Smoker Color

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Master of the Pit
Original poster
OTBS Member
Jun 29, 2006
Peculiar, MO
I am a certified thermographer. Certified by FLIR, the maker of infrared cameras used by fire depts., the military, police depts., news helicopters, various industries. Infrared is a form of electromagnetic radiation used to measure temperature. The color FLIR camera I used troubleshooting locomotive problems was $30000 5 years ago.
Infrared theory states a good receptor is a good emittor. In other words, a color that easily absorbs infrared (heat) also readily gives off infrared (heat). The best receptor/emittor is flat black. Hmmmmmm..... also the most common color of a smoker or grill!
Now. We hear of people insulating their smokers to keep heat in. Their BLACK smokers. And that is OK, it works. But if your smoker were painted SILVER then infrared theory comes back into play! You see silver is an extremely poor receptor/emittor. Therefore infrared (heat) would be reflected back into your smoker , not allowed to escape. Not all infrared, but a good portion of it.
The exhaust manifolds on Diesel locomotive engines are painted silver because it holds more heat inside the manifold. That heat is what drives the impellor of the turbocharger that forces fresh air into the cylinders. The more heat retained in the manifold, the more efficent the turbocharger and the engine is.
The best color for heat retention is silver.
I can easily prove this using my RayTek digital infrared thermometer. I will play with it and take some pics to post.
OK, the can of worms is open - go for it!
my homemade smoker was silver at first. it worked fairly good. i painted it flat black, it worked better. i put insulation on it (maybe you were referring to me?) and it works really good now.
also, what about interior color vs. exterior color? does that make a big difference? i mean, it will be black inside, just from the smoke. what if it was painted silver inside, and black outside? i figured black would be best, as it soaks in the heat from the sun.
Nope Chris, not referring to you, didn't know your smoker is insulated.
What does "it worked better" refer to? What changed?
w/out going into detail & having to "splain" ... there's a reason the best spy plane(sr-71 blackbird)was flat black(@ close to 80,ooo ft & mach 3 it coulda been rainbow colored)the b-2, & f-117 & the new f-22.... "good guys wear black"- and we do it fast & silent.....flat black is better.
i don't have to build as big a fire to get to the desired temp, ie, the fire i used to build to get to 225° now gets to over 300°. here is a couple of pics. one shows my smoker, and the other is a close-up of the insulation. i got this stuff from a contractor at work. they are re-doing our furnace exhaust ducts (they get over 2000°) and i got a box of it. they wrapped the ducts with this stuff. i also got a few rolls of their tape to use. it is that foil tape, but with a thread cross-woven in it. you can't just tear it (the tape), you have to cut it. here is a link to the thread where i first posted about it, and i think on the second page is a pic of the tape i got.

No need to "splain". For those purposes flat black is better, the signals they are trying to not reflect are better absorbed by flat black. Silver would reflect them back to the device that sent them.
For heat retention silver is better. Proven scientific fact.
Like I said, the worm can is open.
x-actly... i still love my pits in it's gonna be 100f here all week & i gotta "practice" for this comp-just wondering... & will post my temp results w/ the heat....i worked on boats forever & know about the reflective "cooking" from the water- i'd personally hate to tend a silver pit for 12 hrs.... man i'd be done faster than my food....
Wow, I'm sure that insulation really helped! But insulation is not the subject.
What I'm saying is that a smoker will retain more heat if painted silver. Won't stop all heat loss, but the silver WILL reflect a good amount of heat back into the smoker. You have to realize that coat of silver paint is silver on both sides, the one you can see and the one you can not see.
If painted black (the best emittor) more heat will be lost.
No doubt!
Ambient temp. like that is going to drive your internal smoker temp. up. Could be a challenge.
just another question before i nod off w/ a full belly..... doesn't black absorb heat & silver reflect it ??? in turn making the black pit hotter... just thinking to the days( today was a good 1) when black burned my hand more so than the silver???/
here is something that is totally amazing.... out of all the vehicles i've owned- the (4 of them)"rustic"- thats that maroon color(in fords)- had the highest & "felt like" hottest interior temp when the car was in the sun for a day. even worse than my black stealth.
O.K. Mike, it's monday and i feel like starting crap so.................
put all the silver on you want, a seasoned pit is gonna be BLACK inside, now what you have to say
It will absolutely be black inside. As I said before, you have to remember that a coat of silver paint on the outside of a smoker is silver on BOTH sides, the side you can see, and the side you can not see. The side you can not see (the one next to the smoker) will reflect heat (infrared) back into the smoker.
Hmmm, I have a gallon of high temp Rustoleum silver that I use on my antique car manifolds, engine block and such... I think it's good to 1500 degrees...

Nahhh, I like black on my smoker...
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