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A bit of general help with pellet units...........

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 

If anyone has any input on pellet grills in general I'd appreciate it. This isn't another "what should I buy" but more along the lines of what to expect.

 

Background - I've been using a Weber gasser and a standalone smoker (WSM & propane). I'd like to combine the two as well as get a bit more room. I grill on average about 4 times a week, often everyday of the week. I smoke maybe twice a month (though it might go up).

 

What I really like about the Weber grill is reliability - mine was purchased in 1997.............it's likely cooked over 3000 meals. The frame is indestructible as is the shell itself. The bottom is aluminum & the enameled top is impervious to almost everything. Those parts that do wear out (burners, grates, ignitor, etc) are easy to replace - getting parts is a snap.

 

So most of the pellet grills I see the shell is steel, often painted or stainless. How long will that last? I never use a cover, it's impractical in my world. Every single cover I've had has ripped - they get stiff in the winter & they're done. I figure stainless will last a long time but the painted/coated ones?

 

Biggest issue for me is the internals - okay, I know I can replace the control (SS II or the like), fan? Seems easy........motor? auger? Hot rods? Is it easy to get generic replacements? Meaning most, if not all of these companies are small operations = how long will they be around? (not wishing them anything but success) Okay I buy XYZ brand & need a new auger in 8 years? I've read enough to know the hot rod is the highest failure item......are they all the same?

 

That brings me to specific flaws in each one I like -

 

Fast Eddy/Cookshack - currently @ or near the top of my list. The charbroiler makes this one near perfect for me. It is on the smaller side and it's expensive (I ain't in the $2,500+ for a grill league). I also do not like the cast iron grates on the charbroiler. I've spent years with them, they fail - period. On a grill they suck, every time you heat them up you "dry" them out = constant re-season or they rust & crack. I do like it's versatility & construction.

 

Blaz'n Grill - currently @ number two. Looking at the Grid Iron. Like the overall build quality & the price. Also has a great deal of room. Plan is to leave the direct grill option in place full time (gives me enough room for our normal indirect stuff). The only faults I can find are the lack of a pellet dump & the custom auger. Pellet dump is a no biggie but the custom built auger? What if they're gone on 5 years? I'm guess it's the not likely to fail - more the motor than a coiled bar of steel.

 

Most of the others I've seen don't have a direct grill option & those that do like Yoder are getting up there in price (a Yoder with the options I want is $1,500).

 

Long winded I know but I just don't have the comfort level I do with a gasser - the parts issue is my main concern (whatever the brand). If I can get the parts I'll be okay.............a huge advantage has been my Weber, I've replaced most of the internals with a simple mouse click.

 

Any input would be greatly appreciated..............maybe I can stop the endless days of surfing for info biggrin.gif

 

(I don't post a lot but so far I'm @ maverick.....check....amazen......check......camp chef.....check - all from here)

post #2 of 12

Take a look at this company

 

http://www.louisiana-grills.com

 

they have a great line of cookers that may fit your needs.  

 

FE/Cookshack - by far the best in the business.  You pay top dollar for these units but they will outlast you, your, house, and probably your grandchildren.  As they state is for grill marks.  This company has been around for a long time.

 

Blaz'n Grill - Newer company in the market, that is quickly expanding. Pellet dump no big deal.  You will need to get inside and clean the bottom of your grill periodically to ensure no fires and cleaning up the ash in the bottom is easy.  I use a shop vac.  Custom auger may just be a gimmick.  I would get more info on that.  

 

Parts do break and it happens.  If the hot rod fails, in a pinch you can always use the fire starters to get the fire up and going.  If the auger motor or fan fails then you may have to  upgrade to aftermarket if the company is out of business.  It is a risk everyone takes.  

 

I personally have found Traegar to be extremely helpful in getting parts.  The hardest thing I had to do was send a picture of my lid, that was bent out of the box and they let me do it while on the phone with them.  He looked at it and said yep another one is on the way.  Heck he even said keep the bent one as a spare if I wanted.  Other then that I have had no problems, and mind you I have three of them right now. Being I use these professionally, I purchased extra parts so if something goes down, I can fix it on the spot, and deal with the warranty later. yes I paid for these parts, but it is piece of mind for myself.  Fortunately, they are still in there original packaging.

 

The big boy companies out in the industry right now are Traegar, GMG, MAK, Louisiana Grills, and FE/Cookshack.  

post #3 of 12

Hi Bailey.

 

I've just recently been where you are in researching pellet smokers.  I purchased a Rec Tec last month after reading and comparing all the pellet smoker companies for weeks.

 

So you plan to store your smoker outside?  I cannot intelligently answer your question regarding this, as all of my smokers have always been garage-stored.  Perhaps others who keep theirs outside can offer some insight on that.  I know that my Rec Tec is Powder Coated, and suspect it would hold up as well as most pellet pits to the elements, but who knows over time?

 

I can't say for sure in regards to internals, but I have my doubts that parts from different manufacturers are universal and interchangeable.  Your concern about a company still being around in a few years is legitimate.  I sense that pellet smokers are becoming more popular, and that the companies who manufacture them will continue to grow, but who can say for sure?

 

I researched smokers from the companies you mentioned before I purchased.  I found the Fast Eddy to be a very desirable rig, but like you, it's cost was beyond what I was willing to pay.  The Blazin was definitely on my short list, and I believe it to be a fine pit.  The others I seriously considered before deciding on Rec Tec were Yoder and Green Mountain Grills.  These all seemed to be quality products with good reviews.

 

The direct grilling capability is an attractive option, and more companies are adding that as an accessory package.  Rec Tec has recently announced that they will be offering a direct grilling kit very soon (an upgrade I will certainly purchase when it becomes available). 

 

Good luck in your continued search!  From reading the comments of other pellet smoker owners, I'd say you would be very happy with any of the pits mentioned.

 

Red

post #4 of 12
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by iebbqman View Post

..............Parts do break and it happens.  If the hot rod fails, in a pinch you can always use the fire starters to get the fire up and going.  If the auger motor or fan fails then you may have to  upgrade to aftermarket if the company is out of business.  It is a risk everyone takes. ........................

I hadn't read or thought about using a firestarter - lol - too obvious I guess. I figured I'd have to go aftermarket - just curious if the replacements were as known as say the controllers. Example is the PID used in the SSII is a straight up unit, easy to find a replacement......wondering the other parts were as standard or known. I mean I'm certain all the grill makers use off the shelf parts, i.e. the auger motor is XYZ unit (now finding the unit may be whole 'nother issue). That was my point about the auger - it is custom = only Blaz'n makes it = both good & bad.

 

I had no idea Cookshack had been around that long. I do like the 500 model......it's just a bit on the pricy side - but then I thought that when I bought the Weber so many years ago (it was way more expensive than those Charmglo units) = sometimes you get what you pay for.

 

(note I'd buy the SSII - let him do the bulk of the wiring biggrin.gif )

Quote:
Originally Posted by SeenRed View Post

Hi Bailey.

 

I've just recently been where you are in researching pellet smokers.  I purchased a Rec Tec last month after reading and comparing all the pellet smoker companies for weeks.

 

So you plan to store your smoker outside?  I cannot intelligently answer your question regarding this, as all of my smokers have always been garage-stored.  Perhaps others who keep theirs outside can offer some insight on that.  I know that my Rec Tec is Powder Coated, and suspect it would hold up as well as most pellet pits to the elements, but who knows over time?

,

.

Good luck in your continued search!  From reading the comments of other pellet smoker owners, I'd say you would be very happy with any of the pits mentioned.

Thanks, I read all your threads - lol - got a lot of information. I always like to read others "pro & con"  - different thoughts. If I had to pick on looks alone the Rec Tec would be my 1st choice. Can't say why but I really like the bull design, it's very cool. Toss that in with arguably the best controller on the market = very nice. If they had a direct grill option one would likely be on the way (I know, I know......it's not really needed...........what can I say, I like a good char biggrin.gif )

 

Yep, outside. Which is an issue for me, only Blaz'n makes mention of weather resistance (like the hopper). As I said I've had covers, they all fail. Get stiff as a board in winter & rip when you remove them (even when new). What ever I get needs to stand up to weather. I know stainless will but I'm not 100% sure on powder coat or painted (course I can always re-paint).

 

I think that's part of the problem - too many good choices biggrin.gif I can find something really slick/nice about all of them. If they'd only let me design one..............I'll take the grates from this one, the controller from that one, the hopper from this one...........

 

At this point I'm leaning tword Blaz'n. A bit cheaper than FE & a bit larger. I may just roll the dice on the "issues" I mentioned...................what's the worse that could happen? I end up buying another Weber in 3 - 5 years.

 

That's today...............we'll see what tomorrow brings. Thanks again for the input folks, I appreciate it.

post #5 of 12

I would recommend keeping your gasser if it is still working and you have the room for it.  Even though I love my GMG Jim Bowie, I still use my us my gasser for quick items like burgers and dogs.  Both my wife and I work long hours so it is easier for us to fire up the gasser and through something quick on there.

 

For myself I came from a horizontal offset smoker to a pellet grill.  When looking for a pellet I had a budget of $1000 (shipping and tax included).  I looked at every possible manufacturer and narrowed down to the Traeger, GMG, Yoder and RecTec.  Unfortunately the shipping to California busted me on the RecTec and Yoder.  I decided on the GMG as for the same price (Not to mention that my dealer threw in some extra goodies for free) I was able to get a controller with finer control than the Traeger, and the GMG also uses a fan in the hopper to put a bit of a pressure to help keep flames at bay since Traegers has a history of the fire going back up the auger to the hopper.  A plus is that the GMG can go to 500 degrees.  I have done a couple steaks on there as well as a pizza.  On a pellet grill you can get Grill Grates (http://www.grillgrate.com/) for the searing.  I also have the cover for it and it is a pretty heavy duty thing, but it is powder coated to standup to heavy abuse pretty well.  

 

At first I hate a hate relationship with my GMG.  I had temp swings of 80 degrees from end to end and a bad controller, but my dealer and GMG were there with me each step of the way helping me out.  With their help I have it down to a 10-15 degree temp swing and a new controller.  I received any parts that I needed within a week of reporting the problem.  From other forums all the parts on the GMGs are fairly easy to replace and some dealers will go to house and replace the part for you.  Any good manufacturer will stand behind their product.

 

Also you can over to www.pelletheads.com which is towards the units themselves and there are posts on almost every forum there about the grills holing up to the elements.

 

I don't want to detract from your decision or purchase, but just wanted to give my experience.

post #6 of 12
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by BackyardSmokin View Post

I would recommend keeping your gasser if it is still working and you have the room for it......................

That's my plan for now.........I'll see how things go as they go more mainstream. Not like my weber will die anytime soon biggrin.gif

 

I have spent way too much time reading pelletheads, that's one of the places that helped me build my short list.

 

Thanks again for the input, I appreciate it.

post #7 of 12

I still have and use my weber gasser...do not see a time when It will get kicked to the curb.  I have the Yoder..and did not get he direct grill option personally I do not want all that grease in the bottom of my cooker, because to use the grill grates you need to remove the deflection plate, so now all the grease falls down...and not into your grease collection point.  I like my pellet grill a lot but I bought it more for longer cooks and not so much for grilling.  I store mine inside they Yoder rep said he kept his outside with no cover,

post #8 of 12
I use my Yoder for everything. On the direct side when grilling I haven't noticed grease, it just vaporizes, even when cooking burgers. When I want cook something on lower heat that I want end up grilling, I just put foil on the indirect side, throw the foil away when your done.
post #9 of 12
Have had a Yoder YS640 since the January before last and love it!
Have has a couple hot rod fails but just manually light it instead while the hot rod is out... no big deal,
The temp it holds and taste food product it produces is hands down a winner for me!
post #10 of 12
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by MossyMO View Post

Have had a Yoder YS640 since the January before last and love it!
Have has a couple hot rod fails but just manually light it instead while the hot rod is out... no big deal,

That's my point............I know they fail (I'm okay with that) & you can work around it but it's not a "go to Home Depot" & replace part (or order online). Guess I'm just spoiled by the ease of which one can acquire parts for a Weber.

post #11 of 12

well also there are thousands of weber grills out there in America, so lots of incentive to keep parts on hand.

post #12 of 12
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Show me Smoke View Post

well also there are thousands of weber grills out there in America, so lots of incentive to keep parts on hand.


That's kind of the point/advantage. Weber has been in business a long time & they continue to make parts for early model grills (they don't change too much either). Not many brands where you can get parts for a 15 year old grill. It's definitely a comfort factor, no matter what comes up a) Weber will likely be around b) you can still get parts for your grill

 

That's how I ended up with a Weber years ago - had a big box something or other & tried to get a part.............oh hell no, that's no longer made............!@#$%^&*(). Weber was expensive which was a bit hard to swallow but I've always been able to get parts.

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