How to choose a soldering iron for polypropylene pipes: what to look at before buying
Polypropylene pipes have firmly occupied the niche of materials for domestic plumbing and heating. Their installation is simple and easy when compared with the assembly of steel wiring. A special soldering iron for polypropylene pipes is required for welding plastic joints.
Before buying it, you need to familiarize yourself with the types and characteristics in order to purchase a device that corresponds to the planned work.
Types of welding of polypropylene pipes
It is possible to connect elements of plastic wiring from polypropylene pipes using threaded fittings or three methods of welding:
- butt joint;
There is a fundamental difference between soldering polypropylene pipes up to 63 mm and more than this size.
Pipes with a small diameter (up to 63 mm) are connected by a socket-sided method, that is, by inserting the cut edge of one pipe into the expanded edge (socket) of the second.
The welding of large pressure pipelines with a diameter of 63 mm is performed end-to-end. This method is practically not used for domestic purposes, therefore, butt welding equipment will not be considered in detail. The cost of such a welding machine starts from a few thousand dollars, and is mainly acquired by construction companies.
Electrofusion welding is performed using couplings with built-in heating elements. It does not require processing of soldered ends and is possible in places with limited working space. The disadvantages of electrofusion welding include the high cost of a soldering apparatus, the price of which starts from $ 1,500.
Next will be considered the choice of equipment for socket welding of polypropylene pipes, the cost of which can pay off with a large amount of work performed.
Existing soldering iron designs
The type of equipment for socket welding of plastic pipes is of the same type and differs only in the shape of the heater. It can be of two types:
Flat heater (installers call it even iron for polypropylene pipes) has the appearance of a thick conical metal plate. The greater the mass of the heater, the better its ability to maintain a stable temperature when the plastic is melted. Nozzles for melting the parts to be connected are fixed to the heater with bolts through the holes in the plate.
Soldering irons with a cylindrical heater are more compact and convenient to use in hard-to-reach places. Nozzles are fixed on them by means of a detachable yoke fixed by clamping screws.
Due to the simplicity of the design of the heater and the lack of expensive elements in it, the cost of soldering irons varies between $ 100 and $ 200, depending on their manufacturer, capacity and configuration.
Device soldering equipment
The designs of soldering irons for polypropylene pipes may differ in details, but their main elements are the same. The equipment includes:
The body of the device is usually made of metal, because plastic parts can become fragile due to the constant exposure to high temperatures, although there are also models with rubberized handles.
The electric heater (TEN) has an appearance of a cone-shaped metal plate or a thick rod of a cylindrical form. The sizes of TENA depend on the consumed power and quantity of the nozzles which are at the same time worn on it.
In the electric heater in the form of a plate there are one or more holes for mounting the nozzles. With the increase in their number increases the power of the soldering iron and its cost. The standard temperature of the heater when welding pipes is 260 ° C, but it can be adjusted.
The thermostat has the form of a knob, which is used to adjust the required operating temperature.To control the readiness of the soldering iron to work, indicators (usually red and green lights) are used. When heated, the red indicator is on, and when the heater reaches the operating temperature, the green indicator also lights up.
Nozzles on flat TEN have a cylindrical shape and are called a mandrel and sleeve. Dorn serves to heat the inner polypropylene surface of the socket, and the sleeve is used to soften the outer layer of the pipe being joined.
On top of the nozzles have a non-stick coating so that the softened polypropylene does not stick to them. Each pipe diameter has its own nozzles. Usually they come complete with a soldering iron in the amount of 3-5 pairs.
For cylindrical heaters, clamp-shaped nozzles are used. Their maximum number on the soldering iron rod depends on the length of the heater.
There are universal and individual supports for the welding machine. In form, they can be:
Universal coasters can be purchased separately and are suitable for most soldering irons, and the individual ones have a special mount designed for a specific model or a whole series of equipment.
All coasters are relatively compact, but differ in weight.
Occasionally they come across soldering irons with heaters and supports of an unusual shape, but they did not receive mass distribution.
The principle of operation of the electrical device
The operation of the soldering iron of polypropylene pipes is based on the thermal softening of the surfaces of the parts to be soldered and their subsequent connection. The product with the bell is put on the mandrel, and the cut pipe is inserted into the hole of the heated sleeve. Details heat up during the standard time specified in the instruction of each soldering iron separately. Then the parts are removed from the nozzles and connected.
The welding process has many nuances that need to be studied before using it independently, because the parameters of this process depend on the type of polypropylene, the diameter of the pipes, the power of the soldering iron and other factors.
Criteria for the selection of socket models
The choice of a soldering iron for polypropylene pipes should begin with a study of the configuration and characteristics of the equipment. The main factors that ensure the durability and functionality of this device are:
- power of the heating element;
- set of nozzles;
- equipment manufacturer;
- soldering iron cost.
The welding machine almost always comes complete with auxiliary tools: mittens, screwdriver, tape measure and others. Therefore, when choosing a device, especially via the Internet, it is necessary to take into account this nuance.
Equipment power consumption
Most tips on choosing the power of a soldering iron on the Internet are based on the statement that it must be at least ten times the size of a pipe in millimeters.The maximum diameter of the pressure pipelines of home systems rarely exceeds 63 mm, so the recommended power of the soldering iron should theoretically be 500-600 watts. However, this approach does not take into account the real characteristics of the equipment.
The minimum power of most socket-mounted soldering irons on the market is 800 W, the maximum is 2 kW, so any of these devices will be sufficient for installing home heating or water supply systems. More powerful soldering irons quickly pick up the temperature after heating the next pair of plastic products, but, taking into account the time for their subsequent connection, this advantage does not matter much.
The cost of equipment is almost independent of the power of the heater; therefore, it is possible to focus on this characteristic only with regard to electrical safety. Apartment wiring is designed for a maximum load of 3.5-4 kW, so when using double-sided soldering irons, the use of other equipment with the same power will be limited.
If you don’t really want to buy a soldering iron with a minimum power, then it is best to purchase a device with a power consumption of 1.2-1.4 kW.
Kinds of heating nozzles
Nozzles for pipes are always supplied with the soldering iron. They are made of two types, depending on the shape of the heating element. For flat heaters, nozzles are made in the form of a cylinder closed on one side. They are fixed to each other by a bolt on either side of the metal plate of the soldering iron.
Dorn and sleeves for heating cylindrical rods have a semi-circular base. A pair of such nozzles covers the heater in the form of a clamp and is fixed with two bolts. This design of the soldering iron is considered more efficient, because a large contact area of the heater surface and nozzles accelerates their heating and stabilizes the temperature when the polypropylene is melted.
Dorn and sleeves are made of metal and coated with a non-stick coating of ordinary or metallized Teflon. It prevents molten polypropylene from sticking to the surface.
Despite the simplicity of the design, the nozzles are equipment that can quickly fail. A thin layer of Teflon tends to wear off quickly, after which the nozzles become unusable. Therefore, it is better to buy products of proven manufacturers, the quality of which can be guaranteed by sellers in stores. Check the thickness and quality of Teflon visually impossible.
The basic configuration of the soldering iron usually includes nozzles with a diameter of 20.25 and 32 mm. Some equipment models are supplied with a mandrel and sleeve with diameters of 40, 50 and 63 mm.
Nozzles are not cheap, so their cost affects the total price of the set of equipment. If welding of large-diameter pipes is not supposed, then it is better to buy a soldering iron with a minimum set of nozzles, and then purchase them if necessary. And with enough money, you can immediately purchase a model of welding machine with a maximum configuration.
Welding Equipment Manufacturers
Assess the quality of the soldering iron in the store for its appearance is almost impossible. The only exception is the low-grade Chinese models, which have a tin body, a thin electrical cord and a minimum configuration.
The quality of welding machines largely depends on the country of manufacturer. Large-scale factories can enter export markets on a large scale, so there are few well-known companies in this area. Domestic stores feature soldering irons manufactured in the following countries:
- Germany: Rothenberger, Kern.
- Czech Republic: Dytron
- Turkey: Candan, Valtec, Cobra.
- Ukraine: Temp, Dnipro.
- Russia: Uralmash, Fusion.
- China: Fora, Sturm, Enkor.
There are dozens of other manufacturers, but the above brands are the most tried out in practice, and their quality can be judged by real reviews.
The most reliable is the German and Czech equipment, which will serve without damage for several years. Its cost can be 10-12 times higher than the Russian and Ukrainian counterparts with the same configuration. Such a big difference in price is due not only to the excellent quality of products of European manufacturers, but also to the difference in cost.
The main advantage of reliable models is the accuracy of the temperature regime over the entire lifetime.Rothenberger, Dytron and Kern are the best manufacturers of welding equipment on the European market.
Turkish companies are trying to copy welding equipment for polypropylene pipes from their German competitors, but using cheaper components. The quality of their soldering irons is not inferior to European analogues, but it is much cheaper.
Ukrainian and Russian manufacturers of welding equipment under their brands usually sell models assembled to order in China. Because of this, the quality of domestic and Chinese devices is not much different. When buying a soldering iron from these countries, you can only focus on the cost, which is directly proportional to the quality and equipment configuration.
Types of picking soldering irons
The box with a socket-mounted soldering apparatus can contain various auxiliary tools, the cost of which can greatly influence the final price of the kit. To the soldering iron may additionally be attached:
- Key for fixing nozzles.
The most expensive device in the kit, after the fender itself and nozzles, is a pipe cutter. Without it, the quality process of soldering pipes is simply impossible.The presence of this tool is highly desirable when purchasing welding equipment.
It should be noted that pipe cutters in cheap sets are rather quickly blunt, and you have to buy more high-quality tools.
Buying and Operating Tips
Based on the analysis of the quality and durability of welding equipment, you can give such advice on buying it:
- For one-time household work, you can purchase a soldering iron of a well-known domestic manufacturer with a guarantee.
- When welding a small amount of plastic pipes, it is better to rent the welding equipment.
- Turkish soldering machines can be purchased by self-installation of numerous home wiring pipes and the availability of the appropriate amount of money.
- It is recommended to acquire high-quality European soldering iron if you wish to do installation work professionally.
Purchasing a reliable, expensive soldering iron does not guarantee its long life.To maintain the characteristics of the equipment must comply with operational regulations.
- When working with a soldering iron, wear gloves to protect against burns.
- Soldering irons usually have a metal casing, therefore, to eliminate the possibility of electric shock, you must connect it to a grounded outlet.
- Care must be taken to ensure that the heater does not come into contact with the wooden floor or flammable objects. It is advisable to use a special stand.
- It is desirable to carry out trial welding of parts on unnecessary scraps of pipes.
- The nozzles should be cleaned after performing a set of welding works.
Following these tips will allow you to purchase reliable equipment, as well as to operate it safely and for a long time.
Conclusions and useful video on the topic
Inexpensive models of soldering irons can last for a long time, but when buying equipment you should not take into account the isolated opinions of non-professionals who are lucky in choosing an instrument. The videos offer expert advice from experts on the characteristics of soldering irons for PP pipes and the features of their choice.
Overview of the VALTEC pipe welding machine:
Selection rules for welding machines:
Comparison of cheap and expensive soldering iron:
The choice of welding equipment for polypropylene pipelines largely depends on the financial capabilities of the buyer. But when buying a soldering iron, it is necessary to take into account their technical characteristics in order to purchase exactly the equipment that is necessary to complete the set installation tasks.