Heat guns are a great addition for a DIY’er to possess in their arsenal. Heat guns have a wide array of uses and are most commonly used to strip paint.
They can also be used to dry out damp wood, bend plastic, soften adhesives and shrink wrapping.
Heat Guns - Comparison Guide
Wagner Power Products 503008 Heat Gun
PORTER-CABLE PC1500HG 1500-Watt Heat Gun
DEWALT D26960K Heavy Duty Heat Gun with LCD Display
Bosch 1942 14.3 Amp Heat Gun
Black & Decker HG1300 Dual Temperature Heat Gun
Mini Heat Gun, Compact Hot Air Gun
How Does a Heat Gun Work?
A heat gun will always have a source of heat. This is usually produced by a heating element but sometimes consists of a gas flame. There is also a mechanism to move the hot air, usually an electric fan.
Heat guns contain a nozzle which directs the hot air and a power switch to turn it on. Sometimes the heat gun will come with other features such as variously shaped nozzles, ergonomic handle or external stand.
A heat gun will emit temperatures between 100 °C and 550 °C (200-1000 °F), while some can run higher.
What Can I Use a Heat Gun For?
There are many uses for a heat gun, but here are the most popular applications.
Taking off paint from furniture or other woodworking items could be a pain unless you have a heat gun. Removing paints without the use of solvents and chemicals is safer and environmentally friendly.
If you are in a hurry to get your painting tasks done, it is possible to use a heat gun to reduce your wait time.
Shrink Wrap Applications
Whether you work with videos or gift baskets, applying shrink wrapping is much easier with a heat gun.
The heat gun will require a special nozzle, but a heat gun makes it easy to weld PVC pipes and floor tiles.
Removing a bumper sticker from a car is easy with a heat gun. Any removing residue can be removed with WD-40 or Goo-Gone.
Thaw Frozen Pipes
Ever turn on the faucet and find that there is no water during the winter months? Apply heat from your heat gun over the frozen area of the pipe and thaw it quickly. Just be careful to do it slowly and make sure your pipes can handle it or you might have a bigger mess.
Restore Automotive Trim
Older cars tend to lack luster in their trim. Take the heat gun to it and restore your black trim to its original shine.
Heat guns are capable of fixing any defective or unlevel candles.
Ever wanted to roast your own coffee? You need temperatures of 750 degrees Fahrenheit which shouldn’t be an issue for most heat guns.
You are basically just shrinking tint film to your window. The heat gun makes the process much smoother.
Have a small, shallow dent that needs to be repaired? Use the heat gun to gently warm the area. Then, apply dry ice to cool the metal and pop out the dent. Do not overheat the metal or the paint will be removed in the process.
Features of the Best Heat Guns
When you are in the market for a new heat gun, here are some of the features you should look for:
Most heat guns feature 1000 to 2000-watts of power. If there are airflow and heat controls on the gun, the more wattage you have, the better.
The main control switch is usually located in front of the pistol grip. This switch gets turned off automatically when the pressure is removed making it safer if the gun gets dropped.
High-quality guns will produce a wide range of temperatures. The larger the range, the more useful the gun is.
This feature is a must-have if you want to properly store the gun.
High-quality guns will offer more than one speed or variable speed which makes the tool more useful.
This stand allows the gun to rest during work and afterward in a safe position. It also allows for hands-free work such as bending a plastic pipe.
Heat guns often come with a variety of nozzles that are used for various purposes. You normally will have to purchase these separately, but it is important to note if your gun will work with the nozzles you desire.
Top 6 Heat Guns Reviewed
These are my 6 favorite heat guns on the market today. I have covered all types and styles so you can find what you are looking for. See what I recommend below.
1. Wagner Power Products 503008 Heat Gun
My Overall Rating
This cost effective model tops my list as it is perfect for the occasional DIYer who works around the house. The Wagner 0503008 model is light at only 1.9 pounds, but sturdy and made to last for your home projects.
At 1200v, and built to be usable in a 110-120v socket, this heat gun boasts two temperature settings of 750 or 1000 degrees. Use the lower settings for defrosting or the higher settings for warping and bending.
The Wagner 0503008 includes a 2-year manufacturer's warranty and comes from leaders in the personal tool industry. Look no further if are searching for affordability and quality.
2. PORTER-CABLE PC1500HG 1500-Watt Heat Gun
My Overall Rating
The Porter-Cable electric heat gun boasts a 1500w, super quiet motor and comes in at just 2.5 pounds. This heat gun is built for more regular users as it comes with more features. It is a superb choice for painters or serious handymen.
It comes with a variable temperature control dial which allows you to easily adjust your temperature settings on the fly. The comfortable rubberized grip makes this one an excellent choice for longer jobs and tasks to prevent hand strain. An included stand also allows you to sit the gun upright to direct materials in front of it for hands-free use.
The Porter-Cable heat gun includes a one-year limited service manufacturer’s warranty and a 90 day money back guarantee. I love this tool as I use it regularly. If you want high quality and are willing to spend a little extra then the Porter-cable is for you.
3. DEWALT D26960K Heavy Duty Heat Gun with LCD Display
My Overall Rating
The heavy duty Dewalt model is perfect for contractors and those requiring heavy and hard usage for years to come. This model features an LCD display that allows you to fine-tune the temperature in 50 degree increments.
This heat gun is built to last and built for safety: a cord protector prevents the cord from tearing from the gun housing. An overload protector also prevents the gun from burn up caused by heavy usage. This is a model where you’ll get years of use for your jobs. Bonuses include a classic Dewalt hard case and a surprisingly wide array of accessories.
The Dewalt D26980K heat gun includes a 3-year limited manufacturer’s warranty.
4. Bosch 1942 14.3 Amp Heat Gun
My Overall Rating
Another option for those that are going to be putting their heat gun through hard use. The 1942 is a durable and heavy-duty gun meant to handle whatever you put it through. Bosch has earned its great reputation through producing durable and long lasting tools.
The 1942 electric heat gun features 14.3 amps and a variable temperature setting between 750-1000 degrees Fahrenheit. Weighing in at 3.5 pounds, the industrial gun features a powerful blower for situations where a high volume of air (cool or heated) is needed. The Bosch heat gun comes with a one year limited warranty from the date of purchase.
I recommend this tool for those who have previously used and liked the Bosch range.
5. Black & Decker HG1300 Dual Temperature Heat Gun
My Overall Rating
While not the most advanced model on the list, the HG1300 is very light weight, easy to use, and has a compact design. Combined with being very affordable, it is an excellent budget choice for DIY’ers.
This quiet heat gun features a variable 2-temperature setting of 750 and 1000 degrees and it can reach its max heat temperature very fast. Use it for thawing out frozen pipes, stripping paint and bending and welding plastics. A flip out stand that will keep the gun upright prevents the heated nozzle from burning anything the gun is laid on.
The Black & Decker HG1300 comes with a 2-year warranty. A great choice for the household DIY’er.
6. Mini Heat Gun, Compact Hot Air Gun
My Overall Rating
When you are in need of a low-cost heat gun for shrink tubing, shrink wrapping, embossing or melting plastics, this is a budget-friendly option to check out. It is made of stainless steel inside with ABS plastic on the outside.
The heat vents are designed to reduce internal temperatures while extending product duration. It includes a two-pin US plug plus a 3-foot cable. The temperature of this gun can reach 200-degrees in just seconds.
With this unit weighing less than one pound, it is lightweight and easy enough for anyone to use.
Heat Gun vs Hair Dryer
Many people think that using a hair dryer is the same as operating a heat gun. While they both produce heat and have the same concept in design, there are some big differences between the two.
First of all, the maximum temperature of most hair dryers is 140 degrees Fahrenheit. To have a hair dryer with higher temperatures than this would burn your skin. The heat coming from the hair dryer isn’t going to be powerful enough for most heat gun applications.
Hair dryers are designed for drying hair. There are times, however, where they might work in a pinch for some applications of a heat gun. If you have a sticker or adhesive that needs to be removed, the hair dryer might be powerful enough, just be careful not to overheat the unit.
Heat guns are often made to industrial-strength standards and are meant to do jobs quickly. They can often melt PVC and easily apply shrink wrap to gift baskets, boxes and more. In addition, many models offer variable temperature controls so you have more options available.
The other major difference is that a majority of heat guns are made to be compact. This allows them to reach into difficult places like corners with ease.
Shrink Wrap Heat Gun
Many shrink wrap heat guns are powered by propane instead of electric, although they work in a similar fashion. They are handheld units that offer a trigger and handle but they are connected to propane gas through a flexible rubber hose.
The gas bottle can be placed on a trolley for safety so moving around the object is easier. Gas gets drawn out of the barrel when the trigger is depressed. It then mixes with air in the barrel as well. An electrode generates a spark which then ignites the gas/air mixture to create a flame.
There are safety measures included with these guns. For example, if the trigger gets released or the gun gets dropped, the gas is cut off and the flame will be extinguished. In addition, the burner tends to be protected by a cowl to avoid burns.
The shrink wrap heat guns can seem a little intimidating to use. The flame is visible and operation can be noisy. These guns tend to shrink an oval areal of 30 to 40 centimeters in diameter at a time.
Tips & Tricks When Using a Heat Gun
The heat gun should always be held at a 45-degree angle from the work. You also don’t want to keep it in the same place for more than a few seconds at a time.
When stripping paint, it is important that you use a scraper once the paint begins to bubble. If you continue to heat the paint after it bubbles, you could burn the paint. If you find that there is some paint which is difficult to remove, don’t continue using the gun on it.
This can damage the wood or metal that you are heating. Instead, you can sand the surface for a quality finish.
Here is a general guideline for the amount of heat you need for each project:
In addition, you might find these safety tips to be helpful:
An occasional DIY’er may opt for the simpler and more modestly priced guns, which have everything you need to get the job done efficiently.
On the other hand, if you’re a contractor planning on lugging your heat gun through construction sites, you may want to go for the more advanced and heavy-duty models like the Dewalt and Bosch.
These are guaranteed to stand the hardships and dropping they may sustain. You can’t go wrong with any of these choices.
Depending on the job and your budget, you can decide on the best heat gun here for your individual needs to get the job done.
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