At one time, BBQ smokers were so expensive that only a few real passionate enthusiasts could actually afford them. In recent years, however, these units have shrunken in size and become cheaper as well. So where should you start if you want to smoke your own ribs and pulled pork? Well, you have a few choices to make. The most important one is the type of fuel that the unit runs on. There are basically three types of BBQ smokers available: Electric, Charcoal and Propane.

If you're a beginner, you should probably go for an electric BBQ smoker. These units are relatively inexpensive and fairly easy to use. I recommend them for starters because it's just so easy to control the temperature. This is key for cooking proper BBQ. Controlling the temperature with charcoal barbecues is quite difficult and can really turn a new BBQ enthusiast off the art. You want confidence in the beginning so start with something simple! Once you're comfortable with an electric smoker, feel free to move on to their more advanced counterparts.

Another type of backyard smoker that is quite well suited to the amateur outdoor chef is one fueled by gas. The type of gas varies but it is more often than not propane. In some barbecues, it's possible to use natural gas as well. Much like the electric unit discussed above, it's very easy to control the internal temperature while using a propane BBQ. A good product will still allow you to add wood chips to "smoke" the meat. This is a crucial part of the barbecuing process. There is one thing about these types of BBQs that you should be aware of. It takes a long time to cook meat in this fashion. This means that you're going to go through a lot of propane if you're cooking a large cut of meat. This can get quite pricey if you plan on using this bad boy every weekend!

The final, and some argue ONLY, type of BBQ smoker available is a unit that runs on charcoal. These units are typically long, horizontal contraptions that have all sorts of vents and airflow devices on them. Seasoned pros won't even consider using an electric or propane BBQ. They claim that the charcoal adds to the flavor and texture of the meat. You have to know what you're doing if you want to use of these units though... The temperature is tough to control and you constantly need to keep an eye on the amount of charcoal under the grill.

Regardless of what kind of BBQ smoker you choose, it's important to do a bit of research before using it. As mentioned above, learning how to make proper Southern style barbecue is an art. It will take knowledge, time and perseverance before you see any real tasty results. Don't get discouraged though! Stick with it and pretty soon you'll be a BBQ expert.