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FAQ/Answer

Is there anything that can be done to extend the life of the relays in a digital kiln?

The life of a mechanical, clicking relay can be extended by making sure that the relay doesn't overheat. The relay is a small electromagnet similar to the type you probably made in 8th grade science class. When the controller sends a signal to the relay, the 12-volt electromagnet closes spring-loaded contacts, sending power to the elements.

If you ever replace a relay, take the old one apart to see how it works. You will see the very thin copper wire that makes the electromagnet. If that wire gets too hot, the insulation on the wire will melt and short-out the electromagnet. A chattering noise is a sign that a relay is about to fail.

A loose wire connection can overheat a relay. When you replace a relay, examine the plastic body. If it appears melted or burned, check the wire connections. A loose connection causes a tiny electrical arc that gets very hot. When you replace the relay, make sure the wires are tight, or the new relay will fail from the same loose connection. Also, it would be a good idea to replace the wire terminal that overheated. Push-on connectors can lose their spring tension when they get too hot. Once they lose their spring tension, they can get loose again even when you squeeze them with pliers to make them tight.

An alternative to the mechanical relay is the mercury relay. It lasts a very long time, because it has no mechanical contactors to wear out.



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