Why kilns are so expensive

After seeing how much kilns cost, you may wonder why they are so expensive. In the end, it seems like they are nothing more than a big oven used for preheating clay sculptures before the bisque and glaze firings. How much does it cost to operate a kiln, and what factors contribute to the high cost of kilns?

To further assist you in comprehending why we have compiled the following list of reasons. The items on this list are not all of those that contribute to the complexity and high cost of various pieces of equipment, but they should help you understand why.

Are you prepared to discover why operating kilns are so costly? Let’s get started.

Reasons why Kilns are Expensive

The reasons behind the expensive cost of kilns are listed below in no particular order.

Production of kilns requires specialist expertise.

Kilns may seem like big ovens, but there is much more going on inside of them than meets the eye. Technical competence is required to manufacture kilns for sale to the general public.

For instance, to grasp how to construct a kiln, you must have:

  • Masonry skills
  • the capacity to weld
  • carpentry experience
  • Having technical expertise
  • the power to do complex calculations
  • the ability to put things together

Even though several manufacturers have improved their kiln formulas, it took many years of trial and error to get there.

Generates volatile compounds.

Keeping everyone safe should always be your first concern while operating a ceramic kiln. Toxic gases might be released into the atmosphere if a ceramic kiln and its contents were to be torched. They have to be released into the atmosphere using a ventilation system that pulls air from inside and outside the kiln.

Depending on the level of quality, the price of a ventilation system for a pottery kiln may range anywhere from several hundred to one thousand dollars. Despite this, a ventilation system is one of the most critical preventative actions. This is an essential piece of equipment for everything having to do with pottery.

How to remove glaze from pottery: simple steps shared here

small direct fire from wood coal based kilns
Old type pottery kiln and heating pot for hardening

Designed with a purpose in mind

Kilns are intended to reach high temperatures to combust the materials they contain. Utilizing high-quality materials that can withstand this temperature difference is crucial for durability since this temperature difference may have a significant influence on the longevity of the components when firing pottery.

In common parlance, kilns are constructed from durable materials that can tolerate repeated usage. They are built to withstand several firings without breaking. Kilns in a variety of price ranges are capable of reaching temperatures of at least 2,400 degrees Fahrenheit. In contrast, quality often results in more extraordinary material expenses, which are then passed on to the consumer at a higher price.

The components go through a tensioning process while the kiln cools down. The kiln’s power consumption may rise when the fire program is first started; nevertheless, for the kiln to cool down successfully, it is necessary to provide moderate heating to bring the temperature down gradually. The finished products may be removed from the kiln after reaching room temperature.

The kind of ceramic kiln might affect the cost of firing.

Kilns come in various forms, including those that run on gas or electricity and those explicitly used for fusing glass. This study will focus most of its attention on front- and top-loading electric kilns since these are the kind of kilns most often classified as such. These factors will impact the cost of firing a kiln in various ways.

Because they are the most common kind of kiln, top-loading kilns are the ones that are utilized most often in the pottery manufacturing process. If you are not accustomed to stooping, loading these top-loading kilns could be challenging, but they are more cost-effective than front-loading kilns.

Most front-loading kilns are designed to tolerate heavier loads, potentially more durable than their top-loading counterparts. Because a front-loading kiln may be loaded while standing, you will not have to bend over as much, but there are certain disadvantages.

small electric kiln with kitchenware drying in it

Permit and insurance expenses

If you want to build and use a kiln in your home studio, check with your local authorities to determine if any permits are necessary. These licenses are intended to handle several of the same issues as insurance, including security.

If you place a kiln in your house, your homeowner’s insurance rates may increase or decrease. Consult with your local agent for suggestions. After all, improper usage of kilns may result in accidents (and consequent claims), posing a fire and electrical safety risk.

Weight for Shipping

Shipping big and bulky objects is an expensive endeavour. Whether you acquire a new or old kiln, the cost of shipping and moving it will likely be the same.

If you obtain a used kiln that cannot be picked up locally, the shipping cost may or may not be comparable to the cost of transporting a new kiln to your studio. Consider this while deciding if a secondhand kiln is your best choice.

The New vs. Used Kiln Controversy

The simple rationale is that used kilns seldom sell again. Depending on their condition, they may need substantial maintenance and replacement parts, assuming that the heating elements and other electrical components continue to function well.

Many historic kilns are thus valued between 25 and 50 per cent more than their brand-new contemporaries. Even if it seems an excellent method of saving money, continue with caution. The cost of replacing components may be comparable to that of a brand-new kiln, which should be ready to fire immediately after installation.

If you are contemplating the purchase of a secondhand kiln, there are a few factors to consider. These are listed below:

  • Age and kind of control system
  • In the kiln, glaze containing lead is used.
  • difficulty with the wiring
  • heating element productivity
  • The components of the kiln are given.

If a lead glaze has been applied, edible or ingestible items should not be fired in a kiln. Even if your pieces are not burnt with lead glazes, the glaze’s lead will linger in the inner chamber of the kiln and may contaminate them.

You should also confirm that the kiln manufacturer is still in business. The problem is irrelevant if the firm is closed and no longer making new kiln components. Consequently, such kilns are no longer in service unless new features can be obtained from another old kiln.

Controller Type

As with any technology, the model from the previous year is quickly becoming obsolete. Kiln controllers fall into this category as well. If your fire process is essential, an earlier controller may work; however, if you want to utilize your kiln for production or instruction, you may need a more recent controller. While firing a kiln, controllers provide moderate, regulated heat.

In rare cases, an additional controller may be acquired. However, the cost of these controllers may be sufficient to justify buying a new rather than a used kiln if it comes with a controller created expressly for it.

Fees for dismissal

In addition to the original cost of the kiln, one of the most costly expenses you will incur is the price of burning it down. Several variables, including determining the price of a firing program

  • A measure of the cost of electricity
  • Kiln energy
  • length of the firing
  • cyclic firing frequency
  • What temperature do you want to shoot at?
  • The kind of oven
  • Utilizing such a huge kiln
  • the things that you are igniting

Electricity costs around 12.70 cents per kilowatt-hour on average (kW). Check your local prices to have a better understanding of the actual costs in your region. Keep in mind that nighttime shooting may result in a discount.

A typical medium-sized kiln is powered by 5-8 watts. Kilns of a more significant size may be rated at 11 watts. Because more enormous kilns use more energy, this element substantially affects the cost of fire.

Your shooting program might take only one to twenty hours, depending on the items you’re firing.

gas based kiln packed with ceramic utensils for drying

For instance, if you are firing many pieces, it may take longer for the kiln to achieve firing temperatures. The strategies used to fire the components, particularly if they need long and complicated firing program durations, may impact the energy used.

The kiln requires more energy to reach the firing temperature than it takes to maintain it. Typically, more energy is utilized in the first firing phases than in the latter stages.

Given that a kiln’s duty cycle decreases with age, the kiln’s age may be the reason for worry. The duty cycle is utilized to compute the actual power consumption of the kiln. As previously mentioned, a kiln requires more energy to heat up than to maintain its temperature. Thus you are not always using its maximum capability. Based on this, the duty cycle is determined.

If you’d instead not do the math, you can always use a firing cost calculator to determine these expenses. This calculator needs the kiln’s wattage, voltage, amps, cost per kilowatt-hour, bisque firing time, glaze firing time, and time adjustment factor (also known as the duty cycle). By default, the duty cycle is set to an average of 50%, but you may alter it based on the kind of kiln you have.


The two most costly expenses are the acquisition of a kiln and its firing. Costs associated with keeping your kiln in optimal operational condition must also be addressed. If your kiln comes with a guarantee and some components are covered, this may necessitate the replacement of specific pieces during the lifetime of the kiln.

Pricing for consumables and accessories

Kilns can have storage and furnishings. However, this is not usually the case. Even though your kiln comes with everything you need to burn your creations, you may or may not damage particular components when using it.

For instance, a piece of pottery may explode in the kiln, causing damage to any nearby furnishings. Changing the kiln would incur additional expenses even if you paid for the furnishings when you purchased the kiln.

Kiln wash is one of the consumables for the kiln. Additionally, glazes may be categorized as consumables.

Using clay and a pottery wheel

You will also need to purchase materials such as ceramic clay and wheels. Even though it is not consumable in the same way clay is, a wheel is nonetheless a machine that needs upkeep. To load the ceramic kiln with your creations, you will need clay.

If you have a kiln and a pottery wheel, your chances of success in a home studio are much more significant. You will be able to fire pottery thrown on the wheel in your kiln.

Kilns-with drying pottery of different shapes sizes


  • How long can a kiln be utilized?

The vast majority of kilns are constructed to last around ten years. This implies regular maintenance, a fair firing schedule, and regular maintenance. Despite the fact that kilns gradually deteriorate with age, modifying any of these components may result in a premature collapse.

  • Is it preferable to purchase a new or old kiln?

How you respond to this question will depend on your knowledge about kilns. There are likely accessible used kilns that were acquired on a whim and are still in excellent shape. They may have been burned a few times, but not as often as other active kilns.

  • How Much Does a Kiln Cost to Construct?

Depending on the materials you use, constructing a kiln may be pricey. The cost of these components may also affect the price of making a kiln. In many instances, the overall cost of building a kiln, which typically costs around $1,000 per cubic foot, may range from $25,000 to over $100,000. know all about building kiln effectively in this guide.

  • Why are kilns so costly to operate?

Pottery-making may be a costly pastime in certain instances. Cost-prohibitive and condition-dependent, firing a kiln may be expensive. For example, the frequency of firing will influence the cost of operating your kiln. In addition to the size of your kiln, the length of the fire cycle also affects prices.

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