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Points To Consider When A Buying Kiln

Pre Purchase Check List

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When Buying A Kiln Look At The Options & Select Wisely

Unless you have bought or used a kiln before, buying a kiln can be a daunting experience. Each requirement is different.  Here is a little check list to help you to select wisely with your new purchase.

Where do you plan to install your kiln?

Every location has its own peculiarities - doors, windows, access dimensions, power supply, water supply, floor, ceiling, lighting all impinge on your kiln selection. We strongly recommend that a qualified electrician confirms your chosen destination has an appropriate power supply - this should be done prior to ordering your kiln.

What size kiln will you need?

You need to select a kiln that is neither too large for the amount of traffic it will see or too small to be constantly over loaded with work.  If you don't have a clue, then please call us as we have helped thousands of pottery businesses or hobbyists over the years.  Our two top-selling kilns are: (1) 60 litre plug-in and (2) 190 litre kiln.  Here are some pros and cons of both sizes:

 Plug In Options (Small Kilns)
 Hard-Wiring Options (Large Kilns)
  • Popular for small businesses and hobbyists
  • Lower running costs e.g. typically £1.40 per cycle based on: 
    • a charge of approximately 12p per unit of electricity from an electricity provider
    • the recommended firing cycle for our products - 6½ hour bisque firing to 1020°c
    • 3kw appliance (60 litre)
    • Approximate annual running costs based on 4 weekly firings, 52 weeks of the year = £72.80
  • No electrician "hard-wiring" installation costs although some locations may require electrical work e.g. if a kiln is needed to be positioned too far away from a socket.  Extension leads are not recommended as the kilns will typically draw just under the maximum rating for a 13amp plug/socket and leads will weaken the supply.
  • If installed at home, your insurance company (and in some situations, mortgage provider) will need to know about the new purchase.
  • Doorways and corridors will need to be checked to ensure that the width of your kiln is smaller than ALL access routes. 
  • The kilns are delivered assembled on a pallet.  The delivery service is a "door-to-pavement" service.  Drivers are not responsible for moving the kiln to its final position and nor will they takeaway the pallet.  However, most drivers are willing to wheel the kiln to a convenient position using their portable pallet trucks.  This appliance weighs circa 60-70kgs so you will need someone to help you move it (although they are reasonably portable once the castors have been fitted - care must be taken).
  • Due to the width and height of smaller kilns, purchasers will need to consider the size restrictions of bisque items e.g. some of the wider or taller bisque items may not fit inside the kiln.  Always check the measurements of your bisqueware before buying.  Remember that props (shelf risers) will also take up space on the kiln shelf. 
  • Popular for medium to large studios
  • Higher running costs e.g. typically £5.62 per cycle based on: 
    • a charge of approximately 12p per unit of electricity from an electricity provider
    • the recommended firing cycle for our products - 6½ hour bisque firing to 1020°c
    • 12kw appliance (190 litre)
    • Approximate annual running costs based on 4 weekly firings, 52 weeks of the year = £1168.96.  A 7kw appliance will have annual running costs of approximately £511.68 based on the same calculations.
  • An electrician will need to "hard-wire" the kiln (power showers and cookers are generally hard-wired).  Installation costs vary from £300-£500
  • An electrician will need to survey the location to determine that the KW of appliance is suitable for the electrical wiring in the building and to determine what type of wiring is required - single phase or three phase.  Typically, three phase electrical supplies are installed in industrial units; single phase is generally available in retail outlets.
  • Your business insurance provider will need to be informed about the new purchase.
  • Doorways and corridors will need to be checked to ensure that the width of your kiln is smaller than ALL access routes. 
  • The kilns are delivered assembled on a pallet.  The delivery service is a "door-to-pavement" service.  Drivers are not responsible for moving the kiln to its final position and nor will they takeaway the pallet.  However, most drivers are willing to wheel the kiln to a convenient position using their portable pallet trucks.  You will need extra manpower to move this appliance which weighs circa 150kg.

Want to buy a 13amp kiln with a household plug?

Some of the smaller kilns are available to buy fitted with 13amp plug - a standard household plug.

Please note that extension leads are not recommended when using kilns that are supplied with a 13amp plug.  This is for several reasons (1) the kiln will need to draw on the maximum amount of power available and extension leads can reduce the power supply (even when the extension lead is fully extended) and (2) there is an increased risk of danger due to sockets being overloaded, overused, damaged cabling, conductors failing and incorrectly rated fuses for the equipment being used etc.  

Furthermore, it is important to know that 2.9kw kiln will draw 12.6amps current, just under the maximum rating for a 13amp plug/socket. Therefore, it is important to check the following to ensure a good power supply

  • check that the socket used is not worn (electrical contact area could be reduced resulting in less capacity to handle a high load of 12.6 amps)
  • check the socket connections for the supply (cables may be loose).
  • avoid using other equipment plugged into the same circuit - especially high powered appliances.
It is the purchasers responsibility to ensure that the electrical supply is capable of supplying the require load/current and is in good working order. It should preferably be a dedicated supply capable of supplying at least 13 amps.

What kiln furniture will you need?

Generally a kiln furniture set is supplied with the kiln.  This set usually includes kiln shelves (known as batts in the industry) and shelf risers (known as props in the industry).  Typically, "stilts" tend to be sold as an extra.  Stilts are used to lift a pottery piece off the kiln shelf during firing.  They are useful to stop the glazed ware from sticking to the kiln shelf during the firing process. 

Find out what kiln furniture is included in your kiln price and whether this is enough for your requirements.

Most bisque from Country Love Crafts has a dry foot area negating the need for a huge supply of stilts.  A dry foot area can be described as a rim found at the base of a bisque item.  Glaze and colour need to be removed from the rim (a process called dry-footing, to stop the glazed ware from sticking to the kiln shelf during the firing process).

What additional tools and accessories will you require? 

You may need tools and accessories for your kiln or glazing room.  If you are new to the industry, we can provide a check list of necessary equipment required and can help training you in kiln programming, glazing and kiln firing.

Will the controller be suitable?

Digital controllers are the "computer" of the kiln.  They need to be able to cope with the recommended firing times and features of the items that require firing.  You may need to upgrade your controller.  It is more cost effective to organise a controller upgrade at the time of ordering.

Will your supplier provide ongoing support?  

Consider the whole package!  Best value for money can be obscured by the impact of a low price.  Find out if the manufacturer has a service and support team in your country, how quickly spares are available (hopefully these won't be needed) and who or what company is responsible for maintenance and support.  Ask if the company or support team are qualified to meet UK requirements.

Kiln Availability

Your kiln purchase may be time sensitive.  With Country Love Crafts an estimated time of arrival can be provided.   Typical timescales are 1-3 weeks for larger models and kilns with controller upgrades.  We keep a small supply of top loading kilns and the small desktop Prometheus kilns in our warehouse for immediate despatch i.e. a next day service for mainland UK destinations.  Nabertherm ship worldwide so please e-mail us even if you are outside the UK and want to buy a kiln.

Kiln Guarantee or Warranty

Depending on the model ordered, 3 year or 1 year warranties are available.  Warranties exclude thermocouples and kiln elements as these are classed as "wear and tear" items.

Does the Kiln meet UK regulations?

Consider the safety features, the quality of the fire brick used, the size and gauge of the heating elements, the strength and resistance to corrosion of the chassis, and just how user friendly and reliable is the controller?  Check that the kiln is CE tested - a UK regulation.

Front Loading versus Top Loading?

Can your back survive lifting heavy kiln batts(shelves) or lids?   Although top loaders are more popular in the contemporary "paint your own pottery" industry (as there is typically a £300-£500 difference in price between a top loading and front loading kiln), front loading kilns are more popular with traditional potters. Typically, front loading kilns last longer.

Customer Service and Support

We have operated a variety of English, German and USA manufactured kilns over the years.  We are well placed to give independent advice on your particular requirement.  We offer free training to help our customers (agenda includes programming, loading and cycling your kiln for most efficient and effective results).  If you buy from us we promise to support you throughout your kiln ownership.

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