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I got this old Paragon kiln for free from someone who had it sitting in their garage for a long time (15 years maybe?). I'm pretty amateur, but I'd love to get more into ceramics and firing/how to upkeep my equipment and safely.  Could someone tell me how to go about making sure this kiln is safe for use? The wires look pretty good as far as I can tell, but I'd have no idea if they weren't apart from if they were rusted. There's cracking in the bricks, will that be a problem? 

(I haven't even cleaned it at all yet and sorry that the photos are blurry)

Screenshot_20200504-171702_Gallery.jpg

Screenshot_20200504-171755_Gallery.jpg

Edited by Jo Baldwin
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2 hours ago, Jo Baldwin said:

I got this old Paragon kiln for free from someone who had it sitting in their garage for a long time (15 years maybe?). I'm pretty amateur, but I'd love to get more into ceramics and firing/how to upkeep my equipment and safely.  Could someone tell me how to go about making sure this kiln is safe for use? The wires look pretty good as far as I can tell, but I'd have no idea if they weren't apart from if they were rusted. There's cracking in the bricks, will that be a problem? 

(I haven't even cleaned it at all yet and sorry that the photos are blurry)

Screenshot_20200504-171702_Gallery.jpg

Screenshot_20200504-171755_Gallery.jpg

Clean it out, get the model number and post so we know what cone it will fire to. You will need to do some work with clay first so best we figure our what you would like to try. Do you throw or hand build now? And finally there are a bunch of videos, clay throwing and more important paragon has a whole series of maintenance vids and reading material that would give you a good start on going through this kiln. Last question, do you have furniture for this kiln? (Shelves, shelf supports... etc...)

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The model number is H17 (looks like max temp is 2300). I do both throwing and hand building, but have never had my own equipment until now. It was always someone else's job to manage the kilns I've used; I only ever helped unload. 

It doesn't have any shelving or supports right now.

Thank you for the tip about Paragon's videos!

Edited by Jo Baldwin
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@Jo Baldwin What is the amperage draw? Wattage? Is it currently set up for 208 or 240 volt service? Tell us everything that is on the serial plate.

From a repair standpoint, those kilns are a pain. Difficult to get the elements in and out, really difficult to replace bricks- sometimes impossible depending on the condition of the case. New elements will run you $104 each, almost double what they would cost in a round kiln. The shelves for this kiln are square, so if you replace this kiln later, most likely with a round kiln, you won't be able to use the shelves.

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@neilestrick It's 230 voltage and 60 watts, and that's all that's on the plate besides the temp, model, and serial number.  I'm getting an electrician to set up the outlet it needs. 

I've heard than Paragons can be a hassle, but since it was free I didn't want to pass it up! So if I can make it work, it'll be fine for me for now. If not, then I'll just have to invest in a new one. 

Edited by Jo Baldwin
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1 hour ago, Jo Baldwin said:

The model number is H17 (looks like max temp is 2300). I do both throwing and hand building, but have never had my own equipment until now. It was always someone else's job to manage the kilns I've used; I only ever helped unload. 

It doesn't have any shelving or supports right now.

Thank you for the tip about Paragon's videos!

Here is your wiring diagram in case you have not found it. https://www.paragonweb.com/files/wiringdiagrams/H-16A_16B_17A_17B-WD.pdf

Careful, this kiln requires a neutral! I could not find a wattage anywhere so hopefully it’s on the kiln label. 2300 f is cone 9 ish so you should be able to get a decent amount of cone ten firings. New elements are a pain, they should have a video. I used to string them with the corners slightly out if necessary and embed the corners solidly with a torch. Definitely a pain but doable. I don’t know if all models had a sitter and timer so something you need to ensure the kiln shuts down.

just saw your post, definitely not 60 watts. Look again, probably stands for 60HZ. This will be thousands of watts.  See if you can find a wattage or amperage. Your electrician should size the breaker for this at 125% full load. If he resists, tell him look it up it’s code for kilns.

Edited by Bill Kielb
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You'll need a 40 amp breaker since the kiln draws 30 amps, and like Bill said it will need the neutral. I would test everything with a meter before moving forward with the expense of wiring it up. Check for continuity through all the switches and elements, as well as the resistance of the elements. It could be that it needs $600 worth of parts.

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2 hours ago, Jo Baldwin said:

Must be 6000 watts then. Sorry, the stamps are hard to read. I don't see anything that looks like a timer, it might not have one. 

I realized I do have posts for the shelves, but no shelves themselves. 

This is a tweener, 6000 w on 240 v is 25 amps. When I grew up it was 110v or 220v for two phases. Then they raised the voltage standard to 115 v  which made two phases equal 230v. Finally present day, 120v or you guessed it 240v. So 6000/240. = 25 amps.  And so 125% of 25 = 1.25 x 25 = 31.25 amps. Your electrician likely would pick a 35 amp two pole breaker which is available.

A 40 amp is doable but just a touch over 150% accounting for how voltage has changed over the years since that thing was rated.

Edited by Bill Kielb
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2 hours ago, Jo Baldwin said:

Must be 6000 watts then. Sorry, the stamps are hard to read. I don't see anything that looks like a timer, it might not have one. 

I realized I do have posts for the shelves, but no shelves themselves. 

Learning to fire that by hand and making sure you are around to turn it off will be a bit of a learning experience and a hassle but probably no better way than to truly understand firing.

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58 minutes ago, Bill Kielb said:

This is a tweener, 6000 w on 240 v is 25 amps. When I grew up it was 110v or 220v for two phases. Then they raised the voltage standard to 115 v  which made two phases equal 230v. Finally present day, 120v or you guessed it 240v. So 6000/240. = 25 amps.  And so 125% of 25 = 1.25 x 25 = 31.25 amps. Your electrician likely would pick a 35 amp two pole breaker which is available.

A 40 amp is doable but just a touch over 150% accounting for how voltage has changed over the years since that thing was rated.

Paragon shows only one element setup available for the different versions of that kiln. Elements are 8 ohms in series, which will put it at 30 amps, so 40 amp breaker. Here is a wiring diagram for the digital version that shows the amperage.

@Jo Baldwin Confirm this by looking at the wiring setup, and put a meter on the elements.

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38 minutes ago, neilestrick said:

Paragon shows only one element setup available for the different versions of that kiln. Elements are 8 ohms in series, which will put it at 30 amps, so 40 amp breaker. Here is a wiring diagram for the digital version that shows the amperage.

@Jo Baldwin Confirm this by looking at the wiring setup, and put a meter on the elements.

Interesting it’s either 6000 watts or it isn’t. Normally the wattage would be at the rated voltage so  6000watts at 230 v means 26 amps or prox 13 ohms. If you are telling me 2@8 ohms in series then 16 ohms then this kiln never was 6000w at 230 v. 

240/16:ohms is 15 amps or a 20 amp breaker. The rated wattage at the voltage is the correct thing else the manufacture is lying from the get go about the power of the kiln and will not get certified.

To get 6000 w these need to be short of 9 ohms, total. If they were 8 ohms at 230v then this is a 6600 w device, which it should not be.

Measuring though would be wise for sure to confirm what it really is now.

Edited by Bill Kielb
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42 minutes ago, neilestrick said:

Paragon shows only one element setup available for the different versions of that kiln. Elements are 8 ohms in series, which will put it at 30 amps, so 40 amp breaker. Here is a wiring diagram for the digital version that shows the amperage.

@Jo Baldwin Confirm this by looking at the wiring setup, and put a meter on the elements.

Just looked at your diagram, looks like a much later model as this is  a 7200w kiln. The diagram is also 240 v single phase (no neutral) with a controller and relays. An interesting change but not his current setup.

one really cool catch to this though  is if you order these elements which are likely all you can get now,  they likely fit perfect and now you have a 7200 w kiln. Very cool, but definitely interesting with respect to potential issues with safety.

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We don't know that it is definitely 6000 watts. Like he said it's hard to read. 

240/16 ohms is 15amps, but there are two sets so 30. That would be consistent with a kiln this size.

Ultimately we're both making assumptions. Gotta get a meter on the elements, or better yet call Paragon.

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13 minutes ago, neilestrick said:

We don't know that it is definitely 6000 watts. Like he said it's hard to read. 

240/16 ohms is 15amps, but there are two sets so 30. That would be consistent with a kiln this size.

Ultimately we're both making assumptions. Gotta get a meter on the elements, or better yet call Paragon.

I think the six definitely doesn’t look like a seven but agree, no matter what you do now, you may only be able to get the 8 ohm elements these days. Two 16 ohm in parallel ends up as 8 ohms. Lots of potential pitfalls for the average hobby kiln guy. I am thinking now, regardless, get the 8 ohm elements and make sure you set this up for 7200w, which gets us back to the 40 amp breaker btw.

No sitter is gonna be a problem anyway so maybe just upgrade to the relays, controller, and  elements then single phase 240v is all that is needed. Save money on the neutral. Definitely tough for a new user to work through this.

Edited by Bill Kielb
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I would think long and hard before I put any cash beyond electrician in this kiln. Old kilns, some in really great shape that don't need elements that are 2x as expensive, all bricks can be repaired and kiln furniture that is more common, come up all the time for a few hundred bucks and a couple thousand gets you new programmable one. I wouldn't let free trap me into throwing money into the wrong kiln.

As it is you will be spending hundreds in kiln shelves for a square kiln, I'd clean it up, power it on and access before I even bought the shelves. Something like a Skutt 1027 will need a 60 breaker but a Skutt 818 for $1500 needs a 40. 

Edited by Stephen
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19 minutes ago, Jo Baldwin said:

So, putting aside the electric problems for now,  what do you all think the best kiln is for a beginner for a good price? Any recommendations?

Thanks for all the advice; I at least have a starting place now.

Any kiln you buy today you'll still have in 10 years when you're no longer a beginner. So if you buy a too-small one now, you'll need to buy a bigger one in 5-10 years. I'm not a fan of 18" wide kilns, too much wasted space due to the narrow diameter and wide things don't fit well, so I'd start with a 23" wide by 18" tall kiln, like an L&L E23S-3, Skutt KM1018, etc. Not too big, not too small. You can fit several dozen mugs, and wide bowls and platters fit well.

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Thanks for the comment on kiln width. I'm comparing / considering an L&L e23s-3 vs a Cone Art 2318D. Both  cone 10 with Bartlett genesis capability for controller. Cone Art is impressive for the electrical elements in the floor and their comments re. slower cooling due to their wall insulation. L&L is suggesting their heat is more evenly distributed throughout the kiln during firing. I am assuming I will want to 'play' with longer firings in both firing and cooling periods. Could I please have some advice? This will be my first and last kiln btw. Thanks Coco

Edited by Coco Heinrich
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On 5/8/2020 at 4:01 PM, Coco Heinrich said:

Thanks for the comment on kiln width. I'm comparing / considering an L&L e23s-3 vs a Cone Art 2318D. Both  cone 10 with Bartlett genesis capability for controller. Cone Art is impressive for the electrical elements in the floor and their comments re. slower cooling due to their wall insulation. L&L is suggesting their heat is more evenly distributed throughout the kiln during firing. I am assuming I will want to 'play' with longer firings in both firing and cooling periods. Could I please have some advice? This will be my first and last kiln btw. Thanks Coco

I can tell you I like both kilns. The cone arts have insulation which is better for energy and I do like the continuous sheet metal without open areas between sections. Having said that if the kiln does not cool fast enough it does present some difficulty on occasion to the programmer.. The L&L has a nice element set and in theory should radiate well and I think they do. Having said that the channel has its minor drawbacks and can be a bit pricier and a tad difficult to replace elements. L& L does however have a more organized control box that is nicely constructed and thought out.

Both kilns in my view are excellent. The one thing that stands out in my mind is the cone art lid system. It’s hinge is really really good. At the studio we had two cone arts with over 1000 firings in each and they still looked and worked great.

I don’t think you can go wrong with either kiln though. The cone art probably consumes a bit less energy and the lid is nice so I might favor it just a bit. Honestly though, they are both nice kilns and in my opinion either would be a superior choice to some of the others.

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The L&L will make for faster element changes. The hard element holders make it super simple and quick. But if you fire the elements till they're dead (which you should never do anyway), the element wire can stick to the holders and be difficult to get out. The ConeArt will have slightly lower energy costs due to the  backup insulation. I actually prefer the L&L hinge system because there are no arms on the sides, and the L&L hinge connects to the entire height of the kiln, not just the top ring, so the weight is distributed better. Both kilns have zone control for even firings.  Personally I do not like floor elements because they are prone to getting stuff in them, and in a smaller kiln they're not necessary.

You'll be happy with either brand.

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jo, i had a similar offer of that same square kiln back in 1991.  unfortunately, i took it.   it must have weighed a million tons.   there was nobody who would work on it.   it took a very long time to get it out of the studio.  only my opinion but i would run away from it.

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