How much to charge when renting out your kiln

Written by Kiln Share

Recently, we have received lots of emails from kiln owners asking 'how much should I charge a potter to hire space in my kiln?'. In short, the answer is it's completely up to you as when you list your kiln on Kiln Share you get to decide the rental prices and firing rules.

However, we know that's not a very helpful answer for many owners who may have never rented their kiln out before. So, we've written this blog post to give you a few tips that should help you when working out your own firing rental prices.

Loading an electric kiln

NOTE: As we don't ask kiln owners to disclose prices on their listings, it's difficult to give estimate firing prices. However, potters looking to hire kiln space understand that they are renting an expensive bit of equipment so charging more than you think is never a problem as you are doing the potter a huge favour by renting them space in your kil!

Tip #1 - Work out your basic costs

Before thinking about how much you could charge a potter who's looking to rent your kiln, you first need to work out how much it costs you to fire it up! This will give you a baseline price to work from when creating your rental firing prices.

Remember to work out the basic energy costs for both a full bisque fire and a full glaze fire as these types of firing will consume different energy amounts due to varying firing temperatures and duration.

ELECTRIC KILNS

First find your electric kiln's power consumption and then do a quick calculation using the price you pay per kilowatt hour (kWh) for electricity from your supplier. Some electricity suppliers still offer cheaper electric during night hours which could reduce your firing costs if you fire overnight! Most electric kiln manufactures actually estimate the cost of firing in their technical manuals, so be sure to check there first!

You could also take a meter reading before and after you fire up your kiln to get a basic idea of how much power it consumes. This firing calculator for electric kilns may help too :)

GAS KILNS

If you have a gas kiln that's hooked up to a mains gas supply, first find the gas consumption of your kiln and calculate this with the price you pay per kilowatt hour (kWh) for gas from your supplier. You should also check your kiln's technical manual to see if it includes firing cost estimates.

If you use gas bottles (common with raku kilns), you may have to trial how long a bottle lasts and calculate this against the price of the bottle to get a rough firing cost.

CALCULATING A FIRING PRICE

After working out your basic firing costs, you can simple multiply that number by 2, 3, 4 to work out a firing price that you feel comfortable charging. With this calculation, you can then quickly work out a half load price or per shelf price.

Kiln Share has been built so kiln owners are always in control. If a potter doesn't like your pricing, they can always find another kiln near by or negotiate with you over email (or in person) until both parties are happy. As you start to receive messages from potters through the platform, you can experiment with your pricing to see what works best for you.

Tip #2 - Prices for different volumes

It's a good idea to think about the different ways a potter could hire your kiln such as a price per piece, price per shelf, half load and a full load. Remember, you don't have to offer all the pricing models below. It's up to you to decide what you offer potters who get in touch. 

PRICE PER PIECE

A perfect pricing model for hobbyist potters who may only have a few things to fire! A kiln owner who recently listed their kiln on Kiln Share stated that they charge half a penny per gram (g) - this would mean a 250g item would costs £1.25 to fire. We have also heard of kiln owners charging a price per kilo (kg) to fire items, for example £4 bisque and £6 glaze.

PRICE PER SHELF

A more common pricing model that's great to offer if you can't fill your kiln on your own or want to keep a potter's work seperate during a firing. Simply calculate the price for a full firing of both types and divide it by the number of shelves your kiln has. It's a good idea to tell the potter hiring your kiln the max height their work can be to avoid issues when loading.

HALF LOAD

Calculate the price for a full firing of both types and divide it by half. Again, a great way to fill up a kiln so you can fire your own things more often whilst maximising the efficiency of your kiln. It's also a good option for hobby potters who may not have enough items to fill a whole kiln.

FULL LOAD

A common pricing model that's perfect for potters looking to fire lots of items in one go. From your basic cost calculations, you can work out a price for bisque and glaze firings that earns you some money for renting out your kiln.

CUSTOM FIRING

In some cases, potters looking to hire kiln space may ask for a custom firing schedule which is outside of the normal levels that you have calculated your pricing for. It's a good idea to have a price in mind for this kind of request such as 10% more than what you normally charge.

FIRING PRICE EXAMPLES

Firing prices set by kiln owners vary massively due to the differences in kiln size, power efficiency, cost supply of electricity or gas and how much the kiln owner wants to make per firing. We've seen bisque firing in a small kiln cost as little as £10 through to £45 in a large kiln. For glaze firing we've see costs as low as £20 for a small kiln through to £80+ for a large kiln.

During the task of creating your own pricing, it's a great idea to reach out to other kiln owners who own a similar sized kiln to you to ask for advice. You can always change your prices as and when potters get in touch.

The final price you charge is up to you and it's your job to take payment - Kiln Share simply connects you with local potters :) Read our frequently asked questions.

Mike the Potter with bowl
WRITTEN BY MIKE

Like so many hobby potters I don't own my own kiln! I created Kiln Share to help other potters like me connect with a kiln owner who rents out space in their equipment.

If you think something in this blog post about 'what to charge when renting your kiln' needs improving or isn't correct, please drop me a message.

Happy kiln sharing!