I've been poking around here for a couple of weeks now trying to educate myself a bit but now, as I consider the actual purchase of a smoker, I could use some further guidance and some specific answers (or opinions) in response to my questions. I also feel that many newbies like me could benefit from responses to my many questions as well. Here goes:
1) I have decided that the way for me to go is with an Electric Smoker - for a variety of reasons. I have further narrowed my choices to either a 30" Masterbuilt Electric Smokehouse Smoker with Window and RF Controller or, more likely, a 40 Masterbuilt Electric Smokehouse Smoker with Window and RF Controller - NEW GENERATION - model 20070512. (Is this the newest version of this 40" Smoker?) Now, is a model with a Window a good choice? Is it hard to see inside with a) the smoke, b) the splatter grease? Is it difficult to clean? Someone mentioned heat leaking out around the window seal. Is that a known issue? For those of you who have used both types, which is your preference and recommendation: Window or Solid unit? The price difference between a 30" and a 40" seems to be only about $30. Is it a no-brainer to get the 40" and not have "size remorse" later?
2) The model 20070512 has a meat probe however, you can only use this on one item, let's say a brisket. If I am also smoking, say, a turkey, and a rack of ribs, how do I know when the other items are done? What does one do when a couple of items need 4 hours of smoking and others need 8 hours? What about different heat requirements?
2) Are these Electric Smokers easy to clean? I'm talking about the drip pans and water pans as well. Many folks suggest wrapping the pans with aluminum foil which sounds like a good idea.
3) Are the MES units usually reliable? I've read of dents, dings, wires shorting out, necessary parts swap outs and modifications. I'd like to avoid anything that is flaky. I'd love to buy locally but don't have a truck. Would Amazon.com be a good choice if the shipping is free? Cabela's? Any idea who, online, will cover defective exchanges the longest?
4) I live in New England where a change of weather from sunshine to a quick downpour can happen within minutes. How hot does the outside of the 40" Masterbuilt Electric Smoker get? Could I put the Masterbuilt cover over the unit while is smoking or is that absolutely dangerous? Put another way: How do I (or you) protect the electronics when mid-smoking rain begins to fall? Should I have my wife make a small cap or cover just for the electronics? What do you all do? If the electronics are covered against rain, can the smoker be kept on during a rainstorm or is is prudent to "pull the plug" during rainy weather?
5) Many folks seem to swear by the MES 40" Smoker with an "A-maze-n Pellet Smoker" (AMNPS) as an add-on. Is this because the wood chip loading system does not provide enough smoke? Is the AMNPS used with the wood chip loading system or instead of it? I've noticed you need either pellets or dust and have to use a mini-propane torch to get the wood chips/pellets burning. I planned on using the smoker on my wood deck. How do I eliminate the risk of a fire? Where, exactly, does the AMNPS go? Does it replace something in the MES or is it just additional? Can the wood chip loading system work with the AMNPS?
6) The YouTube infomercial for the MES 30"/40" show a ham on one rack, turkey on another, ribs on another a veggies on top. My wife wondered: Do you really want the fat/juice from different types of meat dripping onto another? Is that an issue? Should you have pork ribs above pork butt so that the juices are "in the family" - that is the small flavors?
7) Do most of you eat the meats you have smoked right away? Do any of you cook up a batch of different things and then refrigerate or freeze your smoked products for future use?
8) For those of you who have never smoked before, say, a year ago, if you had it to do all over again, would you buy your electric smoker again knowing what you know now?
Any other input you'd like to offer would also be appreciated. I think that's it from my end, for now.
Thanks, in advance, for your feedback!