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cambriapottery

Electric Kiln Reviews

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Unfortunately, no independent reviews out there that I've ever found.  When I was looking to buy, I went with my experience firing kilns at the community studio and looking at classified ads for folks selling kilns.  Our community studio used mostly L&Ls, with a couple Skutts; I preferred firing the L&Ls.  Looking at what folks were selling in the classifieds, I found lots of Skutt and Olympia kilns, but rarely an L&L or Cone Art.  That told me L&L and Cone Art were either very reliable,  well made, and kept by owners or they were mostly used by serious potters who believed a few more dollars up front were the better investment long-term.  I bought an L&L from a local distributor (vs on-line) so I could have a local person for maintenance, etc. and to keep the "pottery" dollars local.  Well worth the investment.  Looked long and hard at the Cone Arts.  I've heard good testimonials from potters regarding Cone Art -- especially after Tucker's bought the line back from Shimpo. 

 

Am sure you'll get lots of responses here . . . with pros/cons for every brand out there.  Good luck on the selection. 

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There are big fans of every brand. Search the forum here and do some Googling and look for objective reviews about ease of repairs, longevity, and cost of replacement parts.

 

If you do not plan to do your own repairs, see if your local dealer offers repair services and buy from them if they have what you want. It's good to build relationships.

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Guest JBaymore

Unfortunately, no independent reviews out there that I've ever found. 

 

Boy................. do I miss the OLD Studio Potter magazine.

 

best,

 

.......................john

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I have used all but the L & L just because I haven't been working in a studio where there is one. It have great reviews regarding the grooved bricks. 

I think all the major brands are good. Probably they may have one or two things that make them stand out. I have 2 Axner super kilns from 11 years ago. Very well insulated They are ITC treated. I don't think they are made anymore. They were manufactured by Olympic. I had a Paragon and love their customer service. I had to change a Skutt from a single phase to a 3 phase at the U where I worked. Skate didn't mention that the kiln would no longer be a cone 10 but a ^6 due to the change in the control panel. BUT the rewiring was really simple.  Installing new elements was easy.

I had Crucibles from Seattle Pottery which were excellent and I like their customer service too. I never had a Bailey kiln, but have their slab roller, wheel, pug mill. Great customer service. In the end, you'll have to make the call. Customer service is important to me because usually live away from a clay community. So I appreciate guidance to replace a gear, or potentiometer.

 

I think you asked the right place for comments. 

Marcia

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Sadly there are no real equipment reviews anymore on ceramic equipment. The magazines all take advertising money (except studio potter)

I like the element holders of the L&L but any major brand will work well. The customer service aspect needs to be checked into also . I have owned 4 Skutts and plan on next kiln to be an L&L-

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I have an Olympic, bought because their factory is super close to me and everyone around here seems to have one. I have had really good results with it and do not regret getting it. I have had it for almost 4 years and it fires as beautifully now as it did day one.

 

I also have a small L&L kiln and love it as well. I have only had this for about a year but it fires beautifully.

 

I have changed the TC in the Olympic and it wasn't hard at all. I have not done the elements yet so will have to wait to say anything about that. Both kilns are great but I am leaning towards a larger L&L when I look to go bigger than what I have now.

 

This all just my personal experience and I am sure others have their own brands of kiln that they can recommend but maybe this will help.

 

T

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Guest JBaymore

Sadly there are no real equipment reviews anymore on ceramic equipment. The magazines all take advertising money (except studio potter)

 

 

No... Studio Potter takes money now from the manufacturers.  See the back pages.

 

best,

 

....................john

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Hi Cambria:

 

Welcome to your new adventure: enjoy it. I see you live in Canada; so I would suggest looking at Cone Art. I talked with Frank Tucker at NCECA last March: the man is deadly serious about building a high quality kiln. I have looked at floor models at my suppliers: the easy lift lid design works very well. Many potters use L & L as well; it is also well made. It is perhaps more user friendly in the sense that changing elements is much easier. My advice is to select a kiln model that your local supplier stocks parts for, and services: assuming you do not have that knowledge. if you do, then the doors are much broader. I am a Paragon man myself; and have had excellent service and no major problems with any of them.

 

I think you need to consider a more detailed list of needs:

 

1. What cone are you going to fire to mostly?  Models vary, some specifically for cone 6, and others for cone 10.

2. Brick thickness.  2.5 is fine for cone 6, but 3" is better. Cone 10 should have 3" brick minimum.

3. How much does your power cost?  If pricey, then extra fiber insulation would be a good thing.

4. How much do you plan on firing ? little, some. alot?     There are hobby kilns, and production kilns.

5. Do you plan on firing technical glazes?  temmoku, crystallines ?..... Programmer is high on the list then.

6. Will this be your only kiln? If so, flexibility is the key then... Buy a bit more than you need, so the kiln will grow with you.

 

7... Back issues? muscles problems  ( do not answer that)... just pointing it out... then look at front loaders.

 

How you use this kiln today, and how you use it 10 years from now will not be the same.... think ahead.

 

Nerd

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I agree with everything Nerd said. I would state if possible go for a cone 10 no matter what cone you plan to fire to. The higher rating will mean the elements last longer at lower temps and the kiln won't struggle so much to get there.

 

I would make up a list of what is important to YOU. Then go through the various kilns, an if possible go look at them in person. That is the reason my first kiln was an Olympic, I toured their factory and got to try out each kiln to see which size worked for me physically. Don't forget to make sure your electric panel can handle whatever kiln you get, mine limited my size.

 

T

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According to Mike at Ceramics Canada, the Cone Art kilns tends to go on sale for the month of January. Also, an American made kiln will have an extra 25-30% cost increase on it because of our current exchange rate.

A Sale - YAY

 

Exchange rate - OUCH

 

Looks like a Cone Art kiln is the Winner!

 

T

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I also would go for a ^10 kiln, beef up the lid with heavier thickness. Control it out the wazzoo! I have worked with a lot of different kilns over the years, replacing elements, insulator blocks, lids, floors, and other items. I find that putting new elements in the L&L is easier, and the firebrick does not seem to get as damaged with grooves carved into the brick, Once brick gets chipped, the elements start to slip out, then pins to hold it in. . . uh uh, road to ruin.  My personal opinion on opting for the L&L.

 

 

best,

Pres

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