Vertical Pellet Smoker Vs. Pellet Grill

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With many BBQing options on the market today, it can be challenging to choose the one that suits your needs best.

Two of the options you will come across on the market are the pellet grill and the vertical pellet smoker, but how do these smokers differ? 

Pellet grills and vertical pellet smokers are excellent BBQing appliances. They both give you tasty, tender, and juicy meat.

However, they have some obvious differences that will affect the flavor of the meat you smoke, among other things.

Some of these include the size and the cooking capacity. 

In this article, we will cover the pros and cons of both these BBQ appliance options and more overall information about them, including how they work.

So, keep reading if you want to find the best appliance for you!

Pellet Grills Vs. Vertical Pellet Smoker: What’s The Difference?

Grilling meats has continually been a popular pastime across the country.

With the smoking meat trend also growing, you might find yourself in the market for a BBQ wood pellet grill or smoker.

These tools are great to have in your arsenal for your summer meals. 

However, when you look through all the different pellet smokers and grills, it can get confusing and slightly overwhelming due to the number of available brands and designs.

You might come across two options: the pellet grill and the vertical pellet smoker. 

These two look quite similar, with the only difference seeming to be that one is vertical and the other is not.

However, there are many other distinctions between these two BBQ tools when you take a closer look at them. 

Let’s go through a bit more information about these two options before we get into the distinctions between the two.

This would enable you to better see how these options work and which one might suit you. 

Information On Pellet Grills 

Pellet grills also go by the name pellet smokers, and they are relatively new to the smoking and grilling category.

Pellet grills are horizontal grills that utilize hardwood pellets for cooking your chosen meat to perfection.

The wood pellets are placed in the bottom cooking chamber of the grill to smoke or grill the meat to your liking. 

You can use charcoal with this grill or a mixture of wood pellets and charcoal if you prefer.

Most pellet grills can reach a high of 650°F and as low as 150°F, which means you can use them for low and slow smoking or as a grill to get the perfect sear on your meat. 

The way you use your pellet grill will depend on what you want to cook and how you cook it.

Pellet grills combine the elements of charcoal grills, gas grills, smokers, and ovens together, offering a large range of cooking options. 

Pellet smokers come in varying sizes and colors, so you can easily find one in the style you like.

Pellet smokers should only be used outdoors, as using them indoors can be extremely dangerous due to the fumes they can give off while in use. 

Information On Vertical Pellet Smokers

A vertical pellet smoker is also fairly new to the world of smokers as it started to appear a few years after the horizontal pellet grill.

Vertical smokers are growing in popularity due to several factors that we will cover throughout this article. 

Vertical pellet smokers also utilize hardwood pellets to create the smoke to smoke your chosen meats to perfection and satisfy your smoked meat cravings.

Depending on your preference, you can use charcoal in this smoker or a mixture of charcoal and wood pellets.

Vertical pellet smokers have an upright design, which can save space during storage. 

The vertical pellet smoker usually has several shelves inside it, allowing you to smoke a large amount of meat.

You don’t need to be afraid of burning the meat with these smokers, as the heat source is situated far enough away from the shelves to prevent burning. 

How Do Pellet Grills Work?

Now you know more about these two options, we can go over how they work to help you determine which of these is best for your needs.

So, how does a pellet grill work, and how do you use it to ensure your meat comes out perfectly? 

When you want to use your pellet grill, you must prep the grill to ensure everything works correctly.

Attached to one side of the pellet grill will be a chamber called the hopper; this is where you place the hardwood pellets, charcoal, or both, for the fuel. 

When the hardwood pellets are in the hopper, and you turn the grill on, the pellets are fed through to the burn pot inside the cooking chamber of the grill by a part of the grill called the auger.

The auger is a mechanism that looks like a drill and rotates to push the woodchips into the burning pot. 

This auger is driven by electricity, so even though you have a pellet grill, you need electricity to operate it correctly.

When the woodchips are in the burning pot of the grill, they will ignite and cause a flame, which you can use to grill or smoke your favorite meats. 

The flame is maintained throughout the grilling or smoking process by the auger dropping more woodchips into the burning pot.

This is controlled by the temperature dial on the pellet grill.

If you set the temperature higher, it will feed the woodchips into the burn pot faster to maintain a high temperature.

How Do Vertical Pellet Smokers Work?

The vertical pellet smoker works differently from the pellet grill and requires more work from you to maintain the pellets or charcoal in the smoker.

To operate the vertical pellet smoker, you will need to take the shelves out to give you space to work. 

At the bottom of the vertical pellet smoker, a heat plate or burner provides the heat needed to smoke the meat properly.

Above this heat source will generally be a water tray; this will help keep your meat moist while in the smoker

To operate the vertical pellet smoker, you will need to place your hardwood pellets, charcoal, or both onto the burner.

Then place the water tray in its designated location and use the temperature dial on the vertical smoker to heat it to your desired temperature. 

Once the vertical smoker has reached the temperature required for your chosen meat, you can place the meat on the shelves in the smoker.

Then you can leave it to smoke for the time stated on the recipe. 

Depending on how extreme you set the heat, you will need to monitor the wood pellets, as the pellets might need to be replenished halfway through the smoking process. 

The Differences Between A Pellet Grill And A Vertical Pellet Smoker

The pellet grill and the vertical pellet smoker are easy to use and won’t take much time to set up and get ready to begin the cooking process. 

Even though these two BBQing options sound pretty similar and seem like they will both smoke or grill your chosen meat with a similar outcome.

These options have many differences you should know about before deciding which is best for your needs.

These differences can make you favor one of the options over the other, as they are quite substantial differences.

So, let’s look at how these two options differ to help you make the best decision for you. 

Options For Multipurpose Use

One of the main differences you might have noticed between these two options is that there is a difference in options for multipurpose use between the two.

The horizontal pellet grill has multipurpose functionality. 

With this grill, you can smoke, grill, make roasts, and even bake bread in it.

This is because you can monitor the pellet grill’s temperature more effectively and control it better than the vertical pellet smoker.

The vertical pellet smoker can only be used to smoke meats and does not have multipurpose functionality. 

Durability Of Each Option

Looking at the differences between these two, you will need to look at the durability of the pellet grill and vertical smoker.

If you are going to spend quite a bit of money on an outdoor appliance like these two, you want to ensure it lasts a long time, so you get your money’s worth. 

If you buy a high-quality vertical pellet smoker and take good care of it, it will last many years.

The lower-grade vertical pellet smokers won’t last as long, so you shouldn’t buy a cheap model. 

A pellet grill is less durable than a vertical pellet smoker, as the pellet grill has moving components that can wear out and break over time.

You should try to purchase a high-quality model of vertical pellet smoker as they will last longer as their parts are made from quality material.

However, these can still wear out fast, depending on how much you use the pellet grill.  

The Energy Efficiency Of Each Option

One major factor that many people look at when deciding whether to purchase the pellet grill or the vertical pellet smoker is the energy efficiency of the two options.

We live in a world where more people are choosing to be environmentally conscious, so this is an important aspect to look at. 

An energy-efficient grill or smoker can also save you money in the long run, so if you’re not environmentally conscious, it’s still important to know.

Both vertical pellet smokers and pellet grills are energy efficient and will save you money in the long run. 

Vertical pellet smokers require less fuel to operate, so they are slightly more energy-efficient than the pellet grills. 

The Cooking Capacity Of Each Option

Due to the vertical pellet smoker’s vertical design, you can fit more meat inside it than you can in the pellet grill.

The vertical smoker has multiple cooking shelves, whereas the pellet grill only has one. 

You can purchase bigger pellet grills to offer more cooking space, but they will take a lot of space in your garden and be more difficult to store. 

Differences In Price

When you look at the differences between these two appliances, you will also want to know the price differences, especially if you’re on a budget.

When looking at the prices of each option, you should also take into account the cooking capacity of the models you are looking at. 

Generally, the vertical pellet smoker is better value for money than the pellet grill, as it has a larger cooking capacity.

For example, you can buy a quality vertical pellet smoker with eight cooking shelves for around $650.

However, a low-end pellet grill with less cooking capacity can cost you $ 700. 

The Pros And Cons Of Both Options

These two appliances have a good number of differences between them.

But when you are looking to purchase one, you need to know the pros and cons of them both to ensure you make the right decision.

So, let’s look at the benefits and cons of both these options. 

The Pros And Cons of Pellet Grills

We will first cover the pros and cons of a pellet grill and then see how the vertical pellet smoker compares.

Here are the pros of a pellet grill:

  • Pellet grills are easy to use and set up.
  • Pellet grills offer the real wood-fired flavor that many people want with their meats and can create the char-grilled flavor too.
  • These grills are set and forget grills, so they don’t need constant monitoring to maintain the heat. 
  • Most pellet grills can also be used as smokers. 
  • Pellet grills are more fuel-efficient than most other grills/smokers. 

Here are a few of the cons of having a pellet grill:

  • Pellet grills require electricity to operate.
  • These grills are expensive. 
  • Pellet grills are usually large. 
  • Less durable due to the moving parts.

The Pros And Cons Of Vertical Pellet Smokers

Now you know the pros and cons of the pellet grills, we will go through the pros and cons of the vertical pellet smoker and see how they differ.

Here are the pros of a vertical pellet smoker:

  • Vertical pellet smokers are easy to use.
  • These smokers can be used in the winter and cooler climates when well insulated. 
  • Vertical pellet smokers are fairly inexpensive compared to pellet grills.
  • Vertical pellet smokers are small and don’t take up much room.

Here are a few of the cons of having a vertical pellet smoker:

  • These smokers need electricity to operate. 
  • Vertical pellet smokers are not multifunctional, meaning you cannot use them for grilling. 
  • The meat can lack a strong smoky flavor many people want from their smoked meats.
  • The meat smoked in this smoker won’t have the smoke ring.
  • It can take practice to get the right woodchip levels and stop the meat from drying out.
  • This smoker will require monitoring when in use.
  • Vertical pellet smokers can be difficult to set up.


Pellet grills and vertical pellet smokers are both excellent appliances that will give you wonderfully tender and juicy meat that everyone will enjoy.

These two appliances have some obvious differences that can make you favor one over the other, even though they are both great at cooking meat. 

Both these options have some pros and cons that need to be considered before purchasing one or the other for yourself.

Hopefully, this article has helped out with choosing which options suit your needs best. Good luck smoking your meat!