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9 Tips for buying a Hobby Pottery Kiln

9 tips for buying a hobby pottery kiln

The decision for a pottery kiln is difficult, because the choice is large! In order to be able to read up a little before buying, I have listed some important tips for you here. Basically, there are a few factors to consider when buying a kiln – some of which are based on personal needs or preferences. Nevertheless, there are also requirements for the location, power connection and other things that you should definitely clarify beforehand.

1. Electric or gas?

Nowadays, the most common models are electric, but there are still a lot of gas-fired kilns. When firing with gas there is more uncertainty in the operation, but nowadays these furnaces are also operated with an electronic control system. Since the purchase costs are significantly higher than for an electric kiln and you need butane, propane, or natural gas supply, the decision is often made on the electric model. If the requirements for a gas kiln have already been met, you can also use this ceramic kiln for techniques such as reduction or raku firing.

Electric kilns are fully automatic and achieve accurate temperature curves that you can easily repeat at any time. You do not have to be in the room during the firing process because the kiln works all by itself. 230V (Schuko connection) or a power connection is required, depending on the volume of your kiln. In any case, be aware that some models with light current are not suitable for use in stoneware. In addition, electric kilns differ in the attachment of the heating elements. On the one hand, they are installed in the grooved brick (there the heating elements are well protected from damage), on the other hand, on the support tubes (here the heat is better distributed and they can not move so easily) in the furnace.

2. Top loader

Top-loaders, also called shaft kilns, give you a good view of the distribution of your work from above. You can thus use the entire diameter of your kiln. The top loader is ideal, especially if you have several small kilns. A top loader is a good choice if you will not use the kiln more than once a week on average per year.

3. Front loader

With front loaders, also called chamber kilns, you load from the front and can thus make optimal use of the height of your kiln. Front-loading kilns are usually relatively high, depending on their volume, as they are mounted on a base frame and tend to be taller than they are wide. Therefore, you must make sure that there is a minimum distance of 50 cm from the ceiling to the kiln at the installation site.
Nevertheless, a big advantage of the front loader is that it is easy on your back when putting away your work, because you do not have to bend down.

4. You should expect this price

You can get good ceramic kilns from about 1,500.00 €. Depending on your requirements and demands on the kiln or the condition and size, the whole thing can cost a few thousand euros more. Nevertheless, especially smaller kilns, which are also suitable for the hobby area, remain in the lower range of the purchase value. You should still consider that the kiln will accompany you for several years. Depending on your budget, it makes sense to buy a high-quality, high-performance kiln right at the beginning.

5. Where do i set up my kiln?

The ceramic kiln needs a dry, well-ventilated room. Right next to the furnace you need a power outlet, you necessarily work without extension cords. The furnace must also be plugged into the circuit alone, otherwise there may be failures. The kiln is set up on the base provided.

There should also be a water connection in your workroom – for cleaning and washing after working with clay and glaze, but also for emergencies. Furthermore, it is advisable to choose fairly simple furnishings that are easy to clean – after all, you want to concentrate on working with clay and not constantly sweep the dust off the furniture 😉 .
Very importantly, please don’t put flammable objects near the kiln. Curtains or other things that get too close will just stick or start burning – minimum distance 1/2 meter.

6. Room ventilation

What must not be missing in any case in the room where the furnace will be located is a window (preferably even two)! The window should always be tilted or even open when the ceramic furnace is active.

In principle, a window is sufficient for ventilation in the hobby area, but unpleasant odors may still occur, depending on the products you are working with, more or less.

In schools or institutions, where additional work is done in the same room, the exhaust air must be released via a suitable system. Basically, however, it is recommended to turn on the oven only overnight, because then no one is in the room and thus the smell is not too disturbing.

7. What power connection do i need for my ceramic kiln?

Depending on the size and volume of the kiln, the requirements for the power connection differ. Kilns with up to 60 liters require 230V with Schuko connection. For larger models you need a power connection (three-phase alternating current).
Pay attention to the manufacturer’s specifications for the maximum continuous firing temperature!
Normally, the ovens are supplied with a plug, you only need to have a suitable socket made by an electrician. If you notice any defects, damages or similar and you are not sure what to do, it is best to call the ceramic supply where you got your kiln. Ideally, they will then tell you what you need or are missing and you can either fix it yourself or get an electrician to do it.

8. The kiln arrives at home - now what?

Ceramic kilns are always shipped (unless you pick it up yourself). Therefore, before you receive the kiln from the carrier, you should thoroughly inspect it for any defects that may have occurred during transport. Here you should really take your time and look at everything carefully, so that you don’t find out afterwards that there are dents or similar in the casing. So it’s better to look at it a little longer so that you don’t have to deal with any problems later on.

Ideally, you should get a little help, because the shipping company will only deliver the kiln to your door. As with all electrical appliances, it is best to read the operating instructions before using the kiln for the first time, so that almost nothing can go wrong. 😉

9. The first fire

We offer our customers a training session after they receive their kiln. Here we show you how to make the best use of your kiln’s space and what you need to do so. We will also explain the control system and even set up firing programs.

For the first firing, don’t put anything in the kiln except your supports and firing plates so that you burn everything out once.

Conclusion

Kilns are usually specially designed for certain groups, such as hobby, commercial, for schools, etc.. In our online chapter Firing Kilns, you will always find information on which kiln is suitable for which group. However, you can also ask your local ceramics supplier. There you will be advised in detail and according to your requirements and wishes. But before your visit you should have already thought about a few things. Do you make large or small works? Hobby or commercial? Stoneware or earthenware? etc. There are already many ceramic kilns on the market, so it is especially important in the beginning to think about exactly what you want and that you are also advised accordingly – this is best done in person! 🙂

PS: If you are interested in used kiln or want to sell one -> here you will certainly find something!

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