As I’ve discussed previously, Paragon kilns do not follow the National Electrical Code (NEC) on the plugs that are used on their kilns. For example, their Bluebird kiln draws 14 amps, Paragon states the kiln requires a 20 amp dedicated circuit, but, believe it or not, they use a standard 15 amp plug.
Here’s an e-mail conversation I had with Arnold Howard of Paragon:
I am writing to you today to bring to your attention an issue that concerns me as a person who is deeply interested in safety in the glassworking studio. Recently, on several of the glassworking forums, issues have come up relating to people continually blowing circuit breakers and fuses when running their kilns. Naturally, I began to do some research and found that a large number of kilns that are available in the US, provided by your company and others, do not meet the requirements of the US National Electrical Code, sections 210.21 and 210.23.
I am deeply concerned that your company is selling 120 volt kilns that draw 14 amps and are wired with a 5-15 plug (I’ll note for the record that a lot of your 240 volt kilns are also using the wrong plug). This violates NEC — the proper plug you should be using is the 5-20. I found many examples of not only wrong plugs on your kilns, but also incorrect circuit breaker recommendations — more than one of your kilns draw 20 amps, you have a 20 amp plug and recommend a 20 amp circuit breaker. NEC calls for a 80% derating on all plugs and circuit breakers under 210.21 and 210.23.
I quote from NEC 2008:
“210.23 Permissible Loads
(1) Cord-and-Plug-Connected Equipment Not Fastened in Place
The rating of any one cord-and-plug-connected utilization equipment not fastened in place shall not exceed 80 percent of the branch-circuit amperage rating.”
Of the approximately 46 kilns on your website, only 10 had the correct plugs and circuit breaker recommendations.
I certainly understand the desire to have a kiln that will plug into a 15 amp rated receptacle, however, in order to do that, the kiln can draw no more than 12 amps, not the 14 or more that you currently manufacture.
Here is his response:
Thanks very much for taking the time to research the circuit breaker issue and for writing to me. I will look into this further and get back to you. I hope you stay in touch.
With best wishes,
I answered him with:
No problem Arnold!Here’s an example of what I’m concerned about: http://www.paragonweb.com/BlueBird_XL.cfm
Your specs say the kiln draws 14 amps, but is using a 5-15 plug (should be 5-20). The circuit breaker info is correct at 20 amps, but the recommended wire size of 20 gauge is way off, should be 12 gauge.
Here’s another: http://www.paragonweb.com/F120.cfm
14 amp kiln, with a 5-15 plug, this time with a 15 amp breaker and 14 gauge circuit wiring. Should be 5-20 plug, 20 amp breaker and 12 gauge wire.
See what I mean?
Hi Mike,Thanks for finding the typos at the kiln pages. I really appreciate that. I have changed the specs to match our catalog.
Then, several hours later, he sent me this:
Hi Mike,Thanks for your concern about electrical safety regarding our kilns.
The National Electrical Code that you quoted applies to branch circuits with multiple outlets and not to dedicated circuits, which have a single outlet. This is how TUV, the testing agency we use, interprets the code.
I welcome further discussion. Thanks again for finding the typos on our website.
The next day, I sent this back:
Arnold –First of all, there’s a problem with the assumption that a given kiln (especially the smaller kilns) is going to be the only device on a circuit. You and I both know this is often not the case, and nowhere in your literature do I see anything that states that the kiln must be supplied with power on a dedicated single outlet circuit.
Next, NEC 210.21(B)(1) “Single Receptacle on an individual branch circuit” states “A single receptacle installed on an individual branch circuit shall have an amperage rating not less than that of the branch circuit.” This means that, for example, on your BlueBird XL, where you state the requirement of a 20 amp circuit breaker, that the outlet MUST be a 5-20, since the code states “shall have an amperage rating not less than that of the branch circuit”, and therefore the plug must also be a 5-20. I believe that your testing company is incorrect in their interpretation of the code.
Hi Mike,Thanks for sending the quote from NEC. I will share that our chief engineer and the CEO to see what they think. I consider any email about safety to be high priority. I’ll get back to you.
I hope you have a great weekend.
A week and a half goes by…then he writes:
I hope you had a great weekend.
Because of your suggestions, we have changed the disclaimer on our website. It appears on all the kiln pages under the specifications:
“Disclaimer: The specifications above assume that the kiln will be plugged into a dedicated circuit. Local electric codes supersede our recommendations.
“The pricing and electrical specifications for the above products reflect their design for use in the United States. The International versions of most models with have variations in electrical specifications and price due to consumer safety requirements or electrical regulations.”
As you can see, we take customer feedback very seriously. I appreciate your time in sending me your suggestions.
Argghhh!! Nothing like avoiding the problem, eh? My response:
Actually, Arnold, the outcome I was expecting was that you would change the plugs on your equipment to reflect the requirements of the National Electrical Code. What your company has done is basically thumbing its nose at the NEC, and that’s just sad.
His final response, passing the buck:
Mike, UL or TUV gave the final approval of the electrical specs on most of our kilns.
Because of this refusal (failure?) to follow the National Electrical Code, I have placed Paragon Kilns on the Hall of Shame list.