• Some of the links on this forum allow SMF, at no cost to you, to earn a small commission when you click through and make a purchase. Let me know if you have any questions about this.

How good *is* an electric smoker?

Nwin23

Newbie
14
0
Joined Oct 5, 2019
Done lots of research over the past few weeks about an electric smoker and I’m curious-what separates it from just an oven you stick outdoors?

the complaints I read are that the installed smoke mechanism on an MES only burns for 30/60 minutes and then you have to refill it which doesn’t scream “convenient” for a longer smoke.

I also read complaints that the AMNPS sometimes doesn’t fully work and that MES says you shouldn’t use pellets at all in their smokers.

I like the idea of an electric because it’s convenient and will stay insulated for smoking during the winter. I know I won’t get a smoke ring with one and that’s ok-just wondering how good they are of if I should jump to a pellet smoker or something else.
 

chef jimmyj

Epic Pitmaster
Staff member
Moderator
OTBS Member
SMF Premier Member
Group Lead
19,511
3,900
Joined May 12, 2011
I have used 2 MES40's, Gen 1 with Remote, over the last 7 years. They both work flawlessly with the AMNPS Maze, giving 10 hours of Set and Forget.
This is not true for All MES models and the reason reviews greatly vary. The Gen 1 and 2.5 units, distinguished by single Oval Water Pans, work with the AMNPS. Some bad reviewers fail to realize that Altitude has an effect. The AMNPS needs plenty of Oxygen and may not work in some areas of the country. The AMNTS Tube, eliminates this issue and the reason it was created...JJ
 

Murray

Smoking Fanatic
377
164
Joined Dec 30, 2018
You mention winter smoking, a couple of drawbacks, the MES minimum temperature is 100F. Trying to do a cold smoke in the winter you have to turn it off and on to maintain a temperature above freezing and below 100F, a pain but workable. The controller will give you an error message if the temperature in the smoker is below 32F and not start until you apply heat to the inside. Hair dryer or heat gun works. If Masterbuilt offered a “Winter Edition” I’m thinking it would sell and it wouldn’t cost them much, a different temperature probe and some programming I’m guessing. Other than the above issues I’m enjoy my MES.
 

dr k

Master of the Pit
OTBS Member
2,580
518
Joined Mar 22, 2013
The Mes is easy to mod if you get a used one on FB marketplace and get a PID controller and Amnps with or without a mailbox mod. Then you just replace heating elements if/when they fail. Then you can set the temp 10 ° above ambient temp to create a draft for cold smoking in the Fall, Winter and Spring. Also, holding steady low temps for dried beef, jerky, fish and sausage etc.
 

Slow42

Smoke Blower
145
40
Joined Oct 18, 2019
Nani23 I think electric smokers are great. It is just like and indoor oven that you can use outdoors with smoke. Many of the cheap electric smokes can be compared to those cheap gas grills you have to buy a few years because they are made so poorly. I have been looking for a good electric smoker also but the good one are far more than I want to spend. The MES has some good models and some bad lots of opinions here about that. I think they fall squarely in the not so great category. However that wouldn‘t stop me from buying one because they can be repurposed into a great smoker when they finally die. I have such a unit I got for nothing, added a PID, new/old heating element and it works in any weather freezing cold to blazing hot. You can set it to any temperature you want no limits, except for the limitations of the smoker box its self. No problem with using pellets for smoke as you can introduce as much air as you like to keep them burning,. There are many knowledgeable members that can help you with the modification. So go buy the best cheapest MES you can find, modify right away or let it run its course and when it dies give it some new life. I wouldn’t spend more than $200.00 for one personally.
 

smokerjim

Master of the Pit
OTBS Member
SMF Premier Member
4,033
1,610
Joined Jan 14, 2014
I have a mes 30, I use the amnps tray with mailbox, 10 hours of smoke, I live in north east pa and do use it during the winter no problems, no you won't get the smoke ring but that doesn't affect flavor, I also have a pitboss 1000t2 pellet grill/smoker works well but don't get the smoke flavor unless I burn the amnps tube in it, so which one do I like better. flip a coin
 

Bearcarver

SMF Hall of Fame Pitmaster
OTBS Member
SMF Premier Member
Group Lead
38,669
11,330
Joined Sep 12, 2009
You mention winter smoking, a couple of drawbacks, the MES minimum temperature is 100F. Trying to do a cold smoke in the winter you have to turn it off and on to maintain a temperature above freezing and below 100F, a pain but workable. The controller will give you an error message if the temperature in the smoker is below 32F and not start until you apply heat to the inside. Hair dryer or heat gun works. If Masterbuilt offered a “Winter Edition” I’m thinking it would sell and it wouldn’t cost them much, a different temperature probe and some programming I’m guessing. Other than the above issues I’m enjoy my MES.

Only a few are like that.
I have had 3 different generations of MES & never had that Cold Weather problem.

Bear
 

Bearcarver

SMF Hall of Fame Pitmaster
OTBS Member
SMF Premier Member
Group Lead
38,669
11,330
Joined Sep 12, 2009
Done lots of research over the past few weeks about an electric smoker and I’m curious-what separates it from just an oven you stick outdoors?

the complaints I read are that the installed smoke mechanism on an MES only burns for 30/60 minutes and then you have to refill it which doesn’t scream “convenient” for a longer smoke.

I also read complaints that the AMNPS sometimes doesn’t fully work and that MES says you shouldn’t use pellets at all in their smokers.

I like the idea of an electric because it’s convenient and will stay insulated for smoking during the winter. I know I won’t get a smoke ring with one and that’s ok-just wondering how good they are of if I should jump to a pellet smoker or something else.

#1. It is an oven that works outdoors, but you can add Smoke to it.
#2 No built in Smoke generator that runs off the same heating element works good.
#3. The AMNPS works Great if you use it properly---I never had a problem in 9 years.
#4 Masterbuilt is talking about burning pellets in their built in smoker when they say "Don't do it".
#5 My MES doesn't work below 20° any more, because there's nobody out there to plug it in.
An MES and a AMNPS are a perfect match---Made in Smoking Heaven!

Bear
 

Murray

Smoking Fanatic
377
164
Joined Dec 30, 2018
Only a few are like that.
I have had 3 different generations of MES & never had that Cold Weather problem.

Bear
I must have gotten one that was destined for Arizona, if mine would start up at sub freezing temperatures with out the hair dryer and be able to run it at 50F I’d be in Smoker heaven.
N Nwin23 You didn’t mention what your tastes might be concerning food.
 

Nwin23

Newbie
14
0
Joined Oct 5, 2019
I must have gotten one that was destined for Arizona, if mine would start up at sub freezing temperatures with out the hair dryer and be able to run it at 50F I’d be in Smoker heaven.
N Nwin23 You didn’t mention what your tastes might be concerning food.
Im in northern Virginia to get an idea of temperatures here-it got down to 30 once already but it won’t be arctic by any means.

I don’t really plan on cold smoking. Chicken wings, thighs, and smoked whole chicken will be the main things. We might smoke a turkey and some ribs now and then. A brisket would be hard because it’s only my wife and I so we’d have to have a lot of people over for that to be worthwhile.
 

uncle eddie

Master of the Pit
OTBS Member
SMF Premier Member
1,376
793
Joined May 14, 2016
I am on my second MES40 and if/when this one dies, there will be a third.

Lighting the AMNPS did take a little experimenting to make it work flawlessly. With both MES40 smoked (gen 2.0 and 2.5) I had to pull the chip tube out about 1/2 way and give it a half twist so it could draw in a little air to keep it going.

I get 9-10 hours of smoke out of one loaded AMNPS. This makes my MES40's true set-it-and-forget-it electric smokers. Wonderful for overnight smokes - like PP and whole packer briskets.

There are other good electric smokers out there, but for the bang-for-the-buck when I was in the market for one, the MES40's won out. No regrets.
 

smokerjim

Master of the Pit
OTBS Member
SMF Premier Member
4,033
1,610
Joined Jan 14, 2014
I must have gotten one that was destined for Arizona, if mine would start up at sub freezing temperatures with out the hair dryer and be able to run it at 50F I’d be in Smoker heaven.
N Nwin23 You didn’t mention what your tastes might be concerning food.
I use my mes 30 in the winter, I never had to use a hair dryer to heat it, yeah it may take a little longer to heat up but after that the mes doesn't know if it's winter or summer.
 

Murray

Smoking Fanatic
377
164
Joined Dec 30, 2018
I use my mes 30 in the winter, I never had to use a hair dryer to heat it, yeah it may take a little longer to heat up but after that the mes doesn't know if it's winter or summer.
I get an error message EE... forget exactly what the message is, warm it up with the hair dryer and good to go. Today it was 32F so the MES started, if it was 31F then I have to use a hair dryer. Glad to hear that some MES will start below freezing without external heat. Wish I had one!
 

Murray

Smoking Fanatic
377
164
Joined Dec 30, 2018
Im in northern Virginia to get an idea of temperatures here-it got down to 30 once already but it won’t be arctic by any means.

I don’t really plan on cold smoking. Chicken wings, thighs, and smoked whole chicken will be the main things. We might smoke a turkey and some ribs now and then. A brisket would be hard because it’s only my wife and I so we’d have to have a lot of people over for that to be worthwhile.
That’s exactly what I thought, 1st 10 smokes where hot. Then I started snooping around this forum... My last 5 smokes were cold/warm. smokes, Fill the fridge/freezer with bacon, fish and cheese, our adult kids come for a visit and our stockpile is vastly diminished. What ever smoker you decide on go for versatilely. Too many recipes/ideas on this forum you will want to try, that’s a guarantee!!
 

texomakid

Master of the Pit
★ Lifetime Premier ★
1,024
652
Joined Aug 6, 2017
I'm gonna chime in with my opinion that electric smokers are great and cook excellent BBQ. With the right knowledge they will smoke and cook as good if not better than most cookers. Temp control is key and they are excellent at that. Only thing you won't get with an electric smoker (and correct me if I'm wrong guys) is a smoke ring. I never did when I cooked with one.

I cooked on a Bradley digital 4 rack for over a year and we had some excellent food come out of that box. Cooked on a basic MES that my brother-in-law gave us prior to that. I had better and more consistent results with the electric smokers that I did with the offset.
 

SmokinAl

SMF Hall of Fame Pitmaster
Staff member
Moderator
OTBS Member
★ Lifetime Premier ★
45,938
7,046
Joined Jun 22, 2009
I only use my MES 40 for making sausage & have had it for 8 or 9 years. I use an AMNPS for smoke & have never had a problem with it. It's kept outside in the weather with a cover, actually I put a garbage bag over it, then the cover.
Al
 

Bearcarver

SMF Hall of Fame Pitmaster
OTBS Member
SMF Premier Member
Group Lead
38,669
11,330
Joined Sep 12, 2009
That’s exactly what I thought, 1st 10 smokes where hot. Then I started snooping around this forum... My last 5 smokes were cold/warm. smokes, Fill the fridge/freezer with bacon, fish and cheese, our adult kids come for a visit and our stockpile is vastly diminished. What ever smoker you decide on go for versatilely. Too many recipes/ideas on this forum you will want to try, that’s a guarantee!!
I get an error message EE... forget exactly what the message is, warm it up with the hair dryer and good to go. Today it was 32F so the MES started, if it was 31F then I have to use a hair dryer. Glad to hear that some MES will start below freezing without external heat. Wish I had one!
I wouldn't say that "Some MES" will start below freezing without external heat.
I would say that it's a rarity when you get one that has that problem. In 9 years on this forum, I think I heard about less than a dozen like that.
And as for "Cold Smoking", the only thing I cold smoke is cheese.
My Bacon comes out awesome using Temps between 100° and 130°, and I could cold smoke if I want, but I choose not to for quality reasons.

Bear
 

Murray

Smoking Fanatic
377
164
Joined Dec 30, 2018
The error message is EAA1, happens every time it is below 32F. Yes your bacon turns out awesome, my first 3 attempts I followed your step by step just wanted to try cold smoked bacon.
N Nwin23 sorry for highjacking your thread but IMHO versatility is important with your specific tastes.
 
18
2
Joined Jun 25, 2019
Installed smoke mechanism on an MES only burns for 30/60 minutes and then you have to refill it which doesn’t scream “convenient” for a longer smoke.
I go into a smoke with nothing but temp in mind. Yesterday I smoked a 10lb Boston and wanted to keep the smoke going right up to 160-165 wrap time. I fill the chip tube twice and let it smoke out then fill it again once until it smokes out a second time. I get consistent smoke for about 1.5 - 2 hrs. At this time I open the door, mop my butt then empty the ash from the chip tray and start the whole process over again. I did this three times before wrapping the but. It wasn't a pain and it gave me a chance to mop and see how things were going. The entire cook was about 8hrs (199-200deg) of which I planned accordingly. About the typical time of a non wrap smoke. We are eating like kings and queens!
 

Latest posts

Hot Threads

Top Bottom
  AdBlock Detected

We noticed that you're using an ad-blocker, which could block some critical website features. For the best possible site experience please take a moment to disable your AdBlocker.