Search for a heat gun and you’ll find dozens of different brands, models and types in a wide range of prices. So how do you decide which one to buy?
I learned a long time ago that you don’t save money buying cheap tools.
When it comes to heat guns, there are some differences, however.
I’ve used “pro” industrial heat guns on the job in a factory once, and these are very heavy-duty metal tools that are built to last because they’re used for hours a day, years on end.
This type of heat gun can be found, but it’s overkill for the garage unless you’re doing an awful lot of wiring. But on the other hand, I didn’t want some cheap piece of junk that would melt the first time I used it.
There’s not much to go by when researching a heat gun because it isn’t the most popular tool and not everyone owns one.
They can be found anywhere from about $20.00 to $200.00, and I decided that I wanted a nice mid-range type that would do the job and last pretty much for the lifetime of use I’d be giving it anyway.
Any search for heat guns will come up with the name Steinel, which is a fairly well-known company when it comes to heat guns (and glue guns). The German manufacturer has a U.S. office and they make a nice variety of heat guns from the basic (including the SV 800 shown here) to the heavy-duty industrial type (the HG 4000 and HG 5000 series).
The Steinel Ultra Heat SV 800 heat gun is pretty much their entry-level version, although “entry level” to Steinel is mid- or top-range to most other brands. This is a very nice heat gun that should last a long time.
The SV 800 is about the size of an electric drill and it handles like one too. It weighs exactly 1 kg and it has a thick plastic case that should take a lot of abuse.
One of the features that first impressed me about the SV 800 is the gauge (thickness) of the 2 meter long power cord ; it’s pretty hefty — more heavy-duty than the power cords on any of the electric drills I own.
It also has a separate sleeve where it comes out of the handle to prevent chafing.
The quality of the power cord is a good thing to have on an electric tool that’s going to use a lot of juice and I figure if Steinel didn’t cut corners here (and many of the cheap heat gun brands do), it gives me confidence that the rest of the tool is well made also.
In fact, the Steinel SV 800 comes with a one-year warranty, which is also a bonus.
The SV 800 a dual-heat model, with 600 degree Fahrenheit and 950 degree F settings (316 and 510 C). It puts out 1,300 Watts at 120 Volts.
Using the Steinel Heat Gun
The heat temperature settings on the SV 800 are controlled via a two-way switch on the handle. Push the switch up once to put it on low and push it up again to get the high heat setting.
The tool heats up very quickly — almost instantaneously. It does a great job on heat shrink — better than any other method I’ve ever used.
Put it on high and get it near the shrink tube and the tube will quickly tighten around the wire. The fan is also relatively quiet — not as loud as a hair dryer, which is good.
The basic SV 800 doesn’t come with any attachments, but I use the cardboard box it came in to store it. They also have an SV 800 kit that includes a carrying case and a couple of attachments that clip on to the nozzle to change the size of the air flow.
At first I thought I’d need the attachments but the reality is that the slightly wider stock round nozzle is just about perfect for surrounding the type of smaller-gauge heat shrink tubing used on motorcycles.
The cardboard box that the tool comes in is useful to this one came in
The other “entry level” Steinel heat gun is the SV 803 Ultra Heat II, which is nearly identical to the VS 800 but has a third fan setting to blow cool air, which may be occasionally useful.
A heat gun is also useful for removing old decals or vinyl transfers or bumper stickers or old stick-on reflective tape.
Heat it up and it peels right off — a lot easier than trying to pick it off with a fingernail or razor blade, and safer on the painted surface also.