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Wyatt

Troubleshooting Paragon Kiln

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Hi,

 

I am helping a ceramicist friend who recently  bought a used Paragon Sentry 2.0 kiln. I am by no means an electrician or kiln repair person and so I have some questions.

We have done 2 test fires so far and both times the kiln temperature rose steadily and quickly until the FTH code appeared and the temperature stopped climbing and quickly stalled out. A kiln repair person came out and said that the elements are in good order and that it may be an issue of amperage from the panel. 

We are running the kiln off my garage sub-panel. The kiln is rated at 30 amps and the double breaker feeding the kiln from the sub-panel is also 30 amps.  And the breaker feeding the sub-panel from the house is also 30 amps. I have recently learned that code recommends that the circuit breakers be 125% of the required kiln amperage; so in this case the circuit breakers should be at least 37.5. Tomorrow I am going to replace the circuit breakers with 40 or 50 amp breakers. 

However, would this issue of amperage have caused the FTH code and the stalling out of the heating of the kiln? If it was an issue of amps wouldn't the circuit have simply tripped?

What else am I not thinking of/don't know?

Thanks!

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If you are going to replace the 30A breaker with 40A, you must also ascertain that the wire gauge is adequate, both for the intended amperage and for the anticipated voltage drop due to the circuit length.

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From the Paragon Sentry 2.0 Controller Manual https://www.paragonweb.com/files/manuals/IM218_Sentry_RampHold_Manual_Mar2010.pdf

FTH / Failed to Heat ■ During a heating-up ramp, the programmed rate is faster than the kiln can heat. The temperature is below the set point temperature by more than the deviation setting. (See Temperature Deviation, page 17.) Program a slower rate. Or check for worn or burned out elements, defective relays, low voltage and defective thermocouples

As a starting point, I second Dick's advice to check the sufficiency of the wiring over length of run.  

BTW, the Sentry 2.0 is the type of controller, not the kiln model. 

 

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Thank you. I didn't realize Sentry was the type of controller. Yes, the wiring is sufficient for 40 amps or more(the wire is 6 gauge aluminum). Thanks. 

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The amperage pull of the kiln is not determined by the breaker. It is determined by the elements. So the fact that it won't get hot has nothing to do with the breaker size, unless the breaker is tripping and shutting off the kiln.Your kiln repair person should know that. It could be that you have low voltage, but he should have been able to check that. I would not use that repair person again. Assuming the kiln is wired for 240 volts, you should have approximately 240 volts going through the wires. It's rare to find a low voltage situation, though. But yes, you should change the breaker to 40 amps, and make sure the wires from the breaker to the outlet can handle 40 amps, so 8 gauge wire.

If the kiln isn't getting hot, it could be a bad connection, bad thermocouple, bad elements, etc. It's a pretty vague error code. Are you doing a custom program? If so, make sure there isn't a segment in the program that's set faster than the kiln can go.

To check the relays, do a custom program with one segment, rate of 9999 (full on),  to 1500 degrees. Turn it on and let it run for a few minutes. Carefully crack the lid and see if all the elements are glowing. The very top and bottom will glow first. If there are elements not glowing, then either the element is broken or the relay is dead. To decide which, you'll need to unplug the kiln, open up the control panel, and see which elements are fed by each relay. If all the elements from one relay are not glowing, then it's probably a dead relay. If just one element is dead, then it's a dead element. If they all glow, it could still be a relay problem, because sometimes they stick when the kiln gets hot. To diagnose any further, you'll need to have a multi-meter so you can check the element resistance. I'd change the thermocouple if it hasn't been changed in a while.

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Neilestrick, thank you for this very helpful response. I talked to my friend and I guess the repair person already checked the elements and relays and thermocouplers and they are good. I just changed out the circuit breaker to 40 amps and the wiring is 6 guage, so that is good. I just started up another test fire; it is not a custom program just a slow test fire.  I will update when I know more. Thanks!

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Wyatt:

i have 4 paragon kilns, two of which have Orton .2.0 Sentry controllers. I like these controllers, lots of flexibility when programming. However,  they are sensitive to voltage drops. An example was my test kiln that was 120 volt, 15 amp.  At first, I just plugged it into a standard outlet and got repeated FTL codes. I checked the voltage at the outlet 116.5. I ran a new 10/2 over to run just this kiln on its own breaker, it read 120.4 volts. No more FTL codes. Yes, 10/2 is overkill, but I purposely over wire in case of future change outs. 

My Super Dragon draws nearly 90 amps at peak draw: 9600 watts. I ran 1.0 wire when I installed it: within 10 feet of the service meter. It has the 2.0 and I have had FTL codes only when two things occurred. 1. When I misprogrammed a firing schedule at the upper end of the peak, and the kiln code not deliver it ( no kiln could). 2. I had an element that was not broken in half, but had a small piece of bisq laying on it, and at the upper end was shorting it out. FTL are rare, and usually there is a specific cause. Most Paragon relays click when drawing power. At 30 amps, your kiln is probably in the 1.5 to 2.5 cubic foot range.  At this point, voltage draw would top my list. You are running from your service to the sub-panel, and from the sub panel to the kiln. The connections/ wiring at the sub panel needs to checked as well. When drawing higher amperage, wire nuts do not cut it. The sub- panel should actually have ( terminal wiring blocks.

T

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2 hours ago, glazenerd said:

Wyatt:

i have 4 paragon kilns, two of which have Orton .2.0 Sentry controllers. I like these controllers, lots of flexibility when programming. However,  they are sensitive to voltage drops. An example was my test kiln that was 120 volt, 15 amp.  At first, I just plugged it into a standard outlet and got repeated FTL codes. I checked the voltage at the outlet 116.5. I ran a new 10/2 over to run just this kiln on its own breaker, it read 120.4 volts. No more FTL codes. Yes, 10/2 is overkill, but I purposely over wire in case of future change outs. 

My Super Dragon draws nearly 90 amps at peak draw: 9600 watts. I ran 1.0 wire when I installed it: within 10 feet of the service meter. It has the 2.0 and I have had FTL codes only when two things occurred. 1. When I misprogrammed a firing schedule at the upper end of the peak, and the kiln code not deliver it ( no kiln could). 2. I had an element that was not broken in half, but had a small piece of bisq laying on it, and at the upper end was shorting it out. FTL are rare, and usually there is a specific cause. Most Paragon relays click when drawing power. At 30 amps, your kiln is probably in the 1.5 to 2.5 cubic foot range.  At this point, voltage draw would top my list. You are running from your service to the sub-panel, and from the sub panel to the kiln. The connections/ wiring at the sub panel needs to checked as well. When drawing higher amperage, wire nuts do not cut it. The sub- panel should actually have ( terminal wiring blocks.

T

At 240 volt 30 amps, it's in the 3.5 cubic foot range.

The controllers themselves are not sensitive to voltage drops. They run on 24 volt DC power, and have nothing to do with the power going through the elements besides telling the relay to switch. Those little 120 volt 15 amp kilns are barely powerful enough to do what they need to do, so the voltage drop was enough to mess it up. Whether it was a Sentry or a Dynatrol it would have put up an error code if it wasn't getting hot enough. But yes, if the electrician that wired up the garage panel didn't account for voltage drop, it could be an issue.

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Neil: 

i know you are an L& L guy, and most makers run 1600-1700 watts per cubic foot: so I get the math. However, one reason I buy Paragon is their wattage: my 1.75 test kiln draws 6400 watts, 240 volt, 30 amp. Yes, I realize I like my bacon crisp and ready in 25 seconds :). Most Paragons draw 1800-2000 watts per CF, some exceptions. Easier on the elements: well if you buy APM,s. 

You keep forgetting I am the oddball in this group.by the way, you hurt my little Fireflys feelings. You would be tired too if you had over 1200 firings on you.

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Wyatt:

hit (0) options on your controller, then enter. A menu will appear: scroll through the menu (0) button until "test" appears. This will run a test on your elements. You also use "test" to check the thermocouple "TC" . Once in the test mode, simply run a lighter or match under the thermocouple, and the temperature will rise rapidly on the read out. If it does not climb quickly in "test" mode, you have a possible TC issue. Read your manual, back few pages: the 2.0 has several test modes that saves you the trouble of getting a tech. 

T

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15 minutes ago, glazenerd said:

Neil: 

i know you are an L& L guy, and most makers run 1600-1700 watts per cubic foot: so I get the math. However, one reason I buy Paragon is their wattage: my 1.75 test kiln draws 6400 watts, 240 volt, 30 amp. Yes, I realize I like my bacon crisp and ready in 25 seconds :). Most Paragons draw 1800-2000 watts per CF, some exceptions. Easier on the elements: well if you buy APM,s. 

You keep forgetting I am the oddball in this group.by the way, you hurt my little Fireflys feelings. You would be tired too if you had over 1200 firings on you.

I was thinking a TNF823, 18" wide by 22 tall. It's a pretty common model, 30 amps.

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Thank you everyone for all of the help. So, during the test fire the kiln report up to 1534 and then the FTL code came on and stalled out the heating process. I will now start checking the relays, thermocouplers and elements(although the repair tech supposedly already did this).    To provide more information. I am running the kiln from a subpanel in my garage. The garage subpanel is fed with buried 4 gauge aluminum. The kiln circuit breaker is 40 amp. The wiring to the kiln receptacle is 6 gauge aluminum. The receptacle is 50 amp. The receptacle is less than 4 feet from the subpanel. I will use a multimeter to see what kind of juice I am actually receiving. Thanks.l

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I am a little confused, the kiln repair guy came out checked a few things and basically said 'sucks to be you' and left?

Did he charge you?

This sounds like it would be an awfully common issue that a kiln repair guy would get called on. 

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