August 4

Meadow Creek Backyard Smoker Comparison


Meadow Creek makes several fine backyard smokers and we get a lot of questions about the differences between them. This chart illustrates the differences between the PR36, SQ36, and TS70P.

Style Vertical Offset Reverse Flow Offset
Summary Versatile charcoal grill; smoking possible with standard grill pan Great smoker; limited grilling possible with optional grill pan High end smoker; grilling possible with optional grill pan
Stainless Steel Grates check check check
Thermometer check check check
13″ Pneumatic Tires check check check
Firebox x check check
Ash Pan in Firebox x check check
Grate in Firebox x check check
Smokestack x check check
Drain Valve x check check
Reverse Flow Draft x x check
Sliding Grates x x check
Front Work Shelf optional optional check
Water Pan check x check
Vinyl Cover check check check
No Flat Solid Tires (set) check check check
Rib Rack check check check
Additional Grate check check check
Charcoal Pullout check x x
Charcoal Pan Insert check x x
Charcoal Grill Pan standard check check
Insulated Firebox x check check
Charcoal Basket x check check
Stainless Steel Shelf check check check
Warming Box x x check
Extra Shelf in Warmer x x check
Live Smoke in Warmer x x check
Jerky Rack x x check
Stainless Steel Stack x x check
Size Differences      
Cooking Area 3.4 sq. ft.
with optional grate: 6.47 sq. ft.
6.85 sq. ft.
with optional grate:
10.28 sq. ft.
Crowd Size
(based on pork butts)
50–75 people 50–75 people 100—175 people


This article explains some of the differences between the PR36, SQ36, and TS70P as illustrated in the chart above.

PR36 vs. SQ36

The key difference between the PR36 and SQ36 is the cooking style. The SQ36 has an offset firebox, and the PR36 has a vertical arrangement, with the fire in the bottom of the cooking chamber. The drip/grill pan included with the PR36 hangs between the fire and the cooking grate to create indirect heat. Either model can cook with direct heat grilling or indirect low and slow.

When it comes to direct heat grilling, the PR36 is more versatile than the SQ36 because you can grill from the grill pan, about 6 inches from the food. Or you can remove the grill pan and build a fire in the bottom of the cooker with the fire about 12 inches from the meat. The greater distance is important for some items, such as bone-in chicken.

In the SQ36, you can only grill in the optional grill pan because of the smoke diffuser in the bottom. While you can still grill about anything you want by banking the coals to one side, the PR36 is the better option for you if you’re planning to grill most of the time.

If you’re mostly looking to do low and slow, the SQ36 would be a better option because it has a more indirect heat source, which makes it easier to master amazing ribs and other tricky foods.
Because the PR36 doesn’t have a firebox, you can add an insert which sits in the bottom of the grill, or a pullout, which slides into the end of the grill for adding more fuel without removing the grate. You can upgrade the SQ36 to an insulated firebox with a sliding charcoal basket.

SQ36 vs. TS70P

If you’ve been researching the SQ36 and TS70P smokers, you might have wondered why the TS70P is more than twice as expensive as the SQ36. Here are the reasons:

  • The TS70P smoker uses reverse flow draft to help keep the heat and smoke evenly distributed throughout the cooking chamber. Before entering the cooking area, the smoke and heat travel through a channel below the cooking chamber to the opposite end of the tank. The smoke reverses its direction as it enters the cooking chamber and moves through the cooking area and finally, exits the smoke stack on the same end as the firebox. The SQ36 has a distribution channel for the smoke in the bottom and center of the cooking chamber, where the smoke goes from the firebox into the cooking chamber and then out the stack on the end opposite the firebox.
  • The TS70P can be upgraded to add a warming box above the firebox for keeping food warm. The live smoke option lets you cook meat in the warming box by adding a vented opening from the firebox.
  • The TS70P smoker has a built-in pan under the bottom grate for water smoking. The pan can hold one gallon of liquid. You can use water or apple juice in this pan to increase the humidity in the cooking chamber. The SQ36 does not have this pan so the drippings go to the bottom of the smoker.
  • The TS70P smoker is easier to clean up than the SQ36. The TS70P’s drip pan catches the drippings and slants to the center with a V groove running down the center. This groove funnels liquid to a drip stem with a ball valve outside the smoker. The SQ36’s smoking chamber is not as easy to clean out since the bottom is flat with the distribution channel in the middle.
  • The TS70P has sliding grates. The 2nd Tier Grate adds more cooking space to the SQ36, but the 2nd Tier Grate sets on top of the bottom grate, making it a bit less convenient to flip the meat on the bottom grate.
  • The TS70P comes standard with a work shelf along the front side. The SQ36 doesn’t have a shelf, but you can special order it with one.
  • A standard TS70P smoker with two grates has 6.85 square feet of cooking area. The optional third grate gives you a total of 10.28 square feet of surface. The SQ36 with the optional 2nd Tier Grate has 6.47 square feet of cooking area.
  • The TS70P smoker has a heavier cooking chamber than the SQ36 smoker. The TS70P cooking chamber is 3/16” thick and the SQ36 uses 13 gauge (3/32” thick) metal. Both are impressively solid.
  • Without add-ons, the TS70P weighs 535 pounds while the SQ36 weighs in at 310 pounds. As you can see, the TS70P comes with a couple hundred more pounds of steel than the SQ36. One advantage of the SQ36 is that it’s more mobile, especially on uneven surfaces.

If you have any further questions about which Meadow Creek smoker or grill is best for you, please let us know. Post a comment below or email or call us using the information on our contact page.

Visit our Meadow Creek smokers page for prices, photos, and other details about each unit.

We look forward to hearing from you!

Sizzling regards,

Lavern Gingerich


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  1. the sq36 charcoal pan can it be for a water pan or will it effect the heat/smoke for cooking smoke barbeque on the sq36?

    1. Yes, it can be used as a water pan. You just wouldn’t want to put too much in at a time or it will pull down the temperature in the smoker.

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