Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Guest Blogger: Rob Haugen


Installing a New Electric Kiln – Part 2

Electrical Safety and Requirements

In Part 1 of Installing a New Kiln, we discussed how to properly place the kiln and ensure that once it’s operational, it’ll be safe. Proper placement away from walls (at least 12 inches) and ventilation are crucial to safely operating a kiln. In this article, we’re going to look at power supplies, outlets, and energy to make sure that the kiln is able to function properly and at its full capacity. 

Adequate amperage and voltage must be supplied to the kiln to ensure proper function. The last thing you want is your new kiln blowing fuses and tripping the breaker so make sure that you’re equipped to handle the power the kiln needs to work. Once you receive the kiln, check the nameplate for the power specs. Depending on the type of kiln, you may be operating a 240 volt, single-phase model, a commercial grade kiln that may be wired for 240, 208, 380, or 480 volts at single or three-phase, or a 120 volt electric kiln that can be plugged into a standard outlet. No matter what you should always check the wiring and breaker to ensure that your kiln will operate fully and safely. Most commercial grade kilns require direct wiring and outlets so the assistance of an electrician may be needed.

 (Please review the wiring specifications and wiring charts for the kiln you intend to purchase.) 

 Once the proper electrical outlet has been established, plug the kiln in but make sure that there is enough space between the outlet and the kiln for you to move behind it. In the event that you need to unplug the kiln to service it, or for any other reason, you need easy access. Do not stretch the cord but make sure that there is room to plug in and unplug the kiln without touching the metal jacket.

By design, kilns generate an immense amount of heat and depending on the size and type, temperatures can range anywhere from 1600 degrees to 2300 degrees Fahrenheit. Because of the high heat factor, the best surface to place the kiln on is cement. Other surfaces, like linoleum, may be damaged so cement is the best option. Also, keep the electronic controller within easy reach for heat adjustments and proper control of the kiln.

If you’ve decided that outside the home or studio is the best place for the kiln, that’s great too. Just make sure that moisture doesn’t get into the kiln. Rust is a factor, so if your kiln is outside make sure that it’s properly covered and protected from the elements when not in use. Now the kiln is installed, plugged in, and safe to operate.

So let’s get firing!!


Rob Haugen grew up with Olympic Kilns, following in his father's footsteps by providing electric, gas, and glass kilns. He works tirelessly everyday cultivating a deeper understanding of the ceramics industry and developing the Olympic Kilns.  Come by Booth #424 at NCECA and see the complete line of Olympic Kilns.