Jump to content

- - - - -

Electric Kiln Conversion To Propane

  • Please log in to reply
8 replies to this topic

#1 dorie



  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 23 posts

Posted 23 September 2010 - 07:03 AM

I've been given an old electric Skutt, 1 size smaller than the 1027. I'm interested in removing the elements and adding 2 weed burners for cone 10 reduction. I'm in need of advice on converting and firing. Thanks much, Dorie

#2 Seasoned Warrior

Seasoned Warrior

    Businessman - Potter

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 298 posts

Posted 23 September 2010 - 12:19 PM

Wow, interesting question. I have used an old Skutt with a Ward 750K BTUh burner for a raku kiln by boring a 4 inch hole in the top for the flue and a hole for the burner in the bottom then using an old kiln shelf for a baffle. As far as using it for a kiln for ^10 in reduction I would think that the air and fuel control would be difficult without major modification. Have you decided if you are going to use updraft or downdraft and what kind of a damper. There are also some mathematical relationships that need to be considered in designing an efficient flue. I would imagine updraft since it might be the easiest but I would expect also the most inefficient from a fuel consumption standpoint. I also think that the heatflow and burner set up would make it uneconomical to do. I think you'd be better off building a kiln from scratch out of some of the new fiber blanket materials available but I am sure that there are others here who may have much more experience with adapted kilns than I. I tend to evaluate the whole set up from the original construction costs to the fuel consumption. You may actually find that you can build a pretty good kiln for the savings in fuel over time. Dennis Parks (Tuscarora Pottery) in his book details a very economical kiln system if you are working on a tight budget as he was: in fact I think Dennis probably built the least expensive kiln system possible. I'm not trying to discourage you, just suggesting some additional considerations, you never know unless you try!

#3 JBaymore



  • Moderators
  • 4,265 posts
  • LocationWilton, NH USA

Posted 23 September 2010 - 02:17 PM

I'd be curious as to your reasons for wanting to do this?

If you are currently firing electric to cone 10 and are not firing the kiln down (slowed, controlled cooling), then before I'd look at the impacts of adding reduction into the equation, I'd try the firing down idea. More of the effects that people assume are from reduction in big gas kilns are actullay from the effects of the larger thermal mass, the better insulation, and hence the slow cooling.

There are tons of considerations, but if you don't increase the insulation on that kiln shell....... you'll get the same fast cooling. And the kiln structure and load will have the same thermal mass as if it were electric fired.

The weed burners also are a bit problematic to use.

More info on your goals might be very helpful to allow people to comment accurately.



John Baymore
Adjunct Professor of Ceramics; New Hampshire Insitute of Art

Former Guest Professor, Wuxi Institute of Arts and Science, Yixing, China

Former President and Past President; Potters Council



#4 Username


    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 60 posts
  • LocationGeneva

Posted 23 September 2010 - 03:17 PM

As far as the weed burners go, see this thread :


However, that may be all your budget wil allow, right now anyway. I have the M750 from Ward, and it really puts out the heat. If you could get the dual burner system , you will definitely be set, but I think that will be overkill, the guys from Ward will certainly be happy to advise you; Marc Ward himself helped me, and I'm a nobody.
Anyway, bore your holes for the burners, one in the lid for the flue, get lots of propane, and let it rip.
Try it. You will learn alot; it may not work on the first try, but make corrections and go from there.
Don't be dissuaded by those who say YOU CAN'T. (Not that anyone has said that, but you will find some, I bet.)
You can.

#5 bciskepottery


    Advanced Member

  • Moderators
  • 2,703 posts
  • LocationNorthern Virginia

Posted 23 September 2010 - 10:28 PM

Simon Leach has posted a couple of video clips showing his conversion of an electric kiln to propane buring/w weed burners.


Other clips show results of several firings


#6 Pres


    Retired Art Teacher

  • Moderators
  • 3,178 posts
  • LocationCentral, PA

Posted 23 September 2010 - 10:31 PM

I've been given an old electric Skutt, 1 size smaller than the 1027. I'm interested in removing the elements and adding 2 weed burners for cone 10 reduction. I'm in need of advice on converting and firing. Thanks much, Dorie

Seems to me that a company makes the type of kiln you are talking about building with your conversion. I think Olympus did it- at least in the 90's. I'm not sure about now. I think you should try it out and see what happens. You may learn quite a bit from the experiment!
Simply retired teacher, not dead, living the dream. on and on and. . . . on. . . . http://picworkspottery.blogspot.com/

#7 dorie



  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 23 posts

Posted 26 September 2010 - 12:01 PM

Thanks everyone for the info, opinions and links. I currently fire to cone 6-9 electric and wanted to have a little downdraft gas kiln because I believe the glazes look more lively & after seeing a clip from Simon Leach, it looked easy enough! lol. Although I have a programable kiln I don't control the cool-down but would like to look into that further. Any ideas on where to start? Thanks again dorie

#8 bciskepottery


    Advanced Member

  • Moderators
  • 2,703 posts
  • LocationNorthern Virginia

Posted 26 September 2010 - 10:01 PM

Check your kiln manual for a programmable cool-down cycle. I have an L&L electric kiln and the computer controller includes a slow cool cycle. Also, check Mastering Cone 6 Glazes by Ron Roy and John Hesselberth; in the appendix they include a slow cool cycle for their glazes. You might also want to check out the work of Steven Hill -- he achieves the "gas kiln look" in an electric kiln through the layering of glazes with a spray gun. Finally, in 21st Century Kilns by Mel Jacobsen, there is a chapter on converting an electric kiln to an electric/gas kiln that allows you to add reduction to an electric firing. In the end, you will have to adjust -- through trial and error -- cool cycles to what works best for your clay bodies and glazes.

#9 potterykiln



  • Members
  • Pip
  • 2 posts
  • LocationMichigan

Posted 30 September 2010 - 06:15 AM

I think it would be easier and safer to buy a propane kiln vs. converting an electric kiln. There are many factors that are considered when designing a kiln for a particular heat source (i.e. gas, wood, electric, etc.).

Frank Kiln
<a href="http://www.potterykilnsite.com/" rel="nofollow">www.potterykilnsite.com</a>

0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users