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Solar Powered Kiln?


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#41 Benzine

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Posted 08 May 2015 - 07:16 AM

I hate to see anyone, who contributes, to these forums, leave.

We have a lot of great, knowledgeable posters here, and it is expected, that sometimes there will be disagreements. I hope this is something we can all move past, because losing even one of those good posters hurts the forums.

Min, to address your question, I think a lot of users leave, because they are here for a "quick fix". They think they want to get into ceramics, but don't understand everything it takes. Some, upon learning more here, take a step back, and proceed a bit more cautiously, some just get turned off, by the time and effort it takes ("Are you saying my viewing of the movie 'Ghost', doesn't mean, that I can instantly start make huge, useable wares, and 'bake' them in my oven?!!! This is stupid!"), and are never heard from again.

And there are even those, who some here more than others, are familiar with, that come in just to ask questions, for no apparent reason, other than to ask questions,

Heck, there are even those who try and get free R&D out of the posters and forums!

In any case, those users don't last long, because once they see, that they aren't going to get exactly what they want, they leave.

I do think those types of posters make up the bulk, who don't return. As I initially said, it is much more concerning, when we lost a contributing poster, who has been here for some time. I hope we can move on from disagreements, and continue to make this a great place to interact/ learn.
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#42 High Bridge Pottery

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Posted 08 May 2015 - 01:16 PM

I still mourn the loss of Norm :( . 

 

You have taught me a lot Tyler Miller, thank you for that. I hope you can find it in you to stick around. Always love reading your posts.

 

I agree that lots of people come for an easy fix to find their question comes back with even more questions and very few definite answers.


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#43 Benzine

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Posted 09 May 2015 - 10:43 AM

Norm definitely had a lot to contribute, but he made a discussion personal, and questioned the credibility and integrity of some other posters.

That happened with another poster too, though the latter departure was less... "Volatile", I guess one could say.

I think the problem is, we as people, take any questioning/ contradicting of our knowledge, as an attack on us personally. We shouldn't. Things change, especially information. Look at History or Science/ Medicine, the "Facts" change all the time based in new discoveries. If a doctor is not up to date, that doesn't mean they are an idiot. It's our job as humans, to stay up on the changing information, so that we can continue to contribute to one another. And that's why it's sad to see such apathy, in regards to correct information by today's youth... But that's a whole other topic all together...
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#44 Dennis Bednarek

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Posted 13 May 2015 - 11:10 PM

Solar is possible today with some of the advances in solar panels.  

 

Dependent on the kiln size and power requirements some small electric ones run at under 20 Amps and 120 volts which amounts to only 2,400  Watts.  But on the other end of the spectrum the max you probably do would be a kiln running at about 30 Amps and 240 Volts or 7,200 Watts.  Now looking at the expense though Solar panels range from about $1.50 to $5.00 per Watt that they produce.  With that in mind your looking at a minimum of $3,600 for a small kiln and $11,000 for the larger kilns.  

Yes it is possible but I seriously doubt that it is economically feasible.  .  Also if you use longer firing times than 8 hours you may have issues during the night.when there is very little solar energy.  



#45 GiselleNo5

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Posted 13 May 2015 - 11:15 PM

A potter here on the Central Coast runs his huge kiln off of solar power. It's probably at least 3'x3'x5'. Not sure how many panels or what kind of power storage he has, but I could ask him if you'd like. I'm interested in doing that myself. 


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#46 Mark C.

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Posted 14 May 2015 - 01:24 AM

I have always thought we all gain by diversity of thought.

I am sad when anyone leaves  the board by taking different opinions personal.

I try and not take things personal even as over the years I know a few where tossed my way.I can always feel ok that we all agree to disagree now and then.

I have noticed your absence Tyler and have missed your take on subjects recently.I always wonder about folks who vanish or never post back on subjects.

i thought folks like Norm added a lot to the forum but since its all up to each of us on how and when we use or not use the foruem there is not much we users can do if someone chooses to leave.

I think a thick skin is needed for long life here and I guess I have that even though as an old geezer my skin is thiner as one gets older (I'm taking literally here)

As an unpaid consultant I may not have the best take on this subject.

I do know as Benzine said many come for quick fixes that just cannot happen and hence they drop out.

Mark


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#47 curt

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Posted 14 May 2015 - 11:01 PM

I think it is important to remember that - for almost all of us - the question is not really "can I run my kiln off of solar panels?"  The only potters that will be asking that are probably large production houses where in fact all the power the panels could produce and then some is consumed solely in the business itself on a daily basis.

 

For the rest of us, once you have made the investment in a solar power system, and are harvesting sunlight and turning it into electricity, you use that electricity everywhere you can and don't waste any of it if at all possible.  Selling it to the grid is the least desirable course of action because the power company usually charges you a lot more for electricity you import then for the exact same electricity when you sell it to them.  When you are not using the solar system to power a kiln (the other 350 days a year) you it will  running your house, sheds, washing machines, pumps, etc. etc.  Indeed, that is the basis on which the decision for most of us will ultimately be made - can I run my house on solar power, and if so, using it occasionally for the kiln is just gravy.

 

Again, when reasonably costed batteries in adequate sizes become available to the mass market, we will need to examine the whole proposition again, because stand-along (ie, completely independent of the grid) power systems will become an unavoidable proposition.  I think that will happen in the next five years.... 



#48 Dennis Bednarek

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Posted 21 May 2015 - 09:06 AM

have you thought abut a wind mill rather than solar panels.  Then you would just have to check the weather prediction for wind speed to determine when you wanted to fire your kilns.  



#49 Rakuku

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Posted 05 April 2016 - 02:35 AM

Simply from a practically no experience with kilns stand point, and only college course experience with ceramics, as an electrical engineer here's how I would go about developing a solar powered kiln:

 

I would start from scratch and build my own kiln using the most insulating material possible [the material used to fashion Space Shuttle tiles?].  Then I would string NiChrome wire as multiple 12V circuits to distribute the current load.  In other words I wouldn't even use an inverter, but just go directly from solar panel to heater wire.  And, because of the low voltages, the current would be extremely high, so to minimize resistance loss in the transmission wires [i.e. the wires that bring power to the kiln], I would, have, say, ten or twenty separate solar banks and each bank would run a separate heater element in the kiln.  Also, it would be a lot easier to switch a fraction of the current involved [ala Solid State Relay and temperature feedback system]. So, say I want a total of 3000 Watts, and say I used 20 solar banks, that would be 3000/20 = 150 watts per bank for a total of 150W/12V = 12.5 Amps per bank.  Far smaller wire gauge could be used for the transmission lines and switching only 12.5 Amps is a lot easier than switching 250 Amps!!

 

If a firing can be done in 6 to 7 hours, then sun power all the way.  If not, then perhaps car battery chargers could be used to apply 12 volts to the heating elements when the sun goes down, thus solar would be a supplement to mains power. But, if the kiln is well insulated, then it could be brought to firing temperature and that temperature maintained with minimal power after that.  Thus the solar panels would carry the brunt of the most power intensive portion of the firing cycle -- ramping up the temperature -- and then when the sun goes down, only a minimal amount of mains power would be required to keep the temperature constant.



#50 Rakuku

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Posted 05 April 2016 - 02:45 AM


The original thrust of my post was to disambiguate the phrase "solar powered electric kiln."  The phrasing, as it stands is misleading, since solar power alone cannot heat anything  (they may be able to provide theoretical power, but this does not work in practice), and on-grid systems are dependent on the grid to provide the power quality necessary to complete a firing.  

 

 

Not sure what you mean -- power is power and power from a solar power system can heat just as well as mains power, as long as the system can handle the current involved.  As for power quality it seems to me, as long as there is enough "power overhead", a temperature control feedback system can maintain the temperature as precisely as needed no matter what the source of the power [especially if I custom designed it -- as I have a tenancy to do being an engineer and all ;) ].



#51 Girts

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Posted 05 April 2016 - 03:56 PM

Interesting how this has polarised and developed since it was started.

We have recently installed a photo-voltaic array on the roof of the studio (how convenient) for our domestic use. We're in the UK which is not noted for clear skies and blistering sunshine. However, we are currently generating 20 -30 kwh per day, about half that in winter, and it even generates a useful amount when it's cloudy. During the day we can use the power generated to heat all our water, for example, with a 3kw immersion heater.

My new kiln runs off a standard domestic 13amp plug (therefore less than 3kw), even though there's a point in the studio which the original owner had installed with a kiln in mind. The kiln works perfectly and consumes less electricity than the water heater, so would be perfectly able to be operated on solar power - but only when it's sunny. That's the weak link at present, but I'm certain it won't be long before that little hitch has been overcome. Meanwhile we trade our surplus with the power company/government like other people here.

For what it's worth, the panels and kiln are German. Coincidence? Or maybe they are more forward thinking than the rest of us? Whatever, I wouldn't dismiss the prospect of being able to fire my kiln using just solar energy sometime soon.

And Rakukuku is spot on about power.

Girts

#52 glazenerd

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Posted 05 April 2016 - 07:26 PM

Grits:

I have been following the solar panel industry for almost ten years. They have 2 x 4 panels approaching 400 volts. I am on a rural co-op: so I only pay a variable rate of .06-.08 cents per kilowatt. Yet, at some point I would like to install a system on the back roof line which gets full sun all day. I seen where Sharp has developed a snap=on grid system, which makes it even easier to install. As much as the EPA has come down on Cadmium (rightfully so in most cases), it is still a major component in solar panel construction because of its refractive index and absorption properties.

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#53 alabama

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Posted 05 April 2016 - 08:18 PM

If a solar powered kiln is not feasible, its not possible. It'd make more sense to use a solar panel to run a burner and power the kiln with propane or natural gas and maybe supplemented with limbs. I think if all the equipment needed to run a cone six to ten glaze firing were added together there would be a reality check that would put this idea in perspective.

You can google, "solar panel death zones for birds" to see how destructive the heat generated from solar panels fries birds flying thru or across these solar farms.

Taking everything into consideration, its not feasible.
In of course MMHO,
Alabama

#54 neilestrick

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Posted 05 April 2016 - 09:30 PM

My new kiln runs off a standard domestic 13amp plug (therefore less than 3kw)

 

That's a very small kiln. Most studio size kilns are going to pull 48 amps or more at 208 or 240 volts single phase.


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#55 Girts

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Posted 07 April 2016 - 02:33 AM

Yes Neil, it is a small kiln and it's also a small PV array. But that's missing the point. The point is that running a kiln off solar power is possible. Just in this thread we have someone else in the UK and someone in Australia doing just that to some degree. Earlier posts dismissed the possibility out of hand as totally impossible. I'm just pointing out that it is possible now and kilns will become more efficient as will solar power systems. So it won't be that long before larger kilns can be run that way. The problem is that Elon Musk doesn't find kilns as sexy as cars; if he did it would be happening more quickly ☺

#56 alabama

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Posted 10 April 2016 - 09:54 AM

Soooo,
If you had a small electric kiln, one acre of land next to the shop,(for the solar panels) $8,000 to $43,000 dollars, a power sub-station, then you too could bisque and fire up to 15 cone 06 cups! Yeah, right!

You're proving the nay sayers point effectively.

Alabama
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#57 Girts

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Posted 10 April 2016 - 03:25 PM

No Alabama, I have to protest.

Please read what I actually said. I said nothing about needing an acre of land, or a sub-station, or spending $43,000! Nowhere near that! So please don't mis-represent me. I simply said what several other people and I are experiencing at present. That we can use solar power effectively. Obviously, there are problems at night, which is why we power-share with the National Grid, selling at some times, buying at others. Even today, when it's been raining most of the time, we have been generating a useful amount of electricity which has been sold to the power company. I haven't fired the kiln today but we're still being paid for what we generate.

Two years ago, when this thread was started, solar was far less efficient than it is today; next year it will be more efficient still. And that was the point I was making. The question was is it possible to use solar power to fire a kiln. The answer is obviously yes: there are enough people posted here who are doing it. There are provisos, as with any form of energy, but it can be done. And it will only get better as the technology improves and other energy sources like oil and gas dwindle and become more expensive.

Girts

#58 Rakuku

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Posted 13 April 2016 - 01:57 PM

You can google, "solar panel death zones for birds" to see how destructive the heat generated from solar panels fries birds flying thru or across these solar farms.

The use of the term "solar panel" in this case is misleading.  This is a different kind of solar power than is acquired from what is normally called a "solar panel".  When you Google "solar panel death zones for birds" the hits are about the kind of "solar farm" that uses an array of mirrors to focus sunlight at a tower.  Then there is the "solar panel" that directly converts sunlight into electric current.  This is the kind of solar power most used in a residential area - and most likely to power a solar kiln.  Though, an array of mirrors could also be used.  What the heck, put the kiln in the tower and then control the temperature by manipulating the mirrors!  But, mind the birds, too.



#59 JBaymore

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Posted 15 April 2016 - 05:18 AM

 

  What the heck, put the kiln in the tower and then control the temperature by manipulating the mirrors!

 

Check out Studio Potter magazine from back around the Carter Era.  Been done.

 

best,

 

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#60 jrgpots

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Posted 16 April 2016 - 11:02 PM

please let me define solar power differently.

Def: Solar power is power derived from the sun in any of its forms.
1. Photosynthesis uses light photons to fix CO2 to create sugar. The result is wood, which is used in kilns.
2. Photovoltaic as mentioned in this thread is solar energy.
3. Photosynthesis + pressure + time = coal which when burned can create electricity that we use to fire kilns.
4. Uranium is a product of fusion. Suns are giant fusion reaction. So even nuclear energy is solar energy.

Is there any energy on this earth which is not "solar energy?"

It does not change a thing, but even so, after all of these posts, it's nice to know.....

Jed




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