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MES heating element MOD

post #1 of 26
Thread Starter 
This is a step by step install or upgrade to the older MES 800 watt heating element to the new MES 1200 watt heating element.
With little modification I was able to accomplish this. I am hoping this will fix the heat recovery time on the MES when the door is opened.
Before doing this MOD i would suggest doing a wire upgrade. Master built is still using the 16 gauge wire on all there MES's so apparently there not to concerned with the old wiring problems they where having.
The new 1200 watt heating element kit includes 2 replacement wire with connectors. It is very cheep to do the wiring upgrade i did mine for 30 dollars.

(STEP 1) You will need to call Masterbuilt and order a new 1200 heating element kit.
This is what you will get in the kit One replacement element, 1 gasket, 2 replacement wire Assembly's, 2 wire nuts, 2 element screws, 1 grounding bolt and nut, 1 replacement instructions.

This is a pic of the different heating elements side by side

This is a pic of the back of the elements virtually identical. The new 1200 watt element on top in this pic has threaded screw holes if you look closely you can see them in the upper element.

(STEP 2) Remove the woochip loader from the unit.
(STEP 3) Remove the drip pan and woodchip tray from the unit.
(STEP 4) Open your mes and remove the 2 Phillips head screws on the left hand side of the woodchip housing support.

(STEP 5) Remove the 2 Phillips head screws from the right and side of the unit on the woodchip housing support.
Note: These can be harder to get to if you have a long handle Phillips screw driver it may help. If not you can slightly bend the woodchip housing to get to them.
(STEP 6) Remove the 2 Phillips head screws from the upper woodchip housing and remove the housing. Be carefully this can be tricky you will have to bend the rear of the housing a little to get to the unit over the heating element.
You can see this in the next this pic.

(STEP 7) Remove the 2 Phillips head screws from the heating element on the back of the unit.

(STEP 8) On the back of the unit. remove the drip pan and the 2 drip pan support brackets with 4 Phillips head screws. On the back of the unit there is 28 rivets holding the back cover on these will have to be drilled out to access the wiring to the heating element.

(STEP 9) Remove the electronic control board bracket screws on the back of the unit.

(STEP 10) Push the electronic control board to the rear of the unit to get access to the wire connectors under it. Remove the 2 mo-lex wire connectors that go to the electronic control board.

This is the back of the unit with the cover off. The lower electrical box needs to be removed to access the wiring.

(STEP 11) Use a 1/4 wrench or socket to remove the nut and ring connector on the ground wire. You can put your hand threw the chip loading tray and use a Phillips screwdriver to hold the head side of this bolt if your having trouble removing this bolt.
(STEP 12) Disconnect the 2 push wire connectors to the heating element. You will have to move it to the side and pull the wiring out threw the hole on the right side.
Be carefully not to cut the rubber grommet you will need this to reinstall the wiring.

(STEP 13) On the back of the electrical box make a transfer of the holes from replacement gasket supplied by Masterbuilt.

(STEP 14) Drill out the holes for the heating element and support screws. I used a 7/32 drill bit and a 3/8 for the larger holes. Bend the old screw taps out of the way.

(STEP 15) You will have to drill out the holes where the old heating element attached to the back of the unit so the new screws will fit threw the back of the unit. Install the new heating element and seal in the unit from the inside. Install the electrical box you drilled out on the back of the unit.Reinstall the new supplied ground bolt and nut to the ground wire ring connector.

(STEP 16) Reinstall the back cover with sheet metal screws. reinstall the electrical control panel. reinstall the complete woodchip smoker housing on the inside of the unit.

These last 4 pics are scanned images of the instruction manual masterbuilt sent with the new heating element you can follow them to help with the MOD

post #2 of 26


What was your total cost?

Did you have to modify the back panel for the new access panel?


No Creosote! A-Maze-N Smokers

post #3 of 26
Thread Starter 
Total Price was 50.49 for the element with shipping.
If you do the wiring upgrade add a extra 30.00. The new element came with new connectors so you can replace your old ones if there melted and bad.
post #4 of 26
Thanks, definately worth some points.points.gif
post #5 of 26
I just got a new MES but what a great job on the write up.points.gifBill
post #6 of 26
So have you fired it up? Wasn't the question whether or not the old MES electronics could handle the new 1200W element?

Great work! Keep us posted on how it works.
post #7 of 26
Thread Starter 
The Ungraded heating element works great. I have noticed the improved recovery times. I did a 3 hour low temp smoke on some pork chops for a test. They turned out great. I will do a rib and brisket long smoke this weekend and do a Qview. So far no issues and great results.
post #8 of 26
Added Texacajun's excellent 800 watt to 1200 watt element upgrade mod to MES HOT MOD list here.

Congratulations on your MES Hot Mod award!

Thank you for sharing your mod and excellent tutorial with the MES Owners community!

post #9 of 26
Absolutely fantasic post! Incredible presentation! Points to you. PDT_Armataz_01_28.gif
post #10 of 26
Yes, deserving of mucho points! points.gif
post #11 of 26
And how does one go about getting one of these elements?? I just called and got told that unless I had a unit sold in the last few months that came with a replaceable element then I couldnt get this? Mine is 2 years old but is EXACTLY the same as your photos.

She wanted to know what model it was so she would sell me the thing. Basically she said I needed to already have a 1200 watt unit that I was replacing this with!?!?!
post #12 of 26
Points! Thanks for the description and handy photos.

post #13 of 26
Thread Starter 
[FONT='Times New Roman','serif']I was told the same thing when I ordered mine. I gave them my older MES model number. She stated that the 1200 heating element was not compatible with my model number. I told her I wanted to order it anyway and I was willing to try and make it work. My MES is out of warranty any way. She tried to sell me the replacement body kit after I told her my heating element was bad. I think it might depend on who you talk to at master built customer service. I would give it another try.[/font]
post #14 of 26
I think I may go to sams and just get the model/serial off one of their floor models just in case.

What she said exactly was that she "could not" sell me one without first giving me the model number of my current unit and it had to be one with a replaceable element.
post #15 of 26
Sounds like they know it will work and don't want to take sales away from themselves and their customers (e.g. Sams, etc...) by allowing people to upgrade their old models.

Perhaps they monitor this forum?
post #16 of 26
That same thought crossed my mind as well,,,,,,,,,,
post #17 of 26
I would say it is more of a case of liability, selling you a part not intended for your MES, not tested or approved, if they knowingly do it and you burn your house down, your lawyer wins....
post #18 of 26
If I call, ask to buy part X, install said part myself and then burn my house down while yes I can sue (God knows you can sue for ANYTHING) you really think I would get money out of them?

Whats to stop me from calling company XYZ and ordering an element I think might work, installing it in my MES and doing the same thing?
post #19 of 26
I would definately upgrade the wiring inside the chassis but I do wonder the toll 400 more watts will take on the other electronics? It appears to truly be just a relay that switches power to the thing then hopefully that is all that might be effected and as long as its rated for 12-15 amps its probably fine?!
post #20 of 26
I didn't say you would get anything, I am saying the reason they are making an effort to block people from buying parts not intended for a particular smoker is due to liability.

The reason you can buy a part from a 3rd party supplier and do whatever you want is, it is entirely DIY at your own risk. That isn't the case with Masterbuilt's MES you are trying to order a part designed for a specific smoker and install it in a model designed for something different. It is easier for them to turn you down than give you ways to do it which may imply liability.

Note, this is my opinion, you can think whatever you want.
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