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The Standalone Controller

for the Glass Kiln

 

Although it's common for kilns to be made with built-in controllers, that doesn't necessarily mean that if your kiln doesn't have a controller you're stuck without one.  A standalone controller, which consists of a separate controller and thermocouple, can provide an easy way to add a controller's features to your kiln.

It works like this:  so long as your kiln has a switch that allows you to turn the elements on high (and almost all do!), you can use a standalone controller.  Just purchase a unit that is rated to the same power as your kiln (i.e., 120 volt kilns need a 120 volt standalone controller, 240v 30 amp kilns need a 240v 30 amp controller, etc.).  The controller should come with a thermocouple.

To use the standalone controller, simply insert the thermocouple into your kiln through a porthole or a similar small hole in the walls of the kiln. Most kilns have a hole for this purpose, but one can be drilled if necessary. Position the end of the thermocouple so that it's close to where the glass will be in your kiln.  An inch or so above the shelf is usually perfect. 

Then plug the kiln into the controller and plug the controller into the wall outlet. When you're ready to fire the kiln, program the controller with your desired firing schedule.  Turn the kiln onto "High" -- the controller will determine when the elements will be turned on and off by controlling the power that reaches the kiln. 

A standalone controller ranges in price from a few hundred dollars (US) for a 120v version to several hundred for a version that works for larger 240 volt kilns.  Standalone controllers also have an advantage over regular controllers in that they can easily be moved from kiln to kiln as needed.  And if the controller goes bad, you can still use the kiln (something that's not always possible with built-in controllers).

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Copyright 2005 Brad Walker.  All rights reserved.

Standalone controllers are available from many kiln manufacturers and also from places such as Orton Ceramic.

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Copyright 2005-2006 by M. Bradley Walker.  All rights reserved.

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