Help with deciding on my first smoker.

Discussion in 'Charcoal Smokers' started by alcoasmoker, Mar 6, 2016.

  1. alcoasmoker

    alcoasmoker Newbie

    So I have been wanting to jump into the game for a while now. The wife has suggested a BGE but that's not in the budget for now. I also want to try my hand at smoking before making a big purchase like the Egg. So what do you guys recommend for a beginner wanting to burn wood on a budget. ($200 or less)
  2. bwsmith_2000

    bwsmith_2000 Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Weber Great Smoky Mountain smoker. You can''t go wrong with that one.
  3. joe black

    joe black Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    WSM is a good starting place. It will be more then $200, but will last a long time and you can add an offset stick burner later. You will probably find that burning mostly charcoal will give you better management. But adding small splits or chunks will give you a good smoke and wood flavor.

    Good luck and good smokin', Joe
  4. bbqwillie

    bbqwillie Smoking Fanatic

    Slow down Captain. For $200 you're looking at a box store cheapie that burns charcoal. You're not gonna find a stick burner for that kinda money. If you want something that's in your price range that gets decent reviews then maybe this will work for you:

    There are some YouTube reviews of them. That might get you in the game and give you some experience at your price point.
    Last edited: Mar 6, 2016
  5. hawtsauc3

    hawtsauc3 Fire Starter

    WSM 14.5" is in that range or you can spend $100 more and get the 18" model which is what I'm saving up for
  6. You can't go wrong with a WSM, but I do a lot of smoking on my weber kettle as well. The price is less than a WSM, and if you get the bug, and still want a stick burner, you can use the kettle for grillin'.  You can never have too many grills/smokers right.
  7. alcoasmoker

    alcoasmoker Newbie

    Thanks for the information guys! I should also mention that while this will be my first smoker, pending good results it won't be my last. 😉
  8. davidski

    davidski Smoke Blower

    I am a backyard pit smoker with about 6 seasons under my belt and id like to help you learn from my mistakes. 

    heres the deal with your price point. you can either buy a PBC or a weber smoky mountain, and it is set it and forget it... like a crock pot... it will make awesoem food... but you wont learn anything.  You'll actually handicap yourself into thinking yours a badass. 


    You have to buy a crappy 1/16" steel 2 year smoker. i say 2 year because on the 3rd year its disintegrates into a rust pile. Examples of these would be anything by chargriller, low end brinkmans, low end charbroils, etc....

    My first was a Chargriller, and i struggled big time but i learned alot. after mine died in 2 years i upgraded to a Brinkmann Trailmaster LE.. the steel was twice as thick, but if you smoked at night or in winter, youre in and out of the house every 10 minutes trying to warm or cool the chamber. 

    Im now on my 3rd smoker, Oklahoma joe longhorn. i just bought it and still havent cooked on it yet. Im betting i will get at least 5 years from this smoker if i do her right. My next one will be a Horizon or some other 600lb solid steel smoker. 

    You have to ask yourself.. how involved do you want to be with your hardware. The set it and forget it way have been designed for that units sweet spot.. like the Egg as you mentioned. 

    If you want to be involved, tweaking and playing with settings, youre going to want an offset smoker. 

    My opinion..  If you want easy results, get the PBC for 299. when you are sure bbq is for you, in a few years get the egg. 

    If you want to get in the trenches and be covered in soot and smoke... grab either a Oklahoma Joe Highland for 299... or if you can still find a Brinkmann Trailmaster. Brinkmann went bankrupt and Homedepot has been liquidating there stock for a month... but you can still find that smoker and its only 199 now. 

    Spend a solid 300 do get started.... whatever you buy, dont start with super crap models. 
  9. vulnox

    vulnox Newbie

    I recommend the WSM as well.  I know you said $200, but consider doing an 18.5 inch WSM and getting it from  Then use coupon code: 154250TWB for $15 off $250.

    That makes the 18.5inch WSM $284, with free shipping and no tax.  When you factor in tax on even your $200 budget, assuming you paid tax somewhere, that closes the gap a lot.

    And just read people's reviews of the WSM on this forum.  The most common thing you will see is that it is extremely easy to maintain temps and requires little oversight.  Start factoring in what your time is worth.  I had an electric smoker before the WSM, a Masterbuilt 30, and was always having to mess with either the wood chips in the loader, or keeping the Amazn smoker tray going when it would go out, building mods to make it happen, etc.  With the WSM there is almost no concern of those issues. 

    So factor what your time is worth or how much you may end up spending in the long run if whatever you get that is cheap annoys you so much you end up getting the WSM in the end, basically the situation I was in.

    Anyway, good luck, I know a budget is a budget, and that is important, just hoping you consider all sides of and what your time is worth beyond the initial investment.
  10. typerhonda

    typerhonda Newbie

    This is an interesting thought process and I agree with you.  I tell you I love my PBC, everyone loves the food but I agree now that I have the basics, I think its time to start doing more.  Since the PBC was my first smoker I can't compare to something cheaper but I can tell you that the overall ease of using it has made me want to do more and advance to the next level and get a better smoker.....As for the budget, the PBC is a little more expensive for a first timer, but the ease of use can't be knocked or beat IMO....
  11. joe black

    joe black Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    I used a WSM for a number of years and I loved it. I highly recommend it for a starter. It is very user friendly and will give you some excellent food product. It is basically a charcoal burner, but you can add flavor chunks or even small splits for some wood learning. A couple of suggestions, use the water bowl for a couple of times and switch to sand for a couple of times and then just foil the pan and see which way is best for you. You can get higher temps without the water. Get a lid hinge and put screen door handles on the middle section for ease of handling.

    Good luck in your research and good smokin', Joe
  12. mickhlr

    mickhlr Smoke Blower

    Also highly recommend the WSM.  I did it backwards from a lot of folks, as most say start with a WSM and graduate to a stick burner.  Well, I smoked meat on stick burners for 35 years, and finally bought a 22.5 WSM to add to my stable of cookers, grills, smokers.  Now, a month later, with 7 total smokes and 3 of them all nighters, it is the ONLY smoker I own.  After being a barbecue purist all my life, I went to the dark side.  And, after buying a 26.75" Weber kettle last year, I also got rid of all my other grills, including a Weber Genesis 330 that I just never used any more, because of the kettle.  Anything I want to cook I can cook on either the 22.5 WSM or the 26.75 kettle. 

    I've never imagined a smoker that would hold temp as well as the WSM.  So, let me see if I can save you some money, if you're "thinking" about a BGE, I was thinking the same thing.  Basically, I was looking for "ease of use".  The 22.5 WSM is $399, and the 26.75" Weber kettle is $300.  I added some wheels to my WSM for about $20.  The 22.5 WSM has 726 sq in total cooking area...and the 26.75" kettle has 508 sq in cooking area.  An XL BGE costs twice what the 22.5 WSM and 26.75 kettle costs, and has 452 sq in cooking area. 

    So, my advice, to save money, spend a little more and get the 22.5 WSM, and forget about anything cheaper or the BGE.  You won't regret it. 
    Last edited: Apr 11, 2016

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