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Great Pellet smokers are an increasingly popular type of smoker. They’re often marketed as a healthier alternative to traditional wood or charcoal-fueled smokers, but the truth is that they do have some downsides.
Many pellet smokers come with a tube that has a built-in fuel system. The pellets are put into this tube and it takes care of all of the work for you. This means that you can just fire up your pellet smokestack without worrying about where the fuel comes from.
But how does this tube actually work?
Here’s what you need to know.
The Basics of Pellet Smoking
In general, a pellet smoker works like any other smoker—you just place a small amount of kindling (or “pellets”) in the chamber and set the temperature control dial to whatever level you want. However, unlike a standard gas stove top, there’s no flame here. Instead, the heat source is a metal plate that glows red hot.
This plate heats up the air inside the chamber, which then rises and flows through vents at the top of the smoker. As the hot air passes over the kindling, it cooks the food inside of the smoker. Once it’s done cooking, the food falls down and gets replaced by more pellets so that the process continues.
When you have a pellet smoker, there’s really not much else to worry about on a day-to-day basis. You load the smoker up with food, turn on the heat, wait for the cook time, and you’re good to go.
But there are some downsides to using a pellet smoker, and one of them is the cost. Most pellet smokers start around $300 USD, and they tend to be heavy, bulky devices. That makes them less than ideal if you plan to use the smoker more than a few times per year.
And since these are usually electric models, they require electricity to run their heating element. If you don’t have an outlet nearby, you may end up having to use a generator instead—and that can get expensive pretty quickly.
The Downside of Single-Use Pellet Smokers
You might think of pellet smokers as being single-use devices. After all, once you open the lid, you have to replace the food with fresh stuff whenever you light the smoker again. And while this isn’t something you typically see when people discuss pellet smokers, it’s actually possible to purchase a pellet smoker that will last longer than its intended lifespan.
This is because most single-use pellet smokers are made out of cheap plastic rather than steel or aluminum. While these materials can be strong enough to withstand normal wear and tear, they can break easily under extreme stress. So if you drop a single-use pellet smoker on the floor or knock it against a wall, there’s a good chance that it will crack or shatter.
If you want to ensure that your pellet smoker lasts long enough to justify the hefty price tag, consider buying a multi-use version. These kinds of models are designed to work with several different types of foods. The most common ones are designed to smoke beef brisket, pork shoulder, chicken wings, ribs, and turkey legs. But you also find versions that are meant to work well with sausage links, whole turkeys, and whole chickens.
These types of pellet smokers are usually made out of stainless steel or high-quality aluminum. They also feature removable baskets that allow you to swap out the food when it’s finished cooking.
Buying a pellet smoker that can handle multiple uses is cheaper than purchasing a single-use model. You can buy a used one online for half of the original cost, and you can often find new units that sell for as little as $150.
How to Install a Pellet Smoker Tube
As far as installation goes, setting up a pellet smoker tube is easy enough. All you have to do is attach the unit to your existing grill grate using the included hardware.
However, there’s another option available if you prefer to install your own tube. This includes both an aluminum and stainless steel version. Both are sold separately and each costs roughly $100. Either option is going to make installing your new pellet smoker tube significantly easier.
Install a Pellet Smoker Tube Without Tools
Before we get started, take note that installing a pellet smoker tube is very easy. It only requires a few basic tools.
Some masking tape
Your new pellet smoker tube
First, remove the old grill grate from your outdoor cooker. Then, grab your new pellet smoker tube and slide it onto the top rack. Next, screw the pellet smoker tube securely onto the side rails of the grill. Finally, flip the entire thing upside down and secure everything with the safety screws.
Install a Pellet Smoker Tube With Tools
Installing a pellet smoker tube is slightly trickier if you decide to use a tool kit. Here’s what you’ll need:
New pellet smoker tube
First, remove the old grill grate from your outdoor cooker. Then, grab your new pellet smoker tube and slide it onto the top rack. Next, drill two holes directly above the side rails of the grill. Use a hammer to tap in the Allen keys.
Once you’ve drilled the holes, grab your crescent wrench and tighten the bolts until they feel secure. Now, flip the pellet smoker tube over and tighten it with the crescent wrench. Next, grab your masking tape and wrap it tightly around the edge of the pellet smoker tube. Make sure the tape covers every inch of the tube.
Finally, grab your hand-drill bit and drill a hole directly above the pellet smoker tube. Repeat the same process with the lighter fluid, and you should now be able to connect your pellet smoker tube with ease.
Take Care of Your New Pellet Smoker Tube
There are a couple of things you should keep in mind when you’re working with a pellet smoker tube. First off, never use soap, detergent, gasoline, oil, paint thinner, or bleach on your new pellet smoker tube. These chemicals could cause damage and render your device unusable.
Also, be sure to clean the area around the pellet smoker tube regularly. A buildup of gunk between the tube and the rail could make it difficult for the pellet smoker to properly seal the tube. When that happens, you could experience problems with airflow, which could lead to overheating and, potentially, a safety hazard.
Now that you understand how pellet smoker tubes work, you can pick out the right pellet smoker for your needs. But if you still haven’t decided on what to get, check out our list of best pellet smokers below!