post #21 of 21
Originally Posted by CanSmoke View Post

I'm looking to buy an electric unit.  I have found temperature control to be a bigger issue on my charcoal smoker as well as limited to time to monitor the unit.


I'm looking for recommendations.

Going to share a post I already made with you, for a very affordable yet nice unit from Master Built.

I am new to electric smokers as well, having a been a wood and charcoal cooker/smoker (4-6 hours) with a Char Grill.

I also went thru the same mess looking at all the different electronic options

I did some intense research on the models as well as the price of the replacement electronics and elements, probes etc etc, that said, I found that the main control/readout is very pricey, over half the price of the unit in most cases and seeing that and the added cost of the other items I was not impressed, my reason being, if I have one of those then I would want at least a spare control and heating element in case it died and I was in the middle of a cook, then I could replace and get back to business, when I saw the price of these gadgets I was discouraged.

So all that said I started looking at different models and their capability

I chose the MES 30 Sportsman Elite for these reasons:

1. Simplicity
2. It has a 1500W Element which in regards to cold weather cooking should be enough to handle the heat loss if done outside, again the 1500W element for good heat control and less variations of the temp, and again for high temp cooking and smoking, the 1500W element will surely outperform and have better life than the lesser ones around 800W's
3. I am not sure of the comments on longevity of the unit, the one I have is made well, yet it is not Stainless Steel but even if left outside with a cover I do not see the life being a issue, it should last well over 5 years, and if kept indoors or a shop I would imagine it would last forever unless you run over it or a tree falls on your shop and destroys it.
4. COST - I paid 146 bucks for it and with the rack Mod I am doing I have 8 racks for jerky and a host of other things, of course I can not put a chicken or whole ham on each rack, but with 8 racks I can surely do 8 chickens or 4 hams with bone or probably 12 roasts if I wanted.
5. Simplicity of Heating Element and Temperature Control, it is like that of a Electric Skillet, very dependable.

All that said, the reason I am against all the fancy electronics is for one, as stated, the cost of replacement of the individual parts is rather expensive in my opinion, and they will go bad sooner or later
I can get a new Temp Control and the 1500W Element, both, for just under $50 from Master Built.

I love stainless but I would not leave a electric appliance/controls in the weather even with a cover, it will lead to accelerated death of the parts from moisture, condensation, rust, dust, pollen etc etc, so if the body is Stainless that is great, but it will not stop that damage to wiring, elements and Temp controls, another plus for this unit, there is no wiring except the cord going to the Temp Control !

And for the biggest reason to forget the electronics and go Analog is :

You can buy a dual probe meat thermometer that will monitor inside cook temp, meat temps on separate pieces/roasts etc, the cook time overall, and you can get them in Infrared, Wireless and Bluetooth, so I do not see spending all that extra money for the smoker regarding the addition of the extras electronically when you can get a decent dual or single probe monitor for right at or even well under $50

I do not look at Master Built having the market because of the many people using them, I look at it as there are many people using them because they are far more affordable and in real use and general care last the same amount of time or as long.

I am perfectly happy with the construction of the unit and I have been in the mechanical for my whole life, and with proper care, this will outlast my Char Grill, only because the Char Grill has to be outdoors, even under the cover it takes damage over time, but then I am on my second Char Grill, but have been using them for over 20 years.

I have not fired mine up but am impressed with the simplicity and have a list of Mods I want to complete, one I have already done, The Rack Mod, I get the other 3 racks today and will be posting that Mod this evening with instructions, and the parts from Master Built were less than $20 dollars, the other I am doing soon is adding a Smoke Stack from a Master Forge Propane Grill, part with shipping less than $15, and the reason being is I am using a AMNPS Pellet smoker, with the MES 30, the chip tray is not reliable unless cooking high temp, and the majority of my work outside of actually using it to cook, will be low temp or cold smoke, I will be posting that Mod as well as soon as I get the Stack in about a week, just ordered it today, the reason for the Stack is to increase Air Flow over the basic 3/4" hole in the back right hand top that is the exhaust vent ( I will use that hole for my Temp Probes and fill with high temp RTV Silicone ), the AMNPS has to have Air of course and it will help with the smoke generation and keeping the AMNPS lit, but the real reason is for drying and or dehydrating, it will speed those processes drastically, the stack is adj for air flow, so it can be adj'ed so it is like it was or opened up for faster times on diff uses.

Many consider the AMNPS as a MOD but all you have to do is set it in there, I guess it does qualify for a MOD seeing it is Modified Operation at the very least.

So, if you have lots of money, throw it at the Stainless, but if you want something that will serve you with reasonable care for a long long time, save that money and buy some meat instead of Stainless  :)

To each his or her own but I would stay away from the electronic versions, if you want really reliable heat control then follow my profile, after the stack Mod, I will be working on a nice T-Stat Mod for this as well so you can just set it and forget it, that is the only drawback I see in the Temp Control, no temp settings, I will mark mine for the moment but the T-Stat Mod will be far cheaper than the Aftermarket Temp Controllers and would not be subject to damage from moisture or even wet environments as it is a sealed contact that is otherwise purely mechanical in nature.