Help Choosing the Right Smoker

Discussion in 'Electric Smokers' started by jomadav, Sep 5, 2014.

  1. jomadav

    jomadav Smoke Blower

    Opinions wanted - buying advice wanted

    I have a smaller patio here at the house, use the smoker about 4 times a summer ( lack of use due to frustration ) , and am looking for a "different one" until I get my methods down, then buy something nicer in a couple of years - like a Traegor or close to it.

    Had a Brinkmann "ECB" , did all the mods - loved it. Sold it

    Currently have 2 door vertical brinkmann charcoal, did all the mods - hate it, To hard to regulate

    I am ok with used  (Craigslist Minneapolis, MN) or new under $200.

    So far looking at Brinkmann electric "ECB" , different brands on off-set charcoal style, and am considering propane if someone here can explain the cost/ benefit of running one to me.
  2. chef willie

    chef willie Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Since you had xlnt results with the modded ECB perhaps invest in another one and save $ towards a better unit? I've gone up the ladder from an ECB to propane to electric to pellets now. To me, the pellet pusher is more like a true 'pit' smoker than the others but does have limitations. I also have a regular old charcoal grill for burgers and searing chicken on....still a good fit. Traegers now are about 500 for the small and close to 800 for the larger here in the PNW....made in China now and, IMO, not worth the $$. I got a Char Griller pellet smoker, much bigger and for half the cash. My electric is a Smokin' It #3...built like a tank and a Cook Shack clone, made in China but no issues on my end with performance. Propane is cleaner, of course, & not to expensive but mods will usually have to be made to doors to stop smoke and heat leakage. I highly recommend avoiding the new generation MES electric, plagued with problems. HTH, Willie
  3. old sarge

    old sarge Master of the Pit ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    What so you prefer? Electric is is sort of like a. Crock pot. A couple of ounces of wood, your meat, set the temp turn it on and walk away. Just get a good one like Cookshack or Smokin-it. A good off-set stick burner is great. But it requires constant feeding of wood to maintain temp. Pellet is sort of a hybrid. It burns wood for heat and uses electricity to feed wood pellets and requires much less tending.

    For the electrics check the sites I mentioned. Also look at smokintex. Prowl. The forums. I don't know if Chargriller has a forum but if so check it out. If Willie has it then it is good. Also look over the pellet and gas sections here at SMF. Pellet heads is another good site.
  4. seenred

    seenred Smoking Guru Group Lead OTBS Member

    [​IMG]   That's exactly what I was about to suggest...great minds think alike Willie!

  5. grillmonkey

    grillmonkey Smoking Fanatic

    Electric ECB and save money for reverse flow offset stick burner.
  6. jomadav

    jomadav Smoke Blower

    Which sites were you talking about?
  7. jomadav

    jomadav Smoke Blower

    Thanks for the input. I am leaning towards gas or electric.  An electric, like Brinkmann or Masterforge

    As for the gas I am looking at ones like  Master Forge or Smokey Mountain

    ....I would be looking at models like those used on Craigs List . I really like the way the "refrigerator" style electrics close up. If go gas, how accurate are they to control - and how much gas do they use in a normal smoke ?

    Lastly, the brinkman gourmet electric I understand is a cheap one, but I can buy it new for my price range and do the mods myself. Problem with that model is no thermostat. Advice?
  8. chef jimmyj

    chef jimmyj Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member

    May I suggest the 14.5 Weber Smokey Mountain smoker. It is a similar size to the ECB but way more controllable, still will give the flavor you like and at $199 on Amazon is in your price range. I have not had an electric Brinkmann but they are a bottom of the line electric and from what I have read, limited in the temp range they run at and you need a router controller to vary the temp...JJ

    Last edited: Sep 6, 2014
  9. jomadav

    jomadav Smoke Blower

    I forgot to ask about wattages for electrics. what is considered adequate?
  10. chef jimmyj

    chef jimmyj Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member

    That depends. The ECB is 1500W and being uninsulated needs every watt. The older generation 30" MES's are 800W and have no issues maintaining heat. The smallest Smokin-it is 400W and very well insulated and small enough that they too have no issue with maintaining temp. So in general they all have what they need to do the job, one wattage not necessarily better than another. If your budget is set at <$200 and electric is the way you wish to go...The Masterbuilt 20070910 is a better choice than the Brinkmann and being an 1st gen design has few problems. Unfortunately at some point the coil wiring goes bad and needs to be repaired or the coil itself shorts out and needs to be replaced. I got 3 years before the coil shorted and the MES worked very well...JJ
  11. mdboatbum

    mdboatbum Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    It all boils down to what you want. The 14" weber would be a good choice for a compact charcoal rig. Although for half the price you can get all the performance and twice the versatility with a mini WSM. I don't have a bunch of experience with electrics save for a brief stint with the electric ECB in the early 90's which didn't work out well. My brother has the smaller Smokin' Tex and has been very happy with it. I've been there when he was using it, and it really did seem to be dead simple in operation. If you can handle using an oven, the smokin tex, smokin it or cook shack will be pretty familiar.
    Last edited: Sep 6, 2014
  12. jomadav

    jomadav Smoke Blower

    OK. So heres what i did. I bout on Craigs List an ECB , but the charcoal Gourmet one, that the guy did all the mods already on - see attatched pic.. $40.00, brought it home and fired it up. temps ran high and took a while to figure out vents, then was ok at 225=230 or so (1.5lb. pork loin). All went OK - just ran hot. Used Kingsford Competion for the second time now - not such a fan of it.

    .....On standby (not purchased yet, just talked w/ seller) I have a Master Forge Electric for $75.00 if the ECB doesn't work out for me. The seller sent me this link and said it is this model, and said the purchased 2 additional racks for it.

    ....My thinking was the ECB is $40.00 and the MF is $75.00. Start with a mod.'ed ECB to see if this is where I want to end up - it can be re sold easily. The MF is still an option, but I see I need to order a rheostat for it to be accurate.    
  13. jomadav

    jomadav Smoke Blower

    UPDATE : the Brinkmann ECB I bought yesterday is on Craigs List right now to be sold. I just bought a Masterbuilt Pro propane 2 door nearly new for $65.00 . I didn't necessarily want to end up with gas, but nobody wanted a reasonable price on used electrics around here and the gas one fell in my lap. Looking for good mods on it now - so far looks pretty well made.

    Any idea on how long a tank lasts? - i was told 20-30 hrs depending on ambient temp and internal temp. So, 70 outside / 225 inside = 25 hrs ?

    You guys ( and gals) here have always been spot on with experience and advice, don't fail me now....

    What are you thoughts?  
  14. old sarge

    old sarge Master of the Pit ★ Lifetime Premier ★


    I think you really need to settle in on what you truly need and want. I can understand and appreciate the frustration on making a final decision. Buying used can be a real money saver or it can be trouble. From your first post I believe you are most interested in pellet. If so check out what Chef Willy said. Another option with 6 months to pay and no interest is a Cookshack pellet cooker. American made as are all their smokers.

    Gas is good and reliable. But is that what you truly want? Again, you were leaning toward Tragor.
    Last edited: Sep 9, 2014
  15. jomadav

    jomadav Smoke Blower

    OK you guys. No more jumping around. I sticking with the Masterbuilt gas for now ( the rest of the season anyway).

    I am going to use it this weekend for some pork ribs or a whole chicken for starters.

    I am looking at options on the right material to seal the doors with - some say rtv, some say silicone gasket seal, some say felt, etc.

    I cleaned it somewhat, got a new tank of propane, and am off the the grocery store.

    ......Thanks for all of the input and advice. Thats why we all belong here - to help and talk. Thanks to everyone. JD
  16. old sarge

    old sarge Master of the Pit ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    JD - You might have better luck regarding gaskets over at the gas smoker section.  Also try contacting Master Built.
  17. jomadav

    jomadav Smoke Blower

    You are correct Sir. I will move my question over there. Thanks for the help here.

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