Paint Your Own Pottery Kiln Room

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Tips on Planning Your Studio's Floor Plan
(reprinted with permission from Skutt)

     Planning - A great deal of effort and money can be saved by taking the time to properly plan the layout for your studio. The most important things to consider when laying out your kiln room are:

Proper Kiln Clearances
Storage For Unfired and Fired Ware
Electrical & HVAC Requirements
Venting Requirements
Future Needs

Kiln Clearances
     Most building codes refer to the manufacturers recommendations when judging proper clearances from combustible walls. Skutt suggests that the kilns be at least 18" from any wall. Part of the reason for the clearance is to minimize the heat which is reflected back to the kilns circuit board. Kilns without circuit boards may be placed as close as 9" to a wall.

     It will be convenient to have shelving in the kiln room to place ware that is to be fired and ware that is unloaded from the kiln. Be sure not to place shelves above the kilns and also allow for proper clearance.

Electrical & HVAC Requirements
     Before you can order your kiln you must determine what sort of power you have available in your building. The most common voltages are 208 volt and 240 volt. Many people think they have 220 volt power because most appliances are designed to run off either voltage and are labeled 220. To have 220 voltage is very uncommon in the USA. Have an electrician check to be sure.

     If you are in the process of finding a location it would be advisable to have an electrician test the strength of the power to the building. Power supplies with low voltage can cause problems with your firing and are very expensive to remedy.

     Next determine what phase power is in your building. Most residential buildings have single phase power which consists of 2 hot wires and a ground wire. Many commercial areas have 3 phase power available which consists of 3 hot wires and a ground. Either phase power supply will work.

     When choosing a spot to locate your kilns try and stay within a 50 ft wire run from your breaker box. If it is necessary to run the power farther then 50 ft it will be necessary to increase the wire gauge to the breaker box.

     Make sure that the total amount of amperage available is enough to run all of the equipment and fixtures you will be using. Increasing the amperage supply to your building can be very expensive. (The Pottery Consultant recommends MINIMUM 200 amps.)

     Vents will require standard 120 volt outlets within 8 ft of each kiln. It is also a good idea to have additional 120 volt outlets available to run fans. The fans will help keep the room temperature down and help the kilns cool significantly faster.

     If your studio is going to be located in a location such as a mall where heating, ventilation, and air conditioning or HVAC, are shared by the whole building structure the leasing office will want to know how your equipment will effect this system. Specifically they will want to know how much heat the kilns are generating, which is measured in BTU’s, and how much room air you are venting out with the EnviroVent, which is measured in CFM’s. All of this information will be sent to you with your start-up package.

Venting Requirements
     The Skutt EnviroVent2 or the Orton Ventmaster is easy to install. It is a lot like venting a household dryer The vent cup sits under the kiln stand and the kiln sits right on top of it. If you order it with your kiln, we can pre-drill the venting holes in the lid and slab at the factory.  You will need enough 4" rigid or flexible aluminum ducting to run from the vent to the wall or ceiling where you are venting. (All of the kilns in the start-up packages come pre-drilled for vents unless you tell us specifically not to.)

The fumes extracted from the kiln by the EnviroVent must be ducted outside of the building. If it is not possible to vent up through the roof be sure to locate your kiln near an exterior wall. Be sure that you do not vent directly under a window.

If you are venting more then 1 kiln it make sense to vent them all out the same hole. You will need to purchase a coupler that connects the multiple 4 inch ducts and exits them through a single duct which will be larger in diameter. The diameter of the exit duct will be determined by the number of ducts you have feeding it. Consult the manual to determine what size coupler you will need. You will want to be sure the coupler is equipped with dampers so you can close off a duct when a vent is not running.

The 4" ducting can be run up to 50 ft with a maximum of 3 bends. If you need to vent it farther then this or exceed 3 bends it will be necessary to increase the diameter of the vent.

Future Needs
     Remember to keep in mind future growth of the business when you are planning the layout of your kiln room. Are you allowing enough room to add another kiln(s)? Is the electrical supply designed to allow for the additional amp draw of another kiln? Are there enough outlets available for additional vents and fans? You can save a lot of frustration down the road by addressing these issues now.

     Most of the time, a studio will also need to use their Kiln Room for other tasks - dipping, back stock storage, office, break room - make sure you have enough square footage for all of these.

The Pottery Consultant can work directly with your contractor and electrician to make sure all these issues are addressed properly.

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