WSM 14.5" vs. 18.5"?



TVWBB Member
Considering my first WSM and its just the wife and I so I'm not sure if the 18.5" is over kill. This will be my first smoker, I tired the "amazingtube" smoker with little success, could never keep the pellets lit in my Genesis gas grill once the lid was closed!

So, since its just the two of us, I'm not sure if the 18.5" is over kill, but i don't want to regret not getting the 18.5" down the road on the flip side. That said, I'd probably like to be able to smoke 2-3 racks of ribs at a time. I think id probably want to cook a pork butt or separately a full brisket, but i don't think i'd have need to cook more than one pork butt or one brisket at a time.

All opinions are welcome, please let me know your thoughts.


I find it interesting that for a long time the debate has been to buy an 18" or 22", now we throw the 14" into the mix :confused:
I also think the consensus will remain that bigger is better, if no reason other than bigger pieces of meat will fit better.
That said, a 14" will cook a chicken or pork butt, and I see no reason you couldn't cut slabs of ribs in half and either cook brisket flats or seperate the point and flat and cook them seperate.
I'm a big fan of the 22" and admit it's overkill for most cooks. But it's nice to have when I need it. With that said, I also built a mini which is pretty similar to the 14" WSM. I love it and it's great for a pork butt or a whole chicken or.... Temp control is a bit touchier on the smaller smoker compared to the big boy. I just picked up the 18" yesterday and can see where this will get worked into regular cooks. If I had to pick between the 14 and the 18, hands down I'd choose the 18.
I have had my 18.5" Weber for about a year. It is a TERRIFIC smoker. I became enamored of the idea of the Mini-Joe and just recently put it on line. It is ALSO a great smoker. It (the Mini) or the new Weber 14.5" are more than enough for the average family and use less charcoal while getting the job done. Either of them will do two full size Boston Butts at once. My mini will do eight half racks of ribs at once, so, for me, that is MORE than enough. Will I be getting rid of my 18.5" - no, simply because it's a great piece of gear. However, it is not going to be used nearly as much in the future because the mini will do most of what I need done.

We, as Americans, tend to always think "Bigger is Better" but that is not necessarily so.

However, the only person that needs to be satisfied is YOU. Whatever you choose, it will NOT be wrong if you are happy in your decision.

18.5 is proven. It's the workhorse of the WSM line. The 22.5 was response to the demand for a higher capacity, but it burns more fuel to sustain the same temp than an 18. The 14.5 seems to me to be more of a novelty for us Weber fans; however, it does successfully cook smaller amounts of meat and is more practical for small cooks and for BBQers who do not cook as often as us.

My gut feeling is, if your serious enough about BBQing to be a member of this site, then you'd enjoy the 18.5 more and find it more useful.
I was going to wait for the 14.5 for the same reason, but I found a 18.5 on Craigslist. I'm glad I got it over the 14.5 because it has just enough room for a 10 pound packer brisket or a good size turkey. I'm really happy with the 18.5.
There are only 2 in my household, the fiancé and I. I built a mini about 3 months ago and it's been used at least once a week since I built it. It's the same size at the 14.5" wsm and makes plenty of food for the 2 of us. But I've also been able to smoke 2 chickens at once, a 15lb turkey, and 4 slabs of ribs...(cut in half and placed in a brinkmann rib rack which fits perfectly in the mini btw). You can still cram some pretty good sized cooks in a 14.5 which might be ideal for just the two of you however I might go for the 18.5 just in case it's your turn to host thanksgiving or a Super Bowl party perhaps. For me the 22.5 is a bit of an overkill and is probably one of the biggest smokers on the market.
A large briskett still needs to be trimed slightly to fit on a 18.5 so there is no way a full briskett wil fit on a 14.5. So I would go with a 18.5.
That said I am going to get a 14.5 to go with my 18.5.
I got the 18er at the end of Jan. this year, and I'm glad I did. It does 95% of what I want. I have a friend with the 22.5" and he really doesn't like how it uses a ton of charcoal for just 1 or 2 butts. Really the only thing that it doesn't do well (the 18er) is full racks of ribs, so you need to cut them and put them in a rack for max space. Which is fine, but if I'm doing just one rack I'll use my 22.5" performer, less charcoal and it works great.
I'm sure there's a market out there for the 14er, but if I'm going to do smaller cooks I just use the Performer. Larger or longer cooks I use the wsm. Keep in mind too that if you have friends, and you start making all this BBQ, you might be cooking for more then just two. I have a friend that asked me to do enough pulled pork for about 150 people, and I did it all in one shot with my 18.5" wsm. I also did a 16# brisket with no problems. So imo the 18er is the best all around pick. With the 22.5" Performer and the 18.5"wsm I got all my bases covered. Which ever way you go your going to love bbq'in on it! Enjoy.
I love my 22.5, and I don't mind spending the extra $1.50 worth of charcoal for an 8 hour cook.

I'd rather have the space and not need it than need the space and not have it. That said, what works for me isn't necessarily universal.
Thank you very much to everyone, very helpful feedback. I think from what I'm reading a 18.5 would be the best fit for longevity. Like I said this will be my first smoker and I am excited to see the outcome. I've had some marginal success with my Genesis but I think the real deal will make all the difference. Thanks again.
Or, you can go even smaller and get the Cobb smoker....:))))
But, since building my mini-14.5 I haven't used the Cobb all that much as the mini is 100X better in all aspects.
I'll be somewhat of a dissenting opinion :). I bought the 18.5 last year. This summer, I made myself a mini. I haven't used the 18.5 since.
We're a family of four, and the mini suits our needs just fine. I've cooked for as many as 8 people easily on the mini. I also bought a OTG this summer as well, and I use it the most. If I were to do it over again, I wouldn't purchase the 18.5.
Alternatively, for less than $100 you could build yourself a mini and try it out. If I can build one, anybody can!
I guess what I'm saying is for a total of less than $150, ( mini <$100, OTG $50 used CL) I have more flexibility than dropping 3 bills on an 18.5
Good luck with your decision.
^^^^ I agree, with a 14.5 wsm or mini and a 22.5 kettle you can pretty much do anything for a small family.
i was thinking of a 14 in addition to the 22...overkill?

i can see why people think that 22 is too much though. almost feel like im cooking way too much just to make the coals worth it...
Anyone have a couple good pictures of a cook on a 14.5" doing ribs, brisket, etc. Just curious to see how the spacing works out. I'm going to assume a brisket would need to be cut like the ribs would.