TEST of Weller Soldering Iron WE1010.
Compare vs WECP-20, vs WE1010, and McVoice LS450.


I do not want to be that person, always saying old products are better. But sometimes they are. A solder iron is the most used tool on most of the bench. My Weller WTCP-S. I bought it in 1986, and by the time it was "the" solder iron everybody had. The nice thing is, temperature control, is done by some magnetic device inside tip itself. This way, you can change to hotter or colder tips, and also there is less problems with broken temperature control, as the tips at some point gets worn out, and needs an exchange anyway. Inside the solder iron itself is only an on/off switch, and it never broke. Inside the solder station is only a transformer, so nothing do get broken. I have used it for so many years, the neon lamp in the switch has gone very dim. How many thousand hours that takes exactly, for a neon lamp to get dim, don't know, but it's many.

Changing to a thicker or thinner tip is quick and easy, and with some care I do it with a hot solder iron without burning my fingers.

I wanted to give those low cost Chinese tools a try, because they're adjustable, so I bought a McVoice LS450 for only 48Euro. Not even the cheapest one. This is a bit standard product, you find it under more brans names, spare parts are well available and low cost.

Ok I know now, why that was not a good idea to buy this. It begins with the solder iron itself, it does not slide into the holder very good. The Weller, you just point at it, and it sort of falls in with a characteristic noise. The McVoice, this funnel, where you stick in the solder iron, is not funnel shaped. So when you stick the solder iron in, you need to point it in the middle, or you can't get it in. This is really extremely nasty, and by itself a reason not wanting to have it any more. Such an extremely a stupid design error.

The foil keys for the temperature work very unpleasant, well ok you don't use them very often, but I wonder about their reliability. The foils seems just glued on, it doesn't make the impression on me, this foil stays in place for many years.

Here comes my main concern, and why old Weller is better. It is said to be 48 Watt, which is true, but what is the use, when the tips are not very heat conductive? The tip cools down immediately when you touch something more massive. It means in reality, the 48 Watt does not reach the object I solder on, but gets lost in the thermal resistance of the solder tip itself. So 48 Watt? In theory, yes.

So I ended up setting the temperature higher as needed, but that's not why I bought a regulated solder iron for! I opened one tip up, but it's all to fragile and too thin metal. Whereas as my good old 1986 Weller has also 50 Watt, and will solder heavier items much better. It's a major difference.

The McVoice is fine for PCB work, but I need a more universal solder iron. Then directly after the guarantee period, the heater element went broken. Amazingly I could buy a whole new solder iron for it, for only 9 Euro. So for 9 Euro it worked again. But I don't want to own such a bad designed product, and probably need to buy more repair parts later on. I put it on Ebay, and I got even back half of what payed for it. So I ended up ended up using my old Weller WTCP-S again.

Loyal to the brand now, I decided to buy the WE1010. Farnell catalog distributer offered 40 Euro cheaper than the sellers on Ebay. Quite a difference! So the price was attractive, and I wondered how Weller can make such tools for that price. Well, that question would be answered soon!


DISSAPPOINTMENT: After unboxing I felt fooled, because WE1010 is pictured on the WELLER home page with a BLUE, seemingly backlighted display, and also they placed the solder iron itself in such a way in front of the camera, that it looks fat and sturdy.

What came out if the box, is a dark, none backlighted display, of the cheapest kind they make in China. You can see from the above picture, the McVoice display is clearer, and even when you buy a digital panel voltmeter for just 4 Euro on Ebay, it has a much better display. So obviously they have put great effort at Weller, in finding the cheapest display on the market.

I find this extremely disturbing, because once you have it, you have all the work and the cost of sending it back, and a bad dealer may not even accept the return.

But it doesn't stop here. This is a totally downgraded product, and they must have had a kick out it, by removing everything out which costs money. Sorry to say this, but this looks a Chinese approach to me.

NEXT DISSAPPOINTMENT: The on-off button has no lamp inside. 5 cents saved. So, I will sure forget to switch it off sometimes.

NEXT DISSAPPOINTMENT: It has no mains fuse. This is EXTREMELY unprofessional to my opinion.

NEXT DISSAPPOINTMENT: The base station was advertized as 85 Watt, which is so indeed. Only the soldering iron they sell along with it, has only 70 Watt. So some smart ass was at work in the marketing department. But... I have a power meter.... read the rest.

NEXT DISSAPPOINTMENT: On my Bench the whole unit as such used 60 Watt only, and some power gets lost in the base station. So instead of the expected 80 Watt, I have less than 60Watt or so.

NEXT DISSAPPOINTMENT: The handle of the WE-1010 soldering iron gets too hot. At a temperature of 400 degrees C, this strange "pencil" design gets so hot, it becomes impossible to hold it longer. You really burn your fingers after a while. Whereas the good old historical Weller has no such problem here. But also it lower temperature, If I want to use it for a longer time, this strange "pencil" design gets so hot, I begin to burn my fingers on it. So I just can't use it.

NEXT DISSAPPOINTMENT: The old Weller, you can blindly stick the old solder iron into the holder, with that particular "boing" noise it makes. whereas the WE-1010 needs to be more carefully pointed inside, with that strangely designed, not well fitting opening of the holder. Same mistake as the Chinese McVoice. I wonder what people that are, changing something good into something bad, without any visible reason. EXTREMELY annoying property, because when you don't point it in carefully, it falls out and you don't see it. Well, and then: No "on" lamp, no backlighted panel, and no fuse.

So I decided to give this WE1010 to somebody as a gift, who does a lot of very good work for me, and I know only uses it as a work horse anyway. He was happy with it, he told me. So that was a good application for it :)


All together my old good old WTCP-S, I used it again. Ever since 1986, and never an issue. It had so many use hours, the neon lamp has even gone a bit dim. But it is unregulated, and now with lead-free solder, I need something adjustable.

I sold it on Ebay: There were many bidders! I got even 50 Euro for it. This was the Ebay picture of it.

So what is next....

I had still somewhere in my junk box two Weller soldering irons LR21, which I saved from the garbage when I was working in R&D, very long ago.

I saw they are still sold today, as new replacement products. They can be used with the older WECP-20 station, or modern WS51. I was surprized about the relatively high prices for such old, used WECP-20 on Ebay. There seem to be many people searching for those. Even though many are for sale, prices are not low. A clean WECP-20 you can't have under 50...60 Euro, even when they're 25 years old. There was one for sale with a burn spot on it for only 20 Euro. So I bought it, and see if those old LR21 solder irons would work. One of the LR21 was good, the other had a broken thermostat. So for 20 Euro I had WECP-20 + LR21 working. Just it needed a calibration for the temperature, it was 30 degrees off.

Some hints:

What is better with those older stations, they have an 'on' lamp, and a fuse. Both of them were obsoleted with later models, but I have to say, without a fuse and an 'on' lamp I don NOT want to have something historic on the bench, with a heating element inside. That would be insane, because forgetting to switch equipment off , happens to me far too easy.

The old WECP-20 + LR21 solder iron had exactly that nice feel of my old WTCP-S. After trying the new WE1010, I can only say: It is no compare. So yes, now I understand why a new WE1010 is cheaper than a top condition WECP-20 + LR21.

A hack for the WECP-20

Here is a good website for the old Wellers. Some say, the WECP-20 is the best ever made, and what came after it, was all less quality. Well, I fully agree with that!

I modified my WECP-20, by adding a bicolor red-green LED instead of the green LED only. Also I reversed the color. So now red is for 'heating on', and green is for 'temperature reached'.

The way to do this, is very simple.


Click on the picture, to see a video about how much nicer it works with a bicolor LED.

The extra parts needed is only one 1N4007 and a bicolor LED with resistor. I suppose they just did not have this idea at Weller.

With this circuit, there is another improvement. When there is no solder iron plugged in, the LED is off. Quite logical. With the old Weller circuit it burned permanently at half brightness in that case.

WIth the modification it works like this:

Here is the circuit, but you may as well just solder those three parts in like on the picture.