Sincere thanks to you both. I read your perspectives to my wife today and it confirmed her intuition and helped to push her toward a medium-sized kiln (220-240 VAC). Andrzej wrote me an email saying that both his kilns go to 1320 C but that he usually fires around 1200 C to not push the kiln element too hard. Petr suggested as both of you did, to not go too small, saying that he's known others whom bought smaller kilns and then had to start looking for a bigger kiln not long after because of the limitations.
I would also suggest going for a medium size, 240 v kiln. I really like a company called L&L kilns. I have one (I'm sorry but I can't remember the model #, I think it's a version of heir E23t) it's a medium sized computerized kiln divided into 3 rings. The really cool thing about this kiln is that I can remove rings if I want to, so potentially I could fire just one ring if I had a small load of pots or just wanted to test something. It's a pretty cool option.
Shawn, I had a kiln lined up for free that was made up of stackable rings but that kiln connection fell through. My wife was saying that she read up on L&L Kilns and there were some good reviews.
Ideally we are hoping to spend no more than $500 to start. Right now my wife is looking at a Crest FX1414P and Crest FX1814M, both on Craigslist nearby.
One of the concepts that I talk about in my kiln design classes is that the kiln in a studio is in many ways THE most important piece of equipment, because it is the "governor on the engine" or the "restrictor plate on the pipeline". The nature and size of the kiln you have dictates many aspects of the studio operations. It dictates the types of wares you can produce (firing type and range), the maximum scale in each dimension, and the turnaround time / cash flow (if a business venture).
John, thanks for this paragraph; the points were well taken and helpful.
So, after considering the gracious feedback from everyone my wife would like to ask you all what size (interior dimensions) kiln you judge to be sufficient and useful for her to start with. What would be a minimum or optimal size for someone with a natural skill, throwing part time, but whom also has to improve her technical understanding and whom has never operated her own kiln? She is looking to create for herself and to potentially sell to others in the future. We are also wanting not too large of a kiln to save space in the garage, which already has my woodworking tools in part of it. Lastly, my wife is curious if "digital control" is worth the money/investment.
Thank you so much!