Pros: Fine for Hot and Fast Smoking like Chicken.
Cons: Can't get temp down to do Low and Slow Smoking
Reposted for David Dunlap by Chef JimmyJ
Right out of the box, testing runs showed two major problems:
#1 TEMPERATURE – either too high or too low from intended 225°
#2 NO SMOKE – couldn’t maintain smoke production and snuffed out the wood
These same problems continued with three meat sessions and led to the conclusion I needed to return the unit. Before I did I scoured the forums but didn’t find anything I was missing or doing wrong. Instead it seems my problems stem from gas being the heat source - too many BTUs for summer smoking and the flames exhausting the oxygen thus putting out the smoke source. Maybe other units with gas work but I couldn’t make this one work for me. Despite my intense research and conclusions that this model smoker was best as far as construction, wide enough for ribs and briskets, had double doors, great adjustable shelving --- It was not acceptable. I wanted consistent temperatures around 225 degrees for long and low smoking and the Utopia of unattended cooking. My Mistake! I believe my idea that gas would provide temp consistency and avoid hourly tending of the smoker was simply wrong.
I didn’t really seek involved “mods” as I desired a smoker ready to go right out of the box. This smoker wasn’t it! But, I was willing to try again. With manufacture’s suggestions, I ran the exhaustive tests (in 95 degree ambient heat) with the following results:
11:30 am I started these tests with both burners on at three quarter. Using water in the pan but no meat, the water prevented temps to raise much above 186 degrees. After much time, they topped out at 200 but only after setting both burners to full and boiling out most of the water. Meanwhile the meat wouldn't have been cooking at 225.
12:08 pm Dumped out he water and everything reversed! Temps quickly shot to 340 degrees! Turned both burners to low - 333 degrees.
12:12 pm Only one burner now set to "low" - 289 degrees
12:27 pm Both side vents 1/4 open and full open chimney - 266 degrees
12:53 pm Both side vents full open 264 degrees
Runs Too HOT and NO SMOKE!! So what’s the use??
Many tests and three meat runs proved this unit incapable of sustaining smoke - as designed! I wanted a smoker and not an oven.
Using the supplied wood box was a total bust. Took at least an hour for fuel to even start to begin to smoke and that occurred only after opening the upper door and letting in fresh air. But that smoke stopped within minutes after closing the door !!! I even added a few lit charcoal briquettes to wood chips and chunks thinking they might keep the fuel smoldering. SAME RESULT – soon after closing the door the smoke ceased.
Thought I had the solution and ordered a serpentine smoke generator. Followed the directions to the letter starting the pellets - same problem! Moved the generator placement around - including directly in front of a fully open side vent - better but still couldn’t stay lit. NO SMOKE! Called AMAZEN and they confirmed my suspicion that the gas burner (even with just one burner lit and on low) was exhausting the oxygen in the smoker sufficiently to maintain wood fuel ignition.
Side note: Amazen are great people to work with! They not only design and make their products –but use them! They sent me a tube model which they feel works better with gas but I didn’t get a chance to try due to deadline for returning smoker to Amazon.
If anyone has, or had, this same model smoker, I’d like to hear from you. How did it work for you and any solutions??