Have two Chuck Roasts in the Smoke-it #2 with time on my hands. If I post what I think about Smoke-it, it will sound like a “paid” advertisement, like I would for my Grate-Wall-of-Fire opinion I have been happy with.
Ya know, lots of people have driven Fords, but Chevrolet's have won more races in motorsports combined in competition, lots of people shoot Glocks, but Colts have been reliably carried by more people and stopped more intruders than all other brands combined, so lets not hassle with “my Yugo is better than your Mazaratti with gas millage” here, we are talking easy smoking. (see note at bottom)
I have owned a Smoke-it #2 for a couple of years now and it has worked as expected and I have not had a reason to deal with the manufacturer. It arrived one day early in shipping, and does what it was advertised to do. Many others have posted and the company has mostly be very responsive.
Yes, when I first got it, I did the dual temp thing measuring the meat and the rack temp and I averaged out just fine for me, the dial was close to center average of temp swings of what I wanted.
Then some of the gurus of smoking started talking about the temp swings and were fanatic about doing something to hold a constant temp on the rack.
Well, keeping a constant temp on the rack would be nice ----- I guess. (Different than a standard household oven used daily baking cakes that is on/off like the original Smoke-it like I have.
Before I purchased my Smoke-it I would do 20 hour smokes and sometime during the first or the 12th beer or after I decided to take a nap and my temperature would vary 20' or so with a log flaring up or needing to add more charcoal. My meat would turn out just fine, but I had to “work” at it.
With the temp swings in the Smoke-it #2, I just keep on smoking and keep pulling out great meats. I still drink a few beers while doing other things and take a nap when I want. I just wait for the beeper to go off on my temperature sensor, (I check in between to keep it honest) to tell me when it is time to take it out. We had one occurrence when both Wifey and I looked at each other like “What the Hell is that beeping noise?” On yes, the pork butt we both forgot about from yesterday is done and ready to wrap for the cooler.
I provided process control equipment for industry for many years. In some cases, +5' and the product is burnt. -5' and the product turns to plastic and they shut the plant down for clean out the pipes. This is not what I am desiring to deal with smoking pork butts in retirement.
I most likely have enough commercial grade stuff in junk boxes in my barn left over from refinery and nuke power house projects to replicate the Aurbor function to hold the temp within a 1/2 degree temp in my smoker or so. PID control is all you need, even with opening the door if it is tuned correctly. I so not remember any of my stuff with timer functions, but that could be easily added to the circuitry fi desired.
Thought about putting some of my spare stuff together to hold my temp very constant since i would have no cost for materials. After a little thought and a few beers, I do not see it being worth the effort. It is hard to beat the reliability of an on/off switch. My smokes are as good as I have the ability to read the meat.
As far as other brands of smokers, hands down Smoke-it is quality. I found a Bradley tall smoker on the local Craig's list for a real deal. New, un-boxed but never used. Picked it up for my Daughter and Son in law who have Birthdays and Christmas close together for a combination present. Went to pick it up, grabbed hold of it with a bear hug to pick it up like my Smoke-it #2 it and hit myself in the chin, should have put one hand under the bottom of it to pick it up to load it. Must be tinfoil.
We are trying to work out the door not sealing and it not being able to hold temp with the ambient temp at 35'. Kinda feel bad about giving it to them now. I gave them 1/2 of the PB I smoked last week I cooked in the snow to get them by. It may work well in the summer. I hope the electronic/mechanical pellet feeder digital system holds up a while.
I have a very heavy duly Smoke-it #2 SS box that needs no door seals, needs no mechanical feeder, needs no electronic digital control, that I will be using the next 20-25 yrs. I feel comfortable.
If I need. I can find parts at Grainger for a heater element if I had to. I can produce smoke and heat my box to 225 + or - some degree of tolerance that will not burn my meat nor cause it to spoil, set it-and-forget it, until it is done.
I guess I have dealt with so many mechanical and electronic devices in my life that KISS works for me.
If you are tuned into 99% Competition BBQ, absolutely Yes, meat cooked on a Stick Burner will taste a lot better. Yes, meat cooked on an Charcoal burner will taste better. For me, my Brisket, Ribs, Pork Butt, Chuck Roast, fatties on the Smoke-it have been great. Chicken, not for me, I like the skins crispy, I throw on the grill. Scrimp, not for me, I throw on the grill. Stuffed peppers, not for me, I throw on the grill. Smoked cheese, nope, throw in the cold smoker.
Bottom line, if you are going to use an electric smoker, Smoke-it should be your only consideration. I hope you get the gist of what I think. Ken