Excited to upgrade your kiln controller, but intimidated by the prospect of kiln controller DIY installation? The good news is that DIY kiln controller installation is probably easier than you think. You definitely don’t need an engineering degree to do it!
Options for DIY Kiln Controller Installation
When it comes to DIY kiln controller installation, the complexity of your installation depends on your application. Typically, you’ll be looking at three different options:
- Standalone Kiln Controllers: Standalone kiln controllers are the easiest option for DIY installation. Typically used for upgrading a manual kiln to digital controls, standalone kiln controllers include the necessary transformer, electrical receptacle, relays, and thermocouples, making them a fairly ‘plug-and-play’ solution.
- Conversion Kits: Conversion kits are used for replacing an existing automatic kiln controller. Conversion kits include a kiln controller, wiring harness, and a faceplate, allowing you to swap out kiln controllers with no (or minimal modification) to your kiln. No splicing or knowledge of wiring diagrams required!
- Kiln Controller Units for DIY Builds: This is where things get a little more complicated. For these types of kiln controller DIY installations, you typically purchase a kiln controller that only includes a faceplate and a wiring harness pigtail. This means that you’ll have to purchase thermocouples separately and splice the wiring from the new controller unit to the right wires from your DIY kiln, furnace, or oven build.
But don’t worry! We’ll be covering each of these installation types more in-depth so that you’ll be equipped for your own DIY kiln controller installation.
Steps for Standalone Kiln Controller Installation
Like we mentioned earlier, standalone kiln controllers provide the most straightforward installation process for DIYers. Below are the steps for DIY kiln controller installation for standalones:
- Mount your standalone kiln controller unit. First, you’ll have to figure out where you want to place your standalone kiln controller unit in relation to your kiln. Standalone controllers are available in table top and wall mount configurations. Table top standalone kiln controllers are easier to mount – you just place the unit on top of a flat surface! With wall mount kiln controllers, you will have to drill into the wall or other vertical surface to mount your unit.
- Run the thermocouple to the inside of your kiln. Next, you’ll want to run the wire for the thermocouple so that the tip of the thermocouple is inserted into the interior of your kiln or oven. This may involve having to drill a small hole through your kiln brick.
- Plug your kiln into your standalone kiln controller unit. Take the plug from your kiln or oven and plug it into your standalone kiln controller. This way, your kiln controller will be able to manage the power flow to the elements of your kiln in order to regulate temperature.
- Plug your standalone kiln controller unit into a wall outlet or other power source. When purchasing a standalone kiln controller for DIY installation, you’ll have the option to select different plug types, which need to be compatible with your current kiln plug. But the NEMA 5-15 plug is the standard plug in North America, which will plug into any wall outlet or extension cord already in your house!
At this point, your DIY kiln controller installation is complete, and your standalone unit is ready to control the temperature of your kiln. Just power on your kiln, and you’re good to go!
Using Conversion Kits for a DIY Kiln Controller Upgrade
Conversion kit installations are usually only slightly more complicated than using a standalone unit. Below are the steps for a kiln controller DIY installation using a conversion kit:
- Make sure to purchase a kiln controller conversion kit that’s compatible with the wiring and controller housing for your current controller. Before purchasing a kiln temperature controller conversion kit, you need to know whether your current kiln controller is a 3-key, 12-key, or smart controller. So how do you tell the difference? Easy, just look at the inputs on your current controller. A 3-key controller has three input buttons; a 12-key controller has 12, and a smart controller uses a touchscreen. (SDS Industries includes drop down menus on their conversion kit shop pages, so that you can select the controller you’re replacing to ensure a perfect match. Also, it’s important to note that TAP Kiln Controller Conversion Kits can be used to replace automatic kiln controllers from other manufacturers, such as Bartlett, Orton, Paragon, and Skutt.)
- Remove the old automatic controller from your kiln. Removing your old kiln controller is usually fairly straightforward. You should find four mounting screws on the corners of your old unit. Remove these mounting screws using a socket driver or a Phillips head screwdriver. Remove your old controller unit from its housing, detach the thermocouple leads from your old controller, and remove the wiring harness that connects your old controller to your kiln.
- Install the new controller mounting box. Your DIY kiln controller conversion kit should include a mounting box to house your new controller. Snake the thermocouple leads and wiring through the middle of the mounting box and screw in the mounting box to your kiln (occasionally, it may be necessary to drill new holes to screw in the mounting box; however, this is only in rare cases, and will be the only modification needed to your kiln or oven).
- Plug the new wiring harness adapter into your kiln. The wiring harness adapter for your new kiln controller will plug right into your kiln’s existing wiring harness.
- Reattach the thermocouple leads to your new controller. The plug-in for your thermocouple lead will be marked on the controller board of your new controller.
- Attach the wiring harness adapter to your new controller. You will find plugs in the back of your controller that match the plugs on the new wiring harness adapter.
- Screw in the new controller faceplate to your controller mounting box. Voila! Your kiln controller DIY installation is complete!
Video Walkthrough for Kiln Controller DIY Installation with a Conversion Kit
In the video below, our partners at Kiln Frog walk you through installing a TAP Kiln Controller Conversion Kit:
Kiln Controller Installation for DIY Oven Builds
Finally, for true DIYers, you have the option to purchase kiln controllers and kiln controller components to install your new controller on your kiln or oven build. These installations typically require more technical prowess. For instance, on a true DIY build from scratch, you will need to run the wiring from your main power supply to your power transformer, heating elements, relays, etc., and then splice the correct wirings to your kiln controller.
Or, alternatively, if your kiln or oven is already wired, you would need to splice the existing wiring to your new controller and make any necessary adjustments to your controller housing to accommodate the new kiln control unit.
TAP II and TAP Micro Wiring Schematics
While these types of DIY kiln controller installations are too diverse to provide a standardized step-by-step guide, we’ve included wiring schematics for TAP II Kiln Controllers and TAP Micro Kiln Controllers below. Using these for reference, you should be fully equipped for your kiln controller DIY installation.
TAP II Kiln Controller Wiring Diagrams
TAP II Wiring Diagram – 240VAC, 30A w/ Safety and SSR
TAP II Wiring Diagram – 240VAC, 30A
TAP Micro Kiln Controller Wiring Diagrams
TAP Micro Wiring Diagram – 240VAC, 30A w/ Safety and SSR
TAP Micro Wiring Diagram – 240VAC, 30A Dual SSR
Choose the Most Advanced, User-Friendly Controllers for Your DIY Kiln Controller Installation
If you’re looking to upgrade your kiln or oven build, the TAP and TAP II Controllers by SDS Industries are the most advanced, precise, and easy-to-use kiln controllers on the market today. With responsive touchscreen controls, an intuitive graphical UI, and the most advanced kiln controller software, TAP Kiln Controllers can pair with any relay-controlled kiln or oven.
We invite you to explore our selection of automatic kiln controllers, standalones, and conversion kits on our online store. You can also purchase TAP Digital Controllers or TAP-Controlled Kilns and Heat Treat Ovens through one of the following distributors:
- Hot Shot Oven & Kiln
- Mobile Glassblowing Studios, LLC
- Jen-Ken Kilns
- Kiln Frog
- Sheffield Pottery
- Delphi Glass