This is my first post and I'm in a similar situation. Been smoking on a Weber style grill. Started looing into a "real" smoker and on the advise of a friend, decided to check out the electric smokers. I'm down to the same 3 companies.......Cookshack, Smokin Tex, and Smokin-It.
I was hoping some of you would expound more in this thread on the pros and cons of the smokers in question. I'll ask some detailed questions if anyone would like to share their experience to help me make a decision.
First, I'm looking at the Cookshack Smokette Elite, the Smokin Tex 1400, and the Smokin-It Model 3.
Of these 3, only the Smokin-It controller doesn't have temperature feedback to the controller. So I would guess the controller temps set with the control knob result in the box maintaining that temperature on a "normal" day........but on a cold/windy/wet day, the internal temp of the box will likely be less than the temp set on the controller.......true?
I like the Cookshack products but they are expensive. The Smokette Elite I'm considering is maore expensive than the other units......yet it is the smallest unit. It's probably large enough for cooking for my immediate family, but if I invite my extended family over, what are the chances it will hold enough to smoke for my extended family (failrly large)? The smoke box on the bottom of this unit seems to take up a large percentage of the already small cabinet. Seems the Amerique is closer to the size of the Smokin-It Model 3........and it is $1,700+. While I would love to have it, I can't justify spending that kind of money (could have several family get togethers catered by professionals for that amount). How many country style ribs can be placed in the Elite at once? (or how many baby back ribs or how many/how large a pork butt or how many/how large a brisket) Looking for info that will let me know how much usable area there is. Can anyone give my this info on the Smokin-It Model 3 or the Smokin-Tex 1400?
Do all these models create plenty of smoke? I read that the Cookshack element turns on for a full 20 min at the beginning of a cook cycle to create an initial blast of smoke. Do the other models do something similar? Do all of them create plenty of smoke compared to smoking in an offset, wood burning smoker? I've read that electric smokers don't produce a good smoke ring (on brisket for instance) but both Cookshack and Smokin Tex stated that adding charcoal to the wood box would release nitrates that produce a nice smoke ring. Thoughts?
Are they all built tight and are they insulated well? Seems good insulation would be a key to successful smoking of cold days or winter holidays where the weather is unpredictable. Also, I'm guessing electric smokers in general don't produce the quantity of smoke you see from wood burning smokers so containing the smoke that is generated would seem to be important. I must admit I'm speculting on the amount of smoke generated by electric smokers as I've never used one. I talked to the mfgs and both Cookshack and Smokin-Tex had stories of their smokers being used successfully outside in very cold climates and in cold weather conditions (worse than I'll ever venture out in) but Smokin-It advised they bring their smoker in the garage or similar out of the cold/wind/wet. I'm guessing this is because they don't have a temperature probe with feedback to the controller to maintain the desired temperature (speculation on my part). Also, seems a tight cabinet would help maintain moisture inside the box.
Will a smoking recipe for one of these units likely work fine on any of these units? I ask because Cookshack offers a cookbook and I think Smokin-Tex has recipes online, but Smokin-It doesn't offer recipies. However, they suggested so many recipies were available on the internet there was no need and that recipies for other boxes would work for their unit as well.
How about maintaining temperature? Seems Smokin-It boxes swing roughly 50 deg (25deg either side of setpoint), Smokin-Tex goes about 15 deg below and a little more than that above, and based off a chart I seen on thier website, Cookshack does maybe a little better (minus 5deg + 10-12deg). Is only the average temperature important or does the temp swing matter much?
Thanks, and I look forward to hearing from the knowledgable, experienced folks here!