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Insulating smoker in a cold climate?

NewBuilder

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I'm planning my new smoker build. I have been using a Yoder Y480 and it works well but I want something that will work better cold and hot smoking sausage and bacon. Is it worth it to insulate the smoker in a cold climate? I built a pizza oven and insulated the heck out of it and it does a good job of retaining heat but that is not the same as a smoker. Thank you.
 

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dirtsailor2003

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If you can go for it. It will help and make your smoker more efficient. Make sure you use an insulation though that works well with moisture.
 

bill1

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It's a tradeoff between fuel power and temp desired. If you're kinda' starved for power (e.g. electric smokers running on 120V/15A circuits certainly fall in this category) insulation is critical to get to even 200F temps in chilly weather.
On the other hand, if you have a big firebox and plenty of wood, simpler-is-better is not a bad mantra.
And then there are pellet grills that use forced convection instead of natural (draft) convection to cook...for those, most of your heat is going out the exhaust so even perfect wall insulation doesn't gain you much. Instead you should slow down your fans (my preferred approach) or add baffling/resistance (e.g. "downdrafts") if you just can't feed enough pellets to keep up with the cold weather.

Your pizza oven is beautiful. I think a similar looking smoker next to it is a grand idea. However not all insulation has the same thermal mass. Bricks take a LOT of energy to heat up. Even with a big fire (and plenteous, cheap wood) that takes time to get to temperature. Corrugated cardboard has negligible thermal mass, while being an excellent insulator, but it's usable temperature is considerably less than Fahrenheit 451, regardless of what the book says. I'd suggest starting with a steel body (esp. if you can weld) cover it with Hardee-board type insulation, then foam board (of course you'll need some steel structure that protrudes through the foam underneath to carry the weight load) and then cover the foam with brick like your pizza oven. That will give insulation without needing many hours to reach a usable smoke temperature, and will be a nice visual complement to your pizza oven.

So what sort of smoker build/technology are you leaning towards???
 

bradger

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i have heard some people throwing a welding blanket on it.
 

NewBuilder

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So what sort of smoker build/technology are you leaning towards???
I'm thinking of a smallish portable vertical smoker using a gas burner built out of steel studs, sheet metal lined with cement board, and using mineral wool for insulation. I'm also thinking of using a tube smoker when cold smoking. I'm not sure what I will do on the outside, I'm okay with it not matching the oven. I want it close to our house so I would rather be safe than sorry.

The pizza oven does take hours to get up to temperature but is easy to maintain once hot. I would like the smoker to be easy to regulate to maintain a steady temperature.
 

bill1

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Of course anything made of brick isn't very portable but the advantage of lots of "thermal mass" is that it means stable and steady temps. The downside as you note is it takes a LONG time to heat up.
 

texomakid

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That's an awesome looking pizza oven. Could you modify it to work as both? You know, like with modular parts swaps or rearrangement of something? I'm always trying to think outside of the box.
 

Fueling Around

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You're on the path for a quasi portable weight with the heat sink (thermal mass) inside the insulation and keeping the shell light, but weather resistant.
How "portable" are you thinking? Roll around the backyard or trailer to a competition?
 

NewBuilder

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That's an awesome looking pizza oven. Could you modify it to work as both? You know, like with modular parts swaps or rearrangement of something? I'm always trying to think outside of the box.
Hi Randy,
Thanks, but I don't think there is a way to modify the oven. The actual oven core was purpose-built as a pizza/bread oven.
 

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NewBuilder

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You're on the path for a quasi portable weight with the heat sink (thermal mass) inside the insulation and keeping the shell light, but weather resistant.
How "portable" are you thinking? Roll around the backyard or trailer to a competition?
I want to be able to move it a few ft to store it off to the side on the patio when not in use.
 

Murray

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Insulation would depend on ambient air temperatures. If your wanting to cold smoke at -20C then you will need some form of insulation.
 

bill1

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So what again is the limitation you're finding in your Yoder? There's some joy in making things yourself but it can sometimes be hard to improve on a commercial product with years of development behind it.

Is it in cold smoking? Maybe a MES electric smoker can fulfill that need and you use the Yoder for everything else?
 

NewBuilder

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So what again is the limitation you're finding in your Yoder? There's some joy in making things yourself but it can sometimes be hard to improve on a commercial product with years of development behind it.

Is it in cold smoking? Maybe a MES electric smoker can fulfill that need and you use the Yoder for everything else?
The Yoder is a darn good machine that allows a novice like me to cook some very good meals. I don't like my food heavily smoked and I find the colder it gets the smokier the food is. Personally, I don't enjoy the taste. I could get an insulating blanket but I also would like more room to smoke sausages etc. Truthfully, I think I would just enjoy building something.
 

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