Insulate or not?

Discussion in 'Reverse Flow' started by odiefranklin, Sep 15, 2015.

  1. odiefranklin

    odiefranklin Newbie

    Hello everyone.

    I'm starting my first smoker build on a 113gal propane tank- I about have the trailer done and am planning out everything else. 

    What I'm not sure of is how major of a difference is it to insulate your fire box- I'm going with 1/4 plate and 24" lwh. I'd like to also put a top lid for some direct grilling in the fb, as well as having the end door.

    I know insulating is the way to go but it would be a lot more design and labor that would expose my lack of fab skills, and if its not a huge advantage then I'm not going to.

  2. inkjunkie

    inkjunkie Master of the Pit

    I insulated mine. First one I have ever built. Complicated the crap out of things. I will be building another one someday....just to "fix" all my mistakes. One thing I was told is to built it with approximately a third of the firebox into the cook chamber
  3. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    You can use it and see how it goes..... As far as insulating... you don't have to insulate the entire Firebox.... insulate the 3 sides and not the door... maybe even the bottom if you don't have an ash dump.... anything you do will help, if you think it's necessary.... If you have to purchase wood, weigh the cost of wood vs. labor and materials... is there a pay back... how long....
  4. smokejumper

    smokejumper Smoking Fanatic

    Hi odie, and welcome to the forums.

    In my experience adding things like insulation (and other more superfluous and unnecessary stuff) helps improve your fabrication skills.

    In the end, with some grinding, sanding and painting, nobody will notice how you got to that beautiful smoker.

    As to whether it will be an advantage or not, as Dave said, it depends on the cost of wood in your area, and how much that savings means to you. If you will be smoking in a cold climate it becomes more important.

    I hope this helps.
  5. inkjunkie

    inkjunkie Master of the Pit

    I have yet to smoke on my RF....I warped the snot out of the FB door.....I only had a test fire in it. I let the wood burn out entirely. Dragged it back into the garage. Left the FB door shut. 4 hours later I went out there and opened the door....still had a boat load of heat. For me it is not going to be about saving will be about not needing to shove wood into it constantly
  6. joe black

    joe black Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    My FB is not insulated, but it is 3/8". IMO your geography makes a big difference. I'm in SC and I would not spend the time and money to insulate the FB. Our winters are not that cold and I live in the upper part of the state. Good luck, Joe
  7. inkjunkie

    inkjunkie Master of the Pit

    Package of insulation....enough to do several smokers was only 40 bucks or so at Home Depot. Outer layer of firebox doesn't need to be 1/4", can be sheet metal...
  8. Pardon me for resurrecting an old thread, but I'd like to get some more insight on this whole "to insulate or not" topic.

    A while back, I was so bent on insulating my COS that I spent $70 on a box of ceramic insulation. I was also thinking it would come in handy for a brick and stone smoker setup I'm dreaming of building someday. The idea was to build the most ridiculously insulated smoker possible. That would result in super stable temperatures with much less fire management time, right? Well, I thought this was a great idea, until my buddy Franklin made a simple point in his book: If your smoker is too well insulated, it basically just becomes a glorified oven. Since you don't add wood often, there is very little smoke present and hence the meat doesn't get smoked so much as it gets baked. Very good point, IMO. So then the goal becomes to build a smoker with enough insulation to keep a stable temp, but not so much that you're not adding a new log often enough to keep the fire smoking nicely.

    However, I am also thinking that if you have a super insulated smoker, you could still design it to keep the temps in the cooking chamber down while adding firewood regularly. Then, you could have a super stable temp AND a lot of smoke. If so, the question becomes "is it worth the effort of the extra insulation and more firewood used if you could just build a leaner smoker with more variable temps."

  9. If you ever cook in the rain snow or put 100lbs of meat on a smoker you'll quickly find out its worth it to insulate.
  10. Ok, so I finally did a semi-neat job of insulating my COS firebox with 1" thick ceramic insulation. I used some thin sheet metal to wrap around it. Results: no good. The fire was dramatically hotter and got my smoker up to temp super quick. However, the insulation, which is supposed to be rated to 2300 F, caught fire where it was not covered on the side. Seriously? I quickly removed the sheet metal and the insulation, revealing a glowing red firebox. The high temp red silicon I used to seal up the firebox had basically disintegrated. I guess a COS with 1/16" metal is not a good candidate for firebox insulation! Also, that 2300 F insulation has a big question mark on it now. Did my firebox really get up to that temp?
  11. smokejumper

    smokejumper Smoking Fanatic

    If the FB was glowing red, the temp was in the 1300 to 1500 F range.
    To get that hot your fire was way too big. When you insulate, you need to reduce the amount of fuel you burn.
    tiggyt likes this.

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