Originally Posted by DanielC
I've started looking at different options for my first smoker, and and it seems everything I look at has pros and cons, so it's kind of confusing.
I've been looking at the Masterbuilt Electric ones and the propane/dual ones.
Here are some of my observations based or my reading of the various reviews....
- The propane has the ability to reach higher temps if needed. This could be useful in colder weather, and for example if you want to finish chicken hotter to try to crisp the skin. However, some people seem to complain that it's difficult to maintain the lower temps. Is 225 a problem generally? You will need a needle valve to get down to 225 or even less to make Sausage. At temps under 275 a Fart will blow out the flame. Really GREAT wind protection is needed.
- A common complaint for the electric ones seems to be an underpowered heating element, so it's not possible to get the higher temps, like to crisp chicken skin. 1200 watts is what is used in an MES40. Fine up to 275° and may run higher, mine hangs at 295 and makes crispy skin anyway. In any event, it is A LOT easier to crisp Chix skin in an oven or on a Grill then trying to keep the flame lit in the wind and having to mess with the gas because you started on a cool morning and now the outside temp and sun on the smoker is raising the temp every 30-60 minutes.
- I've read that Masterbuilt doesn't recommend using an extension cord with the smokers. If this is correct, this would be a pain to keep it close to the outdoor plug. I have been on a 12ga extension cord 2 years, no issues even with some rain blowing under the roof of my balcony and on the MES with just a Gladware Plastic Container over the Electronics.
- Most of the electric ones I'm seeing seem to be the 2nd generation ones. I've read that there are quite a few complains with the controllers for these systems. With these MES smokers being so expensive, and Masterbuilt only offering 90day warranty, this is a concern. I'm thinking that the propane ones may be less likely to break down. Amazon has all Stainless Steel 1st gen MES40's Model # 20070311. Been using it 3 years and just had it start tripping the GFI from not cleaning around the the area where the coil goes thru the wall.
- With the electric ones, you're expected to be able to basically set the temperature and not worry about it (even though there will be fluctuations as it cycles on and off). How stable are the propane ones once you get them to the desired temp? The box doesn't seem as well insulated. Gasser's are not insulated so sun, wind and outside air temp causes adjustment. The Insulated box of the MES maintains temp, unopened, even in 30° winters, Guys in the North have to wrap the Gasser's in welding blankets and block wind to maintain temps.
- With the electric ones, I'm kind of concerned about the extension cords if you were smoking in the snow or rain.....any comments on this? No Issues, But there may be a problem in a heavy down pour directly on the MES, I have never had mine in a direct deluge. In that kind of weather the flame will go out in a Gasser anyway and the uninsulated box will lose temp quickly requiring you go get WET to keep it going!
- How do they hold up to the winters if left outside? Three years, uncovered on a roofed over balcony. Rain, Snow, Ice and Direct Sun...Still looks like New but that is the advantage of Stainless Steel. I have dead on control with just 15° swing from 100 to 275° and never have to get my Butt off the recliner unless I want to be alone with my MES. Most Smoked Sausage recipes usually call for starting at 100-130° and then raising 10° per hour to 170°F. Good luck getting that with propane.