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Please Help Me Choose Between These 3 Kilns

Paragon L&L Kiln Easy Fire Liberty Belle NEMA 14-30 biggest little kiln

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#1 Pinkfrog

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Posted 06 August 2014 - 01:30 PM

Hello,

I am ready to buy my first kiln and I did a lot of research but have not found any reviews or comments about the kilns I have selected.
Since I will be using it on my drier outlet and fire it to cone 6 and up I have 3 options :

The L&L liberty Belle
The L&L easy fire E18S-3 ( I will need to change the NEMA 6-50 by NEMA 14-30 )
The biggest little kiln by Paragon 12 keys digital

I would love to hear about your experience and finally decide what kiln is best for my home studio.

**PS: I don't have any possibility to have a bigger kiln (which I'd love ) as I am in a city payment and can't re-wire and add more amps.**

Katia :)

Edited by Pinkfrog, 06 August 2014 - 04:10 PM.


#2 neilestrick

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Posted 06 August 2014 - 02:00 PM

I can give you specific info about all of those kilns off forum, including maintenance costs and issues. It's a lot to go through here. Feel free to call  or email me direct.

 

Electrical code says that kilns should be on a breaker that is 25% greater than the amperage pull of the kiln. The Paragon pulls 28 amps, which means it should be on a 35 amp breaker, which doesn't exist so you go to the next one larger, 40 amps. On a 30 amp breaker it could flip the breaker if you have slightly high amperage. These are the reasons we don't put 48 amp kilns on 50 amp breakers.

 

Between the Easy Fire and the Liberty Bell, I'd go with the Easy Fire with the better controller. You'll be much happier with the full Dynatrol rather than the small controller. I can get you pricing if you don't already have a local supplier you're considering.


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#3 Mark369

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Posted 06 August 2014 - 02:14 PM

I think the Paragon (which I have one) will be too small for you very quickly as your only kiln.  I got & use mine for testing only. 


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#4 DirtRoads

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Posted 06 August 2014 - 03:17 PM

I have a Paragon TNF 27-3, which I use only for bisque firings.   This is my 2nd one.   I destroyed the first one using it to fire to cone 6 and had to change elements every 3 months.    My thinking is that I might buy a new one every 4-5 years for bisque firings. 

 

My glaze kill is a L&L Quad Pro EQ2827-3-240.  This is a work horse,which is fired continuously, 4-5 loads weekly.  Had it 2 years (June) and haven't changed the elements yet. (bought a set a year ago thinking I would need to change soon )  I've changed thermocouples a couple of times and relay switches once (I had 3 on hand and my nephew changed all of them ... when only 1 was bad).  I like L&L ceramic element holders (even though I have yet to use them ... in a lesser kiln you will change elements way more often ... so those ceramic element holders pay dividends. )

 

Paragon customer service is very good, I call my local dealer for parts and problems and they are very accommodating .  Not familiar with the biggest little kiln but I would be very discriminating in selecting a Paragon kiln if you are planning to fire to Cone 5 or 6.  (just because the label says "Cone 10" doesn't always mean a kiln will fire that high on a continual basis)  Needing a frequent element change would 100% deter me from purchasing a Paragon for Cone 5 or higher firings.

 

Customer service at L&L is excellent.  I call the company direct for parts.   I find them to be extremely accommodating.  About 2 months ago when my nephew changed relay switches, he unknowingly left one unattached.    Called L&L on a Friday afternoon about 3:00 pm EST.  Sent the customary email, not expecting them to call back until Monday.   Got an email within an hour, saying they couldn't reach me (cat knocked phone off hook).  They called back at 7:30, EST, telling me how to fix the problem (checked and one relay switch was unattached, just like they predicted).   I found this to be extraordinary customer service.

 

Are you getting a smaller kiln to accommodate your electrical box?   Might consider adding another meter and box, specifically for the kiln.   I have 3 meters and boxes on my property and will be adding a 4th when my next building arrives.   I've found it cheaper to add a box/meter if you have much distance to run that low gauge wire.   Plus you never have to worry about overload.   A 200 amp set up only costs about $50 more than a 100 amp one.   Adding more amps will allow you a bigger kiln.  If you compare costs, a bigger kiln isn't proportionately more dollars.  



#5 neilestrick

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Posted 06 August 2014 - 03:57 PM

I always tell my customers to buy the kiln you'll need in 5 years, not the kiln you need today. For most people that means a bigger kiln than they need right now. Kilns can last 20 to 30 years if taken care of, and you'll never get your money back selling one used. So if you think you'll need a bigger one in the future, it's worth saving up for a while longer and going bigger. Once you have a kiln at home you'll probably start making more pots and your skills will improve quickly. You'll outgrow a small kiln faster than you think. However, it's also nice to have a small kiln and a big kiln, so if you get a small one now you will may still use it in the future. But if you'll only have room for one kiln, it's a wiser investment to get a bigger one now.


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#6 neilestrick

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Posted 06 August 2014 - 04:00 PM

I have a Paragon TNF 27-3, which I use only for bisque firings.   This is my 2nd one.   I destroyed the first one using it to fire to cone 6 and had to change elements every 3 months.    My thinking is that I might buy a new one every 4-5 years for bisque firings. 

 

My glaze kill is a L&L Quad Pro EQ2827-3-240.  This is a work horse,which is fired continuously, 4-5 loads weekly.  Had it 2 years (June) and haven't changed the elements yet. (bought a set a year ago thinking I would need to change soon )  I've changed thermocouples a couple of times and relay switches once (I had 3 on hand and my nephew changed all of them ... when only 1 was bad).  I like L&L ceramic element holders (even though I have yet to use them ... in a lesser kiln you will change elements way more often ... so those ceramic element holders pay dividends. )

 

Paragon customer service is very good, I call my local dealer for parts and problems and they are very accommodating .  Not familiar with the biggest little kiln but I would be very discriminating in selecting a Paragon kiln if you are planning to fire to Cone 5 or 6.  (just because the label says "Cone 10" doesn't always mean a kiln will fire that high on a continual basis)  Needing a frequent element change would 100% deter me from purchasing a Paragon for Cone 5 or higher firings.

 

Customer service at L&L is excellent.  I call the company direct for parts.   I find them to be extremely accommodating.  About 2 months ago when my nephew changed relay switches, he unknowingly left one unattached.    Called L&L on a Friday afternoon about 3:00 pm EST.  Sent the customary email, not expecting them to call back until Monday.   Got an email within an hour, saying they couldn't reach me (cat knocked phone off hook).  They called back at 7:30, EST, telling me how to fix the problem (checked and one relay switch was unattached, just like they predicted).   I found this to be extraordinary customer service.

 

Are you getting a smaller kiln to accommodate your electrical box?   Might consider adding another meter and box, specifically for the kiln.   I have 3 meters and boxes on my property and will be adding a 4th when my next building arrives.   I've found it cheaper to add a box/meter if you have much distance to run that low gauge wire.   Plus you never have to worry about overload.   A 200 amp set up only costs about $50 more than a 100 amp one.   Adding more amps will allow you a bigger kiln.  If you compare costs, a bigger kiln isn't proportionately more dollars.  

 

Glad you're enjoying your L&L, Sharon! You can always call me if you can't get in touch with L&L.


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#7 Stephen

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Posted 06 August 2014 - 05:00 PM

I'm pretty sure all 3 of these kilns are good kilns, and it sounds like you have done your homework and know for a fact that all three of these will work just fine on your existing dryer plug (I'd talk to paragon or thebigceramicstore.com about the claim it will run fine on a dryer plug in light of Neil's post, but they supposedly designed it specifically for a dryer plug).

 

I'd think about the mix of wares you will be making and try to think it through by evaluating the interior dimensions of each, considering how you think you will use the kiln. Your large bowls and platters might fit one of these better than another or getting 3 shelves for a batch of 6" mugs might be a big deal if you fire mugs a lot and want to optimize how many you can do at a time.

 

What about venting, have you figured that out?



#8 Pinkfrog

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Posted 06 August 2014 - 05:37 PM

I'm pretty sure all 3 of these kilns are good kilns, and it sounds like you have done your homework and know for a fact that all three of these will work just fine on your existing dryer plug (I'd talk to paragon or thebigceramicstore.com about the claim it will run fine on a dryer plug in light of Neil's post, but they supposedly designed it specifically for a dryer plug).
 
I'd think about the mix of wares you will be making and try to think it through by evaluating the interior dimensions of each, considering how you think you will use the kiln. Your large bowls and platters might fit one of these better than another or getting 3 shelves for a batch of 6" mugs might be a big deal if you fire mugs a lot and want to optimize how many you can do at a time.
 
What about venting, have you figured that out?


Yes, I know it's going to be frustrating because it will be small loads at a time but comparing of the waiting time (4 weeks)to have my pieces ready when I bring it to a local studio i think it weighs in the balance.

I have figured out the venting, I did so much research to be able to find a kiln that would fit in, my head is smoking.

#9 Stephen

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Posted 06 August 2014 - 05:59 PM

hey small loads mean you fire more often ;-)



#10 Roberta12

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Posted 06 August 2014 - 11:12 PM

love my L&L .....great service, dependable kiln.

 

Roberta



#11 Biglou13

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Posted 06 August 2014 - 11:30 PM

Ez fire more sq footage.
L&L any day of the week , year, decade, century.
I'd tell you to chat with Neil but you already have.
+1. On bigger kiln. (I've almost outgrown the community studio kiln, and it isn't even mine)
If and when I buy a new elcectric kiln.... It will be l&l !!!

Inspite of a great product, you have Neil!!!
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#12 Pres

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Posted 07 August 2014 - 06:32 AM

Ditto for all on the L&L's, I have had many over the years between myself and the HS I taught at. Guys at L&L have stood behind them well, and the kilns have been consistent in their performance.

 

Check the FAQ section at the top of the In the Studio forum for more information.


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#13 neilestrick

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Posted 07 August 2014 - 10:15 AM

 (I'd talk to paragon or thebigceramicstore.com about the claim it will run fine on a dryer plug in light of Neil's post, but they supposedly designed it specifically for a dryer plug).

 

It will run on the dryer plug if all is well. At 28 amps, under normal conditions it should not flip the 30 amp breaker. But if you have high voltage, or if the elements are a little off, it my not work. I've seen many 48 amp kilns that run fine on 50 amp breakers, but I've seen some that don't. I'd have your electrician check your voltage to be safe.


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#14 Stephen

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Posted 07 August 2014 - 10:22 AM

yeah but that rules it out for a dryer plug for all practical purposes. Kilns are expensive so if it does not run on 100% of the dryer plugs 100% of the time it does not run on a dryer plug. I think this is particularly true of this claim because generally speaking when someone is trying to match a dryer plug it is because they are in the same situation as the original poster in that they are restricted to using that plug and have no other options.   



#15 grype

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Posted 07 August 2014 - 12:02 PM

If you spending several thousands of dollars for a kiln + vent kit. Hire someone to make sure the plugs and amperage are right. This was the best advice I ever got from this forums regarding new kilns.



#16 schmism

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Posted 07 August 2014 - 12:29 PM

you'll never get your money back selling one used.

 

Check your local Criagslist.  Or if you have a local pottery studio check with them.   I just picked up 2 "non-working" paragon kilns for $75.   One is a really nice 1.6 CF kiln that would be perfect for glaze tests.  The other one was a standard kiln.  Bricks are fine,  lids are not cracked,  If i put a new controller on them they would be ready to fire.

 

The friend i throw with,  He had someone approach him at work after word got around that he was into pottery and offered 2 more kilns for basically free.   "Just get them out of my barn".   (That now puts us at 6 kilns between the 2 of us,  so we have a bisque, a glaze, and we will be converting one to a raku kiln, and perhaps a second into a cone 10 redux like Simon leach did)

 

I can currently find like 10 kilns within 300 miles of me for an avg price of $400.

 

This is fairly typical of the adds.

http://stlouis.craig...4600758286.html

 

nice 3 stack kiln, with a bunch of cones, and plenty of furniture.  Shure the controller is an older style, but even if you bought a new computer controller, ($450)  Your still a grand ahead of were you would be if you bought a new setup like that.



#17 neilestrick

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Posted 07 August 2014 - 01:24 PM

I"m all for used kilns, if you know what you're getting into and can do repairs yourself. My first couple of kilns were used, and I got them at a great price. But if you don't know what to look for in a kiln, then you may not want to do it.

 

Say you spend $400 on a used kiln, spend $500 on a controller, but then it needs elements. There's another $300 in parts and $200 in labor if you aren't comfortable working on it yourself. If it's a 15 year old kiln then the switches and wiring are likely to be near the end of their life, so there's another $275 in parts and labor in the near future. Now you've got an $1675 kiln that's got 15 year old bricks and no warranty.

 

So if you decide to go used, find someone who knows what to look for and have them assist you. Ideally you want to check the element resistance, condition of the bricks, condition and age of the wiring and switches, and replacement parts costs. There's a lot of old Duncan kilns on the market, but elements tend to be expensive and a hassle to replace. There are other models of popular brands that have $90 elements rather than the typical $50. There are also a lot of Knight kilns out there, like the listing Schmism shows above. Those kilns are no longer made, however Euclids can make elements for most of them. I'd call Euclids first before buying a Knight.


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#18 Stephen

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Posted 08 August 2014 - 10:53 AM

but the OP can't really go used because she is matching to a dryer plug and finding a use kiln that will match to a dryer plug that fits the bill in every other respect would really be iffy. 



#19 neilestrick

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Posted 08 August 2014 - 11:11 AM

but the OP can't really go used because she is matching to a dryer plug and finding a use kiln that will match to a dryer plug that fits the bill in every other respect would really be iffy. 

 

If you get an 18x18" kiln, chances are it will pull around 24 amps, which will run on a 30 amp circuit. The plug could be changed out to match the dryer outlet assuming it's a standard 3 prong single phase plug (2 hots and a ground) already on the kiln. But some of the Knight kilns, and a handful of other brand models, have a 4 prong plug (2 hots + neutral + ground) that wouldn't work. Like you said, it could be take a long time to find the right kiln. And if you're not familiar with electrical systems it would be safer to buy new.


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