I have a MES 40" that I purchased from Amazon two years ago and have had off-and-on problems with the control panel dying. Last summer my wife and I moved and I had just replaced the control unit and once we moved into the new home, second use on the new panel, it wouldn't accept any button input for the time setting to start the smoker. I called Masterbuilt and they charged me another $60 for another control unit which resolved the issue. My temps were spiking all over the place so I decided on replacing it with an Auber 1800watt dual-probe PID. I did a lot of research on the mod before purchasing and saw most people went with the 1200 or 1800watt depending on available funds. While I was waiting on the PID to arrive, I decided to do the mailbox mod (looks easier in the pictures!) which was a success and made a huge difference in the cooked food.
Fast forward two weeks. I installed the PID by bypassing the MES control panel (disconnected it from the access panel in the back and sealed the existing connections). I installed a 14AWG power cord directly wired to the burner element and fired it up without any issues. I know the Auber has an auto-tune so I let it run its first cycle and to ensure nothing caught on fire. :) The temp outside was cold (probably 30) with a lot of wind and the temp got up to around 234 max during the auto-tune process in an hour time frame. I decided to turn off the program feature from the PID and lock it in at my desired smoke temp. 225 will take on average 30-40 minutes to hit this target and I smoked chicken last weekend and set the PID at 250 and it never made it to that temp. I re-did the auto-tune process (without any smoke) on another cold/rainy day and let it run for well over 5 hours to ensure it completed this time. I tried smoking a pork loin tonight at 260 (wanted to do a higher temp 2 hr smoke and finish in oven) and I never got the smoker above 235 degrees again, this was letting the smoker run over an hour and the temp outside is 52 degrees right now.
My question is, is it the heating element that is the problem, the PID itself, or a combo of both? I know for a fact the stock control panel could get the unit up to 275 on the CP readout, but it was off by about 5-6 degrees. I also ensured the elbows going into the smoker are sealed around the entry points, I did upgrade the exhaust dampener by installing two 3" elbows. Does anyone have any advice on what I can check before I call Auber and Masterbuilt ? Obviously the warranty is voided on the smoker so I am thinking of upgrading to a Smoking-IT 3D model and just giving up on this Masterbuilt.
Thanks for the help and love the forums!