Thinking of trading my WSM for an electric smoker

Discussion in 'Electric Smokers' started by nickm62388, Dec 9, 2015.

  1. nickm62388

    nickm62388 Fire Starter

    I have been debating about buying a masterbilt electric smoker. Not necessarily selling my charcoal weber smokey mountain. Cause I enjoy it when I have the time. But I hear and feel I would be more sufficient and easier to buy an electric or propane smoker. Plus I don't like the layout of my WSM. I don't like the small circle racks, does not allow me to make the amount of food I would like to make. Any opinions or Input.
  2. dothereggae

    dothereggae Newbie

    My first smoker was a WSM - bought it ~10 years ago and still have it. Wouldn't trade it for the world. A few years ago I stepped up my game and a built a UDS. It's been my go-to ever since. However, just last month I scored a new-in-box MES gen1 for 100 bucks and I've done approximately 10 cooks on it. Here are a few random thoughts.

    Nothing can replace the taste of charcoal. If capacity is your only gripe about the WSM, build a UDS. You can quite literally build one out of junk and sky's the limit on customization options. I pimped my rig by putting a bottle opener on the side. 

    Comparing my UDS to my WSM, the UDS needs a little more babysitting. Every 2-3 hours I have to walk outside with a rubber mallet and give it a light tap to shake the ash off the coals. My WSM is way closer to "set it and forget it" in that respect. That being said, I get far longer cook times out of my UDS, just because the size of my charcoal basket is substantially bigger than the one in the WSM. Also, the UDS has no air leaks and once a temp is dialed in, it's pretty much a lock. 

    Cleaning a UDS is a pain in the ass. A couple times a season I have to go bilge diving and clean the bottom out.

    So what about the MES? It's just... a different beast. It's easy, like, super easy. I purchased it mainly as my Winter cooker since I hate going out in the cold in my boxers. Set up is as simple as plugging in my temp and time on a remote. It's as close to "set it and forget it" as one can get. It's wicked efficient, too, to a point where I don't feel guilty firing it up to only cook up a single package of brats. As a supplement to my other smoking devices, it's pretty much exactly what I was looking for. 

    But it does have it's downside. As I stated earlier, there is a no replacing charcoal when it comes to flavor (and the coveted smoke ring visuals). Also, the smoke tray? Forget it - you need to buy AMNPS and even then, sometimes I supplement the pellets with a few woodchips in the tray if I want heavy smoke. Also, it's electric so you have to trust this box to work... Plus, if your place of living is prone to power outages or rolling brown/black outs you may want to think twice. On my second to last cook, the box shut off in the middle of the night. Was it a power outage or the MES screwing up? Pretty impossible to tell at this point. Regardless, I almost lost a 9 lb pork butt (fortunately, it survived). 

    From my perspective, if you have the means and the space to have a charcoal cooker and an electric smoker in your life, go for it. But if you have to choose between one or the other, the flavor of wood and charcoal trumps all.
    Last edited: Dec 9, 2015
  3. nickm62388

    nickm62388 Fire Starter

  4. dothereggae

    dothereggae Newbie

    UDS = Ugly Drum Smoker
  5. foamheart

    foamheart Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    They are two completely different beasts and they both cook differently. Just my point of view, I really don't notice the difference as long as we are smoking only, the loss of that charcoal taste with chicken and pork. I have to say even with some of the best beef smokes I have done with the electric I still find the flavor........ lacking. Beef ribs and beef brisket really .... They are delicious and tender and smokie but it just ain't the same. You'll never on your best day with an electric cooking a brisket, equal your best day on a firebreather.

    BUT if you had both then you could do as you want. I got my first analog in the early 80's, I had my own first firebreather, in the late 60's. I mean nobody had seen or heard of an electric when I got my first one, it was funny. It was given to me and in the bottom around the heating element was partially burned charcoal. I guess they had thought the element to be a charcoal starter...LOL

    I cleaned it up and took interest, and after a few failures finially got where I could do a decent bird. I never had the room nor the inclination to try a brisket. Just lucky I guess. The remote probe will save a lot of meat while learning too!

    I now use the electric much more than the firebreathers, I am sure sooner or later I will become disillusioned with the electrics sooner or later and go back but right now I am enjoying the ease of use. The ability to sleep thru a butt. The near exact constant temperatures.I have not had to heft an axe in a couple a years, not sure if thats good or bad...LOL I have the ability to try different woods not readily available where I live and thats fun too.

    I suggest if you want to delve into the exciting world of the electron BBQ, you do. Its fun, its better to do stuff like sausages and more exacting smokes. Its great to go to sleep at night not thinking about the 4 AM wake up to kick the tires and light the fires, or the fire checks when you go to bed. No more catching the big bags of charcoal sales or looking all over on a Friday nite for some lump and having to explain its not a dam brickette to the stockboy. If you enjoy the early morning solitude, the coffee on the back porch, The outdoors scratch then pee on the tree, or even the gathering of man beasts to contemplate the rising of the early morning sun, its ok. But I have gotten where I enjoy my sleep these days. Point and click, plug and play.

    I invested in a remote alarm temp probe 15/16 years ago, didn't ever use it till a couple a years ago when I got the MES. I would have laughed and called you a liar had you ever told me I would have used one of those things to cook smoked foods. Your panties have lace around 'em or what? LOL but it is a great tool and now I can still smoke without one but I just use it anyway.

    Times change, mostly for the good if we can just acclaimate ourselves to it.

    I like my electrics. I have always owned at least one for over 35 years although I more apprecaite them now. I hate electric stoves too! but once you get used to it, its a fair substitute for a gas range (why are they called a range I wonder?)..

    They are cheap, jump in and get your feet wet. Make sure and get one large enough to suit your needs, Don't buy a small box and have to cut your ribs or briskets or turkeys to get them in. Get a good remote alarm temperature device. Do worry initially about an aux. smoke generator. Learn to master your unit first then get one. You'll be more savy to whats out there then too. Like I said I did 30 years with a totally enclosed, analog units, wearing out three of them. They make excellent smoked meats, you just have to figure out how.

    Digitals are more expensive and more unpredictable IMHO. But I have two. When working they are great, and I have one for a back-up and firebreathers if that doesn't work...LOL

    Take the plunge and join all the rest of us junkies on our quest to master that aroma on our meats. Its cheaper that booze or drugs and its legal!
    Last edited: Dec 9, 2015
  6. I have had a WSM for about 5 years and like it has already been said you can't beat or copy the taste of charcoal on a electric, gas or even a stick burner.
    A company by the name of Slap Yo Daddy Barbque has been going up against $15,000 rigs and taken home 28 grand champion's in competition plus a bunch of first places.
    That being said if you don't have enough space I am assuming you don't have a 221/2" I have done a full packer and two butts with room to spair on my WSM.
    What I don't like is the hassle of loading and litting it if I want to smoke a bugger or some other short term food.
    Also, sometimes I want to set it and forget it. The WSM holds consistent temp for long periods of time, but only on perfect days (no wind).
    So to eliminate that problem I bought a 2.5 generation 40" Masterbuilt, a 40" because you can't fit a full packer in a 30" or even a full rack of ribs without rolling them.
    I smoke my large cuts of meat like brisket and butts on the WSM to 160 Internal temp at which point the meat will not benefit by more smoke. At this point I have that desired taste produced by charcoal, so I switch to the Masterbuilt for a heat source That I can set and forget.
    Resently I have discovered that there is a temp regulater for the WSM that enables me to set and forget the WSM. There are 3 models available priced from $139 to $269. I will have one by spring. But I still wouldn't part with my Masterbuilt 40 because I can cold smoke on it and there is that convenient feature that alows me to do short no hassle smokes.
    Bottom line I wouldn't want to part with either of my smokers but if I had to choose just one it would be the WSM because of the quality of food it produces. Don't give up on WSM buy a bigger one and a Masterbuilt 40" for those things you can't easily on a WSM like cold smoking.
  7. jckdanls 07

    jckdanls 07 Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member

    You didn't mention what size your WSM is... being you said small.. I'm assuming it's the 14.5 WSM.... If it's the 22.5.. I don't see where you will really gain in cooking surface... but I've been wrong before ...
    Last edited: Dec 10, 2015
  8. jirodriguez

    jirodriguez Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Yeah... if space is the main issue then I'm guessing you have a 18" WSM? I have the 22.5" and have had almost 90 lbs. of meat on it all in one smoke - - also if you have rib racks you can put 12-14 racks of ribs (depending on your racks) on at the same time.

    That being said there are a lot of people with the MES that absolutely love them and produce some good BBQ. But make sure you get the right model and generation, apperantly there were some issues with the gen. 2 models.
  9. I'm going to give a nod to the Smokin-it smokers. They have several sizes to choose from so you'll definitely find one that suits your needs. I would go with the standard analog controller since it will pick up where it left off in the event of a power failure whereas their new digital models would just reset themselves and you may lose your food.
  10. doctord1955

    doctord1955 Smoking Fanatic

    I built my own electric smoker out of a old frig then when i wore it out used a warming oven!  Will never go back to charcoal for main smoker!   
  11. old sarge

    old sarge Master of the Pit ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    I would also recommend the Smokin-it. Or Cookshack if you can afford it.
  12. daricksta

    daricksta Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    That's interesting. If I was the camping or the holidaying at the beach type and wanted to do some smoking I'd have a WSM as a second smoker. From what I've read that, for the price, there's not a better charcoal smoker on the market. That being said, I think the Masterbuilt electric smokers are the best in their price ranges. I've got a "cheapy" MES 30 Generation 1 and I've greatly enjoyed using it over the past 3+ years. My wife owns a home daycare and among the Christmas gifts we're giving to the families are smoked cheeses I made three weeks ago. Once you get used to using an electric smoker--and I use wood pellets not wood chips--you can turn out quality Q that's better than those franchise BBQ restaurants and comparable to the better ones.
  13. I did at last buy an iq130 temp controller from Pitmaster. Now I can set and walk away keeping tabs on my iPhone up to 700+ feet away with no obstacles in it's path and an easy 450 feet with obstacles. Still wouldn't part with my Masterbuilt 40"

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