New guy, first smoker, any recommendations?

Discussion in 'Electric Smokers' started by mummel, Apr 8, 2015.

  1. mummel

    mummel Master of the Pit

    Hi everyone - so glad I found this forum.  I've decided to try out smoking this summer.  I've never smoked food before but I love the taste and want to get into it.

    I'd like to primarily smoke Bluefish, ribs, salmon & roasts/chunks (I catch fresh Bluefish myself).  Convenience would be nice (set it and walk etc).  From my preliminary research, it looks like electric is the way to go (cheaper than propane, temperature control, convenience etc).

    Can you guys throw out some makes/models as suggestions?  The Masterbuilt 20078715 looks like the latest Masterbuilt model (on Amazon for $200).  I can be patient and look for deals (hopefully closer to $100-$150).   Is this a good choice for a new guy?

    I know nothing about smokers so would be curious to hear what some of the key features are to lookout for (and what to avoid)?

    My considerations:

    -initial cost

    -operating cost (energy & chips)

    -convenience (temperature control, timer?, minimal cleaning)

    -the smoker needs to work out the box (I'm not big into customization, maybe down the road, but not for a new guy)

    -flavor (it's assumed that electrics are good enough for a new guy)

    Thanks everyone! 

     
    Last edited: Apr 8, 2015
  2. chef willie

    chef willie Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    That's a tough budget....I might suggest looking on Craigs List or something similar in your 'hood for something gently used. I have NO experience first hand with the MES but am leery of recommending a Generation 2 MES to any new smoker. Generation 1 would be fine as far as I understand. Use the 'search bar' typing in 'MES reviews' and come to your own conclusion. My second smoker was a gasser and not bad to use...from Lowes at around $135. I gained some knowledge and confidence and about 2 years later invested up to an electric. If there is a Lowes or Home Depot near you there are usually floor models out you can go fondle and tire kick.....HTH, Willie
     
  3. mummel

    mummel Master of the Pit

    Thanks Willie.  Budget aside for now, what electric would you recommend for a first timer?  It's kind of hard to figure out all the MES models.  Are there big differences between the Gen 1s & 2s?  Where can I look for a gen 1?
     
    Last edited: Apr 8, 2015
  4. mummel

    mummel Master of the Pit

  5. chef willie

    chef willie Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Sorry....again I have no knowledge on the BlueTooth MES......in my opinion it's just another thing to go sideways (?). I'm retired and know squat about blueteeth. I do have WiFi in the house but have no idea what the hell it exactly is. Here is a good link from Todd of AMNZ fame that summed it up pretty good at the time. Most smokers on here that have the Gen 1 are very happy with it....look for one of those.

    http://www.smokingmeatforums.com/t/133955/2012-mes-40-vs-old-model-mes-40

    I am in the camp of 'buy once, cry once'.....I've bought stuff on the cheap to save a few bucks and realized a few miles down the road I should have gotten the one I wanted and just bit the bullet. I still suggest going to look at one....have you considered a pellet smoker? Rec Tec has a great rep and they offer payment plans. Check out the options. I understand the agonizing over these things....I do it all the time
     
  6. ajsmokes

    ajsmokes Meat Mopper

    I have a MES 30 and I'm fairly new I've been smoking for a little over a year. Aside from learning the temp control on my specific unit I love it. Oh and the set and forget is obsolete considering you have to load chips every 30 - 45 minutes. That is unless you make the necessary modifications.
    Here's the smoker I have..
    This smoker is about 6 months old and no where that clean anymore
     
  7. mummel

    mummel Master of the Pit

    I just spoke to customer service.  The one in the pic is the newest model and apparently has been refined.  New drip tray, and the heating element is now replaceable (as well as the thermostat).  She said the temperature issues have been resolved (but who knows).  The chimney has been moved to the top etc.  All in all, with what research I've done, I'm leaning towards this model for $200.

    Does anyone know if you can put the A-Maze-n Pellet Smoker 5x8 in these smokers, say on the bottom tray?  Does it interfere with the heating process?  Does it create ash in the smoker?  Does it fit?  Using one of these gizmos would help with the "set and go" approach.

    As for pellet smokers - I've looked at them.  I dont have the patio space or winter storage.  It's basically a big grill with an additional module correct?  Yeah I dont have the space.  I'll probably want to put this smoker in my garage over the brutal northeast winters we have. 
     
  8. chef willie

    chef willie Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    One of these from Todd should really make your life easier in the loading chips department....many MES owners swear by them

    http://www.amazenproducts.com/
     
  9. mummel

    mummel Master of the Pit

     
  10. timberjet

    timberjet Master of the Pit

    Yes you can use the pellet smoker from todd in there. I have seen guys on here that pipe the chimney out through a window in the garage and use it all winter too. Pretty easy to do. For your budget and other considerations this sounds like the best option to me. Make sure you do get a dual probe thermometer unit like the Maverick ones of I grill or whatever. I know, the smoker already has those. Well, they are known to be bad so you really want another set to make sure. Happy smoking. timber.
     
  11. mummel

    mummel Master of the Pit

    Great thanks.  Does anyone have a photo of the A-Maze-n Pellet Smoker 5x8 in one of these newer 30" models?  I would be really interested to see the fit.
     
    Last edited: Apr 8, 2015
  12. mummel

    mummel Master of the Pit

    Also, do you guys store them outside in brutal winter conditions (say with a cover), or is it better to bring them indoors?
     
  13. mummel

    mummel Master of the Pit

    Is there anyway to check the internal temp for calibration without buying another gizmo (i.e. water tray boiling point, 212F etc)?
     
    Last edited: Apr 8, 2015
  14. timberjet

    timberjet Master of the Pit

    You can check the factory therms for accuracy with boiling water yes. Lots of people use their smokers year around on a covered porch, etc.... But like I said you can pipe it out the garage door or a window too. If you are totally against smoking in the winter you should probably bring it in. I have an EZ up shelter that stays up year around and they last a couple of years if you tie them down really good and remember to knock the snow off every day. My current one is going on 3 years.
     
  15. timberjet

    timberjet Master of the Pit

    Buying another gizmo as you call it like the Maverick et-732 or 733 is a good idea. Especially if you have two or three different things in there at one time. Plus, those factory units are trash.
     
  16. ajsmokes

    ajsmokes Meat Mopper

    I use mine through the winter and when I'm not using it it's covered. For the temp I bought a Mav 733 and use it every time now. I have a video showing how far off the factory therm is but I don't know how to post it on here.
     
  17. mummel

    mummel Master of the Pit

    I assume the door seals closed even if that metal cable is coming out of it?  Looking at the Maverick 733, how do you secure the probe in the meat without it falling out etc?
     
    Last edited: Apr 8, 2015
  18. ajsmokes

    ajsmokes Meat Mopper

    The probe won't fall out of the meat and I run it through exhaust. That way there is no wear and tear on the door seal.
     
  19. mummel

    mummel Master of the Pit

    Thats smart.  Can you rest the transmitter on top of the smoker or does the top get really hot?
     
    Last edited: Apr 8, 2015
  20. timberjet

    timberjet Master of the Pit

    stick it in the meat and it stays. Yes the door closes on the wires no problem. The chamber probe has a clip that clips to the grate. I have never had one of my probes mysteriously fall out of the meat in a couple of decades of smoking.
     

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