Why Do Some Pellet Grills Have Smokestacks? (Does It Matter)

You’re in the market for a new pellet grill and you see some with chimneys and without. Is there a difference? Do some cook better than others? You ask yourself “so why do some pellet grills have smokestacks?” Well, here’s what I found while doing my research.

Why Do Some Pellet Grills Have Smokestacks?

A pellet grill with a smokestack will have better airflow and will function more like a smoker than one without a chimney.

why do some pellet grills have smokestacks

There’s a huge debate online forums with people saying that the smokestack is just for aesthetics. I’m definitely no expert, but I do believe that a pellet grill with a chimney is going to have better airflow than one without.

So what does this mean? Well according to my research, a pellet grill without a chimney has vent small vent holes that will not get the same amount of airflow as those with a chimney.

This is why so many people will put a smokestack on their pellet grill because they want more smoke. Here are some tips that have helped me get more smoke from my Pit Boss, that will work for any pellet grill.

I know this is confusing, especially if you’re new to pellet grills like I was. It took me days to decide if I should get one with or without a smokestack. After all the research, I finally decided to go with one with the smokestack.

Honestly, I still don’t know what the smokestack does, and there’s not a lot of real information about it online. Here’s how to adjust the smokestack for the best airflow.

So I’ve decided to put together some of the best information I know how to help you decide which smoker grill is right for you, as well as how to shop for both types of pellet grills.

Venting On Pellet Grills Without Chimneys

When shopping for a new pellet grill, you want to pay attention to the vent holes on the back of the grill. Depending on the company, every pellet grill will be different.

Most pellet grills will have about 2-5 vents on the back. Let’s take a look at the types of vents on the back and why it matters.

Louvered Vents

louvered vents
Louvered vents provide more protection from dirt, wind, and debris.

This type of vent allows air to flow easily while keeping out dirt, water, and debris. Think of an aluminum louvered air vent, they allow air to flow out, but keep debris out.

Yes, they need to be vacuumed on a regular basis because they collect dirt, but they do prevent dirt from getting inside because of the design.

One of the grill manufacturers that designed grills with louvered vents is Camp Chef.


Pit Boss 700fb
Pit Boss is known for the venting holes with the protection shield.

Some manufacturers use holes across the back, a grill that comes to mind is the Pit Boss 700FB, which is the one that I was looking at before we decided on the Pro Series 820.

The downside about the venting holes is that it can really mess with your cooking time, especially, if you’re cooking on a cold windy day.

If you do get one with holes for air vents on the back, make sure it has a rain shield over the holes to help keep rain, dirt, and debris out of your grill.

Oblong Holes

ventilation holes in Traeger
oblong ventilation holes will be harder to protect from the outside elements when cooking.

This Traeger that I saw at Ace Hardware when was shopping for a pellet grill had oblong holes. These slotted holes are bigger and unfortunately, do not provide any type of protection from the outside elements.

Chances are you’ll have a harder time keep your grill at the right temperature when grilling, especially, on cold windy days.

Ventilation Of A Chimney

To better understand why the chimney is an important factor in a pellet grill, you should first understand how the air flows through the pellet grill. It’s similar to how a chimney works, with the hot air rising.

Pellet grills is a forced air design and a fan circulates smoke and heat to produce an even and consistent cooking.

Those with chimneys will notice the smoke coming out of the chimney. If you’ve been grilling for a while, then you’ve probably had a bunch of smoke gets in your face when you’re near the grill. Hence the reason, some people put bigger smokestacks on theirs.

I could only assume that the pellet grills without a smokestack the smoke problem is worse because the smoke is not rising to the top of the chimney?

But I don’t really know, because I’ve never cooked on a pellet grill without a chimney.

Do All Pellet Grills Produce Enough Smoke?

No, according to my research, not every pellet grill produces the same amount of smoke. There are several online forums say that the ones with smokestacks produce more smoke than those without one?

Smokestack VS No Smokestack

During my research on which pellet grill to buy, I spend hours in online forums and BBQing websites reading people’s opinions and complaints about the smokestack vs no smokestack.

Here are some of the things that I discovered about choosing one with or without a smokestack.

  • Aesthetics: Most people say that a pellet grill with a smokestack looks way cooler than one without.
  • Airflow: A pellet grill with a smoke stack is naturally going to have a better airflow, because of the chimney.
  • Weather: While colder temperatures can mess with the cook times for a pellet grill with or without a smoke stack, you’ll notice it’s harder to grill with a grill that has vent holes the air can enter. Regardless of what type of pellet grill you have, you should have a great meat thermometer to help you know when your food is properly cooked.
  • Expensive: You should expect to pay more for a pellet grill with a smokestack than one without.

What To Look For When Buying A Pellet Grill?

best pellet grills without smokestacks
If you do buy one without a smokestack, you should look at the type of venting it has.

The biggest thing to look for is whether or not the unit has a smoke stack. If not, then you’ll want to find out what type of ventilation holes it has.

As mentioned above, louvered vent holes are going to be the best from preventing air, water, and debris in your grill.

If the grill doesn’t have louvered holes, make sure that it has some type of shield or protection above the vents to help keep your grill protected.

Best Pellet Grills Without Smokestacks

If you could care less about whether or not your pellet grill has a smokestack or not, you just don’t want to pay a lot of money on the front end, then here are some of the most popular pellet grill brands and the types of ventilation they use on their grills without smokestacks

CompanyType of Ventilation
Pit BossHoles
Rec TecHoles
TraegerNot Sure
Camp ChefLouvered Holes

If you’re in the market and want to know what type of ventilation holes a certain brand has, don’t hesitate to reach out to the company and ask them.

You can also walk into your local home improvement store and see if they have the grill on display in the store. This will allow you to touch the grill and look on the side or the back of it to see what type of ventilation it has.

Should I Add A Smokestack To My Pellet Grill?

It’s totally up to you. There are certainly no shortage of YouTube videos that will walk you through on how to add a smokestack to your pellet grill.

The best part is that the process is pretty much the same, regardless of what type of grill you have. Here’s one that I found online that you can check out.

We were going to add one to our Pit Boss when we were looking at the one without a smokestack.

If you do get smokestack, make sure you check out Smoke Daddy. You should be able to find some amazing prices for smokestacks for Pit Boss, Traeger, Camp Chef and etc.

Bottom Line

Pellet grills are expensive and the last thing you want to do is buy one and then realize that you didn’t buy the right one. Unlike a pair of pants that you can return if you’re not happy with, I’m not sure what the return policy is when it comes to pellet grills?

I’d hate for you to regret your decision, that’s why I put together this guide on what to look for when buying a pellet grill.

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