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).
Copyright 2005 Brad Walker. All rights
Standalone controllers are available from many
kiln manufacturers and also from places such as Orton Ceramic.