Need the iPhone of kilns

Hey all. I’m considering buying a kiln for both PMC and enameling use. I’ve never taken a class using kilns, I’m not mechanically gifted, and my studio is in my home with pets and kids. With those considerations in mind, I’m trying to find a small kiln that will accomplish those functions in a reliable, safe, and very user-friendly way. In short, I want the iPhone of kilns. Something that I can take out of the box and use for a project without having to read a brick of a manual to set up, or manually calibrate temperatures, or worry about screwing it up. Can you offer any guidance? The less expensive, the better, and the less space it takes up the better, but I do want to be able to accomplish all of the basic enameling and PMC functions so I’m aware that’ll require some bulk.

I just bought one and I love it. It has 5 preprogramed settings for the PMC and other empty programs that are pretty straight forward for doing enameling. I’m not a programming type person but it wasb’t difficult at all just a small learning curve.
Rio PMC Kiln with Window and Nine Program Controller

Item: 703100

$825.00 individually
Got it from RIO Grande. I love it. It comes with a nice long cord about 7-8 ft. It has a self latching latch so you can open and shut it quickly.

I’ve been reading up on kilns, too. Cool Tools has a good article about selecting kilns, along with a comparison chart. You can read it here - Cool Tools | How to Choose a Kiln for Your Jewelry Studio. They have one called an Ultralite that is small (tabletop) that could be an affordable place to start - it’s $200. They have a video of it here - UltraLite Kilns | Cool Tools.

I feel your pain, but unfortunately, cheap and iPhone-type user friendly don’t go together. There are cheap little enameling kilns that look like a hotplate with a lid on it, and they are safe and effective if placed on a fireproof surface and watched carefully, but they do not have a temperature indicator of any kind…you would have to go by inspection or maybe use a laser thermometer. If you want something with a pyrometer, that is more and if you want something with a computer with firing schedules which are easy to program, that is more again. The little beehive kiln might go for $175 or so, but even a small kiln (0.2 cubic feet) with a digital pyrometer and on board computer to program cycles would be closer to $750 to $1000. That’s just a guess, and you might pick something up used for less or on ebay coming from China, but that’s a ballpark. Try looking at what Rio and Contenti and some of the others have. I think you can enamel and do PMC with a torch, if you don’t want to pay for a kiln…of course, this is somewhat limiting but there are some things you could do that way…-royjohn

Welcome to Orchid.

The Ultralite or Beehive kilns are weightless, easy to overturn and the top is not secured to the kiln.

No matter which kiln you buy, learning to use it might be easy compared to solving the firing problems you will encounter with enameling and PMC.

Many folks in the USA will call an electrician when they buy a kiln, but that might not be necessary if you can focus on a couple of safety issues:

  1. If you must use an extension cord, it should be short, no 90 degree bends and it should be a low gauge such as a 10 or 12 (lower gauge is more expensive). It’s length and the kiln amps will help you determine the gauge …longer length is not ideal but if it is long you might need a lower gauge.

  2. Be sure the amps drawn by your kiln will not overload the electrical circuit. Don’t assume it’s safe just because all the electrical appliances on a circuit will not be drawing electricity at the same time.

Usually there are multiple electrical outlets on one circuit, so you need to identify the outlets that draw electricity on each circuit. This is how I keep the total number of amps below the maximum that can be drawn on a circuit:

Power-on all appliances (or plug a lamp in each electrical outlet), then flip off one circuit switch and make a list of the electrical outlets that are affected. Do this with every switch in your electrical box. Also note the number of amps shown on each circuit switch.

Use this informaiton to create an electrical map of your house showing the locations of the outlets and indicate which outlets are connected to the same circuit and the maximum number of amps that can be drawn on that circuit.

List the appliances that are plugged into the electrical outlets on each circuit and the amps drawn by each appliance. The amps are often printed on each appliance cord, but if not, you might find the amps listed in the appliance manual or else ask the appliance manufacturer. Lights don’t usually draw much.

This drawing will show you if an appliance might need to be plugged into a different electrical outlet in order for your kiln to not overload a circuit.

Never use an extension cord with a lightweight kiln such as the Beehive or Ultralite, because the weight of the extension cord will move the kiln.