Why you should use high quality soldering tips

That a chain is only as strong as the weakest link should be common sense. Yet I see many people investing into extremely cheap soldering irons and then being surprised about their weak performance. Let’s compare tips of a budget soldering iron and a professional brand soldering iron.

A while back I read an article in QST [1] about preserving soldering iron tips. The author suggested to keep the tip of the iron in a tin bath to keep air from getting in touch with it. This is supposed to prevent corrosion.

My initial reaction was: “Are you freakin’ kidding me?!?” The Author actually tries to suggest a workaround for a simple problem, a low quality low-end solder tip. I got a different suggestion: Buy a high-end quality soldering tip!!!

Many people try to live by the rule “tight is right” when it comes to their budget. Unfortunately, few actually understand that investing a little bit more once is usually more economical that investing a little bit over and over and over again.

Here is a picture of a 5 soldering iron's tip. The soldering iron is a cheap-shot from a local convenience store. After just being used for 2 times (maybe 30 minutes altogether), the tip looks like a scene of devastation:  <div align="center">[caption id="attachment_1604" align="alignnone" width="300"]<a href="https://baltic-lab.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/Cheap_Soldering_Iron_Tip.png"><img src="https://baltic-lab.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/Cheap_Soldering_Iron_Tip-300x145.png" alt="Tip of a cheap soldering iron ( ~ 5) from a local convenience store after being used twice” title=”Tip of a cheap soldering iron ( ~ 5) from a local convenience store after being used twice" width="300" height="145" class="size-medium wp-image-1604" /></a> Tip of a cheap soldering iron ( ~ 5) from a local convenience store after being used twice[/caption]

Now here is a tip of an Ersa Multitip C15 iron that I have used intensively for 3 years:

Tip of a Ersa Multitip C15 soldering iron after two years of intensive use

Tip of a Ersa Multitip C15 soldering iron after three years of intensive use

Despite some discoloration, the tip is still in perfectly good shape.

The difference in quality is apparent. And trust me, the Multitip C15 has been tortured by me with weeks of operation without unplugging and acid flux core solder. The tip is still the same that was on it when I bought the soldering iron.

Of course the higher quality soldering iron and the tip are more expensive. The tip alone for the Multitip C15 costs about 10, so twice as much as the whole budget soldering iron. Yet the Multitip C15 with a price of about 40 is still considered entry-level and affordable.

When it comes to tools please don’t be tricked into the allegedly cheaper options. On the long run it will cost you so much more money, time and frustration to work with low-budget tools.

Links and Sources:

[1] QST: http://www.arrl.org/qst