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Newbie- Which Smoker

post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 
I have been debating on what smoker I should purchase (charcoal, gas, electric). I have been wanting to do some smoking and I am new to it. Any suggestions on what I should get? Thanx everyone
post #2 of 19
I went with the Gas, as it is easy to regulate, some say electric is even easier and other get more enjoyment out of tending to the coals or wood. guess it depends on what you are into
post #3 of 19
It definitely depends on what you're into and how much involvement you want to have with your smokes. Personally, I'm a charcoal user and have never owned anything but. The main reason I enjoy the charcoal is because I get to mess with the fire pit and adjust temps as necessary. Propane and electric smokers are, for the most part, set and forget types that are a bit easier to maintain temps with, and overall don't require the babysitting a charcoal smoker may.
post #4 of 19
Welcome aboard W.E.C.3 ! Be sure and stop by roll call and introduce yerselficon_exclaim.gif Do you have a regular 'ol grillin grill now ? or in the past ? What was the fuel source for that ?Maybe go with what you are familiar with.
post #5 of 19
Thread Starter 
Currently use a gas grill. Have used charcoal grills alot also. Thanx for the info.
post #6 of 19
Gotta say then,,, wood / charcoal all the way !!!PDT_Armataz_01_37.gif
post #7 of 19
I'm part of the charcoal crowd.

Most folks around here probably got started with one of those smokers you find at the local home improvement store. Some folks have come up with some real nice modifications and cook some great BBQ.
post #8 of 19
like it was said earlier, wood/charcoal is more demanding. It requires alot more attention. Gas and electric are going to be the best choices if you have a busy schedule and still want to really impress the family or guests.

whatever way you go , they all will make good q as long as you get it dialed in right. start out with some fattys, or a butt, the butt will be the most forgiving.

Good Luck
post #9 of 19
Did you go to gas for ease of use like I did if so then go gas smoker I would say. I don't want to spend time tending the firebox and with my GOSM I don't.
post #10 of 19
Welcome Chaser. I'm with Laurel, I enjoy sitting around the smoker all day and relaxing while I tend the fire. I will say that gas works well to, and does not require as much attention. Your choice will depend on your schedule, and the purpose behind the smoking. Are you doing it for the end result, or do you enjoy the trip there?
post #11 of 19
I like charcoal and wood for the same reasons that you do. I've always been a proactive chef meaning, i cant just "set it and forget it" as Mr. Popiel and other say. I dont "play" with my dishes either. but to pop something into a oven (for example) and walk away from it and come back when the time is up is something any person can do. It takes some skill to manage a wood or charcoal fire and keep it at a certain temperature. That is something i pride my self upon. just like in Dutch oven cooking. I can cook with charcoal but i Love cooking with charcoal from a fire or using bagged lump. it takes additional skill and its not something everyone can do.
However, when it comes to smoking meats and other foods it takes some skill to even use a propane or electric smoker. My preference like yours is charcoal and wood. WAIT!!!!!charcoal is wood! the best part is to get started charcoal smokers in most part are the most affordable. I got started with modifications included for less than $200 including a 40# bag of mesquite charcoal. I have made recient mods for more improvement but, up and smoking like a pro for less than 2 Ben Franklins? that ROCKS!
Walleye, if you want to spend a little more money on a propane smoker great! if you want to start with a little chief electric and just smoke fish? rock on! i still use my little chief's for smoking fish. If you want to go with wood or charcoal thats cool too. what matters is that you are comfortable with the equipment you choose. Because if you aren't comfortable with your equipment you will NEVER have fun and enjoy what you are doing, no matter what it is you are doing. I am not a metal worker and I do not have the skills to build a big smoker on a trailer which, is what i want to eventually have. But i do love to tinker and i love to cook. Smoking allows me to tinker and cook at the same time and, the results are fantastic!
post #12 of 19
Ditto what Dave says. I was using propane and chips - it worked fine, but did not give me the sense of accomplishment I get now when I tend the fire all day/night and deliver the goods after a nice long smoke. So for me, charcoal is the way to go; it was the cheapest, and gave me what I was looking for from BBQ cooking. So after all is said and done, it is just best for you to get something you think you can work with, and get ta smoking! biggrin.gif
post #13 of 19
Just partial to the MES. It is simple stupid, well not really, there is a learning curve, but it gets the job done.

For me smokin is smokin, and whatever tickles your funny bone is fine.

Good luck!!
post #14 of 19
I'm disabled, so i went with the GOSM big block. Otherwise, I might have gone charcoal.
post #15 of 19
Thread Starter 
Thanx for all the great advice. I will probably go with a gas since my schedule is a busy one yet with one kid in school yet.
post #16 of 19
I'm a bit of a purist, but I say Charcoal/wood
post #17 of 19
I'm the same,I like Charcoal and wood.
post #18 of 19
You have recieved some great advice, I really have nothing to add to it except this. If you really take a shine to this BBQ/smoking hobby, then you will probably upgrade to something larger. That being said, I would get yourself something that is easy to handle and understand. Once you learn alot of stuff about this addiction, you will either...........Buy another one of what ya got to have more production............buy something that is larger and get rid of your older one..........or just not mess with it very often and just smoke when you are doing special occasions or for certain folks.

All three types( coal, electric, gas) have different makes and models that range from less than 100 bucks to over 4-5 grand. Then there are the stickburners than range from 800-25,000.

Electric: Cons. not too good in wet areas, many are not well suited for cold climates. Can't use them out in the backwoods or in a power outage.
Pros: Easy to regulate, fairly inexpensive to use, often a good choice for jerky, fish, and cold smoking.

Gas: Cons. You are a slave to the Tank, and availability of propane, wind and weather do play into the temp regulation issues.Often are not very well insulated.
Pros: No need for power outlets unless it is an electrically assisted system(pellet pooper). heat recovery is usually faster than electrics. They are usually quite affordable.Very popular with mainstream hobby smokers/backyard BBQers

Charcoal Cons: Fire management has a deffinate learning curve, and most models need modifications to make them efficient.Finding good sources of lump charcoal can be an issue. Wind is the biggest demon in charcoal smokers.Safety can be an issue, and fire hazards are always present.

Pros: The purist factor involved with fire and BBQ. The heat recovery is usually faster than gas or electrics. Modifications are fairly inexpensive. The taste of food smoked over charcoal is usually prefered over gas or electrics PDT_Armataz_01_05.gif I know thats gonna ruffle some feathers, but it is true! The fire tending experience can be very rewarding also.

I guess I did have more to add then I thought. These are of course, my opinions! Correct, but opinions non the less!PDT_Armataz_01_28.gif
post #19 of 19
A month ago I was making the same decision. I was using a weber kettle with simple mod, I actually got some pretty decent results. However I did screw up a meal or two also. The kettle isn't a true smoker so required a lot of almost constant work tending:
-proper wood/smoke, proper heat / vent control.
The loss of heat each time I opened to add wood or fuel, just getting back to temperature was tough. Turning & rotating the meat to keep even cooking, etc, etc, etc.
As a result even though I liked to try and smoke the traditional smoked foods, ribs, brisket, chicken, pork shoulder, it was so much work, I confined my smoking to once a month and mostly grilled. BUT I wanted real BBQ, smoked BBQ, and I wanted to improve on being able to cook it, I just want to be a decent backyard cook, nothing more, further I didn't want the hassle of constant tending, plus I put a cap on my initial outlay at $300.

A decent charcoal / wood smoker needs to be pretty heavy to hold temp. That left the only choice in my price range, the weber Smokey Mountain. I like em, wanted one, except the quantity of meat it would hold seemed low, ok for just my family, but not for a gathering of 15-20 which we do about 3 or 4 times a year.

I didn't really look into propane, reason - the fuel cost, dang over $20 to re-fill a LP bottle. I would rather put the money into meat. I have smoked a little with my weber genesis, using a rotisserie, smoked 2 pork shoulders for my daughter's HS grad. and they turned out great. So I'm not opposed to propane, I just didn't consider it because of the fuel cost.

A few features that I wanted:
-decent capacity, plus I wanted to be able to lay a rack of ribs out flat, and not have to coil em.
-some form of heat and temperature control, that would allow me to do other things, without having to check every 30 minutes how things are.
-easy access for adding wood, and not compromise heat/temp.
-I did mention a price not over $300.
-cheap to operate, meaning fuel/wood.

Somewhere I came across the MES "Masterbuilt Electric Smokehouse". While the reviews are a bit mixed they are pretty consistently good. If you didn't get it damaged in shipment it was a good unit.

-Price under $300 for Sam's club 40" stainless model, I added one year extended warranty, I could have paid $25 more and got a 3 year warranty.
-Digital control for heat / temp.
-Easy exterior wood chip access, no need to open cabinet.
-insulated cabinet, will hold heat.
-20" wide inside, I can lay down a whole rack of ribs.
-enough capacity for those bigger parties.
-fairly light, if had to I can take it to a remote cook-out if they have electricity.
-Sam's club version comes with a very nice cover, if you had to buy it easy $40+.
-cheap to operate, about .08-.10 cents an hour.

So far I'm happy with my purchase (mid June), I have used it 5 times with decent results. On July 4th I cooked 10 racks of ribs for 19 or 20 people, I knew it was good when the girls were going back for 2nd and 3rd helpings. While some have said they like to tinker and get down the skill of tending fire & smoke, I'm right there too, I used to do it, but now I can relax and enjoy and do other things while cooking, and focus on getting other dishes ready, I now spend time tweaking the extra dishes instead of fire/smoke.

Here is a good site to compare electric, charcoal, propane. Whatever you purchase, I'm sure you will enjoy it and cook up some great Q'.
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