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New to Smoking - ECB vs ECB w/ Propane

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 
Hi everyone,

I'm a huge BBQ fan and have decided it's time to get serious and start smoking. I'm about to start grad school ($$$) so my budget is pretty low. I'm debating between the $39 ECB from Home Depot or a $50-60 ECB gas smoker (http://www.amazon.com/Brinkmann-Smok...9742601&sr=8-5) I found on craigslist near me.

I'll probably do most my smoking on the weekend during football season at first. I am all about the quality of the food on the end so I don't want to sacrifice anything. However, it would be nice to rely on the gas a little bit to help maintain a steady temp when needed. But I want true smoked BBQ which is why the ECB appeals to me. Would my BBQ likely turn out pretty similarly flavored between the two if I used the same wood?

Besides your opinion on the two, I have a question about using the LP ECB. Is it possible to add coals to this unit (not in the smoke box, but in place of the lava rocks) and just use the propane to get the fire started or help increase the temp if I need it? I think this is similar to an ECB with an afterburner.

Any other advice would be great!

post #2 of 7
If you're buying a used propane unit, make sure you know what to look for as far as the burner being worn or shot. Make sure the seller has a tank of propane connected to it so that you can sniff around for leaking connectors, and light it up to see if the regulator is doing its' job.

I just bought an afterburner for my Brinkman Gourmet (ECB) I haven't used it enough to even know if I like it, let alone recommend or dis it. But I can tell you, with the afterburner, there is no way to use coal, and suppliment it with propane. One thing I will say though, I found it much easier to maintain the thin blue smoke with the propane.

As far as "true smoked BBQ" It depends on your definition. When the crackers (or whomever) started smoking, they didn't have a bullet smoker with a water pan and charcoal. Bottom line around Casa de BigSteve is whether it tastes good, period.
post #3 of 7
I'd go with the ECB from HD personally. It cooks great Q, simple to use, just replace the factory therm on the body with a better one and you're set.
post #4 of 7
^^^ like he said, the thermo needs to be replaced even when new. Other than that, the ECB puts out some great Q. I just used it today and made some great chicken drummies. ECB IS GOOD. I have never used a propane smoker so can't offer much help on that one. The old school ECB works great though so if you decided to go with it just know that it is a good choice.
post #5 of 7
If you're going to go the ECB route, you want to modify it.

For the Gourmet specifically:


For most other Brinkman bullets:


After I bought my Gourmet, I picked up a Weber Kettle cheap off Craigslist. I added a Smokenator to it. The results are so much better than my Brinkman, I never even touch it any more. I bought a propane adapter for it just to have something to light and go for short smokes during the week.

In case you're interested in the smokenator:


The kettle and the smokenator are higher priced than the options you mentioned, but used kettles are cheap, and then you have a very versitile grill too. Even without a smokenator, you can get great smokes out of a Kettle.
post #6 of 7
personal opinion here, others may vary:

my own feelings are that wood or charcoal is the only way to go if you want barbecue, so i will naturally recommend the ecb. i strongly suggest oing the mods that steve mentioned at randyq and also getting an inexpensive, 15$ probe thermometer (i got one from wal-mart with a band name of acu-rite and it s dead-on as far as temps go).

finally, i suggest downloading and reading the BBQFAQ which, along with this site, will provide the absolute best fundamentals for barbecue here is a link to a SAFE download of the FAQ in word document in zipped form:


the first 12 pages or so are really not necessary, but the do come with the package and give an excellent rundown of the history of the FAQ - for now, i'd suggest skipping them and consulting the table of contents for what you need.

that's it! enjoy!
post #7 of 7
Thread Starter 
Thanks for all of the feedback everyone. I may be leaning towards the propane partly because I am able to get it for $50 now (I think they're $150+ new). Also, with school I won't have as much time to watch over it as I'll be studying so much so convenience may win out here.

The one question I have is can I replace the lava rocks (or some of them) with charcoal to basically replicate a charcoal smoker with a propane starter?

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