I currently have a MES 40. After making several mods to it ("cold smoke" attachment, customized smoke stack in place of the damper, etc), I am still not happy with it. Mostly because of pellet jams in the smoke attachment (I live in Texas, and humidity, smoke, and wood pellets don't always play well together) and tirelessly trying to eliminate hotspots and temp fluctuations inside the unit. So, today, I noticed the Traeger line and am seriously considering one, but I'm having a difficult time figuring out what all the differences are between the different models, other than size.
I've got it narrowed down to the Elite models since the $50 extra seems well worth it for the digital thermostat and powder coating. The Junior Elite seems plenty big enough for a full size brisket packer and a pork butt or two. For my needs, the only downside of its size seems to be that it's not tall enough for beer can chicken, so they'd have to be cooked on their back. That one downside alone isn't enough for me to justify a $329 (Junior Elite) to $799 (lil' Tex Elite) price jump, though. So, here are my questions...
1) From what I can tell, the Junior Elite's burner is positioned on far left side of the grill, whereas the Lil Tex Elite's is in the middle. Is this accurate? I've read that these basically cook via convection, so there shouldn't be any hot spots because the heat and smoke is being blown by the fan. Has anyone verified this with oven thermometers on different sides?
2) Other than size and burner position, are there any other differences between these two models?
3) Smoking at 225, about how long will a filled 10pd Junior Elite hopper burn for? I've read widely varying info depending on the temp, so I thought I'd get more feedback on that here.
Thanks in advance!
Of course, as soon as I thought I had it narrowed down and submitted this question, I came across this Char-Griller Lowes model:
It looks to be a total knockoff of the Lil' Tex Elite, but is even bigger (580 vs 418), has great reviews on the Lowes website, and is about 1/2 the price... Any feedback on this smoker? I did notice that it says the lid is "painted steel"... What are the Traeger Elite lids made of?
Edited by Pillpusher - 6/10/14 at 3:54pm