The 10 Best Heat Guns
This wiki has been updated 23 times since it was first published in June of 2015. Whether you're stripping paint, loosening old bolts, bending pipes, or shrinking insulation, one of these quality heat guns will help you get the job done fast. Some are even capable of lighting charcoal to get that barbecue roaring quickly. We've included models priced for the occasional DIYer along with some heavy-duty options suitable for professional contractors. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki. Skip to the best heat gun on Amazon.
Heat Gun Construction And Uses
The housing is designed to make the heat gun comfortable to hold as well as protect the user during operation.
If you have peeling floor tile or laminate, a few seconds with the heat gun can reactivate the adhesive and make them stick again.
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.
It will also shorten the gun's lifespan and may cause the fan's components or the heating element to burn out.
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.
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