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How Much Electricity Does a Kiln Use? (Fully Explained)

Have you ever wondered how much electricity an electric kiln uses, or how much it costs to fire pottery? If you have then you are reading the right article.

Here, we will explore the cost of producing pottery, how to calculate the electrical cost of operating a kiln, and the factors that can affect how much electricity your kiln uses. At the end of this article, we will answer a few related questions we often hear.

Electric Kiln Firing Costs – How Much Does it Cost to Fire Pottery?

There is more expense involved in creating finished pottery than just the cost of electricity. In this section, we will take a look at some of the factors affecting the firing cost of the ceramics you produce.

Follow each step outlined below, and you will be able to calculate the firing cost

Electrical Costs

The number one concern most people have when they look at the expenses involved with making pottery is how will it affect my electricity bill. Calculating the electrical cost of firing ceramics is a fairly straightforward process.

electric bill

You will need to know:

  • Your kiln’s power consumption– In most cases, you will be able to find your kiln’s power use listed either in the kiln manual or the information plate located next to where the power cord enters your kiln. Look for a number beside the symbol kWh.
  • The total firing time of your kiln– This is the time that your kiln takes to run any particular cycle. It will vary from one firing to the next depending on many factors. If your kiln has electronic controls they should tell you at the end of the firing. If not you will need to time it yourself. This number does not include cooling-down periods.
  • The duty cycle of the firing– Your kiln’s elements do not heat constantly. The coils inside are energized and then turned off when the kiln reaches the desired temperature. They cycle on and off for the duration of the firing. The duty cycle is the percentage of time the heating coils are under power, producing heat. Your controller may give you this number. If it doesn’t You will need to time the periods between hearing the relays engage and release. This can be a pain so most people just use 50% for low fire and 75% for high fire programs.
  • Your electric cost per kWh (kilowatt-hours)– Finding your cost per kilowatt-hours is the simplest number to find. Just look at your most recent electricity bill and you find it listed somewhere on the front of the bill. It is not always easy to find. Power companies don’t always like to advertise their rates, but by law, it will be shown somewhere on your bill.

Once you have these numbers you can follow this simple formula to find the electrical cost of a particular firing.

Kilowatt rating of your kiln x Length of the firing in hours x Cost per kWh x Duty cycle percentage = Cost of Firing

Kiln Cost

old kiln

Not many people ever think about including the cost of their kilns when calculating firing costs but you should. Like anything else created by man, there is a point where a kiln will be worn out and need to be replaced.

Your kilns manufacturer should be able to advise you on the number of firing you can, on average, expect to get from your kiln. Divide this number by what you paid for your kiln and it will live you your kiln cost per firing.

Ventilation Cost

pottery studio

Whether you run regular floor fans, have a kiln exhaust hood, or your kiln is self-venting it costs money to run fans. While the amount may seem insignificant, ventilation cost can add up over time. You can figure out how much by using the same formula that we used for kiln firing costs minus the duty percentage.

Kilowatt rating of your fan x Number of hours your fan runs x Cost per kilowatt-hour = Cost of running fans

If you have an HVAC system in your kiln room be sure to add in the cost of air conditioning.

Clay Cost

pottery clay

This may seem like an obvious consideration but it is one that people often overlooked when calculating the cost of firing pottery. The clay you used to create your works probably didn’t come for free. If you harvest your own wild clay that is a different story.

Remember to include your clay costs when calculating what pottery costs you to make.

Kiln Maintenance

KIln maintenance is another factor that many people overlook.

Heating elements, thermocouples, kiln furniture, relays in the control box, and even the bricks in your kiln walls all degrade slightly with each firing and need to be replaced. Your kilns manufacturer should be able to give you some guidance on how often different parts need to be replaced based on what firing range you most often work in.

Low-fire or biscuit firing places less strain on your kiln than high-fire or mid-fire cycles.

A quick bit of advice is to learn to do these routine bits of maintenance yourself in order to minimize your costs. Most are well within the abilities of any homeowner.


If you install a kiln on your property there is a very good chance your insurance premiums are going to increase. You can divide the monthly increase by the number of firings you expect to perform each month to determine the cost per firing.

Misc Costs

This section is all the little expenses that go into creating ceramics. Kiln wash, witness cones, glazes, and your own personal time are just a few examples of things to consider when calculating the cost of firing pottery.

Considerations for Electricity Costs

For most potters, electricity costs are going to account for the lion’s share of their expenses. In this section, we will look at a few factors that will directly impact your costs.

KIln Size

small kiln

Smaller kilns will generally fire more efficiently than larger kilns. Their more confined space and the close proximity of their heating elements add to their ability to heat faster and retain heat longer.

Their disadvantage is their small size. As a general rule, the smallest kiln you can reasonably use will be the cheapest to operate.

This, of course, has to be balanced against the need to fire more often.

Kiln Load

full kiln

In a sense related to kiln size is the kiln load. The fuller your kiln the lower your firing cost will be. Pottery placed inside the kiln absorbs heat and then reradiates that heat decreasing how often your kiln elements will need to fire.

Empty space is the enemy.

Glaze Firing?

glazed firing

Glaze firing is the most expensive cycles that you will run in your kiln. They are normally fired much hotter and for longer periods of time than you would cook your raw clay creations. This naturally increases your kiln’s duty cycle and operating cost.

Regardless of whether you are firing earthenware, porcelain, or anything in between, always try to maximize the use of space in your kiln when glaze firing.

Kilowatt Hour Cost

The cost of electricity varies greatly from one location to another. For example, electrical rates in Hawaii run 30.55 cents per kilowatt-hour, while in Louisiana 7.01 cents per kilowatt-hour is the norm.

Needless to say, these vast differences impact the electricity bill of the end-user which is you. There is little you can do other than bring and bear it if you live in an area with high energy costs.

Frequently Asked Questions

How energy efficient are kilns?

home kiln

There are many factors that can impact the energy efficiency of kilns including how they are loaded, their age, and the thickness of their bricks. As rule home pottery kiln options are not very energy efficient but this can be improved by always maximizing the thermal mass of your kiln and properly maintaining its controls.

See Also: Kiln Temperature Explained

Is it expensive to fire a kiln?

wood fire kiln

How expensive a kiln is to operate depends to a great extent on the particular type of kiln you are discussing, its condition, where you are located, and several other factors.

The costs of operating a wood kiln in a Rural Southern State where firewood is extremely cheap could be minimal. Then again, firing an electrical kiln in a New England State where electricity varies from being high to OMG can be very expensive.

How much does it cost to run an electric kiln UK?

The average electricity rate in the U.K. is $0.27 U.S. per kilowatt-hour as of July 2022. When you compare this to the United States average of 14.2 U.S. cents per kWh you will see that it cost roughly twice as much to operate a kiln in England as in the U.S.

What size breaker is needed for a kiln?

circuit breaker

The size breaker you will need will depend on your kilns voltage and amp draw. Kilns come in many different sizes with a very wide range of power needs. The general rule allowing for a generous safety margin is to install a breaker with a voltage rating that matches your kilns and is rated for 10-15% higher amps. As an example, if you have a 240-volt kiln with a maximum amp draw of 48 amperes then you would want to install a 240-volt breaker rated for 60-amps.

Read Next: Where Can I Put my Kiln? Kiln Location Explained