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Smoker grill types

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I saw the previous post on smoker grills, but have a different angle on it.

I have a gas grill, but was looking for an economical smoker to put along side it on the deck.

There is a "Masterbuilt Charcoal Barrel Smoker Sears Item# 07116303000 | Model# 20042111" that has the side fire box for smoking that goes for around $160.

Then there is the vertical charcoal smokers...Round, Square etc. Is there an advantage to having the fire/smoke box on the side versus underneath?

The vertical ones would obviously save some space, but was wondering if it is harder to keep a constant temp with the side smoker vs the vertical. Do you get better flavor with the vertical or the side?

We are on a hill, so it is constantly windy...does the vertical ones keep the wind out better than the side boxes or is there no difference there?

I know you can put the water pan underneath the meat with the vertical but not sure it would be the same using the side smoke box.


The UDS would be nice, but the wife wouldn't allow it on the deck grin

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I can't speak for an offset as I don't have one and have never used one. Hopefully someone else will. The UDS, while a bit redneck, speaks for itself as far as price, ease of use, and quality of food goes. I smoked 2 racks of babybacks on Sunday, and I used less than an ice cream bucket's worth of lump charcoal for a 6 hour smoke, plus had some leftover to re-light for steaks last night. I have 2 grill racks the size of the ones on a 22 1/2" Weber grill, so there is no shortage of room. The design uses the height distance from the heat source to allow for the cooking low and not like a grill, and you do not need a drip pan or water pan. The fat drippings hitting the hot coals gives a flavor that you won't get otherwise, and the charcoal basket holds a lot of charcoal so you can go through a long smoke without needing to refill like an offset would. You can get similar results from a Weber Smokey Mountain at around $400, and it will need charcoal added as you go as it isn't as air tight.

Besides, who wouldn't want something like this on their deck? (Not Mine!)


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I used the vertical style smoker for a few years. They work fine, but are pretty limited on space, and are a hassle to add charcoal (out of the box). There is plenty of information available online to make modifications to make this a little easier.

I have a Brinkmann Trailmaster LE right now (side firebox) which is way easier to use and more consistent. At $400, I would call this a middle of the road consumer model. I have no problem maintaining 225 degrees for as long as I want. It is a fairly big smoker so it uses plenty of charcoal, which IMO is it's only drawback. I did a 12 hour smoke yesterday and used 26# of charcoal.

There are plenty of horizontal side firebox models available, but they use a thinner gauge metal, which means greater temperature fluctuations, and shorter lifespan. But, if you are just looking to get started, there is nothing wrong with them and you'll be able to make some delicious food.

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If you get a vertical smoker, MAKE SURE IT HAS VENTS!!!

The cheaper ones don't and this give you no control on the air (oxygen) flow and thus not much in the way of temp control. You can vary the amount of water since it's job is pretty much to be a heat sink but if you are above 212 it will be evaporating anyway.

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yes i have the Char-Griller with the side box. it took me awhile to "get to know it" so to speak. during the summer months the side box come's in handy for keeping a low temp when i need it. i have done 10 racks of baby backs on it. had to rotate them a few times but they turned out fine. has it's hot spots so i work around that also. i like it for ribs, butts, chicken and do brats on there along with corn and grill vegies.

i did get the Masterbuilt verticle electric smoker for one primary reason and that is to do my venison sausage like kielbasa link types and the summer sausage varieties. haven't used it in the winter yet but my charrgriller just dont maintain the temp i need on cold days for sausage. i can do ribs or chicken in the winter but i dont use the side box then. i have the coals in the barrel off to the side then and the meat on the vent end.

so everything has it's plus's and minus's. it depends on what you are going to cook the majority of the time. i got my side box to fit well but it does still leak some. plus it will rust some also over time. i paid 100 bucks for the barrel when it was on sale and under 50 bucks for the side box. good luck.

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I tested my buddies vertical smoker, smoked some brats and they turned out fine. The instructions say to use 8-10 lbs of charcoal, definitly something to keep in mind if you are going to smoke small batches it cost about 4-5 dollars in charcoal. The smoker could use some modifications in the charcoal pan like some vent holes and a grate to lift the coals up,also an upgrade un the thermometer as it only shows warm, ideal,hot not for example 200 degrees.

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I will be using it for ribs, chicken, brisket and probably pheasants (member at a hunt club).

The wife told me today that I cant have it on the deck, because you dont have a grill and a smoker together crazy ...I never heard of that social phenomenon yet.

I'm probably going to grab the medium duty one at HD as described above.

Now I'll have to start paying attention to things like Charcoal or pellets and how much to use etc.

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I ended up getting the Brinkmann Trailmaster LE with the side firebox. Put it together last night and am smoking up some ribs as we speak.

Am playing around with it trying to figure out temperatures and settings. I did notice that my firebox was not air tight that the sides where it goes together had light coming thru. For now I hammered them together a little more but still has daylight visible. Will need to take apart and put something in there to seal it up more.

I have the vent almost closed and the stack vent closed and my temp is still around 250. That seems high not?

As soon as I open up the stack vent it goes up to 300.

Am I using too much charcoal/wood chunks or is it that the air is getting in the smoke box and making it too hot?

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I used some high temp sealant on all the joints. It might be a good idea to do the same before it gets all greased up.

I was trying to use hardwood/lump charcoal, but the cheap Kingsford sales were too good to pass up With one charcoal chimney full of Kingsford, and intake and exhaust wide open, I maintain a perfect 225. I still have air coming in somewhere, probably the ash drawer.

With the KF, I have to add a lit chimney full every hour or so.

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I think you'll need to source a Weber 26" grill for parts, or make what you need. It will do a fine job, but you may need more heat to get a larger volumed unit up to temp. It still won't be as bad compared to a horizontal that you feed continuously, though. If you make one, I will be envious, that I can assure you. The previously mentioned bbq site has a lot of info on different UDS builds, and I used it a lot when building mine and starting to smoke food.

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