[Clayart] digital controller for old kiln. sawdust instead of straw in small kiln

paul gerhold gerholdclay at gmail.com
Wed Apr 6 11:33:02 UTC 2022

The only way a digital controller could improve element life would be if it required less energy flowing through the coils to achieve the same heat work. I see no reason why switching power on and off should be any more energy efficient than providing a constant flow of energy. 

I am sure somewhere a kiln manufacturer has run the required tests. 


Sent from my iPad

> On Apr 5, 2022, at 10:09 PM, David Woof <woofpots at hotmail.com> wrote:
> Hi Paul, Vince and All,
> Wouldn't you agree that a kiln equipped with sitter alone has less control of e-energy for duration of amounts where needed in the kiln, and thus duration of electrical energy to the elements, and with no controlled variance between the zones.
> This will definitely affect life of elements in contrast to the Digital Controlled Kiln.
> The Digital control which if properly programed reads sensors that supply information from each zone and the Digital control then acts to balance the e-energy active at any given moment in each zone. And, of utmost importance to us, balance the load.
> I still always work near kiln during firing, and "Babysit" my dear sweet digital controlled L&L during expected ramp changes and always manually initiate ramp down and shut down as witness cones indicate.
> P.S. The Digital controls on any Kiln will make ease of firing for "Dummies" also.
> B'B'But then over the long haul one must expect "Dumb" results!!!@#%@@%
> "Another P.S." With my "new fangled" L&L I can set one zone to fire a cone to a cone and one half lower for a different glaze/body maturation during the same firing........ for various reasons.
> Misneach.
> Woof..................and my Muse. with a demonstrative Irish Jig and excited hand clapping sez: "OOOOH Woof ya got it goin on!!!!"............................................To be continued................back at the ranch.......er studio...
> **************************************************************************************
> ________________________________
> From: Clayart <clayart-bounces at lists.clayartworld.com> on behalf of paul gerhold <gerholdclay at gmail.com>
> Sent: Tuesday, April 5, 2022 8:52 AM
> To: Clayart international pottery discussion forum <clayart at lists.clayartworld.com>
> Subject: Re: [Clayart] digital controller for old kiln. sawdust instead of straw in small kiln
> Why would a digital kiln get longer element life since element life should be determined by nothing more than the amount of current that flows through the element?
> Paul
> Sent from my iPad
>> On Apr 5, 2022, at 10:23 AM, vpitelka at dtccom.net wrote:
>> I don't remember when it was that L&L switched over to digital controllers.  Seems to me that it was around 2000.  Early in the millennium we bought new digital L&L kilns at the Appalachian Center for Craft, and the old L&Ls we got rid of were all Kiln-Sitter kilns.  One of the new kilns was an L&L 30-cubic-foot frontloader electric, and the other three were the e23T toploaders.  We kept one old Skutt in good condition so that all of the students would learn about Kiln Sitters.  I must admit that I was skeptical of the digital controllers at first, but I quickly grew to love them.  In terms of maintenance, they were far more reliable than even a well-maintained Kiln Sitter, and elements lasted much longer in the digital kilns.  In the fifteen years or so that we were using the digital kilns before I retired, we occasionally had to replace thermocouples or relays, as you would expect, but those are easy fixes.  In that time, we never had a single failure of the digital motherboard/keyboard.
>> Regarding firing accuracy, the one advantage of a Kiln Sitter kiln is that the softening of the cone corresponds to the actual maturation of the clay and/or glazes, whereas the shutoff protocol of a digital kiln is responding only to temperature and not to duration of the firing.
>> - Vince
>> Vince Pitelka
>> Potter, Writer, Teacher
>> Chapel Hill, NC
>> vpitelka at dtccom.net
>> www.vincepitelka.com<http://www.vincepitelka.com>
>> https://chathamartistsguild.org/
>> -----Original Message-----
>> From: Clayart <clayart-bounces at lists.clayartworld.com> On Behalf Of paul gerhold
>> Sent: Friday, April 1, 2022 11:16 AM
>> To: Clayart international pottery discussion forum <clayart at lists.clayartworld.com>
>> Subject: Re: [Clayart] digital controller for old kiln. sawdust instead of straw in small kiln
>> My guess would be a properly maintained kiln setter is a lot more reliable than a computerized controller and a lot less expensive to maintain.
>> That said if you are doing glazes and crystals either macro or micro a computer makes it a whole lot easier.
>> Paul
>> Sent from my iPad
>>>> On Apr 1, 2022, at 11:03 AM, Carolyn Curran <cncpots2 at gmail.com> wrote:
>>> On the kiln sitter  perhaps I was just too used to using cones and
>>> was reticent to rely on the kiln sitter.  If I can have use of a kiln
>>> in my facility,  I sure as heck would work with the kiln sitter. or else use
>>> cones to make sure all is OK>    On the other hand,  if a computerized
>>> controller is feasible and practical,  then I'd go with that.   I like to
>>> check on a kiln when it's near end of firing..just in case the
>>> controller doesn't shut off kiln at proper time, even if that is rare these days.
>>> But does anyone -know if the computerized controllers are compatible
>>> with older kilns?  I'd like some feedback before  kiln technie comes
>>> here so that staff here knows about a possible option to old kiln sitter.
>>>   On using sawdust for a primitive kiln:  the last little kiln I
>>> built I never actually fired beforehand but  charcoal fired  it the
>>> first time in the green state, and it worked fine,so maybe it would be worth a try with
>>> that  using sawdust.    Thanks for idea. I usually use heavily grogged clay
>>> and added vermiculite  or perlite..)   Chopping up straw with any tool
>>> available took a long time.  I had not thought of tree leaves. or pine
>>> needles, though.     My middle name has been experimentation for 50 years
>>> as a potter, but at this point I appreciate help from others  since I
>>> never know how much time I have left for playing in clay.  Tempus fugit.
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