Electronic appliances that may require soldering very often have very small components that can be easily damaged during soldering. While choosing a soldering iron to work on electronics, it’s important to consider the wattage for the same. However, this often involves a balancing act for various reasons. First, a high-wattage soldering iron will melt the solder faster and will therefore be easier and quicker to work with. On the downside though, the high power will most probably result in component damage since some of the components have very low melting points and are thus relatively sensitive to high heat levels. A low wattage iron on the other hand is easy to work with and will rarely cause component damage. However, the low power implies that even small soldering tasks take relatively long to complete and can thus be inefficient.
For circuit boards and electronics though, the safest bet is the 15-25 watt range. These soldering iron power ranges present just the right balance between usability and safety. The most common ones are those in the 30-45 watt range. However, as much as these will ultimately be faster in operation, the heat they deliver will be on the higher side for use with small electronic components.
However, the best solution to the wattage problem is to get a thermostat-equipped soldering iron that can automatically or even manually adjust the output temperature. This will allow you to instantly lower the heat should you notice anything wrong happening. At the same time, it will allow you to use relatively more power than you would with another type of iron. This becomes the best of both worlds, a balance between power and safety. Besides the wattage, the size of the soldering iron tip will also be a key element in deciding on the type of soldering iron to use.
Copper pipes form the largest parts of plumbing systems. When soldering damaged pieces of copper piping, it’s very important to ensure that the parts being joined are well polished so as to have the best bonding. How then do you polish copper pipes? The most common methods include use of a polishing brush, sandpaper or a piece of rough metal.
This is a specialized brush designed for these types of tasks. The brush has short and hardened metallic bristles that do not bend under friction. This is the easiest tool to polish copper pipes with before soldering. The brush is relatively easy to use. Hold one end of the copper pipe firmly in one hand while polishing with the other. Increase or reduce the pressure depending on the results.
The fine-grained varieties of sand paper are also very effective in polishing pipes. Simply rub the sand paper in circles around the surface of the pipe until it reveals a shiny surface. Take care not to ingest the fine copper dust that will come off the pipe. Like in other options, vary the pressure depending on how the results turn out.
The above-mentioned methods are not the only means of cleaning copper pipes. There may be others that you find more effective or faster than the ones I have mentioned. However, always make sure that your method of choice is not too rough on the pipe since this could end up affecting the diameter of the pipe and result in poor joints after fitting. The objective is to remove the outer layer of the pipe and expose the shiny layer below it. This ensures there are no impurities especially in terms of oxides that can compromise the quality of the joint made during soldering.
Wattage is basically the amount of electrical power available in an electrical appliance. For soldering irons, higher wattage implies that the iron has more power available to convert to heat. However, it does not necessarily mean that a higher wattage iron will produce more heat than a lower wattage type. Generally, soldering irons tend to lie in the 15-50 watt range with a few exceeding this on both sides. Low wattage soldering irons can be described as those in the range of 15-25 watts. Where are these irons used and do they have any advantage over their higher-wattage counterparts?
A low wattage iron is very easy to work with especially while soldering electronics and small components and will rarely cause component damage. However, the low power implies that even small soldering tasks take relatively long to complete and can thus be inefficient. For circuit boards and electronics though, the safest bet is the relatively low 15-25 watt range. These soldering iron power ranges present just the right balance between usability and safety. Low wattage soldering irons present a safety element where higher power irons would probably be risky.
Low wattage soldering irons used to be effective in soldering electronics until the introduction of the thermostat. This meant that one could use a higher powered soldering iron and have a way of regulating the temperature if need arose. This makes low wattage irons irrelevant since they produce less heat and thus take long to work with without any added advantage over higher-powered soldering irons. The availability of these low watt irons has thus continued to decrease with time as better control methods are implemented on high-wattage irons. The thermostat automatically controls the heat output at the soldering iron tip regardless of the power available at the power source.