Soooo Many Choices

Discussion in 'Charcoal Smokers' started by danbono, Jun 6, 2013.

  1. danbono

    danbono Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Hi All I'm in the market to up grade from my 1 yr old vertical electric smoker to a charcoal one.. One with a side box/horizontal offset.
    But there are soooo many choices Brinkman/Charbroil/Char Griller. How does one decide which is best? I don't cook/smoke for a lot of people, just me and my wife. Don't know how much I would use the smoker in the winter months here in New Jersey.
    I've been reading an reading about the different models, it's making me crazy..I do have a few Home depots and Lowe's close to me, been to them but, most models are NOT on display.
    Any help in sorting this maze out will be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks Dan
    PS I don't have many tools for some of mods needed.
    Last edited: Jun 6, 2013
  2. Hey Dan

    ok lets start with what price range do you want to be in?

  3. danbono

    danbono Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    HI price range $100-300. Been reading about a few in the $179.00 price range, don't really know IF it is worth going to the $300 ones.
    Thanks Dan
  4. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Dan, morning...   Buying a SFB Smoker that is of lesser quality, (craftsman ship), unless you fix it so it will work properly, it will tick you off every time you use it....

    Fixing the door leaks, adjusting the exhaust stack height, the fire box to cook chamber opening was initially installed at the wrong height, a charcoal basket that doesn't "breathe"  properly, air vents that don't work as they should,etc is a fairly big job to get the smoker to work to the point you enjoy firing it up to smoke some great Q....

    Look at revues of what folks had to do to their smokers, that are available in your area, and look at the smoker in person....  It's unfortunate most manufacturers build a smoker for the $$$$'s and don't have a clue how they should work...  If you could find someone to build one for you, that would be very cool and probably expensive....  but it would last forever.....  

    Ribwizzard has built some very nice smaller SFB smokers... And they work....  I can tell that from the design...   maybe you could get some ideas from his smokers and have one built locally....

    After viewing the problems folks have had, I can't recommend any Big Box store smoker..... 

    Smoking  Q should be relaxing, enjoyable, and something everyone should look forward to.....    There's my disheartening 2 cents....  

  5. jerseydrew

    jerseydrew Smoking Fanatic

    for your price range i would look into a WSM best bang for your buck in that price and will produce easy and GREAT Q. as mentioned the $200 side fire box ones will wind up pissing you off more than anything but with practice and a lot of baby sitting it can produce good food. 

    i like the WSM with a BBQ Guru, it is the most set and forget you can get with Q. i have been looking into getting something new though just for more capacity. 
  6. danbono

    danbono Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Hi All
    Jersey Drew: WSM is out of the picture. One of big reasons I'm looking at the horizontal offset is every thing is on one grill.. Getting to 2nd grill on my Electric smoker is a major "PIA"..The WSM would be the choice if wasn't for the 2 grill setup.

    Dave: Smoking an smokers aren't very big my area, so getting some one to make one would almost be impossible, and costly.
    I do know there are the problems with the inexpensive offsets. Today I able to see and touch the Brinkmann Smoke N' Pit Charcoal Grill and Smoker at Home Depot. Wasn't built that badly. The smoking chamber was huge. I have read some of the unfavorable reviews concerning that model.

    Mule 69: I'll check the ratings on the link you posted.

    Thanks All for your fast replies.
    Last edited: Jun 6, 2013
  7. fwismoker

    fwismoker Master of the Pit

    Dan, what exactly do you mean everything is in 1 grill?    If you mean you want the option to smoke and grill i'll give you another solution.
    Last edited: Jun 6, 2013
  8. seenred

    seenred Smoking Guru Group Lead OTBS Member

    Hi Dan.

    I'll chime in with the other guys...if you're dead set on an offset horizontal smoker with SFB, the retail ones in your price range are not at all well made, and would require a lot of mods to make them something you'll be happy with.  Offset pits that are ready to cook on with no mods are much more expensive than $300.  As Drew already mentioned, a really good charcoal smoker in your price range is the WSM...But its a bullet smoker and not an offset.  

    If you really want an offset, and don't mind being patient, Craigslist could be an option.  We have members who occasionally find great bargains on used pits there.

    Edit:  I recall a member telling me a week or 2 ago that they found a used Oklahoma Joes Offset for 200...don't remember if they found it on CL or not.

    Good luck!

    Last edited: Jun 6, 2013
  9. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Dan, maybe there is a Technical School that has a welding shop....  some student could build it for a project....
  10. I have to agree with Red WSM is a nice setup. Craigslist is also a good place to look. yard sales are also good.

    Hope that helps.

  11. demosthenes9

    demosthenes9 Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    WRT the "2 grill setup", what he doesn't like is having to remove the top grate to get to the lower grate.  It's a PITA to him.    That narrows his choices to either an offset with a larger horizontal grate, or a vertical cabinet smoker with easy access shelves.
    Last edited: Jun 6, 2013
  12. danbono

    danbono Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Hi All
    "Dan, what exactly do you mean everything is in 1 grill? If you mean you want the option to smoke and grill i'll give you another solution"

    FWI Smoker: I can always use the firebox for small grill, when I want to just grill.
    Main problem is getting to my 2nd grill in my Vertical Electric smoker\, is a major PIA
    What I meant is I want all my smoked food on 1 grill.I just want to open the lid and be able to get too all my food.
    I don't want too smoke n grill same time.
    Thanks Dan
  13. jirodriguez

    jirodriguez Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    For your price range you are not going to find a great horizontal offset - they are all going to be flimsy metal and full of air leaks. I started with a Char-Griller Pro horizontal offset, spent $175 on the smoker and another $50 modifing it. It never worked well, was a pain in the butt to use, and I sold it on Craigslist for $80, and bought a 22.5" WSM - best money I ever spent!

    The WSM works great straigh out of the box, holds a ton of meat, doesn't take up a lot of deck space (like the CG Pro), and is backed by Weber very well. I can honestly say I really, really wish somebody had been around to tell me to get the WSM from the get-go and save myself a lot of money and frustration.
  14. jeoberg

    jeoberg Smoke Blower

    I just purchased a Char-Griller Pro with a side firebox.  I will admit that I did get it for the large grill surface, smoking was going to be a secondary option for me.  I have yet to grill on the main surface.  I will admit that I don't know much about smoking meat, but I really like the smoker/grill.  I've done ribs, pulled pork, chicken, hotdogs, and a meatloaf. Every meal has been met with rave reviews by those eating it.  Is it the best smoker, probably not.  Does it take a watchful eye, yes it does.  Do I like the results, you bet. I don't mind watching the temperature and feeding a fire.  I spent a whopping $165 dollars on the thing, and have had some of my best summer cooking ever.  I've been a grilling for 35 years on all types of grills.  My old Weber gave up the ghost after 30+ years. 

    Having a good experience with a cheap smoker can be done.  You just have to know what you like to do, and how much the problems will bother you. Given my results and the way I use this grill/smoker, I would buy it again.
  15. jckdanls 07

    jckdanls 07 Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member

    yup.. I have to agree with all others.. the cheap off sets really do suck... with all the air leaks it's so hard to keep temps down in the ideal cooking range...

    When looking at smokers.. look at the fit and trim of all the doors, the air vents, the extra bolt holes... you'll see daylight through all these gaps... so when you try to choke the fire down with the intake vent it will draw air through all these air leaks... your temps will not come down as you would like them too... know you start getting PO'd.. before you know it this smoker will be sitting on the sidelines (wasted money) and you will be going back to the other smoker your comfortable with...

    I have heard the Oklahoma Joe is a little better than the others that the big box stores sell... see what others have to say about them....
  16. Jeoberg i am so happy it is working for you. you can get great Q out of almost anything if you are willing to work for it. I like my UDS. it is the junkie smoker i built. i also have a BGE and others.

    If it makes you have a good summer. It is money well spent. It is all a matter of preferance and budget. some like hands on some don't. You need to wright a review.

    Happy smoken my friend.

  17. jeoberg

    jeoberg Smoke Blower

    David, I planned on writing a review on the char-griller as soon as I used it as a grill.  My youngest's birthday is coming up, and that is a day for quick grilling.  There will be a whole lot of brats, dogs and burgers that day. Not a day for a long cooking session. I even have plans to use the side fire box to cook up my peppers and onions.  Should be a fun day.  
  18. bookem

    bookem Smoke Blower

    Dan, I just picked up a new Oklahoma Joe from HD for $350, it was a clearance or return item, but was never used.  I used it this weekend without any mods.  That's this weekend's project.  I liked the space compared to my ECB.  I definitely know what you're talking about with the two layers of grill racks, it's a pain.  The Trailmaster has gotten a lot of run lately on the forum too, that's in your price range.
  19. danbono

    danbono Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Hi All I think I got it narrowed down to the Brinkmann Trailmaster @ 299 and Brinkmann the Smoke n Pit @ 179. Both are available at one of my Home Depots. I will also get a veteran 10% discount.
    Just not sure if the $120 more will make a big difference performance wise?
    No rush do anything right now.
    Would really like to hear from the ones who purchased them recently.

    Thanks Dan

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