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Cool Tools 2020: Soldering Fume Extractor - Review

Scoring

Product Performed to Expectations: 7
Specifications were sufficient to design with: 10
Demo Software was of good quality: 10
Product was easy to use: 10
Support materials were available: 10
The price to performance ratio was good: 7
TotalScore: 54 / 60
  • RoadTest: Cool Tools 2020: Soldering Fume Extractor
  • Buy Now
  • Evaluation Type: Workshop Tools
  • Was everything in the box required?: Yes
  • Comparable Products/Other parts you considered: Cheaper Extractors on Amazon and other pro stuff.
  • What were the biggest problems encountered?: None

  • Detailed Review:

    Most electronics hobbyists have spent their initial soldering life breathing solder fumes and don't consider much of it. But as it turns out, long term exposure to these chemical smoke has a very bad effect on living beings. The subject of this review is a device that can help with this problem and the question is how much of an impact can it have and how it compares with other more expensive solutions. I have done a small video of the same and this write-up supplements the same.

     

     

    The Fume extractor comes in a small box and everything you would need to start using it. Unboxing was uneventful though the sticker on the box edge was interesting. The extractor comes with an (activated?) carbon mesh that is considered a carcinogen as mentioned in some online articles but poses no thread unless ingested. This makes it important to replace the mesh as it will wear out with use. More on this later. The device itself is made of plastic and seems sturdy. The unit has a mesh/grill on the front and fins at the back and the shape of these exit fins direct the air flow upwards instead of directly back. This is good since there may be small components on the bench which may be blown away by the air pressure.

     

    There is a three position switch at the back of the unit that allows for users to turn it off, turn on the fan or both the fan and the LED strip at the top of the unit. There is no speed control and the LED are not really bright enough to serve a purpose in my opinion. The carbon filter at the front can be removed by hand and replaced with ease. The construction of the enclosure is advertised to allow use lying down though in my experiments was not particularly useful. Inside the enclosure is a fan with a metal build which feels well made and of good quality. There are minimal electronics inside with the exception of the small voltage control board for the LED strip at the front. There also no fuse of any kind in case the fan winding shorts out which was curious and adding a small replaceable fuse would have been desirable.

     

     

    The operation is standard and though the unit is noisier that expected, it has good airflow. Due to the light strip at the top, the fan placement inside the enclosure is slightly on the lower side. A few days of use and after the initial video, I ended up using a small stand for the extractor. Fumes tend to rise up and the ideal position for the extractor would be right above the soldering platform. By putting the fan at a height, I was able to make better use of the same.

    I was using a small PC fan before this unit and though the suction was weaker, it was far less noisy. I am looking for a way to mount the quieter fan at the back to make it the best of both worlds but I will probably end up adding a speed control for the fan instead to solve the problem.

    I also researched the internet for alternatives and found some for around 1/5 of the cost of this solution. They look comparable but I don't have first hand experience there. I have also seen some more expensive fume extraction solutions but feel that the placement of the unit plays a crucial role in it's performance. This unit offers a good construction and part quality for the price. The LED strip is a gimmick that lowers the position of the fan and the absence of a speed control as well as a fuse are things I leave you to think about. The carbon filters can be removed and are quite cheap.

    For the segment that this product targets, the above are the most important things to be highlighted and should help you make a decision. I will post a link to the project once I add a speed control and fuse to this unit as they would make this unit more effective for me.


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