Types and Functions of BBQ Smokers


Having been in the business since 1936, American Propane is on the list of notable companies that sell outdoor cooking equipment in OKC. So, if you are thinking of buying a BBQ smoker in Oklahoma, come check out our excellent selection.

Below, we have provided a guide on the types and functions of various BBQ smokers to help you in your search for the perfect addition to your outdoor kitchen.


Vertical Water Smokers

Vertical water smokers are primarily charcoal smokers with a cylindrical shape. Typically, this type of smoker has three parts. At the base is the fire tray. Immediately above this is the water pan, and the cooking compartment lies in the topmost part. Therefore, food is added from above. These smokers generally have a door through which to add more fuel or water whenever necessary. But some vertical smokers also use gas or electric as the source of heat.

Pros of  Vertical Water Smokers

  • One of the most important advantages of a vertical water smoker is its compactness; it occupies very little space.
  • This type of smoker is energy efficient.
  • The cost is reasonable, and so it is ideal for people who want to try out smoking without investing a huge amount of money.
  • The top-loading feature allows you to use the smoker also as a grill, so it serves a double purpose.

Cons of Vertical Water Smokers

  • Restricted temperature control is one of the major disadvantages of a vertical water smoker.
  • Whenever you lift the cover, most of the heat is lost. Even though the water pan holds heat, it takes some time to replace the lost heat.
  • Its small size doesn’t allow for a lot of food to be smoked at one time.
  • Because these smokers have two racks in the food compartment, one above the other, accessing the lower one becomes problematic when the top rack is filled with food.
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Horizontal Smokers

Horizontal Offset Smoker: Horizontal offset smokers have two parts. One is the cooking chamber with a chimney, and the other is firebox. Both have access doors for adjusting the food or heat. The heat generated in the firebox goes directly to the food chamber through a small hole. The smoke then goes out of the chimney.

While buying a horizontal offset BBQ smoker in Oklahoma, make sure to check if the equipment is leaking smoke through any part other than the chimney. Also, choose an offset smoker, which has the chimney near the firebox. Another vital point that you need to keep in mind while selecting a horizontal offset smoker is its build. A thick metal can hold heat better that a thin one.

Horizontal Pellet Smoker: Another variety of horizontal smoker is the pellet smoker. It has an external basket called a hopper, which is filled with wood pellets. With the help of a low-speed motor, the pellets move from the hopper into the interior of the firepot, where they burn to form heat and smoke. The technologically advanced models allow you to set specific cooking temperatures. Even though these smokers are also categorized as grills, they still use indirect heating.

Pros of  Horizontal Smokers

  • The cooking chambers of horizontal offset smokers are big enough to cook large quantities of food.
  • Many brands allow for further customization.

Cons of  Horizontal Smokers

  • Because the cooking chambers are large, they take longer to heat up.
  • This type of smoker often heats unevenly.
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Box Smokers

Box smokers are also known as block smokers, vault smokers or cabinet smokers. True to its name, a box smoker looks like a box with the heat source at the bottom and the cooking compartment on top. Because the source of heat is exactly below the section that holds the food, the heat is conserved.

The vital aspects that need to be checked when you buy a box BBQ smoker in Oklahoma are its insulation, quality of the metal and the airtight cabinet door.

Pros of Box Smokers

  • The access door helps you use the cooking chamber easily.
  • Box smokers are compact.
  • You can buy budget smokers that are more affordable in price.

Cons of Box Smokers

  • Because box smokers have single door, loss of heat happens when it is opened repeatedly.
  • Having a square-shaped cabinet smoker won’t let you fit ribs in so easily. Depending on your needs, you may want to invest in a more efficiently shaped round smoker.
  • For better performance, you need to buy the expensive box smokers. The more affordable models require some extra modification.
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Drum Smokers

A drum smoker, also known as an ugly drum smoker, or UDS, is a type of vertical smoker that is very simple in form. It is made of a steel drum with a cooking rack at the top and a firebox at the base. The firebox is filled with charcoal and then the fire is lit. Once the charcoals have completely caught fire but are not burning actively, the food is placed on the rack, and then the lid is closed and locked. The bottom part has adjustable vents that allow you to alter temperature.

Pros of Drum Smokers

  • Because of its simple design, a drum smoker is very easy to use.
  • Drum smokers are suitable for buyers who are on a tight budget.
  • These vertical smokers are fuel efficient.

Cons of Drum Smokers

  • Cooking certain foods like pork and brisket can be tricky.

Smoker Ovens

In terms of appearance and functionality, smoker ovens are much more like an indoor oven. However, because they produce smoke, they must be used exclusively outdoors. These appliances run on electricity and are used mostly outside apartment buildings where traditional smokers are not allowed. Many restaurants also use this kind of smoker.

Basically, a smoker oven is a tightly insulated box with an electric heating element at the base. The heat generated from the heating component causes the wood chips in the pot above it to burn. Food is then placed over the racks and the temperature is set accordingly. The oven computer monitors the food and, once the food is cooked, the temperature drops to a holding mode to keep the food warm.

Pros of Smoker Ovens

  • Smoker ovens are less messy than traditional smokers.
  • Well-insulated smoker ovens are perfect for winter use.
  • Constant supervision is not required, as these ovens are automatic.

Cons Of Smoker Ovens

  • You may have to compromise on flavor and taste. Many people feel that food prepared in smoker ovens is inferior to food from charcoal, gas or pellet smokers.
  • Prices of smoker ovens are generally high.
  • Because these smokers are electrical devices, more care is required than for traditional smokers. Keeping a smoker oven in a shaded area is best.
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Kamado BBQ Smokers

Kamado BBQ smokers are also known as ceramic grills or kamado grills. They are the most popular charcoal grills available on the market. Kamado BBQ smokers are made of ceramic and use charcoal as the fuel.

A kamado BBQ smoker can be used both as a smoker and grill, because it is vertical in design and has food loading access at the top. Moreover, the simple airflow design and efficient insulation of the ceramic shell is also suitable for both grilling and smoking food. However, to use this as an effective smoker, a slight modification is required to obstruct the direct heat. Many companies offer products that will help you block the radiant heat coming from the burning charcoal and let you cook food more indirectly. You need to adjust the vents for low and slow cooking.

Pros Of Kamado BBQ Smokers

  • Kamado BBQ smokers are versatile. They act as both good smoking and grilling devices.
  • These smokers are made of heavy ceramic, which allows for good insulation.
  • They are quite attractive in appearance.

Cons Of Kamado BBQ Smokers

  • These smokers are expensive compared to other charcoal grills.
  • Because the kamado BBQ smokers are circular in shape, they don’t have much space for two-layer heating.
  • Overheated ceramic smokers take a longer time to cool down.

Apart from the ceramic variety, a metal version of the kamado BBQ smokers is also available on the market. It offers better insulation than the ceramic one, but if you buy a metal smoker, make sure to care for it properly to prevent rusting.

We hope the above tips will help you to find the best BBQ smoker in Oklahoma.