.....what would you buy?
Hello Electric Smokers. I'm trying to decide which electric pit to buy. I've been reading this forum for a while now and it seems that the MES40 gen 2.5 with an AMPS is pretty popular combination. In particular the Cabelas unit with the solid door looks like it might be a good choice. That set up would be within the budget so it is definitely an option. The main question I have about it is what happens if it fails? Some people seem to have had some pretty negative experiences with Masterbuilt CS. I'm pretty handy with repairing things though. Are all of the parts serviceable? For example, if the controller unit fails, can it be purchased and replaced? Where we live, it rains frequently. Is the unit going to be ruined if it gets wet at all? The space where I would like to put it during operation is a patio. There is no cover there now so if it can't stand getting any rain on it at all then I guess I would have to make some kind of little enclosure to put over it. Maybe PVC and couple of the corrugated roofing panels might be one idea to shield it. Also what about the MES30? It's of course smaller but it would also save a good bit of money. I'm mainly interested in doing ribs, brisket and pork shoulders. I might want to try some of the fatty recipes too. Would the smaller unit make it difficult or not possible to do any of those? I haven't seen a 40 that is analog. Is such a unit available? If so, how about that with an external temperature controller? Do any of you run a set up like that? It was pretty easy to use an STC-1000 and an old Crockpot to make a sous vide. Seems like this idea would be a similar deal. Overall, my main concern with any MES is that I want to really think through in advance what might go wrong and be ready with a countermeasure to handle it.
I've also looked at the Smokin Tex and Smokin It units. They look pretty bullet proof. They also are a bit more expensive. I could stretch a bit if those are truly a "once and done" solution. Are those units known to need any particular mods? For example, does the factory smoke tray need any help? Will it generate TBS for long smokes without needing extra fuel? These units look to have very small openings for air flow. Do those small holes have enough draft to keep the combustion going? Does anyone use an Amazen tray/tube with these?
Lastly, how about thermometers? Is the Maverick ET pretty much the standard unit? Looks like one probe goes in the meat and the other gets clamped to the grille near it to monitor the pit temp. Is it any more complicated than that? Or do the stock probes that come with the electric pits do a good enough job right out of the box? Can the factory (MES/ST/SI) probes be calibrated at all?
Any of the group's collective experience and wisdom would be greatly appreciated. Thanks, Folks.