There are a few basic BBQ smokers designs:

(always check rules at any competition for styles allowed in a particular contest)

Offset Smokers.

  • Indirect style clue: exhaust pipe same side as firebox (for example see: Lang Smokers)
  • Direct style clue: exhaust pipe opposite side of firebox (for example see: CharBroil offset smokers).
  • Direct off-set smokers may require tuning plates for even heating.
  • Water pans may be used in main chamber for moisture, but are not required.
  • Allows for larger cooking space which can accomidate whole hog style cooking.
  • Fuels: Wood, wood pellets, charcoal or split logs.

Upright Drum Smokers — AKA Ugly Drum Smoker (UDS)

  • Upright steele drum modified for indirect hot smoking.
  • Uses a basket to hold charcoal at bottom of drum with ash/drip pan below.
  • May include water pan, but not required.
  • Multiple racks for cooking rest above fire or water pan and also top of smoker.
  • Covered by vented lid to contain smoke in drum during cooking.
  • Temperatures are controlled by limiting air intake at bottom of drum.
  • Fuels: Primarily charcoal or wood with gas options for convenience.

Vertical Water Smoker — Sometimes referred to as Bullet Smokers due to shape of some models.

  • Uses water bowl to hold temperature down, add humidity and capture drippings.
  • Very temperature stable and require little adjustment once target temperature is reached.
  • Advantages can be low cost and availability at local retailers.
  • Multiple racks for cooking that rest above fire or water pan and on top of smoker.
  • Temperatures are controlled by limiting air intake at bottom or by gas control where used.
  • Fuels: Charcoal, wood, wood pellets, and gas (also can be dual fuel).

Propane smoker.

  • Similar in design and construction to vertical water smoker above, but only uses gas for fuel.
  • Very temperature stable and require little adjustment once target temperature is reached.
  • Fuels: Gas only, with option for wood chips to add smoke.

Electric smoker.

  • Similar in design and construction to vertical water and propane smokers above, but only uses electricity for heat.
  • Advantages can be specific programmed time and temperature cooking.
  • Disadvantage is that smoker will not function without electrical power.
  • Fuels: Electrical elements.

Gravity fed smoker.

  • Similar in design and construction to vertical water and propane smokers above.
  • Advantages for charcoal include adjascent chute for loading charcoal that burns from the bottom and feeds itself.
  • Advantages for pellets include programming and temperature control.
  • Fuels: Charcoal or wood pellets.

Insulated smokers.

  • Smoker models that utilize insulation to keep heat better contained and are better sealed.
  • Advantages include less effect of outside temperature during cooking.
  • Disadvantages can include higher price for a unit over that of a comparible non-insulated unit
  • Fuels: Any.

Many smoker manufacturers also offer trailer mounted variations to allow for easier travel and convenience.
Please check your vehicle towing capacity along with the loaded trailer weight before attempting travel.

Designs | Styles | Types