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

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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

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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.


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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


  • 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.


  • 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


  • 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. 


  • 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.


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.


What is the difference between a vertical pellet smoker and a horizontal pellet smoker?

The main difference between a vertical pellet smoker and a horizontal pellet smoker lies in their design and usage. Vertical pellet smokers are primarily designed to smoke meat and they channel heat and smoke from the bottom to the top. On the other hand, horizontal pellet smokers, also known as pellet grills, are versatile and can be used for grilling, roasting, and even baking, not just smoking meats. They use wood pellets as a heat source and require an electric power source to function.

How does the cooking capacity of vertical and horizontal pellet smokers compare?

The cooking capacity of vertical and horizontal pellet smokers can vary greatly. Vertical pellet smokers, due to their design, may have a smaller cooking space compared to horizontal pellet smokers. However, vertical smokers are known for their efficient use of space due to the vertical cooking chamber.

Which is more energy-efficient between a vertical pellet smoker and a pellet grill?

While both vertical and horizontal pellet smokers are designed for energy efficiency, the compact design of a vertical pellet smoker allows it to operate using less fuel and it also heats up faster than most pellet grills. However, horizontal pellet grills, or horizontal pellet smokers, often have automated electric feed systems that make temperature control easier and more efficient.

Why would someone choose a vertical pellet smoker over a horizontal pellet smoker?

A vertical pellet smoker could be chosen over a horizontal pellet smoker for several reasons. Vertical smokers are typically more compact and portable than horizontal smokers, making them ideal for those with limited space. They also tend to produce high-quality smoked meats. However, they lack the versatility of a horizontal pellet smoker which can also grill and roast.

What is the role of the cooking chamber in a vertical pellet smoker?

The cooking chamber in a vertical pellet smoker is where the meat is placed for smoking. The heat and smoke from the pellet fire at the bottom travel upwards through the cooking chamber, infusing the meat with flavor. This design allows for optimal smoke meat quality and efficient use of space.

Why are horizontal pellet smokers sometimes preferred?

Horizontal pellet smokers, or pellet grills, are sometimes preferred due to their versatility. They can be used for smoking, grilling, roasting, and even baking. They also often have a larger cooking capacity than vertical smokers. However, they require an electric power source and may not be as portable as vertical pellet smokers.

What is the difference in energy efficiency between an electric smoker and a vertical pellet smoker?

An electric smoker and a vertical pellet smoker differ in their energy efficiency due to their heat source. While an electric smoker uses electricity as its sole heat source, a vertical pellet smoker uses wood pellets, which could be more cost-effective and environmentally friendly. However, both types of smokers are known for their energy efficiency compared to traditional gas grills or charcoal smokers.

Which is the best pellet smoker for smoked meats, a vertical pellet smoker or a horizontal pellet smoker?

The best pellet smoker for smoked meats would depend on personal preference. A vertical pellet smoker is generally known to produce high-quality smoked meats due to its vertical design that directs heat and smoke upwards through the cooking chamber. However, a horizontal pellet smoker can also produce excellent smoked meats, and it offers the added advantage of being able to grill and roast as well.