Regular offset vs reverse flow offset vs vertical with side firebox

Discussion in 'Wood Smokers' started by wild bill, May 7, 2012.

  1. wild bill

    wild bill Newbie


    In the market for an up grade.  Have a cheap horizontal offset and was wondering what, if any, advantages/disadvantages the reverse flow horizontal and the vertical with side firebox have.  Had a vertical with the heat directly under the meat and do not want to use that type again. 

    Tried to use the search feature, but the threads I read seem to get of topic and everyone was more interest in showing pix of what they had than helping out the person needing help. 

    Thanks for any help you may provide.

    Wild Bill

    somewhere in NE OK
    bbqguy1970 likes this.
  2. I believe its all personal preference. I have had all three(well not a reverse flow) and they all smoke meat well. Reverse flows I believe are great to have but can get pricey if your not a competition cooker. This past weekend I have never seen so many smokers parked in parking lots smoking meat and selling it. And each smoker was diff. It all depends on your budget, your intentions(competion,backyard bbq, etc) and what you feel most comfortable with.

    Whatever you get let us see it and happy smoking
  3. icemanrrc

    icemanrrc Fire Starter

    Before buying my Lang 36, I owned a Char-griller Super Pro with the side fire box and a Weber Smokey Mountain (WSM). I made some pretty good Que with both of them, especially after modding the Chargriller and adding a BBQ Guru to both units. That being said, I will say you can make some really good BBQ with cheaper units. However, I will admit that my Que really stepped up a big notch when I started using the Lang. I believe 100% in the reverse flow. My temps are within 5 degrees from one side to the other. I am using the exact same rubs and sauces. All I changed is the smoker.
  4. dog1234

    dog1234 Smoke Blower

    What is a reverse flow smoker?
  5. jckdanls 07

    jckdanls 07 Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member

    Wild Bill... I am all for the reverse Iceman said the temps from one end to the other differ slightly... as to where just a regular SFB smoker, temp is very hot at the fire box end so you don't really get to use the whole grate... So if you want to use the whole smoke chamber, reverse flow is what you want....
  6. wild bill

    wild bill Newbie

    Thanks, for the replies.  I will start looking for a reverse flow unit. 

    Wild Bill
  7. I have used them all and Im still hooked on the verticle unit with the firebox attached directly underneath. The small cheap units do not seperate the firebox from the cooking chamber, but a well built smoker of this style will outperform any horizontal smoker any day. You will use a lot less wood, have better control over your temp. and have more surface area with smaller footprint.
    joda d banjo likes this.
  8. bruno994

    bruno994 Master of the Pit

    Wild Bill, if you are set against vertical style smokers, then I would suggest going with the reverse flow smoker.  If and when I build another, it will be either a larger RF or a vertical cabinet or vault style smoker.  I like both, but have yet to use a vertical, but I have used direct flow and reverse flow, and prefer reverse flow.  I have cooked next to a team using the vertical smoker and liked it quite a bit.  I spent alot of time asking questions and checking it out.  Back on subject, temps are much closer from end to end with the RF than a direct flow.  Another plus with reverse flow is the RF plate also helps a smoker hold it's temps better and recover quicker from repeated chamber door openings.  As soon as you close the door on mine (1 large door), the digital therm located on the center of my bottom cooking grate starts climbing rapidly.  However, if you can find a direct flow with tuning plates, this is a great alternative to reverse flow as well.  The tuning plates heat up just as the RF plate does, but allows you to move them and 'tune' your smoker.  I personnally have never used one, but the concept is right on.  I considered doing this when I started my RF build. 

    Are you looking for a trailer rig or patio?  If your looking for trailer unit, try these guys...reverse flow and all the extras...Tyler, Texas, not too far from you...

    I'm sure there are a number of manufacturers in OK as well.
  9. wild bill

    wild bill Newbie


    Not really set against a vertical, just have not had very many give me a positive feedback on them.  Saw one and it was a lot easier for me to open than the horizontal.  Must admit that I have been wanting a RFS for sometime.  I am not having much luck in finding a dealer in the Tulsa area for smokers of any type.  Any suggestions?  Been to the home improvement stores, academy, atwood's, and a store that has to do with patio merchandise.  The latter two had the best to chose from, but no RFS.

    Thanks again for the input.  Would appreciate any suggestions in the Tulsa area to look at RFS.  Not real keen on a FOB purchase, especially without physically seeing the unit I am purchasing.

    Will Bill
  10. bruno994

    bruno994 Master of the Pit

    Yeah, you're not going to find a RF unit at a retailer.  Kind of a specialty item for those in the business of smokers.  The real question is what are you looking to spend?  Take a look at the Lang Smokers...'s of Lang owners here on SMF.  Another option if your wanting to keep on a budget, would be to find a direct flow smoker locally (at a retailer like Lowes, Home Depot , Academy, etc) that looks like it could be easily converted with a little metal work into a RF model.  By converted I mean that might already have a baffle or deflector plate coming out of the firebox that you could extend across the width of the cook chamber, then look at the stack, could it be moved easily?  Is it bolted or welded into the chamber?  Bolted, it would be an easy move, welded, a bit tougher, but it can be done.  Just a few more suggestions..   
  11. wild bill

    wild bill Newbie

    Hear a lot of good about the Lang, but I just do not want to spend that kind of money without seeing what I am getting.  With the shipping costs added, I may be able to find someone in the area to weld one up for that, I do not know.  One of my main concerns is lifting the door.  Tried one at Academy and my back did not like it much.  That is why I started to look at the vertical units with the offset firebox.  Had one with the heat directly under the meat and did not care for that much.  The el cheapo DFS I have now, is so much better than that, I would not consider a vertical with heat directly under the meat.  The only thing I hear about the VOS is they are fuel hogs and they are difficult to regulate the temp.  That is why I posted here in hopes of hearing opinions on the type unit. 

    Thanks to all and have a great weekend!!!

    Brisket, bologna, and maybe a chicken or two on the smoker tomorrow.

    Will Bill
  12. icemanrrc

    icemanrrc Fire Starter

    I've made some great BBQ with cheap smokers and top of the line. I started out with a direct flow Char-griller Super Pro with the side fire box that I got from Lowe's. Modded it to make it a crap smoker into a pretty decent one for the money. Then, I got a vertical Weber Smokey Mountain (WSM). I added a BBQ Guru to it and made some killer BBQ. Very fuel efficient. I could get a 16 hour + smoke out of one ring of charcoal. I will have to say though, after I got my Lang, my Que stepped up big time. I didn't change my rub or sauce, just the smoker. I am a beliver in the RF method and cooking with real wood.
  13. For the record, the kind of verticle smoker I recomend and build,  DO NOT have the meat and the fire in the same box. The firebox is only located under the smoking chamber, with the heat and smoke delivered at both bottom edges of the smoking chamber , not derectly under the meat.  I see so much reference to reverse flow "pipe" smokers being the best, but they are only doing 1/2 of what a well built verticle smoker can do. Picture it as two reverse flow smokers butted up together.
    joda d banjo likes this.
  14. jckdanls 07

    jckdanls 07 Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member

    maybe start a thread with some pics of your build ?
  15. michael ark

    michael ark Master of the Pit

    A backwoods is a vertical reverse flow that can burn wood or charcoal check them out they have won many many comps.
    Last edited: May 15, 2012
  16. so ms smoker

    so ms smoker Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member

    I would love to see some pics of this too!

  17. butch burton

    butch burton Newbie

    I just got my Lang 36" smoker delivered to my door.  The smoker got loose on the trailer and fell over tearing off the top of the rain guard.  The delivery guy said he would replace the smoker - I told him to just send me another rain cover.  I do not need one as I have a very large garage.

    Anyway this thing weighs 608 pounds and the stability of the heat is amazing.  I had built a reverse flow years ago using a char broil I bought and by adding a 1/2" piece of cold rolled steel to seperate the grill and smoke and replacing the chimney to the bottom of the grill making a copy of the Klose grill.  Klose is a very good smoker but IMHO Lang is better because it weighs twice as much for the same money.  Lang also has been around for 10 years than Klose so that is where Klose got their design.

    Smoked a couple of briskets and they were fantastic.  I make my own dry rub using a lot of spices I buy from Pendry's of Ft. Worth.  They have the absolute best selection of all kinds of peppers including ground and whole and have been in business for over 100 years.  If you like capsaicin - this is the place to get it.  

    You will get lots of grease when you smoke brisket - check out the size of that valve - it is large and a gate valve - would have been much cheaper to go with a ball valve but the grease would stick a ball valve and it would not operate.  If you like to make your own gravy - use that grease - nothing better.

    Am going to smoke a ham for Thanksgiving - turkey is way too dry for me.  Intend to try a goose - probably for Christmas - kind of pricey though but goose is wonderful.

    I smoke with oak and have an excellent source - got a face cord for $100.  Am installing a wood burning stove in a couple of weeks - I have a fireplace but below 38F even with outside combustion air - it is at best a break even proposition.  If you are in the market for a wood burning stove, get the heaviest you can find and get a non catalytic one - a fouled catalyst is pricey to replace and the good stoves achieve relatively the same results with their design.

  18. Awesome Butch,

    I am glad that you are happy with you Lang.

    Wish you would send me a little of that cold weather my way in Palm Bay, FL.

  19. bbqguy1970

    bbqguy1970 Newbie

    Hi Wild Bill,

    I was able to find this post on comparing reverse flow vs standard offset smokers. It doesn't refer to uprights, but might help get you headed in the right direction.

    Hope that helps!

  20. 3montes

    3montes Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    A bit misleading. I have both. Vertical with side firebox and a horizontal with side fire box. My horizontal has tuning plates across the bottom. I can get my temps within 5 or ten degrees from end to end by adjusting the tuning plates or 40 or 50 degrees difference from one end to the other. Say I want to do ribs at 250 on one end of the smoker and chicken at 300 on the other end I can accomplish this with the tuning plates. Something you won't do with a reverse flow. I can actually get the end by the fire box to run cooler than the exhaust end.

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