Powering all kind of gadgets from USB power has become very popular nowadays. Soldering from USB power? Now there are products for this. The question is that how useful they are because of the limited power available from USB port (just few watts). The maximum power you can get from normal USB 2.0 port is only 2.5W (5V 500mA), but some special “charge” USB ports can supply more current.
Premier Farnell has announced it will stock the world’s first USB-powered soldering iron by MegaPower. (I am a little bit skeptic on this “world’s first” part because I have seen far too many press releases with those words not properly used, but let’s go on). This small soldering iron is designed for quick repairs in the field and the lab for fine pitch SMT components. It is powered by the USB port or alternatively with a 9V battery. The product claims to achieves 480°C in 20 seconds and at 5W. At this point I am little bit wondering how this 5W is taken from USB port.
Make has article 5 minute review: USB soldering iron on this soldering iron. The article says that the iron has connections to use two USB ports to draw lots of power, which answers my earlier wondering how it gets 5W from USB port.
USB Soldering Iron from Thanko May Actually Work, Sorta reviews a similar looking device. It gives some details on USB powering options: With any standard USB cable you will only be able to get about 300 degrees and the included dual connector USB cords you can push that up to 350 degrees (enough to work with highly lead based solder). The 3rd power option is using 9V battery to mini-USB connector cable (scary idea) you can jump the all the way up to 450 degrees (but the battery last only for a quite short time).
5 minute review: USB soldering iron article article would not recommend it as a first iron, and it won’t be replacing trusty bench-top unit any time soon, however the writer sees that it could be useful when traveling with prototype hardware.
There is also this video on YouTube on this USB soldering iron:
This seems to be something that might be maybe useful for something or not. Hard to judge without actually trying. But this is not something I would run to buy. I already have small gas powered and battery powered soldering irons.
If you are interested, check out Farnell product page for more information.