Preheating new 40" MES. Low temp questions??

Discussion in 'Electric Smokers' started by blathnac, Nov 29, 2015.

  1. blathnac

    blathnac Newbie

    Just picked up a MES from Academy this week.  Rounded controller on top.  Vent on top back right.  Door hinged on the right.  Pre Seasoning tonight. 50 degrees outside.   Running heavy duty extension cord.  I have an oven thermometer hanging on top rack.  Set for 275.  Oven thermometer reads 240 and the Meat Probe, which is in the clip, reads 218.   From reading the posts around here it seems that these models run hot but it seems this one is running colder then set.  What am I missing?  What steps, if any, can I take to identify the actual temp and fix any issues?  It does produce a fair amount of smoke so I may be worried for nothing.  Thanks for your help.
  2. chef jimmyj

    chef jimmyj Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member

    Thje Probe on mine reads low in the clip. I rarely use it as I babysit the meat and smoker with a MAV732. I can't say I have faith in the Oven Therm. You might want to get a Digital that can be proven accurate and test again...JJ
    Last edited: Nov 30, 2015
  3. bandcollector

    bandcollector Master of the Pit OTBS Member ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    Chef JJ is right...Disregard any of the temperature features that your MES came with because they are notorious for inaccuracy.

    Invest in a digital which you personally can check and adjust your temperature settings in your MES accordingly. 

    Believe it or not I purchased a relatively inexpensive one from WalMart which I checked with boiling water and found it to be only 3 degrees off.  I still use it on occasion.   

    Good Luck,

  4. bearcarver

    bearcarver Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    I agree with JJ & John:

    I never use the built in meat probe, because it's too hard to test it for accuracy.

    I only use the MES smoker probe for adjusting the settings, once I know the difference between my MES & my Maverick.

    For accuracy, I use my Maverick ET-732 for both the smoker temp & the meat temp.

    If I was you I would get one like that, so you can tell what the actual temp is, and if you are really only getting 240° when set at 275°, I would call Masterbuilt, because that means you can't get a higher temp than 240°, and you paid for a smoker that gets to 275° +/- 15°.

    I'm thinking that's probably just a wrong measurement, but you won't know for sure without an accurate Therm.

  5. FWIW, I bought the same MES at Academy, and mine is running much colder than that.  When my MES reads 275, my Chef Alarm and three oven thermometers all read 225 at various points in the smoker.  I love the smoker, but that bothers me a great deal.

    Here's my question, though.  So far, I've cooked with the vent open each time, except for Friday night, when I slow-cooked five steaks on the top two racks.  This time, as an experiment, I closed the vent, and my temperatures all matched perfectly.  I tested at 225, 235, and 250 (probably should have tested 275, too).  Now, it's not a completely fair comparison, because there's a big difference between five steaks and two turkeys, but it makes me wonder.

    You guys that smoke with the vent open the whole time, you get good temperature matches?  I ask because I'm going to call Masterbuilt today, and I want to make sure I have all my facts down.

    I would think that temperatures should match regardless of whether the vent is open or closed.  Oh, and I do have a deflector on the bottom rack now, too.

  6. bearcarver

    bearcarver Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    If you have your ChefAlarm near cold meat, that can happen.

    To check:
    I would put your accuracy tested sensor right near the MES sensor (toggle looking thing on the back wall, near the middle).

    Then run your Smoker to 275° (empty).

    Hold it there for an hour or 2. 

    Record MES digital read-out temps, as you go.

    Do the same with your other Therm.

  7. Bear, I'm not near my smoker right now, but I remember seeing a few things on the back, one looks like a very thin cylinder and is toward the right, below the second rack from the bottom.  The other thing I recall is round and rough, maybe dime-sized, on the left side.  Is it one of those or something else I didn't notice yet?

    Oh, and on Thanksgiving, temperatures were good until I put in the turkeys, and then I saw the 50 degree difference.  This happened on my previous smoke, too, where I had food on every shelf.  BUT my Chef Alarm was on that top shelf, pretty close to the birds.  Maybe I should put it away from meat next time?

    The reason this shocked me was that I had spent days getting the MES temperature and ChefAlarm to agree, but with an empty smoker.  Then when this happened, I was in a panic.  Now, if it turns out that somehow the MES really was at 275 and my other guages were off because of being close to meat, then I cooked higher and faster than I wanted, but that's ok.

    I think I'll need to test with meat in there again, since I have the empty smoker running fine on temps.  Maybe put a few chickens on the top two shelves and put the Chef Alarm on a lower shelf?

    [BTW, both smokes were very, very successful with the family, as was the slow-cooked steaks experiment]

    Last edited: Nov 30, 2015
  8. bearcarver

    bearcarver Smoking Guru OTBS Member

  9. daricksta

    daricksta Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    In my MES 30 during the 1st part of a smoke the MES temp display will differ from my ET-733 by 20-30 degrees. However after the smoke's been going for a 2-3 hours the two temp displays will either be the same or within 2-3 degrees of each other. But then, it's a MES 30 and not a MES 40.
  10. Thanks, guys.  Bear, I've tested it empty, and after adding the deflector, I got the temps to all work very well with the MES when it's empty.  That's why I was so shocked on Thanksgiving.  And I think I know what you mean about the toggle thing.  I remember seeing it, it's just below the second shelf from the bottom, and it sticks out maybe an inch into the smoker.

    Before I added the turkeys, the temps were all matching.  Then I added the birds, and the MES climbed back up to 250 (my original temp), but the others stalled around 200, so bumped the MES to 275 in order to get the actual temps to 225.

    I can try it empty again tonight, and then I'll smoke a few chickens this weekend and put the ChefAlarm and other gauges well away from the chicken to see if that makes a difference.

    I'm not worried, just want to figure this out soon and resolve it, so I'll know what temperatures I'm actually getting, and fix it so I can get 240, 250, or even 275 if desired.  It's great smoker, and I've recommended it here at work.  The gen 2.5 sounds even better, but costs a bit more.
  11. bearcarver

    bearcarver Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    OK---It sounded like you weren't able to get the real temp up to 275° (or close). And if that was the case you gotta get that fixed while it's new.

    All the other heat adjusting can be dealt with without needing new parts or replacement of your MES.

    Like I said---Keep your probes from being too close to cold meat. You can raise your MES temp to 275°, but if the ChefAlarm probe is close to the cold meat, it won't go up until the meat warms up.

    You want to measure the temp of the air near the meat, but not so near that you're picking up the cold from the meat.

    Last edited: Nov 30, 2015
    dogwalker likes this.
  12. I apologize for hijacking this thread, Blathnac, and I hope that some of the advice in here will help you.  I love my MES 40, so if I were you, I'd follow the suggestions here.  First, I agree - use professional thermometers that you validate (I used both the ice slush and boiling water to validate two temps for mine).  Note the offset between the MES values and then just factor those in.  For instance, my MES meat thermometer is five degrees off, so I just factor that in.

    Good luck, and enjoy!
  13. blathnac

    blathnac Newbie

     I must admit I was enjoying sitting out watching the temp change.  I bought a probe at walmart and did a boil water test.  It's two degrees off.  REtesting today.  Looks like when set for 275 its running at 261.  Its been cycling for around an hour now and holding.  I'm going to go out and move the probe in the box from the middle to the top and see what ranges in temp there are.
  14. blathnac

    blathnac Newbie

    No problem with the thread.  I enjoy all the info.  Just giving me more ideas.
  15. blathnac

    blathnac Newbie

    Bear, what should I consider (close) to 275?  Would you say if I get it within 10-15 degrees I should call it good?

    Thanks. Blathnac
  16. daricksta

    daricksta Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    You should be testing the display accuracy of temps between 225-250° which is the sweet spot and most favored range for low and slow cooking. Myron Mixon prefers 275° but he's smoking in a much bigger rig that costs 1000s of dollars more than my little MES 30. In his rigs I think 275° is the lowest temp he can get.
  17. bearcarver

    bearcarver Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Lets put it this way:

    I believe their owners' manual says they should be within 15° +/-.

    If I know for sure that mine would only go to a real 260° when set at 275°, I'd be calling them, because there is a chance where I would like to get to 275° (Chicken, Turkey). This would be only if I knew it was the Smoker's fault, and not the fault of where I have the Therm Sensor.

    However If When set at 275°, it goes to a real 300° or 310°, that would be fine----I would welcome a few extra degrees, and I can easily adjust my setting to get it where I want it.

    Hope that helps.

    Last edited: Nov 30, 2015
  18. I completely agree, Bear, that gives you some head room.

    Interestingly, I had emailed Masterbuilt Friday and then called them during lunch today.  BTW, if I may, I'd like to put in a plug for their company - what nice and professional people!  Over the phone, the lady said, "Well, we can send you a new controller or even new <something, I didn't understand>, but honestly, if I were you, I'd exchange it while you're still in the exchange window, because it sounds like your unit has an electrical problem."  The email arrived later and said they'd be happy to send me a new controller.

    Academy did say I can exchange, so I may just do that, to be safe, even thought it's probably just my controller.
  19. bearcarver

    bearcarver Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    That sounds good, However if you get the right temps with an empty smoker there is likely nothing wrong with your smoker. 

    If the temps go down when you put cold meat in, it's probably because your sensor is picking up the cold from the meat.

    I would do the empty testing before I ask for a new controller or take the smoker back.


  20. You know, there's this other test I ran, and I don't understand it either.  I put five thick steaks on the top two shelves.  Before I put the steaks on, temperatures matched (vent may have been closed to help it heat up faster).  After I put the steaks on, I could repeat these results multiple times:

    1) open the vent -> temperatures diverge by maybe 20 degrees (MES reading higher)

    2) close the vent and let temps stabilize -> temps match within a degree!

    That does imply that something else is going on that I don't understand.

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