So you’ve decided it’s time for a kiln controller upgrade. Maybe you’re tired of having to constantly keep an eye on your manual kiln. Or maybe you’re looking to upgrade your automatic kiln controller to enjoy more functionality and ease-of-use. Either way, the good news is that you’re not married to the kiln controller that came with your kiln!
Standalone Kiln Controllers vs Conversion Kits
Kiln operators have two options when it comes to upgrading their kiln controller: purchasing a standalone kiln controller or using a conversion kit to pair your kiln with the automatic kiln controller of your choice. So which option is right for you?
It’s simple: If you’re looking to upgrade your manual kiln to automatic controls, a standalone kiln controller is an easy option. Standalone kiln controllers include the necessary transformer, electrical receptacle, relays, and thermocouples, which makes installation far less complicated than you’d think.
To install a standalone kiln controller, all you have to do is drill a small hole through your kiln brick to insert the tip of the standalone unit’s thermocouple into the interior of your kiln. Voila! Or you can enlist the help of a kiln technician to install your standalone (which is even easier!).
You can also choose between a wall mount or tabletop configuration, depending on the setup of your kiln. Upgrading your kiln with a standalone controller has a host of benefits. Transforming your kiln from manual to automatic allows users to:
- Execute more complicated firings that just aren’t possible with manual configurations.
- Pre-program their firing schedule so that they don’t have to constantly keep track of time and adjust kiln temperatures by hand.
- Save their firing schedules, so that different processes are easily (and infinitely) repeatable.
- Monitor their firing progress remotely and receive real-time data.
Conversion kits allow automatic kiln users to upgrade their current automatic kiln controller without having to modify their kiln. Conversion kits include the necessary wiring harnesses, conversion boxes, and mounting hardware to make upgrading automatic kiln controllers pretty much plug-and-play.
But that brings up an important point: Why upgrade? Well, not all automatic controllers are made equal. Upgrading to a TAP Smart Kiln Controller allows you to:
- Ditch clumsy UIs and overcomplicated user manuals in favor of streamlined, intuitive touchscreen controls – with full-text displays and easy-to-navigate menus.
- Create, save, and name an infinite number of firing schedules.
- Easily modify your firing schedules (with all data displayed for verification and modification).
- Program setpoints and hold alerts for on-the-fly adjustments.
- Receive diagnostic alerts to anticipate and prevent component failure.
- Pair your kiln controller with The TAP Kiln Control Mobile App, which allows you to fully manage your firing process from the palm of your hands – with remote start, real-time updates, push notifications, and more.
Deciding Which Features You Need for Your Kiln Controller Upgrade
For kiln operators, their kiln controller is an important part of their life. It’s the conduit through which they’re able to exercise their artistic passion and transform their ideas into finished pieces. When upgrading your kiln controller, it’s important to make sure that it includes all the functions and features you need for your work.
For instance, for glasswork, you need to make sure your kiln controller is capable of executing complex firing steps like adjusting ramp speed and executing holds for the annealing process. Precision is key. But simplicity is equally important. After all, all the functionality in the world doesn’t do you much good if you can’t figure out how to make your kiln controller actually execute those steps!
It’s also important to make sure that your new kiln controller is convenient to use and easily integrates into the rest of your life. Features you should consider when upgrading your kiln controller include:
- Ease of use: Are the menus and controls easy-to-understand and navigate?
- Functionality: Can the kiln controller execute all the firing processes you need for your work? Are you able to easily create, edit, and access firing schedules?
- Compatibility with your kiln: Will this kiln controller work with your kiln? Do you need to purchase a conversion kit or a standalone kiln controller?
- Convenience and quality of life features: Does your kiln controller have Wi-Fi and mobile app integration so that you can easily manage your firing from your cellphone or tablet?
- Data and diagnostics: Does your kiln controller give you real-time data and reports to help you have insight about your firing process? Will your kiln notify you when components are reaching the end of their lives?
- Safety: Does your kiln include safety features like automatic temperature shutoff to help protect your health and property?
- Customer support: Will the manufacturer of your new kiln controller continue to support it in the future? Will support be available if you have any questions or need help resolving issues? What about a warranty? (TAP Kiln Controllers include an industry-leading 3-year warranty – and we strive to respond to all inquiries for customer support within 24 hours!)
- Future proof: Will your new kiln controller be able to receive software updates with improvements and new features?
Ready to Upgrade Your Kiln Controller? Check out TAP!
If you’re ready to upgrade your kiln controller, we invite you to check out the TAP Kiln Control Ecosystem. TAP Kiln Controllers are unrivalled in their simplicity and precision, making them the perfect upgrade for your kiln. Combining the most advanced kiln control technology on the market with an extremely user-friendly UI, TAP Kiln Controllers will completely modernize your firing experience!