How to choose your first pottery kiln

Looking for your first kiln? If you’re a relatively new potter, the options might seem overwhelming. But we can help! Here are a few key suggestions for choosing a great first kiln.

Electric pottery kiln or gas pottery kiln?

This one’s easy! If you’re a beginner or intermediate potter, you should get an electric kiln. They are easier to use, easier to install, and don’t require babysitting the way gas kilns do. And the vast majority of potters will never need anything other than an electric kiln for the work they want to do. 

A young Asian woman potter takes a piece of pottery out of an electric pottery kiln

What size kiln should I get? 

For most home potters, a medium-sized kiln like our 18” Top Loading Electric Pottery Kiln is just about the right size. It has plenty of room for the amount of work most newer potters produce (the last thing you want is to have to wait to fire your pieces until you fill up a huge kiln), and being a little smaller, they are easier to load and unload than larger kilns.

So, unless you work really fast or build a lot of really large pieces, an 18” kiln is a great place to start. Of course, you’ll need to make sure the kiln you choose will actually fit with the lid open (with at least a foot of clearance on all sides) in your home studio. If an 18” kiln is a little too big, you can look at a smaller/test-sized kiln like our 12” Top Loading Electric Pottery Kiln. You just may be a little constrained in the size and amount of work you can fire at one time.

Front-loading kiln or top-loading kiln?

Pretty much all potters prefer top-loading pottery kilns because you can efficiently stack them fully. In fact, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a front-loading pottery kiln at all!

Should I look for a digital controller for my electric kiln?

The short answer is yes! Digital controllers take much of the babysitting out of firing and help less-experienced potters get better results.

What pottery kiln do we recommend for beginner potters?

As we mentioned above, our 18” Top-Loading Electric Pottery Kiln is pretty much the ideal home studio starter kiln. It’s a great size, comes standard with a Bartlett digital controller, and is easy to maintain. It also requires just 240V and a 30 amp circuit (which is the same power that your dryer runs on) so it will cost less than a large kiln to have it installed. It’s our top-selling kiln for a reason!

Do you have more questions about picking out your first pottery kiln? Just ask!