In need of HEAT! and HELP!

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cy berg

Original poster
Nov 25, 2013
First let me say how overjoyed I am to discover this forum. Would've been better to have found you all BEFORE I got my smokehouse built, but better late than never.

Erected a 24" X 24" X 72" wood (pine-tongue and groove) smokehouse on top of a cindreblock foundation. Piped in an external firebox as heat and smoke source. Trial run was Saturday, temps in W. Michigan a ridiculous (for November) 22 degrees. I could barely get the interior temp up to 180 and needed a veritable inferno in the firebox. I could reach 185 -190 for only about 5 minutes before it would start to crash and even when I replenished the fire with addtional charcoal it would still fall to 155 before getting back up to 185, but theis whole up and down temp cycle was just about 20 minutes. This will not do.

I do want to stay with a charcoal/wood primary heat source because I've been smoking that way in a BBQ grill/smoker for years and just love the results. Needed another smoker because sometimes I get more fish than I could fit in my current arrangement.

So - What to do? Insulate smokehouse walls & the piping? Add a second pipe from firebox? As a supplemental source I ordered a electric element to try and get that extra 25 degrees I need (at least for fish, my primary meat) but don't want to go down a path that others may have tred before me

Luckily I didn't cannibalize my old unit to make the new house, because it's whitefish season and the fish are in. Smoked whitefish is the best thing I ever produced.
Don't know if you're going to be able to get temps up in a box like that with external source in that kind of cold. I have a slightly larger smokehouse but I use a natural wood / charcoal heat source governed by a pitmaster IQ set up and it works great. But its internal. The one thing I made for it that really comes in handy is a separator. Instead if extruded cooking rack I made one rack with solid sheet steel so that when cooking smaller amounts of meat I simply slide this separator in and reduce my 7 ft high smoker to 5 ft or 4 ft....whatever I need. Much easier to heat and manage. I also experimented with supplemental gas and electric burners but never really needed them. Lots of builds you can see if you use the search function here. Hope this helps.
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Couldn't manage to get this picture (taken with my wife's I-pad) to flip right side up so you'll have to turn your head sideways. Thanks for the tip on how to get the photos in. I'll take some others in the next couple days to clarify.

For fish I think I really only need to get about 25 more degrees of efficiency in heat retention. I do like the separator idea, I've got access to stainless sheet, that ought to do the trick for making the volume a little smaller. is reader supported and as an Amazon Associate, we may earn commissions from qualifying purchases.

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