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AIM kiln Reliability?


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#1 aphtershox

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Posted 20 January 2012 - 07:32 PM

Hello all, I was planning on purchasing a kiln soon. My teacher suggested Skutt or L&L, but I was also looking at AIM kilns, because they were cheaper and slightly larger for 120 volts. However, it's been difficult for me to find out very much information on AIM; about all I heard is that their business faltered a few years back because of low quality and poor management, and changed management and location. Has anyone purchased a kiln from them after maybe early-2009, around when I think that happened? What are your impressions? Thanks.

#2 neilestrick

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Posted 21 January 2012 - 10:59 AM

It has been my experience that small 120 volt brick kilns do not vary all that much in build quality. Because of their size, they do not suffer the same wear and tear as the big kilns. They just don't expand and contract as much during firings. That said, the L&L hard ceramic element holders are much more durable when it comes to the bricks being bumped when loading and unloading the kiln. As for controls, a sitter is a sitter. If you're going digital, Aim, Skutt and L&L all use Bartlett built controllers, so not much difference there. I'd go for the full blown controller rather than the 3-button if you can afford it.

As for size, if a kiln is larger but uses the same watts, then it is underpowered compared to the smaller kilns. Also watch out for the amperage requirements for 120 volts kilns. Many need a 20 amp circuit, which you probably don't have in your home. If you don't, look for kilns that can use a 15 amp circuit.

Feel free to contact me if you need more info on L&L.
Neil Estrick
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Owner, Neil Estrick Gallery, LLC
www.neilestrickgallery.com

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#3 Denice

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Posted 21 January 2012 - 01:51 PM

I'm not sure which AIM kiln you are looking at, I have a small test AIM Kiln that I have probably had for 15 years, I have never had to do anything to it. At my old studio I had it with a 15 amp breaker my new studio has a dedicated 20 amp breaker for it. My electrician was not happy with the old set up even though I fired it that way for ten years. Denice

#4 Mark C.

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Posted 21 January 2012 - 05:40 PM

L&L I feel is a better quality kiln than your others on the list but as you noted they cost more
one thing to consider is looking for a slightly used kiln-hobbyist buy and sell these all the time-as they come and go with clay

One point I should make is a 220V kiln will be more efficient than 110V without all the details 220 uses all the juice ware as 110 does not
If you have the service for a 220 double breaker get a 220V kiln-in the long run the power bill for same size kiln will be less
I have worked as an electrican
Mark
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www.liscomhillpottery.com

#5 Amy Waller

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Posted 24 January 2012 - 11:13 AM

Just wanted to second some of what's been said above. I have an AIM 84J test kiln, purchased secondhand a few years ago. (I bought it from the original owner, who never actually used it.) It's a manual kiln; I added a plug-in digital controller later. It works great and I've never had any problems with it. The digital controller has made all the difference in controlling the firings - definitely worth it!

#6 Charlotte Green

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Posted 27 January 2012 - 02:55 PM

One of my elec. kilns is AIM (27" deep). I bought it about 10 years ago and it is still in great shape. The elements have only been replaced twice, amazing since it is fired couple of times a week alternately with my other kiln. It is fully automatic and the main regulator that cycles it on and off has always been noisy. It has been replaced 4 times (cost $100.00) due to the poles wearing out. They are moving parts. Every new one I've installed has a loud buzzing sound. It is not very pleasant to be around when it is firing. If I ever purchase a new elec. kiln, I'd get any of the suggestions here but would add the Paragon to that list. The electrician here offers some great advice about the load you pull when firing.

#7 neilestrick

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Posted 27 January 2012 - 04:46 PM

One of my elec. kilns is AIM (27" deep). I bought it about 10 years ago and it is still in great shape. The elements have only been replaced twice, amazing since it is fired couple of times a week alternately with my other kiln. It is fully automatic and the main regulator that cycles it on and off has always been noisy. It has been replaced 4 times (cost $100.00) due to the poles wearing out. They are moving parts. Every new one I've installed has a loud buzzing sound. It is not very pleasant to be around when it is firing. If I ever purchase a new elec. kiln, I'd get any of the suggestions here but would add the Paragon to that list. The electrician here offers some great advice about the load you pull when firing.


Elements can last for many years if you're doing low fire. Like 5 years or more. Firing cone 5/6 will greatly reduce the element life. I go through a set every year in my smaller kiln, since I fire it 2-3 times a week to cone 6.

Relays (the switches in automatic kilns) often make noise, no matter which brand of kiln you have. They love to buzz. Most use the same relays, in fact. Sometimes when they fail, they fail hard and totally melt out. Other times they simply stop working. It's always good to have a backup set on hand. Most 27" tall kilns have 3 relays. If one goes after lots of use, replace all of them, as they all have the same life span. If one goes after little use, then it's probably an anomaly and you can just replace it alone.
Neil Estrick
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L&L Distributor
Owner, Neil Estrick Gallery, LLC
www.neilestrickgallery.com

neil@neilestrickgallery.com

#8 @haalexia

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Posted 04 May 2012 - 01:33 PM

Hello all, I was planning on purchasing a kiln soon. My teacher suggested Skutt or L&L, but I was also looking at AIM kilns, because they were cheaper and slightly larger for 120 volts. However, it's been difficult for me to find out very much information on AIM; about all I heard is that their business faltered a few years back because of low quality and poor management, and changed management and location. Has anyone purchased a kiln from them after maybe early-2009, around when I think that happened? What are your impressions? Thanks.



#9 @haalexia

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Posted 04 May 2012 - 01:37 PM

hello... i found them extremely unhelpful...their customer service was rude when i was asking for advice for my AIM kiln which i bought before the present owners...

i expected same nice service and advice...it was a cold shower... and not better with their technical service... when i am due to buy a new kiln..which is shortly as they would not help me for spare parts... it certainly wont be AIM..due to the lack of support from that company...

full disappointment indeed :-(

#10 dsollida

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Posted 12 June 2012 - 10:10 AM

Hello all, I was planning on purchasing a kiln soon. My teacher suggested Skutt or L&L, but I was also looking at AIM kilns, because they were cheaper and slightly larger for 120 volts. However, it's been difficult for me to find out very much information on AIM; about all I heard is that their business faltered a few years back because of low quality and poor management, and changed management and location. Has anyone purchased a kiln from them after maybe early-2009, around when I think that happened? What are your impressions? Thanks.



#11 dsollida

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Posted 12 June 2012 - 10:13 AM

Nothing has changed. They are still rude and unhelpful. VERY unprofessional. I was warned not to do business with them by several people in our area. My distributor won't have anything to do with them after working with them. And two instructors in school ceramic departments told me that trying to work with them was a nightmare. The kilns don't work right and the customer service person is a rude.

#12 perkolator

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Posted 12 June 2012 - 04:47 PM

one of our faculty has a large AIM oval kiln that is over 15yrs old. she fires it all the time and never had any problems with it until a couple years ago when she burned through a couple sections of elements with glaze drips. to my knowledge, it's only had the elements replaced the one time (all of them), 2 relays, and one kiln sitter tube assembly - I would say that's a pretty good kiln. one thing I really like about the AIM is that it has clamping connectors for the elements instead of crimped like on a Skutt - I'm guessing it's slightly less efficient in terms of resistance, but sure is a WHOLE lot easier to work on. I will admit though - trying to get those elements for this kiln was a chore and took several weeks - so I guess AIM still has a little bit of residual issues on their end. If I were to recommend a new kiln to someone it most likely won't be an AIM, but instead one of the currently better-known makes like a Skutt or L&L, etc.

most 120v kilns I see are all kiln-sitter type and they should all fire the same with this type of controller. chamber size:elements ratio is pretty much equivalent between all of them so you really shouldn't see much difference. also x2 on watching the voltage requirements - I have an old Cress 120v kiln that I wasn't able to use for a long time because it takes a 30A plug that I didn't have.

#13 Kally

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Posted 17 February 2013 - 09:41 AM

I recently purchased a used but never fiired aim kiln and needed technical help. They are not helpful at all. They only communicate by email which makes it hard. I found the "technician"rude and very condescending. I found out he wasn't a potter maybe that was why he couldn't seem to offer any help other than buying extra insulation. I wanted some help with the firing schedule. I felt they misreprested their product. It is rated cone 10, but I am struggling to reach that temp. The technition told me I probably wouldn't be ably to reach that temp without buying extra insulation and an extra lid. I found that ridiculous considering it is an updraft cone 10 gas kiln that has been installed by professionals according to the aim manual. I found them to be not only unhelpful but very unprofessional. I would not buy an aim kiln based on my experience. Does anyone have any ideas how to get a little more heat? I got to 2190 but then it wants to stall out and begins to drop. I'm considering drilling out the orifices a little larger to get more gas. Thanks to anyone who has some ideas!

#14 Diane Puckett

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Posted 17 February 2013 - 05:08 PM

Reading these posts, one thing you need to consider is your own level of expertise in using a kiln and locally available assistance when you need it. If you are completely new to kiln use, make sure you have someone local to assist and advise if you decide to go with AIM.
Diane Puckett
Dry Ridge Pottery




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