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Checking an Electrical Outlet

Checking the wall outlet with a lamp should take about 30 minutes.

Small 120-volt kilns (or 100, 110, 115, 127 depending on what country you live in) can trip a circuit breaker if the circuit is also running other appliances at the same time. Here is a quick way to test a wall outlet with a lamp. (This information does not apply to the large studio kilns, which have one outlet for the entire circuit.)

First, check the kiln catalog or your dealer to find the recommended circuit breaker size for your kiln. For a 120-volt kiln, the circuit breaker recommended will usually be 15 or 20 amps.

Plug a lamp into the wall outlet that you intend to use for your kiln. Turn off the computers in your house. Then have someone with a cell phone go to the circuit breaker box and start turning off and then on each 120-volt circuit, one at a time. (The breaker box is usually in a closet or the garage.)

When the lamp goes out, tell your assistant by cell phone. The circuit amperage is stamped on the outside of each circuit breaker. Verify that the breaker is the correct amperage for your kiln. If the breaker is 15 amps instead of 20, for instance, then find a different circuit for your kiln.

You will find a label inside the breaker box with a space for each circuit breaker. Once you have found a circuit for your kiln, pencil in "kiln" on the label for that breaker.

With the breaker still turned off, plug the lamp into each nearby wall outlet where you will fire your kiln. Check outlets that are not only in the same room but also on the other side of the wall. This will show you which outlets are connected to the circuit you will use for your kiln. While the kiln fires, make sure any appliances powered by that circuit are turned off.

All of this sounds complicated. But it should take only 30 minutes or so, and it will familiarize you with the location of your breaker box. That is always useful.

One time I checked a wall outlet in my sister's house. It was connected to a thin lamp cord wire, which ran along the wall inside a layer of wood paneling. A heavy appliance plugged into that outlet would have burned up the lamp cord. The circuit breaker would not have prevented a fire, because the lamp cord wire would have burned before the breaker tripped. I mention this to caution you about having non-electricians install wiring for you. It is not always cost-effective.


At dusk recently the moon looked like a silvery crescent in a dark blue sky. In the mornings when I leave home for Paragon, dawn is just breaking.

Thank you,

With best wishes,

Arnold Howard Paragon Industries, L.P. - Better Designed Kilns 2011 South Town East Blvd. Mesquite, TX 75149-1122 Voice: 972-288-7557 & 800-876-4328 / Fax: 972-222-0646 /

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