Help on Smoker/Grill purchase

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by wcwilson, Sep 25, 2013.

  1. wcwilson

    wcwilson Newbie

    My wife and I are in the process of building a lake house and so I need to figure out what my options are with grills and smokers.  Currently, I have a BGE which I think I'll be able to just wheel out from the basement onto a patio.  At home I have a Little Chief smoker which I use solely for smoking trout and bass I bring home from the lake.  Its a little small for what I'm doing and so I'd like to abandon that and get something for the lake which I can smoke fish as well as handle ribs/briskets, etc.  Similarly, I think my BGE is a little small for smoking fish.

    I will need a propane grill for cooking hamburgers, hotdogs, etc., and was wondering if there was a grill out there which could grill on the main surface, but also act as an offset smoker, too.  I probably have about six feet of space in the corner of a covered porch which I can use.  Unfortunately, I can't incorporate a vent of any kind since the roof is causing some issue, so my hope is that I can put a box fan or something out there to keep the smoke away from the house.

    Does anyone have a suggestion for whether there's a smoker out there that does it all, or should I keep the idea of an offset smoker separate from the propane grill....anyone with the perfect "lake" setup?

    I've searched the site fairly extensively, but forgive me, I'm a newbie.

  2. forluvofsmoke

    forluvofsmoke Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    What you are proposing is a dual-fuel smoker-grill with a charcoal-fired side fire box, smoke chamber/charcoal grill, and on the far end is a propane grill. There are several brands available is from the big-box retailer, Sam's Club, the Smoke Hollow 4-in-1. If I'm not mistaken, Charbroil has one, and possibly Char-Griller. I can't think of the rest off the top of my head, but I think there are more brands. Not supposed to post off-site links, so search for their home pages online and check the products pages for hybrid or dual-fuel smoker/grills.

    Width of the Smoke Hollow is 82", so you're looking at 7' x 2' of foot-print when not in use...horizontal smokers and grills do have that disadvantage when space is limited.

    Have you considered a wide-body vertical propane cabinet smoker? I have a 24" wide that handles even the largest whole beef brisket, full slabs of pork spare ribs and large whole pork loin with ease. Add a medium/small propane grill with a infrared sear burner and you pretty much can cover what you're wanting to cook, with two much smaller foot-prints that can be moved separately. I prefer charcoal for grilling, but that's just me.

    If you're cooking in a confined area as you described, you'll definitely want cross-ventilation, either through open windows with a breeze, or forced ventilation. Also, grilling will cause an accumulation of grease-laden smoke (things can get pretty messy), so lots of ventilation is needed when accomplished away from enclosed/confined areas altogether.

    Last edited: Sep 25, 2013
  3. wcwilson

    wcwilson Newbie

    Thanks for the info. I also prefer charcoal over gas. Sometimes, the kids are in too big a hurry for lunch and they aren't that particular. Of course, if I have any time at all, hamburgers, hotdogs, everything is going on the BGE.

    I haven't done any smoking on the egg yet. My bad, and what concerns me with the egg is how to build the fire so that you get plenty of smoke over the entire cooking period. With the Little Chief, I can put alder, apple, whatever in there every couple of hours and know its getting good smoke. Also, I like having the racks to get lots of fish on there. Sometimes, I want to smoke 8 or 9 fish at a time, which I just can't do with what I have.

    I am certainly concerned about the ventilation. I'd love an outdoor area that was permanent where I could have all of it set up, but just can't find the right place. I also like your idea of a vertical smoker, but not sure why you prefer propane over charcoal. I'll continue with the exploratory committee.
  4. forluvofsmoke

    forluvofsmoke Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Propane smokers are just easier to manage for me, especially for large quantities of meats, and long smokes. I tried a offset smoker (SnP 40"), but after doing a full-length tuning plate so I could get even grate temps, the fuel consumption went through the roof in order to get up to temp and maintain it (20lbs charcoal in 10-12 hrs), so I had to load it up to justify firing it up at all. I ended up making a dedicated charcoal grill out of that smoker. But when I'm in the mood for the flavor and willing to do a little more tending, my modded charcoal gourmet (ECB) turns out some great eats. I haven't done such extensive mods that I can make the minion method work in it (needs sealed-up on the bottom joints, access doors, etc), so I add hot coals as needed. I do have a second barrel mod I can add at any time with 2 more grates for a total of 4 grates if I have a lot of smaller cuts of meat to smoke and I'm in the mood for the charcoal fire, so it's a nice change of pace for me, but for long smokes like pork butts and picnics, it's a lot of non-stop work keeping it fueled. Shorter smokes it's quite enjoyable, though. In fact, I have 2 beef tri-tips thawing right now that I wanted to drop into the gourmet in a day or 2...hope the weather doesn't get too nasty...70% chance of rain and snow Thursday night and Friday, but only 30% chance of rain Thursday, so I might dodge the snow and smoke 'em up in the morning.

    You might consider a small quick-set shelter to set your cooker under, then just move it back into your porch when you're done and everything has cooled off. I've used temporary shelter for my cookers for several years...even in mid-winter during for me...if I'm in the mood for a smoke, I just do it, without regard to the weather, unless of course we're talking about severe thunderstorms. As long as you can set it up on the down-wind side of a structure, you shouldn't have much trouble with temp control, especially when you can keep the cooker dry under a shelter...wind is your worst enemy with temp control.


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