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I'm picking out a new soldering iron and I like butane ones(but not closed minded). One very good looking iron I saw from Weller is the P2KC.

However, when looking at the available replacement tips for that iron, I don't see anything conical. There is single-flat and double-flat tips which are odd looking.

My uses for this soldering iron would be through-hole and SMD work. Is this iron not intended to be used on circuit boards, or are one of those tips just as good as conical?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ IMHO there are logical arguments for various tips, but in the end personal preference seems the biggest factor, especially as personal techniques vary. \$\endgroup\$ – Chris Stratton Dec 8 '11 at 20:23
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Earlz - This is off-topic, but aren't most butane irons not temperature controlled? The linked one sure seems like it's not. That's an absolute showstopper for me. Far more important than the tips, even. \$\endgroup\$ – Kevin Vermeer Dec 8 '11 at 21:27
  • \$\begingroup\$ @KevinV They have a control, but it's not as fine or regulated as a bench unit. For the jobs these are used for, however, that seems to be less of a concern (see the Amazon page). \$\endgroup\$ – Mark C Dec 10 '11 at 6:45
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Butane irons are not meant for precision work where the difference between a pyramid or screwdriver tip and a conical tip make any difference. If you are planning on electronics SMD work, the you really want a temperature controlled soldering station. The cheapest decent one I know of is the Weller WE51, which is available for under $100 nowadays.

The advantage of butane is small, light, powerfuld, and portable to places without power. Someone doing field service on remote telemetry stations, for example, might use one. They are really not appropriate for something in a controlled lab environment with normal line power available.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ But having power cords is so annoying :( \$\endgroup\$ – Earlz Dec 8 '11 at 22:36
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Earlz: If that's the critical criterion, then you'll have to live with all the drawbacks. Everything is a tradeoff. Personally, while it would be nice not to have a cord, on my bench it isn't a big deal and a lot less trouble than the drawbacks of a butane soldering iron would be. There are also rechargable cordless irons, but I don't know if any of them are temperature controlled. I'd look into that before butane if this is for bench use. \$\endgroup\$ – Olin Lathrop Dec 8 '11 at 22:42
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    \$\begingroup\$ The rechargeable irons I've seen work by using a high voltage to melt solder.. not the most semiconductor friendly method, I'd say. Question then. Do most quality temperature controller irons have extremely flexible cables? The few firestarters I've had I had significant problems keeping the iron on the table because the cable was trying to move it around \$\endgroup\$ – Earlz Dec 8 '11 at 22:44
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Earlz: I've never heard of a rechargeable iron that runs current directly thru the solder. That does not sound like a good idea. As for flexible cables, that's a matter of judgement. While not having a cable would be better, I don't find it that much of a issue either. \$\endgroup\$ – Olin Lathrop Dec 8 '11 at 23:42
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Eearlz - yes, the cables of typical solder stations are more flexible than your average lamp-cord-style cabling on a simple iron, tending to resemble a rubber hose as much as a cable (though some of the low-wattage simple models at least have thin cords - they can actually be thinner at 120/240v than that of a solder station which typically runs the handpiece at 24v with as much as 70 watt rating) \$\endgroup\$ – Chris Stratton Dec 9 '11 at 7:42

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