If it looks like a hair dryer, sounds like a hair dryer and functions like a hair dryer, it's obviously a hair dryer right? Not quite. Hot air guns (or heat guns as they are sometimes called) may work and even sound like your average hair dryer but they easily put out 10X the amount of heat compared to your domestic hair dryer.

You've probably seen some workshops cheap out on a hair dryers, question is, can a cheaper hair dryer actually accomplish the same thing as a hot air gun?

Nuts and bolts.


Both basically work on the same principle of blowing cool air over a heating element. The only difference being the temperature and air volume - hot air guns, like this particular Bosch GHG 630 DCE Professional, outputs a variable 50°C to 630°C (122-1166°F) and 150 - 500 litres/minute (lpm) volumetric flow rate.

By comparison, your domestic hair dryers typically outputs only around 60°C (140°F) with some professional-grade going marginally higher with greater air flow rate. It might be hot enough to slightly shrink heat-tubings but might not be hot enough to provide a good mechanical seal leading to a false sense of security particularly if the repaired wires would be exposed to mechanical stresses or dirt and moisture.

The most robust and common polyolefin heat-shrink tubings typically starts shrinking at around 143°C (289°F) which obviously can take quite a while with a domestic hair dryer. So if you're working with heat shrink tubings daily, you're probably better off with a hot air gun. It's also a lot safer and more uniform than holding a lighter under the shrink-tubing.

While there's a low, medium or high air flow switch on both the hair dryer and hot air gun, more premium hot air guns have a digitally-controlled output for consistent hot air output and some even comes with a digital read-out.

Some higher-end hair dryers however now have an negative ion generator located at the output nozzle - the idea being that the negatively-charged air will coat your hair with negative ions and reduces the static electricity. While this is a nice feature to have, particularly to reduce static if you're using if for automotive-style clear wraps but again, the temperature from a hair dryer typically isn't hot enough for such applications.

Got nozzles?

Both hair dryers and hot air guns also have various nozzle attachments, unfortunately, the hair dryer attachments are mostly only useful styling or drying hair while the nozzle attachments on a hot air gun comes either as standard or as an optional accessory that allows you to concentrate the hot air to a smaller area to heat up, soften or melts various materials.

In electrical and electronic applications, apart from shrinking heat tubes, hot air guns when used with a concentrator nozzle can also be used to remove surface-mount devices (SMD) such as controller chips by simultaneously melting the solder on all 'feet'. 

In plumbing, they can be used to heat up and bend PVC tubings to fit or loosen rusty fittings. In the accessory shop, you often see them use hot air guns to heat and stretch vinyl wraps or tints on cars.

For mechanical work, they can also be used to heat up wheel hubs and engine cases to allow for press-fit bearings to simply drop in without the use of a blow torch, which itself is considerably safer and since the heat is significantly lower, you won't risk ruining or setting engine components on fire. The ideal temperature for cast aluminium varies but general rule of thumb is as long as it's hot enough to sizzle few drops of water, it's hot enough!

They can also melt permanent (red) thread lockers like either the Rewin RY340 or Visbella VS6271 from bolt threads without the use of an open flame. Likewise, they can also be used to help loosen rusty/stuck nuts and bolts.

At home, rather than spend hours trying to scrape paint off your gate or use harmful paint strippers, you can simply use a hot air gun to melt and scrape off the old oil-based paints. Same goes for or latex-based paints and varnishes. With yet another nozzle attachment, hot air guns can also be used for either plastic 'welding' or with a hot glue stick.

If you're a coffee lover who's also a control freak, you could even use a hot air gun to roast your green coffee beans to perfection!

Only 3-months warranty on hot air guns.. Why?

"Why does my hot air gun only has a 3-months warranty as opposed to the typical 6-months warranty of a normal tool?" one customer inquired.

Hot air guns run at much higher temperatures and as such, if not properly cared for, they die relatively fast - regardless of brands.

Here's a CT Hardware top-tip: Before turning off your hot air gun, run it on the lowest heat setting for a few seconds to cool the heating elements and the gun first. If that's not practical, keep it pointing upwards (they have built-in wire stands for that purpose) for it to cool naturally. Remember, hot air naturally rises.

Conclusion?

With a multitude of possibilities, a hot air gun is probably the most versatile of all the tools you have in your toolkit. In fact, it's probably cheaper to just purchase a hot air gun instead of a professional-grade hair dryer - just be careful of the temperature setting or you might just burn your hair off.

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