Cold Heat Review

What follows is my review of the Cold Heat (www.coldheat.com) soldering iron.
First off, let me note the reasonably good quality for a mere $20 item.
Out of the box, the tool comes in an attractive black carrying case with molded foam insert. The tool itself is sleek and aesthetically pleasing, with dark rubber trim to improve grip. A small white led mounted under the soldering tip illuminates the soldering area when the device is turned on. A red led on top of the unit illuminates when the special forked tip makes contact and begins to heat up.
The idea of a small, cordless soldering iron that is effectively instant on, instant off, only expending electricity when needed is unquestionably a sexy idea. However, when I began to actually use the tool, my hopes at having obtained a realization of this dream dwindled.
My analysis involved two sets of tests. For the first set, I the used the tool with 4 Powerizer 2000mAh rechargeable NiMH batteries. They're rated at 1.2V but had been fulled recharged to 1.4V prior to the test. The first test involved simply melting a string of 18 gauge solder. Sounded simple enough, but as I held the tip to the solder, and the red led illuminated, I waited. And waited. And waited. After about a minute of attempting to melt solder, I removed the tool and carefully probed the solder with my fingers. Distinctly warm to the touch, but far from melting. The second test, de-soldering components from a scrap printed circuit board, while somewhat meaningless after having failed the first test, was equally fruitless. After these few minutes of use I removed and probed the batteries, which now read around 1.2V each.
At this point I should mention some warnings provided by the manufacturer. One of these involves the frailness of the soldering tip, which indeed cannot withstand much sustained pressure. Having heeded their warning, I was surprised to noticed my limited use had begun to slightly chip both prongs of the soldering tip. When they say use very light pressure, they mean it. Another warning involved the recommendation against using rechargeable batteries, as their lower voltage and shorter running times might produce sporadic performance as the batteries begin to run low. Fair enough. On to the second set of tests.
My next tests involved 4 brand new Duracell alkaline batteries, probed at 1.6V each. The first trial proceeded better than the previous attempt. Within a few seconds after making contact, the tip became hot enough to melt 18 gauge solder. I proceeded to the second trial of de-soldering. With the aid of a de-soldering pump, I began to melt contacts and remove solder with about the same ease as a traditional soldering iron, albeit without the annoying cord. The first few de-solderings went quickly, but I began to notice a slight delay in the tool's response time. Understandably, repeated use will eventually wear out the batteries, but the manufacturer claims the unit should be able to handle 750 joints before requiring new batteries. By my sixth joint, the tool was again unable to melt solder. I was unimpressed. I waited a few minutes, hoping the power drain was only temporary, as is often the case with momentary high-current demands, but the performance did not improve. After removing the batteries, my multimeter read them at about 1.4V each, the apparent threshold under which the device becomes useless for our purposes.
Overall, I can't recommend the Cold Heat soldering iron for electronic applications. Even though it's only $20, I'll probably end up returning the item. A design including extra batteries may increase the tool's usability, but despite the decent manufacturing quality and sleek lines, this item is all dazzle with no substance. Perhaps the idea behind the "Cold Heat" technology has merit, but in this case the implementation's a dud.
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Thank you, Chris, for an excellent review of this item. I had my curiosity up about it, and it seems to meet the sort of expectations I had for it. Nice work.
Cheers!
Sir Charles W. Shults III, K. B. B. Xenotech Research 321-206-1840
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Sir Charles W. Shults III wrote:

In all fairness, I emailed my review to Hyperion Innovations, the company that manufactures Cold Heat, and they offered to send me a replacement unit, suggesting mine might be defective. I doubt that, but I took them up on their offer. We'll see how it turns out.
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Interesting review. I'll pass the next time I think it would be handy to have.

tests.
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