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considering a pellet smoker

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 

hi all,  


i'm new to the forum, and considering a smoker.  I'm either going to do a WSM charcoal smoker or a pellet smoker.  Price of the WSM is attractive, but the simplicy of the thermostatic temp control has me leaning towards a pellet smoker.   


One thing that concerns me is the weather resistance of the pellets, and also is it easy to remove the pellets from the hopper when you are done cooking?   What I'm thinking is that moisture will cause the pellets to degrade and they would be better unused fuel pellets are removed from the feed hopper after a grilling cycle is complete.   Also, I would thinnk that you would want to have different types of pellets on hand for varying different meats, and as such it should be easy to empty unburned pellets from the feed hopper.  


None of the pellet grills I have seen on the market seem to address this concern.  


I'f I'm way off base just let me know.  





post #2 of 16
I bought a Yoder YS 640 and love it. Pellets don't get wet and easy to scoop out and change.
Check'um out before you buy.
post #3 of 16
Thread Starter 

I'm looking at Blazin Grill and Yoder.  MAK also, but it seems like Yoder and Blazin offer more for your money.   No stores around me.  Christiana Mall in Newark DE has a kiosk selling Traeger, but I wasnt impressed with the build quality from what I saw.   I'd rather spend a litte more for quality.   


I notice Yoder puts the fire box off to the side...is the heat even through the cooker?   How easy is it to clean.  I liked the idea of how the Blazin grill has teh slide out cleaning of the fire chamber.  



post #4 of 16
Just went through this myself. I am slightly constrained by price, but ultimately I chose the Green Mountain Grills Daniel Boone. Going to pick up in Thursday! I would at least give them a look...
post #5 of 16

Biggest thing for me is the availability of pellets in your area, shipping can be killer on the price of pellets. If you dont buying 1/2 ton of pellets at a time you can save some money but that can take up alot of space in the garage. I wouldnt be worried about taking the pellets out of the hopper when done cooking, I leave mine in the hopper all the time and they are fine. As far as cooking with different flavors I dont think you can taste the difference very much, not like a stick burner. Have you had food that has been cooked on both? I think there is a big difference between the two flavors each grill will produce.

post #6 of 16

Don't discount the Rec Tec, mine arrived last week and it is a beast.  I urge you to check them out. 

post #7 of 16

A pellet grill is much more versatile than a WSM, and depending on which model you buy, more capacity, too. I have been cooking 4 to 5 times a week on my Traeger Lil' Tex Elite and love it. Great Customer Service, too. Several of the new pellet grill upstarts have gone out of business already. Traeger pioneered this grill, and is in it for the long haul.

post #8 of 16

I just went through this too.  After extensive research, I narrowed my choices down to 3 pits:  Yoder, Blazin, and Rec Tec.  I chose to go with a Rec Tec.  It just arrived last week, so I don't have a lot of experience with it yet, but my initial impression is outstanding, and its very well made. 


While I decided that each of the 3 pits I was considering would suit my requirements from a quality and performance standpoint, there were 3 main things that swayed me to Rec Tec over the other 2 pits:  1) the Rec Tec is $300 less than the Yoder and Blazin models of comparable size/capacity. 2) Rec Tec's customer service and personability have impressed me beyond words. 3)  Rec Tec's terms: They have a 6 year warranty, a 30 day money back return policy which includes shipping, and up to 24 months 0% financing.  The 30 day return policy was big for me.  Since there are no dealers where you can go look at these pits, it was nice to know that if I got it and didn't like it or it wasn't what I expected, I could send it back free of charge.


Since I'm new to pellet pits, I am cerainly no expert, but my understanding is that people leave pellets in the hopper without problem.  If I were going to go an extended period of time (weeks or months) without using it, I would probably empty the hopper, but I usually smoke and/or grill something every week, so I don't see that as an issue.


I hope any of this helps.  Good luck in your search, and be sure to let us know what you decide.



post #9 of 16
Thread Starter 

Wow, thanks all for  your advice, I do appreciate it.  


My initial trepedation about moisture & the wood pellets comes from my neighboor in Maryland who had a wood pellet stove - the heating kind.  He thought he had a great deal as he got a good price on the stove initially.  bought a 2 full pallet of pellets, enough to carry him through the winter accoring to the store.  This is a very rural area and you cant just go to the store whenever you feel like it (its an 80 mile round trip) He stored them well up off fthe ground in an enclosed shed barn, but the moisture got to them and before the heating season was out they were ruined.   He gave up on pellet stove idea after that.   


Traeger grills I saw at the Christiana Mall kiosk in Newark, DE.  I was not overly impressed with the robustness of their build considering the price and I wasnt about to drop $800. without doing some research first.  While they may have been on the market for a while, I think I'd rather give my money to someone who's building product in the US.  It isnt always easy to do and you have to shop more these days, but it can still be done.   


There are no stores within reasonable driving distance for me anywhere that sell pellet grills that I have found, so I can either pay for shipping or drive.  Lowes & Home Depot have the cheap Brinkmann / Char Griller units for ~ 500.   Lowes dosent have pellets in stock but I can have them delivered to the store at no charge and pick them up there.   If I want premium pellets I have to pay for premium product.   With prices of gas what they are these days, I'd rather pay for some shipping charges than drive 2 or 3 hours and burn up $20. in gas to save $20. in shipping charges.   FWIW, Amazon has some pellets with free shipping, as do some other online retailers, but you generally pay more per 20 lb bag of pellets to get free shipping. No free lunch here.


I like what I see in both the Yoder and Blazin Grill product lines.  The MAK I'm sure is a fine unit but its 35% more than its comperable competitors.   I'm not as concerned about parts failure.   If it breaks I'll fix it.   With the cheap imported products I see light gauge metals that will not be durable and prone to bun out & cracking.   With the better units, if there is some mods to be made, the parts are machinable and weldable.   


There is a Yoder dealer over the river in Eastern PA, I think in the next few weeks it will make a nice desination for a satuday afternoon ride with the wife on the goldwing to check out the YS640.  


Sure would be nice to be able to do a "trial BBQ" somewheres though !   


Sorry I rambled so much here; will be sure to keep you posted.   



post #10 of 16

Do you have a Costco near by?  They are doing Demo's for the next couple of weeks around the Country.  JUST Beware....don't know if it's the way all the sales guys are....but the one at my Costco is really pushy.  They do look really nice tho!



post #11 of 16
A neighbor just received his REC TEC this past weekend and it is a SERIOUS cooker. Built like a tank with stainless on lots of important parts. A rock solid PID controller. Lots of room and also special pricing of $998. Also will get to 500 degrees where some other pellet cookers won't and seems to produce better smoke than a couple of other pellet munchers I've seen including my traeger. These things, along with what Red posted make it a must see IMHO. Best of luck.
post #12 of 16
Thread Starter 

Yep, we are overrun with all manner of big box retailers here in CNJ.  Have a costco within 10 miles either direction.   No problem with pushy salesmen, I just tell them to go make like a lemming.

Will check their website.   


The salesguy at the Traeger Kiosk in Christiana Mall was only moderatly pushy.   He wasnt up there with car saleman material yet.   He didnt seem to understand that I'm not going to drop the better part of 1000 on a whim.   Oh well, I guess some folks do.   



post #13 of 16

In regards to cooking with pellet grills/smokers, you will find clean up is very easy.  I use a shop vac and a putty knife to clean the bottom of my barrel.  Also I highly recommend that you cover you drip tray with foil.  This will save countless hours of scrubbing to get it clean.  I personally have a traeger and I love it.  I am looking at trying my hand at a backwoods clone RF using pellets. 


If you are looking for a consistent cook that does not require you to tend a firebox, then pellets are for you.  I find when I am cooking for a large group it works out better for me.  


In regards to pellets, if you have an ACE hardware store near by they can order in the Traegar brand of pellets in for you.  They have a large selection.  Personally I use a mix called "The Perfect Blend"  You can find it online at cookingpellets.com, they offer a reasonable price and do ship it for you.  Also if you know alot of people in the area that have pellet smokers, you could all come together and have a pallet or two shipped out to your area and split the cost.  I am fortunate where I live that there is a business that is all about pellet smokers.


and in regards to the Yoder unit, it is a newer unit, but I have seen them, and to say they are built like a beast is an understatement.  Feels like a traditional stick smoker with the heavy duty door and walls.  Not sure on how well the controller is built, but the owner of the shop has cooked on it a few times and enjoys it.  Has really accurate temp control he says.


And so you know some of the mods you can easily do to your pellet grill to help hold temp in cold weather is too place fire bricks in the bottom of your pellet grill.  It will recover temp quicker resulting in less fluctuation in the temperature.  


side note, on my friends traegar, he did have the fire go out once and dump his entire hopper of pellets into the bottom of the grill.  I personally have never had this happen though.

post #14 of 16
Decide on anything? Been smoking on my GMG for the last three days and its been tons of fun!
post #15 of 16
Thread Starter 

Ummm, yeah I've been mulling this around in my head and considering perhaps just doing a weber smokey mountain smoker for now.    I like the idea of the pellet machine, but I have to consider the financial impact.  In the past 2 months we had an unexpected large car repair, I bought a new bass cab for my rig at the church and then the 'fridge at the house took a dump on me.   The combined sum off the above took a credit card that was formerly paid up and brought it back up to a $4k. bill.    


What I want in a smoker is going to set me back between $1000 to $1300.   So I think I'll hold for now either do a weber or just lust for a few months at the others on the web and see if my desire is still there when I get the offending debt paid off.    

post #16 of 16
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by iebbqman View Post



side note, on my friends traegar, he did have the fire go out once and dump his entire hopper of pellets into the bottom of the grill.  I personally have never had this happen though.


IMHO, this shows poor quality on the part of the controls design.  When I was looking at the Traeger at the mall I noted that it only had a single thermal element in the cooking cavity.   

I asked the sales guy about this, he had really very little technical knowledge about the units.   All he could do was rave about how great the food was.   


If I were tasked at work to build a control for a unit like this, I would have a minimum of 3 sensors pulling signal back to a micro block type PLC.  I'd want to see heat from either side of the cooking chamber, and take those two signals and drive the auger speed with an average between the two.   The other thing that I would do is I would want an high temp therocouple in  close proximity to the pellet burning chamber; and interlock this with the auger motor drive, and also this could trigger an auxillary alarm relay out with a notfication of some sort.    


These are basic concepts of industrial control, you aways want to have a safety loop that will catch a fault and bring a system to a fail safe mode; in this case issues of concern would be flame out, thermal over temp, or failed / Open Circuit thermal elements.   


Yeah, this would cost money.   But if this is something that you are anticpating firing up and walking away from, even going to bed and having this run unattended through the night; I'd want to be dang sure it was fail safe.   To do this as a one-off custom job would be pricey, but these guys are mass producing these units, these sort of bugs should be worked out.   


Just my Humble Opinion.   



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