It's a dimmer http://www.lutron.com/en-US/Products/Pages/StandAloneControls/Dimmers-Switches/RotaryDimmer/Overview.aspxhttp://digital.turn-page.com/t/23303/119 1500 watt triac dimmer
Thanks for the link. My application of soldering is typically with very small ICs and discrete components. From what I read a lower power soldering iron is preferable. I was actually suggested a 15W, but I elected instead for the 25W version. It seems to work nicely when I can get it to.
I wanted to avoid using this stuff solely based on the harmful health effects of inadvertently inhaling it.
Thyristor (and briefly, thyratron) dimmers were introduced to solve some of these problems. Thyristor dimmers switch on at an adjustable time (phase angle) after the start of each alternating current half-cycle, thereby altering the voltage waveform applied to lamps and so changing its RMS effective value. Because they switch instead of absorbing part of the voltage supplied, there is very little wasted power. Dimming can be almost instantaneous and is easily controlled by remote electronics.
Just for the road it's not a Rheostat dimmer they are big and wast power as heat and are not stable for this.Im using a Thyristor dimmer
A little off-topic here, but I was wondering why it seems that everyone spends so much time cleaning their soldering irons, when all it does is make them stop working as well?