2nd MES and still having temp problems

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Smoke Blower
Original poster
Jul 20, 2010
Misawa Japan
Well i posted on here a couple months ago about having problems getting my MES up to the stated 275 degree mark.  The first time might have been my fault as I used an extention cord.  The second time I plugged it directly into the outlet.  I did this 3 more times in separate outlets.  I was told maybe the current was not correct to it.  Well finally I returned the smoker to Sam's club about a month ago.  They swapped it out no questions asked "thank god".  even with it being over there 90 day grantee too!  I was actually able to swap it out to the new model which has a remote, wheels and a handle.  All very convenient.  The day i took my smoker back i had done a smoke and the temp read 275 but internal temp was only 205.  Well now today I broke out my second smoker.  I sprayed it down with PAM to season it and turned it on for one hour.  I watched it and when it said it was at 275 on the LED the internal temp was only 180.  I left it on for 3 hours and it only got up to 230 inside.  Am i just lucky enough to get 2 bad smokers??
What thermo are you using inside and where is it located?  Have you callibrated your thermo?  Mine is sometimes very slow to get up to temp especially when you load it full of meat...but it has never taken 3 hours.  More like 1.

I still use my MES for jerky and ABTs when the charcoal smoker is too full of meat.

Good Luck!
Well I had nothing in it at all as was only doing the seasoning process.  I was not using any electric therms.  The temp readings i was getting was from the heat prob inside of it.  The LED would say one thing and the meat therm with the unit said another.  I was also using a cheap metal stand type therm inside of it.  I always hang one from the rack in front of the door so i can watch the temp also.  It read basically the same temp as the heat probe.
Yikes...I've had a friend and several here who have had problems with the MES.  Luckily, mine has held up.  But, you may have another crappy unit.  I have the old 30" with no window.  I'm not familiar with the newer models. 
Well, I am an electrician and engineer and willing to help you out but we need a little more to go on.  Resistive loads (heating elements) are based on two things - voltage and resistance in the element which determines the current draw...  The very first thing you should do is buy or borrow a separate thermometer of some type that can be inserted in the top vent down far enough to get a good read inside the box and compare your top value on the MES with your probe. 

Also a really good idea to check voltage to the unit but I suspect you would not be lower than 110V which is still fine.  What you are describing would be a huge difference.  My calculations on mine show a 700W element and yours would probably only be doing 200W if it will not climb.  That box is sealed and insulated so with nothing in it and the vent closed it would only take about 300W to get that box up to temp. 

Spend 20 bucks on a cheap multi meter and I will explain how to test things to figure out what is going on if you wish.  Otherwise take it back.  You have to figure out if the temp is there and the thermocouple is just not reading it, or if it really is not climbing. 
I do own an electric external thermo, but have not taken it of the box yet and tested it properly.  I know i need to the boiling water trick with it to make sure it is reading properly.  I guess that will be something for me to do tomorrow.
Remember that water has to get up to 212F to boil, not the smoker so you will end up waiting some time for the water to heat.  Personally, i would just drop your temp probe in there and get going..

FYI, if the heat element in the bottom gets red hot, I would suspect that it is running very close to optimal power for the element.  If the unit is on for more than say 30 min and never gets red hot, I would start to wonder. 
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Had an MES for more than 3 years and i set mine f`or  275° it cooks at 235°

 You won't get it to max out
I seem to remember that they increased the wattage of the element some time her recently.  in running mine, I hang my temp probe in the vent until I need to stick the meat and they run within about 10* of each other.  I still wonder about heat conduction in the back wall skewing the reading on the OE probe so next time I plan to get the probes right next to each other for a closer comparison. 

I am pretty impressed with my probe system.  Pretty damn accurate. 

Sounds like this one should be new and have the higher wattage element in it but who knows.  I find the whole design a little dumb.  I have since found other designs that are done the right way and inside of a year, I will likely build my own Aluminum cabinet smoker.  This 30 is too small. 
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i was going to boil a pot of water on the stove and check the temp that way.  not in the smoker
mlrtym44, it is a shame you are having so many issues with your new MES.  I bought all new kitchen appliances this past sept. and had to return the dishwasher twice, point is, it happens....

Like posted above make sure you have a external probe thermometer that accurately measure temp.  Do both the boiling water test and ice water test to verify that your probe is good.  You might even want to get a $5 oven dial thermometer the kind that hangs from the rack as a backup.

You need to really be sure that the problem is the MES and not a faulty circuit.  The easiest way to do this is take your MES to your neighbor next door.  Do the test in the garage, not on a outdoor circuit, I have found a number of faulty outdoor circuits usually wired poorly by a home owner.  If you have the same problem at your neighbor well then you know it is the MES.  If it works at your neighbor then you know you have some wiring issues, in that case Viper can give you advice since he is an electrician.  My new house (new to us a foreclosure), was built in the 70s and has aluminum wiring there were several issues, some resolved others being worked on, so the house wiring can be the problem.

If it is the MES, when contacting Masterbuilt, their cust. service depends on the person you end up talking too, some are better than others.  Name dropping is ok, let them know you are a member of SMF and hundreds daily read SMF, etc.  If your not satisfied then ask for the person in charge.  Be polite because generally Masterbuilts policies have been fairly liberal and accommodating.
I had my first smoke in my new MES 40 from Sam's this weekend.  I hung the ET-73 probe from the 2nd rack up from the water pan on the front of the rack.  With my MES set at 235 the probe was reading anywhere from 206-215.  I assumed that this was because it was at the front of the box and the temp of the MES is being taken at the back.  Also, wouldnt each rack technically show a different temp because of rise, etc.?  THe meat probe on the unit appeared to be way off as I did not use it.  I believe I also read another post where someone said it was rather accurate in meat, however the air temp was no where close.  I left mine set at 235 with the probe reading 206-215 and it smoked the two butts at what appeared to be normal time.  they were just over 12.5 lbs combined and it took 14 hrs to hit 200. 

I guess my point is, is it possible that your unit is fine, rather the temps you are seing are dependant upon the location in the smoker?  Or is my theory way off and maybe my unit is bad....

For those in the know, where would be the best place to take the smoker temp in comparison to the settings on the smoker?  RIght next to where the smoker takes its temp or somewhere on the rack?
I think you've received some good advice here already, but allow me to weigh in too.

First of all, the MES smokers are unreliable in more ways than one! Unfortunately, they are the sow's ear that we can afford, so we all try to find ways to make a silk purse out of them. I've got two, and have cross-referenced with other's actual experiences - the meat probe will NOT give you a true reading of the smoker temp - neither will the digital display at some temps. If someone got an MES that actually did, my friends and I envy you!

That said, yes, get a decent oven thermometer, drop the probe into a pot of boiling water to calibrate, then you can feed the probe down through the smoke hole and suspend it somehow where your meat is residing. On really cold days, you'll have to play around with the smoke vent on top - close it as much as possible if you are not actually smoking. Anoyther thing - the cheap Chinese thermostat, or thermistor or whatever it is sits in the upper left corner of your unit. If the heat from the element is allowed to "flow" unobstructed up the back wall, that thermostat will be hotter than other parts of the chamber, and will turn off the unit before you have achieved accurate temps. Try some tin foil on a lower tray pushed up against the back wall to restrict the heat flow and make the heat flow towards the door of the unit. You may find that will help!
My opinion is you put a probe right next to your meat and compare that to your MES and adjust accordingly.  You bet temps will vary all over the cabinet.  I think they factory probe placement is pretty decent BUT the did not account for the convection current in the back due to the vent placement which will draw more heat across the back.  In short, if the MES reads 230, the rest of the box may very well be 215.  Just adjust accordingly and move forward. 
Ok i have just finished checking out my ET-7 Meat probes.  On the high side probe 1 registered 213 and probe 2 was 209.  In the ice water bath probe 1 is 37 and probe 2 is 35.  those are some pretty good reading so now I am firing up the smoker again. 
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