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Having A Kiln Outside ?


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#1 kennedy james

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Posted 26 January 2014 - 02:20 PM

Hi there,

 

I'm a real newbie to ceramics, I just finished my first project, a black porcelain sake set: http://www.dontstare.../work/yozakura/

 

and I'm going to start working on new projects, so I'm thinking of investing in a kiln.

 

but! I do not have a basement nor an extra room I could use. I was thinking of getting a small test kiln to put in my kitchen (which has no door and is open to the living room where I work most of the time) but I've been told it would not safe.

 

now, I do have a backyard, would it be possible to have a kiln outside ? I searched this forum and googled in order to find some answers, it seems some people do it but I still don't know if it's ok to do that.

 

I mean, would it be ok when it snows and rains ? what about when it's super hot during the summer ? would the changes of temperature outside the kiln be an issue ?

 

I don't even know if my landlord would be okay for me to have a kiln outside but before I ask him I want to make sure it would actually be an option.

 

thanks for reading!



#2 Marcia Selsor

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Posted 26 January 2014 - 04:02 PM

You need to protect it from the weather one way on another. Tarp works if you know the weather forecasts ahead of time.
The ambient temperatures do not have much influence on the kiln, but below freezing may have some affects on you ware if damp.
I had kilns outside in Montana with no problems.They were under a roof on a back yard patio for 10 year. I moved to south texes and my small test kiln rusted in a month. I am still firing it after 7 years.It is in a cinderblock kiln shed.
Marca

#3 kennedy james

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Posted 26 January 2014 - 04:09 PM

thank you for your reply Marcia !



#4 neilestrick

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Posted 26 January 2014 - 06:35 PM

If you won't leave your laptop there, you shouldn't leave your kiln there. The big problem with using a tarp is that if the weather changes suddenly, you're stuck. You can't put a tarp over a hot kiln. If you live in a an area with high humidity, a lot of moisture gets trapped under the tarp and will corrode the metal parts on the kiln and controller much faster. Having an outside kiln will most likely void any warranty. Critters can get into it. Etc, etc, etc....


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#5 Tyler Miller

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Posted 26 January 2014 - 08:04 PM

Kennedy, might you have a place to store your kiln when you're done firing it?

 

I carry a small gas kiln out to fire when the weather's nice (no rain forecast for a day or two before and after when I intend to fire).  It's not ideal, but if you can bring your kiln in somehow, that might maintain the life of your kiln a little better.



#6 kennedy james

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Posted 26 January 2014 - 09:27 PM

yes I guess I could store the kiln in the kitchen after use...

 

to be clear, using a kiln in an open space where you work is a big no-no, right ?



#7 Tyler Miller

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Posted 26 January 2014 - 10:13 PM

Using any device that can produce toxic fumes anywhere near your regular living/working space is a bad idea.  

 

I wouldn't even keep it in the kitchen.  Work hygiene's a pretty big deal in ceramics.  You really want to keep your living/eating/sleeping space as far from your work space as possible.  Too many stories of potters ruining their health (physical and mental).  No one wants silicosis or manganism.  

 

Do you have access to a garage or storage locker?  Storage lockers around here are more than willing to rent out affordable space to potters and carpenters.  Something to consider.



#8 Norm Stuart

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Posted 26 January 2014 - 10:15 PM

The kiln cooks off carbon-monoxide and other gases like dilute hydrochloric acid and sulfuric acid fumes.  So unless it is outside, you should have a downdraft vent (electric fan) to draw the fumes out through something like a dryer vent.

 

We've had our kilns outdoors for many years (Los Angeles), as does the community ceramics group in Palm Springs, but we rarely get rain and it's not much when it does rain. We have metal a rain shield attached to the lid of our kiln which protects the box of electronics from rain.  The group in Palm Springs primarily uses manual kilns and just waits until their kiln dries out after a rain before they fire them - which isn't a very long wait in a place where temperatures of 115 F are not uncommon.

 

If you ever order a kiln, choose the "stainless steel option" even if you keep it indoors.  The moisture from firing clay in not kind to ordinary metals.  We didn't purchase a stainless steel option and it took a number of trips to the hardware store to replace most of the non-stainless parts with stainless.

 

There are materials in some glazes and clays you wouldn't want to eat and definitely don't want to breath.

yes I guess I could store the kiln in the kitchen after use...

 

to be clear, using a kiln in an open space where you work is a big no-no, right ?



#9 Tyler Miller

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Posted 26 January 2014 - 10:27 PM

I'm jealous of your dry weather, Norm.  London, Ontario is in the snow belt in the winter, and gets the most thunderstorms of the region in the summer.  In Northern Ontario where I get clay and work through the summer and fall, it's guaranteed to rain a little at least once a day. 



#10 Norm Stuart

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Posted 26 January 2014 - 10:39 PM

Je Souviens the humidity of summer nights in Quebec.  You really have plenty of weather to write about up there.

 

I grew up in Northern California which is nice, but it's much colder than Los Angeles.  So in time I made a one way migration, apart from an annual American Thanksgiving trip.

 

But on the other hand we're in the middle of a prolonged and serious drought and the Metropolitan Water District in Southern California will soon be revving up their Reverse Osmosis desalination plant again as a result. $ $

 

I'm jealous of your dry weather, Norm.  London, Ontario is in the snow belt in the winter, and gets the most thunderstorms of the region in the summer.  In Northern Ontario where I get clay and work through the summer and fall, it's guaranteed to rain a little at least once a day. 



#11 LeeSmith

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Posted 27 January 2014 - 10:50 AM

Hi - I was having some of the same questions as you!! I bought a small kiln last summer and was worried about firing in the cold weather since the kiln is in the garage. I was told by my distributor that having the kiln in the garage would be fine but after installing it read the fine print in the manual that said not to fire if the temp is above 100 or below 33 so I called Skutt directly. I was told that the biggest issue is the computer working correctly and that I can not fire unless I use a space heater outside of the kiln to bring the computer up to 40 degrees and I put a light inside the the kiln to warm it to 40.  If you're looking to buy new I'd call the companies (Skutt, Paragon etc) directly. Also talk to the people wherever you've been working to see what they do. We have a place here that charges a $300 fee to belong to the firing group and then you pay to fire by piece. I have to say that owning my own kiln and not trasnporting bone dry and fragile pieces is wonderful!!



#12 kennedy james

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Posted 27 January 2014 - 10:50 AM

thanks for the all the info guys !



#13 neilestrick

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Posted 27 January 2014 - 10:57 AM

Despite what Skutt said, there's no reason to heat up the inside of the kiln with a light bulb before loading. The kiln will heat itself up. If you're worried, go really slow at the start of the firing. The controller may not like being cold, but I know lots of people who start them up below freezing. If it works it works. The space heater is a good idea, though, because it will also make loading the kiln much more pleasant.


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#14 Stephen

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Posted 27 January 2014 - 11:23 AM

ya know they do have very inexpensive garden shed kits, the metal ones are I think usually under $200 and you would need to mix and pour a small concrete pad but that can be done in a wheel barrel or bucket.



#15 Norm Stuart

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Posted 27 January 2014 - 01:58 PM

Most computer controlled kilns will refuse to fire if the thermocouple temperature is below zero - aka zero voltage reading. It faults out assuming the thermocouple lead is broken.

 

All they need to do is use their hand or something else to warm-up the portion of the thermocouple housing which sticks into the kiln to a temperature with a positive temperature.  Once there's positive voltage reading the kiln will fire.  I'd be tempted to use a match, but for all I know this might harm the thermocouple.

 

On the high-end of temperature - computer controllers will refuse to fire, or stop firing, if the CPU board temperature exceeds 150 F.  This can be set to a higher temperature but it's not good for the life-span of the electronics to be operating at those temperatures.

 

Despite what Skutt said, there's no reason to heat up the inside of the kiln with a light bulb before loading. The kiln will heat itself up. If you're worried, go really slow at the start of the firing. The controller may not like being cold, but I know lots of people who start them up below freezing. If it works it works. The space heater is a good idea, though, because it will also make loading the kiln much more pleasant.



#16 Marcia Selsor

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Posted 27 January 2014 - 02:33 PM

Despite what Skutt said, there's no reason to heat up the inside of the kiln with a light bulb before loading. The kiln will heat itself up. If you're worried, go really slow at the start of the firing. The controller may not like being cold, but I know lots of people who start them up below freezing. If it works it works. The space heater is a good idea, though, because it will also make loading the kiln much more pleasant.

Good point about moisture under a tarp, Neil. Never had to worry about that in Montana. I prefer having my kilns inside a shed, especially along the Gulf Coast where the dew point is sometimes 80 + F
Marcia

#17 Mark C.

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Posted 27 January 2014 - 11:04 PM

I just cannot let this one pass by-

Skutt said-(and I put a light inside the the kiln to warm it to 40.) another reason to buy to a L&L  for better technical support-as this lightbulb in kiln is just crazy. Yes a light is good to see what you are doing while loading but to heat up the kiln-really?  This is the beginning of an urban rumor .Goes like this- I cannot have a kiln as the light keeps me up at night -or I forgot and fired the kiln with the light inside or I cannot fit much work into kiln as the light takes up about 1/3 of the space. Did Skutt mention throwing rice over your left shoulder before loading for luck?

OK rant over

Mark


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#18 Norm Stuart

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Posted 28 January 2014 - 02:55 AM

If someone left a light bulb on inside their computer-controlled kiln it would probably keep the thermocouple above zero (which is calibrated for zero voltage). 

 

Unless the thermocouple voltage reading is above zero degrees, the computer gives a fault-code FAIL indicating that the thermocouple is not connected to controller board.

 

It's just as easy to put something warm on the thermocouple end inside the kiln for a minute, which will enable the kiln to start.

 

I just cannot let this one pass by-

Skutt said-(and I put a light inside the the kiln to warm it to 40.) another reason to buy to a L&L  for better technical support-as this lightbulb in kiln is just crazy. Yes a light is good to see what you are doing while loading but to heat up the kiln-really?  This is the beginning of an urban rumor .Goes like this- I cannot have a kiln as the light keeps me up at night -or I forgot and fired the kiln with the light inside or I cannot fit much work into kiln as the light takes up about 1/3 of the space. Did Skutt mention throwing rice over your left shoulder before loading for luck?

OK rant over

Mark



#19 Chilly

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Posted 28 January 2014 - 11:36 AM

The new "european law" lightbulbs wouldn't keep a flea warm.  And they're huge and ugly.


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#20 Sailorgirlz1

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Posted 28 January 2014 - 11:55 AM

Hi, well first of all if you have ever smelled the fumes when firing either bisque or glaze you won't want to have a kiln inside anywhere without a vent. I bought 2 of the first electronic Evenheat cone 6 kilns in 1992/93, had them in the cement/milk house room of an unheated barn in Western New York for years, firing (cone 6) like crazy (all throughout the year and in all temperatures), then took time off from pottery until 2003, moved them to coastal Florida where they sat in an un-airconditioned storage building until 2009. At that time we placed them outside of our house under a aluminum roof on a cement pad. I started firing again in 2011, everything worked great, sure they have a little rust on the lid hinge and the bung hole covers, but we did not even have to replace any elements until after quite a few firings. A couple of months ago after firing about 200 times we finally replaced the thermocouples in both kilns. Sounds like you need a place to fire your pieces, a local studio or pottery group; or at least a covered patio with a fireproof floor. If the newer electronics in kilns are more sensitive to outside temperature changes I do not know.   I hope this helps you and anyone else that is worried about firing outside.






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