Vertical Smoker vs Horizontal Smoker

Vertical Smoker vs Horizontal Pellet Smoker Grill – Which is Better to Buy?

If you're interested in a comparison of a vertical smoker vs horizontal smoker, then we may have one thing in common. That's our love for smoked meat! And it's established that the vertical smoker and horizontal pellet smokers are two of the best equipment to smoke some great meat.

But before we get into the differences and similarities, let me tell you why these two smokers are up against each other today. A vertical smoker and a horizontal pellet smoker grill both have smoking abilities. Still, there is one significant difference that sets them apart. 

The design of a vertical smoker is such that it is only for smoking meat. On the other hand, the horizontal pellet smoker grill can grill, as well as smoke meat. Personally, the horizontal pellet smoker grill is a better choice for me since it's more versatile. But then again, sometimes, the portability and better smoke meat quality of a vertical smoker is very all you need.

So in this article, we'll go over all the differences and similarities of each.

Vertical smoker 

A vertical smoker has an upright design and stands vertically, as the name suggests. With this type of smokers, the direction of smoke and heat travels only in one direction. That is, they move from the bottom towards the top. 

There are three main types of vertical smokers that people often make reference to and recommend.

They are:

  1. Drum smokers
  2. Box smokers
  3. Smoker ovens

With any smoker, though, the position of the burner is always at the bottom of the smoking chamber. It is here that you put in the charcoal or wood. You can even put in a mixture of both to serve as fuel to get the best smoking result. Overall, the best thing about vertical smokers is that they have a compact design allowing us to place them almost anywhere we want.

Best Rated Vertical Smokers

SaleBestseller No. 1
Dyna-Glo DGO1890BDC-D Wide Body Vertical Offset Charcoal Smoker
2,510 Reviews
Dyna-Glo DGO1890BDC-D Wide Body Vertical Offset Charcoal Smoker
  • Six height-adjustable cooking grates accommodate various sizes of food, giving 1890 square inches of...
  • Porcelain-enameled steel charcoal chamber is designed to keep briquettes stacked tightly for...
  • Charcoal and ash management system with charcoal chamber, grate and sliding, removable steel ash...
  • Vertical design lends itself to naturally rising heat, achieving greater efficiency and improved...
Bestseller No. 2
PIT BOSS PBV3D1 3 Series Digital Vertical Electric Wood Smoker
139 Reviews
PIT BOSS PBV3D1 3 Series Digital Vertical Electric Wood Smoker
  • Push-button digital control panel with LED read-out for cabinet temperature and meat probe
  • Includes five porcelain coated cooking racks, 1008 sq in. Porcelain coated water pan.
  • Double walled construction with blanket insulation
  • Large viewing window with high temp door seal

Horizontal Pellet Smoker Grill

The horizontal pellet smoker grill makes use of wood pellets as their source of fuel. You cannot use other types of fuel like wood chips or charcoal for this smoker grill. However, it may require an electric power source to light up its hot rod. 

Best Horizontal Pellet Smokers

Traeger Grills TFB88PZBO Pro Series 34 Pellet Grill and Smoker, 884 Sq. In. Cooking Capacity, Bronze
432 Reviews
Traeger Grills TFB88PZBO Pro Series 34 Pellet Grill and Smoker, 884 Sq. In. Cooking Capacity, Bronze
  • Never use gas or charcoal again: cooking with wood just tastes better. Traeger created the original...
  • Versatile barbecue cooking: hot and fast, or low and slow, the Traeger Pro Series 34 pellet grill...
  • Precision temperature control: The Digital Pro Controller rocks Advanced Grilling Logic, which...
  • Sturdy and Durable: Powerful steel construction and durable powder coat finish, easy to clean...

A WORD OF CAUTION

It is vital to keep your wood pellets dry because moist or damp pellets will not burn. Even if you are successful in lighting them up, it will not give your meat or food a pleasant taste.

The feature that this smoker has which sets it apart from a vertical smoker is the fact that you can use it to smoke, grill, roast, and even bake. So with this equipment, you will not need to buy a separate grilling machine or oven. It also comes with a fan that can blow heat and smoke to the other parts of the smoking chamber.

Vertical Smoker Vs Horizontal Pellet Smoker Grill

Now that you have an idea of what each is, let's get into the main part of this comparison:

Energy efficiency

We live in a world where we have to use energy and fuel judiciously. Thankfully, both the vertical smoker and the horizontal pellet smoker grill use less energy and fuel than the regular offset smokers. As such, energy and environment-conscious buyers can go for either of the two variants without worry. 

However, in regards to energy efficiency, the vertical smoker has a compact design that allows it to work and operate using less fuel. It also heats up faster than a horizontal pellet grill but requires you to monitor the fuel to get the right temperature manually. 

In contrast, the horizontal pellet smoker grill uses Automated electric feed systems to burn the wood pellets, which makes it easier to control the temperature. Moreover, you would save more with wood pellets and use less than you would with charcoal in most cases.

Ease of use

Although both types of smokers are easy to use, the horizontal pellet smoker grill will take the win here. With this smoker, all you have to do is turn the hot rods on, and add the wood pellets. They come with automated temperature control, so there is no need for the user to adjust anything.

With the vertical smoker, you may have to check the temperature and adjust the temperature manually. However, it is still much easier to use if you compare it to regular offset smokers. You might want to go for the horizontal pellet smoker grill if ease of use is of utmost importance to you.

Portability and convenience 

Vertical smokers are much more portable because of its convenient and compact design. With this type of smoker, you will not need to prepare a large area to place it. Moreover, since it doesn't require electricity, you do not have to put it near a plug point.

On the other hand, the horizontal pellet smoker grill takes up more space because of its design. You will also need to keep it near a power source because it requires electricity to work. Go for the vertical smoker if you do not have a permanent space to keep your smoker.

Multipurpose function

You can use the horizontal pellet smoker grill for many purposes like smoking, grilling, roasting, and even for baking bread. Buying one of these pellet smoker grills means you do not have to spend money on buying a separate device for grilling. 

However, this versatility comes with the downside that it is a jack of all trades and master of none. As such, the smoking results won't be the best; neither will the grilling result be as good. 

At the same time, it still does an outstanding job, and if you aren't very experienced with smoking meat or the taste of properly smoked meat, then you won't be able to tell the difference. It is a good investment if you do both grilling and smoking from time to time.

In contrast, the vertical smoker does only one thing, that is smoking. You cannot grill with your vertical smoker. But it does make delicious smoked meat better than the horizontal pellet smoker.

Durability 

Oklahoma Joe Longhorn Smoker Review

A vertical smoker will last you for many years if you use it properly. There is no part that you can damage such that it becomes unusable. So if you buy a good quality vertical smoker, you will not need to worry about it breaking down anytime soon.

But with a horizontal pellet smoker grill, there are moving parts as well as wires. If one of these parts break down, you might not be able to use the whole smoker. So until you repair the damaged part, the pellet smoker grill will remain nonfunctional. As a result, buying a vertical smoker will be the better choice if you have concerns about your smoker breaking down soon.

Pros & Cons of Vertical Smokers

Pros

  • It comes with a convenient digital thermometer. 
  • Vertical smokers have a more compact and convenient design. 
  • They usually use less fuel than offset smokers.
  • It does not need any form of electricity to power it up.
  • A vertical smoker is more portable than a horizontal one.
  • They are often more affordable than other smokers. 
  • It can heat the smoking chamber quickly.

Cons

  • You can use them only for smoking meat.
  • You will need to rotate your meat to cook it evenly.
  • Refueling can be a challenge without a dual door design. 
  • It might be difficult to smoke big cuts of meat because of its compact design. 

Pros & Cons of  Horizontal Pellet Smoker Grills

Pros

  • These types of smokers usually come with an automatic temperature controller.
  • The ideal smoker choice for beginners.
  • The ideal smoker choice for beginners.
  • You can use them as a grill too.
  • They come with fans that circulate and heat evenly within the whole chamber. 
  • Some variants come with a WiFi connection for easier control.
  • Effective at saving energy and fuel.
  • They are very easy to use and operate. 

Cons

  • It needs electricity to heat the hot rod that burns the wood pellets.
  • Damp or wet wood pellets are challenging to burn. 
  • Similar to other electrical appliances, they can break down and stop functioning.
  • They are more challenging to move around as you wish. 

What are the main differences between vertical smokers vs horizontal pellet smoker grills?

Besides their vertical and horizontal setups, these smokers differ in their use of fuel. While vertical smokers use charcoal, wood, or a mix of both, the horizontal pellet smoker grills use only wood pellets as fuel. They also need electricity to function.

Vertical smokers are specifically for smoking meat and nothing else. On the other hand, you can use horizontal pellet smoker grills to smoke as well as grill your meat. The vertical variant is compact and takes up less space as compared to the flat smoker grill.

Conclusion

Smoking your meat gives it a unique flavor, and even the process can be quite therapeutic. Choosing the right fit for you is important. Since these smokers have different benefits, it is difficult to say which one is better than the other.

However, now that you know everything about the difference between the vertical smoker vs horizontal pellet smoker, you can go ahead and choose the best vertical smoker or best horizontal pellet smokers. Or you can just go with either of the models we featured in this article. If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to us by leaving a comment.