Insulating a Horizontal Barrel Smoker

Discussion in 'Charcoal Smokers' started by ddave, Jun 10, 2008.

  1. ddave

    ddave Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    The wind has been blowing a lot here lately -- or maybe I have just been noticing it more since it is cutting into my smoking time. [​IMG] I heard the subject of insulating a smoker discussed and got to thinking. If mine was square, it would be easy with the Prodex insulation board that is available. But since it is round, I had been searching the Internet for some foil-backed insulation.

    Well, I finally found this.

    It is called "Heat Wave Pro" and is 3/8" thermal insulation encased in foil. It is supposed to be good up to 400 degrees so the plan is to cut some pieces to fit the top of the cook chamber and join the pieces together with this.

    to form a fitted cover (or stocking cap [​IMG] ) to keep the smoker warm on windy days but that can be easily removed if need be. This stuff is a little more expensive than a welding blanket but I wanted something that I could use to cover the ends as well.

    Any comments or suggestions or any issues I may have overlooked?

    Thanks for your input.

  2. earache_my_eye

    earache_my_eye Smoking Fanatic OTBS Member

    Nice find, Dave! It appears that would be just the ticket to make yourself a "custom" insulating blanket. Sounds like you've got a good mod plan and have the parts to make it happen...[​IMG]

    One thing that crossed my mind....insulation works both may help on hot sunny days to possibly cancel the effects the sun has on a black surface......might just keep your temps a little more even on ANY given day.....??

    Anxious to see how this works out for you!!

  3. 1894

    1894 Smoking Fanatic SMF Premier Member

    Only thing I can think of is how close to the 400* does the metal near the firebox get ?
  4. ddave

    ddave Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    That's a good point. Maybe I should put a temp probe a little higher up on that end and see what the temp difference is at height -- not touching the metal of course. I think we may have one of those infrared heat guns here at work. Might have to borrow it and take some readings of the firebox end of the cooker lid. I could always make the cover go over the top and stack end and leave the firebox end uncovered if the temps are getting to high.

    Thanks for the input.

  5. ddave

    ddave Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Well, the materials arrived yesterday so I set out to make the cover today. Got all the tools and stuff laid out and ready to go.

    While sweating my brains out on the patio, it seemed like building a full cover with ends would be a bit of overkill. Hell, with the temps on my patio hitting 100

    making an insulated cover at all seemed kind of silly. But it was windy, so I pressed on.

    Because of the size of the sheets (24" x 54") and the way that it wanted to roll, I had to make a seam up the middle.

    The edges were somewhat fragile so I put some of the foil tape on them as well and folded it over.

    Here it is laid flat and cut out before putting the foil tape on all the edges of the cutouts. The circles were a bit tedious but not too bad.

    And, finally, installed.

    A shot of the back . . .

    and the front.

    Haven't had a chance to test it yet, hopefully tonight but tomorrow for sure.

  6. tn_bbq

    tn_bbq Smoking Fanatic


    A welding blanket might also help.
  7. bbq bubba

    bbq bubba Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Without reading all the way back...what exactly is the point of that???
    In 100* heat??? [​IMG]
  8. doctor phreak

    doctor phreak Smoking Fanatic

    nice job on the cutting looks like it was made for it..let us know how it works
  9. agmeyer

    agmeyer Meat Mopper SMF Premier Member

    Dear Dave; I want to know how you think it works for you, where did you find the insulation, what it costs, and how did you fasten it to the smoker? It looks cool and I bet it pays off.
  10. monicotti

    monicotti Fire Starter

    I like your idea and execution. What is Prodex insulation board, Can you post a link? I have a GOSM and was think of doing something similar, Maybe that board would work for me?
  11. kennymn

    kennymn Meat Mopper

    Monicotti - I went to Home Depot and bought a 4 x 8 sheet of foiled backed styrafoam . Had it on my GOSM for a year and it works great for keeping cold out and heat in .
  12. flyin'illini

    flyin'illini Smoking Fanatic SMF Premier Member

    Bubba, I can see the need on a hot windy day for temp stablilization at least with my ECB electric. I will learn about the drum soon enough. What do you think on that?
  13. chris_harper

    chris_harper Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    That is very similar to the Fyre Wrap I put on my smoker. The stuff I got is good for over 2000°. Here is a pic of the insulation. I put that tape that has the threads woven into it on it. It helps alot. The fire I used to build to get 225° gets it over 300° now. I put it on the ends, top, and back. To bad you are not local to me, I got a whole box of it for free. I have alot left over.
  14. ddave

    ddave Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Thought about doing the welding blanket but didn't know how thick they were. Would have been cheaper i am sure.

    LOL, good point Bubba. Iin 100 degree heat it probably is not necessary although depending on the wind, my hope is that it will help stabilize the end to end temp. In 65 degree temps and a south breeze like I had on Memorial Day, I am hoping it will take the place of a windbreak.

    Don't know how it works yet but I got it from The Heat Wave Pro was about $20 a sheet and the foil tape was about $10. Total about $60 with shipping. (I know welding blankets would have been cheaper.) It is not fastened to the smoker, it just sits on top and the chimney, thermo, and handle cutouts hold it in place. I wanted to be able to take it off on really hot, wind-still days when I don't need it.

    Actually, it may have not been Prodex after all. My local Ace hardware store had 4x8 sheets of 1" thick insulation board. I will confirm the maker and post a link. I don't know what temperature it will handle though.

  15. ddave

    ddave Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Darn . . . I could have save money by paying for you to shiip it to me.[​IMG]

    Thanks for the offer.

  16. ddave

    ddave Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Got to test out the new "hat" today. I ended up making an end piece for the stack end as the wind came up and the end piece seemed to help a lot.

    All in all, I think it helped quite a bit. I don't know that it worked better than a welding blanket. It wasn't the cure all I was hoping for. I have come to the conclusion that my favorite spot for putting the smoker is about the worst place I could have chosen given the prevailing wind direction at my house. The insulation helped but when the wind came up, a wind break on the stack end helped a little bit more. I guess I will have to try swapping ends to put the firebox into the wind (as Capt Dan told me to) and see if that will allow me to smoke there. Otherwise I will have to find a more protected spot -- or build a better wind break.

    I will probably continue to use it, but if I had to do it over again for the price, I would probably have bought a welding blanket and a couple of sheets of OSB for a wind break.

    Oh well, I'll keep trying. [​IMG]

  17. peculiarmike

    peculiarmike Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Why not just paint your smoker SILVER? It will reflect a good portion of the heat loss back into the smoker, reduce fuel use, help stabilize temps.
    If you don't like silver you can shoot black over the silver, it will still work.
    And this REALLY DOES WORK. It's an infrared thing.
    Note the red laser dots in the pics, that is the point the infrared thermometer is reading. The drum is painted with two coats of silver paint. The pineapple is a single coat of high temp. black stove paint, no silver under it. Note the temperature difference between the silver area and the black area. Much more heat loss through the black. (Black is an excellent emittor of infrared) The silver is reflecting a significant amount back into the drum and reads a lower temperature.
  18. ddave

    ddave Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Do you need a special kind of sliver paint?

  19. ddave

    ddave Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Upon further review I think this worked very well provided that the smoker is situated with the firebox end into the wind.

    It does not pay to be stubborn. [​IMG][​IMG]


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