Offset Smoker Design Idea - firebox enters vertically?

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Meat Wagon

Original poster
Sep 22, 2023
I am having an offset smoker built. All the offsets I've seen, the firebox brings in smoke from the side of the box into the bottom SIDE of the smoke chamber. In one of Jeremy Yoder's videos, he claimed the best smoker he ever used vented the heat upward immediately (via a "scoop") so the heat went up rather than sideways which prevented a hot spot in the middle and more even cooking across the grates.

My question is, if you design the offset like normal but instead of the smoke coming through the side of the firebox into the smoke chamber, it vented vertically into the chamber, would there be a downside? I think it would help with the radiant heat issue of any meat seeing fire.

I'm new to this whole world and seeing how I don't see this design really anywhere, it makes me think I am misunderstanding something entirely. So before I have my smoker built, I want to get my design thought through.
Screenshot 2023-09-23 at 10.28.24 AM.png

I really don't have feelings, so pick my idea apart. However, leave my stellar drawing skills alone. Those are top notch.
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The drawings get the job done. There are design calculators that can help get the proportions close, meaning firebox size, cook chamber size, openings, etc, but your question really deals with how the opening between the firebox and cook chamber is designed. So I look at the goal-I want even heat and good airflow across the cooking grate. It looks like the opening from the firebox still enters at grate level and flow exits at grate level. If the main difference in your design is a lower firebox and vertical baffle between the firebox and cook chamber, then I would look at expected results of each change. Lower firebox means more draft and airflow, both of those things are good. The vertical baffle might lead to some dead spots. Most designs I have seen use the baffle to direct flow horizontally. That tight turn will likely give turbulent flow for a bit. My suggestion would be to work with your builder to design the baffle arrangement to be easily changed. Potentially have two different baffles that can be removed. One baffle vertical, one horizontal, and a final option of running with no baffles.
I think that will work. I recently did a complete redesign of my offset, because it was cooking too hot from the bottom up with a baffle plate. My redesign worked better than I could have hoped. This should work for top down cooking.

Is there a general rule of thumb for diameter of a smoke chamber? If you had to choose between shorter and fatter diameter or longer and narrower, what would you choose? I ask because I might have access to pipe or a tank and they aren't the same diameter.
Meat wagon my smoker is 24x36 and I think if I had to choose I would always choose to go longer, because it gives you the ability to get the meat farther from the firebox. I had to do my redesign because I could not get the meat far enough from the firebox, and the bottom of everything I cooked was cooking too fast. Now it’s perfect and I can use my whole bottom grate. It the pipe is 20 inches deep I think that would work but instead of 48 inches I could go 56-60 inches on the cooking surface.
I consider your idea of a vertical smoke vent in an offset smoker has potential benefits. I am about more even cooking and reduced radiant heat. However, nobody has denied potential reduced smoke flavor and increased fuel consumption(( is reader supported and as an Amazon Associate, we may earn commissions from qualifying purchases.

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