What Are The Differences Between Reverse Flow And Offset Smokers
If you're trying to learn the differences between Reverseflow and Offset smokers this episode of the PitMaster Secrets podcast is for you!
What's the difference between a reverse flow smoker and an offset smoker? Well, here's what I think the difference between a reverse flow smoker and an offset smoker.
Reverse Flow Smokers
A Reverse Flow Smoker produces a very even cooking temp from
left to right and requires very little intervention from the cook.
They usually cost more to build than the alternative styles of
traditional offset or Texas offset. You may find plans for both
styles on Smokerplans.net which may be built from tanks, pipe
or flat metal.
On a Reverse Flow Smoker food is being cooked from the bottom up
instead of from the top down like on an open chamber offset.
It has a baffle plate which is installed horizontally in the cook chamber
from the firebox end all the way across until it gets to the opposite
end of the smoker. At that point, there is a gap which forces the
air, heat, and smoke to go up and turn around 180 degrees, hence
the name Reverse Flow. The baffle plate radiates heat as well.
The smoke stack is set at “top dead center”.
The firebox on a Reverse Flow Smoker is placed low in the cooking
chamber just a little below the baffle plate level. This design assures
full air flow from the firebox until it reaches the baffle plate gap at
the end of the smoker, as mentioned previously.
After a good fire start up, Maintaining cooking temperatures in a Reverse
Flow is really very simple. All you need to do is use an air inlet damper and
a smokestack damper to increase or decrease the amount of air that goes
to your fire.
Traditional Offset Smokers
This style smoker operates a lot like a reverse flow but the air doesn’t wait
until the end of the horizontal baffle to go up. It goes through the gaps
you create by “tuning the plates”. Radiant heat is at work to cook from the
The tuning plate system consists of short tuning plates each one usually
less than 10 inches long spread out horizontally in the cooking chamber under the
main cooking grate.
The pitmaster tunes these plates with gaps between them. This controls
the air flow and spread of heat. The setting of these tuning plates allows the
pitmaster to control the temperature zones in the cooking chamber.
Unlike a reverse flow, the smokestack location on an offset smoker will
always be at the opposite end of the cooking chamber from
the firebox. It is mounted about the level of the cooking grates.
Maintaining the temperature in a traditional offset is a bit more
complicated than in a reverse flow smoker. Everyone has their own
way of doing it. I usually close off the smokestack damper and adjust
an air inlet on the firebox. Some people open the cook chamber door
a little. It’s really up to you!
Open Chamber Offsets
Open Chamber Offsets or Texas Style Offset Smokers are very popular.
These are the least like a reverse flow smoker.
It’s just a firebox, cook chamber, smokestack, and a throat baffle .
You can cook a variety of meats on the same cooker because of the
possible different temperature zones it may produce.
Cooking happens from the top down on this type of smoker. There is
no baffle plate which runs horizontally through the cooking chamber.
Starting with the throat opening there’s a baffle put in to direct the air
straight up quickly. (LIke a short horizontal piece connected to a scoop
shaped piece that aims up) The air then moves across the top of the
cooker and convects downward toward the smokestack on the opposite side.
The position of the firebox on an offset smoker helps to get the air moving
straight up to the top of the cook chamber. It is positioned at 50% or higher
on the sidewall of the cooking chamber.
The smokestack location on an offset smoker will always be at the opposite
end of the cooking chamber from the firebox. It is mounted about the level
of the cooking grates. To maintain temperature in this type of smoker you
will vary the size of your fire, but opening and closing the smokestack damper
is another method you will likely use.
Operating any offset smoker does require that you flip and rotate your meat,
and maybe even move it from one side to the other if temperatures demand.
Keep in mind, maintaining the temperature in an offset smoker is a learned skill.
To summarize, a reverse flow would be best if you're doing a lot of catering,
fundraisers, or you're cooking for a restaurant or something, and you've got
a lot of the same kind of food. You're going to get a better result.
But if you're cooking a lot of different sized meat, like brisket and chicken together, a traditional offset or open (Texas Style) offset will give you more flexibility.
I hope this information helps you!
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