If you are planning to build your own home solar panel via Do It Yourself (DIY) approach, one of the tools you need to get is a soldering iron. You will need it to solder pieces of Photovoltaic (PV) cells together to make up the solar panel.
The soldering station that I use is the Weller WLC100 which I bought from Amazon.com a few years ago and it cost me around $30. Now, well, the price has went up beyond $40. Nonetheless, it is still much less than the price of other Weller soldering iron stations.
Actually, I see no reason why anyone should buy the other models, the reason being when the element in the other models does not function, the cost of replacement of the element is more than the cost of Weller WLC100 soldering station!
The best part is that the WLC100 does not have an element; only the tip needs to be replaced. The tip can be got from any Radio Shack for a dollar or two at the most. Believe me when I tell you that I have not had a chance to replace the tip on my soldering station after all these years of use.
I always maintain it nice and tinned. This model heats up really fast and has not let me down every time I need to solder solar cells or electrical wires together. It is just as good as the “blue” ones that cost almost three or four times as much from the same company.
It pays to buy the Weller WLC100 now, before any further price rise. It is worth it because it will last a lifetime. For the same price one will be able to purchase a ‘Professional’ series Weller iron with constant tip temperature or a lesser known brand that is temperature controlled and nice and easy to work with.
Weller durability and quality can be vouched for any of their product. However, if I were to state some disadvantages, the price is too high that one pays for a simple soldering iron that has no temperature control. The temperature varies widely when the power knob is turned.
There is no feedback system for it to be controlled automatically and gradually. For the quality of solder to be good the tip of the iron must maintain a temperature that is not too high or low. At extreme temperatures the solder will melt and the quality of the connection will not be good.
Cold solder joints that look fine on the outside give way fast because of the low temperature of the tip of the soldering iron. Troubleshooting is difficult in such cases. If the iron gets too hot, the copper traces may get burnt and they may even come off from the solar cell tabs.
The sensitive PV cell receptors get overheated and flux will surely get burnt out before the job is completed. Thus a hot iron also gives ‘cold solder’ joints. It happens because the flux is burnt off and does not clean the surface completely to allow the solder to stick to it permanently. Thus it is very important to use a soldering iron with a tip that has a feedback temperature control.
The WLC100 model looks like a soldering iron with temperature control, but alas, it has none. One cannot set or hold the temperature. It is just like any other soldering iron that one can purchase from Radio Shack at one-fifth the price.
If you are thinking of getting a soldering iron to build your own home solar panel, click on the button on the right to order the Weller WLC100 soldering station from Amazon.com and have it shipped to your doorstep right now!