I'm discovering that I'm in love with ceramics a lot more than I thought I would be, my pieces are becoming more delicate as I develop my skills. Previously I would take my pieces to a local ceramics studio for firing, but now it seems that transportation of dried clay by car with intricate and small details is impossible. So I wantto buy a kiln, probably a used one off craigslist, but in order to power it, I need to rewire the electric in my garage to plug it in (I think most kilns use the dryer 220v plug). Does anyone have any idea how much that type of rewiring might cost me?
Rewiring For Kiln Costs?
Posted 24 August 2014 - 04:45 PM
You'll probably get the answers to all your questions in the F.A.Q. section at the top of this forum. Most medium/larger kilns in the U.S. run off of 240v, but you should ultimately wire for the voltage used by the kiln you purchase (220v, 230v, etc.). I've been going through this recently and I've discovered that, basically, the biggest cost in re-wiring comes when you upgrade the amperage. Upgrading the voltage from, say, 120v to 240v can be done by running two separate, opposing phase 120v circuits into a singe 240v outlet utilizing your existing home's wiring. But, upgrading amperage requires re-wiring with thicker gauge wires. This takes more labor and costlier materials. It depends on where you live and the path that your wiring will need to run, but you should expect to pay between $500 - $1000 to upgrade your amperage. Depending upon the size kiln you purchase the necessary amperage can range from 15 - 50+. There are also small (test) kilns which run off of standard 115v if you make small items. I've also discovered a number of mid-size kilns that run off of 240v and use only 21-25 amps -- which could likely be drawn from existing wiring. In short, how much you need to spend upgrading your electrical will depend on your choice of kiln. Don't forget to factor in any safety equipment necessary (a ventilation kit, for example). Kilns produce many toxic fumes that should not enter your home. Again, you will probably find all your answers in the F.A.Q. section, but this is a start.
Posted 24 August 2014 - 05:34 PM
It cost me $1500 for a new line from the transformer by the street to a new circuit box in the kiln shed. I have three kilns and the largest draws 90 amps.
That was 6 years ago.
Marcia Selsor, Professor Emerita,
Montana State University-Billings
Marcia Selsor Studio in Brownsville, Texas.
Posted 24 August 2014 - 06:21 PM
you do not mention whether your garage, new studio, is attatched to your house or not. the advice above is dependent on the size of the circuit breaker box in your home or the building you plan to use. in older homes, before all the portable electrical appliances came on the scene, 100 amp boxes were common. very old homes had less. a hair dryer would cause problems. anything built since about 1980 probably has 200 amps. unless you are in a subdivision built by a lousy builder.
you can check this easily by looking inside the metal box somewhere in your home where all the wires come in from your outdoor meter and get distributed to various outlets, lights, etc. it is called, funny thing, the distribution panel. there is a large switch inside at the top with a number engraved in it. it controls all the power in the house and is the main shutoff. tell any electrician that number and the numbers on all of the circuit breakers in the box. if it is a 200 amp box, and if you already add up to close to 200 amps, there may be a way to use the kiln by combining things that do not run at the same time. maybe one breaker is for the air conditioning and another is for heat. pirating the dryer circuit is common. who knows, the labeling of circuit breaker boxes is so pathetic it is a shame it is not regulated.
once you write down everything you see in the box, call the permit office in your community, an electrician and a second electrician for a second opinion. yes, you will need a permit. nothing scary, just call them and ask for help. costs vary so much there is no way to predict it.
Posted 24 August 2014 - 07:47 PM
When I got my kiln about 5 years ago, I had an electrician install a second circuit box in the garage. I think the charges were about $800. I would highly recommend a second circuit box, not just an outlet for the kiln. A second circuit box allows you growth -- for a wheel, a test kiln, whatever that you decide to buy later on. Plus, it is a great feature/investment for selling the house in the future. Don't just take care of today's needs; think about what you need long term. It will be cheaper to do it now than later.
Posted 24 August 2014 - 08:11 PM
in the last house i built, 2005, i asked the power company for 400 amps. they refused and gave me the "pat the little lady on the head, she doesn't know what she is asking" treatment. i used all 200 amps and the basement was unfinished and unheated, un-air conditioned.
the buyer added an apartment in the basement and another 200 amps. funny thing.
Posted 25 August 2014 - 09:29 AM
I would recommend the second circuit box also, we had one added on a garage for my kiln and my husbands electric welders at a previous house. We put a exterior shut off on it and this helped meet some of the city codes. When we built our new house and studio space our electrician had us put a second circuit box on the opposite side of the garage from the main circuit box for future use. Make friends with an electrician, pay him the going rate and you'll get helpful advice when ever you need it in the future. Denice
Posted 25 August 2014 - 10:36 AM
You'll probably get the answers to all your questions in the F.A.Q. section at the top of this forum. Most medium/larger kilns in the U.S. run off of 240v, but you should ultimately wire for the voltage used by the kiln you purchase (220v, 230v, etc.). Upgrading the voltage from, say, 120v to 240v can be done by running two separate, opposing phase 120v circuits into a singe 240v outlet utilizing your existing home's wiring.
You cannot rewire the circuit according to the voltage of the kiln. You don't get to choose the voltage of your electrical service, you have to buy a kiln that will accommodate the voltage of your existing electrical service. If the kiln is going in your home, you will need a 240 volt, single phase kiln. Many commercial spaces run on 208 volts, single or three phase. As for which size plug it will use, that will depend on the amperage draw of the kiln. Every kiln has a serial plate on it that shows the voltage, phase, watts and amperage draw. According to national electric code, the breaker/fuse you put in your house for the kiln should be 25% greater than the actual amperage draw of the kiln. For instance, a 24 amp kiln should be on a 30 amp breaker. A 48 amp kiln should be on a 60 amp breaker.
It is against code to run two separate 120 volt circuits to to one appliance to make a 240 volt circuit. All 240 volt appliances must be on a dedicated circuit, with the appropriate breaker. Also, you cannot just combine two wires into a 240 volt circuit using your existing home wiring and call it good. It depends on how many amps the circuit will be using. The existing wiring in your house is generally for 15 amp circuits, and a tiny percentage of kilns will fun on that. Most 110/120 volt test kilns actually require a 20 amp circuit, even though they are running on 110/120. If you just switch out the outlet it would not be safe.
You need to first have an electrician come in an see how many amps your breaker box can handle. That will determine what size kiln you can get. How much it will cost to have it wired up will depend on the wire size and distance from the breaker, and numerous other factors. I've seen kiln hookup costs range from $150 to $1500.
Kiln Repair Tech
L&L Kilns Distributor
Owner, Neil Estrick Gallery, LLC
Posted 25 August 2014 - 11:38 AM
I just happened to have a 70amp circuit (I think previous owner had some power tools). I have an old box. Electrician said to replace with a 30 amp breaker into old box was expensive... so the great electrician wired out of the old 70 amp into new box with new 30amp and new 240 plug(much cheaper). Only charged me $115 total. I was setting kiln up right by breaker box. I think I got lucky. I'm on my 7th glaze firing today and will be having Xmas tomorrow. Gotta love this pottery thing.
Posted 25 August 2014 - 11:49 AM
I would add that the electrician you call will really impact the cost. When I bought my house I looked and finally found an electrician willing to do work on my house at an hourly rate. He charges $120 for the first hour and $80 an hour after that and EVERYTHING is way cheaper than the job guys. When I added a 9 cubic foot kiln he came out and added a dedicated plug for it and was there for a couple of hours and my bill was a couple hundred bucks. When I had a 2nd patch panel for my generator to plug into to run my house in outages it was a few hundred bucks when two other 'bids' both exceeded $1000 and a third one came in at $3500.
Ya really need to beat up price. there is no reason for an electrician to get what often works out to hundreds and hundreds of dollars an hour.
Posted 26 August 2014 - 12:45 AM
I also suggest a small sub panel so when you grow up power wise you will have space to grow.
My house started off with an old fuze box 41 years ago that was 100 amps
Now its a 200 amp service with a 4 sub panels-one 100 amp-1-90amp 1 lesser and 1 for the transfer switch-50amps two pole).
I also have a 12kw generator for power outages.
200 amp really is what modern homes have. You do not usually ever use 200 amps at once but say your new cone 10 electric needs a 90 amp breaker that will use almost 1/2 of a 200 amp service.
I pump my own water (well-30amps)
Have a few freezers a few kilns (rarely use electrics)
This is an area you do not want to skimp on
Hire a qualified electrician.
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