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When to Disconnect Wires to Test an Element

Elements in diagram 1 are wired in series; elements in diagram 2 are wired in parallel.


When to Disconnect Wires to Test an Element

Recent Q&As: Can a 60 Hz kiln operate when plugged into a 50 Hz system; why the FireFly lid is hinged and the Caldera lid isn’t

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News: Glass Book “Life on the Rails” Just Published



Sometimes it is necessary to disconnect one of the wires from a kiln’s heating element before testing the element with an ohmmeter. Otherwise the ohmmeter will give a false reading. Once you understand how the ohmmeter works, you will know which wire to disconnect, and whether it is even necessary.

(The ohmmeter is the part of a multimeter that measures ohms, or resistance. You can find multimeters at home improvement centers and online.)

First, unplug the kiln or shut off the circuit breaker. The power must be disconnected from the kiln. Then open the switch box to gain access to the element connectors. On some kilns, you will need to remove a sheet metal panel.

Each element has two connectors. (The Paragon connectors are 1/2” / 12.5mm long brass barrels.) At least one wire is attached to each connector. If a wire on each connector goes to another element, then one of those wires must be disconnected.

This is because the ohmmeter has a battery that sends power through the element. If the element is good, electricity from the battery can go through it and give a positive reading. If the element is broken, electricity can’t go through it. But if the wires allow the current to flow through more than one element at the same time, the meter can give a positive reading even if the element you are checking is broken.

The kiln’s wiring diagram is helpful in determining whether to disconnect a wire from an element connector.

The ohmmeter takes the guesswork out of kiln repair. You can test heating elements with it to check their approximate wear and whether they are broken.



Q. A customer has a kiln equipped with a Kiln Sitter, rated to 60 Hz. If the customer plugs the kiln into a 50 Hz electrical system, what would happen? Would 50 Hz increase the amperage and produce heat at the circuit? Would it cause the kiln to over-fire?

A. The only thing that will happen is the Kiln Sitter Limit Timer will run 1/6 slower (i.e., 16.67% slower). Therefore, if they want the Timer to run for 4 hours, they should set the Timer for 4 x 83.34%, or 3.333 hours.

Q. Why does the FireFly lid have a hinge but not the Caldera? Aren't the kilns almost the same?

A. The Caldera is a modular kiln. The top and bottom are separate from the kiln so that a blank collar or bead collar can be inserted between the kiln body and the kiln bottom. (A collar is a short section of kiln. A bead collar has a side door for inserting bead rods.)

Since the Caldera body is separate from the stand and brick bottom, a hinged, open lid might tip the kiln over. The FireFly walls and bottom are one unit, so the weight of the FireFly walls, stand, and bottom should prevent this from happening when the hinged lid is open.



“Always treat your employees exactly as you want them to treat your best customers.” -- Stephen Covey, from “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People”



Steven Ciezki has just published a book on glass blowing called “Life on the Rails.” He shares a lot of hard-won information. For more information, please visit his website:


Recently my wife, Sandi, was in Phoenix, Arizona for Sproutsfest, a conference for Sprouts employees. I asked her, “Do you have a soap dish in your room with ‘Lisa’ on the bottom?” She thought it was an odd question . . . until she found the soap dish. She sent a picture of it to my phone with Lisa written in glaze.

In 2009 I attended NCECA, the National Council for Education on the Ceramic Arts Conference in Phoenix. One of the first things I noticed in my Hyatt Regency room was a beautiful stoneware soap dish. I turned it over to see who made it and found the name Lisa.

In spite of the vastness of the world, it’s still a small place.

Thank you,

With best wishes,

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

PRIVACY NOTICE: Under no circumstance do we share or sell your email address.

Copyright 2017, by Paragon Industries, L.P.

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