Investing in a kiln was a hard decision to make three years ago in Austin when I first started my business, but I found a used kiln on Craigslist for $700 and ended up purchasing it. I tend to have extreme buyers remorse and I'm very risk-adverse, so purchasing large investments is difficult for me. I moved it halfway across the country to San Francisco where I ended up not needing it since I was in a studio that already had a kiln, so I eventually sold it.
Fast forward to two months ago when I was shopping around for kilns. I didn't know anything about phases, amps or volts. Luckily Aardvark, the ceramics shop closest to me, put me in touch with an electrician who works on kilns. He suggested looking at L&L Kilns, which I had never heard of. Up until this past week, I had only used Skutt and Paragon kilns.
L&L Kilns have ceramic holders around the kiln that hold the elements in place. Instead of pushing the elements into your soft brick and pinning them in which eventually corrodes your brick over time, you simply place the elements into these holders thereby elongating the life of your soft brick and keeping it tidy. Because I fire frequently, I should replace my elements every year. The wear and tear to the soft brick caused by taking the elements out and putting them back in made me think that L&L may be better in the long run for me.
I heard that I should purchase a kiln for my needs in five years; however, we didn't have the electricity needed for what I actually wanted, so I ended up with the largest kiln our breaker could comfortable handle, which is 60 amps. I spoke with a retailer of L&L Kilns and he answered my lengthy and in depth questions. I sat on this information for a few days and then decided to go with what he suggested, an Easy-Fire e23t kiln.
It was shipped to me on a pallet. I unboxed it and read the huge binder of instructions that came with the kiln about setting it up, using the control panel, maintenance, and repairs. I eventually set it up and ran a test fire where everything worked perfectly. I had amazing customer service from both the retailer as well as L&L directly, which makes a huge difference when you don't really know what you are doing. There are also a ton of how-to videos L&L has on their website, which are a great resource.
Something I love about running a business is that I am constantly learning, and buying and setting up a kiln is no exception. I now know what to look for when I need to move or set up another studio and purchase more kilns as I expand. I'm excited to see how this kiln holds up and eventually how easy it will be (I hope!) to replace these elements compared to a Skutt. If you have any questions about my L&L kiln, feel free to email me.