Choosing the Best Cordless Heat Gun Is About Expectations
We're seeing more and more cordless heat guns hitting the market. But what should you expect from them if you're switching from wired? The best cordless heat guns you can get your hands on have a lot to do with what you hope to accomplish with them. There are significant limitations compared to the heat and run time you can get from a wired model.
set the right expectations
When most of us think of cordless tools, we assume you need some accessories, but you really only need a battery to power them. Generating heat consumes a lot of electricity, so making a cordless, airless heat gun is an ambitious undertaking.
Your run time will be limited, even with some megawatt-hour batteries. If you're looking for the best cordless heat gun that only needs one nozzle, it will do the most for shrinking connectors, softening PVC, and decal/sticker removal. Just not enough runtime to do other things.
But if you're willing to use butane and an open flame, you can expand your possibilities. You can get to higher temperatures faster and run longer.
The best cordless heat gun overall
Makita 18V LXT Heat Gun XGH02
Makita takes home the title of best cordless heat gun of the year with the XGH02. As the first battery-only model to break the 1000°F mark, it's your best bet for the highest temperatures. The 02 model also has a variable temperature dial, allowing you to handle multiple materials with ease. If you want to save some money and forego the variable temperature feature, the XGH01 is the model for you.
Airflow is also worth mentioning. Both models have 7.1 CFM, the 02 includes a 4.2 CFM low speed. The extra features of the upgraded Makita model give it a maximum run time of 30 minutes on the 6.0Ah battery.
Get this barebone for $198, or the XGH01 for $129.
The Best Cordless Butane Heat Guns
Bernzomatic ST2200T Butane Micro Flashlight
If you don't mind buying butane, one of the best solutions for shrink tubes and other small jobs is the Bernzomatic ST2200T Butane Miniature Flashlight. You can fill the unit from below using a butane refill bottle. It also gets very hot compared to battery powered options – over 3000°F!
The ST2200T is perfect for small precision projects, fine soldering, crafts, or heat shrinkable wire. This cordless mini heat gun works in three different modes. You can use a tapered tip, a hot air blower, or a micro torch tip to get a precise flame. An adjustable flame control knob lets you vary the intensity, and you can put it in continuous mode to turn it down as you work.
The price—less than $36 the last time we checked—makes it an excellent solution for anyone who doesn't need a full-size cordless heat gun.
Best Budget Battery-Operated Heat Guns
Greenworks 24V Rechargeable Heat Gun
The Greenworks 24V Cordless Heat Gun is a far cry from the no-name generic brands on Amazon, offering more reliable products from brands we know and trust. Their 24V batteries are suitable for about 100 types of power tools and lawn care equipment. The Greenworks Cordless Heat Gun tops out at an impressive 1080° F, heats up to usable heat in just 9 seconds, and includes three nozzles—similar to most heat guns we've seen.
The highest heat of the non-butane options, at $99.99 with battery and charger, it's only missing two mode choices when you want to work at lower heat levels.
The Best Precision Cordless Heat Guns
Dremel VersaTip 2000-01
If you don't have a heat gun for the shrink connections, there's a good chance you can use some kind of lighter or open flame torch. Since they don't create any airflow to remove heat, they're more limited, but they still get the job done and are much less expensive. You just have to work on it. One thing you need to be aware of is that they use an open flame for heating, so be careful.
The included tip with the Dremel VersaTip makes it a great heat gun alternative. We could say the same about the Dremel VersaFlame, but we prefer the compact size of the VersaTip. The tip is used for precision applications, so it has a smaller heated area than our other recommendations. You get a temperature range of 1256–1832ºF, and 0.57 fl oz of fuel lasts for up to 75 minutes. If heat shrink connections are your main concern, this is a fantastic combination.
Without butane, the tool weighs less than 5 ounces. In addition to applying precise heat, you can use the included tip to cut, shape, heat write and solder. For the OCD person in the room (that's me), it even has a handy box to store everything in. If you are a DIY lover, this is a good choice. Get the Dremel 2000-01 kit for about $49.
More testimonials from brands we trust
Best Artisan Cordless Heat Gun
Craftsman V20 1228-BTU Heat Gun
The biggest takeaway from the Craftsman V20 heat gun is the price. You can get this brushed motor tool for just $89, which includes a deflector and diffuser nozzle. If you already own a Craftsman 20V tool, purchasing one is easy.
Compared to its brand group sibling, DeWalt, the Craftsman CMCE530B has a slightly lower 950-degree maximum hot spot. You can't complain too much about this cheap cordless heat gun, though.
DeWalt 20V Max Heat Gun DCE530B/DCE530P1
DeWalt proves it's the best cordless heat gun around by raising the temperature mark to 990ºF on high mode. That's pretty close to the 1000ºF mark we'd love to see a corded heat gun hit. That said, expect the maximum temperature to take nearly 6 minutes to peak, and you'll need 0.4mm to get the maximum rated temperature.
It's also one of the more compact options at 6.33 inches.
At $219 for the kit with the 5.0 Ah battery, the heat gun is a compelling option if it's going to be the first tool you buy on a cordless platform.
Best Kobalt Cordless Heat Guns
Kobalt KHG 124B-03 24V Heat Gun
Kobalt Tools made a name for themselves when they introduced their line of 24V power tools. The Kobalt KHG 124B-03 24V Heat Gun holds its own in an entry-level professional cordless heat gun. The tool has a maximum temperature of 1000° F and the ability to cool down to 550° at cryogenic temperatures, giving you some flexibility for a variety of applications.
The Lowe's price of this tool is $99, which is in line with other entry-level manufacturers' prices. You get the expected locking switch, and the tool sits securely on its back so you can operate it hands-free. You get both reflective and reduced-bore nozzles, but no wide-slot or welded nozzles.
Best Milwaukee Cordless Heat Guns
Milwaukee M18 Heat Gun 2688-20
Milwaukee's M18 Heat Gun is known for heating up quickly, giving you the shrink temperature in just 7 seconds and taking a little longer to reach its full potential at 875ºF. We really like the hook and its compact 6.4-inch head length. The kit comes with a 5.0Ah battery, charger, protective nozzle and reducing nozzle. As an all-wireless model, it was the first to hit the market from a major tool brand.
If you already own a Milwaukee battery and charger, you can pick it up bare for $149.
Best RIDGID Cordless Heat Guns
RIDGID 18V Rechargeable Heat Gun R860435B
While the Ridgid 18V Cordless Heat Gun has a lower top temperature than its butane-fueled predecessor, we were impressed that it matched the run time. Unless you need temperatures over 1000° F, luckily Ridgid users have an 18V cordless heat gun for shorter projects.
You can buy the RIDGID R860435B as a bare-bones tool for $119, or as a kit with two 4Ah batteries for $149. That's a pretty solid price for a kit that comes with two batteries and a charger. It almost feels like you're getting the tool for free!
The Best Ryobi Cordless Heat Guns
Ryobi 18V ONE+ Cordless Heat Gun P3150
The Ryobi P3150 Cordless Heat Gun is pretty much the Milwaukee design, but without the hook. Like its cordless counterpart, it reaches 875ºF and claims to do so in just 10 seconds. You also get guard and concentrator nozzles in the package. If there's a downside, it's that the Ryobi uses a stem bag and doesn't have the nice handlebar designs of the Milwaukee and DeWalt. But that's very finicky for this kind of tool.
You can pick up the Ryobi P3150 as a bare-bones unit for just $79.
Best Cordless Heat Gun Buying Guide
We've given you a lot of information so far, but the story doesn't stop there. Here are some additional considerations to help you choose the best cordless heat gun for you.
Wired or wireless?
If you're here, you at least think you want a cordless heat gun. Whether this is the best solution for you depends on your application. If you want to remove the paint on the side of your 1920s house, going wireless doesn't make sense. It doesn't get (and stay) hot like a corded heat gun. Cordless heat guns also don't have the continuous run time you'd want for such large jobs.
Finally, corded heat guns are usually much lighter in weight than the best and lightest cordless heat guns. Take the Milwaukee 2688-20 Cordless Heat Gun, for example. It weighs approximately 1.7-1.8 lbs without batteries . If you plan to add a 5.0Ah M18 battery to the mix, add another 1.5 lbs. The corded 11 Amp Milwaukee 8977-20 Heat Gun weighs only 1.8 lbs overall. With a cordless solution, you're potentially carrying twice as much weight.
So cordless gives you the convenience, but it might not make sense for every application and use.
What temperature does my heat gun need?
Another important decision point comes down to how much heat you need your cordless heat gun to generate. For temperature, all numbers we use refer to degrees Fahrenheit. We consider 1000° F to be "professional grade" for wireless. In fact, most corded heat guns peak at 1100°F. If a cordless model approaches that temperature, it qualifies as a corded alternative—at least in terms of heat production.
However, most projects and applications do not require the maximum amount of heat a heat gun can produce. For example, you can solder at around 600° – 700° F, depending on the material you use (lead-free is higher). If you want to soften the plastic, that will happen at lower temperatures – around 350° – 400° F. Paint stripping requires 600°F, and you can use some of the highest temperatures available to thaw frozen copper tubing.
Perhaps one of the coolest projects involved activating the adhesive. Most of these require around 300°F.
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