Choosing The Right Digital Control Panel

The Digital Control Panel Selection Guide


Digital control panels are the brains of industrial heaters. They maintain stability and efficient heat transfer. It is important for them to be accurate to protect both the heating equipment and the medium being heated.


Picking the right digital control panel is essential to having the most efficient and effective heating process. Wattco digital control panels are fully customizable to meet the needs of your specific application.

Digital Control Panel Selection: What To Consider

You need to know what to consider to select the best digital control panel for your industrial heating process. You can talk to a Wattco representative to help determine the best type and customizations for your controller. However, it certainly helps to know a bit about the kinds of questions you will be asked when choosing one.


This article discusses the four main considerations for choosing a digital control panel:


  1. Budget
  2. Quality
  3. Compatibility
  4. Operating Conditions



Budget is one of the biggest factors in picking your digital controller. Wattco controllers are designed to be effective and cost-efficient, but budget remains an important consideration. A tight budget will limit the quality of materials, which accessories are included, and the type of controls available to you.


A strict budget may limit your selection to basic controls. Basic controls include:


  • Fused magnetic contactors
  • On/Off switch
  • Fused control circuit
  • Transformer
  • Terminal blocks


With a less strict budget, advanced controls become available. Which includes more features such as a disconnect switch, electronic high limit, and digital indicating configurable processor. If the added features are necessary for your process, it is worth expanding your budget.


Multi-stage processes will need to go beyond basic controls as well. In these cases, multi-stage controls with step control are required.


Digital Control Panel Accessories

Accessories and features can be custom built into your digital control panel to meet even the most specific and niche processes. Added accessories can also improve measurement options, accuracy, and speed.


Some digital control panel accessories include:


  • TBR Industrial Thermostats – Fast, accurate temperature readings.
  • Thermocouples – Electronic temperature sensing equipment.
  • THI High Limits – Keeps equipment working safely within operational parameters.
  • Junctions – Grounded, ungrounded, weld pad, and exposed junctions available.
  • Reostats/Potentiometers – Measures electrical potential.

immersion heater digital control panel


The material used for a control panel is determined by application. Component materials are selected for their specific qualities, for example, resistance to corrosion or maximum operating temperature.


For general purpose applications 304 stainless steel is often sufficient. It is a material with an abundant and readily available supply, making it a cost-effective, economical choice. However, it has a lower maximum operational temperature so it is not practical for certain applications. Also, although it is “stainless” steel, it is still more susceptible to corrosion than other materials that Wattco uses.


316 stainless steel (which contains Molybdenum) and 800 Inconel are both more corrosion resistant, making them more suitable for several industries, such as the food industry. 800 Inconel can operate at temperatures up to 1150° C, so it can be used in high-temperature applications like furnaces.


The most important consideration in choosing the quality of components for digital controllers is matching the material to the application. This ensures a longer lifespan and improves efficiency. Attempting to reduce costs by using a lower quality or incorrect material will likely result in premature equipment failure.



To get the most out of your digital control panel it needs to be compatible with your industrial heater.


Here are some of the types of digital controllers, and the processes they are compatible with:


Multi-loop controller

A multi-loop controller is best used in a single system with two or more control loops.


Power control

A power control regulates and distributes current and voltage to a subsystem or component.


Process controller

Process controllers are designed for output to stay within peak operational parameters. They give more control to engineers or technicians.


Safety-limit controller

A safety-limit controller is a great choice for a system or medium that is vulnerable to damage. It regulates and can deactivate power to protect the equipment and process.


Temperature control

A digital temperature control panel is commonly used for Wattco immersion heaters. They change, regulate, and heat the temperature of the medium being used.

types of digital control panels

Operating Conditions

The conditions your industrial heater will be operating in will impact control panel selection and customization. One of the main elements considered here is the control box and it’s NEMA (National Electrical Manufacturers Association) rating. Control panel boxes are built to different NEMA ratings to meet specific operational requirements.


A control box with a NEMA 1 rating, for example, is for more general-purpose applications. It is less expensive to produce, but also offers less protection. This box is for indoor use and its primary purpose is to prevent human contact with the circuitry.


Outdoor applications, such as process heaters in the construction industry, may require a higher rating. NEMA 4 boxes are watertight in most conditions, so they are ideal if they may be exposed to elements like rain or water. For further water protection, NEMA 6 and 6P digital control panel boxes can withstand temporary submersion.


The operational conditions are not just environmental concerns. They are also designed, certified, and labeled for specific hazards. NEMA 7 boxes can be explosion proof, which is ideal when handling contained, dangerous or unstable mediums.


Find The Best Digital Control Panel Today

To regulate and operate your Wattco industrial heater, you need a suitable digital control panel. With these insights into what to consider for your digital control panel, you are ready to request a quote. You can also browse the control panel catalogue to see the available options.