Best Heat Guns

Updated October 2019
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

9 Models Considered
5 Hours Researched
1 Experts Interviewed
237 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Buying guide for best heat guns

Last Updated October 2019

A heat gun is a relatively uncomplicated yet very effective tool with a surprisingly wide variety of uses from stripping paint to thawing pipes to repairing a vehicle’s bodywork. However, the sheer number of different heat guns available can make it difficult to choose the right one for your needs. We’ve been investigating the heat gun market so we can bring you some informed advice to help you with your decision.

You need to consider the heat output, air speed, nozzles, controls, and several other features as you shop. In the following buying guide, we look in more detail at what heat guns can do and at the features you’ll want to consider when making your choice. Our recommended models included here provide a variety of solutions and underline the broad range of prices and performance options you have as you shop.

Heat guns can get very, very hot. Whenever practical, wear heat-proof gloves. If you’re stripping paint, wear a respirator to protect you from unpleasant and potentially toxic fumes.

Key considerations

What can a heat gun do?

A heat gun is not unlike a hair dryer, yet it’s much more powerful. Most heat guns are a similar shape. Inside, there’s an electric motor that blows air across a heating element. These two components define the kind of performance you can expect from a heat gun.

You probably have a specific task in mind if you’re thinking about buying a heat gun. Your choice could well be based on your previous experience using one. However, it’s worth thinking about all the potential uses of this tool so you can maximize the value of your purchase.

Small, handheld models that are a simple tube shape, often called embossing heat guns, have low output but are invaluable for a number of craft projects. They can also be used for various paint and mixed-media effects.

Larger models with variable heat delivery can also be used by artists and craftspeople, but these offer greater versatility. Common uses include the following:

  • Stripping paint
  • Shrink-wrapping packages
  • Shrinking tubular sleeves for electrical wiring
  • Bending or welding plastics
  • Reworking and repairing electrical or electronic items
  • Adding or removing vehicle wraps
  • Removing dents from vehicle bodywork
  • Removing decals or labels
  • Thawing pipes
  • Undoing rusty nuts and bolts

Many of these things are well within the scope of the average DIY enthusiast, while others require specialist knowledge. Each makes different demands on a heat gun, which explains why there’s so much choice.

EXPERT TIP

With a stand, you can leave your heat gun to cool down safely. In some cases, it also means you can operate the gun hands-free.


Staff  | BestReviews

Heat gun features

Consider the following features when choosing a heat gun.

Heat output: This is of major importance. Small devices often only need to work within a narrow temperature band and may do no more than reach a fixed temperature of a few hundred degrees Fahrenheit. General-purpose heat guns offer a wide range — from as little as 150°F to over 1,000°F. Others can be more function-specific and, while powerful, deliver a smaller operating range. It’s not always about having the greatest flexibility. Sometimes it’s more significant to have the correct heat for the task you’re undertaking.

Heat control: This can be an equally important feature, particularly if you need a specific temperature. Some basic heat guns offer high and low options, and quite a few tools have a number of presets via an easy-to-use dial. High-end models provide push-button settings and digital readouts.

Air speed: This can be an important factor, too. Too little won’t get heat to the appropriate areas, and too much might damage whatever you’re working on. Many heat guns provide two settings.

Nozzles: These are often provided with the heat gun. They range from fan-shaped designs for stripping paint to curved shields for shrinking tubing. You might also get scrapers or other accessories. When you’re choosing between two very similar heat guns, each nozzle potentially adds value.

Power cable: This can be as long as ten feet, but most are shorter. If you need to use an extension cord, make sure it’s of sufficient gauge to handle the demands of the tool. Cordless heat guns overcome this problem, but at the time of writing there were only a few available, and they are very expensive.

Overload protection: This valuable feature on some models ensures your gun won’t overheat, which can damage internal components and wear the element unnecessarily. A safety cut-out can extend the life of your tool.

Stand: This very useful item prevents your heat gun from coming into contact with — and damaging — your work surface. Some are designed to point the nozzle vertically so you can use both hands on your work (when sleeving cables, for example).

Handle: Most handles are made of hard plastic. If you’re likely to be using your heat gun for long periods, a rubberized grip is more comfortable.

Case: A carrying case is always a nice addition. It’s even more useful if it can accommodate extra nozzles.

A warranty period can indicate a manufacturer’s confidence in the durability of its tool. One year is standard, but some heat guns come with three.

Heat gun prices

Inexpensive: You can find small, entry-level heat guns for as little as $10 or $15. As a tool for embossing or certain paint effects, this might be all you need. The cheapest general-purpose heat guns — the pistol-grip type used for stripping paint — cost around $20.

Mid-range: If you’re looking for a quality all-rounder, you’ll pay between $30 and $50, depending on the accessories included. Most DIY enthusiasts and many professionals will find what they’re looking for in this price bracket.

Expensive: Heat guns from big-name brands and those aimed at heavy-duty users cost from $70 to $120. It’s a lot of money compared to many good mid-range models, but for some people it will be worth the investment. Cordless heat guns offer greater freedom of movement, but the few available currently all cost over $120.

EXPERT TIP

Pistol-grip heat guns are the most common, but if you’ve got detailed work to do, the smaller handheld type might be more suitable.


Staff  | BestReviews

Tips

  • Think about safety first. A heat gun may not have a naked flame, but it’s still capable of starting a fire. Think carefully about your work area and remove any flammable materials. Be careful to keep your hands out of the hot air stream. And allow the gun to cool completely before putting it away.
  • Use a heat gun to reflow solder. This is for when you’re trying to take components apart, not for initial soldering. That should always be done with a soldering iron. A lot of solder is now lead-free, but not all. Lead is toxic, so unless you’re absolutely sure of the origin, always have good ventilation and wear a respirator.
  • Use the right nozzle. It’s important to use the right heat gun nozzle for optimum performance. Fortunately, there are dozens of task-specific accessories available to buy separately if your gun isn’t supplied with the one you need.
  • Use a heat gun for shrink-wrapping. A heat gun is great for shrink-wrapping modestly sized items, which is particularly good for crafters. However, it can be a challenge to evenly heat large items. In that case, a dedicated shrink-wrapping gun may be a better option.

Other products we considered

The ZeopoCase Portable Mini Heat Gun is one of the cheapest devices we found, and it’s a useful little tool for most projects. Though basic, the internals are stainless steel, so it’s not just a throwaway item. The Urbest Heat Gun Kit is a mid-range model that heats to 1,000°F in four seconds and features a safety cut-out to prevent overheating. It comes with a 150-piece kit of shrink-wrap tubing, but it would also suit artists and craftspeople. If you’re looking for industrial performance, the big Master Appliance HG Series Heat Gun offers a durable build, a powerful motor, and great versatility, though professional guns of this standard do carry a higher price tag.

There are lots of heat gun nozzles available, and they’re relatively cheap, so don’t worry if your preferred model doesn’t come with all the accessories you want.

FAQ

Q. How do I take care of my heat gun?
A.
These tools require very little maintenance. Mostly, it’s a question of keeping the nozzle and heat element free of dirt and dust, which is really just a matter of general cleanliness in your work area. Most manufacturers provide an instruction manual, which you should follow carefully to maximize the life of your tool.

Q. Can I use a heat gun to light the charcoal in my barbecue?
A.
You can, and some people argue that it’s cheaper to run and faster than the electric kind you leave on the coals. With a powerful heat gun, you should be able to get your charcoal grill fired up in just a couple of minutes. It’s best to heat a small area, moving the gun around a little rather than focusing on one spot. Back off a bit if you start blowing hot sparks around. Remember the usual heat gun safety precautions, and don’t leave the heat gun to cool where children or animals might reach it.

Q. Is it safe to use a heat gun for stripping lead-based paint?
A.
No. You’ll release toxins into the air. Nor should you use dry sanding methods because you’ll create poisonous dust. Experts recommend gel-based or other liquid paint strippers. Be sure to consult local authorities about the safe disposal of the waste.

The team that worked on this review
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    Bob
    Writer
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    Bronwyn
    Editor
  • Devangana
    Devangana
    Web Producer
  • Eliza
    Eliza
    Production Manager
  • Melinda
    Melinda
    Web Producer
  • Samantha
    Samantha
    Writer

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