The smokehouse truck plays a crucial role in the strength and health of an oven’s airflow.
As we’ve mentioned before, the airflow, or more specifically the breakpoint, is the most important feature in any smokehouse or dehydrator. It cooks product in the oven, and is responsible for yields, color, and consistency.
Better airflow equals better product.
It stands to reason then that you’d want to invest in equipment — be it a smokehouse or a smokehouse truck — that helps optimize the airflow in the oven.
How Smokehouse Trucks Affect Airflow
Air in an industrial smokehouse or dehydrator will always flow to the point of least resistance — so when you introduce an object into the path of the air, like a smokehouse truck, it changes how the air moves.
We ran an airflow simulation to see just how much a smokehouse truck affects airflow.
As you can see in the images above, introducing a truck into the oven changes the airflow.
The location of the breakpoint, where the high velocity and low velocity airstreams collide and shoot across the oven, changes.
The velocity of the airflow changes as well. A truck degrades the airflow faster, as seen by the dark blue (lower velocity) arrows appearing much sooner in the image with the truck.
The airflow also gets tighter across the bottom of the oven when a truck is introduced — mostly because it creates an obstacle to hinder air from moving any higher.
Features You Want in a Smokehouse Truck
Simply introducing a truck into a smokehouse or dehydrator changes the way air moves. There’s no getting around it.
However, there are a few design features on a smokehouse truck that will improve airflow in your oven.
If air needs to flow across the racks on a smokehouse truck to cook product (hint: it does!), and you want to keep that airflow from being degraded (hint: you do!), then it seems to reason that a smokehouse truck with open sides is the way to go.
All smokehouse trucks have some kind of structural component to hold the truck together and support the product screens.
Most smokehouse trucks have this structural component, whether a bar going up the center or on the ends of the cart, on the sides of the truck that face the oven side walls — where the air flows in the oven.
It seems like a smart design, put the structural components that get in the way of loading and unloading the truck to the side to make it easier to use, but in reality, it’s the worst spot to maximize airflow in your oven.
The high and low velocity air streams that collide to create the breakpoint (the air that actually cooks your product) move down the side walls of your oven. When the breakpoint is created, that air shoots across your product from those same sides — meaning, if the structural components of your smokehouse truck face the side walls of the oven, it will obstruct the breakpoint.
The best smokehouse truck design places the structural components on the sides facing the front and back of the oven. This eliminates obstructions to the breakpoint air stream, resulting in a more evenly cooked product across the truck.
12″ Floor Clearance
The bottom of your smokehouse truck is another area that can either hinder or help oven airflow.
The high velocity airflow travels down the side wall and across the floor of your oven to meet the low velocity airflow and form the breakpoint. In other words, it travels under your smokehouse truck.
The European style smokehouse truck (with low floor clearance and six wheels) is the most popular on the market right now, but greatly hinders the airflow in your oven.
As mentioned above, proper smokehouse truck design should eliminate obstructions to oven airflow. A smokehouse truck with a low floor clearance (like found in the European style truck) causes a big obstruction to oven airflow. This low design essentially creates a “wall” on the floor of the oven, breaking the high velocity airflow and affecting where the breakpoint occurs.
Instead, look for a truck that has a minimum of 12″ clearance from the floor. This will allow the high velocity air stream to move unobstructed and unbroken across the floor of your industrial smokehouse or dehydrator and create the breakpoint exactly where it needs to be.
Avoid These Like the Plague
When shopping for a truck for your oven, here are a few designs you should avoid, as they create obstacles that hinder and degrade airflow, resulting in weaker yields and poor consistency.
Invest in Good Smokehouse Truck Design
The design of the truck you use in your industrial smokehouse or dehydrator is crucially important to creating the breakpoint airstream (the air that cooks your product) exactly where you want it.
The best design for a smokehouse truck includes unobstructed sides and a 12″ clearance from the floor.
While it may seem like an expense to replace the trucks you use in your industrial smokehouse or dehydrator to trucks with a proper design, such a decision is really an investment.
Continuing to use a poorly designed truck costs you more than purchasing new smokehouse trucks ever could: in uneven, inconsistently cooked product, low product yields, and an inefficiently operating industrial smokehouse or dehydrator.
Investing in good smokehouse truck design will increase the consistency of your cooked or dried product and help your oven run more efficiently — that alone is worth the investment.