18.5 vs 22.5 Weber Smokey Mountain

Discussion in 'Charcoal Smokers' started by whtplainssmoker, Dec 9, 2011.

  1. I'm looking for a little advice from my friends here on SMF.  Since catching the smoking addiction last year, and purchasing a Brinkmann Vertical Smoker (you can see it in this post), I have managed to cook up some decent Q.  Mostly pulled pork, Ribs, brisket, and chicken.  My issues with the Brinkmann are those that many have posted, decent but not great capactiy (only two racks which hold about 3 racks of Baby backs if you cut them in half), fussy at holding temperature, needs babysitting, small water pan, lots of air leakage.  All that being said, its still a great little unit for the $70 I paid for it.

    Nonetheless, I am thinking of upgrading to a Weber Bullet.  Most of the post I have seen have said, if you can, Go Big.  (i.e. get the 22.5 inch).  I'm leaning that way, but have a couple of questions.

    What are the main differences between the 18.5 and the 22.5 other than size and capacity?  For example, do you end up using more charcoal in the 22.5 no matter what you intend to smoke?  If you use a smaller batch of charcoal (for a shorter smoke) do the temps hold up?  Are there any other differences that should be taken in to consideration?

    I guess my only concern with the 22 is if I'm not smoking for a crowd, is it too big to fire up for a meal for the wife and myself?

    Any suggestions would be appreciated.  (And if you can't tell by the timing of this post, someone has asked if I want a Weber for Christmas).

    Thanks in advance.
  2. smokinal

    smokinal Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    If you have the money, go for the 22.5. Yes it will use more fuel, but with the minnion method, when you get done cooking you can shut the vents & the fire will go out saving the remaining unburned charcoal for the next time. It is a very efficient smoker. I have gotten 20+ hours on 1 load of charcoal, holding 225 the whole time.
  3. fpnmf

    fpnmf Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    I have the 18.5.

    It is big enough to use for a group.

    Uses small amounts of charcoal.

    I cut BB ribs in half..dont see the issue with that tho.

    It will smoke a bunch of spares too...

  4. frosty

    frosty Master of the Pit

    What Smokin Al Said!!!  Sometimes, my original Weber 18.5" was a tad too small.[​IMG]
  5. mdboatbum

    mdboatbum Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    I don't have a WSM yet, but have been curious about the same question. I was wondering if it would be possible to get a charcoal ring from an 18.5" to use in a 22.5" for those times when you are smoking a smaller batch or for a shorter time. I'm sure they're available from Weber, but I guess it's not really necessary with the Minion method.
  6. tank

    tank Smoke Blower

    Good question.  Not to highjack a thread but where is the best place/cheapest place to order one.  Right now amazon is the cheapest I can find.
  7. Thanks for the responses so far.  With all the WSM owners out there, I'm sure I'll get lots of advice. 
  8. smokinal

    smokinal Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    The reason the smaller one uses less fuel is because there is a smaller space to heat up. It has nothing to do with the size of the charcoal ring. That being said the big one is very efficient, as is the small one. Once you use one a few times you will see that the way you build your fire is how you conserve fuel.
  9. I am just getting into smoking and have decided to go with a WSM as my first smoker, as it seems to be a good one for the first one. I am leaning towards the 22.5 just because I like the idea of more space. When talking about space, exactly how much space do certain foods take up and what food limitations will I have with it? I guess I'm just curious at how much food I'll be able to cook at the same time on the 22.5? 
  10. fpnmf

    fpnmf Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Look at Als and my profiles. Check out our threads started and look at the volume of food cooked.. He has a 22 I have an18..

  11. smokinal

    smokinal Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    Craig if they made a 28" I would buy one. I just like having the extra space, maybe I don't need it but I hate crowding a bunch of stuff in the smoker, and if I ever do need it it's nice to know it's there. We just had a Christmas party & I had 8 butts in my WSM, 4 on top & 4 on the bottom. I have often thought about getting an 18, just for smaller smokes. Just what I need another smoker right. 
  12. Thanks guys. That helps out a lot. I think I'll go with the 22.5 for a starter.
  13. mdboatbum

    mdboatbum Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    WHOA!!! A 28" WSM would be a beast for sure, but man would I love one!! What am I saying, I'd love an 18.5". Hell, if they made a 12"er then maybe I could afford one :)
  14. fpnmf

    fpnmf Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    I saw a 22 at a cookoff ..it scared me...it was huge..

    Now if you want a WSM.. for cheap..build a mini!!  http://bbq.setzler.net/2011/09/06/how-to-build-a-mini-wsm/

  15. How big of a turkey can each hold, and how many? I'm sure 1 per shelf, but can the 18.5 hold 1 on each shelf? can the 22.5? And what size turkey? I'm thinking I'd like to smoke 2 14 pounders, would be easier if done at 1 time.

    Same question for spare ribs.
  16. indyadmin1974

    indyadmin1974 Smoking Fanatic

  17. jirodriguez

    jirodriguez Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    When using the 22.5" you can use fire bricks (the ones with holes in them) to make a small square in the middle of your charcoal grate, then just fill that small square. That will run very well for short 2-4 hr. smokes and only uses about 5-6 lbs. of charcoal. For 6-8 hr. smokes just fill the ring half full, approx. 10 lbs. of charcoal, and then for long 12+ hrs. fill it the entire ring. I also imagine you could buy the weber kettle charcoal rails and use those for short smokes if you wanted to as well.

    What I do with my 22.5" is plan the meals for a week, then smoke all the meats, and vacuum pack the stuff that is getting used later in the week. I figure if I'm gonna light it I might as well fill it! [​IMG]

    As far as turkey size.... I usually do a 20-22 lb. turkey for Thanksgiving on my 22.5". That takes up most of 1 rack, but I could squeeze s few more small things around it if I so desired, and there is an entire 2nd rack as well!

    Ribs are great on a 22.5" each grate can lay out 3 racks with no issues, and 4 racks if you are willing to overlap the edges of the racks just a tiny bit. Or if you buy rib racks then you can fit a ton or ribs!
  18. bosshogg

    bosshogg Fire Starter

    If you can swing the extra money, I'd suggest going with the 22.5.  I debated between which two to get for a while.. I eventually pulled the trigger on the 22.5.  Now that I've been using it, I couldn't imagine using the smaller one.  I fill that bad boy up everytime it gets lit!

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