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.

 Meadow_Creek_PR36
PR36
SQ36_Smoker
SQ36
TS70P
TS70P
StyleVerticalOffsetReverse Flow Offset
SummaryVersatile charcoal grill; smoking possible with standard grill panGreat smoker; limited grilling possible with optional grill panHigh end smoker; grilling possible with optional grill pan
Features   
Stainless Steel Gratescheckcheckcheck
Thermometercheckcheckcheck
13″ Pneumatic Tirescheckcheckcheck
Fireboxxcheckcheck
Ash Pan in Fireboxxcheckcheck
Grate in Fireboxxcheckcheck
Smokestackxcheckcheck
Drain Valvexcheckcheck
Reverse Flow Draftxxcheck
Sliding Gratesxxcheck
Front Work Shelfoptionaloptionalcheck
Water Pancheckxcheck
Options   
Vinyl Covercheckcheckcheck
No Flat Solid Tires (set) checkcheckcheck
Rib Rackcheckcheckcheck
Additional Gratecheckcheckcheck
Charcoal Pulloutcheckxx
Charcoal Pan Insertcheckxx
Charcoal Grill Panstandardcheckcheck
Insulated Fireboxxcheckcheck
Charcoal Basketxcheckcheck
Stainless Steel Shelfcheckcheckcheck
Warming Boxxxcheck
Extra Shelf in Warmerxxcheck
Live Smoke in Warmerxxcheck
Jerky Rackxxcheck
Stainless Steel Stackxxcheck
Size Differences   
Cooking Area3.4 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 people50–75 people100—175 people

PR36_SQ36_TS70P

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

About the Author

Lavern is the online brand ambassador for Meadow Creek Welding and founder of StoryQue magazine.

Leave a Reply 2 comments

Marley - September 17, 2018 Reply

On the TS70P am I able to get a bigger fire Box

[Reply]

Lavern Gingerich Reply:

Sorry, no.

[Reply]

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