First post and I have worked my self into a situation of being indecisive in the best choice for what I am looking for.
A little background:
Started smoking meats around 6 years ago on an inexpensive chargriller. I was able to learn how to properly smoke on an offset and the food (mainly briskets) was always praised by whoever ate it. What I didn't like was overnight tending fire, air leaks (cheap cooker), and using a ton of fuel because of it, and the smokebox rusted out after the paint burned off.
Then I moved over to a Kamado and it grills wonderfully. It smokes adequately and holds temp great but the space is minimal so no go with more than one brisket. I still can't get the temp down to where I like either as it always wants to be a bit hot.
To offset this I tried an MES which was ok, but not what I was looking for in regards to smoke flavor and it's inability to heat beyond 275 was limiting.
I have donated the chargriller, sold the Masterbuilt, still have the kamado and plan to keep that.
Where I am at now:
I have been wanting a pellet smoker for awhile. It's main purpose would be for smoking, however the thought of being able to light it up quickly without having to deal with charcoal in my Kamado after a long day at work is a nice thought, so would love to be able to grill/sear with it some as well. My budget is under $2K to my door.
I would love a stainless unit for it's durability.
I was set on an FE PG500, but am concerned about the limited smoking space. I smoke packer briskets mainly and want to be able to fit at least two 12lb - 15lb. on whatever smoker I get. The sear functionality is awesome, but from my understanding the briskets could not overlap onto that grate?
I am also looking at:
-Yoder YS640 (but it's not stainless? and it's heavy if needed to move... options increase price quickly)
-MAK 1 Star (not stainless but at least coated aluminum and it's lighter.. options increase price quickly, sear grate price is crazy)
-Memphis Select (this particular memphis model looks like a less commercial quality cooker, though I know they are nice... don't think this model sears well)
I am not opposed to lesser models like the Pellet Pro or GMG but I really would prefer US instead of china made stuff and being able to get a really nice smoke AND grill with a good high temp sear of direct flame is important.
The FE PG500 looked perfect because it comes standard with the options I need, smokes AND sears, just concerned about size.
Any thoughts from those experienced with any of these? Unfortunately I don't have a place locally to see any of these in person and since it is such a big investment I want to make the right choice. If I can't get what I am wanting in a Pellet smoker/grill I am tempted to go back with a quality offset (Yoder) and see if they require less tending than my cheap chargriller did. The $250 chargriller gave me what I was looking for all the way around ultimately, just wasn't there in build quality/design.
For reference I will be grilling 3 - 4 times a week and smoking just about every weekend.
Edited by classic - 2/1/15 at 9:58pm