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Vertical insulation smoker vs gravity fed smoker

post #1 of 4
Thread Starter 

Sorry if this has been asked but I haven't been able to find an answer to my questions...


I have been reviewing different vertical insulated smokers vs gravity fed smokers.  Obviously the gravity fed smokers are more expensive.  I understand the concept of how the charcoal feeds down into the smoker.  I also have read that some smokers (Deep South) have special airflow systems that would make them stand out.


I have read that the verticals can get anywhere from 10-18+ hours on a full pan of charcoal.  The gravity fed's seem to get a little more.


So, my questions is around the price difference b/w the 2.  Is the main thing that you are getting from the gravity fed smokers a longer burn time or is there another big difference?  If that is the main thing them I might go the route of a vertical and use a channel in the charcoal basket.


I was just doing some more research and found threads where some where talking about having to use/manage water pans in vertical smokers gets old.  





post #2 of 4

In my opinion, water pans, in a smoker, are only used to control the temperature because the smoker was designed improperly.... 


The fire should be controlled by air flow.....   Then air flow through a smoker should be controlled by a second set of air inlets to move the heat and smoke through the smoker...

post #3 of 4
Thread Starter 

Thanks Dave - I understand what your points but there seems to be a lot of happy people out there with vertical insulated smokers.  My research seems to show most use water when cooking l&s and either firebricks or sand when cooking h&f...as we all know there are 15 different ways to skin it!


I am still interested in others comments about what the biggest advantages of doing to a gravity fed over the vertical?  I think I have narrowed my research to the Lonestar or Humphrey's verticals and the Stumps, Assassin, or Deep South gravity fed smokers.  The price difference between these options can be $1000+.  If the verticals get the cook times users are saying they do, I am very curious what the extra $1k gets you.

Edited by mschwartz26 - 1/22/16 at 11:30am
post #4 of 4

I think if you're burning coals at the same rate and your air flow is the same, both those approaches are essentially similar and it comes down to if a gravity-fed has more coals so can be left unattended longer.  Water pans serve no useful purpose for high-flow smokers like that other than just giving some thermal mass for temperature stabilization.  But the vertical smokers you mention DON'T tend to run at the same air flow.  Like you say, they emphasize "insulated" designs and and less coal usage, which means the air flow is not the same and you have two different beasts. Now water pans might actually affect the humidity around the meat in low-flow smokers which can have cooking advantages (see Blonder) or NOT if you like a heavy "bark".  Now you're into very subjective territory.  


You didn't say how much experience you have with smoking so maybe this advice isn't appropriate but for the kinds of money you seem to be considering spending, I'd recommend you buy both a Weber Smokey Mountain and Brinkmann-type cheapie offset smoker and then form your own opinions with lots of money left over for once you develop strong preferences.          

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