me choose an MES!

Discussion in 'Electric Smokers' started by mooch91, Oct 28, 2014.

  1. mooch91

    mooch91 Newbie

    I've been reading for days trying to choose an MES that won't be a poor reliability investment.

    I've been smoking for about a year on my Weber propane grill that I temporarily convert.  I'd like something more set-and-forget and something dedicated for smoking.

    I'm convinced 30" is about the right size for me.

    And I like MES because it's available at Amazon.

    But it appears as if most electric units have reliability issues.  I don't want to purchase something that I have to modify to keep functional.  And the fact that Masterbuilt only offers a 90-day warranty is concerning.

    Recommendations here suggest that the 1st gen is better than the 2nd gen; but I don't know how to distinguish the two.  Is 1st gen being sold alongside the 2nd gen units?

    Please help me choose a model that won't disappoint.  I did like the 20070312.

  2. c farmer

    c farmer Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    The first gen has the control box mounted on the top/back of the smoker, the 2nd gen control box is on the front of the smoker.

    ONLY buy a 1st gen.
  3. old sarge

    old sarge Master of the Pit ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    Not all electric smokers have problems. There are those with 2 and 3 year warranties. Look at them not just as a purchase but an investment. Some do not require any modification to produce smoke. Take the time to look at Smokin-it, SmokinTex, and finally Cookshack. Listed from lower to higher price. Shipping extra. These are great units, stainless steel inside and out, well insulted and pretty much problem free.

    Of the three I have to say The SI units probably offer the best bang for the buck. For a made in the USA model with reliable digital controls built in then the nod goes to CS.

    Good luck,

    Last edited: Oct 28, 2014
  4. The 3 named above all have good reviews in the way of reliability, but are a little pricier (not much really) than the MES30. I've had my MES for 3-4 months now and haven't had any issues. But, I know there have been some out there so not like I'm not saying it's 100% reliable. With buying anything on the cheaper side of the curve, some are bound the have issues. By combining the AMNPS and the MES, you have a truly set it and forget it smoker. This is something I absolutely love. I'm also mechanically inclined enough to fix most of the problems that I've read about that can come up with the MES

    Either way, if you end up having some sort of issue, MES is well known for the their great customer service. Not to mention this forum with it's wealth of knowledge and helpful people. I personally don't think you'd be let down by the unit. 

    BTW, it's already been mentioned, but I'll say it again, make sure you get the Gen #1 which is the one with the controls on the top rear of the box and not the one with the controls integrated into the door. Cheers!
  5. driedstick

    driedstick Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Great info so far, I am still looking for one also, so I will keep my eye on this thread.

  6. chef willie

    chef willie Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Totally agree with Old Sarge....we discussed this at length before I settled on the SI #3 and am SO glad i did not get a MES. I know it's more money for the SI and some others BUT there's always a reason why. I have not had one issue with my SI and it consistently puts out great chow for me. And if you gotta have that MES, follow the advice above and ONLY go with the Gen 1......Willie
  7. tropics

    tropics Smoking Guru SMF Premier Member ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    I have an MES 40, they have real problems with the temp. control. That is the biggest problem. I use a separate probe to monitor CC and another for the meat, I do not trust the meat probe either. Other then that they can produce some great Ques
  8. Mooch,
    A number of your concerns have been previously addressed. All of witch are great answers. I own a MES Gen 1 smoker. The masterbuilt customer service is great. It needs to be. I like to make modifications to my smoker as I see potential problems. If you think you can live with the size of a MES 30 Look hard and long about a Smoke-it #1 It can cook up to 22lb of food and is sold on Amazon also. basicly 350.00 delivered.

    With what I know now and when I get tired of playing with my MES 30 I will buy a #3 smoke-it.
    Don't get me wrong I like my 30 but you want a highly reliable smoker. Jted
  9. bearcarver

    bearcarver Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Since you asked specifically about choosing an MES, I'll tell you to get one with the Digital control in a box that mounts on the back center of the top. That would be the Generation #1.

    When I bought my MES 40, it only had a 90 day warranty, but I guess that ran out by now since I have it over 4 years now without a problem.

    Just because you pay more money for the others doesn't make them better.

    And yes, just like with any electric smoker, you should get an AMNPS for adding smoke because NO electric smoker will ever give you 11 consecutive hours of continuous perfect smoke without it.

  10. mooch91

    mooch91 Newbie

    How does the Smoke-It #1 compare in capacity to the MES 30?  Reason I ask is that it looks quite small in pictures.  I guess I can compare dimensions from the websites but wanted to get some real-work experience. 

    Thanks to everyone for offering up the suggestions!
  11. old sarge

    old sarge Master of the Pit ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    I agree with Bear regarding continuous smoke.  My CS peters out after 3 to 4 hours on a still to moderately breezy day. But I find the smokiness of the meat quite satisfactory.  From my understanding of the long held belief regarding the pink smoke ring, past 140 degrees meat temp, no further ring can or will develop.  That fact seems to have morphed into smoke flavor absorption stopping as well as the surfaces of the meat are pretty much sealed and capillary action has ceased. More info on this is all over the web and numerous sites, and is hotly debated. So I limit my wood to just a couple of ounces,enough to last for 3 or 4 hours.  Beyond that I have had bitter eats (one time only on a very large butt) as the smoke just layers up on the surface.  It looked great till I pulled it and mixed it up. What a waste. Additionally, I have read here on SMF that the AMNPS will not work on this type smoker without drilling an additional hole or two. Search SmokinTex and TBS. The ST and SI smokers are very near to be twins except for the controls and maybe an inch or so here and there.  Here is a link regarding the AMNPS and a ST smoker very much similar to SI regarding construction.  All 5 pages have good QandA.

    Regarding the size of the SI 1, the dimensions are on the SI site.  Someone in the SI section here at SMF might know the answer from experience so you might try posting your question there.  You might also try the SI site. 

    As jted said above, you want quality.  If you are set on getting a Masterbuilt, make sure it is the GEN 1. Your chances of reliability and longevity are much better than a GEN 2.  And there is plenty of help when a problem arises. If you are going with SI, don't limit yourself on size by the lure of free shipping. Get what you want/need. It only hurts once. You can always cook less in a large smoker but not more in a small smoker.

    Good luck.
  12. daricksta

    daricksta Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    I can only talk about the MES 30 digital Gen 1 smokers because I own one; it's model 20070910 and here's the link to Amazon (where I bought mine) .

    I've had mine for over two years and totally love it. No quality control problems or real problems of any kind. You have to be sure to keep a couple of temp controlling components on the back wall clean; other than that some guys keep the whole interior clean while others think that the residue buildup is seasoning which just adds nicely to the flavor of the food.

    The MES 30 is very easy to use, small and lightweight enough to fit on an outdoor sturdy table or a wheeled cart. Because it's only 30" wide you can't fit larger cuts of meat on the racks as you could with the 40" but lots of MES 30 owners cut the meat in half. I personally don't because if the meat starts out touching the side walls it won't be after it's shrunk while cooking. I also prefer to use wood pellets in a pellet smoker as my smoke source instead of wood chips. I'm also one of the avid AMNPS users and I exclusively use the wood pellets sold by Todd Johnson, inventor of the AMNPS. I won't use anything else for my smoke source.

    Among the best things about Masterbuilt is the customer service; really good people. The thing to remember when choosing an electric smoker is that in the price range we're talking about they're all made in China and so there are many good unit and there are some lemons. I did my research and my MES 30 has been what I knew it would be: the best smoker available at its price point. Depending on when and where you buy it the price will vary but it should never be over $200 for a bare bones model like I have: no window, no remote, no stainless steel body. A well-made electric smoker for under $200--how can you go wrong with that? If you decide to buy a Gen 2, well, there are many owners who are happy with that version as well.
    Last edited: Oct 29, 2014
  13. ladygt

    ladygt Fire Starter

    I was wondering how long does it take to clean one of these after using?
  14. old sarge

    old sarge Master of the Pit ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    I don't know about MES owners but I foil the bottom of my CS and punch a hole thru the foil so drippings go to the drip pan. I clean the racks w/soap and water. As for the roof or ceiling and the walls and door I just dry brush off any loose material a day or two after each use. It has a nice dark mañana patina.
    Last edited: Oct 29, 2014
  15. bearcarver

    bearcarver Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Similar to Old Sarge & his CS, the only thing that gets cleaned after each Smoke is the rack or racks that my Dishwasher washes. I got that Dishwasher in December of 1968, and she still works Great !!!

    Other than that I clean the glass in my door before each use, and whenever I see anything loose hanging from the ceiling or walls, I just brush it off so it doesn't fall on any meat.

    Also once in awhile I clean & re-foil my empty water pan & the floor of the smoker.

    And about once a year I clean around the two temp sensors on the back wall, like Rick mentioned.

    None of this takes much time at all.

  16. geerock

    geerock Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member

    Cabelas had a bunch of gen 1 40's recently and then they offer the extended warranty for not too bad of an add on cost.  And its a replacement warranty.  Something goes wrong in the first year you get a new one.  Check it out.  Now having said that I've owned both gen 1 and 2 MES.  Four times,  thats FOUR that masterbuilt swapped out the units because of bad controllers and  / or wiring issues.  One had an element that couldn't get within 45 degrees of the set temp.  Wouldn't give you a nickel for a gen 2 but my gen 1 lasted 3 years before I gave it away and it turned out some pretty good chow.
  17. I have the 1st generation MES 40 with AMNPS and it works great for me. The only thing I would change about it if I could Is for it to 

    Go to 325°.

    Happy Smoken.

  18. daricksta

    daricksta Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    As long as the effort you want to put into it. Some people like to scrub their smokers down after every smoke, some people never clean them; it's all personal choice.

    I used to lay down foil in different spots but now I only foil over the water pan because I never put water in it; I leave it empty. I only wipe dried bits of food and sauce off the side walls and any drippings at the bottom of the smoker on the drip pan. Occasionally I wipe down the thicker, greasy deposits on the walls and floor inside the smoker, as well as on the outside of the water pan. I also wipe off the gritty residue on the interior ceiling after I had a bunch of it fall down onto some cheeses I was smoking when I rubbed my forearm against the ceiling. I also take out and clean the racks I used after every smoke with soap and water in the kitchen sink. I also clean the drip pan and the grease tray the same way as needed. I let it all air dry and then place the racks and water pan (if I cleaned the latter) back in the smoker.

    Don't know which generation MES you have but it's imperative to keep the high temp limit switch (the round, notched thing on the left side of the interior back wall) and the temp sensor (the skinny metal "finger" poking out from the rear wall to the right of the high temp switch) absolutely clean. I again was taught a valuable lesson when after failing to clean the high temp switch, the smoker temp soared to 295 degrees and I couldn't stop it. After the smoke I remembered reading in these forums the importance of keeping the switch and the temp sensor clean and took care of it the next morning. I again used my smoker that day and the temp controller was back to normal and has remained that way.

    But to give a short answer to your question, the whole cleaning takes me about 20-30 minutes--depending on how much I have to clean--and an hour or so to dry depending on the weather outside. I use a sponge on the stuff I clean in the sink and damp paper towels and a scrub sponge for the smoker interior.
  19. ladygt

    ladygt Fire Starter

    The reason why I asked because I compare this to a refrigerator due to shape. I hate cleaning my fridge and  oven so I was wondering how much work it was to keep clean. I work in the food industry so I follow health regulations at home too.  I would clean the MES after every smoke.
  20. bearcarver

    bearcarver Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    The nice thing is you don't have to empty it like you do a Fridge, and then lose the cold from having the door open while cleaning it.

    Cleaning the whole MES just isn't done by anyone I know. You'll see what I mean if you try it a few times.

    The important things to clean every time are the racks & the probes, because they are the only things that touch the food.


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