Kiln Review - SC2 vs SC2 PRO
by Pam East
Last year Paragon launched the SC2 PRO model kiln. Being me, I HAD to have one. In PURPLE no less. With a 12-key controller! If you're going to be a kiln hound, might as well go all the way, right?
I've been using the kiln for months now and it's time to report on it. I'm going to take this review in two parts; the kiln itself, and the 12-key controller which is a different kettle of fish.
The SC2 Pro kiln:
This little baby has several features that make it well worth the price.
The Door - OMG, the door! With a smooth spring hinge and a nice big handle that doesn't get hot, the Pro model is worth it for the door alone. As an enamelist, my biggest beef with the standard SC2 kiln is the door latch. It's so tight it pops the kiln when you open and close it. This leads to spilled enamels. You end up having to modify the door latch to make it usable for enameling, and it's still not perfect. By contrast, this new door design requires no fiddling with latches; and it opens and closes very smoothly with no jarring.
Solid State Relay - Unlike the standard mechanical relay, the solid state relay does not make a sound while in use. That means the SC2 Pro is very quiet. No constant clicking sounds from your kiln.
Slanted control panel - The slanted panel means no bending over to read and program the computer. It's much easier to view this way.
The SC2 PRO is available with either a 3-key or a 12-key controller. I got the 12-key controller, but recommend the 3-key controller. Read on for why.
The 12-Key Controller:
Sigh. I wanted to love this. I really did. I paid the extra bucks for it. But overall I've been disappointed.
There are features on the 12-key that are a great benefit to glass fusers and others who need complex, multi-phase programming. Program 1 can have up to 20 segments. Programs 2 - 9 can have up to 10 segments each. There is also an "Add time" button that allows you to add 5 minute increments to any segment. in combination with a window this would be a boon to glass fusing if you were watching for a particular state of fuse and it wasn't quite there towards the end of a phase.
The 12-key also gives the user the ability to skip segments, get a review of the programming during firing, and to find out which phase of the program the kiln is currently running. The ability to set an alarm when a particular temperature is reached is also very useful for fusers.
So yes, it has a lot more buttons and whistles, but as a metal clay artist and enamelist, for the most part they aren't things I use, and it's missing one important feature I need.
It has no "program finished" alarm. I can set a temperature alarm to let me know when a certain temperature has been reached, but for my work and for my classes I need to know when the hold time is done and the program complete, and that is not available.
The only real benefit for me has been punching in the numbers instead of holding the up and down arrows to scroll the numbers. And since there is absolutely nothing I need to do with the 12-key that I couldn't do with the 3-key, that benefit certainly wasn't worth the $392 price tag.
Overall, I give the Paragon SC2 PRO with a 3-key controller a HUGE thumbs up. At only $40 more than a standard SC2 it's worth it for the new door alone. I also highly recommend adding the optional window. It's another $50 but makes enameling and glass fusing so much more accurate and easy.
So, are you ready for a new kiln? This is the one!
(All prices in this article are manufacturer recommended retail pricing at the time of this writing. Prices subject to change without notice.)