Pros: Separate drawers for water tray and wood chips, hooks in top of chamber for hanging long pieces, holds temperature well
Cons: Somewhat flimsy shelves, smoke leaks out around door
This smoker was purchased from Costco online to replace a homemade charcoal-fueled one. It arrived in a sturdy box (the corners were reinforced with angle iron) and took one hour to assemble.
It is very easy to use, and heats up quickly. After the chips and water are added, it takes about five minutes or so on High to come up to 250°F. At that point I turn it down to Medium and it holds the temperature well. If adjustment is needed, the tiniest of nudges to the control knob will do it. It usually takes two or three clicks with the electric starter (also a knob, rather than a button) to ignite the propane.
A word about heat control and propane: I’ve noticed that when the sun is shining on the propane tank I don’t have to turn the fuel-supply knob up as high as when the tank is in the shade. This means that when the sun drops below the trees when I’m cooking I have to fiddle with the heat adjustment. I have it in mind to build a box to put over the tank to keep it in the shade and reduce the solar effect.
This smoker comes with five 14.25" x 14.25" shelves that are adequate and clean up easily, but I would like them better if they felt sturdier. I only use as many as I need for the task at hand, so I don't have to wash them all every time. There is also an assembly with several hooks in a circular pattern mounted in the top of the smoking compartment, so the shelves can be removed and longer items hung for smoking. There really isn’t a door seal to speak of, so smoke does leak around it. I’ve seen a straightforward modification to correct that, and will get around to it one of these days.
It's nice to have separate drawer for the water and smoking chips. For longer jobs I leave the lid off of the chip box so I can add chips without using insulated gloves, and I’ve found that the water tray should be checked after about two hours. (One could also put a deeper water bowl on an unused shelf for insurance, though the smoke chamber door would have to be opened to refill it.)
My smoker also came with a nice, heavy-duty padded cover, an item that sells on Amazon for about $30. I don’t know if they all come with covers, or if that’s unique to the Costco version.
I’ve used my smoker a quite a bit in the month or so that I’ve had it, and am quite happy with it. It’s easy enough to use that I can fire it up after I get home from work at 7:30 p.m. and have smoked chops or steaks on the table in less than an hour. My poor Weber gas grill is no doubt starting to feel neglected....