko would not manufacture a product (the T12) that sells for a much lower price and with the same level of features and quality as a more expensive model (the '888). Companies don’t self-cannibalize.

I’m looking for the next level up from amateur. Something in the range of $200 to $500. Probably an entry level or mid-level professional tool. The Pace ADS200 is a great deal and has good reviews by reputable people. However, timing for the ADS200 is poor as it got hit with the Trump Tariffs in mid-December increasing in price by $50USD.

I agree that the Weller WT1013 is a poor investment considering it’s price and the fact that it uses conductivity to heat the tip.

I’m seriously considering the Quick 3205 for two reasons: It’s an inductive heating system which means the tips are cheap as they are passive metal components, yet it doesn’t rely on conductivity to transfer heat, and second, the company, Quick, has been in business for a long time manufacturing assembly line soldering systems. I’m still puzzled by the lack of serious reviews of their soldering stations hence why I’m not pulling the trigger yet.

So, I’m not willing, because of personal reasons, as small as it is, to pay the Trump tax. So I’m going to hold off on buying the ADS200 at this time. I’m also not willing to spend $300 on the Quick soldering iron with no reviews, regardless of the manufacturer reputation.

Since I need a soldering iron … I’m just going to buy a T12 as it’s the cheapest iron with a reasonably good reputation, and that should give me some time for the Trump tax to be reverted or the Quick 3205 to get more reviews.

Thanks all for your feedback!

Hey @DerrickA4mag know you have spent a fair amount of time with a lot of irons / soldering stations, so maybe you have a thought or two here. :slight_smile:

My last iron, before I switched to the T12, was the Hakko clone that Lee’s was selling at the time. came with a decent enough stand, and was a decent iron. But after using the T12 for a month, I gave away the old iron, keeping the stand, because i realized i’d never use it again. the one i linked to has a thin pliable Silicone(!) cable, and is so much nicer to use. the OLED screen and sleep timers are nice to have, but just the flexibility alone is amazing. plus, i have a portable butane iron which was what I’d use when working in/on my cars, because it was such a chore to extricate my station from it’s nest inside, just to do a short job in the driveway. But now, with the t12 clone, it packs in one hand, and runs off any IEC cable, I recently rewired a whole trailer, and did every solder joint in-situ on the driveway.

the Q3205 does look interesting, the induction heating seems like a great feature. Of course if it takes off, there’ll be a handle upgrade for the T12 clone more than likely. :slight_smile:

gl!

I’m absolutely loving my TS-100 iron from UY Chan. PID temp controller heats up to my operating temp (330C) in 6 seconds. Gets into tight spaces, and melts big lug joints with ease. Best all around iron i’ve ever used, though keep in mind I’ve only had it for 5 months. Still, element seems crazy tough for such a tiny iron, at least, from what I saw in the Marco Reps YouTube video (link below). Only wish it came with a better stand, so I modded one I already have. Runs on 12-24 volts so you can run it in the field or off grid. Just use a suitable model airplane lithium battery pack (not included). AC cord for the included adapter (24V 3A) is a bit too short, but can be easily changed, and not really an issue for me. Price is around $100 CDN on Amazon depending on tips and accessories.

https://www.amazon.ca/gp/product/B01MDTO6X7

As you say that you’re looking for next-level up, or professional - you cannot go wrong with JBC. At your price point you’re still quite a way below where JBC’s start, but you can now get JBC-compatible stations from China that are amazing. Just make sure to use genuine JBC cartridges (and they are NOT cheap!), as that’s where the magic is in their stations, and I have first-hand experience that the knock-off tips can be incredibly dangerous as there’s so much power being dumped into such a small element. Yes the genuine tips are expensive, but I have no problem supporting JBC for their technology even though I recommend getting a non-original station.

This is my current recommendation (I haven’t personally tried this one, but have used the previous single-iron model): Xsoldering pro T210 Lead free Soldering Station Rapid Heating 200W Power 2.5S Soldering Iron Universal jbc c210 and c245 Tip|Hand Tool Sets| - AliExpress

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Sold! :slight_smile: Wish I had waited a little longer but I already ordered a FX-951. But that T210 sure looks good. And yes, even some of the aliexpress sellers recommend to buy the original cartridges… lol

If their claim (4x longer tip lifetime) is true, then the price of the cartridges is not too bad.

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