If you are like me, you want your incubator to be much more dependable than it is from the manufacturer. During my quest to make mine better, I installed a digital temperature controller. Unfortunately, the instructions were very confusing and it took some digging to figure out how to wire it correctly. So follow along and I’ll show you how to install a very dependable and accurate STC-1000 thermostat controller on your incubator.
The STC-1000 (This one displays Fahrenheit and Celsius) is an awesome little unit that costs about $25 or so. Units can be purchased that operate on 110 volts, 12 volts DC, and more. To operate the heating coil for an incubator such as the Little Giant incubator I have mentioned in previous posts, your unit must use 110 volts AC. Units can also be purchased that display Celsius, Fahrenheit or both (the link above displays both). Be sure to choose whichever is best for you. I unfortunately didn’t realize I purchased the Celsius one but it has worked perfectly fine. I simply figured out the correct Celsius set point and put a label on the unit for reference. Please note that you should pay attention to where the controller is being shipped from. If they ship from China, it may take weeks to get to you.
The following picture shows that I simply set the controller on the lid of my incubator and tie wrapped it down through two holes through the Styrofoam. This just made sense to me because it keeps the controller with the top and heating element. You can install the unit right into the side of the incubator top but I chose to keep the wiring out of the inside of the incubator to minimize the chicks from getting tangled up. Also, I wanted to ensure they were out of the way of the eggs and egg turner. If you do choose to install the controller into the side of the incubator, just be sure to seal the space around it with silicone and position and secure the wires out of the way.
The wiring instructions are translated from Chinese, Japanese, Taiwanese, or another of those ‘nese countries and are completely useless. As stated, I just could not figure out how to wire mine up and discovered how after some searching. Here is a wiring diagram that is easy to understand and will make your life much easier. You will note the diagram has connections for cooling. For the incubator, you will not be using them. Some controllers come with the cooling relays, others don’t. Again, they are not needed for this application so you can purchase either one. If yours does not come with the cooling relays, the only difference will be the numbers I give for the wiring may be different.
Disclaimer: It should be noted that I am not an electrician. These instructions are for informational purposes only and a qualified electrician should be consulted to ensure everything is connected correctly and per local electrical codes.
Before you start, be sure the incubator is unplugged and take a peek at how the power cord runs to the heating element inside the incubator. It will run to the original thermostat first, then to the element. When cutting the wires at the end of the heating element, leave at least a few inches to work with. Cut the wires from the thermostat and remove the thermostat from the incubator. Strip at least 1/2 inch of insulation from the wires on the element.
You will need a power cord to get power to the STC-1000 controller. I just reused the one that was wired to the original incubator thermostat. You will be removing the original thermostat anyway, just connect the wires per the diagram to the new controller. You will also need a few other short lengths of wire. They should be the same wire size as the original cord wire. If in doubt, simply cut them from the power cord itself. This will shorten the original cord slightly. Otherwise, another donor cord or other wire will need to be used. If installing the controller on the top of the incubator as I have, 8-9 inch lengths should work fine. If the controller is to be installed elsewhere, you will have to determine the length. Strip 1/2 inch of insulation from the ends of all the wires.
The power cord contains two wires; a hot wire that carries the current to the device and a neutral wire that returns the current to the outlet. The hot wire is always black. The neutral wire is usually white…but if there’s no colored insulation, the neutral wire will be indicated by writing, markings, or ribbing along the outside of the cord’s insulation, so look or feel closely to determine which wire is the neutral wire.
The hot wire from your power cord needs to be spliced to a short length of wire (I recommend black so it will be easy to keep everything from becoming confusing) that go to connection 1 and 5 on the back of the controller. Twist the wires together and twist on a properly-sized wire nut. The neutral wire from your power cord (the one with the writing, markings, ribs, etc.) needs to be spliced to a short piece of wire that runs to slot 2, and to the neutral side of the heating element inside the incubator. I recommend using white insulated wire. If your small lengths of wire are not color coded, have no fear. Simply do one step at a time as outlined and all will be fine. Next a length of wire need to go from slot 6 to the other side of the heating element. Be sure to secure all connections with wire nuts.
The only thing left to do is wire the sensor to slots 3 and 4. It doesn’t matter which wire from the sensor goes to which slot, just wire it up. poke a small hole in the incubator and slide the sensor down inside. just remember to not place the sensor too close to the heating element. Try to locate it close to the center of the incubator and projecting into the incubator a few inches as seen in the following picture. (Please note: There are more wires shown in the picture than you will have; I installed a fan in my still air incubator to improve it that much more)
That is it! You are done!
Because I know some people do much better watching a video, here are a few that show how to wire the STC-1000 controllers. After the two videos is another explaining how to program the controller.
I highly recommend testing the incubator for a length of time before putting it to use to make sure you are happy with the performance. I know I have been very pleased with mine.
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