Char-Broil Vertical Gas Smoker Review

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Black cabinet smoker with door open showing the cooking racks in side where food is placed.
Vertical Gas Smoker

Char-Broil's vertical gasser is one of many smokers that share the same basic design. This cabinet style device has one door for the cooking chamber and a pull out drawer at the bottom to access the combo water pan and wood tray, allowing you to tend the wood and water without disturbing your smoke box. Rotary ignition and a control knob for the 16,500 BTU burner are located on the control panel under the drawer. It comes with three adjustable chrome plated cooking grates. One of the unique features is the wire rack above the chimney that is perfect for keeping your sauce warm. At 19.5" deep x 21.5" wide x 45.5" high, it is large with a low price.

Feedback from owners is typical of these low cost devices. Some are very happy and getting satisfactory results, others complain of poor construction and gaps in the doors that leak heat and smoke. But as Meathead explains in our intro to gas smokers, leaks won't hurt your food, just raise your wood and fuel costs slightly. And for this money, how can you gripe about construction?

The heat indicator is especially bad on this model. Some folks even replaced them with other cheap dial thermometers and declared that to be a significant improvement! Fuhgeddaboudit. Do yourself a favor and pick up an accurate digital thermometer.

Our science adisor, Dr. Greg Blonder, recently conducted experiments using this model. "Well, it’s a mixed bag", he states,."Better quality steel than I expected. Some bent grill parts. Door seals ok. Cheapest thermometer I’ve ever seen on a smoker. Wound wire handles on door too thin to protect your fingers against heat- useless. Biggest issue is combined water tray and smoke tray, which are concentric donuts with smooth sided walls. Filling the outer water tray is very likely to slosh into the inner wood tray, extinguishing the fire - Bad design. Burner flames are efficient according to my combustion gas analyzer. Cannot run under 285F without water pan, then drops to 240F. Water lasts about an hour, 4 oz oak wood about 45 minutes. The flames in the Charbroil are actually pretty hot, and convert nitrogen in air to NO, (nitrogen monoxide), to a thin  "smoke ring". No wood required. But the wood adds BBQ flavor and a wider, deeper colored ring." Click here to learn more about how the smoke ring is formed.

It is what it is. If you're looking for a cheap gas smoker Char-Broil is as good as it gets in this price range. Furthermore you can easily find deals on this guy. Even Wal-Mart sells them for way under the posted MSRP.

Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price: 
$180
Primary Function: 
Smoker
Fuel: 
Propane Gas
Primary Capacity: 
578 square inches
Made in the USA: 
No
BTU: 
16,500
Heat Flux: 
28.55
Heat Flux is the BTU per square inch and is a more useful measure of how much heat a grill delivers than BTU alone.
Review Method:

Cooked On It

We have hands-on experience testing this product. We have also gathered info from the manufacturer, owners and other reliable sources.

Char-Broil

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Char-Broil is an innovator in the popular gas grill arena with clever designs, low to midrange prices, and excellent customer service. For several years they have focused on infrared cooking. Starting in 2012 all new IR models were dubbed "Tru-Infrared". These grills are made with stainless steel tube burners that work in conjunction with a radiant surface to bring heat close to the food. The radiant surface shields food from direct flame and reduces hot dry convection heat rising from the burners.

As one of the biggest BBQ manufacturers in the world, Char-Broil offers a clear, low cost alternative to Weber and surpasses many other price driven manufacturers with their infrared gas grill design innovation and focused marketing. Also in 2012, Char-Broil introduced Saber, a new, very high quality line of gas grills that goes head to head with Weber's Summit series in the premium grill space. They offer charcoal grills, smokers, fryers and a variety of accessories and tools.

Char-Broil is owned by The W.C. Bradley Company headquartered in Columbus, GA.  Roots of W.C. Bradley go back before the Civil War to The Columbus Iron Works. The first Char-Broil grill was made and sold in the USA in 1948. Now all Char-Broil grills are manufactured in China and distributed around the globe.

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*Based on 4" raw burger with 1/2" space on all sides

“The most respected and comprehensive reviewers of grills and smokers in the world”

- Larry Olmsted,
Senior Contributor (Forbes)


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