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Skutt 818 Kiln


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#1 cpm53

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Posted 30 December 2011 - 01:46 PM

I'm buying my first kiln for a very small studio space. I'm wondering if anyone has had any experience with the Skutt 818 kiln and what you thought of it. Any other recommendations for first kiln purchase?

#2 Guest_HerbNorriss_*

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Posted 30 December 2011 - 02:02 PM

See Benhim's thread on this kiln.

#3 AdobeGirl

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Posted 30 December 2011 - 02:59 PM

I'm buying my first kiln for a very small studio space. I'm wondering if anyone has had any experience with the Skutt 818 kiln and what you thought of it. Any other recommendations for first kiln purchase?


Hi,
My first kiln about 26 years ago was a Skutt 818 and I loved it. It was easy to use but I found out immediately that it was too small. A year or so later I added a Skutt KM 1227 which was wondeful. Now 26 years later I have a new KM 818 for a test kiln and a KM 1227. I like the computer controllers on the Skutt kilns, they are easy to program and extremely reliable. The people at Skutt are also wonderfully helpful when there is an issue you need to contact them about. If you are looking at used kilns besides all the usual things, like condition of brick and elements, you can also verify the age of the kiln through the serial number. You dont want to take someone's word a kiln is only a few years old only to find it's over 25 and has never had it's elements replaced. Also make sure if there has been work done on a kiln it was done properly, ask for receipts. I have run into a couple of kilns that looked nice cosmetically but turned out to be what I call "FrankenKiln"s.

So my advice is Skutt is great, Kilnmaster controller is easy + awesome. Know what size work you would like to be making ideally and get a large enough kiln.

#4 Sojourner

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Posted 30 December 2011 - 05:31 PM

I'm buying my first kiln for a very small studio space. I'm wondering if anyone has had any experience with the Skutt 818 kiln and what you thought of it. Any other recommendations for first kiln purchase?


What are your requirements for a kiln? What space do you have for it? Is there a fire-safe floor where you plan to put it (for example concrete rather than wood or carpet)? Do you have to make wiring changes, such as installing a new circuit dedicated to the kiln? Are you ABLE to make wiring changes should you need to (eg rental situation or you own your home)? That kiln is wired with a 6-50 plug - is there an existing 6-50 plug in the house? If there is I would think it would be on a 50A breaker since that's actually a plug rated for 50A - is there anything else on that circuit? I wouldn't like to put anything else on the same circuit with something like a kiln because of the possibility of power surges when all those elements kick on - even if there's spare amperage, I wouldn't feel comfortable having anything but a dedicated circuit for this kind of equipment.

How high do you intend to fire on a regular basis? The Skutt only goes to cone 8 and will probably serve you better if you don't top that out - so treating it like a cone 6 kiln will likely lengthen it's life span. What you want to fire has a big impact on what the appropriate kiln for you would be. The L&L Liberty Belle is about the same size as the 818 and is rated to cone 10 on 30A service. Paragon also makes a kiln in this size range that fires to cone 8. Are you limited to a small kiln, and if so, is that because of space considerations, or wiring?

Can't really make kiln recommendations without knowing what you want to do with it and what your situation is as relates to safe installation.

Skutt as a kiln manufacturer seems to be highly regarded; I prefer an L&L however because of the ceramic channel they use for their elements. It not only increases element life and efficiency, it increases the overall life of your kiln because it prevents damage to the firebrick. I've been told it cuts element replacement time in half when you do finally need to replace them. But to recommend a specific kiln we'd more information.

#5 cpm53

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Posted 30 December 2011 - 09:50 PM


I'm buying my first kiln for a very small studio space. I'm wondering if anyone has had any experience with the Skutt 818 kiln and what you thought of it. Any other recommendations for first kiln purchase?


What are your requirements for a kiln? What space do you have for it? Is there a fire-safe floor where you plan to put it (for example concrete rather than wood or carpet)? Do you have to make wiring changes, such as installing a new circuit dedicated to the kiln? Are you ABLE to make wiring changes should you need to (eg rental situation or you own your home)? That kiln is wired with a 6-50 plug - is there an existing 6-50 plug in the house? If there is I would think it would be on a 50A breaker since that's actually a plug rated for 50A - is there anything else on that circuit? I wouldn't like to put anything else on the same circuit with something like a kiln because of the possibility of power surges when all those elements kick on - even if there's spare amperage, I wouldn't feel comfortable having anything but a dedicated circuit for this kind of equipment.

How high do you intend to fire on a regular basis? The Skutt only goes to cone 8 and will probably serve you better if you don't top that out - so treating it like a cone 6 kiln will likely lengthen it's life span. What you want to fire has a big impact on what the appropriate kiln for you would be. The L&L Liberty Belle is about the same size as the 818 and is rated to cone 10 on 30A service. Paragon also makes a kiln in this size range that fires to cone 8. Are you limited to a small kiln, and if so, is that because of space considerations, or wiring?

Can't really make kiln recommendations without knowing what you want to do with it and what your situation is as relates to safe installation.

Skutt as a kiln manufacturer seems to be highly regarded; I prefer an L&L however because of the ceramic channel they use for their elements. It not only increases element life and efficiency, it increases the overall life of your kiln because it prevents damage to the firebrick. I've been told it cuts element replacement time in half when you do finally need to replace them. But to recommend a specific kiln we'd more information.



#6 cpm53

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Posted 30 December 2011 - 10:02 PM

My studio is in the garage, which is attached to the house and has a concrete floor. It's a small space and need a small kiln. Since pottery is my hobby and I won't be doing any production work I don't think that will be an issue. There' a concrete floor . I'm having 240/30amps put in while we're having other electrical work done on our place. I'm planning to do some cone 10 firing and experiment with glazes but really want to be able to bisque on my own. The specs on the 818 are up to cone 10 and describe it as a good small studio kiln. The price and size are a good fit for me but I wanted to get some feed back from other potters before buying.

#7 Benhim

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Posted 30 December 2011 - 10:24 PM

I have a KS818P. It was my first kiln after college. I'm now considering a Skutt KM1227, partially because I want a digital control, and partially because I want to have more room for larger pieces and more pieces per firing. I'm not getting rid of my 818, it's a great kiln and I'll use it until it's dead, then replace what needs replacing and kill it all over again.

BenCo Ceramics


#8 bciskepottery

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Posted 30 December 2011 - 11:46 PM

My studio is in the garage, which is attached to the house and has a concrete floor. It's a small space and need a small kiln. Since pottery is my hobby and I won't be doing any production work I don't think that will be an issue. There' a concrete floor . I'm having 240/30amps put in while we're having other electrical work done on our place. I'm planning to do some cone 10 firing and experiment with glazes but really want to be able to bisque on my own. The specs on the 818 are up to cone 10 and describe it as a good small studio kiln. The price and size are a good fit for me but I wanted to get some feed back from other potters before buying.


When I had my kiln installed in the garage, I had a breaker box installed also. I needed 50/60 amps for the kiln, plus it gave me options for future equipment, lighting, heater, etc. Both the kiln installer and the electrician said it also added value to the house in terms of resale. As long as you are pulling a circuit, you might want to consider a separate box in the garage with 100 to 200 amps total availability. I've not regretted the investment.

#9 Sojourner

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Posted 31 December 2011 - 12:42 AM

My studio is in the garage, which is attached to the house and has a concrete floor. It's a small space and need a small kiln. Since pottery is my hobby and I won't be doing any production work I don't think that will be an issue. There' a concrete floor . I'm having 240/30amps put in while we're having other electrical work done on our place. I'm planning to do some cone 10 firing and experiment with glazes but really want to be able to bisque on my own. The specs on the 818 are up to cone 10 and describe it as a good small studio kiln. The price and size are a good fit for me but I wanted to get some feed back from other potters before buying.


Pardon me, I was looking at specs on the 818P, because that's the 818 model that runs on a 30A fuse (and tops out at cone 8).

The other 818 models call for a 40A breaker. The 818 (no sub-designation) DOES say cone 10 but also requires the 40A breaker, not the 30A. You might want to check that out to make sure you've got the right specs before you wire. The reason for the difference is the 818P runs at about 22A, so plenty of room on a 30A circuit, but the 818 runs at nearly 28A, which doesn't give you the minimum 10% extra you'd want on that breaker. I would not skimp on that breaker, especially as you plan to run it at the top of it's range. You may find the annoyance of tripping the breaker at the height of a firing cycle not to be worth the little bit of money you'd save putting in the smaller breaker. If the issue is that you don't have 40A to spare on your current service, I would strongly recommend going with a different kiln.

And btw you don't want to install equipment like this on a breaker that's bigger than the manufacturer's requirements, because part of the safe installation of the equipment is making sure the breaker will actually trip and shut everything down should something go wrong. Bigger breaker means it might not trip until serious damage has been done to the kiln. It's a fire hazard too - you want things to shut down BEFORE you've got an electrical fire on your hands.

Anyway if you stick with that kiln you will need the 40A breaker instead of the 30A.

There's another issue with small kilns running at cone 10, and that is that a lot of them are really underpowered at the top of their range (whether that's cone 10 or 8) and in practice often won't operate well up there. The Big Ceramic Store has a lot of useful information about kilns and one of the things they talk about is the idea of the "true" cone rating of kilns. Basically they say "We recommend always buying a kiln that is specified for a higher temperature than you plan to fire. "

This isn't just sales jive. It's good advice. Especially with these smaller kilns, you don't want to operate them at the very furthest extent of their range, its just too much strain on the elements, the relays, the whole system. So if it's rated to cone 8, you can be pretty sure that you will be able to operate it efficiently, reliably, and economically at cone 6; but if you run it up to cone 8 all the time, expect much shorter element life and more frequent maintenance and replacement of things like relays, etc. I don't think there is a small kiln that will fire above cone 10, but you can at least maximize your performance and minimize the cost of maintenance by sticking with a "true" cone 10 kiln.

Of the 3 small (around 2.5 cu ft) kilns I've mentioned, the L&L Liberty Belle is the only one that is rated as a "true" cone 10. If you really want to fire up around cone 10 a lot of the time, that alone is enough to recommend the L&L over the other two kilns (the Paragon and the Skutt 818).

Actually, whoops! Now that I think of it, you're not limited to the Liberty Belle since you're willing and able to install a 240V circuit dedicated to the kiln. That opens up the possibility of the L&L e18s. With the 3" brick, it runs about $100 more (the Liberty Belle is priced about the same as the Skutt 818), but it opens up the possibility of installing their quad elements either now or at a later date. If you're firing at higher temps these elements will give you an extra added boost in the high temperature ranges. They were developed for crystalline glazes (which are usually fired at something like cone 12). Best of all, the e18s still runs on a 30A breaker, so you can still install it even if your service limits you to adding a 30A breaker.

Looking at the Skutt 818, they mention that they have "balanced elements" - some method of trying to even out the temperature throughout the kiln. I don't know much about this so I can't say how advantageous it might (or might not) be.

Given that you state you want to do high-fire, I think the L&L has the advantage here, mostly because it's a "true" cone 10 kiln, but also because of the extended element life and the possibility of tweaking a bit extra in the way of performance out of the kiln by going to the quad elements. However, maybe there would be a similar advantage for performance from the "balanced element" design on the Skutt.

Laying it out:

  • Skutt needs a 40A breaker; L&L operates within safe parameters on the 30A breaker
  • Skutt has the "balanced elements" but I don't know what the real advantage of that might be or if it's something you can do yourself through the controller on the L&L
  • L&L is rated as a "true" cone 10; Skutt is not.
  • L&L has the ceramic element holders, which extends life of the element, protects the fire brick, and makes changing elements when you do need to do it a lot easier. All of these result in longer overall life of the kiln.
  • L&L has the option for 3" firebrick (and btw I compare prices using the 3" option); as far as I can tell, the Skutt comes with the 2.5" firebrick only. The 3" firebrick is more economical to operate (insulates and holds heat better) but I've been told it also takes longer to cool down; this shouldn't be much of an issue if it's vented though (and you WILL vent your kiln, right? Right? Right?)
  • L&L gives you the option of upgrading to the "quad element" which should give you better performance when high firing. I believe you will get longer element life when high-firing as well, but I don't know if it's enough of a difference by itself to warrant the increased cost. Someone using these might chime in here with their experience, even if it's a larger kiln.
Either kiln would be a good kiln, but I do think the L&L has the edge in this case. I haven't talked about the Paragon because I don't know as much about them, but they're good kilns too, from what I've been told.

One other thing to think about; this is really a VERY small kiln. It's actually the smallest kiln possible to meet your requirements. I'm going to quote Pres from another thread on this subject (new kiln), because I think this is very very VERY good advice.

Pres sez:

"I fall back on the advice that I have been given about many things. First, if you are buying a kiln, then this is not a whim, or a phase you are going through but something you are serious about. That said, I would buy a kiln a little larger than what you think you need so that you may not grow out of it too soon. At the same time bite the bullet, and spend on getting something with 220v so that you can run the full gambit of firing temperatures. This is just a personal opinion, but over the years I have followed this type of advice and almost never been sorry for it. Good luck with the new kiln. "

So consider moving up just ONE size for your kiln. It won't cost much more to fire even if you don't fill it at first, and it won't take up much more room. (DO remember to allow proper clearance for fire safety!)

The next size up is the E23s (and I'm sure Skutt has a similarly sized model if you decide you want to stick with a Skutt) and it is only 5" bigger in diameter than the E18s. This will give you 4.5 cu ft of space as opposed to the 2.5 to 2.7 you get from the smaller kilns. It would require heavier wire and a bigger breaker (50A), but it will deliver more performance wise as well as giving you more space for firing. Yeah, it does cost about $300 or $400 more, but this is an INVESTMENT - spending the extra Benjamins now will be more cost-efficient in the long run.

Even if you decide to stick with the smallest kiln for now, consider running the heavier wire for a larger kiln even though you don't really need it now. That way, should you ever decide to move up to a larger kiln, all you would need to do is replace the breaker and maybe the outlet itself. That was Peter's idea in that other thread, and it's a good one.

Finally, whatever kiln you get, if there's an option to hang the controller off the wall instead of on the side of the kiln, I'd suggest doing that if at all possible. Not only does it make the total footprint of the kiln smaller (because it's not projecting off the side) it can also extend the life of the controller by removing it from the most direct heat, and make it easier to get at because you can mount it at a height that's more convenient to operate and get at. Also less chance of whacking into it and damaging it by accident.

Hope some of those thoughts can help you out.

EDIT:

One more consideration - given that you want to fire at cone 10 - this is better done in not necessarily a larger kiln, but one that has enough power to require a larger breaker. There are issues of power drop and wear and tear on the elements, all of these things are just Much Better in a more powerful kiln. The difference between the Skutt 818 and the L&L e18s isn't that great, even though there's a nominal difference between the 40A breaker required for the one and the 30A breaker of the other, because the actual power difference between them isn't that great; the larger breaker is required because the 818 is right on the edge of the safe operating range for the 30A breaker. But there'll be a big difference in efficiency and power if you go from either of those 2 models to a 50A model. So moving up to the next kiln size up with a 50A breaker will pay off in the greater power, totally besides having a larger fill capacity.

Just something to think about, on top of the rest.




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