When it comes to smokers, everybody has their own preference. In fact, most people do not just have a preference, they are devoted to their chosen method of smoking. Here are some of the most common types of smokers or grills that people use to smoke meat.
Standard Charcoal Grill
This could be a kettle style grill, a generic square shaped grill or perhaps a barrel style grill. The trick to smoking with a regular grill is to have one that is large enough to make indirect heat. You need to have room for the coals or wood to be on one side of the grill while you smoke the meat on the other side. The benefit of this type of grill is that it is cheap and versatile. You can get a decent one for well under $100 and use it to smoke meat or just do basic grilling. The negative is that for smoking, it is hard to maintain the heat and particularly hard to maintain heat for a low and slow smoke.
This type of grill can also come in a variety of different forms. The basic design will involve a firebox that is separate from the smoking chamber. They can come in all different shapes with the most basic being a basic drum with a separate wood box. They can also come in the form of a metal cabinet allowing for the smoking of quite a bit of meat at once. The benefit of this type of smoker is that you can smoke a lot of meat at once and it is much easier to control the temperature. The downside is that you will have to constantly feed the firebox. This can become tedious on long overnight smokes like when you take on a brisket or even worse a pork butt.
This is basically a gas grill with a smoke box. It will use propane heat which will let you set it and forget it. All that you will need to do is add some wood for flavor at the beginning of the smoke. The benefit of this grill is that you can set the temperature right where you want it and you do not need to tend it as much. The downside is that you must make sure that you have enough propane to get you through the smoke. You should keep an extra tank on hand just in case you run out.
Yes, there is a place for electric smokers. These will use a heating element similar to your oven and a wood box placed above the heating element. The great thing about these smokers is that you will not need to mess with your smoke at all until it is done. Simply fill your wood box, add your meat, insert a remote thermostat in your meat and set it to the temperature that you want to smoke it at. They are the ultimate of convenience. The downside to this type of smoker is that you will not get a pink line. The pink line is formed with the addition of oxygen and most electric smokers are sealed up tight. In addition, you may not get as crisp of a bark on your meat. With chicken, the skin will not be crisp at all, so if this is important, this might not be the smoker for you.
All of the smokers above have their place and can be used to make some great meat. Your job is to choose the one that works the best for you. Are you low on money, are you a BBQ purist or do you value convenience most. The choice is yours.