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Best Beginner Charcoal Smoker - Page 2

post #21 of 43
Hey Jay, Welcome To SMF. I am In Agreement With Jpayer I Still Have My EL Cheapo Brinkman Vertical Smoker And It Is Almost 30 Years Old Now. The Only Mod I Suggest Is Get A Heavy Duty Grate that Fits On The Supplied Charcoal Pan To Allow It To Breath. Of Course I Would Like To have A WSM, they Are The Best But I Don't Want To Spend The Money Either. Any Way Happy SMokin! ! ! Whatever You DeCide!
post #22 of 43

I got an ECB a few weeks ago as I am new at smoking and let me tell you. It is a task at first. I have modded the crap out of it and am going to try some ribs again this weekend. I hope the temps will stay controlled this time. They are cheap to start with so you might wanna try one but if your stress level maxes easily I would not suggest it.

post #23 of 43

I would have to agree with Dirt Sailor and Texas Ray and go with the Mini WSM.  I've been kicking around what smoker to buy for over two years and still plan on getting a larger one someday (the 18.5 WSM) but I built the mini and really see no need to buy another smoker.  You will have a blast building it and there are so many different builds out there you'll have plenty to choose from.  Took mine on a road trip in the motor home  and got some great meals.  Also, you won't be spending a lot on charcoal with the mini.

post #24 of 43

Jaybird, I have NEVER smoked meat until recently, and kind of stumbled into it as I contemplated how to use my abandoned Weber Kettle to smoke meat.  I now use a 22.5" Weber Kettle and the Smokenator.  Although I used the Kettle for grillin' for decades before I switched to propane, I never had much luck with getting the smoked meat taste and texture I desired on the Kettle.  All that changed with the Smokenator.  Wow, we love the results.


You could get a 22.5" Weber One Touch for $100 to $150 (or watch Craigslist for "well loved" deals in the $20-30 range then replace the grates for $25-$30).  Smokenator for $70 delivered.  And a Maverick ET-732 wireless digital dual probe thermometer for $60.  That combination is a great way to learn the art of smoking, temperature management, weather factors, etc.  Smoking meat is definitely an art and no matter what equipment you buy you'll have to learn the techniques and processes to be efficient.  The Smokenator is EASY to use and learn.


I won't argue at all with the guys saying get the 18.5" Weber Smokey Mountain.  That will be my next purchase, probably in the Spring.  The WSM is a no-hassle set it and forget it smoker.  The Kettle/Smokenator requires attention at least every hour or two once you learn temperature management. It requires much more attention until you "get it" by your second or third smoke.        


Whatever you buy, it might just be the beginning of a bunch of excuses to buy a ton of little things you obviously will need to become a well equipped smoker.  Spray bottles, silicone gloves, nitrile gloves, aluminum roasting pans, cooling racks to put IN the roasting pans to keep your meat out of the drippings, bigger water pans, 8x20 lb bags of charcoal on sale, oak/hickory/pecan/apple/mesquite wood bags, rib racks............you get the picture.  Except for the charcoal and wood you probably don't need any of it, but some of us can't help ourselves.


Smokin' meat............a powerfully tasty obsession!


Have fun!!!!!!      

post #25 of 43

I started with an ECB and still on occasion get it out and smoke something, That was my first smoker. depending on where you live, temp, rain, snow etc. .it can be a challenge. I live in East Texas so no snow to contend with. Winter and wind  a little more challenging. I did do some mods on mine and it helped it a lot. If you are just wanting to try it out and see if this is something you are going to like, the ECB is a cheap way to get started. Like some of the other members stated there are a lot of smokers to choose from and a lot better and easier. The only thing about the ECB if you don't like it or smoking is not your thing you haven't invested much and can always put it in a garage sale or give it away. If you are like most of us I am guessing you will love it and always be looking for "THe Perfect Smoker"   Good luck



post #26 of 43

Try checking Craig's list or ebay, you may find a WSM at a good price.

post #27 of 43

I would defiantly build yourself a UDS. You won't be disappointed. Another plus with the UDS there very efficient when built right. When I built mine last year it Cost me a total of $40.00.

post #28 of 43

Where are you located?  Craigslist is a great place to find some good deals on smokers.  Provide your location and I'm sure some folks wouldn't mind checking your local Craigslist for something worth considering in your budget.


Otherwise, build an UDS.  It will take some time to do it the first time, but you can come well under your budget and leave yourself a few bucks to get some toys to go with it (e.g. Maverick ET-732).


Good luck with your grandfather.  Parkinson's is a bi**h.  Kudos for stepping up and helping take care of him.

post #29 of 43

The best one that I can recommend would have to be the Brinkmann Trailmaster Limited Edition. I am new to smoking myself and have browsed and shopped around a lot. This is the best one I was recommended about and beat all the others in comparison. I paid 299.99 for it at my local BJ's (similiar to Sams Club) but you can pick them up at Home Depot for around the same.

post #30 of 43

Weber smoky mountain...18.5 inch.

post #31 of 43

There's a new Weber Smokey Mountain 14.5 inches, check it:




You still can look around and maybe get a discount somehow.


Weber Smokey Mountain, the absolute ultimate smoker.

post #32 of 43

The 22.5 & 26.5 OT kettle can go a long way doing "low and slow".



post #33 of 43
I have a one of the Brinkman two door box style smokers. They go for $60 or so at Home Depot. Out of the box it's a pain but for another $20 or so dollars in expanded steel and about an hour of work making a charcoal box you'll be able to make really good Que. I can hold between 250 and 300 for 6 hours on a single load of coal. There are instructions on this site on how to build one. Just remember to add some feet to it so that the ash can fall through.
post #34 of 43
I guess I missed this thread for the last few weeks, but here's my 2¢ worth.

Get a Weber 22.5" Kettle Grill. Shop CL and you'll save a bunch of money. I saw one in Austin TX a few days ago for $12 !!. You can get them for $35 to $50 almost all the time. Hold out for the One-Touch-Gold. It makes cleaning up ashes easier.

On the Weber you will learn how to control your fire and how to make smoke. As a bonus, you can also use it as grill.

Once you feel confident with the Weber kettle, find yourself one of the small kettles called a Smokey Joe. Then search here for how to build a mini-WSM using the smokey joe and a tamale steamer. This makes a great charcoal smoker.

To my knowledge, this is the least expensive way to get into smoking meats; and, in my opinion, the tools are among the best for that purpose. You won't be able to smoke for the masses with this setup, but you will not want to attempt that until you've gained some skills and confidence. By then, you will have exposed yourself to a lot of ideas and equipment here and will be able to decide what your ultimate smoker will be.

Remember, this is just my 2¢ worth.
post #35 of 43
You can't go wrong with a kettle and smokenator!! This is what I have been smoking with for awhile now!! I'm getting a MES 40 for Christmas. I have learned a lot with it.
post #36 of 43

I'm going to have to chime in and agree with the folks recommending the WSMs. I'm in SoCal and there are always buying opportunities on CraigsList. Check it out in your area. I just checked my local CraigsList and found the following: 22.5" - 1 @ $325 - 1 @ $300 - 1 @ $250 // 18" - 1 @ $230 - 1 @ $145 - 1 @ $100


I picked up my second 22.5" last Spring from a guy that I found on Craig's... It was in new condition (looked like it had been used a couple times) for $200. I did have to drive about 40 miles to pick it up; but no big deal. If you want to do cold smoking in it get an AMPS or an AMPS Tube smoker.

post #37 of 43
I used to have a char griller duo and when I wanted to start making ribs and pulled pork, I got the side firebox for just under $100. I really regreted it because even after sealing it up and doing some of the mods, I still didn't like how much I had to maintain the fire and wood chunks. Everything came out way too smokey and I ended up burning a few holes in my deck from hot coals that fell out of the door when adding fuel.

I know it's out of OP's budget, but I replaced the whole setup with a WSM 22.5" and a kettle silver. I sold my duo which more than paid for the kettle and gave me a good chunk towards the smoker. Also, I'm happy with the less room it takes up and the portability.
post #38 of 43

WSM, no doubt.

post #39 of 43
I started with an ECB. My favorite trick was changing temperature with a series of electrical plates in which I had drilled different size airholes. I could lower the temperature as a result by placing the plates over the large factory hole under the charcoal pan.
post #40 of 43
Originally Posted by overground View Post


I agree with JlRodriguez. Get the WSM...you'll be very, very glad you did.

I started (and needlessly tortured myself) on a modified ECB.....search my threads on here. 



I learned a ton.

I paid my dues.

Although at least 10x more work, it turned out some great Q.





At least 10x more work than a WSM.

Essentially useless without some relatively difficult (depending on tools / knowhow) and potentially pricey modifications.

Almost forced to use Kingsford Blue...Lump will spike temps out of control.


Nowhere near airtight.

Nearly impossible to use an ATC (Automatic Temp Controller), unless you get the model with the enclosed base...and even then.

You will want a WSM after the first or second cook...so pretty much a waste of money.

Hard to sell.

Tiny cook space.

Will rust out.

Just more difficult on all accounts.

I agree. In addition Weber now sells a 14.5 smoker (http://www.weber.com/grills/series/smokers/smoker-14); I have read about people who now only uses this small ones all the time even when they own a full 22".

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