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Debating between electric and propane...looking for input

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 
Hi all,
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?

- 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.

- 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.

- Most of the elecric ones I'me 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.

- 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.

- 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?

- How do they hold up to the winters if left outside?


Thanks!
Daniel
post #2 of 9

I prefer propane because of their mechanical simplicity and how easy it is to fix/mod. Simply having the burner and not complicated wiring is a big plus to me. 

 

I didn't want an electric one in case it rained as well, just didn't feel comfortable with that. 

 

As you said unless you're trained with electronics fixing the electric smoker would be very difficult. Versus just replacing the burner on the propane smoker. 

 

225 can be maintained with propane, some people find it useful to install a needle value on the hose in order to get the burner even lower though for very long smoke sessions. 

post #3 of 9
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the input!  Yes, I think I've decided to go with the gas one.   Currently really leaning towards the Master Forge dual door model from Lowes.

 

Daniel

post #4 of 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by DanielC View Post
 

Thanks for the input!  Yes, I think I've decided to go with the gas one.   Currently really leaning towards the Master Forge dual door model from Lowes.

 

Daniel

 

 

I would point you towards the Smoke Hollow 44" at Samsclub, but it appears that they are out of stock

post #5 of 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by DanielC View Post

Hi all,
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. 
There are pros and cons to both. When I was in your shoes, I looked heavily at the Smoke Vault 24 and the Landmann 3895gwla, best  Gasser's available talking SMF Veterans and both are a similar size to the MES40. My family wanted more Kielbasa, Smoked Hams and Canadian Bacon than Chicken and as I said it is no trouble to finish the chicken in the Oven for 15 minutes to have the convenience of Set and Forget in all weather just having to look at the Remote Control to make sure all is OK, and, if need be adjust the temp with out having to go out on a 20 to 30° Christmas or New Years day...Sorry if I am messing with your choice, just giving the facts...Good Luck either way...JJ


Thanks!
Daniel
post #6 of 9
I made the decision to go with propane when I bought y first smoker about a month ago. I took the advice here and other places and went with a Smoke Vault. I have been very happy. I have had no issue running it in the 225-230 range. I do like going at a slightly higher temp than that though. It has done a great job so far.
I will add that you will find some mods or tweaks you'll want to do regardless of what unit you get. I have made a couple changes to mine already and am planning to add a needle valve and find a way to seal the smoke loss from around the factory thermometer (which I don't use anyway) .

I've observed you can make some mighty fine food on any unit you get. That's part of the fun. Have fun making your selection and even more making food!
post #7 of 9

Their are pros and cons to both. I have to side with JJ. I have a MES 40 No issues. I can set it and go to bed.

Which ever you choose will have it's drawbacks. Just learn how to use your pit and you will have some good Q.

Happy smoken.

David

post #8 of 9
Chef Jimmy has got you covered pretty well. I have a 2 door MasterBuilt propane smoker, works well. But, I struggle with temps below 225-250, and weather (cold/wind) really mess with it. I like mine and it works good for pork butts/brisket. But is too narrow for whole packers or full racks of ribs. Something to consider.

So it would depend on what you plan on doing a lot of. If you want to do a lot of ring bologna/summer sausage/dried beef/cold-warm smoking then you may do best with an electric. If you plan on doing a random assortment of things, I'd look through the different pros and cons Chef Jimmy listed.
post #9 of 9

I'm having Dejavu, was this posted elsewhere?

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