Kilns get hot! When it comes to kiln safety, using a safety limit controller helps ensure that a kiln automatically shuts off if it exceeds a pre-defined temperature.
Safety Limit Controllers and Safety Redundancy
While advanced process controllers like TAP and TAP II have max temperature safety shutoff, you’re still entrusting the safety of yourself, your household, and your property to a single layer of safety measures.
Watch SDS Industries’ President Scott Shannon explain the pros and cons of different types of relays.
Adding a safety limit controller (like TAP Monitor) to your kiln or oven build, adds a layer of safety redundancy. Wiring a safety limit controller to a redundant safety relay ensures that your kiln safely shuts off even if your primary controller or relay fails.
With the TAP Kiln Control Mobile App, you can monitor kiln temperature, receive push notifications alerts and alarms, and view real-time firing graphs – even if you have to step away from your project.
This is not only extremely convenient, but it adds an additional layer of kiln safety, keeping you immediately informed of any discrepancies in your firing schedule.
Do I Need a Safety Limit Controller?
Safety limit controllers are much more common in industrial kiln and industrial control system (ICS) applications. Most at home and studio kiln and oven builds don’t include a safety limit controller. And this is usually fine most of the time (especially if you use solid state relays and your primary kiln controller includes max temp safety shutoff).
However, like most safety devices, when you need a safety limit controller, you really need one. A small investment in a safety limit controller potentially protects your property, your health, and will save you massive amounts of money in a worst-case scenario.
If you’re still using a manual kiln or an outdated automatic kiln controller (which includes most kiln controllers currently on the market), we strongly encourage you to invest in a safety limit controller that adds max temperature safety shutoff, precise pyrometric monitoring, and remote kiln monitoring.
Adding TAP Monitor Safety Limit Controller & Pyrometer to Your Kiln or Oven Build
SDS Industries, known for creating the most advanced, easy-to-use automatic kiln controllers, is releasing a safety limit controller and digital pyrometer. TAP Monitor, which is releasing in several months, is already available for pre-order.
TAP Monitor is available as a set of DIY components that can be wired directly to a safety relay (starting at $97.50) to act as a combination safety limit controller and digital pyrometer, or as a plug-and-play standalone remote pyrometer that includes a type K thermocouple and a 2.4” capacitive touchscreen (available for $265).
Both configurations improve kiln safety, but they’re also an affordable way to modernize kiln builds that don’t include precise, remote temperature monitoring. TAP Monitor provides a host of benefits (regardless of the type of kiln control method you currently use):
Protect yourself and your family by wiring TAP Monitor to a safety relay to provide redundant safety shutoff.
Have peace of mind by knowing the exact temperature of your kiln, oven, or forge every step of the way (via TAP Kiln Control Mobile).
Save time and effort by knowing the state of your kiln no matter where you are.
Ensure more consistent outcomes and enjoy added convenience by upgrading your existing automatically or manually controlled kiln to include precise, real-time digital temperature readings.
In addition to the TAP Monitor Safety Limit Controller, the TAP Ecosystem includes a variety of programmable kiln controllers that give artists complete control of their kilns. The TAP and TAP II Controllers by SDS Industries provide users the most advanced, precise, and easy-to-use programmable digital kiln controllers on the market today. With responsive touchscreen controls, an intuitive graphical UI, and integration with the TAP Kiln Control Mobile App, TAP Kiln Controllers can pair with any relay-controlled kiln or oven.
We invite you to explore our selection of programmable kiln controllers, pyrometers, 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:
Similar to other industries, the mid-1980s brought major advancements to kiln control technology. Manual kilns and kiln sitters gave way to programmable digital kiln controllers. Kiln operators no longer had to manually adjust their kilns for each segment of their kiln firing schedule. Instead, they could use programmable kiln controllers to input their entire firing program in advance, and the controller would carry out the program automatically!
Also known as electronic or automatic kiln controllers, programmable digital kiln controllers are computerized controllers that automatically cycle the relays to a kiln’s heating elements on and off in accordance to predefined ramp rates, setpoints and hold times.
Compared to manual controllers, programmable kiln controllers significantly streamline the firing process, reducing the possibility of user error and ensuring consistently repeatable firing conditions.
Programmable Digital Kiln Controller Input Methods
When it comes to programmable digital kiln controllers, there are two primary input methods: keys and touchscreen.
Early programmable kiln controllers all used keys, or analog buttons, in order to program the controller. Many kiln controllers today still use this input method. Common configurations are 3-key controllers and 12-key controllers, but some kiln controllers use as many as 24 keys!
However, regardless of how many keys a controller has, this control method presents several inconveniences:
Keys must be pressed multiple times to increase setpoints, cycle through preprogrammed schedules, or control other inputs.
Key-based controllers often have small, hard-to-read screens that make it impossible to see all the relevant information about a firing schedule.
These controllers have multi-layered menus that can be extremely difficult to navigate.
Good luck using these controllers without constantly having to consult the user manual and press a LOT of buttons!
In 2015, SDS Industries revolutionized the kiln control industry, by replacing keys and alarm-clock-like screens with intuitive, responsive touchscreen controls and an easy-to-read graphical UI. The TAP Controller, and later the TAP II Controller, allows kiln operators to quickly and easily program their kiln with just a few presses of their finger on the controller or their via their smartphone with the TAP Kiln Control Mobile App.
When it comes to programmable digital controllers, touchscreen controls present several major advantages:
Intuitive, user-friendly menus that are designed for complete navigation with minimal finger presses.
Alpha-numeric, full text displays of kiln firing schedules to make it easy for operators to access, edit, and execute the right firing schedule.
The ability to create a theoretically unlimited number of kiln firing schedules, each containing a theoretically unlimited number of steps, so users don’t have to relegate schedules to their firing notebook when they run out of storage.
Integration with the TAP Kiln Control Mobile App to allow users to create, modify, and execute kiln firing schedules from their mobile device when their kiln controller is connected to Wi-Fi.
Additionally, TAP Digital Kiln Controllers include PID-driven precision, advanced diagnostics, complete firing logs, and preventative maintenance alerts, and more, to ensure that the controller and kiln maintain optimum performance.
Types of Kilns that Use Programmable Kiln Controllers
Today, programmable digital kilns controllers are the standard for industrial kilns and have become increasingly common for hobby and studio kilns. Many programmable kiln controllers include preset firing schedules for glasswork, ceramics, glazes, and heat treat, greatly reducing the learning curve for new artists while still offering veteran artists the ability to completely customize their firing schedules.
Retrofitting Your Kiln with a Programmable Controller
Whether your kiln came equipped with a manual controller or you’re using an outdated programmable controller, retrofitting your kiln with a modern programmable digital kiln controller is easy through the use of standalone controllers or conversion kits. Standalone controllers are a plug-and-play solution for upgrading your manual kiln to automatic controls, while conversion kits enable you to upgrade an existing automatic controller with no (or minimal) modification to your kiln.
Check out our step-by-step guide for installing programmable digital kiln controller standalones and conversion kits!
How to Use a Programmable Digital Kiln Controller
The specifics of how to program your kiln using a digital kiln controller largely depends on the type of controller you’re using. However, generally, upon powering on your kiln you will use the input method on the controller to either select a saved or preset schedule or create your own (you can do this before or after loading your wares). If you’re new to kiln firing, make sure to familiarize yourself with kiln safety guidelines prior to executing your firing schedule.
Once you have selected your firing schedule, press ‘Start’ and your programmable digital controller will automatically execute your firing schedule to completion. Easy as that! While it may be tempting to trust everything to your programmable kiln controller, for safety reasons you should never leave your kiln unattended during firing. While programmable controllers are extremely reliable compared to relying on a kiln sitter, there is always the possibility of relay failure or other technical mishaps (for additional safety, we recommend using an additional limit controller as an added layer of relay redundancy to force safety shutoff if the kiln exceeds certain temperature thresholds).
Programming a TAP II Digital Kiln Controller
While we can’t provide a How-To for using every programmable kiln controller on the market, below we’ll be looking at how to program a TAP II Kiln Controller (the UI for the original TAP Controller is extremely similar):
Step 1: Starting from the ‘Home Screen’
Below is a picture of the home screen on a TAP II Kiln Controller:
To access kiln firing schedules, or create a new one, press ‘Start’ on the right side of the screen.
Step 2: Using the ‘Schedule Selector’ Screen
On the ‘Schedule Selector’ screen, you have the ability to access all of your saved or preset kiln firing schedules by scrolling through the menu on the left side of the screen. To execute an existing schedule, select the schedule from this screen, then press ‘Start’!
If you need to edit a schedule, clicking the ‘Edit Icon’ beside the schedule title allows you to edit that firing schedule. Or, to create a new schedule, click ‘New’ on the right side of the screen.
Step 3: Edit and Add Steps to Your Firing Schedule
Clicking the ‘Edit Icon’ will bring you to the ‘Edit Schedule’ screen:
On this screen, you have the ability to add new steps and edit the Schedule Name, Ramp Rate, Setpoint, and Hold Time for each step. Additionally, you have the ability to set alerts to notify you when your kiln has reached its setpoint or hold time for each specific step. When you’re finished editing your firing schedule, click ‘Save.’
Step 4: Execute Your New Firing Schedule
When you click ‘Save,’ the controller will bring you back to the ‘Schedule Selector’ screen. Select your desired schedule and then press ‘Start.’
From there, your TAP II Controller will automatically execute your new firing schedule. From the ‘Execute’ screen, you’ll be able to monitor exactly where your kiln is in terms of your firing schedule, as well as skip steps, access firing logs, or abort your firing.
Please Note – Most programmable digital kiln controllers are not nearly that easy-to-use or intuitive. A huge part of our focus at SDS Industries is to make using a programmable kiln controller as simple, precise, and straightforward as possible!
Explore Programmable Kiln Controllers by SDS Industries
The TAP and TAP II Controllers by SDS Industries are the most advanced, precise, and easy-to-use programmable digital kiln controllers on the market today. With responsive touchscreen controls, an intuitive graphical UI, and integration with the TAP Kiln Control Mobile App, TAP Kiln Controllers can pair with any relay-controlled kiln or oven.
We invite you to explore our selection of programmable 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:
When it comes to controlling the temperature of an electric kiln, there’s a wide variety of electric kiln temperature controller options. Below are 14 types of kiln temperature controllers – from old school analog kiln sitters to advanced digital kiln controllers for complex firing processes.
Types of Electric Kiln Temperature Controllers
1. Manual Kiln Temperature Controllers
When kilns became electric in the early 20th century, every electric kiln had manual controls. With manual kiln temperature controllers, users set the temperature of their kiln through a combination of analog dials and switches. However, manual kiln controllers cannot adjust the temperature of the kiln or advance through a firing schedule without direct user input.
This means that manual kiln temperature controllers require constant hands-on management and aren’t suited for executing complex firing schedules that require high degrees of precision. However, since they’re inexpensive and have a minimal learning curve for managing user inputs (using a manual kiln controller is a lot like using a kitchen oven), manual kiln controllers are still widely used today.
2. Kiln Sitters
The first major innovation to electric kiln temperature controllers was the invention of the kiln sitter in the 1950s. Used with manual kiln temperature controllers, the kiln sitter was the original limit controller. Limit controllers add kiln safety by ensuring a kiln shuts off when a certain temperature threshold is met. Kiln sitters accomplish this for manual kilns through primitive technology. A sitter cone, inserted in the kiln sitter, melts at a certain temperature causing the kiln to power off.
3. Automatic or Digital Kiln Temperature Controllers
In the mid-1980s, the automatic kiln controller was invented. Automatic kiln controllers significantly streamline the firing process by managing the temperature of an electric kiln without user input. Also known as digital controllers, automatic kiln controllers allow users to program their device to reach the right temperatures at the right times without their direct oversight.
Automatic kiln controllers are far more precise than manual kiln controllers and leave less room for user error, making them more suitable for more complex firing schedules like those used for glasswork or some types of ceramic firings.
The first automatic kiln temperature controllers used analog inputs and had extremely complicated menus and user interfaces! However, over the last several decades automatic kiln temperature controllers have evolved massively. Today’s most advanced automatic kiln controllers are extremely easy to use and include responsive touchscreen controls, an intuitive UI, full control and extensive diagnostics, real-time monitoring and data, Wi-Fi connectivity, and mobile app integration.
4. 3-Key Kiln Temperature Controllers
For early automatic kiln controllers, users had analog buttons (or keys) to navigate menus and set the temperature of their electric kilns. A 3-key kiln temperature controller has three keys which the operator uses to program the kiln. As you can imagine, this can get extremely complicated! However, 3-key kiln controllers are still sold by certain manufacturers.
5. 12-Key Kiln Temperature Controllers
A 12-key kiln temperature controller includes additional keys, which makes programming an electric kiln slightly more convenient. However, compared to other more advanced electric kiln temperature controllers, 12-key controllers are still complicated to use and don’t present the best user experience.
(Note: If you’re still using a 3-key or 12-key controller, conversion kits allow you to easily replace them with more advanced digital touchscreen kiln controllers.)
6. Touchscreen Kiln Temperature Controllers
In 2015, SDS Industries released the TAP Kiln Controller which was the first commercially available electric kiln temperature controller to use a touchscreen user interface. Touchscreen kiln controllers make programming and monitoring temperature for an electric kiln much more intuitive and user friendly than 3-key and 12-key controllers.
With touchscreen kiln temperature controllers, navigating menus and creating firing schedules can be accomplished with just a few finger presses, and a larger screen and graphical UI allows users to see more details about their firing schedule and view detailed firing charts and diagnostics.
7. Multi-zone Kiln Temperature Controllers
Electric kilns come in two general configurations: single-zone and multi-zone kilns. Electric kilns are heated by resistive metal elements, much like those seen in a toaster oven. For single-zone kilns, all of the kiln’s elements respond to input from a single thermocouple. For multi-zone kilns, multiple thermocouples are used to sense temperature in different sections of the kiln and adjust power to the elements accordingly.
Multi-zone electric kiln temperature controllers, such as the TAP Kiln Controller, include multiple thermocouple inputs to set specific temperatures for different sections of the kiln, allowing users to obtain consistent firing results in a single large kiln.
8. Single-zone Kiln Temperature Controllers
Single-zone electric kiln temperature controllers, on the other hand, only have a single thermocouple, which is used to control all of the elements of a kiln and achieve a single temperature. Currently, the TAP II Kiln Controller is the most advanced and easy-to-use temperature controller for single-zone electric kilns and ovens on the market today.
9. Internet Kiln Controllers
Internet kiln controllers, or Wi-Fi kiln controllers, utilize a Wi-Fi signal to allow users to control and monitor their kiln from their mobile device or tablet. Internet kiln controllers give users far more flexibility and freedom when it comes to operating their electric kilns, allowing them to remotely create, modify, and execute firing schedules, monitor their kiln with real-time updates and push notifications, and skip steps and abort firings.
All of the TAP Kiln Controllers by SDS Industries have Wi-Fi capability and pair with the TAP Kiln Control Mobile App to give users almost complete remote control of their electric kiln.
10. Single Setpoint Kiln Temperature Controllers
Single setpoint kiln controllers are a simplified electric kiln temperature controller option that allows users to program their kiln to reach a single setpoint (or temperature) for an indefinite hold. Not all firing schedules require multiple setpoints or specific ramp rates (the speed at which a kiln heats up). Single setpoint electric kiln temperature controllers are ideal for users who are making blades, knives, or doing other heat treat processes, or for glassblowers and flameworkers who are using pick up ovens.
11. Limit Controllers
Limit controllers, also known as high limit controllers or safety limiters, are redundant temperature monitoring devices that allow users to pre-program their electric kiln to automatically shut off if the kiln exceeds a specified temperature. While limit controllers usually aren’t suited to be the primary control method on an electric kiln, they are an important part of kiln safety and can protect you, your equipment, and your property in the case of relay or system failure.
12. Process Controllers
A process controller is an automatic electric kiln temperature controller that employs a closed-loop digital feedback system to control and regulate the temperature of industrial control applications more precisely. Process controllers use a mathematical formula to calculate the difference between the input temperature and the current temperature of the application. The process controller then adjusts the output to compensate for the detected changes in the system, ensuring that the current temperature is as close to the expected temperature as possible.
TAP Kiln Controllers utilize PID (“Proportional Integral Derivative”) control algorithms to ensure precise schedule following with the fastest response with minimal overshoot and limited steady-state error.
13. ICS Kiln Controllers
ICS stands for Industrial Control System. An ICS kiln controller is a type of process controller that is rated for industrial applications. Industrial kilns are large and high-powered and require extremely high degrees of precision and consistency, usually accomplished by a control algorithm.
14. Standalone Automatic Kiln Controllers
How do you convert a manual electric kiln to automatic controls? A standalone automatic kiln controller is a plug-and-play solution to upgrade a manual kiln to digital controls. All you have to do is run the thermocouple attached to the standalone kiln controller to the interior of your kiln and plug your electric kiln into the standalone unit. This enables a standalone automatic kiln controller to bypass your manual control system, enabling you to enjoy all the benefits of an advanced digital touchscreen controller.
Enjoy the Most Advanced, User-Friendly Electric Kiln Temperature Controllers
The TAP and TAP II Controllers by SDS Industries are the most advanced, precise, and easy-to-use electric kiln temperature controllers on the market today. With responsive touchscreen controls, an intuitive graphical UI, and integration with the TAP Kiln Control Mobile App, TAP Kiln Controllers can pair with any relay-controlled kiln or oven.
We invite you to explore our selection of electric kiln temperature 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:
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:
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 control, 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:
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:
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!
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