The 10 Best Heat Guns
This wiki has been updated 34 times since it was first published in June of 2015. Whether you're stripping paint, loosening old bolts, bending pipes, or shrinking product wrappers, one of these heat guns will help you get the job done fast. Some are even capable of lighting charcoal to get your barbecue roaring quickly. We've included models priced for the occasional DIY hobbyist along with some heavy-duty options suitable for professional contractors. When users buy our independently chosen editorial selections, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.
December 16, 2020:
Much more powerful than an average hairdryer, these heat guns have a typical heat range of 100 degrees Fahrenheit to over 1000. This versatility makes them useful tools for use a variety of tasks around the home and on a professional level, such as paint removal, bending and welding plastics, laying vinyl, and for the smaller models, repairing electronics and soldering.
This recent update saw several items replaced with the latest models, and the addition of two cordless options. The Master Appliance HG-501A was replaced with the Master Appliance HG-501D. this more powerful option has a maximum temperature of 1200 Fahrenheit and propels air at an impressive 3,400 feet per minute However, its lack of temperature control does limit its uses. The Steinel HL2010E was switched for the newer Steinel HL2020E, which has a more durable design and is available in a range of different kits suitable for automotive work or plastic welding.
We removed two models, the Black & Decker HG1300, due to dangerous overheating and smoking concerns, and the Wagner Furno 300, due to availability issues. In their place, we selected two cordless options. The Berkling BSG-568, a portable choice that runs on butane, and has interchangeable nozzles that allow it to be used as a heat gun, a mini blow torch, or a soldering iron, and the Milwaukee 2688-21, which is a powerful battery-operated model that comes with a hard carrying case and two different nozzle attachments.
December 06, 2019:
Heat guns, used for such tasks as shrink wrapping and plastic welding. Among the differences between the two are their duty cycle as well as the reliability over their lifespan. The Tacklife HGP72AC and Tacklife HGP35AC are two quality affordable models; the former is a full-size model and the latter is one of the most effective compact versions out there. They're both designed for occasional use and probably won't stand up to full-time professional use. Aside from the miniature Tacklife, the ZeopoCase Mini is also quite compact, although it doesn't get incredibly hot. And if you'll be repairing a considerable amount of electronics, the Noevsbig 8786 may be right for you, as it's specifically designed to work alongside a soldering station. In fact, there's an upgraded model available that has a soldering iron built right into it.
We particularly like the Porter-Cable PC1500HG because although it is inexpensive, it's also suitable for long periods of use. That's due not only to its durability but also its comfortable grip, plus, it has an especially useful variable temperature control knob. The Black & Decker HG1300 is one of the most affordable in the pistol-grip style, although it only has two settings, 750 and 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit. The Wagner Furno 300 is also a great entry-level consideration, and it makes up one part of a line of heat guns that have increasing capabilities as they get slightly more expensive.
In addition to their durability, costly contractor-grade models sometimes offer markedly increased airflow. This is definitely the case with the Master Appliance HG-501A, which can move air at up to 3,000 feet per minute. The Steinel HL2010E offers only an average maximum volume level of just over 16 CFM, but it does reach about 100 degrees Fahrenheit higher than most others. For long-term effectiveness, though, it's tough to beat the DeWalt D26960K, which comes with 10 versatile tips and should be a "buy-it-for-life" type of item.
Speedheater As an alternative to blowing hot air, these machines use infrared light to heat the surface area. Unlike a heat gun, they do not heat the surrounding area, rather, the infrared wavelengths heat only what is directly in front of the heat source, making them particularly useful for removing paint. speedheater.com
Heat Gun Construction And Uses
Heat guns aren't only suitable for construction applications.
A heat gun's most basic components include a fan, a heating element, a nozzle, an on/off switch and a housing. The fan draws air into the body and pushes it along the heating element before finally pushing it out of the nozzle. The heating element is most often electric, but can also be a gas flame in some industrial models. Whatever heating element is used, it must be powerful enough to heat the air instantly as the air moves through the system at high speeds.
The nozzle may be a simple fixed round tube or it can be specially shaped and designed for a specific task. The housing is designed to make the heat gun comfortable to hold as well as protect the user during operation.
Heat guns are surprisingly handy tools that can be used for more than paint and varnish removal. Some common applications for heat guns include forming and shaping plastic pipes, heat-shrinking plastic films and wire connectors, loosening rusty bolts, soldering plumbing joints and drying out damp wood before painting. They can also be used to cure paint and adhesives quicker, allowing you to move onto the next stage of a project without waiting. Other uses include speed drying plaster wall patches, thawing frozen pipes, and softening caulk or putty for easier removal.
Heat guns aren't only suitable for construction applications. The inventive homeowner can find a number of additional uses. If you like to repurpose glass food jars, a heat gun can make removing the label easier and less messy. If you have peeling floor tile or laminate, a few seconds with the heat gun can reactivate the adhesive and make them stick again. They can even be used to roast coffee beans, thaw a deep freezer, or remove window tint.
Tips For Using A Heat Gun Safely And Effectively
Heat guns can function at temperatures upwards of 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit, so it is important to take safety precautions when operating one. Never touch the nozzle while the heat gun is on and never direct the flow of hot air at yourself or anyone else as this can cause severe burns. A heat gun must also cool down after use before it can be packed away safely.
The extension cord should be fully unwound and cannot be left coiled as the load can generate enough heat to be considered a fire hazard.
If you purchase a heat gun with multiple nozzle attachments, you should always attach the nozzle you plan on using before turning on the unit. Wide nozzles are best for paint removal, while smaller nozzles are best when you need to localize the heat into a compact area. If you do need to change nozzles mid job, let the unit cool for at least five minutes before attempting the change.
To ensure your heat gun has reached an effective temperature, let it heat up for 45 seconds before trying to use it for the intended application. If you try and use it before it reaches an optimal temperature, you run the risk of damaging your work surface or, at the very least, making it ineffective and making your job more difficult.
The average heat gun consumes upwards of 2,000 Watts. If you must use an extension cord always choose one that is rated for heavy duty use. Preferably a 12 gauge cable with a minimum of 15 amperage load rating. The extension cord should be fully unwound and cannot be left coiled as the load can generate enough heat to be considered a fire hazard.
Blocking the heat gun's inlet grills can cause the internal components to overheat and possibly catch fire. It will also shorten the gun's lifespan and may cause the fan's components or the heating element to burn out. Operating the heat gun with the exhaust nozzle flat against a hard surface can have the same effect.
Features To Look For In A Heat Gun
There are a number of features to look out for that can make a heat gun easier and safer to use. If you will be using your heat gun for a wide range of applications, purchase one that allows for a variety of temperature settings. Some models have a continuously variable dial that allows you to increase and decrease the temperature in minute increments. In addition to adjusting the temperature, the ability to control the air flow can be extremely helpful. Some models may just have one airflow setting, while others may have a low, medium, and high setting.
The main control switch may be a standard on/off switch, or it can be a dead man switch. Models with a dead man switch are considerably safer as they will turn off if the unit is accidentally dropped during operation. This can be invaluable if the unit falls into a hard to reach area. Another safety feature to keep an eye out for is a thermal cutoff. This will switch the tool off if some of the interior components overheat. If the thermal cutoff is tripped, there is a fault which must be identified and corrected before continuing to use the unit.
Other features which can be helpful include a stand that allows you to use the gun hands-free. This can be especially handy when bending plastic or metal objects. A range of nozzle attachments will also make the gun more useful in a variety of applications.