What Wattage of Soldering Iron Is Needed for Electronic Boards?

By Jennifer Uhl

Different types of soldering irons and other soldering devices produce a range of wattages in terms of heat. Using the right wattage of soldering iron when working with electronic boards will ensure the task is completed properly without damaging the delicate electronics. Using too high or too low a wattage when soldering electronic circuit boards can cause damage.

Basic Soldering Iron

Use a basic soldering iron rated between 15 W and 30 W. This is the most ideal range to use with most electronics and printed circuit boards. Working with a higher wattage of soldering iron can causing damage to the circuit board or the component(s) being soldered to the circuit board.

Higher Wattage Soldering Irons

Higher wattage soldering irons, those capable of producing 40 W and higher, normally are intended for heavier components and thicker wires. Higher wattage soldering irons or soldering guns should not be used for circuit boards because they can damage delicate electronic components.

The largest differences between soldering irons and soldering guns is the size of the heat source. Soldering irons have a pinpoint heat source intended for precise work, whereas soldering guns are less precise but are capable of higher wattages because the electrical current flows directly through the tool.

Solder Type

The type of solder will also play a role in the wattage of soldering iron used for an electronic board project. For example, solder that is 50 percent tin and 50 percent lead has a melting temperature of 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Solder that is 60 percent tin and 40 percent lead has a melting temperature that is 371 degrees Fahrenheit. Solder that is 63 percent tin and 37% lead has a melting temperature of 361 degrees Fahrenheit. Check the specifications for the soldering iron you choose to ensure that it can produce the heat necessary for the type of solder being used.