What I have learend about the paragon is that it will be easier to find parts for–they’re still in business, and they supply elements for their old kilns, kiln sitter parts are still available and are not brand specific.
I think skutt might have bought the design, but I can’t remember.
The Alpine is old, Alpine does still exist, but I have no idea how far back into their product line they support–they are currently more known for building gas kilns, so I’d call them before I even considered that–it also looks substantially more beat up, and personally I wouldn’t pay the asking price for it.
One thing that you can do is to find out what model paragon that is and give paragon a call. Ask them to give you the resistance readings for the elements, and then ask them to walk you through reading these measurements either through the plug, or at the elements… You can do this with a cheap multimeter from radioshack or harbor freight–as long as it measures between 0-100 ohms, you should be fine… The point in doing this is to see if the elements read a significantly LOWER resistance than a new set would–this plus a visual inspection can tell you roughly how much life is left in them. As someone noted above, elements are expensive (for a kiln this size between 35.00-50.00/element.
If you bide your time, you can find a good used kiln, believe it or not, they’re a dime a dozen, and they really don’t hold their value in the same way that a wheel does (mostly because of the expensive consumables involved in the form of elements, but also because the insulating fire brick they are made of is relatively fragile, and it moves, shifts, and breaks over time.)
Things to check before you buy a kiln:
- phase and voltage of the kiln.
- phase and voltage of the power source where you are installing said kiln (the above two need to match–if they dont, it wont work.)
- make sure as someone mentioned above that your breaker is adequately sized (20% larger than the kiln’s draw–this is listed on most newer kilns’ nameplates)
- make sure the kiln will fire to your target firing temperature. There is almost no benefit to firing to cone 10 in an electric kiln since the atmosphere doesn’t change, you can get roughly the same color palette in oxidation at 10 as you can at 6. Firing most electric kilns to cone 10 regularly GREATLY diminishes the life of your elements.
A good resource for electric kiln elements is Euclids.
If you find an older kiln in good physical condition that needs new elements they can help you. I’ve used them several times now to replace elements in electric kilns.
There is no need to call the original kiln manufacturer to replace elements, so if you find an old Cress or Knight kiln in good physical condition you have options.
Most 7 cubic foot octagon kilns run on a 60 amp 220V breaker, the same as an electric stove. Check the main breaker for your house and see if you have space in your panel. Make sure you have the available 240 volt power and correct amperage breaker.
Your breaker size needs to be 20% greater than the actual amps of the kiln you purchase. Also make sure the kiln you get is specifically labeled as 220 or 240 volt. If it is 208 volt, it is not correct for residential power and will not function normally. Also make sure it is a single phase kiln, as three phase will not work and will require conversion to single phase, which is not always easy.
So look first to see what size in amps of breaker you can handle, and find something to fit that range.
UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCE SHOULD YOU TRY AND DO ANY OF THIS YOURSELF. ONLY USE CERTIFIED ELECTRICIANS!!!