Jonathan Kaplan on sun 15 sep 96
I recently replaced all the elements in two of my four Paragon TnF 28-3
kilns after 6 years of hard useage. I would estimate that each of these
kilns have in the neighborhood of 450 to 500 firings on them apiece.
Firings are to cone 3 to cone 5, and the usual bisque temperatures also.
What deteriorates elements is use over time. I am not convinced that
parafin has any adverse effects on element life. While the elements were
indeed brittle, they had also become smaller in diameter of wire. No longer
able to resist current, the kilns fire slower and have trouble attaining
Proper element selection is vital. Your kiln manufacturer has the correct
replacement elements, both for voltage as well as orientation in the kiln.
Top and bottom elements in my kilns have a different rating for resistance.
BTW, many electric kilns use relays to distribute current to various
elements that are wired together. In time these relays do fail. The relays
have a low voltate coil that allows current to pass through high voltage
contacts. This electro-mechanical device wears out over time. Also, check
the breaker box, or the service box periodically. Circuit breakers do fail,
especially ones that pass large amperage and voltage for electric kilns.
With proper electrical maintenance and care, I should see no reason why
electic kilns should not provide years of trouble free service. Now, there
are some caveats.
Most of the 12-14 sided kilns are indeed rated to cone 10 or so. But note,
rated is the operative word. I would submit that they are not suitable for
continual firings to this temperature in a high usage production situation.
Don K has written this list extensively on his problems with this, and has
solved the problem with a special controller and special wound elements.
Electric kilns, IMHO, are as we know them , not really suited for continual
use at elevated temperatures. Now there are are available, electric kilns
from other manufacturers that are indeed industrial kilns specifically
designed for such usage. The trick is of course in the design and selection
of the electrical components and of course, the elements. These sources can
be found in some of the literature or periodicals available to us.
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Boyd on thu 27 mar 97
I fire at cone 7 (2230*F) using Skutt elements. When I used the inexpensive
elements, the best total firings I could ever expect would be 50. ( I've
been doing this for 15 yrs.) After that, the firing times at high end
would be so long(as much as 12 hours)that it would subsequently ruin the
glaze effect. I'm now using the expensive elements (by 3 times $) and hope
this cures the problem. By the way, their are only 3 manufactures of
element wire in the world. My understanding is which manufacture is
annealing the element with the freshest acid produces the higher quality.
The longer the annealing solution is used the more profit for the
manufacture and the less profit for the potter.
I'm sending you a bunch of technical stuff not included here. There are
many variables that determine element life but I do believe the biggest
factor is the annealing.
I've never tried Euclid elements,maybe it's time. I'll be interested in
hearing from others experience with element life.
Anyone wanting all the techy documents let me know.
Iron & Pine Pottery
Iron River MI
At 09:12 AM 3/26/97 EST, you wrote:
>More interesting, however, would be testimony from people who have used
>both Euclid's elements and Skutt or Bailey and could tell us if the
>elements' firing lives are comparable. I remember from past posts that
>people who buy the Skutt elements had hundreds of firings on them...does
>this hold for Euclid?
>2366 Slaterville Rd.
>Ithaca, NY 14850
M Richens on sat 29 mar 97
In article <email@example.com>, Boyd
>I fire at cone 7 (2230*F) using Skutt elements. When I used the inexpensive
>elements, the best total firings I could ever expect would be 50. ( I've
>been doing this for 15 yrs.) After that, the firing times at high end
>would be so long(as much as 12 hours)that it would subsequently ruin the
>glaze effect. I'm now using the expensive elements (by 3 times $) and hope
>this cures the problem. By the way, their are only 3 manufactures of
>element wire in the world. My understanding is which manufacture is
>annealing the element with the freshest acid produces the higher quality.
>The longer the annealing solution is used the more profit for the
>manufacture and the less profit for the potter.
>I'm sending you a bunch of technical stuff not included here. There are
>many variables that determine element life but I do believe the biggest
>factor is the annealing.
>I've never tried Euclid elements,maybe it's time. I'll be interested in
>hearing from others experience with element life.
>Anyone wanting all the techy documents let me know.
>Iron & Pine Pottery
>Iron River MI
>At 09:12 AM 3/26/97 EST, you wrote:
>>More interesting, however, would be testimony from people who have used
>>both Euclid's elements and Skutt or Bailey and could tell us if the
>>elements' firing lives are comparable. I remember from past posts that
>>people who buy the Skutt elements had hundreds of firings on them...does
>>this hold for Euclid?
>>2366 Slaterville Rd.
>>Ithaca, NY 14850
Some elements will react badly to any vapour phase you have. If you have
any fluoride release these I believe can substantially reduce the life
of elements so it is difficult to exactly compare different kilns.
(excuse me if I've got the wrong end of the stick here)
Are all elements in the furnace changed at once or only the ones which
fail? This can unbalance the load and cause more failure. When I was a
ceramic technician first time through I used to carefully remove old
elements and check their resistance and carefully put them away so that
if an element went I could replace with something of a similar
resistance and history and not put unbalanced loads on the remaining
elements (important if parallel wired ). When you run out of spares you
Max Richens firstname.lastname@example.org
+44 (0) 1925756241
Enamel Consultant - Ceramist - Analyst programmer
Software for Batch Formulation and Millroom control.
Paul Monaghan on sun 30 mar 97
M Richens wrote:
When I was a
> ceramic technician first time through I used to carefully remove old
> elements and check their resistance and carefully put them away so that
> if an element went I could replace with something of a similar
> resistance and history and not put unbalanced loads on the remaining
> elements (important if parallel wired ). When you run out of spares you
> refit entirely.
> Max Richens email@example.com
> +44 (0) 1925756241
> Enamel Consultant - Ceramist - Analyst programmer
> Software for Batch Formulation and Millroom control.
Don't worry about unbalanced loads on different elemnts in parallel.
It's only seen be the source not the elements.
Paul J. Monaghan email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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Linda Arbuckle on sat 22 may 99
An OOPS... any errors in Tom Buck's quoted remarks is a result of my cut
and paste, not Tom's comments.
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Mike Sievers on wed 14 jul 04
Recently there has been some discussion on ClayArt regarding element life
of Skutt Kilns and the Cone 6 firing programs recommended in Mastering Cone
6 Glazes by Ron Roy and John Hesselberth. Let me first say that we hear
this is a wonderful book and produces excellent results. We have recently
purchased a copy and have found the programs to be reasonably constructed
and safe to use with our kilns.
Element life is a very complicated issue. There are so many variables
involved that it is impossible to come up with absolute numbers as to how
long elements will last. There are however some general guidelines that
are useful to know when you are determining how a particular firing
schedule or process will help or hurt your element life.
TIME AND TEMPERATURE
The first general guideline according to Kanthal (the manufacturer of the
wire) is that the longer the elements spend above 1850 F (1010 C) the
shorter their useful life. The rate of degradation increases the hotter
the elements get. Since most ceramics are fired at temperatures above
this, all Ceramic artists will experience a certain degree of degradation
every time they fire their kilns. This is normal and should be viewed as a
cost of doing business or creating art. When you increase the temperature
from Cone 04 (1945 F) to Cone 6 (2232 F) the degradation is accelerated.
Slow cooling has the same effect since you are increasing the amount of
time spent at these higher temperatures.
When I asked Kanthal to estimate the effects of adding a controlled cooling
segment that slows the cooling from Cone 6 at a rate of 150 degrees an hour
(like the program used in Mastering Cone 6 Glazes), they said it could
cause the elements to degrade 20% to 50% faster then if the kiln were just
allowed to cool at it's normal rate. Does this mean that you shouldn't
slow cool, absolutely not. If firing costs were our only concern we would
all be working with non-fired clay. You should however be aware that it
will affect your element life.
John Hesselberth and Ron Roy have created an alternative firing program for
their next printing that controls the cooling at a lower temperature to
minimize the effects of degradation but still provides the positive effects
on the glaze. This firing schedule can currently be found on their website
at http://www.masteringglazes.com/Pages/faqframe.html and is the one that
was previously posted on ClayArt.
I should note that our element replacement instruction sheet at Skutt
(which is embarrassing to say has not been updated in a very long time)
mistakenly says the elements "will fire many hundreds of loads of porcelain
if treated considerately." We apologize for this error and will correct it
as soon as possible.
Here are some more guidelines that may be helpful in preserving your
One of the most important things you can do when you purchase a new kiln or
replace elements is to fire the kiln empty up to a minimum of 1900 F. At
this temperature range the elements begin to form an oxide coating. Now
this seems counter intuitive because elements age by oxidizing. The reason
it is important is because the initial oxidation layer will protect the
element from the harsh environment of the kiln throughout it's useful life.
Vacuum out your element grooves on a regular basis. This helps keep debris
such as brick and clay dust from resting on the elements and damaging the
Certain clay bodies and glazes create gases that will attack the elements
(some are more harmful than others). Venting these gases with a commercial
venting system or at the very least propping the lid, will help minimize
Always dry out greenware completely before firing it in the kiln. Water
turns to vapor which can combine with other elements, such as sulphur, in
the clay and attack the elements.
Make sure the kiln you are using is powerful enough to reach the
temperatures you are trying to reach. If a kiln is rated to Cone 6 it
generally means that it will reach Cone 6. It does not mean that the kiln
will fire to a given rate at cone 6. In other words a more powerful kiln
may be able to reach cone 6 much quicker and therefore limit the time spent
at higher temperatures. If you are firing to Cone 6 you may want to look
at a kiln designed to fire to Cone 10. Low voltage from your supply and
old elements can also cause the kiln to stall at higher temperatures.
We hope this information helps. If you have any questions or comments
please feel free to contact Skutt at any time.
heidi haugen on tue 10 apr 07
i have a skutt 1227 and usually use kilnelements.com as a supplier
and i repeatedly get about 100 firings per full set. i fire probably
40% to cone 04 and 60% to cone 6. i slow cool and use an
environvent. for me this equals replacement about once a year.
instead of whipping out the multimeter to check elements, i just
gauge by how long a cone 6 firing takes.
when i first replace the elements i fire in about 8 hours and by the
time it's taking over 12 hours, i know its time for new ones.
heidi haugen on sun 6 jul 08
you'll have to see what everyone's experience is but i get about 100
firings (60 percent cone 04 and 40 percent cone 6) per set of
elements which means i replace mine about once a year. i have a
skutt 1227 and get me elements from a guy in oregon at
kilnelements.com (super fast/super nice guy) and have had my kiln
about 8 years or so. i'm just about due to change mine this
Dale Cochoy on mon 7 jul 08
Heidi, wel I don't fire that much. Yours would be about every 3-4 days by
what you say. I'm SURE I haven't fired near that in the 20 months since they
Wild Things Bonsai Studio
----- Original Message -----
From: "heidi haugen"
Sent: Sunday, July 06, 2008 6:23 PM
Subject: element life
> hi dale.
> you'll have to see what everyone's experience is but i get about 100
> firings (60 percent cone 04 and 40 percent cone 6) per set of
> elements which means i replace mine about once a year. i have a
> skutt 1227 and get me elements from a guy in oregon at
> kilnelements.com (super fast/super nice guy) and have had my kiln
> about 8 years or so. i'm just about due to change mine this
> heidi haugen