I am in the market for a new kiln. One that I can easily travel with, and something that will work well for teaching. I figured posting something about kilns would be nice because I had a student yesterday ask me about kiln choices. A quick google search brought me to this website.
I have the Aim kiln, and it has served me well for about 10 years now. I love how reliable it is. Arrow Springs fixed a small problem for free. I have an external digital control hooked up to avoid an more over heating. I believe they come with a digital control installed. Well worth it. However it is not easy to move, and I have to rely on help to get it in and out of my car. I need something lighter.
One aspect in general for buying a kiln is what are you going to use it for? Strictly for Lampworking? Or do you want to fire clay, PMC, Fusing or Slumping glass, firing enamels, granulation, or burn out for lost wax casting.
Some requirements for my travel/teaching kiln are: easy to carry by myself, digital kiln control, plenty of insulation so I can unplug and go, front loading so the mandrels stick out (easy tagging for identifying student's beads, and I can easily grab the mandrels to move them over to make more room), double door, large enough opening for bigger beads.
I suggest visiting Arrow Spring's Website to see their line of kilns. They have a fantastic reputation. And the price is right for a beginning beadmaker.
One more thing to consider is how are the beads or glass going to be placed inside the kiln? When the beads are first placed into the kiln they need to not touch anything this includes the walls, floor, fiber insulation, and other beads. Why? Because the bead may be soft or tacky and it can stick to other elements. It really sucks if you stick a bead to another bead, then you lose two beads in one shot. Once the beads have in a sense "chilled" out, they then can be stacked off to the side to make room. At 960 degrees, the beads are not tacky any more and should be safe if they touch.
Here is an image of a nice rack for the right size kiln. It can be found at Frantz Art Glass. For $16