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Anyone make the switch from charcoal? Experiences?

hawtsauc3

Meat Mopper
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Joined Jan 27, 2016
Just curious how many on here have made the switch from charcoal and if so what were your experiences? What do you like, what don't you like? I'm currently a WSM owner but I'm debating making the switch. I LOVE the flavor that I can get but I am not a fan of the effort needed to setup the smoker every time I want to use it. I'm just not too sure how much smoke flavor you lose by going to a pellet, but the idea of starting up and having food on within 20 min sounds way more appealing.
 

sandyut

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I made that switch: WSM to Rec Tec. They are different smoke profiles for sure. I have come to enjoy the pellet grill ALOT! But I also think i over-smoked my meats on the WSM. the rec tec is super easy and well worth it. for example I did a brisket Saturday. woke up at 6, fed the dogs, turn on the grill with my phone and wait for it to tell it was at temp. it was 20 degrees outside. the extreme smoke mode will add more smoke flavors and I use it on the first couple hours of some cooks if wanted.
 

Brian Trommater

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I used the WSM for 30 years. I bought pellet this year. Was not that happy with the smoke flavor even using Lumber Jack pellets. It does have a great smoke ring and the wifi is nice. I just recently started using the pellet tube with chips and it adds just enough smoke for me. Now I am happy. I did recently get a Guru for the WSM and only used it once but worked great.
 

hawtsauc3

Meat Mopper
240
107
Joined Jan 27, 2016
I made that switch: WSM to Rec Tec. They are different smoke profiles for sure. I have come to enjoy the pellet grill ALOT! But I also think i over-smoked my meats on the WSM. the rec tec is super easy and well worth it. for example I did a brisket Saturday. woke up at 6, fed the dogs, turn on the grill with my phone and wait for it to tell it was at temp. it was 20 degrees outside. the extreme smoke mode will add more smoke flavors and I use it on the first couple hours of some cooks if wanted.
thats kind of where I am. i think i've gotten smoke more in control but today it took me an hour just to realistically get the smoker to the driveway, fire the coals up, stock up the smoker, and get it to temp. To me that seems like way too much effort for what I want to do. Just in the past i was never impressed with electric options but pellets have my attention. I think i'd just have to figure out which brand makes the most sense for me.
 

hawtsauc3

Meat Mopper
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Joined Jan 27, 2016
I used the WSM for 30 years. I bought pellet this year. Was not that happy with the smoke flavor even using Lumber Jack pellets. It does have a great smoke ring and the wifi is nice. I just recently started using the pellet tube with chips and it adds just enough smoke for me. Now I am happy. I did recently get a Guru for the WSM and only used it once but worked great.
yeah my guru runs the WSM perfect. my big issue is its always a massive balancing act for not getting too much smoke and also tends to take me an hour to setup. if could get startup time down to 20 min i'd probably be more willing to make food on it more often and try longer cooks,
 

hawtsauc3

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Joined Jan 27, 2016
I’ll tell you right now, I hate my pellet smoker. With technology, you are bound to have issues and mine has had several.
what are your thoughts on something like a spider 22? That thing has also had my attention as it hooks up to a kettle but would let me keep my WSM in case i hated pellets. its just pricey enough that it has me trying to decide if i should try something like that vs a real deal pellet.
 

bill1

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Joined Apr 25, 2015
I've got both a WSM wannabee and a pellet smoker. Cleanup (for both safety and rust prevention) is actually a bigger job on the pellet machine. But I agree setup is a little faster. I might slightly prefer the flavor I achieve with the bullet-style, but that depends on the wood used etc. And I've made a quite a few mods to both to achieve the cook I like so that's HIGHLY subjective.

Just for fun, I did a small "picnic" shoulder on my old weber 22 yesterday. Temp control was non-existent; spent a lot of time lifting the lid and spritzing the meat to keep temps <350F...and I was aiming for 275F. But boy was that thing quick to setup (used an 800W electric starter) and cleanup! And flavor there was no disappointment...I added a fist of chips each time I was spritzing!

The Weber is about 40 years old and going strong. Bullett about half that durable. My pellet's been trouble-free for 2 years and I bought a cheap one so all the parts (auger, drive, fan, controller, and hot finger) are all avail on ebay for $20 each. If I sense they're getting scarce I'll buy a spare of each and stockpile them in the garage.

If your spouse and floorspace allows it, i'm all for having more than one tool in the ol' toolbox. Yes my kids will hate me when I die and leave them all this junk.
 

Teal101

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Joined Jan 2, 2020
I kinda did the opposite. My first smoker was a Traeger and I eventually bought a WSM. Different smoke profiles. I like the ease of the pellet, but it doesnt put on enough smoke for me usually. I need to get a tube for it. The WSM is where I do all my beef, it just comes out better in my opinion on the WSM and has a great flavor.
 

mike11891

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Joined Nov 22, 2020
Just curious how many on here have made the switch from charcoal and if so what were your experiences? What do you like, what don't you like? I'm currently a WSM owner but I'm debating making the switch. I LOVE the flavor that I can get but I am not a fan of the effort needed to setup the smoker every time I want to use it. I'm just not too sure how much smoke flavor you lose by going to a pellet, but the idea of starting up and having food on within 20 min sounds way more appealing.
I switched to a Traeger about 2 yrs ago. Had nothing but problems with temp control, lack of smoke. Traeger sent me a new electronic control, fan and thermostat. Replaced it all to no avail. A friend gave me a new GMG Daniel Boone pellet smoker and it is not much better. I have learned there are two types of people who own Treagers: They either hate it or love it. I am considering two alternatives. The first is to go back to a charcoal/wood smoker, or maybe a propane and wood chip smoker.
 

SlickRockStones

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I added a clearance priced Pit Boss Austin XL to my arsenal of Kettles. Had it not been drastically marked down I could live without it. I was happy to smoke and grill on the SnS 26” and use the 22” for rotisserie. I’m not ready to go full pellet yet. The pellet grill has its quirks and gives a mild pleasant smoke to everything I’ve cooked so far. Even the neighbors think it’s some of the best they’ve tasted so I’m happy. It also has the sometimes maligned direct flame broiler feature that gets hot as hell for searing steaks and chops. So for now I’ll not complain about the hot spot, temp swings, lack of heat diffuser and inaccurate thermometer and just smoke and grill on it and smile knowing I didn’t spend $1000-2000.
 

JCAP

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I didn't make a switch but recently added a Zgrill to my ever-growing collection. Pros and cons to it for sure. It's easy as heck to set up and get rolling, holds temp really well, but there's little smoke flavor without a smoke tube in there as well. That's not a bad thing, since I've come around to the 'less is more' philosophy with smoke. If I had to pick one kind of smoker, I'd stick with the charcoal versions I have.
 

dirtsailor2003

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Well I switched back to charcoal about 15 years ago for my everyday smoker. In that time I've had two 18" WSM's one UDS, four home built Mini-WSM's and most recently the 14.5" WSM. I still have my propane smoker that I've had for almost 20 years now. It only gets used for jerky and cold smoking. I won a Traeger, used it twice and sold it.

I sold both 18 WSM's and if I could find a local buyer I'd sell the UDS. Just don't do large cooks any more and the 14.5 can handle everything I need it to do.

The 14.5" WSM I control with the BBQ Guru PartyQ and it is set it and forget it. Takes 5-10 minutes to set up and have it up to temp.

The problem with pellet smokers is you are burning your smoke wood before it gets a chance to smoke. Some people like them but most that even like them hate them too!
With that said my Cousin has on of the very first Traegers and it does smoke better than the newer ones. Even at that he still complains about the lack of smoke.
 

Brian Trommater

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You might look at the Masterbuilt 590. A lot of people seem to like them. The WSM really isn't really to much work and with the BBQ Guru and Inkbird Wifi thermostat it close to a pellet. I can monitor temps away from home and using a smart plug on the Guru can shut it down remotely.
 

hawtsauc3

Meat Mopper
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Joined Jan 27, 2016
You might look at the Masterbuilt 590. A lot of people seem to like them. The WSM really isn't really to much work and with the BBQ Guru and Inkbird Wifi thermostat it close to a pellet. I can monitor temps away from home and using a smart plug on the Guru can shut it down remotely.
yeah i will say using the WSM today reminded me of how easy it is with a guru. the part that gets me is just how it took a solid hour to boot up. i am sure I could shave off some time by prepping it the day before but that part does suck. that said though it turned out some dang good que today
 

hawtsauc3

Meat Mopper
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Joined Jan 27, 2016
The 14.5" WSM I control with the BBQ Guru PartyQ and it is set it and forget it. Takes 5-10 minutes to set up and have it up to temp.
Yeah my 18.5 with the guru is rock solid. but it took me a solid hour to get it setup today. That's kind of the part i've been annoyed with. If i could get it up and running faster id probably shut up lol.
 

jcam222

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If you love charcoal but want the simplicity of a pellet grill I’d say the Masterbuilt Gravity series is for you. Real charcoal and wood flavor in a gravity feed chute with precision temp control via a built in BBQ guru type fan controller. Add in a temp range all the way to 700F and it’s way cool.
 

Central PA Cowboy

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what are your thoughts on something like a spider 22? That thing has also had my attention as it hooks up to a kettle but would let me keep my WSM in case i hated pellets. its just pricey enough that it has me trying to decide if i should try something like that vs a real deal pellet.
I’ve seen that, though not familiar with it. Here’s the deal. I’m sure you’ll enjoy a pellet smoker if it works for you. Just remember that it may have issues. I have a GMG DC and although their CS is good, it shouldn’t have the issues it’s having. I paid for a working smoker. So IMO, I’d go with a charcoal/wood smoker that you have total control over. And since you already have that, maybe the Spider wouldn’t be a bad idea to test the waters. Cheers!
 

bdawg

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Like others, I boost smoke flavor by adding a smoke tube in my Pitboss. I just recently got turned on to the charcoal pellets made by Smoke Daddy. I love them. They stay lit better than pure wood pellets, and provide a phenomenal smoke ring. I mix them in 1 part charcoal pellets with 3 parts hardwood/softwood blend. I haven't tried adding them to the hopper. I'm doing the Thanksgiving turkey in a few days, but don't want to experiment with that yet.

The biggest thing I find is that up here in WA state, you have to keep the auger empty between smokes, or the moisture during rainy season will cause the pellets to turn to mush and lock the auger up. My smoker has a pellet release door so i can get most of them out through that at the end of the day. I just turn it on high and let it burn the rest out before shutting it down. That fixed the lock ups for me so far.
 

noboundaries

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I'm not a pellet owner. I do own a WSM. I've looked at the pellet smokers and grills. The one thing that was apparent to me is that I'd probably go thru three or four pellet smokers while my one WSM chugged along.

My whole attitude about setting up the WSM changed when I reset my internal clock to 2-3 hours slow start instead of trying to fast-start it for long smokes. Doing so made my GURU obsolete. Temp control is a piece of cake. Hot n' fast I can do in an hour or less. 150F (jerky) to 225F? What's the rush? Take a couple hours or more to get perfect smoke, stable temps, and peace of mind.

Still don't wanna grill with the WSM though. That's my Kettle's job.

Just saying.

Ray
 
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