When I first got into smoking meat, i used my gas or charcoal grills with aluminum bags filled with chips. After that I got an Old Smokey, and it made pretty decent party ribs(fall off the bone), but I wanted to go for the competition style that I'd been reading about. At that time, I bought a MES 30", 1st Gen, with the 650 watt element. I wasn't completely happy with it and I started hearing lots of good things about pellet grills. I bought a Traeger Jr, with the upgraded electronics. Eventually, I gave away the Old Smokey.
I have never been happy with the Traeger. I've called tech support a number of times about the wild temp swings and reading on these forums, it just looks like that's a normal thing. The food seems to turn out dryer than my other methods and the smoke flavor is also weak. I added a AMTS to amp up the smoke and I started using CookingPellets brand, and it's better, but I still have the terrible temperature control. I tried buying a Savannah Stoker, but they said it won't work in my unit.
I drug the MES out of mothballs and tried cooking some spares on it yesterday with the AMTS. I'd mothballed it mostly because of creosote problems, but I thought the AMTS might fix that issue. Then I remembered another problem, horrible temperature control, even if I don't peek, and on a warm day. The smoke flavor provided by the AMTS was pretty mild. I also didn't like cutting my racks in half and I think this thing is a bit of a chore to clean up afterwards. I see that they do have a cold smoker attachment, which might be all I need, but I've seen some complaints about these units breaking down, more cheap MasterBuilt wiring? Also, no smoke ring. I know it's not as important as taste, but it's nice to see. I tried adding a few kingsford briquets, but no dice.
Now, do I buy a 4th smoker? I was looking at the RecTec, which seems to be universally loved. Or the MES 40" with, hopefully, all the bugs worked out. The RECTEC, is a bit expensive for me, but if I'd bought something like that from the get go I'd probably not be writing this post right now. The MES is only 309 and I already have an AMTS. The company is not known for reliability, however. One thing that concerns me with pellet grills is that the pellets aren't cheap. If I do a 24 hour cook, then I'm probably spending an extra 15-20 bucks in fuel costs. The operating costs would be substantially less for an electric.
I know there are some similar posts to this one, and I've read quite a few, but please forgive the newbie for asking some targeted questions.
Edited by kenafein - 4/13/15 at 2:04pm