Need Pellet Smoker Info/Advice

Discussion in 'Pellet Smokers' started by djtech2k, Jun 10, 2013.

  1. djtech2k

    djtech2k Fire Starter

    WV
    So I am in my 2nd season of smoking and already have a MES40 w/AMNPS.  I want to get a 2nd smoker and am looking at either a wood/coal burner or a pellet burner.  I know very little so I am looking for some advice.  On a complete side note, I am also planning to buy a grill for things like steaks.

    Ok, so I have been looking at pellet smokers because I want something that burns either coal or wood.  I am also considering wood/coal burners as well, but when I started smoking I had some bad experience managing heat with some bad smokers, so I am still hesitant to get into another one.  So I am working on a list of smokers to consider so I can figure it out.

    So I am a little confused about pellet smokers.  I have been looking at the following smokers in-person or online:  Yoder, Rec Tec, GMG Daniel Boone, Smoke Daddy Pellet Pro, Memphis, Louisiana.  In many of these cases, they seem to be pellet grills that "can" smoke.  Is this the case?  What I mean is if these are really a grill that has some limited smoking capabilities?  I definitely want something with a good temp control system to maintain temps.  Now I am open to possibly using a pellet burner instead of a propane for grilling, but I want whatever I buy to be a good smoker.  I am also wondering about how these work.  I know the pellets are burned to generate heat.  How is the smoke generated?  Do I need an extra smoke generator or something like the AMNPS?  I like the smoke flavor, but I would prefer to not have to have another device to produce smoke.  That's a major reason I am looking for a 2nd smoker.  My MES is great, but its electric.  I want something that burns wood/coal so it can make its own smoke.

    So obviously I am looking for all-around advice on pellet smokers.  Any help is appreciated.
     
  2. You will need something to make smoke in a pellet smoker. AMNPT or something like that.

    David
     
  3. fwismoker

    fwismoker Master of the Pit

    Yep if you want more smoke flavor than what mule said....or something like the pelletpro w/ the smoke generator attached...they can be ordered that way.

     
  4. djtech2k

    djtech2k Fire Starter

    WV
    Thanks guys.  Didn't mean to create a dupe thread, but thought that the specific pellet smoker questions may be better suited for the pellet smoker forum.

    I really like most of what I have heard about pellet smokers except for this.  If I have to use the AMNPS or something else to produce the smoke, then its really not that much different than using my MES.  Or am I looking at this wrong?
     
  5. fwismoker

    fwismoker Master of the Pit

    DJ completely different, one you're cooking with an electric coil w/ smoke generator and the other you're cooking with real wood and could use a smoke generator for additional smoke.  

    The bi products/gasses that the wood fuel produces adds flavor to your food...it's not just the smoke. 

    BTW when you said you don't want something mediocre for grilling and smoking...pellets are kind of a blend of both.  Example a friend of mine is going pellet because he likes the flavor of a wood cooker and doesn't want to burn his food with flare ups like he had on his old gasser. 

    I'd love to get a pellet smoker someday, sure it doesn't high heat sear your foods but it sure is convenient  and you're cooking with wood. 

    How much cooking space are you looking for anyway?
     
  6. djtech2k

    djtech2k Fire Starter

    WV
    Thanks, that's great info.

    As for cooking space, well I'm not sure as far as physical dimensions.  I have a family of 4, so 80% of my cooking will be for 4.  I do like to cook for guests, so I do often cook for more people, maybe 8'ish.  When grilling, I would want to cook stuff like steaks, chicken breasts, burgers & dogs.  When smoking, I normally cook 2 meats or so.  So I may cook 2-3 racks of ribs, or maybe a brisket/Pork butt & some chicken thighs.  I have never cooked any single meat over the 10lb size, but would eventually like to.  For example, I have never max'd out the size of the MES 40.  I have had trays of food on 3-4 shelves, but not filled all shelves.  Does that help?

    When I cook on my MES/AMNPS, I normally light the pellets from both ends of the AMNPS so I get a good smoke taste.  I like the AMNPS a lot, but I have commonly had at least 1 side of it stop burning, and sometimes both.  So I have to watch the AMNPS and re-light it sometimes.  That's why I do not do overnight or very long smokes because I feel like i have to check it all the tie to make sure smoke is still rolling out of the MES.  So not only do I want a real wood/coal fire to burn, but I want something that I can be more comfortable with smoking for long smokes.  If a pellet burner fits the bill, then that's great.  If the pellet burner can grill the stuff I mentioned above, then that's a huge bonus for me because I have always planned to buy a smoker and a gasser separately.

    The bottom line is that I do not want make the wrong purchase and regret it.  I dont want to be trying to smoke something and have it be a pain or not good results.  In the same breath, I dont want to try to grill a steak and be unsatisfied with the result.
     
     
  7. fwismoker

    fwismoker Master of the Pit

    Unfortunately there isn't one grill or grill set up to create the perfect situation...Sometimes some ingenuity comes into play.   Say you end up with a pellet grill and you're doing a reverse sear...and you want a really good sear. Your grill won't sear it but a charcoal chimney will do a great job. 

    There's always more than one way to skin a cat....IMO everyone should own a simple kettle grill which would grill/sear and smoke many things.  
     
  8. seenred

    seenred Smoking Guru Group Lead OTBS Member

    Hi DJ.
     

    I'll jump in with my 2 cents about my limited experience with pellet pits.  I purchased a Rec Tec in April.  Like you are doing now, I did some pretty extensive research into the capabilities of different pellet grill brands before I decided on mine.  Because of that research, I know a little about Yoder, Blazin, and GMG, but not nearly as much as I can say now about the Rec Tec.  What I wanted was just what you're looking for:  A pit that would both smoke at low and slow temps, and would also direct grill at high temps.  I also wanted to go back to a wood-fired cooker (was smoking in an MES40 for the last couple years).

    I have been VERY pleased so far with the performance of the Rec Tec in both smoking and grilling.  While I have heard that there are some pellet grills on the market that don't produce enough smoke, that has not been the case with the Rec Tec.  I've found that at low and slow temps (200-250*), it produces lots of smoke without any extra help.  Now, in full disclosure, my wife and I like a lot of smoke flavor, so I do use an amazin tube smoker on many of my cooks for extra smoke flavor, but it would not be absolutely necessary for most low and slow cooks on my pit.  I cannot verify the smoke performance of Yoder, Blazin, or GMG, but all of those companies say that their grills will also produce great smoke at lower cooking temps.

    In regard to high temp grilling, the Rec Tec has more that satisfied my needs there also.  I can run it up to 500* and it does a fine job of grilling steaks and burgers, especially if I remove the drip pan first, which kinda acts as a heat shield.  Plus, Rec Tec, Yoder and Blazin are all selling a direct-grilling sear kit now as an accessory that will put a sear on your steaks and burgers that's as pretty as any charcoal grill (I've ordered mine...should be here soon).  I've been happy enough with how this Rec Tec grills that I gave away my Brinkmann gas grill...so except for the old GOSM that I keep around for cold smoking, the Rec Tec is all I use for both smoking and grilling.

    Check out a couple of recent threads I posted...one of a low and slow spare rib smoke, and one where I reverse seared some ribeyes:

    http://www.smokingmeatforums.com/t/140240/st-louis-spares-on-the-rec-tec-w-qview

    http://www.smokingmeatforums.com/t/142695/ribeye-steak-and-taters

    Maybe those will give you an idea of how my pit is performing.  So far I'm thinking this is the best pit I've ever purchased.

    I hope any of this helps...Good luck in your search!  I'll try to answer any specific question you have if you just ask.

    Red
     
    Last edited: Jun 11, 2013
  9. djtech2k

    djtech2k Fire Starter

    WV
    Wow, thanks a lot!

    I like what I hear about the pellet smokers.  I like the dialin temps yet being able to burn real wood.  A WSM with a temp controller is still on the table, but the pellet smokers seem very cool.

    I too like a lot of smoke flavor, so I am a bit worried about having to use an external smoke device, like AMNPS.  I do have an AMNPS, but I would prefer to not have to worry about using a second device.  That's one of the drawbacks to my MES is having to tend to the AMNPS, making sure it doesn't stop burning.

    I have fully intended to buy a gas grill separately, but the pellet grill sounds like it might actually work for both.  Now I don't really care about the grill marks as a look, but I like a steak to be cooked medium and very juicy.  Same for burgers and such.  I seem to get a little bit of mixed reviews on the grilling capabilities for the pellet grills.

    So as I have been researching the pellet burners, I have several on my list, eg: Yoder, RecTec, GMG, SmokeDaddy Pellet Pro, etc.  I actually spoke to the Smoke Daddy people today.  They were very nice and the price they quoted me was decent in comparison to the others on the list.  They also have their smoking device that you can add on.  They said that most people use the smoke device because the smoke gets thin as temps climb.  They basically described that basic grilling would be ok on the Pellet Pro, but that it was not going to sear a steak or anything.  They said theirs goes up to 450 degrees.

    The Yoder is a little more expensive and I worry if the size is big enough.  It looks nice, but that's just a pic LOL.

    The RecTec appears very solid and has a lot of features.

    The GMG Daniel Boone looks nice, has more features than many, and the price appears to be on the lower end of the group.

    The Pellet Pro is similar as well, but it does have some subtle differences and has an available smoke generator.  The price on the PP is lower than the rest I think.

    The bottom line is that I want to make the right decision.  I do not want to buy something that does poorly at both things.  I would rather buy 2 separate grills if I have to.  But, if the pellet grill can do both well, then that sounds like a winner to me.  The price is a bit higher than I originally wanted to spend, but it may be worth if, especially if it does fit both needs.
     
  10. djtech2k,

    Don't forget that the Rec Tec has GREAT customer service and the only company to have a 6 year warranty. I just thought that I'd throw that in there! Good luck with your decision making.
     
  11. geerock

    geerock Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member

    A neighbor recently bought a rectec and it is built like a tank. Lots more smoke than my traeger, real solid PID temp control, and will get into the 500 degree range for grilling and searing. Lots of room, too. Look long and hard at that one if you're shopping for a pellet muncher.
     
  12. Thanks Red. I know you have done a lot of research on the pellet smokers.

    Happy smoken.

    David
     
  13. I'm considering adding a pellet smoker and that RecTec looks incredible. Can it use any pellets or are their pellet specific to their smoker? (pellet novice here)
     
  14. I have the Ys640 and love it.  I have not had a problem of not enough smoke on my food.  In my opinion the smoke should be there to accent the meat not be the predominate note in the flavor profile.  I cannot speak on how it is on direct grilling as i use mine for long cooks of brisket, chicken, ribs and butts.  The manufacture states that it can do both, and they sell a direct grill set up that you can put in where the grates go.  I do not ever see a time when I will be buying a smoke generator for my use in cooking meat.  Good luck with your search you also might check out pelletheads.com It is a usefull site to compare different smokers as well.
     
  15. DJ,

    Sorry to catch you on both threads. Just an fyi, the GMG Jim Bowie is a closer comparison to the RecTec than the Daniel Boone.  Also  until Sunday GMG is having $100 off of either Daniel Boone or Jim Bowie grills.  

    Plus sometimes GMG dealers will throw in extras to get the business.  From mine I got the following:

    2 28-lb bags of premium Blend (value $40)

    Cover (value $70)

    Wireless Remote upgrade kit ( value $190)

    Not sure about GMG dealers near you, but the closest to be does cook out every Sat in the parking of of the store so everyone can see how the GMG work.
     
  16. You can use any food safe pellets.  Though Traeger states that using non-Traeger pellets void the warranty.  Don't ask me how they could tell...

     
  17. seenred

    seenred Smoking Guru Group Lead OTBS Member

    Yes, any food grade pellets are fine, although I'm led to believe that some brands perform better than others (in terms of BTU's, quality of smoke and taste, and ash production).  Since April, I've already tried about 3 different brands looking for the best and most affordable cooking pellets

    Red
     
  18. I can't find the link from my phone but there is a pellet comparison out there somewhere where they compared heat, longevity, comsumption rate and ash amount for different brands. When I get in front of a computer next I will look for it.
     
  19. djtech2k

    djtech2k Fire Starter

    WV
    Thanks for the heads up.  I did notice the $100 off.  I have both on my list, but obviously I am having trouble making up my mind.
     
  20. fwismoker

    fwismoker Master of the Pit

    To add to your confusion see which ones have the cold smoke setting....should be only the pellet pro.  I'd use the heck out of that option, it's really cool.  Also see if you want to be able to fit a 20-25 bird in a pan on and if the hood would fit over it. 
     

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