Whether you’re an artist purchasing your first electric kiln or your fifth, trying to determine which one to buy can be extremely overwhelming.
The most common method of firing both glass and ceramics, electric kilns provide control, dependability, and ease for artists, and they are increasingly becoming more versatile, economical, and user friendly every year.
However, this plethora of options has caused many artists to find the task of assessing which kiln is best for them near impossible.
In this guide, we’ll help you to differentiate between a good kiln and a great one, and provide tips on what factors you’ll want to consider during your search. Then, we’ll highlight what our best-selling models have to offer, hopefully helping you to narrow your search and ultimately find an electric kiln that best fits your needs, interests, and skill level.
The success an artist has with a particular kiln model is largely due to whether or not it fits their interests and level of proficiency. You’ll need to consider what factors are important to you in order to narrow your search, so here are some of the characteristics and capabilities that make a kiln stand out:
A beginner or a hobbyist looking to invest in their first kiln is going to have very different needs than a professional, experienced artist looking to create bigger, more complex projects. Either way, a fantastic kiln is one that is designed specifically for your level of experience.
A good glass kiln will not necessarily have the same characteristics as a good ceramics kiln.
Ceramics kilns typically only have side elements, while glass kilns insure that heat radiates not only from the sides, but from the top of the kiln as well. This helps counter glass’ sensitivity to temperature variation.
Additionally, the best glass kilns are shallower ones, which are better for even heat distribution. Glass is a low-fire material, so maximum temperature is less of a concern for glass artists searching for a new kiln; ceramic artists, on the other hand, will find a great kiln is one the can fire at a wider temperature range to accommodate a multitude of ceramic materials.
Though all kilns come at a significant cost, a kiln that is a good price for its size and capabilities, or is an economical choice for a beginner, makes it a good find. Additionally, a kiln that includes a digital controller, kiln wash, kiln furniture, or other accessories in the total cost are important to look for.
The best kilns for a home studio are ones with low electricity requirements, are smaller in size, and are not awkward to move. Both ease of installation and mobility are important factors that make an excellent home studio kiln.
An important consideration for artists interested in firing larger pieces, like pots, plates, bowls, and vases is size; not all kilns have the ability to accommodate big projects. A kiln with larger dimensions and made specifically with such projects in mind is perfect for an artist with an interest in creating these ceramics or glass pieces.
High-fire materials require temperatures maximums that not all kilns can offer. For a glass kiln, projects such as boiling glass and canes of glass require around 1700℉, while high-fire ceramicware, such as porcelain, may fire all the way up to 2552℉. If you know you’ll be needing a kiln that can accommodate such projects, be sure to check maximum temperatures on the models you’re considering.
Easy access is important for any process that involve removing, embossing, and reforming pieces during the firing process. Kilns that are specially designed for this have peepholes, front-loading or clamshell doors, or other ways to easily see and access the kiln while firing.
After considering the factors mentioned above, we compiled a list of some of the most popular electric kilns sold at Soul Ceramics and pinned down exactly what makes them great.
The kilns listed here - both glass and ceramic - offer a number of benefits, and represent a variety of interest and proficiency fits.
Here are 5 of our top kilns, ranked by price from lowest to highest, as well as an account of what makes each one stand out:
Perfect model for beginners: Due to its size, low energy requirements, and low cost, the AF3P is a good starter kiln. At 15”x 6”, this kiln is small, but not too small. Its size makes for a speedier firing process, and it provides ample space for small projects, such as beads and jewelry. It is also a great test kiln.
Great value: This kiln is only $772.99, making it a worthwhile purchase, especially for glass artists who aren’t yet ready to commit to big projects or a complete home studio. Additionally, complementary with this kiln is a kiln shelf, posts, kiln wash, base brick or stand, and a manual controller, making your money go even farther.
Great fit for a home studio: The energy required for this kiln is only 120 volts and 15 amps, meaning using it in a residential setting shouldn’t require any extra electrical preparation or changes. Additionally, it only weighs 80 pounds and is built with large handles, meaning it is fairly easy to move around in a multipurpose space.
Can accommodate high temperature glass projects: The maximum temperature of this kiln is 1700℉, meaning it should be capable of firing glass projects that require higher temperatures, such as boiling glass or canes of glass.
Additional benefits: Along with the included accessories, the Jen-Ken AF3P features a two-position lid prop for venting, lid coating, and an optional viewing window. This kiln is fantastic for glass artists who don’t have a lot of space to devote to their work, or would like the ability to move their kiln easily. Additionally, this kiln can also be traded in for a larger model if you would like to upgrade in the future.
Perfect for a ceramic studio: At 11.25” x 13.5” and 70 pounds, the Evenheat 1210B is compact and easy to move around a studio. Due to its slightly higher voltage - 240V and 12 amps - this kiln would be best suited in an established studio or location where the electricity has already been configured to accommodate high voltage equipment.
Great professional kiln: Due to its voltage requirements, high temperature maximum, and the fact that it is manually controlled, this kiln is made for competent ceramic artists. Its combination of the old school firing method with superior build quality, design features, and reliable performance make it a great fit for a more experienced ceramic artist.
Reasonably priced: At $946.99, this kiln is a step up in price from the Jen-Ken AF3P, but also in capability and control. It still fits under the $1,000 budget while including many advanced features and accessories.
Capable of firing high temperatures: With a maximum temperature of 2300℉, this kiln is capable of firing a variety of materials, from earthenware to some high-fire stoneware, making it a great fit for a ceramic artist with an interest in firing a variety of materials.
Additional benefits: The Evenheat 1210B comes with a two-position lid vent, a kiln sitter and limit timer, a full stainless jacket to insure no leaks, shifting, or weakness, and a two-year warranty. This is a great choice for a ceramics artist wishing to expand their studio.
Great intermediate-level kiln: At 17” x 17” x 6.5”, the Studio Pro 14 is a solid medium-sized kiln, and a solid investment as well. For glass artists looking to expand their studio or move into bigger, more complex projects while investing in long-term use, this kiln will definitely provide the space and advanced capabilities necessary.
Great value: At $1,154.99, though more expensive than the kilns listed so far, the Studio Pro 17 is the largest 120 volt glass firing kiln in the industry, making it a worthwhile investment. Additionally, this kiln has greater capabilities and includes an automatic controller, making the additional cost completely worth it.
Great fit for a home studio: As mentioned above, the energy necessary to run this kiln is compatible with standard residential electrical systems. The Studio Pro 17 requires 120 volts and 18 amps, eliminating any hassle you may face trying to integrate many kilns of its size into a shed, garage, or room in your house.
Larger project capabilities: Though it might not be capable of firing as many larger pieces as could fit in an industrial-sized kiln, the Studio Pro 17 is still capable of firing plates, vases, and other larger pieces that wouldn’t fit well into a kiln like the Jen-Ken AF3P.
Ease of access and manipulation: This kiln has a dual access design that allows the artist to emboss glass pieces vertically or more safely check on pieces and manipulate glass from the clamshell opening.
Additional benefits: The Studio Pro 17 is accompanied by your choice of two electronic controllers, features surface mounted heating elements for maximum heat transfer, and comes with a two-year warranty. An excellent addition to a thriving home studio, this kiln is a great choice for many glass artists.
Fantastic professional kiln: At 23.5” x 22.25”, the RM II 2322 is a studio-sized ceramic kiln, making it a great choice for an artist who is firing larger pieces or operating a multi-person studio. This kiln requires 240 volts and 39 amps, making it better suited for a larger or already established studio prepared to accommodate higher energy needs. Due to the greater commitment to the art it requires, as well as its increased capabilities, this kiln is best suited for intermediate or advanced glass artists.
Worthy investment: While the RM II 2322’s cost of $1,479.99 is significantly higher than a beginner kiln, its quality, reliability, size, and included accessories make it a worthwhile investment for enthusiastic ceramic artists and studio owners.
Capable of firing larger pieces: Due to its increased size, the RM II 2322 is capable of firing most medium and large ceramic pieces, from pots and vases to plates and bowls.
Can accommodate higher temperatures: This kiln has a maximum temperature of 2300℉, which makes it capable of firing a variety of materials, including some high-fire stoneware. For a ceramic artist who would like to fire a variety of clays, this kiln is a great fit.
Additional benefits: The RM II 2322 comes equipped with one of two automatic controllers, a full stainless jacket, corner mounted hardware, specially engineered stands, a swing-away peep hole cover, and a two-year warranty. If you’re confident in your passion and would like to invest in a kiln that will last you a long time, the Evenheat RM II 2322 is an excellent choice.
We hope that this guide has been helpful, and that you will now be one step closer to finding the perfect electric kiln! Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you’d like further information on a particular kiln model or have questions that have yet to be answered!
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