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What wattage soldering iron ???

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Mouse06/11/2013 01:08:04
55 forum posts

Hi there

I have been trying to solder some xt60 connectors to a brushless speed controller with no success at all and have destroyed 3 so far.

It seems like the iron is not getting hot enough to melt the solder even though it is supposed to be 100 watts, mind you it is over 15 years old and has trouble making a drop of water evaporate so I think I am holding it to the connectors to long and melting the plastic.

Tomorrow I need to get a new one and would like to know what wattage I should be looking for.

Thank you


Tim A06/11/2013 01:17:23
220 forum posts
12 photos

Bill 60 watts should be sufficient, although I use a125watt iron that's years old, the secret is to plug another XT60 into the one your soldering to act as a heat sink. Not one attached to a battery either - Boom!

You need an iron that will melt solder quickly holding it on the connector too long trying to get enough heat in will melt the plastic before the you have a good solder joint though.

PaulH06/11/2013 01:37:29
108 forum posts
19 photos

Bill, the real secret is rapid heating of the solder, without having to hold the iron on the joint for ages thus melting the plastic. My 60 watt is okay, but the 100watt single temperature iron I have, really makes all my jobs easy, from soldering plugs to making up landing gear. Having a couple of different shaped tips, say one pointed and one chisel, makes it perfect for any task.

Mouse06/11/2013 01:40:28
55 forum posts

Thank for the advice

just been searching online near me and 60 watt irons don't seem to exist, however 40 watt ones are about everywhere.

would 40 watt be o.k or should I hunt around for a 60 watt one. or is this a case of bigger IS better and go for the biggest I can afford ???.


PaulH06/11/2013 02:03:47
108 forum posts
19 photos

Bill, Don't waste your money on a 40 watt, you'll end up with the same problem. Bigger wattage is better, try for a 60, or 100 watt iron. Buy a fixed heat iron. Cheap variable heat irons rarely give a constant temperature, while most medium priced single heat irons, have a very quick temperature recovery when using them for extended times, or making multiple subsequent joins.

PaulH06/11/2013 02:20:46
108 forum posts
19 photos

Tesco direct have a cheap Chinese one, which I've seen in Australia and know it does work, a mate has one. On the other hand you can get a Weller for around £35, they are known to be very reliable and also carry a great variety of soldering tips, I'd probably say value for money, but still a bit expensive. Interestly doing a quick Google search in the UK came up with just a fraction of the choice we have here in Australia, especially in relation for good reasonably priced tools from China and the rest of Asia.

Piers Bowlan06/11/2013 03:25:20
2001 forum posts
53 photos

Hi Bill, it is all about the amount of heat in the tip of your soldering iron, not temperature. So you need 100w or even 200w and a really big copper bit in the end of your soldering iron. Tin the wire to be soldered and the plated connector in the XT60 plug. Push the wire into the metal plug and apply heat to the side of the tinned plug. The solder will melt and the wire will slide into the hole in the plug. As he said you must plug a male and female plug together when soldering or you will ruin a lot of plugs.

Dylan Reynolds LaserCraft Services06/11/2013 08:35:55
1704 forum posts
661 photos

You may find you need a new tip not a new iron, I had this problem as well untill the tip was replaced. I also bought a variable heat soldering station which I now use more than any of my others, at £45 I find it excellent value for money and it works great, never had a problem yet with temperature consistency.

Allan Bennett06/11/2013 08:40:51
1596 forum posts
44 photos

The size of the bit is just as important as the irons wattage. If the bit is too small it doesn't matter how many watts the iron is, for the bit will be cooled immediately by contact with the relatively large connector and wire that you're trying to solder. You then have to hold the bit on while the iron gets it back up to temperature.

My regular soldering iron is an Antex 50W with several interchangeable bits. With a 6mm (I think) bit I can solder 14g wire onto my Deans Ultra connectors okay, and I use smaller bits for PCBs, servo wires, etc. I also have a 80W iron for larger wires and for making wire undercarriages.

Another thing that's vital for a quick solder job is proper tinning of the two halves before you try to make the joint, using multi-core solder.

Peter Miller06/11/2013 08:42:33
10526 forum posts
1246 photos
10 articles

I have a 40 watt iron that will actually solder bound joints on 8 SWG piano wire.

I still have my 60 year old Henley Solon 75 watt iron with a bit about 3/4" wide. Workd but takes a along time to heat up.

Roderic Craig06/11/2013 09:49:30
36 forum posts

why does no one mention flux? Flux it and the solder just flows

ken anderson.06/11/2013 10:22:34
8527 forum posts
773 photos

bill-i'm using an 80 watt model from BRC's a could weld ships plates with it..... also have a look on 'google' get one of the gas pencil torches for a few quid..mine was £4.00 inc postage......

ken Anderson ne...1 ......ship building dept.

Martian06/11/2013 10:40:46
2305 forum posts
1091 photos

as has been said it may need a new tip also try removing the tip you may find the contact surfaces of the tip and the tip socket to be coated in slag after all these years resulting in a poor thermal connection,worth a try

Martyn K06/11/2013 16:33:11
5041 forum posts
3677 photos

I agree that the problem may be technique or cleanliness.

The bit should be shiny clean - any trace of black - it needs cleaning

The bit should be properly tinned. Get the iron up to temperature and place a spot of multi core solder on the tip. It should flow - if it globules then the tip is dirty even if it appears clean.

Make sure the tip is properly wetted - liquid solder visible on the tip.

Now pre-solder (aka tinning) the wire - same rules apply - it must be clean and if the solder doesn't flow it isn't clean enough,

When you have a clean tip and the wire is tinned, clamp your connector (by the pins if male - or add pins into the holes if female so that heat is conducted away) - a 'helping hand' is brilliant for this sort of work). You can also hold the wire in place with a helping hand leaving you with 2 real hands for the next bit..

Now sandwich the wire between the iron and the connector - count to about 3 to let the heat flow - add the solder into the joint - it should flow straight away, simultaneously remove the iron and solder - the soldering process should not take more than about 5-7 seconds per connector. Let it cool before you attack the next one.

You should be able to cope with a 40W iron for this type of work - they are more manageable than the larger wattage irons, but a larger 100W iron will be better for piano wire soldering up to quite a large gauge.


Martin Harris06/11/2013 17:08:10
9107 forum posts
225 photos

I keep getting told by the sages that my Weller gun hasn't got a hope of soldering heavy guage connectors and piano wire undercarriages as it only has a tiny tip with no heat capacity.

Well, guess what - I keep making bright shiny  joints on Deans and XT60s that stay together and only a week or two ago I soldered up a Magnatilla undercarriage with my getting on for 45 year old Weller for someone, which has been very favourably commented on.

I suspect that the "instant" capability replaces heat as fast as the job is extracting it so negating the need for a thumping great lump of copper (or more commonly coated iron these days) .

My best tips for soldering power connectors are to use high silver content solder (that's not "silver solder" by the way which seems to have a better affinity for gold plated connectors. Also, tin the iron immediately before making the joint for better heat transfer and always ensure that the solder is applied to the job and not the iron.

Edited By Martin Harris on 06/11/2013 17:09:24

Andy4806/11/2013 17:09:48
1414 forum posts
5 photos

A proper XT60 will not melt with a hot iron. I think part of the problem would seem to be a cheap compatible XT60 made of an inferior plastic.

Another problem could be the gauge of wire. Some batteries use a 10AWG silicon wire, or maybe you are using too big a speed controller. XT60s are only rated at 60amps.

Finally I use an instant heat soldering gun for XT60s and all heavy lead situations such as this. £22 from Toolstation with free delivery.

Plummet06/11/2013 17:40:37
1408 forum posts
41 photos

In my quick scan through the messages above no-one has mentioned thermostatically controlled soldering irons.

An uncontrolled high wattage iron may get too hot.

A low wattage iron may just about get hot enough, but will quickly cool if touching something cool.

Thermostatic irons have plenty of wattage to be able to solder big jobs, but will not get too hot.

They are more expensive than uncontrolled irons, but having used them all my working life, I would never use any other type.

I have 2. A 40W Weller iron, that I use for most jobs. (WHS 40) I have another, which I rescued from a scrap bin nearly 40 years ago. It is 60 watts. It uses a bit that is magnetic up to a certain temperature, At the set temperature it loses its magnetism, and switches off the power.

You should be aware that in industry the solder is now lead free, and needs a higher temperature than the old tin-lead solder. If you are using an older iron with the new solder you can have problems.

I still have a good stock of the older solder.


John Privett06/11/2013 20:35:31
6020 forum posts
239 photos

All the XT60s I've soldered have been with a 30W iron. It may well be easier with a bigger one, but a 30W will certainly do the job. (And proper old-fashioned solder of course - which I see you can still buy despite the prophecies of doom about it disappearing completely, which prompted me to buy a lifetime's supply of the old stuff!)

TinPot Pilot06/11/2013 21:19:27
155 forum posts

I find that this is much easier to use than than solder wire, just apply with a toothpick, and a 30 watt iron is more than adequate (mine came from Argos about 30 years ago ).

Andy4806/11/2013 22:04:43
1414 forum posts
5 photos
Posted by John Privett on 06/11/2013 20:35:31:

All the XT60s I've soldered have been with a 30W iron. It may well be easier with a bigger one, but a 30W will certainly do the job. (And proper old-fashioned solder of course - which I see you can still buy despite the prophecies of doom about it disappearing completely, which prompted me to buy a lifetime's supply of the old stuff!)

Its not the XT60 that causes the problem, its the gauge of wire you are soldering to it. 14awg or thinner is easy with a 30w soldering iron, 12awg or 10awg is considerably harder as heat is conducted away far faster and a 30w is just not enough.

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