Author Topic: Noob trying to build an electric kiln  (Read 475 times)

Offline realsceincetist

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Noob trying to build an electric kiln
« on: March 12, 2021, 08:34:02 PM »
Been trying to build this kiln for way too long.  I might have gotten hard refractory bricks instead of soft which conduct heat faster  :-\ (shouldn't have trusted the home hardware guy).  My first heating element was just all of this nichrome wire a I bought from china wound into a coil. This didn't dissipate enough power so I started to pass the 120V ac through shorter and shorter sections, but the wire melted through before it dissipated enough power to heat the kiln to the target temp of 1100 degrees Celsius.  So then I made the heating element multi stranded but this one blew the breaker (maybe two many strands and too short).  Finally I have up and bought a heating element on amazon that said it would put out 700W at 120V (I think I am remembering the wattage correct.  When I plug this one in it doesn't enough get the kiln hot enough to boil water.

Am I approaching this all wrong?  Are new more expensive refractory bricks called for?  Or should I start to mess with these new heating element like I did the last ones?

Offline John123

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Re: Noob trying to build an electric kiln
« Reply #1 on: March 12, 2021, 08:39:52 PM »
How big is the kiln? I'm not really clued up on this stuff but is the outside of it insulated?

According to google a small home kiln can max out a North American 120v outlet at 1800w or so whilst larger ones can hit several kilowatts.

Also if you're putting water in there directly then it will take a long time with 700w as water has a high heat capacity, most electric kettles I've seen in the UK are 3kW and even those take a minute or two to boil a cup of water with an efficient kettle design.
« Last Edit: March 12, 2021, 08:57:08 PM by John123 »

Offline realsceincetist

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Re: Noob trying to build an electric kiln
« Reply #2 on: March 13, 2021, 03:07:08 AM »
kiln is about 15cmx20cmx40cm with the hard refractory brick walls about 4 cm thick.  I am measuring the temperature with a k type thermocouple attached to an Arduino.

Offline klugesmith

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Re: Noob trying to build an electric kiln
« Reply #3 on: March 13, 2021, 03:37:45 AM »
There are many kinds of resistance wire for heating elements.
Nichrome is the generic name for one family, not a specific composition or temperature rating.
Kanthal comes to mind as a brand used in things like pottery kilns, popular for reaching "high" temperatures.  It's pne of the non-nichrome options.

1100 °C is pretty darn hot!  You would want to wear PPE even when opening the door of an empty kiln at that temperature.

700 watts isn't much for a kiln. I think my rice cooker, to gently boil about 1 liter of water, uses 400 watts.

I think product specs for commercial kilns, in your size range, will give you a good idea of
wattage requirement -- but you need to pay attention to the kiln temperature rating.   
You could improve the thermal insulation by putting refractory fiber blankets outside your bricks,  but then of course you need time to heat the whole mass of the bricks.  Let's see a temperature vs time chart for your work in progress.

And measure the current and voltage, so you know the actual wattage.  It helps that resistance wires generally have temperature coefficients much lower than those of commercially pure elements.

Can you practice with a much smaller kiln, using same kind of wire?
« Last Edit: March 13, 2021, 03:59:43 AM by klugesmith »

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Re: Noob trying to build an electric kiln
« Reply #3 on: March 13, 2021, 03:37:45 AM »

 


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