Your Guide to Temperature Control Panels – The Ins and Outs

As its name suggests, the purpose of a temperature control panel is to regulate the temperature of a target substance in a vessel, so it remains at its optimal temperature. However, knowing what makes a temperature control panel ideal for your application requires a deeper understanding of how these devices work. This post will provide a comprehensive look at temperature control panels, so you can make a more informed choice when selecting one.

Why temperature controls are necessary

Temperature control panels allow you to keep temperatures stable at any given time or under any situation in a heating process. That can apply to instances where a target medium or object needs heating, cooling or both. Many industrial processes require liquids, gases and other compounds to be heated (or cooled) at specific temperatures.

These temperature ranges accomplish essential functions, including sterilization, preservation of goods, and comfort heating. If plant operators can maintain a required temperature, the quality of a product or process may deteriorate and become unviable.

Temperature control panels generally belong to one of two groups – open loop controls and closed loop controls.

Open temperature control panels

  • The most basic form of temperature control
  • They apply continuous heating/cooling regardless of the temperature output

Open loop controls function like standard heating/AC units that you must manually adjust. They don’t measure temperatures and can heat or cool a room excessively if not manually adjusted.

Closed temperature control panels

  • More sophisticated than an open loop control system
  • Closed loop systems measure output temperatures and automatically adjust to maintain the desired temperature

Closed loop controls function more like climate control thermostats. They measure the temperature using output signals, and then auto-adjust to produce the needed warmth (or cold) to maintain a predetermined temperature setting.

Neither form of temperature control are better than the other since they both have advantages and disadvantages. Ultimately, the nature of the industrial application and heating unit will determine which system is better suited for the operation.

Industrial uses of temperature control systems

The use of temperature control panels spans numerous industries and applications and all scales. There is an abundance of temperature control options in manufacturing-based applications, such as packaging machines, thermo-forming machines and plastics extrusion. The use of temperature control systems is potentially endless, but some industries are well-known for using these devices.

Food & beverage industry

Various applications in the food industry rely on specific temperatures to maintain quality and safety. For example, pasteurization and sterilization are necessary to kill pathogens in food and can only happen at specific temperatures. Activities such as brewing, basic cooking, and blending certain ingredients require precise temperature settings. Temperature control panels added to food processing equipment can help sustain required temperatures.

Healthcare sector

Sustaining desired temperatures is essential to a variety of medical processes. Healthcare professionals often work with tissue and fluid samples and apparatus that could become contaminated and, therefore, need specific temperatures for sterilization. Also, many pharmaceutical applications require specific temperatures to ensure the safety and quality of prescription medicines. Medical equipment such as autoclaves, refrigeration devices and test chambers rely on temperature control panels to maintain desired temperatures.

Packaging and plastics

Both the packaging and plastics industries make heavy use of temperature control panels. In the packaging sector, machines that apply glue, labels and handle shrink wrap must operate at pre-set temperatures. Control panels help to ensure that these machines adhere to these temperature requirements.

In the plastics industry, machines ranging from chillers to moulding equipment must work at precise temperatures at critical moments. Temperature control panels assist these devices in operating at desirable temperatures.

Temperature control panel options

Although all temperature control panels are designed to regulate temperature, some do so using slightly different components. These components can be advantageous (or disadvantageous) to your application. There are basic digital controls that all industrial heaters need, as well as advanced controls that are optional yet recommended.

Basic temperature control panel features

 On/off switch – The most basic control, these switches allow operators to turn a system on or off manually.

  • Terminal blocks – These components connect electrical outlets and switches to mains.
  • Transformer – Components that use transfer electrical energy between two or more circuits.
  • Fused magnetic contactor – A magnetic contactor balances changes in electrical frequency to assist operation and ensure safety.
  • Fused control circuit – These units energize and de-energize the power circuits to prevent electrical arcs that could damage the control panel.

Advanced temperature control panel features

  • Disconnecting switch – De-energize electrical circuits to make removing or repairing equipment safe.
  • Electronic high limit – Often used with thermostats, these components shut off the device if it exceeds temperature limits.
  • Digital indicating configurable processor – Improves the energy efficiency of control panels by reducing the operating power of processors, along with logic optimization to lower energy expenditure.

Essential control panel components are non-negotiable. Advanced control options are ideal for many modern applications, but their usage depends on your industry, among other factors. 

How to choose a control panel & accessories

The most crucial aspect of a temperature control panel is accuracy. The more accurate the panel is, the more likely you can sustain the desired temperature without overwhelming your heating equipment. Ultimately, finding the most precise temperature control panels is affected by four factors – budget, compatibility, quality, and operation conditions.

A look at the four factors affecting control panels

  • Budget – Temperature control panels with high-grade materials, add-ons and more precise control options tend to cost more. Also, more controls added to a panel usually mean higher costs. That said, cost-efficient systems are available, albeit with modified configurations to suit a smaller budget.
  • Compatibility – This refers to how well a control panel works with an industrial heater. Operators achieve compatibility by using specific controllers that effectively support certain processes.
  • Material – The material used in a control panel can increase its longevity. That is important since control panels are attached to heating mediums and machines that may face corrosion and extreme temperatures. Of course, the stronger the material, the more resilient it will be. Examples of high-grade materials include stainless steel and Inconel®.
  • Operation conditions – The environment in which your control panel operates will impact how effectively it modulates temperatures and its durability. Ideally, your control panel will contain a high NEMA (National Electrical Manufacturers Association) rating. The higher the rating, the more hazards it can withstand.

We designed our selection of temperature control panels to provide a balance of quality materials, compatible controllers and high operating standards at a cost-effective price. They also come with advanced controls that give you more precision in terms of temperature modulation.

Wattco temperature control panels

Choosing the right temperature control panel ensures your heating and cooling process stays within desired limits. It can mean the difference between producing the highest grade of a product or a subpar or unsafe version. Therefore, choosing the most appropriate controls for your application is crucial.

Here at Wattco, we design a range of temperature control panels that can support virtually all heating applications. Contact one of our representatives to request a quote or to learn more about the best temperature controls for your operation.