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Advice on kiln purchase

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I’m looking to purchase a small kiln for hobby use. Could anyone offer advice on what I should be looking for please. Ideally I’d like a second hand kiln. Thank you in advance! 

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56 minutes ago, Avril said:

I’m looking to purchase a small kiln for hobby use. Could anyone offer advice on what I should be looking for please. Ideally I’d like a second hand kiln. Thank you in advance! 

What kind of space and electrical situation do you have? Are you going to work at cone 6? How often, how many and what size pieces do you plan to fire? What budget are you working with? 

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Hi Stephen,

I want to set it up in the garage on a normal power supply. I have been on a number of courses and now want to start producing some pieces at home . It’s only for a hobby and I am a complete beginner so looking for a kiln that is small and easy to use. I’ve looked on line but I’m confused with the amount of choice. In terms of budget ideally I’d been looking at spending not more than £500 if that is realistic?  

Thank you

avril

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4 hours ago, Avril said:

Hi Stephen,

I want to set it up in the garage on a normal power supply. I have been on a number of courses and now want to start producing some pieces at home . It’s only for a hobby and I am a complete beginner so looking for a kiln that is small and easy to use. I’ve looked on line but I’m confused with the amount of choice. In terms of budget ideally I’d been looking at spending not more than £500 if that is realistic?  

Thank you

avril

Hey Avril,

welcome to the board!

Well maybe normal power for small one. I bought a small 1 cf kiln as a test kiln. The place I bought it gave me a 20amp outlet and told me to swap out an indoor with it. I did this in my garage on a dedicated 110 and ran it that way for 5-6 years on an occasional basis BUT one of the kiln guys here recommended against this as the wire might not be rated properly. I just moved and had a dedicated 20amp run for it. So if you go with a 110/120 kiln I would talk to their support about it first.

I think your budget would be a little short for a new 110/120 kiln with electronic controller AND that is a very small kiln, think 2-3 mugs, one medium bowl, maybe 2 small ones. Little stuff like spoon rest, jewelry, beads etc 

I think you need to think about what you will be firing. You might be happier if you spent something in your budget on a good used mid-sized one (3-5cf) and just paid an electrician to put a 220/240 plug in for you. Don't forget to vent it.

These guys make one that runs on a dryer plug and is 3cf and that will hold a number of pots;

dryer plug kiln 

Edited by Stephen

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hello, avril.  you are spending pounds, please identify the country you live in.  we have members all over the world and knowing where you are is critical.  most of us assume that everyone is in the same country and give advice accordingly.

buying a kiln is a really serious decision.  you need to ask yourself a lot of questions about your intentions not just what is in your pocket.  contacting kiln manufacturers for information about their various models, not just the one you are thinking of today, will allow you to know more about what is available  and what you might find in a used kiln.   be sure the kiln is intended for use in firing ceramics if that is your intention.  maybe you want to do glass, you have not said.   glass kilns are getting more common every day but they will not do what you want if it is to fire ceramics.

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11 hours ago, Avril said:

Thank you, I’m in the U.K.  I’m looking to fire ceramics not glass. 

Ya know it sounds like you will just have to decide if a small kiln that runs on your existing electrical set-up will do it for you. With the budget you mentioned you can come up with a small kiln that will work and if you add a 220/240 (or whatever the UK equivalent is) outlet you can probably find a good used medium kiln as well. If you start with a small one you will still have a blast and just fire more often and stick to smaller stuff. When you out grow it you can invest in the electrical and get a bigger one. Either way you will have a home setup and can start firing your own work. I have a small one as a test kiln and find it useful enough that I paid an electrician extra to add a plug for it when he was setting up the other two so maybe you will keep the small one down the road as well.

Have fun and don't fret too much about it, there's no really bad choice. Fun purchase!

Edited by Stephen

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I'm also new to ceramics (but in LOVE!) and have been contemplating a kiln purchase, either new or used. Thanks for this helpful information! If this is helpful for any additional advice: I'm located in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

It doesn't look like Pottery Supply House carries the "Biggest Little Kiln" although they carry Paragon. Any other suggestions?

Thanks again! 

Edited by Eleanor_S

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1 hour ago, Eleanor_S said:

I'm also new to ceramics (but in LOVE!) and have been contemplating a kiln purchase, either new or used. Thanks for this helpful information! If this is helpful for any additional advice: I'm located in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

It doesn't look like Pottery Supply House carries the "Biggest Little Kiln" although they carry Paragon. Any other suggestions?

Thanks again! 

I think the biggest little kiln was something the company in the link had Paragon outfit for them. Basically it is a smallish medium kiln that they had outfitted with a plug that goes into a standard 30amp dryer outlet with a longer cord to reach past the dryer. I read debate on this board whether a dryer outlet is rated for such a sustained load but these guys have been selling it for many years and Paragon is one of the main kiln brands so my guess is it's fine. If that kiln is appealing to you then you might contact them and see if they ship to Canada. At just shy of 3cf it might be a good hobby size. 

Electric kilns, even bigger ones, don't cost but a few bucks to fire. Think $8-$9 for bigger ones and $3-$4 for smaller.  One plus to a smallish medium kiln is you can fire more often. As a hobbyist it might take a long time to fill a 7-8cf kiln. Who wants to wait weeks or even months to see their work. Our 7cf Skutt 1027 holds about 50 pots and the 9cf oval one holds probably 75ish. Less if there are some large pieces in there but those numbers seem to be the average. The real small ones that run on household outlets are really small, usually less than a foot tall and wide, so you are going to be firing small loads of small stuff. A few mugs or couple of small bowls or really little stuff like beads and jewelry.   

Ya know the thing is electrical is just an extra expense of having a medium or large kiln. I just paid $1200 to have outlets put in for a small one and 2 larger ones. I needed a sub-panel and did it on flat bid which was a mistake because they double the hours to account for any problems. I strongly recommend being stubborn and getting an electrician that will do it by the hour. Mine took exactly 3 hours and with equipment should have been more like $600.   A single outlet close to your panel should only take a couple hours or less.

Hope that helps a bit. One thing you can do is think about what you are going to be firing and then go look at kilns and get the firing chamber dimensions. If its dinnerware, get some out of your cabinet or your past work and arrange it (remember the post, shelves and gaps around pottery, top and sides. Doing this will give you an ideal of what you need. 

Good luck!   

Edited by Stephen

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MANY, MANY, THANKS to all who commented!!!!  I ,too, was considering a small kiln.  I have the electrical service for a bigger one, but just thought if I had a small one it could save space and be easier to load and take care of. 

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29 minutes ago, Teala62 said:

MANY, MANY, THANKS to all who commented!!!!  I ,too, was considering a small kiln.  I have the electrical service for a bigger one, but just thought if I had a small one it could save space and be easier to load and take care of. 

sure, glad to offer input, I don't know about easier. Big or little is about the same. really you just park it and don't sit stuff on it and any of these will last for years. The biggest problem with kilns in garages is really other people. Kilns look solid but the are not and its really hard to get that point across to people. They are often just three rings of wrapped soft-brick and a soft brick top. People that don't get it will try to scoot them over (they don't scoot) and constantly slap stuff on top of them (they chip and crack easy). You get about a 100-150 combined bisque & glaze firings from a set of elements and a little set might be a $100-$200 to replace and a larger one $300-$400.  Saving space is a definite yes. 

But do you want to be restricted to 2-3 small pottery pieces every time you fire. Household kilns are small. In another thread I was advocating this when someone wanted to buy one but I have since really looked at my 1cf kiln and thought about if I wanted this to be my only kiln (I bought it to test glazes I mix) and the answer really is  no. I have concluded that others are right, little household elect kilns work well for some things but I wouldn't have lasted very long before buying another one if I had had to start with it..

Edited by Stephen

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Kilns must be on a breaker that is 25% greater than the actual draw of the kiln. So if you've got a 30 amp circuit, the kiln can only draw 24 amps. In the US, most small test kilns that can reach cone 6 or above will need to be on a 20 amp breaker.

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Thanks so much for this information. There's a lot to consider when purchasing a kiln and I'm not in a rush to make a decision right now. Everything you've shared is great food for thought!

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