Why bother?

Discussion in 'Wood Smokers' started by joe black, Sep 11, 2015.

  1. joe black

    joe black Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    I know that us who look at this sub-thread are mostly wood burners, but one thing that I have a problem with is the vast majority of electricity burners, if you will. I like to respond to new readers and welcome them to our site. Many times, when I open their post, It will begin, "I have been grilling for a few years and I wanted to try smoking so I bought a xxxxxxx electric smoker". How the heck did they decide on an electric? Why don't they just take the stove from their kitchen and put it on the patio? They are forever complaining that a heating element went out during a cook or that the power went out in the middle of their cook, etc,etc,etc. I've never had any of those problems with my stick burner. I know that everyone is entitled to their preferrences, but having never done any smoking of any kind, why does anyone suddenly decide that they want an electric cooker? Does anyone ever do any due diligence on this decision???

    Please don't crucify me, just share a little reasoning. Thanks, Joe
  2. bmaddox

    bmaddox Master of the Pit

    I'm sure it comes down to budget and marketing. When you walk into the store you see these fancy electrics with packaging that claims to be the easiest way to smoke. So if you want to try smoking but only want to invest $200 into it then they are definitely appealing. They are also much smaller than any other smoker so they are great for apartments, townhomes, etc. 

    As for the using your oven outside portion, that topic has been gone around and around on here numerous times so I will just leave it alone. 
  3. okie362

    okie362 Smoking Fanatic

    I've used stick burners since I was a teen.  Homemade, heavy, trailer mounted.  I love them and even more so when I can get together with my brother and we gook for a couple hundred people.  During my time in the USAF I went to the Weber Kettle and Brinkman smokers due to the fact I could only move 700 pounds of personal property with each change of duty assignment and I considered those items to be expendable.  i would give them away and replace them at my next duty station.  

    With the job I have now I am either traveling to some God forsaken  place like India or New Jersey or working from home.  When working from home I enjoy being able to throw something on the MES with the Amazen pellet contraption and have a decent home cooked meal.  It's easy and convenient for those times when I don't have the free time to tend my big smoker and I'm only cooking for 2.

    In short, I've tried them all and they each fill a certain need.  I'm not a purist and will/ try just about anything/everything.  It's not the tool as much as the craftsman IMHO.
  4. floridasteve

    floridasteve Smoking Fanatic

    As a Realtor, I work from home and have some time to cook. But that time is often interrupted by a client that needs this or that, and I'm often so intent on that stuff that I forget about everything. That's why I like me crock pot and my electric smoker. Plus, there are only two of us and cranking up a stick burner to do one rack of ribs seems a waste.

    My friend Tony has a stick burner, and we often go over there and cook together on a Sat or Sun. I think it's flavor might be a little better, and definitely more old school (which I like). But on my patio I love my electric.
  5. I would say cost and the ease of initial use are deciding factors. While a $50 smoker may not produce optimal results from the start, it can suffice to help someone decide if smoking is for them. Heck, with a few mods and some patience, I enjoyed some pretty good pork off my little electric brinkman before i decided to upgrade. I currently still have a small electric smoker for when i want something quick, or have a small meal to cook. Different tools for different uses. They both make me happy.
  6. chef jimmyj

    chef jimmyj Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member

    Stove/Oven...Along that line, why would you buy just a 4 burner Stove when you can get them with 6, 8 ,12 burners? You can get built in Griddles, Charbroilers, Deep Fryers, and 100,000BTU Wok Burners. The extra Burners and goodies are always useful. Why would anybody buy a Regular Oven when a Convection Oven cooks more evenly and faster. Why buy an Oven with just a Dial that can only be set to one temp, when you can get an Oven with digital controls, multiple time and temp set points, Combination Steam, Cook, Hold and Chill Ovens, or even Smoker Ovens that can do it all.

    It is all about what you have decided you want to mess with, how much continuous time you have to babysit it and what you have to spend...A $300 horizontal offset is made of thin steel that does a poor job of holding heat, leaks more than a sieve, is impossible to maintain a steady temp for 6-20 hours without constant feeding and tweaking dampers and requires tons of mods to get a mediocre unit. 

    Maybe the buyer is disabled and can't chop wood, haul it around, fuss with a burn barrel or feed small splits and spend all night tending a fire without one or more people staying up as well to assist and be a " Go-fer ". Maybe the buyer lives in an Apartment that does not allow any type of BBQ equipment that is not Electric. Maybe they are old and just want to set and forget their Insulated smoker so they can stay cool, warm and/or dry, in their recliner and have great tasting smoked meat year round....Oh Wait!...That's ME! Well for the last 4 years. 

    I did have a heavy duty New Braunfels horizontal stick burner for 20 years...BUT...There was no such thing as Digital Electric smokers and no SMF to do research with great guys like Bearcarver to explain the pro's and con's of an electric smoker. 25 years ago I only smoked a few times a season because my three Daughters were babies and the Mrs.' frowned on my drinking a 12 pack of Beer and sitting infront of the smoker for hours at a time. An Electric would have been used more often. I took 6 months to make the decision to get my first MES 40. That was after extensive review of Gasser's and the very few Pellet smokers at the time. The Smokin-it models, at the time, were either too small or too expensive with shipping. CookShack was WAY TOO PRICEY! And I was not about to be tied to proprietary, single source, Bradley Pucks. The MES 40 Gen1 20070311 was redesigned to make the occasional Coil failure a breeze to replace and inspite of the fact the the New Gen2 was on the way, Dodged that Bullet, most of the Gen1 owners were happy and had no issues...I went for it.

    There is no such thing as the BEST smoker for everyone. If Stick Burners were the Be all and End all of smokers, there would be no such thing as Electric, Gasser's, Pellet Pooper's, Gravity Feeder's, Kamado's or Water Smoker's. And nobody would would own more than one type...A Stick Burner would be all they need...JJ
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2015
  7. weev

    weev Meat Mopper

    I know in my case that when I first started getting into smoking I wanted something that I could get at a reasonable price for two reasons 1. to see how much I would use it and 2. To see if I could make something my family would like.
    So I did do some research and I was reading that it seemed like people were having trouble with electric ones so I went with a propane fueled one got it on sale at the local home Depot for 100$ and have been using it for 5 years now and I use it almost every weekend all year round.
    Now this year I have been cooking more at a time and have even entered a few local contest and have come to the conclusion that I am needing something a bit bigger so I'm about halfway through building a stick burner but even after its done I don't plan on putting the propane one out to pasture it's turned out a lot of great bbq for me
  8. floridasteve

    floridasteve Smoking Fanatic

    JJ -- I wish we were closer. I'm sure we be great friends!
  9. chef jimmyj

    chef jimmyj Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member

    Steve, I will be in touch. I could be convinced to move to FL for a nice 3Br house on a lake or the west coast. Got to stay around 100K...[​IMG]...JJ
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2015
  10. joe black

    joe black Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    I fully understand everyones preference. What I really don't understand more than anything is the newbie that posts 1. his new found interest in smoking and 2. his purchase of his new electric cooker. It's almost like there's no other type cooker available and that every newbie is SUPPOSED to start with an electric.
  11. If the person enjoys BBQing meat with any kind of smoker, then who cares what they use.

    Isnt it all about having fun and enjoying great food?
  12. chef jimmyj

    chef jimmyj Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member

    Look at American Society for the last 30 years...Home Computers, Laptops, Cell Phones, Smart Phones, Color TV's, Flat Screen Smart TV's...What are you going to buy? A computer that you have to purchase and load or worse, write and program all the software?...Or a Dell XPS13 that is just Plug-in and Play???

    Folks want EASY to use, and Cheap, especially if they are not sure they are going to like it...Read the manual, plug the cord in, add a handful of Wood Chips and you are a few hours from Smoked Meat. A further example, throw in an AMNPS or Tube and you don't need to add Chips every half hour. Don't get no easier than that!...JJ
    Last edited: Sep 12, 2015
  13. doctord1955

    doctord1955 Smoking Fanatic

    Just because a stick burner is right for u doesnt mean its right for everyone else!   I built my smoker and its electric!! Ive had propane!  Ive got a stick burner!  Electric gets used 9 out of 10 times!  That doesnt mean its right for you!  Means its right for me!  Dont mean its wrong!!
  14. When you go into cabelas or Walmart, good luck finding anything other than electric or gas. I currently have a little chief, which I think is many people's intro in to smoking,especially for those of us in the PNW. we don't have the same bbq culture that the east coast/southern states has. Ours comes from Indian tribes smoking seafood and game, so for a long time if you told someone you were smoking meat, people assumed you are smoking fish or making jerky. The big/little chief is a superb fish and jerky smoker, and the ones all you guys have buried in your garages are made right here in the PNW 4 hours from my house. Because that's our smoking tradition. Not to say that bbq as you would know it isn't here, cuz it is, we just aren't married to any one way of doing it. We cook what we want, how we want, and no one gets mad lol. All that to say, stick burners vs charcoal vs electric vs gas is more about personal preference, As opposed to a tradition that must be observed. I personally prefer charcoal with wood chunks. I use my Weber kettle grill to smoke on quite a bit. if your barbecue tradition is heavily invested in stick burners, then I could see how anything other than that would seem wrong. and honestly if I had access to a stick burner that was useful, and had someone to show me how to manage the fire, I would love to learn, because many people see that as authentic barbecue. one thing I do agree with is that many people(not our smf guys, they're masters of everything!) don't choose to go after new BBQ skills because of the prevalence of set and forget smokers. Not that they're bad, I just see it as driving an automatic vs driving a stick shift. they both get you to the same destination, and many people can go their whole lives and never drive a stick shift. However if you want to be a professional race car driver you have to learn how to shift. I personally like to drive fast but I have no desire to be in Nascar. A lot of these guys on smf with the electrics have them so modded they'll blow the socks off anyone.
  15. pineywoods

    pineywoods Smoking Guru Staff Member Administrator Group Lead SMF Premier Member

    Why is there more than one brand of car? Why is there diesel and gas and propane and electric vehicles? Different strokes for different folks.

    I started with a propane smoker still have two of them. Have a Lang 84 stick burner too. If I have the time to tend it all day I like using the Lang but if I'm trying to do other things the propane is much easier. Many of those days if I had to use the stick burner I wouldn't be able to smoke at all that day but since I don't have to tend the propane every half hour to hour I can use the GOSM and have smoked food for dinner.

    Many of us when giving advise to a new member will mention the different types of smokers and ease of use and time required.

    I guess when you grill you burn the wood and shovel the coals into the grill too right?
  16. rabbithutch

    rabbithutch Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Me: My name is bob and I have an electric smoker!

    Group: Hello bob

    Howdy, Joe!

    When I first started getting interested in learning how to smoke food, I knew nothing about the process (and only slightly more now, several years later). I really, really wanted to buy an offset smoker to learn on. I think I saw an Oklahoma Joe that tickled my fancy. My bride (of 54 years) said that I would never be able to stay up all night to keep a stick burner going and that I should buy an electric. I wasn't as convinced as she was, but she is the Finance Department and thought $300 was better than the cost of a new, small offset. I consider myself to be a brave man but not a stupid one. Just sayin'.

    Then I came here to SMF - you can probably look up my first posts - and started reading and asking questions. I got very good advice. I read a lot about the MES 40 here. I kicked the tires at Sam's Club a few times. I really wanted a stick burner but knew that if I bought one and didn't use it or ruined too many smokes, the War Department would be invoked and what's left of my life would be made miserable and I'd have to listen to "I told you so!" every hour of every day. So . . . I wussed out and spent the $300 bucks on the Masterbuilt. It was and continues to be part of my learning experience.

    Not too long after that, I read about the mini-WSM. I already had a smokey joe that I bought new for $10 at a salvage house and had been using for 6-8 years. IMUSA tamale pots are sold all over the place here in Texas. I like a project. I made a mini. I learned even more on the mini. Because it is based on a Weber product - and because I wanted a bigger grill - I started looking around on Craigs List. There was a guy in Waco selling a 22.5" OTG. I asked my SIL living in Waco to call the guy and see if he could buy it. He did . . . for $30. That purchase has really led me to more smoking because I find it so easy to set a briq fire and use my Maverick to monitor the process. Yes, I'm still learning as my last brisket smoke turned into all burnt, but not burnt ends. BTW: to thank SIL, I gave him a smokey joe, a tamale steamer and the bits and bobs needed to make his own mini. He did. Since then he found himself a Weber Performer. I think I've got him hooked but I haven't set it yet!

    I'm working my way up to finding a small stick burner or a WSM. When I find one, I will probably sell my MES because SWMBO won't stand for another addition to the herd without a little thinning taking place first.. If I get a stick burner and have nothing but epic fails, I've still got the OTG and the mini-WSM to fall back on.

    That's how I got here. She Who Must Be Obeyed declared that an old fahrt like me should do something easy. Having gained a bit - but only a bit - of wisdom in the past 5+ decades I did what she said. But I haven't given up yet.


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