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advice on electric kilns for kenya

updated thu 11 may 06


Reid Harvey on wed 10 may 06

Dear Friends on Clayart,

I am not the most knowledgeable about electricity, or electric kilns, which
means that our pottery water filter project, here in Kenya, is facing a
problem with the refurbishing of a small electric kiln. Electricity appears
preferrable to other fuel sources. We seem to be at the mercy of both a
repair technician, and my incomplete knowledge of electricity. My original
instruction to the technician was to give us a kiln without a lot of extra
parts in the circuitry, on and off devices, etc. After all, this is a
question of what is appropriate and sustainable in this part of the world.
Advice from anyone on the list on our best course of action, given the
following specs, would be highly appreciated. Since the internet is very
slow here, and I cannot subscribe, I would ask that I be contacted at the
two following addresses: .

Our objective is to get low cost, pottery water purifiers to those of low
income, in the neighboring slums, as well as the rural areas of Kenya.
These folks do not have piped water, and walk miles daily, for buckets of
water, mostly the job of the moms and the kids. I believe our filter
systems will be the all time lowest priced ceramic filters, and they'll cost
around US$4.00 per system. The prototype, electric kiln that we should be
using daily, in order to arrive at the optimal combination of variables, is
40 cms. cu. My understanding has been that it is standard practice, where
desireable (allowable), to connect the leads, at either end of the elements,
to the positve and negative wires, directly. This may not be standard
practice, but it does work, provided that all of the simple parts involved
meet the requisite safety concerns. However our technician wants to add a
lot of bells and whistles, of the type that necessitate the costly imports,
of the type that cannot be easily replaced. Any backup knowledge from list
members, who could support this assertion would be appreciated, since we
could then thank our technician, and let him go. Do feel free to disagree,
however we are dealing with 'appropriate technology,' simplifying to the

Many thanks!
Reid Harvey
Alfred, NY, USA

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