Posted on: 27 July 2015
If propane is more expensive than electricity to your area or your studio is too remote for easy gas delivery, an electric kiln makes more sense. You need to prepare the shop properly before moving in a full-sized electric kiln and running your first load. Call in an electrician and go over all five of these points to make sure you are ready for a reliable and safe firing experience.
Determine the Connection
Some smaller electric kilns plug in with an included power cord, while most units drawing above 48 amps must connect directly to your power source through professional wiring. Check out the description of the kiln from the manufacturer to plan accordingly. You can't use a direct wiring kiln until an electrician stops by to hook it up for you. Don't attempt to attach the wires yourself to a power box or alter the equipment by wiring in a power cord.
Matching the Voltage and Amperage
The average home receives 110 volt power to run basic appliances. Most kilns need 220 volt outlets or direct wiring connections to fire multiple high heat elements, but some run on the 208 volt supply sent to industrial buildings and commercial stores. You can't mix and match different voltage requirements and get good results from your firings.
Check on the amperage drawn by the kiln during operation too. Each power line in your home or studio offers a specific amount of amps, so you may need a new wire run if your outlets are all 30 amps and you want to run a 48 amp kiln. Match the type of voltage and aim to provide more amperage than needed for the kiln to prevent overloading and tripping the circuit breaker.
Checking for Power Phases
Aside from concerns over voltage and amperage, you also need to consider the phase of power currently running into your studio. Most residential buildings only receive single phase power, while workshops and commercial buildings may or may not include three phase hookups. Three phase power requires four separate wires, but it provides a lot more power for big and intense kilns.
Planning for Clearance
Buying the biggest kiln your budget can handle is a quick way to increase your productivity in the pottery studio. However, make sure you can fit the new equipment in your studio without compromising on clearances. Most electric kilns need a minimum of 18 inches between the sides of the equipment and any flammable material, including walls, flammable glaze additives, and wood shelving. Extra clearance space also helps when you need to retrieve a tool that rolled under the kiln or need to make a repair to the kiln. Measure for clearance before having an outlet installed since the equipment should stay at least 18 inches away from the cord and outlet too.
Sticking with Copper Wire
Finally, don't scrimp to save pennies when choosing a wire to connect the kiln to your power source. Ask your electrician to stick with pure copper wire instead of going with the less expensive aluminum material. Choosing lower quality aluminum creates safety risks in the studio, including
- Overheating of the wire inside the wall, creating a serious fire hazard during high heat and extended firings
- Damage to the outlet and power cord
- Fluctuations in power supply that ruin the pottery and cause shattering
- Wear and tear on your expensive kiln equipment
- Faster burnout of the outlet, increasing repair costs
If you only need a 220 volt outlet added for plugging in the kiln, just about any electrician can help. Look for a professional experienced in wiring workshops for welding and other high demand uses when you want a particularly large and high draw kiln in your pottery studio. You can find an electrician online at a site like http://attaboyservices.com/.Share