Updated: Oct 12, 2016
Heat Gun Reviews:
- What is a heat gun?
- Benefits of using a heat gun
- How much do heat guns cost? Which should I buy?
Heat guns are a great tool for DIY (do-it-yourselfers) homeowners to have around the house. They are excellent at stripping paint, drying paint or varnish, drying out wet wood, bending plastic pipes, heat-shrinking plastic film, softening adhesives, and welding some plastics. They look much like a blow dryer and function in a similar fashion - a fan pulls air into the main chamber of the tool forcing it across an electric heating element and out through the front nozzle.
The hot air flowing from a heat gun is hot enough to cause damage to your skin or catch some items on fire. Many homeowners use heat guns to strip paint off of walls, furniture, and other objects. There are some heat guns that will sit on a work bench giving you two free hands to maneuver objects in front of it. What should you look for in a heat gun? We have a complete buying guide below with reviews of the top sellers.
The video below shows the basic functions of the Milwaukee Dual Temp Heat Gun:
Heat Gun Buying Guide
One of the main differences between heat guns is the temperature they can put out. There are both dual temperature heat guns and variable temperature heat guns. The more basic heat guns only offer a few temperature settings - 500 to 570 degrees F and about 1000 degrees fahrenheit. They are limited due to their scope of temperature ranges while the variable temperature heat guns are more versatile with heat settings that range from 140 degrees all the way up to 1040 degrees. Although it is harder to judge, you can move a dual temperature heat gun (with fixed temps) closer or further away from the object depending on if you want to lower or increase the heat.
The heat guns also offer varying speeds of air flow. Many offer fans with 2 or 3 settings so you can quickly adjust how much hot air is being forced onto the object. Different jobs require varying speeds of air and temperatures. Drying paint requires the least amount of heat from the gun while welding plastics will require the highest heat settings. Buy a heat gun that has different nozzle shapes and sizes that are specific to certain tasks. A reducer nozzle works perfectly when you are trying to concentrate the heat from the gun to a certain area. Reflector nozzles are for working with copper or plastic piping as they wrap around the pipe to evenly distribute the heat on the pipe surface. A flat nozzle will spread the hot air from the heat gun over a narrow area that is wide.
When it comes to stripping paint around windows, you need to be careful that you don't heat up the glass and crack the window. A glass protector nozzle will keep the heat off the glass window and direct it to the paint allowing you to strip it successfully. Heat guns typically range from 1000W (wattage) to 2000W - the higher the wattage the better the heat gun. There are only a few controls on a heat gun - one for heat, one for fan speed, and a main switch-off button. Models that come with "surface stands" are great so you don't have to use your hands to hold the gun. Plumbers like the hands free setup when working to bend piping. Be careful when using any heat gun as they can start fires and will definitely torch your skin. Wear long sleeve shirts and protective gloves and long pants in case the heat gun falls on your legs.
The top heat gun brands are Milwaukee, Makita, Steinel, Master, Weller, Wagner, Ungar, DeWalt, Black & Decker, Grizzly, Craftsman, Leister, Ryobi and Bosch. You can find them in the tools/home improvement section of stores like Sears and Home Depot. Amazon.com carries a nice collection of Milwaukee heat guns as well as other popular brands. Most heat guns we found are electric, but some run on butane giving you great portability. On the low end of pricing you will find Black & Decker heat guns for around $30 and the more expensive Steinel heat guns are around $200.
We found some consumer reviews online at Amazon.com, Northerntool.com, and HomeDepot.com. We have listed the "best sellers" down below with a brief description, price, and what makes them stand apart from the competition based on owner feedback and expert opinions. We usually like to include finding from Consumer Reports, but we found nothing in their archives on heat guns. See the top selling heat guns here.
Best Heat Gun:
After reading countless reviews online from owners of heat guns, it appears that Milwaukee heat guns rate the best. We found several on Amazon.com that were ranked highly based on customer satisfaction and product quality. The Milwaukee 8985 Variable Temperature Heat Gun Kit ($122) is a top seller and it's popular amongst tradesman and DIY homeowners who need a versatile heat gun. The 8985 offers the unique Milwaukee 'Impact Resistant Heating Element' with variable temperatures from 140 to 1040 degrees F. The hot air gun will increase surface temperatures faster than most traditional heat guns. Comes with a hook nozzle, deflector, air spreader, and air reduction accessories.
You also get a convenient tool case so you can carry around the heat gun and the extras. The variable temp function allows you to do a variety of jobs with this hand tool. Owners say the quality is first rate and the price is very reasonable for what you get. Experts say the heat gun is good for softening and bending plastics, softening caulking or putty, stripping paint/varnish/lacquer, and thawing frozen pipes. The more expensive Milwaukee 8988-20 at $135 gives you an LED Digital Readout Display which lets you monitor your temperature with precision and provides more control.
To check out how to use a heat gun for stripping paint, thawing frozen pipes, shrink wrapping, loosening rusted bolts and more - click the image below to go to video.
Dual Temperature Heat Gun:
The Milwaukee 8975-6 Dual Temperature Heat Gun gets praise from consumers and experts for its performance and durability. The dual temperature heat gun gives you temperatures of 570 degrees and 1000 degrees. The Milwaukee 8975-6 heat gun has a 3 position rocker switch - low, high and off. The soft air velocity will increase surface temperature much faster than other brands and it's very efficient. The "Cool Air Inlet Design" of the Milwaukee gives you peak efficiency of air movement. Many owners say they like the support stand for 'hands free' use. Works well at stripping paint, warming up pipes, seal wrapping, and much more. Great for do-it-yourselfer, full-time painter, plumbers, boat builders, contractors, body shops, photographers, floor covering installers, and schools. We found it online at Amazon and Mytoolstore.com for the price listed above.
Budget Heat Gun:
If you need a heat gun for occasional use, then consider going with the HomeRight C800552 Heat Pro Deluxe. Reviews are positive on this somewhat obscure brand (associated with Black & Decker from what we found). They make a 1 temperature and two-temp hot air gun as well, but the variable heat settings on the Heat Pro Deluxe are what set it apart and make it worth the $$$. You get great value on this product with heat settings from 140 degrees to 1100 degrees. The LED display makes temperature control easy and the kit comes with scrapers and nozzles. This heat gun will remove paint, loosen rusted screws, weld plastics and soften adhesives. Check out the entire line of HomeRight hot air guns online at Homeright.com.
Variable Temperature Heat Gun:
RECOMMENDED - The Bosch 1942 Heat Gun is a well built tool that features 14.3 amps, 750 to 1000 degrees F temperature variation, a powerful blower, an air intake regulator for temperature adjustment, and an insulated nozzle. The padded adjustable stand lets you use the heat gun in stationary positions for 'hands free' use. Great for shrink tubing or packaging, stripping paint, heating liquids, thawing pipes, softening caulking, and loosening fittings.
Owners say the Bosch heat gun is heavy-duty and durable. Bosch has a solid reputation with all tools (hand and power), and the 1942 heat gun rates high for performance, versatility, and reliability. One step up on the Bosch is the Steinel Intellitemp Heat Gun HG 2310 for $175. Steinel has earned a name in the heat gun industry and the HG 2310 provides the latest technology with 4 programmable settings. Get complete control of the airflow output and temperature settings on this Steinel heat gun.
More videos and resources are here on our Heat Gun Resource Page.
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