Jump to content


Photo
- - - - -

Deciding Between Electric Kilns


  • Please log in to reply
16 replies to this topic

#1 Lsapakoff

Lsapakoff

    Newbie

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 4 posts

Posted 09 August 2013 - 09:04 AM

I am buying my first kiln (a cone 10 electric) and have narrowed it to L&L (the 4.4 cu ft Easy Fire) and Baileys (5 cu ft energy saver). Am looking for input about these kilns and about experiences anyone has had with Baileys, Sheffield pottery, and  Northeast Ceramic Supply in Troy, NY.  It is for a studio in the Adironacks.  I am interested in buying from a place with good service, for now and in the future.  Any feedback is appreciated.   



#2 neilestrick

neilestrick

    Neil Estrick

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 2,128 posts
  • LocationGrayslake, IL

Posted 09 August 2013 - 01:08 PM

Having worked on both, I'd go with the L&L. It will be easier to repair should the need arise. The outer jacket design of the Bailey makes it much more difficult to replace bricks. Plus the L&L bricks will last a whole lot longer due to the hard element holders. The control panel on the L&L is easier to work in. The hinge on the L&L is more streamlined and doesn't have the big braces on the sides. Personally I'm not a fan on floor elements, but others like them. There's been some discussion here about them.

 

I don't have any real problems with Bailey products. They all tend to function very well. The Bailey kilns fire just fine, like most any kiln will. You won't have any problems there. But a lot of their design improvements are just a lot of marketing gimmicks. LED's on the control panel to show which relay is firing? The controller already does that. 3" kilns give you less room for your fingers when loading shelves? Just get the right size shelves. True cone 10? Any kiln that says it will go to cone 10 will go to cone 10.


Neil Estrick
Kiln Repair Tech
L&L Distributor
Owner, Neil Estrick Gallery, LLC
www.neilestrickgallery.com

neil@neilestrickgallery.com

#3 Lsapakoff

Lsapakoff

    Newbie

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 4 posts

Posted 09 August 2013 - 03:52 PM

Having worked on both, I'd go with the L&L. It will be easier to repair should the need arise. The outer jacket design of the Bailey makes it much more difficult to replace bricks. Plus the L&L bricks will last a whole lot longer due to the hard element holders. The control panel on the L&L is easier to work in. The hinge on the L&L is more streamlined and doesn't have the big braces on the sides. Personally I'm not a fan on floor elements, but others like them. There's been some discussion here about them.

 

I don't have any real problems with Bailey products. They all tend to function very well. The Bailey kilns fire just fine, like most any kiln will. You won't have any problems there. But a lot of their design improvements are just a lot of marketing gimmicks. LED's on the control panel to show which relay is firing? The controller already does that. 3" kilns give you less room for your fingers when loading shelves? Just get the right size shelves. True cone 10? Any kiln that says it will go to cone 10 will go to cone 10.

Thank you for your input.  I've been leaning toward the L&L for the reasons you mentioned.



#4 Chris Throws Pots

Chris Throws Pots

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 69 posts
  • LocationVermont

Posted 10 August 2013 - 01:41 PM

Hi Lsapakoff,

 

I have no personal experience with Bailey electric kilns (my friend loves his but I've never used/worked on it), but have cautionary advice about the L&L products.  The studio where I work purchased a pair of matching L&Ls about 7 years ago and they have been a source of countless headaches.

 

Like Neil mentioned, the element holders used by L&L will help preserve the softbrick far longer than in the Bailey.  But from my experience constantly doing repairs and replacements, that's perhaps the only plus side of the L&L.

 

Will you be firing to cone 10 or just buying a kiln rated for cone 10?  Firing to cone 10 in an electric kiln will tend to wear out your elements quickly.  Replacing the elements in an L&L is a nightmare (unless the design has been changed recently... perhaps Neil can weigh in).  Sure they drop into the element holders easily, but once they thread through the brick, connecting the pigtails to the posts which deliver power is a real challenge.  It's easy to mess this up and the result can easily lead to arcing electricity (and cut up hands).

 

Our L&Ls have had constant issues with their relays and thermocouples.  Each has an internal volume of roughly 10 cubic feet and has 3 thermocouples.  I get the logic, but in practice it's a design flaw.  Three thermocouples in a kiln of this size make for two absolutely unnecessary opportunities for misfiring.  It also makes loading a challenge, as you have 2 unnecessary thermocouples to work around.  It makes for more parts to replace, hence a higher cost of ownership.  My sense is that all electric kilns can be susceptible to relay issues, as the manufacturing of these parts are outsourced to Chinese factories with poor quality control, but I've never heard of anyone having relay issues like ours.  Perhaps we got a pair of lemons.

 

I know your debate is between L&L and Bailey, but I'd encourage you to consider Skutt.  We bought a Skutt about 4 years ago to replace a dilapidated oval (brand unknown to me) kiln.  It's a beast.  Last summer I replaced one of the L&Ls with another Skutt and will replace the remaining L&L with a matching Skutt this fall.  The few repairs I've had to do on the Skutts have been predictable and an absolute breeze.  And despite having only one thermocouple in a 12 cubic foot kiln, the firings are more predictable than in our L&L... mainly in they don't misfire all the time.  

 

As for the retailer from where you'll buy your kiln, I order much of our studio's equipment from Sheffield.  I have nothing but good things to say about these guys.  Bailey's too.  I order much less from Bailey's, but when I do they are always super helpful, ship fast and don't hold it against me when I rib them about their website.

 

Good luck!


Christopher Vaughn Pottery
Functional stoneware forms
handcrafted in Burlington, Vermont

www.ChrisThrowsPots.com

#5 Mark C.

Mark C.

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 2,279 posts
  • LocationNear Arcata Ca-redwood rain forest

Posted 10 August 2013 - 02:59 PM

I do not own a L&L but would buy one If I needed a new kiln.

I have owned 4 skutt kilns and will not buy another-The whole thing is cheaply made -from outer jacket to the poor quality stainless screws to the newer super tiny (way to easy to snap) zone thermocouplers.

Skutt was slow on using 3 inch walls on cone 8 kilns  yet alone cone 10 and seems to always play catch up after others blaze the trail.

Skutts may be easy to repair but you will have to more.

I think the above poster had a lemon which can happen with all controllers and relays.

Cone 10 is hard on electrics period and the element holders are enough reason to get a L&L for cone 10 for me

Element change outs are not super easy with all brands-skutt is no exception. 

I think L&Ls cost a bit more but its worth it.Remember even Mercedes makes a few lemons

My 2 cents

Mark


Mark Cortright
www.liscomhillpottery.com

#6 Pres

Pres

    Retired Art Teacher

  • Moderators
  • 1,738 posts
  • LocationCentral, PA

Posted 10 August 2013 - 04:06 PM

Have owned an L&L for 20+ years. No problem. I know they had issues with switches for a while, as our jr high got one of them. L&L made it right, they stand behind their kilns with good service & advice.

Simply retired teacher, not dead, living the dream. on and on and. . . . on. . . .                                                                                 http://picworkspottery.blogspot.com/


#7 Tristan TDH

Tristan TDH

    Member

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 16 posts

Posted 11 August 2013 - 06:55 AM

I have a bailey kiln, and love it. The L&L kilns rings always seem start sliding within a year, the bailey doesn't. Also the extra inch of fiber board insulation is giving me great slow cools with a minimum of extra energy. They are both great kilns, each has a few things that could be better.

#8 neilestrick

neilestrick

    Neil Estrick

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 2,128 posts
  • LocationGrayslake, IL

Posted 12 August 2013 - 06:03 PM

I have a bailey kiln, and love it. The L&L kilns rings always seem start sliding within a year, the bailey doesn't. Also the extra inch of fiber board insulation is giving me great slow cools with a minimum of extra energy. They are both great kilns, each has a few things that could be better.

 

The hinge plate on L&L kilns, with the exception of the small 18" kilns, is attached to all 2 or 3 rings of the kiln, to prevent them from sliding. If your rings move, there's a good chance the outer jacket was loose. Tightening the jacket every now and then is maintenance that should be done to all kilns.

 

The slow cooling may or may not be a benefit, depending on how you fire. Personally, I often need to cool my kiln as fast as possible to meet a deadline, so having that option is important to me. For a hobbyist it probably wouldn't be an issue. The added energy to fire down is minimal, maybe a dollar per firing at most.


Neil Estrick
Kiln Repair Tech
L&L Distributor
Owner, Neil Estrick Gallery, LLC
www.neilestrickgallery.com

neil@neilestrickgallery.com

#9 Lsapakoff

Lsapakoff

    Newbie

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 4 posts

Posted 14 August 2013 - 04:22 PM

Thank you to all for sharing your experiences and opinions.   I do intend to do at least some cone 10 firing, for functional ware.  But will be doing raku and terra sig, so will only use it for bisque firing for those.  Had been considering Skutts as well.   Will mull over this input.  Thanks again.  By the way, does anyone have any experience with housing an electric kiln in an unheated studio over winter months?



#10 neilestrick

neilestrick

    Neil Estrick

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 2,128 posts
  • LocationGrayslake, IL

Posted 14 August 2013 - 04:42 PM

It will be fine in an unheated space. The digital controllers don't necessarily like it when it's 20 below, but if it has a problem just plug in a space heater next to it to warm up the circuits.


Neil Estrick
Kiln Repair Tech
L&L Distributor
Owner, Neil Estrick Gallery, LLC
www.neilestrickgallery.com

neil@neilestrickgallery.com

#11 OffCenter

OffCenter

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 1,372 posts

Posted 15 August 2013 - 07:59 AM

Thank you to all for sharing your experiences and opinions.   I do intend to do at least some cone 10 firing, for functional ware.  But will be doing raku and terra sig, so will only use it for bisque firing for those.  Had been considering Skutts as well.   Will mull over this input.  Thanks again.  By the way, does anyone have any experience with housing an electric kiln in an unheated studio over winter months?

 

All my electric kilns are outside covered by a shed with a tin roof. All four walls are tarps that stay rolled up except during storms. When not in use I keep the computer on one kiln covered in plastic to protect from dust and dampness.

 

Jim


E pur si muove.

"But it does move," said Galileo under his breath.

#12 Benzine

Benzine

    Socratic Potter

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 1,184 posts
  • LocationThe Hawkeye State

Posted 15 August 2013 - 09:11 PM

 

Thank you to all for sharing your experiences and opinions.   I do intend to do at least some cone 10 firing, for functional ware.  But will be doing raku and terra sig, so will only use it for bisque firing for those.  Had been considering Skutts as well.   Will mull over this input.  Thanks again.  By the way, does anyone have any experience with housing an electric kiln in an unheated studio over winter months?

 

All my electric kilns are outside covered by a shed with a tin roof. All four walls are tarps that stay rolled up except during storms. When not in use I keep the computer on one kiln covered in plastic to protect from dust and dampness.

 

Jim

 

You ever have anything think, you are cooking meth, with that set up?

 

After I built my Raku kiln last Fall, I wanted to do a firing, with some of my students.  So I ran it by my Principal, and he asked what it entailed.  I showed him a picture I took of me doing my initial firing.  He asked me a similar question.  "Did anyone call the Cops on you?"  I said no, but I did get some looks....especially since I live right behind a park.


"Anything worth believing, is worth questioning"

#13 MichaelP

MichaelP

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 158 posts
  • LocationIL/WI border

Posted 16 August 2013 - 07:44 AM

 

 By the way, does anyone have any experience with housing an electric kiln in an unheated studio over winter months?

 

All my electric kilns are outside covered by a shed with a tin roof. All four walls are tarps that stay rolled up except during storms. When not in use I keep the computer on one kiln covered in plastic to protect from dust and dampness.

 

Jim

 

Jim, you forgot to mention you live in Georgia. :)



#14 DAY

DAY

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 160 posts

Posted 16 August 2013 - 08:03 AM

Slightly off topic:

If you/anyone really intends to do a lot of cone ten firing, why not go with gas? That temperature is really hard on elements, and you can't do reduction or salt.



#15 OffCenter

OffCenter

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 1,372 posts

Posted 16 August 2013 - 08:07 AM

 

 

Thank you to all for sharing your experiences and opinions.   I do intend to do at least some cone 10 firing, for functional ware.  But will be doing raku and terra sig, so will only use it for bisque firing for those.  Had been considering Skutts as well.   Will mull over this input.  Thanks again.  By the way, does anyone have any experience with housing an electric kiln in an unheated studio over winter months?

 

All my electric kilns are outside covered by a shed with a tin roof. All four walls are tarps that stay rolled up except during storms. When not in use I keep the computer on one kiln covered in plastic to protect from dust and dampness.

 

Jim

 

You ever have anything think, you are cooking meth, with that set up?

 

After I built my Raku kiln last Fall, I wanted to do a firing, with some of my students.  So I ran it by my Principal, and he asked what it entailed.  I showed him a picture I took of me doing my initial firing.  He asked me a similar question.  "Did anyone call the Cops on you?"  I said no, but I did get some looks....especially since I live right behind a park.

 

 

I don't really want to talk about my meth lab but I do keep it completely separate from my pottery studio--all of which are snake-ridden shacks scattered around the property. But, yes, sometimes planes fly very low over my property. Thank Beelzebub for kudzu!

 

Jim


E pur si muove.

"But it does move," said Galileo under his breath.

#16 OffCenter

OffCenter

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 1,372 posts

Posted 16 August 2013 - 08:11 AM

 

 

 By the way, does anyone have any experience with housing an electric kiln in an unheated studio over winter months?

 

All my electric kilns are outside covered by a shed with a tin roof. All four walls are tarps that stay rolled up except during storms. When not in use I keep the computer on one kiln covered in plastic to protect from dust and dampness.

 

Jim

 

Jim, you forgot to mention you live in Georgia. :)

 

 

It's there under my avatar. You might be surprised to learn that in Middle Georgia, we usually have at least 8 or 10 days during the winter that the temp drops into the teens or even lower. When I potted in Colorado my elect kiln was outside, too.

 

Jim


E pur si muove.

"But it does move," said Galileo under his breath.

#17 Lsapakoff

Lsapakoff

    Newbie

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 4 posts

Posted 16 August 2013 - 11:21 AM

Slightly off topic:

If you/anyone really intends to do a lot of cone ten firing, why not go with gas? That temperature is really hard on elements, and you can't do reduction or salt.

I considered a gas killn, but concluded that it was best to start with an electric because of its relative simplicity and less safety concerns.  Am still learning and feel more comfortable and confident starting out this way.  Also, not sure how many cone ten firings I will be doing.  Am of course aware of the limitations of electric as you pointed out. 






0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users