How To Use Vents on Vertical Smoker 

How To Use Vents on Vertical Smoker

According to a survey, 85% of barbecue lovers prefer vertical smokers over other types of smokers. Adding smoky flavors to your food is called the art of barbecue. To get the perfect taste of barbecue, we need to understand our type of smoker well. Learning about your vertical smoker is so important to get the most benefits from it. To control the airflow of a smoker, we use small openings, which we call vents. You can create an ideal environment for your meat by simply adjusting your smoker’s vents. 

In this article, I will share a full, basic guide on how to use vents on vertical smokers and how they generally work. Also, we will talk about the importance of vents and how they can help you control the heat and smoke. By the end of this guide, you will become a pro and will feel more comfortable using vents on a vertical smoker. 

How to Open and Close Your Vent: A Beginner’s Guide 

To enhance your barbecue experience, it’s an important skill to know how to open and close vents on vertical smokers. With the help of the opening and closing of your vents, you can easily maintain airflow and control temperature. To change the taste and quality of your meat, you should learn all the techniques of this skill. 

We have two main types of vents: intake vents and exhaust vents. You can find intake vents on the bottom of your vertical smoker, beside the firebox. Because of these types of vents, air can easily get into the smoker and help with the fire. Exhaust vents are on the top of the smoker near the cooking chamber. They help smoke and hot air get out of the smoker and make a draft, which pulls more fresh air into the firebox.

how to use Vents on Vertical Smoker

Most vents are made of metal, so you can slide them open and close. Some smokers have a knob or handle to turn vents on and off. The firebox is the place where fuels like wood, charcoal, and pellets are burned. The place where you put your meat is called a cooking chamber. 

Opening a vent by sliding or turning the knob on and off will make the space bigger between the smoker and the vent. This will help the air spread smoothly. By closing the vent, space will eventually become less between the vent and the smoker. 

The settings or adjustments for opening and closing a vent depend on the type and size of the smoker. A common rule is to start with both vents fully open, and then you can adjust them as per your needs and preferences to maintain the temperature and smoke of your choice. 

Bottom Vent 

Bottom vents are located on the bottom of the vertical smoker near the firebox. They control the amount of oxygen, fire intensity, and speed of the fire.

They are the main vent, which you need to adjust to control the temperature inside your smoker. 

The Top Vent

An exhaust vent is also called a top vent, which is located near the cooking chamber at the top of your smoker. The top vent is responsible for controlling the heat and smoke; they work by regulating the amount of air that exists in the smoker. The top vents usually need to be adjusted to the smoke level inside your smoker. 

Airflow Basics

Airflow basics are so necessary for your smoker’s vents. You must have a careful balance to maintain the airflow. Learn about how the intake vents help regulate oxygen and how they affect fire intensity. 

The second important thing is the exhaust vents, which control heat and smoke at the same time. This process actually explains the truth behind maintaining a consistent temperature. 

How to control your Temperature with vents? 

Controlling the temperature of your smoker is so important. Vents are helpful in order to get the perfect temperature control. Vents allow us to adjust the heat and airflow in the cooking chamber. You must know how vents work. Vents allow air to get in and out of the smoker. More air means more oxygen for your fire. 

If your smoker gets less air, then the oxygen level will decrease. That’s why the opening and closing of a vent in any smoker is a crucial part. Let’s discuss 3 easy ways to use vents to control the temperature during smoke. 

1- Control the fire with the bottom vent

By opening the bottom vents, your smoker gets more oxygen. If you want to get a natural burning fire, then you must keep the vents open to maintain the temperature. 

2- Control the smoke by opening the top vent

You can adjust the smoke level and intensity by opening the top vent. If you open it more, you will get less flavor from your meat. Balancing is the key to achieving that smokey taste in your barbecue. You should not fully close the top vent because it will give your meat a bitter taste.

3- Changing the vents as needed 

Monitoring your smoker’s temperature will help you stabilize your overall experience. If you see any increase in temperature, then open the top vent and close the bottom vent. You can easily change the vents as per your needs to get your desired temperature level. 

Finding the Right Spot: Where to Place Your Vertical Smoker  

The placement of your vertical smoker is also another important factor that can affect your use of vents. The location of your smoker can affect the airflow, smoke, and inside temperature of your smoker. A flat, level surface is the best spot to place your smoker; it must be away from any flammable objects like trees, bushes, and buildings. 

Try to avoid a windy or rainy area because that can interfere with the airflow and temperature. You need to have a consistent airflow to keep the fire burning so that you can have a joyful barbecue experience. 

One more thing that is necessary to remember is to avoid placing your smoker in direct sunlight because it can cause the smoker to overheat. You have to keep your smoker in a parallel direction to the wind so this can create a stable and balanced environment. 

The Role of Vents in Meat Smoking 

Barbecuing isn’t just about putting some meat in a smoker; it’s actually a complex process that comes with many factors, like:

  • The type and quality of the meat. 
  • The type and size of the smoker. 
  • Different vents of the smoker. 
  • The type and amount of the fuel. 
  • The weather conditions 

Vents are essential for a good smoking journey because they allow you to control the smoke and temperature. They are the main elements of any tasty, juicy, tender, and flavorful barbecue. Temperature in any cooking method is so important because it directly affects the rate of your cooking and moisture retention. 

The ideal temperature range is from 225°F to 275°F. If your smoker’s temperature is too low, then your meat will lose all the flavors and become rubbery. But if your smoker’s temperature is too high, then your food will become dry and hard.On the other hand, smoke is also good and important for your meat; it gives the perfect aroma and flavor to your barbecue. The ideal amount of smoke depends on your preferences and taste. 

How do vents control heat and give you some easy ways to use them? 

As we all know, a vent helps oxygen reach the fire and reduces the amount of smoke and heat that go out of the smoker. Vents are able to control the heat that smokers produce in this way fully. By opening and closing the vents, you can easily adjust the temperature as per your choice and decide whether you want it hotter or cooler.

Here are some simple ways to use your smoker’s vent to control the heat:

  1. If you want to increase the temperature of your smoker, you have to close the exhaust vent and open the intake vent of your smoker. 
  2. If you want to decrease the temperature, open the exhaust vents and close the intake vent. 
  3. Balance your smoker’s airflow by opening and closing to maintain the temperature. 

To become a pro in this game of barbecue, you must know the basics of a vertical smoker. Make sure you are aware of the importance of vents in controlling temperatures and airflow. You should start with the basic recipes to get better results. Invest your time in practical cooking experiences. You have to give proper attention to the settings of the vents. You can attend workshops as well to understand your smoker’s specifications. 

How to become an expert on vents in real life; 

step-by-step instructions

Let’s get started with a step-by-step guide to understanding the process of vents on vertical smokers. Here is a keynote for you: adjust the settings of your vertical smoker as needed and control the temperature and smoke. 

  1. Make sure you clean and dry your smoker because it can directly affect the airflow of the vents and the flavor of your meat. 
  2. Once your smoker is ready, put your meat inside and close the door. Keep a sufficient distance between the walls of the smoker and the meat so that air can circulate easily. 
  3. After adding your meat, adjust the vents on your smoker. Check temperature by using a thermometer; your temperature should be in the range of 225°F to 275°F.
  4. To control the smoke, you have to adjust the vents as per your needs. Smoke must be bluish-grey and thin; it means the fire is properly burning. If your smoke is white and thick, it means that your fire is making too much smoke. 
  5. Check your fuel as well. As you burn the fire, you need more fuel to keep things going smoothly. Add more water to the water pan to maintain the humidity. 
  6. Now enjoy the rest of the barbecue and eat that delicious, smokey meat. Cooking time depends on so many other things, like the type, size, and shape of your meat. 

Important things to remember when you use your smoker’s vent 

It does not matter if you are a pro or a beginner to use your smoker’s vent. Some points need to be noted to get a perfectly balanced barbecue. 

  • Basics of fire burning: In the initial stage, you make sure that the wood chips are properly lit with the help of opening vents. It will help you get the perfect smoky flavor from your meat. 
  • Balancing is an art: you must know the perfect balance between oxygen and heat. Opening a vent can be a reason for increasing more oxygen, which will raise the temperature. 
  • The subtle game: it’s a game of subtle but consistent moves. Wait for your turn, then take small steps and make changes to the vents. With this trick, your barbecue smoking journey will always be perfect. 
  • Way to perfection: Of course, it’s a long-term journey to get perfect smoky meat. Becoming a pro in the art of vent control will help you achieve that perfectionism. 

Simple ways to make vents smoking safer 

Safety should be your priority in any grilling experience. Try these simple safety precautions to get the best results without any hustle. 

  • The first thing you need to consider is choosing the perfect ventilation area to get your barbecue done. It must be outside of your house to avoid any irritable smoke. 
  • Keep a fire extinguisher near you to avoid any accidental cases or near water sources.
  •  Put your smoker in a flat, stable, and non-flaming place. 
  • Wear heat-proof gloves and an apron to save yourself from getting burned. 
  • Keep a keen eye on the smoker’s temperature to get a stable fire; it does not get too hot. 
  • While adding fuel to your smoker, be careful and avoid direct contact. 
  • Use the right type of utensils and other tools. 
  • Never leave your smoker alone; stay focused to avoid any accidental situation. 
  • Don’t allow pets and kids near the area of smokers. Keep away your children and pets as far as possible to prevent any mishap. 


Q: What is the main purpose of vents on vertical smokers? 

A: The main purpose of vents is to maintain the temperature and the inside smoke level and regulate airflow. 

Q: When should you open the vents on a vertical smoker? 

A: If you want to get less smoke and more heat, then you have to open the vents. 

Q: Does closing the vent on a smoker make it hotter? 

A: No, closing a vent makes your smoker cooler by reducing the oxygen level. 

Q: Should the vents be open or closed on vertical smokers? 

A: Vertical smokers should have their vents slightly open to maintain a constant temperature.


Learning about vents on your vertical smoker is so easy, but it requires good practice to become a pro. Apply all these techniques and methods mentioned above to get complete knowledge about your smoker’s vent. Every type of smoker is different from the others, so learn about it and then start your barbecue journey. Adjust the vents according to your type of smoker. Now you know every basic point of a vent. So start your grilling and enjoy the smoky flavor of the meat with the perfect balance of taste.

lizz barret foster

I’m responsible for managing and coordinating content creation, distribution, and optimization. I’m the former editor-in-chief of PMQ Pizza Magazine and have written for several B2B food publications over the years, including Restaurant Hospitality, Flavor & The Menu, Restaurant Business, National Culinary Review, FSR, Restaurant Startup & Growth, and more.

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