Heat guns sound like they are going to be the coolest tool in your armoury, right? We mean, come on, it’s a gun that shoots heat, how could it not be cool? Well, a heat gun is in some ways, we’re sad to say, not as cool as you may think. It is essentially an overpowered hair dryer, and if you look at it like that you can see where those cool points melt away.
On the other hand it can be an extremely useful and very versatile power tool. It has a lot of uses around the home, and for us it also has many applications in the garage. Paint stripping, car wrapping or decal application, heat shrinking cable sleeves and other plastics even light welding is possible with some of the more powerful models.
In this guide we’ll show you the best heat guns – and give you a few tips on how to use them – and help these great little tools throw off that over powered hairdryer tag once and for all.
The Best Heat Gun
Simplicity should not be underrated, especially when it comes to simple tools like heat guns. There is certainly a place for super high end, premium tools, and there is a place for heat guns that come with multi-tool attachments and a range of different nozzle designs. There are a number of products like that we will get to later in this guide but we are starting out with one of the simpler tools.
There are two big advantages to simplicity. One is that this tool is easy to use. It has enough features to be a very useful tool, without bogging you down in 19 temperature range selections. You get two temperatures here, one will be fine for lighter work like heating/working plastics like cables or vinyl wraps. The other is 1500-watt power level that kicks out enough heat to soften lighter metals and even light charcoal.
The accompanying nozzle kit is also simple but useful. You get two deflector nozzles, one reflector nozzle and an air reduction nozzle. That is enough to take on the majority of jobs without taking up a huge amounts of storage space in the your garage.
Oh, the other big advantage to simplicity is that it can be a real money saver. This heat gun is coming with a price tag well under 30 bucks, making it one of the best value for money models to make this list.
2x Heat Settings
Basic Nozzle Kit
Excellent Value for Money
- Weight2 Pounds
Our next product comes from Wagner, and it is a heat gun with a bit less power than you will see on many other models on this list. It has two heat settings, one at 750 and one at 1100 Fahrenheit. That makes it a model that could interest people who, for example, are looking for an entry-level style of heat gun.
It is also extremely small and light, with a total weight of about 1 Pound. Add to that the well designed, ergonomic handle and you have a product that is very easy to hold. It also has a flat back section that means it can stand upright. This allows for hands free operation, always a useful feature to see.
All in all then a slightly low powered tool that is not going to break the bank, and is easy to use. For beginners, those are all strong features.
Very Small & Light
Excellent Beginners Model
- Weight1 Pound
From one of the simpler, more basic models we turn now to a feature packed, highly engineered tool from DeWALT. This company of course has a well-earned reputation for producing high quality power tools, and this heat gun is no exception.
It is packed to the rafters with useful features. Probably the stand out of which is the built in LCD screen that allows for incremental temperature adjustments. Whilst many models will allow you to change temperature only from two set amounts, this is more of a sliding scale with 50 Fahrenheit increments. In addition to accurate temperature changes, you also have a huge temperature range here, with the gun able to generate hot air with a temperature anywhere from 150 to 1100 Fahrenheit.
You also get a very comprehensive accessory pack here. Everything from nozzles to scrapers are included, as well as a very tough (and very useful) storage case.
There are however two trade offs for all of these features. One is size, with this tool packing a slightly bloated weight of 7 pounds. That makes it easily one of the more heavyweight heat guns on the market. The other is price, and this beast is going to kick a big hundred dollar plus hole in your credit card. You are getting a whole lot of premium heat gun for that cash though.
LCD Screen for Temperature Adjusts
Built-In Overload Protection
Comprehensive Accessory Collection
Wide Temperature Range
- Weight7 Pounds
This product is kind of a middle ground between the simpler designs of heat guns we looked at toward the top of the list, and the very high-tech, premium DeWALT we just saw. So on the one hand, it is very simple to use. Plug it in, turn it on, use the small switch on the handle to control airflow.
On the other hand it has a few more premium features, the stand out of which is the ability to set variable temperatures. This is not controlled by something as premium as a LCD screen, but rather a thermostat style control on the rear that you simply twist to adjust the temperature. So whilst it doesn’t have the accuracy of a premium model, it does have more temperature control that a more basic one.
You are also getting a pretty powerful little tool here, with 1800 watts of heating power allowing the device to kick out up 1200 Fahrenheit of heating power. It can also go as low as 122 Fahrenheit, for a very impressive temperature range. You get all that plus a 4 piece accessory kit for a reasonable price tag too.
1800 Watts of Heating Power
Variable Temperature Control
High Maximum Temperature
- Weight1.75 Pounds
This is our second Wagner heat gun to make the list, showing that this company is currently producing some of the best heat guns on the market today. That being said, this model is more like a heat pencil than a heat gun.
As you will have seen from the image, it is a compact, horizontal design that is different from any model that we have looked at so far. That is because this device is all about accuracy. It is designed to be used held like a pencil for small, detailed work. Don’t try to vinyl wrap a car with this tool – if you start on Friday night you might be finished by Monday morning if you’re lucky.
Do consider picking this up as a supplement to a larger heat gun though. It only costs about 20 bucks but is very useful to have on hand for when you need the heating power of a heat gun style tool but need that power to be delivered with as much accuracy as possible. Its worth noting that, even with it’s small size, it can still hit up to 650 Fahrenheit too, a very handy amount of heat from such a small tool.
More Accuracy for Delicate Work
Retractable Mini Stand
Heats up to 650 Fahrenheit
- Weight1.08 Pounds
This is a very strong contender for best value for money item to make the list. You will frankly struggle to find this quality of heat gun along with a large accessory kit & a carry case all for a shade over 20 bucks. We’re being serious here, that is some top, top value.
Of course, when the price tag is that low you know you are dealing with a pretty basic model of heat gun. So it has no variable heat, for example, just two settings. One is for 750 Fahrenheit, the other for 1000. So there’s not even that much variety between the two!
On the other side of the coin you are getting a very useful 9 piece accessory kit here. It includes various nozzles and even a pair of scrapers, which are always handy to have. You also get a carry case and change from 30 bucks. If you don’t mind the fact the gun itself is very, very basic then you are getting yourself something of a bargain here.
Great Value for Money
2x Heat Settings
Great Accessory Kit & Carry Case
- Weight2.2 Pounds
This is our second DeWALT model to make the list, and it is pretty much a paired down, more simple version of the one we saw above. So for example, the model above had variable temperature controlled via a built in LCD screen. This model also has variable temperature, however the thermostat style twist dial mounted on the rear of the device controls it. You can still adjust the temperature therefore just without the same accuracy.
The accompanying accessory pack is also a little smaller, comprising just two nozzles. You do get a very useful metal hanging hook with this model though. That gives more storage options, and also makes it easy to hang the tool up to cool down after use. The temperature range on this tool is also very impressive, as it goes from as low as 120 all the way up to 1100 Fahrenheit. That is a great temperature range that will be enough for a wide range of tasks.
Another benefit of this being a more basic model is that your credit card will be much happier. The tool will set you back around 70 bucks, making it considerably cheaper than the other DeWALT we looked at. It’s up to you to judge however if too many premium features have been cast aside in order to reach that lower price point.
Built in Hanging Ring
Variable Temperature Control
Heating Range From 120 to 1100 Fahrenheit
- Weight2.1 Pounds
Say hello to the third Wagner heat gun to make the list! This model is by far the most basic of all the Wagners we have looked at, coming with a pretty limited feature list. It has variable heat only in as much as you can switch between either 750 or 1000 Fahrenheit. It has a useful little hanging hook mounted on top and… Umm… it is a very dashing shade of yellow.
That is about it really. Hey, when we said this was the most basic Wagner heat gun around, well we weren’t joking were we? The upside of that is that this tool is both very easy to use and also just excellent value for money. This is Wagner build quality for about 20 bucks. That alone is the most impressive thing about this simple but well built little tool.
Oh, did we mention it’s yellow
Very Basic Model
Great Value for Money
Simple to Use
- Weight1.57 Pounds
Out final product is this Black & Decker Heat gun. It is another of the more basic design of heat gun. So that means that it can only switch between two temperatures instead of being truly variable. Those temperatures are by the way 750 and 1000 Fahrenheit.
With all the other basic models it shares the advantage of being really simple to use, with just one simple little button to control the tool. It doesn’t come with any accessories or nozzles. Since it has a price tag of around 25 bucks for what is a pretty basic model that could look a little steep compared to some other tools. You have to remember that you are also paying for the Black & Decker Build quality here too.
One cool feature is a little stand that comes out the rear of the unit. It is used in conjunction with the flat base to hold the device upright so that it can cool down after use. That’s a useful little feature and does show that the product has been well designed to include useful little extras like that.
2x Temperature Settings
Lightweight & Compact
Built in Stand for Easy Cool Down
- BrandBlack & Decker
- Weight1.9 Pounds
Best Heat Gun Buying Guide & FAQ
Wow, that is the hottest list of heat guns you’ll find anywhere. Any one of those designs would be a smoking hot investment, but which of the models we looked at above would be the best for you?
In the next section, our buying guide, we’ll take a look at the features you should bear in mind whilst choosing your model, as well as discussing both the benefits and some key safety tips for when using these extremely versatile and useful tools. After that we’ll take a look at some of the most frequently asked questions about heat guns, and then you should have everything you need to choose the best heat gun to suit your needs.
We’ll also see how any more heat related jokes and puns we can squeeze in.
Things to Consider When Buying a Heat Gun
- Built in LCD Screen: You are only going to find these on the most premium models but they are very, very useful! They allow you to control and change the temperature with the greatest degree of accuracy. If you need accurate temperatures then, look for a screen.
- Temperature Control: Even the most basic models will have some form of temperature control, even if it is just switching between two set temperatures. The more advanced models will have a great degree of control, with button or twist style switches allowing you to move across a wide temperature range.
- Temperature Range: Speaking of which! Basic models will have a range of between 750 to 1000 Fahrenheit, on average at least. More advanced tools will have a range of between about 120 to anywhere up to 1200 Fahrenheit. The greater the temperature range, the more varied the tasks that the tool will be able to complete.
- Accessories: Finally, some tools will come as a kit and some as single tools. The most basic kit will involve a selection of nozzles, whilst more advanced ones will have some scrapers included too. It will be up to you if you need them or not, but it can be useful to have a few different nozzle types at least.
Benefits of Using a Heat Gun
There is a wide range of applications that these tools can be used for. You can:
- Heat Frozen Pipes
- Loosen Rusted Bolts
- Melt Plastic – useful for electrical work
- Soften metal so it can be bent
- Apply vinyl decals and wraps to cars
- Remove paint or acrylic stickers
That’s really just a small break down of all the things you can do though, and you’ll almost certainly find applications of your own.
Types of Heat Guns
Broadly speaking, there are two types of heat gun available – Gas and Electric.
- Gas: This type has the benefit of being independent from an electric cord, making it highly mobile. It can also be very powerful. On the other hand, both this design of heat gun – and the gas cartridges to power it – are much rarer, and can be difficult to track down. They are also going to be much more expensive.
- Electric: By far the most common type of heat gun are those models that run on electric. They are cheaper, they are easier to use, they are easier to find and they can be just as powerful as gas versions. Our list is comprised entirely of electric because frankly any one of these models will be absolutely more than adequate for just about any job going.
Related Post: Best Grease Gun
Safety Tips When Using Heat Guns
It’s pretty easy to be safe with these tools, so long as you use some common sense.
- Protect yourself. Pop on some safety goggles to protect your eyes and some gloves to protect your hands.
- Ventilation. If you are heating things like plastic or melting paint, make sure you do so in a well ventilated area to avoid any dangerous fumes.
- Right Temperature. Make sure you select the right temperature for the material you are working with. If you are unsure, it is far better to start with a lower temperature and start to crank it up.
- Electric Device. Finally remember that heat guns are electrical power tools. That means that you should treat them with the same respect and caution as any other corded item. So for example don’t use it outside in the rain!
Best Heat Gun FAQ:
One thing that unites all heat guns is that they are very simple tools. That being said, there are always questions over any aspect of any tool or accessory no matter how simple it might be. In this next section we will try to answer some of the most frequently asked questions about these useful little tools.
Q: What is a heat gun?
A: Very, very simply is the answer to that question! A heat gun generates heat, and an internal fan blows the heat, you aim the heat by pointing the nozzle and… that’s about it. They really are one of the simplest power tools around.
Q: How does a heat gun work?
A: Do you remember the very start of this article? We made a joke that heat guns are basically overpowered hair dryers, but in reality that’s not much of a joke. Just like a hair dryer, heat guns are hand held devices that run on electricity. They contain an internal heating element, and they contain a fan to blow air over that heating element and out of a nozzle.
Unlike a hair dryer, these bad boys are designed to produce a heck of a lot more heat however, so for God sake don’t get the two things mixed up! Since most heat guns are a bright yellow color – in common with a lot of power tools – it should be easy to tell your Revlon apart from your heat gun.
Q: How to use a heat gun?
A: This is a difficult question to answer as it really depends on what you are doing with the heat gun. After all, there is a lot of difference between removing paint with a heat gun and gently melting some frozen pipes.
The good thing about these devices is that they are crazy easy to use. So if you are literally just asking how to use one, the answer is simple. Plug it in, turn it on. If the tool has the capacity, adjust the temperature to the setting you need and hold the nozzle close to whatever you want to heat.
Oh, and don’t point it at your face unless you want to end up looking like Sloth from The Goonies.
Q: How hot is a heat gun?
A: Heat guns will generally have a heat range of between 120 Fahrenheit at the lowest setting all the way up to 1200 Fahrenheit on the most powerful models – though the majority of heat guns will have a max temp of about 1000 to 1100. A wide heating range can be useful as those guns will be suitable for the widest array of jobs. On the other hand, you will typically only see that level of heat range on the more premium models.
Our Top Pick
We could have been lazy and simply picked the heat gun that kicked out the widest temperature ranges, or came with the biggest selection of tools. But we feel like we owe you loyal Car Bible readers more, so we had an extra mug of coffee and went through the options again.
In the end, our caffeine-enhanced brains went with the Genesis GHG1500A Dual Temperature Heat Gun Kit as the choice for best heat gun on the list. There are more powerful guns on the list, and there are ones that came with far, far more accessories. But given its phenomenally low price, it was simply pound for pound the best performing model.
If you want a premium model that will do a bit more then go for it, but be prepared to smash a bigger dent in your credit card. If you just want a well designed, well built little tool that does exactly what you expect it to however then we heartily recommend going for the Genesis.
- Removing Paint With a Heat Gun, Joe.ie