Question for those that went from 18" up to 22" or 22" down to 18"

Question for those that went from 18" up to 22" or 22" down to 18"

A friend of mine turned me on to this whole smoking business over the last year and I'm a terrible person to gift shop for (so I'm told.... Expensive hobbies) and my wife brilliantly took note of my interest in my friend's brisket and I received a 14" WSM for my birthday in March. She thought the 18" looked too big (I'm 99% sure she was only looking at the sizes of the boxes) and I didn't even unpack it, drove straight to the store to exchange for an 18".

I'm loving it, I'm a tinkerer of all things so of course I've already done a number of improvements but I'm really wanting to do some things to it that would go beyond the point of no return in terms of being able to sell it for even pennies on the dollar used. Basically, before I invest more time & money, I want to feel comfortable that I'm starting with the right sized smoker. The one nagging thing for me is having to squish full packer briskets in there between the handles or having to chop a rack of ribs a little short to fit... Just feels dirty to me. I know you can twist/contort meat here & there to fit but I just like things to lay naturally. But, I'd also hate upgrading to 22" just to find myself using ungodly amounts of extra charcoal and have too much extra space (feels like meat should be somewhat cozy to fit) to cook for myself, wife, and 2 toddlers (who really can't make that big of a dent in the food), which in all honesty is 95% of the time (I'm not hosting big gatherings much).

Can anyone who's moved up or down in size relate their experience and lessons learned?
 

Bob Ivey

TVWBB Emerald Member
Hi Adam. Welcome to the forum. I started with a WSM22 3 years ago and can tell you that I love it but for just my wife and I it uses a lot of fuel. I wouldn't trade it for the world, but I am trying to decide between adding a 14 or an 18. More and more, I think I am leaning toward the 14 for the smaller cooks. More and more people here are using them and seem to love them. For labor day, we are having the whole family and maybe a few others over so the 22 will be working hard. I am thinking that if I had a 14 also I could easily do at least 1 rack of ribs coiled or maybe even 2 coiled. Have seem many people doing this. As for brisket I could just separate the point from the flat and cook it that way. The point is the 14 uses a lot less fuel and would be easier to handle for just the two of us. Remember that the key is what will work for you. Good luck with your decision.
 
Hi Adam. Welcome to the forum. I started with a WSM22 3 years ago and can tell you that I love it but for just my wife and I it uses a lot of fuel. I wouldn't trade it for the world, but I am trying to decide between adding a 14 or an 18. More and more, I think I am leaning toward the 14 for the smaller cooks. More and more people here are using them and seem to love them. For labor day, we are having the whole family and maybe a few others over so the 22 will be working hard. I am thinking that if I had a 14 also I could easily do at least 1 rack of ribs coiled or maybe even 2 coiled. Have seem many people doing this. As for brisket I could just separate the point from the flat and cook it that way. The point is the 14 uses a lot less fuel and would be easier to handle for just the two of us. Remember that the key is what will work for you. Good luck with your decision.

Good points. I should have mentioned I really, really, don't want to have 2 smokers. I hate extra stuff/clutter, I realize a lot of people love having more than a few of these but it's just not for me. After reading your post I'm starting to feel like the 18" is probably the sweet spot for me and given my preference to not have more than one I'll need to learn to live/love the trade offs.
 

MikeBarger

TVWBB Member
I've got a 22 and a green Brinkman bullet that measures 17". Been using the Brinkman for small loads and the 22 for big ones. The Brinkman is at the end of it's life and parts are no longer available for it. When I replace it it will be with WSM 18, just don't think going down to a 14, from 17, will work.

Just fuel for thought.

You posted while I was typing so having two doesn't work for you. Then I'd have to go with the 22, you can use less grill space, but you can't add......
 

Keith R

TVWBB Fan
I will say if the 18" meets your needs 95% of the time (your estimate) AND this was a gift from your wife, just stick with it. I have the 22" but honestly have rarely needed the extra space
 

Mac C

New member
I went front the 22 to 18. It's just the wife and I, so the 18 worked out best. I got a deal on a 18 so it was hard to pass up. Using less fuel is also a plus.
 

TOM BAUER

TVWBB Pro
When I bought my 18" WSM, the 22" wasn't available yet, used it for a few years and then used the Cajun Bandit conversion kit to come up with a 22", then a couple of years ago, picked up the 14" which I use most of the time. The 18" dos most everything I need for bigger cooks, (8 people or so) the 22" for my use is way overkill. Now the 14" gets the most use for up to 5 people and is my go-to for the 2 of us. Sell the 22" and just have a 14" and a 18" and you will be ready to go.
 

JBooker

TVWBB Super Fan
But, I'd also hate upgrading to 22" just to find myself using ungodly amounts of extra charcoal and have too much extra space (feels like meat should be somewhat cozy to fit) to cook for myself, wife, and 2 toddlers (who really can't make that big of a dent in the food), which in all honesty is 95% of the time (I'm not hosting big gatherings much).

So would running a larger than needed smoker 95% of the time be worth it for that extra capacity that you only use 5% of the time?
 

Matt H.

TVWBB Super Fan
Let's keep in mind charcoal is cheap. Especially if you wait for holiday deals. I bet even if you smoked 40 times a year we'd be talking about a max of an extra $20 a year. I wish I had the 22 even though I've been able to manage just fine with the 18 (my wife also choose to get the cheaper one). Call it grill envy, but like the op I get sick of having to squeeze briskets in or cut ribs short or whatever
 
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JJackson

TVWBB Member
I'm considering the same 2 sizes, but fuel IS cheap.

I'm more concerned about tales of the 22.5" running "too hot" compared to the easier 18.5". Can anyone confirm or deny?
 

Bruce Bissonnette

TVWBB Guru
You could always get the 22", and then buy an 18" charcoal ring. That way you could use the smaller charcoal ring when doing small cooks for just you and the wifey and then use the bigger charcoal ring when
doing larger cooks or overnight cooks, i.e. briskets or pork butts. I own both, I don't think I've ever heard anyone say, "Boy I wish I had bought a smaller cooker." The size of the 22" is great, laying 3 racks of ribs on the top grate,
a full packer brisket without scrunching it, 3 pork butts on the top grate without crowding....it's a great cooker.
 

Chris Brusca

New member
I faced the same delimma but decided that getting a larger smoker for just the small amount of use I'd need the larger one for wasn't worth it. I just cut the flatter part of my brisket off and cook as 2 pieces. I don't do ribs much. Works fine for me.
 

Keith R

TVWBB Fan
I'm considering the same 2 sizes, but fuel IS cheap.

I'm more concerned about tales of the 22.5" running "too hot" compared to the easier 18.5". Can anyone confirm or deny?

I don't have a 18.5 and 22.5, I just have the 22.5. So maybe not the best one to answer but I personally have not had an issue with running "too hot". I can control temps I assume just as easily as I would be able to on the 18.5. I have no issues keeping it in the 225 - 240 range if I want, or getting it up to 250, 265 etc.
 

Keith R

TVWBB Fan
To be clear, I will kind of say what I said above. If I was starting from scratch and getting a new one, I don't thin the 22.5 is THAT much bigger than the 18.5, and I would tend to suggest that one. I will say I bought the 22.5 versus the 18.5 myself.

But if I already had a 18.5 and it met basically all my needs or almost all of them, I wouldn't personally exchange.
 
Just when I thought I had it settled I'm back wondering "what if?" Re: 22".

I haven't had this thing long, but just like everything I get into I'm finding myself diving deeper & deeper into the rabbit hole. I'm going to try my hardest to get along with the 18" for now and no big deal if I upgrade in a year or two. Very unlike me in most endeavors but it's really nothing but a little time & elbow grease to port my improvements over to a 22" and if I give it some more time I'll at least feel like I got my money's worth out of the 18" (What, who do you think paid for my gift? :confused: ;) )
 
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S.Six

TVWBB All-Star
I'm considering the same 2 sizes, but fuel IS cheap.

I'm more concerned about tales of the 22.5" running "too hot" compared to the easier 18.5". Can anyone confirm or deny?
Haven't had that problem. both my 18.5"wsm and 22.5"wsm like to run around 275ish without water in the pan.
 

Andrew F

TVWBB Super Fan
I routinly have both the 22" WSM and the kettle going these day, but it is corn season up here and I have been doing a stupid amount of dinners for 10-20 people lately. So much so that the wife is considering approving another grill.
 

Tyson

TVWBB Super Fan
I love my 18.5 since I take it camping and on trips. It's easy to move around, but it would be nice to fit bigger brisket in there.
 

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