View Full Version : Off Topic: Battery Powered Soldering Iron

10-11-2004, 08:23 PM
Hi fellow PressF1ers,

While randomly surfing the net I found this gadget:


What do you guys think?

Peter H
10-11-2004, 08:49 PM
Think I'll stick to my Butane one. No way will that live up to it's claims.

10-11-2004, 09:25 PM
Prior to the advent of butane ones, I used battery ones for many, many years. Used them from about 1980 onwards.

Wahl made a good one, in the same design as the mini hair clippers case using rechargeable cells. A set of 2 sub-C cells on charge 24*7*365 with intermittent daily use lasted 10 years.

So I disagree with Peter H's dismissive comments based on my own experience of both types. Each has their place.

The butane ones are much higher powered (too high for micro-soldering usually) but the battery ones are quite good for this very fine intermittent work.

Billy T
10-11-2004, 09:46 PM
From the FAQ

6. How hot does the tool get?
It depends on the size of the joint. For a small joint, the tip may reach 800F in less than one second and may exceed 1,000F. For large joints, the temperature will be lower, but in all cases the temperature necessary to solder will be reached within a few seconds. We do not recommend applying the tip to a small joint for longer than a few seconds, as the temperature may keep rising.

7. What is the power rating of this tool?
The power rating depends on size and thermal mass of soldering joint to be performed; A/C equivalent power rating is estimated at 25W to 50W. These figures are only provided as guidelines and may be different for your application.

8. What is the spark I see sometimes during soldering?

[b]The spark (arc) is caused electrical current passes from one half of the tip to the other. Although the tool's spark should not damage any electrical or electronic components, we recommend caution when soldering sensitive components. Also, ensure that the tool is not used in flammable or explosive environments, such such as near gas or gasoline fumes.

I'm keeping an open mind GF, but the temperatures claimed seem very high for a tool powered by four 1.5 volt AA alkalines.

The equivalent 25-50 watt rating is equivalent to 4 - 8 amps of current too, and the arc at the tip has me worried.

The real credibility test is this testimonial:

"This is the coolest tool (no pun intended) - I used it to melt a bunch of weight into my son's pinewood derby car, and then fix a toy. OK, I'm not soldering circuit boards, but this is basically just useful around the house. Impressive, I was actually expecting less for the price.

We are talking lead weight in the multiple-kg region for that application, and you would normally need a large butane torch for that.

I am not convinced at all.


Billy 8-{) :|

10-11-2004, 10:00 PM
I have used AA Alkaline irons but not as much as the NiCd based.

Certainly would not use them for "melting lead", and in my view thats not what they are designed for. Perhaps the "derby car" was a model.....

Bear in mind that an AA rechargeable tops out at ~2300 mAh, and Alkaline at ~2850 so the energy density of Alkaline certainly compares with rechargeables. 8 amps is a bit much for long (if at all) though from Alkaline.

Sounds like a direct current-through-tip resistive heating, whereas my ones used a normal quick heat tip element. Heat-up was 3 to 5 seconds.

The older 230v "soldering guns" that used AC with low voltage direct resitive tip heating could destroy some very sensitive electronic devices with the incredibly high magnetic field at the tip. 50 amps or more at point blank range.

Billy T
10-11-2004, 11:12 PM
It is the arcing at the tip that worries me GF, that is not resistive heating!

To get good heating out of the old 6 volt carbon-button irons (were they Scope?) you needed a 6 volt wet cell battery. Used them on marine RT installations, the tip would glow red hot if you kept the amps flowing too long. I just cant see AA alkaline cells packing the energy levels needed to match the claims.

I'll bet that was no model derby car either, the yanks take their soapbox derby racing very seriously and lead-loading is de rigeur.


Billy 8-{)

11-11-2004, 07:55 AM
I have read somewhere that they are not too good for "heavier" connections - including XLR audio plugs, as the mass density of the tip is not great enough to transfer the amount of heat required to melt the solder onto the metal connector.

Where abouts in NZ could I buy a battery powered soldering iron? DSE used to sell one, but that either sold out or was phased out pretty quickly. What sort of pricerange are they in?

11-11-2004, 08:24 AM
Not sure that there are any on the market now, as butane have displaced them.

Billy T
11-11-2004, 10:27 AM
> Where abouts in NZ could I buy a battery powered
> soldering iron? DSE used to sell one, but that either
> sold out or was phased out pretty quickly. What sort
> of pricerange are they in?

DSE still sell 12 volt soldering irons and have stocks in most shops. Search their site for Cat T2100. They cost around $30-$35 from memory.


Billy 8-{)

11-11-2004, 10:34 AM
Cheers Billy.

However, I'm looking for the type similar to the Coldheat one - ie. soldering iron with a battery built in. I have seen a Wahl Isotip (or something like that) battery powered soldering iron available overseas, and i'm curious to see if a similar type would be avail. here in NZ. Any ideas?

Graham L
11-11-2004, 11:28 AM
It's a bit like a cordless chainsaw. Not really up to a day's work.

I'm spoiled by decent temperature controlled irons ... and I sometimes use a Weller soldering station on an inverter. :-; I'm sometimes tempted to connect a couple of Gel lead-acid batteries in series, and use the iron direct.

The Scope irons pulled something like 30 amps. The transformers gave 3.3 V. So these days you could use a Pentium as a soldering iron. Briefly.

11-11-2004, 03:11 PM
Thanks Graham. Maybe i'll have to ditch my ideas of getting a battery powered soldering iron... I'll have to stick to the plug-into-the-wall ones I guess.

11-11-2004, 03:25 PM
What is wrong with the butane ones?

They work very well, a little severe on temperature unless used carefully.

11-11-2004, 03:30 PM
I have a bit of a fear of compressed gas, but anyway:

How good do you think the DSE Cat#: T1104 is?

What do you look for when choosing a good butane soldering iron?

I have absolutely no idea of what to look for, so any help would be much appreciated.

Billy T
11-11-2004, 03:55 PM
> What is wrong with the butane ones?

You can't take them on an aircraft GF, which is a real bummer if you are offering a nation-wide service. :(


Billy 8-{)

11-11-2004, 03:55 PM
I have had a T1370 for years, but the T1104 looks better.

They only hold a tiny amount of gas (lighter refill aerosol) but that lasts a long time.

Things I would look for are:

* Built in lighter (either flint or piezo)

* Venting of the heated air at the tip - one cheap unit I have vents to the side and can cause a local problem as the air is superheated.

* Catalytic converter in the tip - converts the gas to heat without a real naked flame once lit. The Portasol is better than by no-name cheap one in this regard.

11-11-2004, 04:03 PM
Thanks godfather.

When you say the T1104 'looks better' do you mean asthetically, or in terms of function?

11-11-2004, 04:04 PM
hmm... that rules out my idea of getting one cheaper from overseas then:D

Graham L
11-11-2004, 04:17 PM
Well, it would be sent empty. It's the gas that the regulations ban.

It all depends what you want to solder. One to solder a leak in the roof is a different soldering iron from the one you use to cable a minidin connector. Otherwise there's a lot of bad language, and that's useless as flux.

The traditional 25W irons aren't very useful these days for electronic work, because the tips were designed for use on valve sockets. They don't do 100 pin SMDs very well.

11-11-2004, 04:21 PM
> When you say the T1104 'looks better' do you mean
> asthetically, or in terms of function?

Asthetically. The other is quite "clunky" but the fact that mine still goes is testament to the durability.

Graham L has a valid point, what are you going to solder?

I would never use mine for fine work, I have a temperature controlled mains operated unit for that, with a very fine tip.

11-11-2004, 05:51 PM
Godfather/Graham L,

Basically I would be doing occasional repair jobs on XLR audio connectors, 6.5mm Jack plugs and similar sized plugs - possibly RCA, 5pin XLR etc. At the moment I have a cheap Hotrods soldering iron I was given about 5 years ago as a gift, and it sort of does the job, but the lack of portability (and the bad quality cord) is starting to be a nuisance.

Whenever I am doing lots of soldering I would prefer to use a mains-powered iron (I have tried the T2200 and have been very impressed), but I've had times where I need a portable one for the odd fix-up job here and there, in locations where it's inconvenient to carry a mains iron.

Billy T
11-11-2004, 07:17 PM
> Basically I would be doing occasional repair jobs on
> XLR audio connectors, 6.5mm Jack plugs and similar
> sized plugs - possibly RCA, 5pin XLR etc.

For that work I'd use a temperature controlled iron, the last thing you want around that type of work is uncontrolled heat at the tip, or side-stream hot air.

Buy a 230 volt 25 watt Weller or similar and carry a light-weight extension cord, you don't need the full soldering-station drama. They can even be run off a UPS if there is no power available, provided the UPS can start up in the absence of mains.


Billy 8-{)

11-11-2004, 07:44 PM
Cheers Billy.

I'm trying to get away from having to have anything which need to be plugged in to the wall. ie. about once a year I travel to various places in the country with a musical group, and I help out with their sound systems. Last year we had a cable mysteriously break which needed repair. Luckily we had packed a corded iron, but for future I would prefer if it is possible to get away from having to need mains power for the odd emergency fix-up jobs. Obviously where I have the chance I will use a proper iron in a proper workshop-type-setting.

I have found this on the Iroda-Pro website: http://www.pro-iroda.com.tw/en/products_01.php#
The solderpro 35 9W battery powered iron.
Would that be sufficient for my needs, assuming I could find one for sale somewhere?

11-11-2004, 08:44 PM
A battery iron would probably be very suitable for that work, but if you are importing one, be aware that spare tips will simply not be available here.

If you are not judicious in their use, you can very easily destroy a tip the first time you use one. And every time after that ...

There is no temperature control. They can get red hot in just a few seconds if you do not release the button on time.

Consider importing a few spare tips (but they may be quite expensive)

11-11-2004, 08:51 PM
Thanks godfather. As I'm travelling overseas later this year, I will see if I can find a decent but affordable one, and grab some spare tips too.

A big thank you to you, Graham and BillyT for all your expert advice.