Pottery Kiln Reviews | Best Kiln Recommendations
If you review many pottery kilns you will find most kilns have the same basic components. The best recommendations are made based on these basics components. Each kiln component can be reviewed and compared across different manufactures. So let's dive in and review what all pottery kilns have in common.
They all have an inner chamber for your projects in which size is very important, more about that in a minute. Handles to lift and move the kiln and a lid that opens and closes. Another important feature is the ability to heat up between 700 degrees Fahrenheit to over 2000 degrees Fahrenheit. A digital controller is needed to control the temperature. And last but not least shelving is needed and is usually purchased separately. So now you have the basic parts for all kilns. No matter which kiln you choose you will need all these parts.
Now if you are a seasoned veteran you will have noticed right away I am primarily talking about electric kilns. And it stands to reason why because these are the simplest and easiest to use for the typical home artist. Choosing a kiln does not need to be a difficult task. And to give you some confidence, all kilns on the market today are really good. It is hard to go wrong choosing one. Now that being said you can purchase a gas kiln. Gas kilns are a very doable option especially if you are interested in a gas kiln. However, it's more complicated because you are going to have to check with your city or county codes and obtain the necessary permits. In addition, you will need to get with your insurance and see if you are covered using a gas kiln. Most insurance companies are fine with electric kilns but gas kilns are another animal entirely. But wait there's more regarding gas kilns. You will need to run gas lines, you will need venting and possibly some light construction for everything to fit nicely. Some of these ancillary costs can cost as much as the kiln itself. So now you know why for this review I am only reviewing electric kilns.
Key recommendations for pottery kilns
There are many factors that need to be considered when purchasing a kiln and if you read the above paragraph we just decided on the kiln type. And that is of course an electric kiln. It's the easiest to operate and cost less to install and set up. An electric kiln is perfect for the home artist in which this article is directed.
Review the size of your artwork
Have you ever heard the saying size is important? Well, it's true and in the pottery world, it's no exception. One of the most important questions you can ask yourself is what are the dimensions of the artwork you are planning to make? Making tiny teacups is going to require a different size kiln than making huge cooking pots, right? And of course, this leads us to the next question of how many art pieces are you planning to fire at once? So bigger batches require a larger kiln. It's obvious but still, needs to be mentioned so it's not forgotten.
There are 3 basic sizes to review. They are 9 x11 inches, 18 x18 inches, and 23 x 27 inches. The smallest, 9 x 11 is going to be ideal for making small items like jewelry, beads, and other small parts possibly for dolls, etc. No need to go any bigger because it's just going to cost more to fire. You simply do not need the extra space. Now let's move up to the 18 x18 size kiln and review. This size is ideal for pottery plates, single pots and tableware, bowls, and medium-sized artwork. The main thing to consider here is that you are not going to be creating many items in bulk but rather single items. and for the most part, being an artist it stands to reason you are not in the business of creating hundreds of like items but single items of high quality and creativity, right?
Also, keep in mind with a smaller electric kiln you can get away with a 120V plug. Most kilns under 18 inches can use a 120V power source. This can save you a couple of hundred dollars from having an electrician install a 240V power source.
I recommend you purchase a kiln stand with casters. This one purchase can literally save your back. If you purchase a small kiln you will find yourself bending over time and time again loading and unloading your kiln. When your kiln is sitting up on the stand you no longer are required to bend down to load and unload your kiln. All your loading is now done at a waist level thus saving your back.
Moving your kiln can be a royal pain, but with a kiln stand on casters, the job just became much easier. The last thing you want is a broken kiln, right? When you are done with your kiln you can easily roll it out of the way.
Review your glaze
The main reason for a review is glazing turns out differently depending on the temperature of the firing process. So when deciding on a kiln you should know what temperature your new kiln will need to be able to fire to. So, for example, if you are primarily doing Raku, inspired by traditional Japanese raku firing, then you will need a low-fire kiln. Your kiln temperatures will be in the low range. However, if you are creating artwork and using oxide stains you will need a higher temperature due to the ceramic stains containing coloring metal oxides along with other ceramics materials like opacifiers, silica, and alumina. And as you well know if your clay is fired at a too hot of a temperature the clay can be deformed and glaze can runoff. And on the flip side if the temperature is too low you will end up with an ugly old rough-looking finish.
My recommendation is to purchase a kiln that exceeds your temperature needs by at least 200 to 300 degrees Fahrenheit. This way later in the future, you will not be disappointed. In most cases, a kiln will lose some of it's firing capability. Its peak temperature will reduce over time.
Review of kiln controllers
As you know this is a very important part of your kiln because it controls your firing. Most folks are willing to let the controller do all the work for them by controlling and monitoring the entire firing process. Each kiln manufacturer will have a different controller and maybe have controllers that you can upgrade to. Instead of getting a simple digital controller, you may want to upgrade and get one that is more advanced and WiFi capable. That way you can check-in or monitor the kilns progress remotely. Now that being said I always personally check in on my kiln while it's in the firing process.
Review of Paragon
Here is what I like about the Paragon's controller called the Sentinel. The Sentinel is accessible as a choice on any Paragon oven that accompanies the 12-key Sentry regulator. The new regulator is made by Bartlett Instruments of Fort Madison, Iowa. New Paragon furnaces outfitted with the Sentinel give a persistent amperage and circuit voltage readout during firings. This is to advise the furnace client regarding voltage drops during seasons of hefty electrical interest, for example, sweltering summers. The amperage perusing demonstrates when the components are starting to wear.
Incline Hold projects can have a modified program title, which is entered through a touch screen. Store 12 custom projects with up to 32 sections for each program. The Sentinel incorporates Novice Mode, which adds inquiries to manage you during programming. The regulator can be refreshed through WiFi. View the advancement of a terminating in chart mode. The terminating timetable can be altered during terminating with Skip Step, Add Segments, Add Temperature, and Add Time. The Sentinel can turn a furnace vent or gas infusion stream meter on or off for each portion of a program.
Review of Skutt
Skutt kilns have a feature I really like that is like having a technician in a box so to speak. Generally, when your furnace isn't terminating effectively, it is important to open the control box and take some electrical readings to analyze the issue. Since the vast majority don't have the test hardware or are not able to take live electrical readings from an oven, this typically requires recruiting a prepared expert to come out and analyze the issue. This can set aside an effort to timetable and cost a lot of cash. Skutt is one of only a handful of hardly any organizations that introduces that professional right in the oven as a Current Sensor. A current sensor is a little doughnut formed gadget that can understand current (Amperage) when one leg of a circuit is gone through it.
Having the option to detect current is perhaps the best device for diagnosing your oven and this instrument is gotten to effectively from the Menu key on your regulator. This permits you to offer your support professional the data the individual in question needs without settling on an extra assistance decision. This way they can arrange the required parts and come out once to introduce them.
The circuit board can likewise check the voltage gracefully controlling the furnace. It first checks it with the oven drawing power. This will let you know whether the flexibly coordinates the voltage for which the oven was planned. It at that point quantifies the voltage with the furnace's own. This can demonstrate issues with the electrical establishment from the breaker box to the outlet. In the event that the voltage drops altogether when the oven is turned on it tends to be a sign that the wire measure isn't sufficient given the draw of the furnace or the good ways from the breaker box to the outlet.
Pottery Kiln Review Conclusion
I trust this article was useful to you and you picked up valuable information about how to pick a kiln. As an apprentice, I referenced essential yet significant recommendations and highlights to consider. I trust this makes you think more about what options are important to you. I also hope after reading this article you are able to make a more educated choice on which kiln to choose.