12v soldering iron power draw

Submitted: Wednesday, Jan 15, 2014 at 09:11
ThreadID: 105825 Views:5060 Replies:14 FollowUps:27
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Good morning all

I'm looking at 12v soldering irons, but am a little concerned about putting one into the cig socket.

They range from 30 to 60 watts. It's been discussed a few times on our forum regarding the thin wiring and risk of damage to the wiring.

Can anyone tell me if it would be ok to use the cig socket or should I chop the socket off the iron and run it from the battery?

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Reply By: Phil B (WA) - Wednesday, Jan 15, 2014 at 09:23

Wednesday, Jan 15, 2014 at 09:23
HI Boo Boo

Have you considered as gas soldering iron like a Weller Portasol. I have a 12 volt job but found it slow to heat up etc etc.
I'm not disappointed with my gas job.

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Follow Up By: Member - Boo Boo (NSW) - Wednesday, Jan 15, 2014 at 09:32

Wednesday, Jan 15, 2014 at 09:32
G'day Phil

A gas job won't suit the situation.

I should have mentioned that I am installing an engine watch dog and I am going to splice the wires into the wiring for the uhf as it is easy to get to, but, I have to do it near the ashtray and vinyl flooring (dmax single cab).

Hence the need for a soldering iron.

I have a 240v iron but I don't have access to a power point.

I have worked out I need at least 40 watts but the draw on the cig socket worrys me. Perhaps needlessly.

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Follow Up By: Shaker - Wednesday, Jan 15, 2014 at 10:03

Wednesday, Jan 15, 2014 at 10:03
A Portasol would be no more likely to cause damage to the surrounding area than an 240v 0r 12v electric iron.

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Follow Up By: Brian 01 - Wednesday, Jan 15, 2014 at 10:22

Wednesday, Jan 15, 2014 at 10:22
A cigarette lighter socket is generally rated to 120 watts, so allowing even a large leeway it will easily handle 40 watts.
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Follow Up By: pop2jocem - Wednesday, Jan 15, 2014 at 10:22

Wednesday, Jan 15, 2014 at 10:22
x3 for what Phil and Shaker have said plus the actual copper soldering bit can be removed and the small gas jet used to shrink wrap for a nice professional job.

Cheers
Pop
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Follow Up By: Member - Frank P (NSW) - Wednesday, Jan 15, 2014 at 10:28

Wednesday, Jan 15, 2014 at 10:28
40 watts is 3.3 amps, 60 is 5. Most ciggy style accessory sockets have a 120 watt (10 amp) limit - well, that's what the pretty writing on the cap says.

I think you'd be ok with a 60 watt iron.

If you wanted a belt and braces approach you could cut the ciggy plug off and install alligator clips and go direct to the battery, as you suggested.

Or for future flexibility make up a 12V extension lead in decent twin-core (say, 5 or 6mm) with alligator clips at one end and your choice of ciggy or merrit style socket at the other. I have found that useful from time to time, eg running a laptop in the shade some distance from the nearest 12V outlet.

A gas iron is very handy, but I understand your restrictions in this case.

Cheers
FrankP

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Follow Up By: greybeard - Wednesday, Jan 15, 2014 at 10:59

Wednesday, Jan 15, 2014 at 10:59
I use a weller 240v 60W soldering iron and an inverter directly connected to the battery. The iron works a hell of a lot better than a 12v iron. For the amount of times I need it the loss of efficiency of using an inverter is more than made up for by having a decent soldering tool to use.
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Follow Up By: Ross M - Wednesday, Jan 15, 2014 at 11:02

Wednesday, Jan 15, 2014 at 11:02
Boo Boo
Do you have a small inverter which can do the 240 v for your 240 v soldering iron?
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Follow Up By: Member - Ian F (WA) - Wednesday, Jan 15, 2014 at 15:06

Wednesday, Jan 15, 2014 at 15:06
Hello Boo Boo,
I have the same 60w 240v running off a cheap inverter which is excellent and very quick.
Ian
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Follow Up By: Member - geoffqld - Wednesday, Jan 15, 2014 at 21:38

Wednesday, Jan 15, 2014 at 21:38
I'm with the 240v inverter group. I carry 2 soldering irons, a 20watt for small wires and a 60w for thicker wires or Anderson plugs (works well)
Geoff
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Reply By: tonysmc - Wednesday, Jan 15, 2014 at 10:56

Wednesday, Jan 15, 2014 at 10:56
I’ve been using things like this for joining wires lately and they are brilliant!

http://www.smartmarine.co.nz/products/electrical/cable-wiring-accessories/49857/solder-splice-joiner-terminals-2-5-4-5mm-wire-5-pk/details/

You can buy them at most car accessory stores. Solders, heat shrinks and waterproof all in one action and you only need something like a Bic lighter.
May not suit your needs here, but worth looking at in the future.

Cheers
Tony
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Follow Up By: The Bantam - Wednesday, Jan 15, 2014 at 11:14

Wednesday, Jan 15, 2014 at 11:14
I remember the one of the reps showing me these when they first came out.

They seem to be a good idea, but, they are completely useless when you are tapping into a wire without cutting it, which is 90% of the time you need to solder on vehicle wiring.

I have some I was given free, over 10 years ago, but I am yet to see somewhere I can use them.

OH, and because they use low melting point solder, it is wise to ensure that the joint is mechanically stable independent of the solder and heat shrink.

cheers
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Reply By: Member - Boo Boo (NSW) - Wednesday, Jan 15, 2014 at 11:19

Wednesday, Jan 15, 2014 at 11:19
Shaker

I didn't know what a portasol was so looked it up.

From what I can see it doesn't have a flame coming out of a nozzle, instead it heats the tip inside the iron. If that's the case the I'd have to agree that it would be ok to use it for this job and a whole lot more.
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Follow Up By: Member - Frank P (NSW) - Wednesday, Jan 15, 2014 at 14:58

Wednesday, Jan 15, 2014 at 14:58
Boo Boo,

Those gas soldering irons are a handy item to have in your toolkit.

For this job, which sounds like it's in a confined space, if you're now thinking about a gas iron be mindful of the "exhaust".

My little iron is great, but I have to take care to ensure the hot exhaust port is pointing away from anything it might affect.

My iron has one exhaust port so I have some control over which way it will point, but I note that some in the eBay link provided in one of the posts have multiple exhaust ports, in which case you may not have such control.

Cheers
FrankP

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Reply By: Member - Boo Boo (NSW) - Wednesday, Jan 15, 2014 at 11:23

Wednesday, Jan 15, 2014 at 11:23
Ross

No, I don't have a need for a converter, or at least I don't think so! lol

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Reply By: The Bantam - Wednesday, Jan 15, 2014 at 11:35

Wednesday, Jan 15, 2014 at 11:35
The problem with 12 volt soldering irons is getting a decent one.
Its been years since i've had one, because I just have not seen one I consider worth buying.

I solder for a living and perhaps I'm a little spoilt.

The hand piece from the standard weller station will work on a pair of 12 v 7 AH sealed batteries for long enough to do a few joints.....I have not done this but I know those who have.
The same 24 volt hand pice apparantly will work on 12 volts but not all that well.

Weller make a battery powered version of their standard iron that comes with a 12 volt 7 AH battery pack.....I understand it has a 12 volt heater...but the price..mmm

I know there are plenty of gass soldering iron lovers out there, but I have been less than impressed with those I have borrowed or used on the job....and there are issues.

Those gass soldeing irons present a source of ignition and " hot work", so I can use them on customer's sites.


I'm no lover of inverters, but running a 240V soldeing iron seems to be a reasonable use....Ya spent decent money for a decent 240V soldering iron, it should run happily on a 150 or 300watt inverter without draining the battery in 5 minutes......though still illegal on construction sites in QLD.


As far as the 12 volt iron you may have, it should run fine on your ciggy lighter.

BUT now here is the problem......you have this soldering iron connected to the electrcal system in the car....the electrical system needs to be live for the soldering iron to work......are ya following me......its wise to de-energise the electrical system, particularly when working under the dash.

NOW, the tip of this 12 volt iron, is it earthed to the negative battery supply or is it isolated... are you sure, have you checked.

Best to operate this 12 volt iron from stand alone battery.

Ya see whay I just keep comming back to a 240V iron...either getting whatever close to a source of supply or running out an extension lead.

Let me assure you a 60 watt soldering iron will run just fine at the end of 60 meters of extension cable.

chers
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Reply By: Member - Boo Boo (NSW) - Wednesday, Jan 15, 2014 at 11:36

Wednesday, Jan 15, 2014 at 11:36
To everyone who gave the thumbs up for the cig socket approach I thank you.

However, so far in Gladstone I have been to bunnings and supercheap and cannot find anything suitable.

In a little while I'll go to the other side of town and try my luck there.

Hopefully I can also see a portasol and check that out as well.

AnswerID: 524549

Follow Up By: Member - Bruce C (NSW) - Wednesday, Jan 15, 2014 at 12:57

Wednesday, Jan 15, 2014 at 12:57
Check these out Boo Boo

Butane soldering irons

Cheers, Bruce.
At home and at ease on a track that I know not and
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Reply By: Robin Miller - Wednesday, Jan 15, 2014 at 11:42

Wednesday, Jan 15, 2014 at 11:42
Always carry a 60w item Boo Boo - you need that much and its ok on ciggy lighter.

Mines a NEWSTAR brand got it from Jaycar or Dick Smith before they went limp.

For splicing wires I use the non break method.

I.E. with a sharp scahpul (spelling) I take a cut a slice off the PVC insulation until a thin bit of wire shows.
Then put iron onto that bit and as it heats wire it sizzles cut edges making more wire visible without ever actually cuting a wire. Then tin existing and new wire and solder new wire longways into the 1cm or so of the exposed wire.
(this can be done in either direction to suit rest of loom.)
I then use good (green) masking tape to wrap around - Masking tape won't curl off later like PVC tape. I lay a second piece of masking tape over the jion such that it forms a tag and on the tag I label join.

If I ever have to cut a wire then use also heatshink and soldering iron can usually shrink it in the loom.





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Follow Up By: Member - Boo Boo (NSW) - Wednesday, Jan 15, 2014 at 11:58

Wednesday, Jan 15, 2014 at 11:58
Robin

Thanks for the reply.

Would you believe Jaycar is not in Gladstone.

The way you have described the scalpel operation is similar to what I normally do.

Well I'm off to see if I'm luckier on the other side of town.

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Follow Up By: Allan B (Member, SunCoast) - Wednesday, Jan 15, 2014 at 12:25

Wednesday, Jan 15, 2014 at 12:25
Hi Boo Boo,

Jaycar are in Gladstone, well sort of. Leading Edge Electronics are an authorised stockist, Cnr Tank & Auckland Streets, 07 4972 6660.

Also, don't overlook using Insulation Displacement Connectors as below.
They are often scorned but used correctly on appropriate gauge wires they are quite reliable. Insulation displacement is a technique utilised in a number of commercial applications. I have been using them for years without failure. Where they do fail is when used in wet locations such as connections for trailer lights. Of course you can't beat a well-soldered joint but the accent is on "well". LOL

Cheers
Allan

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Follow Up By: Honky - Wednesday, Jan 15, 2014 at 15:56

Wednesday, Jan 15, 2014 at 15:56
There are also single ones with a male fitting that you can just fit a female connection and plug into it.
Looks very professional and I have used it to tap off the reverse lights onto a LED light.

Honky
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Follow Up By: olcoolone - Thursday, Jan 16, 2014 at 20:21

Thursday, Jan 16, 2014 at 20:21
Love those scotch locks, they make us a lot of money due to their poor design and use..... Especially trailer wiring.
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Follow Up By: Allan B (Member, SunCoast) - Thursday, Jan 16, 2014 at 23:06

Thursday, Jan 16, 2014 at 23:06
As I said, they have their place and trailers aint it!
Nothing wrong with the design...... only the poor use.
Cheers
Allan

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Follow Up By: olcoolone - Friday, Jan 17, 2014 at 10:24

Friday, Jan 17, 2014 at 10:24
The problem is people who use them think one size fits all and the other thing is your piercing the wire mid loom making an easy access point for water and moister to enter the wire that in turns travels along the wire under the insulation eventually corroding the wire somewhere in the loom that can take hours to find.

We have traced faults in loom 4m away from where the water would of got in, surprising how water can travel up a down hill in a loom.

Its better to not use them at all, at least some of the commercial ones have silicon grease to help seal the wire....... Automotive environments are some of the most hostile environments around.
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Follow Up By: Allan B (Member, SunCoast) - Friday, Jan 17, 2014 at 10:53

Friday, Jan 17, 2014 at 10:53
Well people who do not put their brain in gear can expect problems.
I would only use them under dash or inner body locations. Many automobile OEM terminations are Insulation-Displacement devices and survive as well as most anything else on a vehicle.

A soldered joint removes insulation and exposes the conductor in the manner you have described, so unless the joint is adequately insulated and waterproofed, moisture can enter and migrate along the cable.

One of the most convenient and reliable methods of covering cable joints (soldered or otherwise) is to wrap with self-amalgamating tape, then cover with heat shrink or regular PVC tape.

Automotive environments are hostile but not nearly so much as chemical processing plants where reliability is even more paramount.
Cheers
Allan

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Follow Up By: Ron N - Friday, Jan 17, 2014 at 16:26

Friday, Jan 17, 2014 at 16:26
Scotchlocks are the cheapest connector available and perform accordingly.
If you MUST use them, seal them with some neutral-cure Silastic to prevent the ingress of dirt, moisture and contaminants that ALWAYS cause corrosion in these connectors.
You cannot rely on any electrical connection that isn't soldered.
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Follow Up By: olcoolone - Sunday, Jan 19, 2014 at 20:33

Sunday, Jan 19, 2014 at 20:33
Double walled adhesive heat shrink or liquid tape is the way to go, depending on the application and access we use either but mostly the heat shrink.

This is the liquid tape.....
http://www.plastidip.net.au/liquid-tape-electrical
Worth it's weight.

And finally we coat everything with Wurth silicon grease.
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Reply By: Member - Phil G (SA) - Wednesday, Jan 15, 2014 at 15:53

Wednesday, Jan 15, 2014 at 15:53
Depends on your needs, but far and away, the best 12V soldering iron you can buy is a "Superscope" 150W. We used them in the past for quickly soldering battery packs and heavy wires in remote control racing cars. Within a few seconds, the fat tip is hot enough to solder heavy wires. At $190, they don't come cheap, but they are so much better than my portosol or 240W solder iron running off an inverter.LINK HERE
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Follow Up By: Echucan Bob - Wednesday, Jan 15, 2014 at 18:06

Wednesday, Jan 15, 2014 at 18:06
Phil,

when I was a young electronics hobbyist nearly 50 years ago there were two affordable soldering irons: Adcola and Scope. I wonder if it is the same mob?

Bob

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Follow Up By: Allan B (Member, SunCoast) - Wednesday, Jan 15, 2014 at 18:34

Wednesday, Jan 15, 2014 at 18:34
Bob,

As I'm sure you know, the problem with a Scope soldering iron was that it was all too easy to concentrate on the joint and forget to lift your thumb off the trigger with the result of a red-hot tip. Not good for semiconductors!

On the other hand, it was useful to be able to keep the power on for lots of heat for a heavy job.

Not a tool that I would put into the hands of an apprentice without strong training.
Cheers
Allan

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Follow Up By: Member - Phil G (SA) - Wednesday, Jan 15, 2014 at 19:18

Wednesday, Jan 15, 2014 at 19:18
Gday Bob,
yeah, not cheap any more. From memory, mine cost about $120 from Dick Smiths around 20 years ago. There's a few different models - the Superscope is the 12V one.
Like Allan says, you can make the tip heat up to smitherines if you don't release the thumb switch. If you used the iron a lot, the wiring (all 6 metres of it) would also heat up!
But they are a great tool when you want to have the heat to do a big job in 5 seconds.
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Follow Up By: olcoolone - Thursday, Jan 16, 2014 at 20:18

Thursday, Jan 16, 2014 at 20:18
We use 240 and 12 volt Scope soldering irons in the workshop and all our field service vehicles, we also have the Weller Portasol,s as well but find in windy or low ambient temps the gas ones don't generate enough heat quickly causing the insulation to melt before the solder.

When making loom involving a far amount of soldering we always use the Scope.
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Reply By: Member - Boo Boo (NSW) - Wednesday, Jan 15, 2014 at 17:24

Wednesday, Jan 15, 2014 at 17:24
Allan you are spot on.

While going from store to store after lunch one place was kind enough to point me in the right direction.

I had looked up jaycar, but not leading edge. Anyway I bought a portasol and have just about finished the job.

Everything is working, I just have to tidy up and all is good.

AnswerID: 524566

Reply By: TerraFirma - Wednesday, Jan 15, 2014 at 18:33

Wednesday, Jan 15, 2014 at 18:33
As some people have said grab yourself a butane kit. We use one on my boat as we are always wiring something. The kits contain everything you'll ever need, highly recommended. The Ebay link shows one of many.

Soldering Kit

AnswerID: 524570

Reply By: Member - Crawler88 - Thursday, Jan 16, 2014 at 00:22

Thursday, Jan 16, 2014 at 00:22
All,
I worked as a Plant mechanic/ auto electrician for a number of years, we used to use the Weller butane units, my favorite one ( the only one that ever lasted me any more than about 6 months) was a smaller one that looked like a pen. It was orange in color and had a flint lighter built into the cap. The piezo lighter was the bit that always died on the click to igniite and flasher models.

I also used to use a 12 volt unit that I made it was basically a ground down diesel glow plug with some battery clamps on the end of a length of sheathed twin core and a push to heat (normally open contacts) button on the top. They are brilliant. Get hot almost instantly and are just about unbreakable. The switch would eventually die after a few water submersions and good knocks but a trip to jaycar would fix that. Only trouble with all this is that if you want one I think you would have to make it as I did.

Anyway food for thought
Crawler
AnswerID: 524591

Follow Up By: Kevin.Hutch - Friday, Jan 17, 2014 at 12:19

Friday, Jan 17, 2014 at 12:19
Fully endorse the Weller/Portasoll/Blue point (same thing) gas iron, I bought mine 20 years ago from Snap On and used it regularly in confined spaces, on race cars, boats and vans, often on "live" circuits.

It has a variety of 6 "bits" of all sizes from fine to heavy, an excellent heat gun for heat shrink and a hot knife for rope work.

I recently replaced is as the hot knife blade needed replacement after extensive rope work on boats.

The only other problem was the flint wore out and I extracted one from a $2 gas lighter.

I have 4 x 12 volt irons, all over 20years old never found a good one, they never see the light of day.

Kevin H
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Reply By: Member - Crawler88 - Friday, Jan 17, 2014 at 12:51

Friday, Jan 17, 2014 at 12:51
Afternoon All,
I was talking above about the 12V glow plug soldering iron that I made years ago.

Well,
I found a commercially produced model available. I dont know what the retail price is on the unit though. It is likely that most auto electricians would be able to order this for you from Genr8


See the address below: (I don't know how to insert hyperlinks)
http://www.pjldiesel.com.au/product.php?part_id=270697

Specs:
120w
10 second heat up time
alligator clips
3.2mm tip

It is sold through Pjldiesel, an agent for Genr8.
Genr8 are a supplier of many auto electrical components and lighting.

I reckon this would be "The Goods"


Cheers
Crawler
AnswerID: 524665

Reply By: greybeard - Friday, Jan 17, 2014 at 14:45

Friday, Jan 17, 2014 at 14:45
I'd just plug it into the forum, there's enough electrons in this thread alone to power a soldering iron for a week :)
AnswerID: 524674

Reply By: Tim HJ61 (WA) - Saturday, Jan 18, 2014 at 12:29

Saturday, Jan 18, 2014 at 12:29
I can't see other reference to this point in all the above responses, but a 12v soldering iron that needs to be plugged into the cigarette lighter is not really any good if you are going to be cutting or soldering onto a circuit that is switched on the same circuit as the cigarette lighter.

I happily use a 12v soldering iron of unknown rating, but have alligator clips and long leads so I can use it inside the vehicle with the battery disconnected/ fuses removed/ key off for safety as needed.

A good butane heated iron is good to have.

So is a bare flame butane torch, for larger fittings such as battery lead ends where a soldering iron is going to struggle.

Tim
AnswerID: 524712

Follow Up By: olcoolone - Sunday, Jan 19, 2014 at 20:36

Sunday, Jan 19, 2014 at 20:36
Alway use the alligator clip ones as in most cases you need the ignition turned on to operate the cig lighter.
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