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yappystudent

Shopping for My First Kiln

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On 2/6/2018 at 7:32 AM, Sputty said:

Indeed. And as I understand it, the full 240V is used for some appliances. In fact, I think  I'm right in saying that some appliances use both 240V and 120V - a washing machine, for example, which might use the 240V feed for the motor, heater etc., and the 120V feed for the electronics. (Americans - feel free to shout, "no, no - you are wrong" at me.)

I think if pushed someone will tell you that the 120V is used where possible because it is 'safer'. My own take on it all is that it's a muddle with historical roots, which is then rationalised into some sort of ad hoc re-alignment of the facts because that's simply what people in general do to make themselves feel better once they've made a choice about... well, anything, really. In other words, looking too deeply for some truly technical answer will get you nowhere. It's just what is.

In the US we use both voltages -220V does come into most homes. other than a dry outlet Most home appliances use 110V-like toasters lights etc .This is not the case in many other parts of the world.

For an example on our property I use 220, for my well pump motor, a wall heater (in a small bathroom) and a welder a few kilns- and a high pressure compressor for scuba air tanks , everything else is 110V

I have two sub panels in out buildings with 220 at the panels

In the house there are no 220 outlets-this is very common in the states-all my 220 outlets are in outer shop situations -many homes do have a 220v outlet for electric dryers in laundry rooms but its slowly changing where natural gas is available as it cheaper. Where there is no gas a 220 v laundry outlet is always in laundry room-but that about the only household outlet with 220.

In Asia and I assume the UK  and Europe ? most everything is a straight 220V-really a better system I feel but we here do not have that.

I will not address the safety aspects other to say I have be shocked by both 1110v and 220v and 110 is way better as 220v can really mess you up.both feel bad but there is a very noticeable difference.

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In America, Electric Stoves use both 110 and 220, 110 for the display, timer, clock, etc and 220 to cook on stove top and in the oven.

I have heard 110 will hold onto you if touched. 220 will throw you off it. I have not tested either to see if true !!

 

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From what I can see of the elements, it looks like it could be fired.  You can get an appliance cord from Home Depot that will work for the kiln. take a picture of the cord end you now have and see if that matches  the Home depot 240 volt appliance cord.  You will have to verify what the breaker is for the   existing appliance outlet 35 amp is needed.  Take a look at the connecting wires in the kiln and they can be replaced with appliance high temp wire available  at Home Depot or any store that sells parts for stoves or dryers.  The kiln on 240 VAC will draw about 1565 watts instead of the original 1500 watts.  The cheapest and best elements can be ordered from Euclids.com,  they also carry many parts for kilns.  If this scares you then you will have to get someone who repairs kiln's.

David

 

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To be specific, the US standard for households is 120/240 volts, +/- 5%. 220 does still exist in a few old systems, but it's rare. Most 3 phase systems are 208 volts, however I see a fair number of 240 volt 3 phase systems, too. 

The difference in voltage is important in kilns, because elements must be wound according to the voltage of the electrical supply. If you run 240 volt elements on 208 volts, it will be underpowered to the point that a cone 10 kiln will only get to cone 1. If you run 208 volt elements on 240 volts, they'll run hot, and may overload the circuit.

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So the email button on the Paragon website for the Portland (300m + away and the nearest) is broken. So I called the TX main number and they didn't know why their website wasn't working, also they couldn't tell me anything about the repair guy/shop/ gosh knows what up there, or the one in Bend, OR. :/ Seriously? She gave me an email over the phone and I sent them all the photos. I don't even know where I emailed. Not encouraging from a business model standpoint. 

Edited by yappystudent

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Ya know I went through this last year when I was suddenly on my own and needed a kiln, cheap. Looked at a bunch of used ones and just came to the same conclusion as the original poster, buying a new kiln just seemed cheaper and less hassle in the long run. If the kiln was fairly new with an electronic controller folks wanted within 5-600 of buying one new and old decent brick ones were 4-500 and once I added elements and a few other things I was half the cost of new and I had a 40 year kiln. Would'nt take much to end up having $1500 in a big ol 'ancient' kiln.

I think old kilns are for folks that bought them new and have bragging rights at how long they have lasted. Not that it can't work out but it can also go to crap in a hurry and after x amount of dollars in you have no choice but to keep spending.  

I'm a little confused on the not being able to run the small kiln on house hold current. My sister in-law was renting and she wore out a little one like the OP is looking at on house hold plugs. I know she didn't hire an electrician so maybe she found a 30 amp already in the box. My test kiln is about the same size but made by Seattle pottery and I had a garage plug that was just fine and I did not have to have an electrician out. Mine is actually a cone 10. It needed a different wall socket that I just swapped out myself from the one there with a screw driver in five minutes. Seattle pottery has a one page printout and the wall socket inside the kiln. I paid about $800 for the kiln 5 years ago for glaze testing. 

Anyway I certainly see a small kiln as useful for a hobbyist for a number of reasons one of which is you can fire it a lot and progress to a larger kiln later. If you take a long time to fill a larger kiln up you end up seeing your work weeks or even months after you first made it.  A small one you can fire every few days if you want for a few bucks or less.

Edited by Stephen

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The biggest issue on 110 volt kilns would be that the house outlet you want to use is wired with 15 amp wire (#14)not  (#12) 20 amp wire and the user is unaware of this and thinks they have a 20 amp circuit . This mess is more common then you think in the US.The downside is fire as the wire in the wall heats up as its on a 20 amp circuit beaker not the 15 amp  breaker the wire is designed for.

When it comes to electric kilns the user needs to know all the facts(wire sizes and breaker sizes) before just plugging in or changing outlets within the box in house to make the kiln work.

I have had 3-4 electrics in my life and I have never bought a NEW kiln.

Of course I do not use them for glaze firing only the occasional bisque (long ago I did do lusters in them)

If I was glaze firing then the new controllers would be very appealing and I would get a new kiln.

If I ever do it will be a L&L. thru Neil.

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1 hour ago, Stephen said:

I'm a little confused on the not being able to run the small kiln on house hold current. My sister in-law was renting and she wore out a little one like the OP is looking at on house hold plugs. I know she didn't hire an electrician so maybe she found a 30 amp already in the box. My test kiln is about the same size but made by Seattle pottery and I had a garage plug that was just fine and I did not have to have an electrician out. Mine is actually a cone 10. It needed a different wall socket that I just swapped out myself from the one there with a screw driver in five minutes. Seattle pottery has a one page printout and the wall socket inside the kiln. I paid about $800 for the kiln 5 years ago for glaze testing. 

It's all about amperage. If the kiln pulls more amperage than the wires can handle, the wires heat up and start a fire. Standard household outlets are 120 volts and 15 amps. You may have some 20 amp circuits in the kitchen or garage. You can tell because those outlets (assuming everything was done correctly) have a 'T' shaped slot for one of the plug prongs. 20 amp plugs look like 15 amp plugs except that one prong is turned 90 degrees.  20 amp outlets can take 15 or 20 amp plugs. Almost all baby test kilns run on 20 amp circuits. Any that run on 15 amps probably won't get to cone 6, and are made for low fire work only. You can't just change out the outlet, though. You also have to change the wires leading to the outlet, otherwise you'll overload them and they'll heat up and potentially start a fire. If the kiln needs a 20 circuit, then the outlet, wires, and breaker all have to be rated for 20 amps.

Also note that the national electrical code- which is part of the national fire code- requires that kilns go on a circuit that is rated 25% greater than the draw of the kiln. So if your little kiln pulls 15 amps, it needs to be on a 20 amp circuit. 24 amp kilns go on 30 amp circuits, 48 amp kilns go on 60 amp circuits. You should check all this on your little kiln and make sure you are doing it safely.

The original post referenced a kiln that ran on 120 volts but needed 30 amps. Nobody has a 30 amp 120 volt circuit in their house. My recommendation was to not waste the money on a 120 volt 30 amp line, but rather to install a 240 volt 30 amp line and get a little bigger kiln. Most 18x18 interior kilns run on a 30 amp circuit, and that's a really nice nice for a starter kiln. You can fit a couple dozen mugs in it, and it won't take forever to fill. Most people have a 240 volt 30 amp circuit for their clothes dryer, though, so if that's the case it's just a matter of making sure the plugs are the same, which all depends on the kiln and the dryer.

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35 minutes ago, Mark C. said:

The biggest issue on 110 volt kilns would be that the house outlet you want to use is wired with 15 amp wire (#14)not  (#12) 20 amp wire and the user is unaware of this and thinks they have a 20 amp circuit . This mess is more common then you think in the US.The downside is fire as the wire in the wall heats up as its on a 20 amp circuit beaker not the 15 amp  breaker the wire is designed for.

When it comes to electric kilns the user needs to know all the facts(wire sizes and breaker sizes) before just plugging in or changing outlets within the box in house to make the kiln work.

I have had 3-4 electrics in my life and I have never bought a NEW kiln.

Of course I do not use them for glaze firing only the occasional bisque (long ago I did do lusters in them)

If I was glaze firing then the new controllers would be very appealing and I would get a new kiln.

If I ever do it will be a L&L. thru Neil.

*blush*

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Without trying to start a war, my family has been in construction for 5 generations,  and the wire used inside the walls  in structures built since WWII is generally uniform and more than capable of handling almost anything you can throw at it on a 115 volt circuit.   absent damage to the wire from improper installation, you are more likely to see issues at the outlet than with the wire.  

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43 minutes ago, Viking Potter said:

Without trying to start a war, my family has been in construction for 5 generations,  and the wire used inside the walls  in structures built since WWII is generally uniform and more than capable of handling almost anything you can throw at it on a 115 volt circuit.   absent damage to the wire from improper installation, you are more likely to see issues at the outlet than with the wire.  

Our job here is to advise people on how to do things safely and correctly. Code is code.

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dear yappy, could you tell us the outcome of this question?  did you ever get a kiln to work, did you contact arnold howard, did you fix the old one, did you buy a new one, are you totally turned off?

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Ummmmm. *eyetwitch* 

In answer to Oldlady's question and possibly some other's: 

Info overload much. I just want a kiln not to become an electrician, however I've been trying to fit in as much general electrical self-education as I can so I can make an at least partially educated choice. I still can't quite get over my frustration with Paragon's lack of customer service on the phone or by email (it was returned as failmail) -per my original plan this "truly ancient" AA 6 little kiln will continue to sit until I can figure out what to do with it. 

I had a local electrician come by, looked around my 1971 mobile home, and tell me it would be $90 for a comprehensive diagnostic of everything that was wrong with it and that was my only option, also BTW their company only works on "big" projects,  they recommended I hire any "guy" who might have a business card posted down at the Thai restaurant, which surprisingly is quite a place to network, apparently. This may be the next route I take. 

Cracked two home repair books to read about outlets and circuitry and whatnot. Nothing much about 240 vs 208 voltage, dedicated circuits, or anything that relates to my questions. However I see I can do some home repairs myself.  I once changed out a three prong dryer plug for a 2 prong dryer plug (or vice versa) but I don't recall having to learn anything about voltage to do it. 

Yes I have a dryer, with a plug. It's off by itself in it's own shed so I'm dimly guessing this might be a dedicated circuit. I wish the shed (metal, old) was in better repair, I'd rather not put a new kiln in there in this damp climate, but maybe with some serious caulking it would be doable. There are other places that if supplied with the right plug might be better. 

As stated I still want a Skutt because: Georgie's is only 200m away and Skutt has excellent customer service. I will have to call them as before with the exact same question as last week which they couldn't answer: what is the difference between 240 voltage and 208 kilns and why is it going to be a problem for me? If you think I'm alone in not "getting" this, I typed this question into google and copied this off a repair forum that came up in my search: 

What is the difference between 208 and 240?

The difference between 208V three phase, and 240V single phase, is how the voltage is derived.

240V single phase is obtained by taking a single leg of three-phase power.
208V three phase is obtained by taking two legs of three-phase power.

In a 120/240 single phase system, the midpoint of the secondary side of the tranformer is tapped and grounded to create a neutral. From the midpoint to any line reads 120V, and from line-to-line (the full voltage) reads 240V. Imagine planting a black flag in the sand, walking 120 steps in a straight line, planting a white flag, and then walking another 120 steps in the same line to plant a red flag at the end.

In a 120/208 three phase system, the neutral is at the center of three phases from the utility. In this case, using the walking in the sand analogy: A white flag is planted in the center. You walk 120 steps away from the white flag, and plant a black flag. You return to the white flag, turn 120 degrees, and walk another 120 steps, planting a red flag. You return to the white flag, turn 120 degrees, and walk 120 steps to plant a blue flag.

Once this is done, you face the red flag from the blue flag, and count your steps as you approach it. There are 208 steps between flags. 

If that doesn't make sense, you're not alone in the universe

I don't need to understand this **** to run my dryer why do I need it to buy a kiln and be an artist? This sounds like the barking of a really annoying dog at this point. 

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Also:

I've given up the idea of getting an 120 volt, mainly because I want a bigger kiln than can fire on 120 volts, but I'm still unclear why it would be a bad idea for a test or glass slumping kiln. 

I'm currently looking at Skutt's KM818 as what I'll actually buy as my first kiln (I'm not counting the paragon).   

I don't need a huge kiln because: I can't move a huge kiln around easily. I'd rather have a smaller kiln than nothing at all. Smaller kilns are cheaper to buy. I'd love to fire stoneware but I'll settle for cone 6-8 if it's done reliably. Power costs a lot here. My work is fairly small right now, however I'd like to go up in size eventually yes. Unless I can afford a bigger kiln someday that might not be possible. If it's 145lbs I can go get it and bring it back home in my car without paying for shipping. 

Any reason why I shouldn't buy this? 

The listing off Georgie's website:

KM818

One of Skutt's overall most popular models, it's the perfect small kiln with cone 10 range for home or small studio use.

Reaches cone 10.
Chamber size 17-1/2" x 18".
Capacity 2.6 cubic feet.
Available in 240-volt or 208-volt configurations.
Georgies price does not include freight or delivery charges to your location. Shipping weight is 145 pounds.

KM818.jpg

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Ya know I guess my advice on the small kiln was off target as I did not know all that Neil said. I just bought the small test kiln for glaze testing and brought home and swapped out the wall socket per their instructions on a dedicated 110 in garage and started using it. 

I think your choice is perfect based on all you have said and the cone 10 rating means you can fire cone 6 on a regular basis straight up instead of with heat work. 

I will toss one more thing out on elect. I was installing a 50 amp oval kiln in garage right next to the breaker box and I got some absurd bids for dedicated plug. I ended up paying a couple hundred bucks but I kid you not, I had several electricians give me a really high multi thousand bids to do this and several at 7-800. I knew from past experience that they were all overcharging but they have a line of BS that sounds convincing. I just kept calling around until I found someone fair and honest (and licensed & bonded :D )  

Have fun and don't fret too much about this part.

Edited by Stephen

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It sounds like your shed is going to be your best bet for your kiln.  It is starting to warm up you outside you can get out there with a caulking gun.  You won't have to worry about fumes and ventilation in the shed,  it will be safer.   There was an newbie on the Electric Fire Cone 6 forum that had his neighbor (who thought he was a electrician) wire in his kiln.  The first time he fired it the electrical wires in his wall caught on fire and nearly burned down his house.   He gave up pottery.   My mother in-laws house is about the same age as your mobile home and it has aluminum wiring.   You may be able to find out what size and type of wiring is used in a mobile home.  The only new kiln I have ever purchased is a test kiln,  I couldn't find any of them used.   When I graduated with my degree in Ceramics my professor suggested I get a test kiln,  he said it would make testing quicker and easier.   I already owned a small and large kilns  that I bought used.    Denice

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@yappystudent that's a great little kiln! That was the size of my first kiln, and I used it for years and years even after getting a bigger kiln.

1. Wherever you put the kiln, it will need to be on a fireproof floor. If you have to put it on a wood floor, first put down 2 layers of cement board, available at any home store.

2. The kiln should be at least 16 inches from any flammable wall. To be super safe, put cement board on the wall, too. Go 10 inches from a brick wall. 

3. If it's in your home, it will need to be vented. A downdraft vent will vent fumes, and over head like a Vent-A-Kiln model, will pull out fumes and excess heat.

4. If it's in a shed or garage, as long as there's a source of fresh air (open door and a fan), venting may not be necessary.

5. In a shed you need to make sure it doesn't get too hot, as the controller has a max temp rating, usually 120F or higher.

Here's the difference between 208 volt and 240 volts: In most appliances it's not a big deal, but in kilns it is. The power consumption of a kiln is measured in watts. The more watts it uses, the more heat is produced. A small kiln might only use 1500 watts, a bigger one might use 12,000 watts. Watts are calculated as amps x voltage. The amperage draw of a kiln is determined by the elements. To make this simple, let's say you have a set of elements designed to pull 10 amps. On 240 volt service that means you'll consume 2400 watts. If you put those same elements on 208 volt service, then you'll only be using 2080 watts. Fewer watts means less heat, which means the kiln won't get to temperature. All this means for you is that you have to make sure your kiln is set up for whatever voltage you have coming into your studio. In most homes that's 240 volts. Have an electrician verify the voltage with a meter, and order the kiln as either 208 volts or 240 volts, depending on what you have.

If you're going to use your dryer outlet, see what kind of plug it requires, and see if your kiln can run with that same plug. Some kilns and dryers have 3 prongs, some have 4. You can't just change the plug for one with a different set of prongs or things might not work, or might not be safe. The kiln manufacturer and your electrician can figure it out if you're not sure how to do it yourself.

Get lots of quotes, like Stephen said. I've seen quote range from $400-$1600 for the same job. Ask them for an itemized quote showing materials and labor. They have a standard per-hour labor rate, and they should be able to estimate how many hours the job will take, and can show you the price for the parts. Some electricians won't quote that way, and they're probably over-charging.

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glad to know you are moving ahead.  i started with a 18x18 paragon and used it for years.  it will take some time for you to make something so big it won't fit inside it.  don't forget, you can fire a single large piece by itself occasionally.  get full size shelves, they are not heavy.

AND..............sometimes the electrician does not want to do the job at all and will give a ridiculous price to keep from having to do something he/she does not want to do.   kilns are scary for some electricians.

 

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So I had a good look at my dryer outlet and it said 120/240 volts, the circuit breaker said 250v so I'll take that as a good sign. Ordered a kiln from Skutt. I'm thinking about calling them back to ask what the plug is going to look like to make sure it fits. 

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yappy, you can have a second outlet installed next to the one for the dryer.  you just cannot use them both at the same time.  yes, ask what the electrical supply store code number is for that plug. and look on their website for a photo of the plug.  it should be there.

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4 hours ago, yappystudent said:

So I had a good look at my dryer outlet and it said 120/240 volts, the circuit breaker said 250v so I'll take that as a good sign. Ordered a kiln from Skutt. I'm thinking about calling them back to ask what the plug is going to look like to make sure it fits. 

The kiln, if you got the cone 10 version, will use a NEMA 6-50 plug, which is not going to be the same as your dryer.

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Yes, I was told that by Georgie's after I called them back, but it didn't seem worth updating the thread for. I've got an electrician coming next week, with luck it will go better than the first one. Still trying to decide exactly where to place the kiln now. 

 

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