Want to Buy Smoker

Discussion in 'Roll Call' started by smokinjon, Apr 29, 2010.

  1. Hey Everybody...First time posting here. I have been wanting to buy a smoker and get into smoking for a while now and think I am finally going to go ahead and buy a smoker. My problem is I do not know much about smoking. Can anyone point me in the right direction of a good smoker to start out on. I dont want to spend a fortune but would like something that cooks well and is reliable. Thanks for the help!
  2. pineywoods

    pineywoods Smoking Guru Staff Member Administrator Group Lead SMF Premier Member

    Welcome to SMF glad you decided to join us. There are lots of good smokers out there the first real decision you need to make is if you want to use electric, propane, charcoal, or straight wood splits for a fuel source.
  3. I have done a little research and as of now am leaning toward a propane smoker...However I am open to suggestions.
  4. pineywoods

    pineywoods Smoking Guru Staff Member Administrator Group Lead SMF Premier Member

    The kind of smoker is probably the the hardest part for most people they all have advantages and disadvantages. I have a GOSM propane smoker and like it as do most of the other people who own one. People here that use electric seem to really like the MES. Many of the charcoal users are going with the WSM. If you don't know what the abbreviations stand for just hold your cursor over them and it will tell you what they stand for.
  5. garyt

    garyt Smoking Fanatic

    are you looking for set it and forget it, or do you want to tend a fire.
  6. Since I am new to smkoing I would probably be looking for the set it and forget it route to start with.
  7. pineywoods

    pineywoods Smoking Guru Staff Member Administrator Group Lead SMF Premier Member

    Heres my personal opinion and I'm sure others will disagree
    Electric is the easiest but is the hardest to get smoke flavor from
    Propane is the next easiest and easier to get smoke flavor
    Charcoal is the next easiest and produces good smoke flavor
    Stick burners are the ones that require the most attention but produce the best smoke flavor

    I would also suggest signing up for Jeff's 5 Day Ecourse its free and will give you some great info
  8. Great...I willl sign up for the course...Thanks for all of the helpful info!
  9. rickw

    rickw Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    I've had a propane unit years ago. IMO my WSM is just as easy to maintain as the propane unit was, if not easier, and give the product a much better smoke flavor.
  10. bearcarver

    bearcarver Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    I agree with Piney on this (and a lot of other things).[​IMG]
  11. forluvofsmoke

    forluvofsmoke Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Judging from your location alone, you have the availability of hardwoods for smoke and for fire. So that would be a viable option, though expense of the smoker will generally be higher than the other fuel types.

    IMO, for ease of use and pretty decent smoked product, I use propane more than charcoal. If I had the availability of hardwoods for fuel, I'd be running a stick-burner by now, but that's not an option where I live.

    My Smoke Vault 24 is a high capacity smoker (for small gatherings or family use), and is strictly propane fueled. It can handle full packer briskets or pork loins, 7-bone beef rib roasts, etc. with ease.

    I have the smallest GOSM (3405GW), which is propane fueled as well, but I modded it for a quick-change over to charcoal a while back, and have used it with charcoal several times...it does a beautiful job with the color and flavors of the finished product. This is best suited for whole chickens, pork butts, beef chuck roasts and smaller items, because of it's smaller grate size.

    Then, there's my SNP 40" horizontal with side fire box. Originally, I used it once with charcoal for a brisket, pork ribs and large fatties. After that day I converted it to propane due to the excessive amount of charcoal consumption. I also installed a custom built tuning plate and this really helped me turn around the grate temp variations. Horizontals are not very fuel efficient, but the ease of their use out-weighs the fuel consumption IMO. I have since used this smoker for many charcoal fired smokes and have been very pleased with the results. I was looking for that deeper flavor which only a solid fueled fire can give.

    Between the vertical smokers and the horizontal smokers, I really can't say which I like best because my use of each type is based upon what I'm trying to accomplish for that particular smoke. I guess it gives me more flexibility to change how I will cook my food. I do smoke larger volumes at times, and have been known to have 2 or 3 smokers running at on time, though, 3 is rare. Sometimes I feel like a bit more of a challenge which I can get from a charcoal fire, and when I want that really great flavor...that's when it's time for a charcoal fire for me.

    Anyway, for the beginner, I started on a propane smoker (the GOSM), after smoking pork spare ribs on a gas grill for several years. The only regret I had about this smoker is that I didn't buy a larger size. It served me very well for several years, and then I started upgrading to larger smokers.

    I digressed, but that's a closer look at the reasons behind my collection of smokers, and how I got started.

    My advice would be to start with an easy rig to operate, with good reliability...propane fueled would be my choice. Fuel is inexpensive, the smokers are inexpensive, and they require little tending during a smoke, and are basically an all-weather cooker, as cold temps won't make them shy away from putting out high enough chamber temps to get the job done.

    As you get more involved in smoking, you may want to add a second smoker, just for the challenge, or one which offers larger grate space, for the larger cuts of meats. I'd just start out slow and go with the flow...you'll know when you're ready to make a change.

    Welcome to the craft, brother!

  12. 200xga

    200xga Newbie

    difenitly look into the UDS (ugly drum smoker). its my first smoker i built it and it works awsome. only had it for a few mounths and cant stop using it. if i would have known about the uds and this site a few years ago i would probably be overweight by now.
  13. Awesome everybody...thanks for all the good knowledge...I think I'm leaning toward the route you suggested Eric...Start easy with the propane and grow from there. Cant wait for some good eatin.
  14. I Say Go With A Big Ole Ugly Drum Smoker With Charcoal , And A Stick Of Apple Wood Plenty O Smoke And Plenty Of Time For Chillaxin And Gettin All The Honey Dooos Done !!!!!!!
  15. What kind of smoker you go with is really up to the individual and should be based on your personal style of and reason for cooking Q.

    Some people just want really good food and they're not particular about how they get it. They're more interested in eating than cooking. They tend to want to set it and forget it so they can socialize, play or go do other stuff while the food is cooking. For them, electric, propane, pellet poopers or puck shooters are a good way to go.

    Other people are more into the process of making great food than they are really into the food itself. They're the pyros who are all about building, nuturing and using an actual fire made of wood or charcoal to cook their meat. They tend to like to fiddle with things; poke a bit here, tug a bit there, adjust a draft or realign a tuning plate. For those folks, stick-burning offsets are just about the pinacle of Q machines because they take more work and actually force you to cook instead of socialize or play.

    Then, there's the folks that are in the middle: They like cookers like the Ugly Drum Smoker, Weber Smoky Mountain, ProQ, etc. The vertical water smoker and UDS crowd like good food and think that an actual wood-based fire provides better flavor, but are either not interested in babysitting an offset or have "been there - done that - got the t-shirt/trophy" and just don't want to mess with it anymore.

    So... what you get is really up to you. What do you want? Why do you want to Q? Are you just a week-ender who wants to kick out some awesome grub every once in a while for family and friends or are you going to be a die-hard, Q-lovin', smoke-obsessed fanatic that fires up the rig no less than three times a week regardless of weather, invite the neighborhood out so you can practice cooking on a massive scale for your catering business or next competition?

    Answer those questions, then come back and I promise you'll get much more useful opinions.
  16. coco

    coco Fire Starter

    As someone new to smoking, here are two of the most important things that make my smokes successful:

    1. Don't have the smoker billowing out smoke. You want good smelling thin blue smoke. The heavy white smoke is bitter.

    2. Get a digital remote thermometer. It will keep you from opening the smoker door too much, and will be a great learning tool to help you understand the temperature swings in your smoker. Also the door thermometers are usually wrong. Mine is 30-40F.

    I have a reasonably priced Brinkmann propane vertical smoker I picked up at Home Depot. Someday I'll likely upgrade or go bigger, but I really like it.
  17. Still havent made a decision...I am hung up between a propane smoker and a charcoal/wood burning smoker. As a beginner who does not know the ins and outs of smoking, I think I should go with the propane. But I also like the idea of tending the fire and putting more work into the actual cooking. I'm hoping to make a decision this week so I can get to cooking next weekend. Thanks again for all of the advice.

    Southern Home Boy...Not quite sure I understand the difference between your second and third options.
  18. ellymae

    ellymae Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I think you need to decide how you want to cook. I don't have any experience with gas or electric cookers so I can give you no opinion.
    I started with a brinkman bullet smoker, theough it was difficult because it was a pain to add fuel. Moved onto an offset from Home Depot - found it pretty easy to use without any mods. Did a stint with a Bandera, now have a Klose and a BGE.
    If you want to learn fire control, go with an off set or a WSM. If you want set it and forget it go gas or electric. There are pros and cons of each one. Good luck with your decission.
  19. danielh

    danielh Meat Mopper

    If you dont mind the idea of fire tending.. Go that route.

    Now you just need to decide whether you want a vertical or an offset

    AimtoFind.com still has the 18.5" WSM at $239 shipped which is a steal IMO.. Gets nothing but praise here.

    But it almost sounds like you want or at least 'want to want' an offset charcoal/stick burner. Which cost a ton for a good one, but you can learn the ropes on a ~$200 Brinkmann or chargriller offset..
  20. duck killer 1

    duck killer 1 Smoking Fanatic SMF Premier Member

    his second option is speaking of wood smokers mainly, you need to constantly "stoke" them to maintain an even temp. his third option is speaking of UDS style smokers, which can be incredibly cheap to build and an unrealistic ability to keep temp, i have all 3 styles of smokers ( pellet, reverse flow wood smoker, and UDS) and really enjoy cooking on all 3 of them. they all have a unique effect on the meat. sometimes i'll have something going on all of them if i am cooking for a large crowd. i do enjoy the reverse flow more than any of them and i think it makes the best product of all 3 IMO. you should check out the builds section and see if you get some inspiration to build one yourself.

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