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Gas Oven or Electric Oven for Powder Coating ?

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The question often comes up about gas ovens versus electric ovens.  I’m updating an older post on how to powder coat concerning a question I received from a powder coating class student.   I thought it would be great to share here:

“Hi Joey, i’ve been trying to figuring out a budget to start a new powder coating service of my own, i am stuck in the oven? i have no idea which are better or cheaper and even where to get them ( not on ebay, i’m in sydney). can you help? thanks”

 

First Things First/The Right Tool For the Job

 

It really depends on the size oven you want.  You DO NOT want to fool with many of the online auction type ovens.  The people who are foolish enough to buy ovens from the guys who sell zip lock bags of powder and who have ovens built in a shed somewhere ALWAYS end up regretting in.  Most of those pass ZERO codes. “But I don’t care about codes….I care about saving money” is a common response.  That works great until the inspector knocks on your door and shuts you down ON TOP of the fine they write.  Or when you have a fire that the insurance company WILL NOT COVER without the correct stickers on the oven.   There is a difference between powder coating oven price and value.  Being a respected business that’s looking to powder coat tens of thousands of dollars in product per month requires having the correct tools for the job.

 

Initial Cost Vs. Actual Cost

 

Perhaps  the most foolish thing is people don’t look at when purchasing a powder coating oven is the operational costs.  I’ve seen people buy an oven that costs $40 per hour to run over an oven that costs $5 per hour to run because there was a $1,500 difference in price cost.  It takes less than a month to make up the difference!  The price of a piece of powder coating equipment has very little to do sometimes with the associated value.  Besides powder coating guns, powder coating ovens are where this most holds true.

 

Gas vs Electric

 

This still doesn’t address the gas powder coat oven versus the electric powder coat oven question.  It does address an important point that need to help lay the groundwork before you begin to open your powder coating business.  The largest contributing factor on gas versus electric is size.  Gas and electric ovens are very close in operational costs when you are in ovens that are about 100 cubic feet or smaller.  As you get larger, gas/propane ovens start to pull away as the best choice because of cost to operate. It takes large amounts of wattage to heat air in the larger ovens while gas/propane powder coat ovens (that have the correct style burners) maintain a much lower cost.  The amp draws required to run ovens that are 8′ long and larger tend to drive most people towards gas.  On the small ovens (100 cubic feet and smaller), many people lean towards electric powder coating cure ovens because of the ease in getting electricity versus gas in at home powder coating businesses, which is where these are most commonly found.

 

Whether You Go With Gas Oven or Electric Oven, Know What You Are Getting

If you decide to go with a gas or propane fueled powder coat oven, a few words of advice:  Be sure to get an oven that uses UL or ETL listed components.  ASK FOR THE NUMBER on the burner!  Cheap, inefficient  burners are a mistake you will regret in the long run.  There can be differences of $10, $20, or even up to $50 per hour in operational cost, depending on the type burner uses.  Secondly,  find out how much cfm is used in recirculation fan and ask how they got the calculation compared to code. Next, check wall thickness.  4″ walls…….normally a bad sign!  People who say “we use 1000 degree insulation……blah, blah, blah” is a marketing trick.  Everyone (who isn’t a complete idiot) uses high temp insulation.  What is more important is how many Pounds Per Foot of insulation is being used. Finally, check the reputation of the manufacturer as well as how long they have been in business.  I can tell you that over 90% of the “batch oven manufacturers” you find online have been building ovens for 3 years or less!  Buying an oven, or any piece of equipment, for your business is an INVESTMENT.  Price and value are completely different!  Make sure to do your homework on the front end and ask plenty of questions.  And ASK FOR REFERENCES………..the crooks hate when you do that so that’s a good way to separate the real players from the pretenders. Hope that helps!  Shoot me an email to joey@powderx.com if I can answer more specific oven questions you may have.

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