Best basic electric smoker for DIY PID install

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kilohertz

Meat Mopper
Original poster
Dec 29, 2022
261
329
Vernon, BC Canada
Hey gang,

I have decided to add another smoker to my collection, a PID based electric. I have read a lot about the MES models, they seem very popular and well built. I'm an electronics tech so I will be installing my own PID so no need to spend $$$ on ones already PID.

Looking for recommendations for a good well built electric smoker, off the shelf no DIY for the smoker itself. If MES is still the go to, what models, current or past should I watch for? I may end up searching the used market as well. Any other brands as well.

Thanks!

Cheers
 
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If the MES 30 is big enough, I would go with the analog version since you're converting to PID anyhow. Analog is going to be cheaper.
Thanks Doug,

Not sure if I would need the 30 or 40" but locally they are $200 difference.

I'll find dimensions and compare.

Thanks
 
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The 30 in analog is going to be cheapest unless you find some killer deal on a 40 digital. Also cruise marketplace and craigslist. You may find a used one for cheap.
 
The 30 in analog is going to be cheapest unless you find some killer deal on a 40 digital. Also cruise marketplace and craigslist. You may find a used one for cheap.
This one? MB20070210

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I bought a smoke hollow analog in the fall at end of year close out. New unit and I cut holes in it for a mailbox mod. It worked well with somewhat poor temp control. The frypan rheostat finally burned up. So I rebuilt it with a "Heatermeter" PID. Now temps are very consistent, cooks well. I mainly use is for sausage and jerky. If anything i wish it was larger. Can only do 5-7 pounds at a time. Check it out in my sig line.

RG
 
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I have 3 stainless smoke stacks on the way, (long story but funny) and now I want to add more shelves. I have found several threads about adding racks but no reference to part numbers or source of the holders themselves.

What did you use and where did you find the rack holders? Actual racks I found at various stores, I need the holders that mount on the walls.

Thanks
 
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I have finished all the mods to my MES30 smoker, just have to complete the now toolbox mod not mailbox mod, the cheapest mailboxes I could find in my town are $40 so I decided to check out the local thrift stores and found a classic antique steel toolbox, almost identical size to the mailbox except it’s top load not end load ha ha for free. It’s a shame to cut it up as it’s a classic and in very nice condition as you can see all original.

I’ll be giving it a good test run this week sometime, also going to start making snack sticks, so maybe will experiment with those.

Cheers

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Late to the party, sorry. I assume you're using the stock element so this is a 120Vac unit, not 240. Which means you'll not have much power to spare so you can't afford to lose much heat out the walls, so getting a double-walled unit like you did is key. Still, you'll want to limit your flow so your only air inlet should be into your smoke box, so seal off any openings in the bottom of the commercial MB unit. Use the opening at the top of the MB cabinet to control your smokebox fire. And keep the door closed...don't be a looky-loo or you'll lose too much heat--trust your thermometers. I like the kind that feed a wire out the door to a unit that sits outside. Whether that's a Bluetooth or other wireless transmitter to another gadget is up to you.

I agree it's a nice tool box to cut up but at some point you have to trust Capitalism and figure it's price is its worth.

But it does remind me of one of my pappy's wise sayings: Buy good tools but put them in a real crummy toolbox so no one knows you have nice tools. Thus endeth the sermon.
 
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OK, another day in a different town at a couple of more thrift stores and found another toolbox same size as the mailbox, made all the modifications and connected it this afternoon, and I am now running a load of pellets in the tray, and I am unable to get TBS with my MB mod MES 30, it’s just grey smoke, like I usually get from the tray, no matter what smoker it is in. The only time I’ve seen blue smoke with pellets is in my pit boss.

What am I doing wrong? It’s 3 inch aluminum pipe from the toolbox. Up to the bottom of the MES. I have a 5 inch smokestack centred at the very top and three three-quarter inch holes drilled on the intake end of the toolbox.

I’m pretty sure it is an air issue as with the pit boss there’s a constant fan blowing across the pellets, it’s one reason I have never liked pellets smoking in a tray they just don’t smell natural. I have not sealed the door or around the element or any other potential leaky areas in the smoker, but I am getting negative pressure in the mailbox as there is no smoke coming out of the seams or anywhere in the transfer pipe.

Thoughts and suggestions much appreciated, thank you.

PS it smells just like a poorly operating woodstove in the winter time

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Maybe try turning your pellets into dust. I find that I get cleaner smoke from the dust when I burn tubes.
 
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What pellets are you using? I've seen lots of talk about the bulk cooking pellets not doing as well as hardwood pellets for the tubes and trays for producing clean smoke.
 
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Is your tray on legs, above the toolbox bottom? You might be smelling the paint/rust?
 
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so far smoke is still gray.
Don't let the color of the smoke be a source of concern . Mine seldom if ever has blue smoke . Mine is an MES digital . MES stands for Masterbuilt electric smokehouse .
I think the analog versions go by Masterbuilt electric smoker . Just FYI if you ever need parts .
Anyway ,,, a lot of the discharge smoke from these is moisture . It's going to show up as white or gray .
If it smells dirty , that's a different thing .
 
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Thanks guys just got caught up on the past few hours of messages.

Yes, I have tried various brands of pellets, although not today, I was just using them in the tray and tube and yes, I had the tray elevated off the bottom of the toolbox about an inch. I gave up on the tray and put it in my offset smoker to cool off and extinguish, and even with all that fresh air, it was still heavy gray smoke. I switched to a mix of powder and pellets that I’ve been saving from the bottom of a bag mashed those into the tube and started that and same thing gray smoke although it smelled a little better. I need to pulverize another batch of pellets, like I did last winter by wetting them, and then drying them. The pellets I have here are Pit Boss, Traeger, papa’s premium, Canadian Tire, Masterbuilt blend, they are all hardwood hundred percent although not necessarily what’s on the bag label.

I just started the cook cycle increasing the temperature to 350 in the smoker and I’ve noticed the smoke is now rocketing out of the chimney as there is much more draft, temperatures 205 heading to 350. The smoke smells better, I might just need to increase the air holes on the intake side of the toolbox. I did a quick calculation and my 2 1/2 inch exhaust stack has a 4.9 in.² area three three-quarter inch holes are only 1.4 in.² area.

More later, and again, thanks!
 
And one thing I really need to remember and quit obsessing about is that pellets will never smell like an offset stick burner, which is what I am used to burning real wood. :emoji_disappointed:
 
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And one thing I really need to remember and quit obsessing about is that pellets will never smell like an offset stick burner, which is what I am used to burning real wood. :emoji_disappointed:
You can come close, but the flavor from a stick burner can't really be matched. I find that I can come close enough for convenience sake, but you just can't get the same flavor you get from burning splits.
 
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