Greetings, ladies and gents. I'm ready to get a new smoker but am having a beast of a time deciding which one. I'm over-researching and over-thinking this, I know. (It's a problem.) Hoping y'all can help.
First, a few introductory tidbits so you know my experience and objectives.
I'm not new to smoking. We had an electric ECB years ago which saw a lot of action until the bottom rusted out. For whatever reason we never got around to fixing/replacing it. As a result we got out of the habit of smoking. (Incomprehensible, yes.)
I have a virtually unlimited supply of oak and hickory at hand, so whatever I get needs to be able to burn chunks, or at least chips. I don't want pellets.
Budget is max $300, preferably closer to $200 or less.
I'm perfectly capable of doing modifications, but I have a bit of a problem in principle with buying a brand new smoker that needs XYZ done to it before it's useable at all. What that means is that I want to buy a good smoker than I can modify to be great. I don't want to have to turn a poorly designed pile of junk into a good smoker.
This will be used most frequently for pork butt/shoulder, ribs, brisket and drunk chicken, though I'd like to experiment with other goodies.
Now, as far as the heat source...
Wood/charcoal. I'm a purist at heart, so stick burners really appeal to me. Our grill sees frequent use, and it's charcoal. That said, the busy-ness of life at the moment dictates I can't tend a smoker fire for hours on end, particularly for overnight smokes. Anyone with a simple, non-sleep-depriving answer to this?
Electric. I like the consistency and ease of electric but am concerned about reliability of digital control panels and whatnot. I'm also concerned with reviews that some models don't produce enough smoke. I understand the AMNPS fixes that, but again, I don't want to have to use pellets.
Propane. Aside from the roller coaster cost of propane, I'm concerned with being able to keep temps low enough (target 225). A family member has a Master Forge vertical propane and while it made a killer brisket he had to futz with the burner control almost constantly to keep it from overheating.
Here are a few models I'm considering, although I'm wide open to suggestions:
MES 30 (20070910)
Masterbuilt dual fuel (20050412)
Smoke Hollow 38202G
Need more info? Ask, please. Any and all help greatly appreciated.