Insulation for medium sized home brew (Smoker)

Discussion in 'Smoke Houses' started by dward51, Dec 4, 2011.

  1. dward51

    dward51 Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Guys, I have a build question.

    For a medium (MES40 or slightly larger) sized electric home brew build, where the unit will be lined inside with aluminum or stainless and the temp will never exceed 250*, do you have to use super high temp mineral wool insulation or can unfaced fiberglass or some other less expensive and locally obtainable insulation suffice?

    I'm thinking of using 1/4" Hardiboard cement board which is faced with metal to make clean up manageable. The hardi-board is 90% cement, with the remainder being sand and a slight binder content and is approved for a 1 hour fire rated wall. Should be enough mass to act like a heat sink to moderate temp swings, but no so much it will take forever to heat up. Weight of the board is 1.9 pounds per sq foot so it should help keep weight down too.  I also like the idea of added fire resistance if we have a unplanned flambe.

    I would love to make a super smoke house cabinet, but as I'm not yet into sausage making and still on a budget (kids in college), scaling down to MES40 size is more real world right now.

    Of course the question of "why not just buy a MES" will come up.  I have most of the parts needed and just seemed like it might be an interesting project.
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2011
  2. pops6927

    pops6927 Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    You are in Georgia, what is your normal winter temps?  Do you really need to insulate it?  I've got a full size smokehouse and just did buck board bacon for 12 hours yesterday and temp was max 50° and no heating problems at all; in my Cabela's electric I'd smoke in the 30's with no problems (check out my Smokehouse link 1st in line on my sig line below).  
  3. michael ark

    michael ark Master of the Pit

    You title is strange we have a home brew beer thread here.You may want to change it to smoke house .
  4. dward51

    dward51 Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Changed the title (good one Michael).

    Pops, I'm thinking of insulation to keep the electric element from running all the time.  I have never had an issue in Georgia with my WSM and temps, but I have a very large covered porch and unless it's very very windy normally don't even give the weather a 2nd thought.  Just don't want to run a 1500 watt (or bigger) element all the time on a long low smoke. 

    I would like to get a stainless food warmer to convert, but just found out yesterday I'm going to have to get the plumber to run a new 300' main water line from the meter to the house ($1,250).  Apparently one of the trees roots have cracked the original PVC from 1995 "somewhere".  It ended up being cheaper just to run new line and be done with it.  So the smoker build fund took a major hit (errr.... actually wiped it out and then some).

    Plan "C" is just keep on using the WSM and worry about a smoker cabinet and sausage making later.....
  5. tjohnson

    tjohnson Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Insider OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I would keep looking for a cheaper warming cabinet!!

    Just missed a few at auction for under $100

    You can't make a smoke house for $100

    The cement board is a good idea, but probably overkill, and would make your smokehouse pretty heavy.

    Check out Pops smokehouse and there are other smokehouses very similar in build.

  6. dward51

    dward51 Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    I've got a Omega controller, 60amp mercury wetted relays, the high temp wire, temp probe for PID, etc... already sitting around from another project.  If I can get away with at 1500 Brinkman element and find a decent price on a cabinet I might be able to cobble one together on the cheap.  I saw those wonderful wooden smoker Pops and others have made.  I just can't seem to get past heat and a wooden box and the thought of fire....
  7. dward51

    dward51 Master of the Pit OTBS Member


    Where was the auction for cabinets under $100?

    I keep watching craigslist in my area and the ones there are all good working cabinets and cost prohibitive for a conversion.  I've even tried the local restaurant supply houses that deal in used equipment and have the same problem (all good units with working heating elements for $800 and up). Ebay is not much better and you have the added issue of shipping.

    Seems like everything around here that is not nailed down is being sold for scrap metal value so no one has any non-working units.
    Last edited: Dec 11, 2011

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