NOTE: Your local building codes supersede our recommendations.
In most home studios, the kiln goes in the garage or basement. An alternate location is a separate storage building. It is okay to place the kiln in an unheated building in cold weather.
Room Size & Ventilation Avoid small, enclosed spaces such as a closet or small utility room. The kiln room must be large enough to avoid heat buildup around the kiln.
The minimum spacing between the kiln and nearby walls is 12”. But in addition to the 12”, plan for generous space around the kiln to promote good ventilation. Include room for steel shelves to hold ceramic ware. Maintain a minimum of 3 feet of space between kilns to prevent heat buildup around the kilns. Keep flammable material, such as shipping materials, out of the kiln room.
Consult building codes for recommended non-combustible wall material for walls that are near the kiln. Cement board or masonry tile are good choices.
An Exterior Wall
Select a room with an exterior wall. You should vent the kiln, similar to the way a clothes dryer is vented, using a motorized vent. Fumes are vented outside through an exterior wall. If your kiln room has only interior walls, you will need to vent through the ceiling or floor to the outside.
Place the kiln on a concrete floor. Avoid wood floors and, of course, carpet. If you place a kiln on a concrete floor finished with linoleum tile, place a fireproof material over the tile to protect it from discoloration.
Be sure the bottom of your kiln is covered with an outside layer of sheet metal. Overfired glazes can eat through the firing chamber insulation and drip onto the floor under the kiln. The sheet metal bottom prevents this.
Warning About Fire Safety Sprinkler Heads
In the kiln room, position sprinkler heads in the ceiling away from the kiln(s). We know of schools that were flooded because the sprinkler head, positioned above the kiln, turned on the fire alarm. Consider using a higher temperature sprinkler head in the kiln room or the type that senses smoke rather than heat. You could also install a Vent-A-Kiln vent hood, which will lower the temperature around the kiln.
Before you order a studio kiln, measure the voltage in your building. (In the U.S. and Canada, it is usually 240 or 208. Both voltage systems use the same wall outlets, so you can’t tell voltage by the type of outlet.) If you are not sure how to use a voltmeter, ask your power company to confirm voltage, or hire an electrician to check it. If you are in a commercial location, find out if you have single or 3 phase power. (Single phase: 2 hot wires and a grounding wire; 3 phase: 3 hot wires and a grounding wire.)
Besides knowing voltage and phase, be sure your building can handle the kiln’s amperage. Some older sites cannot power a studio kiln without an expensive upgrade of the electrical system. See the specifications in the kiln catalog.
In some areas, the power company gives a discount for electricity consumed during the night. This is to encourage you to take advantage of excess generating capacity during off-peak hours. You might want to ask your power company if they offer this discount. If so, you will need a time-of-use meter installed.
Plan enough space and electrical capacity for additional kilns if you believe your kiln program will expand later.
Make sure the kiln will fit through the necessary doorways to reach the kiln room. Ask your dealer for the kiln’s exterior width. Some catalogs include doorway clearance for each kiln.
HVAC: Heating, Ventilating & Air Conditioning
If you are installing a kiln in a school, mall, or other location with a central heating, ventilating, and air conditioning system, the building manager may ask how much heat your kiln will generate. A good estimate for studio kilns is 23,000 BTUs.