Saturday, July 18, 2009

Recommended Electric Kilns

The best electric kilns I've used and repaired are Skutt, Cress, and L&L. In both design and functionality these three have proven to be superior among other kilns. But if I had to choose between the three, I'd pick Skutt based on their amazingly helpful customer service and their well thought out design. If you ever need to replace a broken or damaged part everything fits together wonderfully, and they provide all the documentation necessary to complete the job. They've been doing this for over fifty years and have redeveloped a solid design for their kilns, unlike companies like Paragon, who have an extensive line of models and designs with various shape and size, yet never see any improvement. I enjoy L&L kilns with their Dyna Glow Element Holders, which protects your fire brick from chipping and helps keep your kiln interior looking new. As for Cress, I enjoy their unique Firemate thumbwheel system, which gradually increases power to the kiln throughout the firing process entirely on its own. It's basically an automatic kiln that isn't digital, and they're the only people making em!

Paragon Kilns are the least dependable. If you're a ceramist looking to buy a kiln, AVOID PARAGON. Terrible customer service, they don't honor their warranty, and they make their kilns with chinsy parts. I've experienced this MANY times in the last four years. I've never owned a Paragon kiln and I never will, but I've had to deal with the company on my clients behalf. I've seen many clients walk away from a Paragon purchase greatly disappointed because the kiln broke down and Paragon blamed it on the user (and I know it wasn't their fault) expecting the customer to pay more money for a part replacement or total overhaul. I'll post specific stories with pictures as they come (and I know they will, that’s one thing that’s remained consistent in my dealings with Paragon kilns). On the contrary, it is worth noting that I've heard many glass artists give positive feedback about their small Paragon glass kilns. This comes as a surprise to me but has never been my experience directly (since I've never owned a Paragon).

There ARE other kiln manufacturers I would recommend, but didn't make my top three list because various technical reasons that wouldn't affect the kiln user, or plain and simple, they just weren't my favorite. Here are other manufacturers worth mentioning:
There are probably other kilns worth mentioning that I might have forgotten. If you have a kiln I haven't mentioned here, feel free share your experiences good or bad.

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