Masterbuilt Smokers (Bear’s Thoughts & Findings)

Discussion in 'Electric Smokers' started by bearcarver, Oct 1, 2015.

  1. bearcarver

    bearcarver Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Masterbuilt Smokers (Bear’s Thoughts & Findings)

    Before I start, I want to say the following are my findings & my opinions. Not all Smokers are alike, and not all people look at things the same way. Some may have success where I haven’t & some may have had problems where I haven’t. However after posting & reading many threads & posts about the MES smokers over the years, I believe many people will agree with much of my findings below. I’m hoping this information will help some of you when you have to decide which MES Smoker to purchase.

    Note: How to tell which Generation is which:
    MES Generation Number Recognition Pictures & Pics (Digital Units)

    MES 30, Gen #1:
    Back about 6 years ago, I bought my first Masterbuilt Smoker. It was an MES 30 Gen #1, all black exterior, with the squared corner Digital control box on the top back of the smoker. It worked Great, and I loved it, except for the size. Most of the time I only cook for the two of us, but I didn’t like having to cut Rib Racks and Briskets in half, and I really hated only being able to smoke 7 pounds of my Bear Sticks at one time.
    The only trouble I ever had with that smoker was when one of the Digits on the control Read-out stopped working. By that time it was no longer in Warrantee, but Masterbuilt sent me a replacement control box, Free of charge. They said they wanted to look into it to see what the cause was. Other than that the only weakness this one had was the right side was nearly always hotter than the left side, and I had always said the top Vent should be in the left side of the top, instead of the right. I figured then that would balance the heat from right to left.
    I ended up selling this smoker cheap ($50) to one of the guys who works for my Son, after getting my MES 40.

    MES 40, Gen #1:
    Then about 1 year later, I got my MES 40 Gen #1, all SS, with Remote Control & Glass window in the Door. This thing worked Great for 5 years, and I smoked an awful lot of Great tasting food with that Smoker, until the Heating Element connector corroded off. It was easily repaired with a new connector & a little solder. The only other problem I ever had with that smoker was the right side being hotter than the left side. I was able to level that left to right heat difference, by adding a piece of Aluminum in the bottom right side, above the heating element. I could raise & lower the left side of that sheet to push heat over toward the left, and I always said the top Vent should be in the top of the left side of the smoker instead of the right, and that would probably fix that heat balance. The main problem here is both the Heating element and the Top Vent are on the Right, so the heat wants to run straight up the right side, unless you use a deflector. This Smoker still works Great.

    MES 40 Gen #2:
    Then a few months after my Open-Heart Surgery, I was asked by Masterbuilt if I would be willing to test their new Smoker, if they would send one to me. They said there was mixed reviews on it, and since I was well versed on the Generation #1 Smoker, they would like me to test it out, and give them an honest review of it, comparing this Gen #2 to my old Gen #1. They would also like any suggestions as to what I would do to improve it, if anything. I agreed to do the testing, and it was delivered that week.
    I put it together, and swapped positions with my Gen #1 on my Smoking Porch. It had a problem with the control, but I managed to get it up to temp, and did all kinds of tests, mainly for balance of heat from left to right, and some from different heights. After a few days of testing, I notified MB, and told them what I had found. They were going to send me a new controller, but I told them not to bother, because the heat differences were too much for me to want to use this Smoker, and I’ll just go back to using my Gen #1.
    However I told them I would still give them my suggestions to improvements that could be made:

    #1 Get rid of the slanted Drip Plate with the small water pan hanging from it.

    #2 Replace that Drip Plate with a full width Water Pan, similar to what is in the Gen #1 Smoker.

    #3 Remove the Top vent in the left side wall, and put a top vent like the Gen #1 has, but in the left side of the Top, instead of the Right.

    #4 Leave the door hinged on the left side the way the Gen #2 is, instead of the right side, like the Gen #1 is.
    They thanked me for my testing, reporting back, and for the suggestions, and told me they would send me one of their new model, that would have some of my changes included in it. I wasn’t too sure that would ever happen, but sure enough, I got it a couple weeks ago.

    MES 40 Bluetooth, Gen # 2.5:
    So the one they sent me is the MES 40 Bluetooth “Elite”, all black with the Glass in the door. It has 6 racks in it instead of 4, and it’s without the legs. (Legs wouldn’t work good with my setup anyway)
    Every one of the suggestions I made above is incorporated into this smoker, and it seems as though they have served their purpose. I did various tests, mostly temperature balance test, and I couldn’t believe the results. After recording 126 temperature readings overall, I can say that this one outperforms all others in the heat balance department by far, including my Gen #1. The initial over-run is easily eliminated in a very short time, and when I did the testing at my most used Temp of 230°, I found the MES digital read-out to be about 15° lower than my Maverick readings. That’s closer than my Kitchen oven was when I checked it, and I don’t find it a big deal to set my MES at 215° to get my meat to be Smoking in a Temp of 230°.
    Now here’s the part I really like. After putting a Maverick Smoker Probe on both the Left & Right sides at the same time, I set the Temp to 215°, because I wanted an average of 230° on rack #3. In a very short time the heat stabilized, so that the MES Readout cycled from a low of 213° to a high of 217°. These temps come from the MES heat sensor, which is in the center of the back wall of the smoker. At this same time, the heat on the Left Side was cycling from a low of 228° to a high of 232°. And as hard as it is to believe, the right side was also cycling from a low of 228° to a high of 232°. After watching & recording it for hours at different Temps, I watched this cycling for about 20 minutes. Then tiring from the hours of watching & recording, I took an hour break, and went in the house to my recliner. Then after that hour, I went back out to see what it was doing, and it was still cycling with those exact same temperatures. I had seen enough to make this report, and this is the report I gave to Masterbuilt.
    I couldn’t believe how this Smoker cycled from 228° to 232° for hours, making that average the 230° I wanted, and both sides were the same Temp without using a makeshift heat deflector to balance it out. IMHO, A heat cycle range of 4° is Amazing!!!
    I did not hook-up to Bluetooth, because I don’t have anything to do it with, and I have no problem going out there to the smoker to make my settings & changes, and I like to check on how much smoke I’m getting at certain intervals anyway. However, my Son said he might have something I can use & he’ll install the App.

    So those are my findings over 6 years of MES use.

    Hoping this helps some of you,

    Last edited: Nov 9, 2017
  2. c farmer

    c farmer Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Great review and should help a lot of people that are wanting a MES.
  3. That is some super good information, You have taken the time to do the testing and write it down for everyone as well as help Masterbuilt make a better unit.[​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]     [​IMG]

  4. mummel

    mummel Master of the Pit

    You're the man Bear.  I would however include the startup temp issues we've all had with the MES 40 BT in your review.  Taking 2-3 hours to fully stabilize without babying the temps is a huge flaw IMO. 
  5. smokingearl

    smokingearl Meat Mopper

    what startup temp issues are those? I don't have any, and I don't see Bear saying anything about any either. 
  6. mfreel

    mfreel Smoking Fanatic

    Bear, with regard to the MES 40 Bluetooth, any comments on the quality of the controls?  Anything other than temperature inside the box?
  7. hank2000

    hank2000 Smoking Fanatic

    Thinking about getting a new smoker. I'm sure it will be a a MES as I like the gen 1 30'' I have. Works well. But I need more room when I do bacon and sausage. Thanks bear for the review. I'm liking what I see with the gen 2.5.
  8. mummel

    mummel Master of the Pit

    MES 40 BT controls work well. Negatives = very limited Bluetooth range and temps only move in 5F increments (this kind of sucks if I'm trying to target a specific range on my Mav 733 and not have the alarm go off constantly).

    For example, I want to target temps of 215F to 235F (+- 10F of 225F), but my smoker is ranging from 211F to 235F. If I want to make sure I don't cook below 215F, then I have to cook at 239F on the top end.

    Also the temp startup issue = huge temp swings for first 2-3 hours due to the element heating the smoker after it turns off (as high as 290F if you set it to 225F on startup), and taking a while to heat back up after it kicks in again. Stable temps are only reached once the element cycles on and off for a few minutes at a time, not running for 20min and then turning off for 15min. This results in huge temp swings. Bear has a tutorial on how to manage this and its a good workaround. I was just saying that for the sake of a complete review, these flaws should be noted.
    Last edited: Oct 1, 2015
  9. Let me start by saying I am a newby, so new that I am still researching models.  I narrowed it down to masterbuilt; however, I am overwhelmed by the numerous types sold out there and what would be best for me.  I missed the QVC special which was priced fantastic and included everything from stand, to glove, recipes racks etc.

    Now... WOW! I loved your review.  I have been reading on this site for hours and days.  getting more and more frustrated on decision making.  It is a big purchase for me.  Your reviewed helped me to at least decide which model to go with... I think. :)


    1. I was thinking of getting the 30 not the 40. do you think the results would be similar to the 40 you talked about as far as equal heating etc..?

    2.  I can get the BT version including stand at homedepot for $269. but have to buy cover, gloves, rib & chicken rack; amazon was $299. for NON-BT ( so I guess, based on your review the Gen 2) and comes with accessory pack (gloves, rib/chicken rack, & cover).  What I believe Iam reading in your review is the BT is more stable environment and worth the extra money even if I don't use the BT?

    THANK YOU AGAIN for a fabulous review and help.  I'm dying to buy one soon  :)

    Any other suggestion?
  10. mfreel

    mfreel Smoking Fanatic

    Mummel, can you comment some more on the temp swings?  Are you saying that if I want to start off with a cold smoker and then add heat that it gets too out of control?  Are you suggesting that the smoker preheat to stabilize the temp?

    Thanks for the comments!
  11. mummel

    mummel Master of the Pit

  12. bearcarver

    bearcarver Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    I think you're the only one I know that has had 2-3 hours to stabilize.

    My Gen #1 was worse than this Gen 2.5, although using my method I could stabilize my Gen #1 to 230° (Plus and Minus about 6 Degrees) in about 15 to 20 minutes. (After it had gotten to 230°)

    Here was my 275° Start-up TestÚ

    Ambient Temp start at 60° up to 64° during this time.

    The higher the setting the bigger the swings, but I'll give you what I got from my MES Read-out on my 275° start-up, without touching the control setting at all after starting it:

    9:42---------------Set to 275° and start Smoker.





    10:10-------------275°----Element shut off.

    10:13-------------284°-----Coasted to this Peak.

    10:17-------------274°----Element came on.

    10:20-------------270°----Coasted to this Valley.

    10:22-------------275°----Element shut off.

    10:25-------------276°---Coasted to this Peak.

    10:26-------------274°---Element on.

    10:28-------------272°---Coast to this Valley.

    10:30-------------275°---Element off.

    Continued from here with cycles like the following:

    On at 274°

    Coast down to 272°

    Off at 275°

    Coast to276°

    On at 274°

    So there it took about a Half Hour to get from 60° to 275°, and within 12 Minutes it was stabilized to a total cycle of 4°.

    And like I said this was without needing the Method I had to use to stabilize my Gen #1.

    This Smoker is Awesome!!

    tropics likes this.
  13. smokingearl

    smokingearl Meat Mopper

    That's about how my mes 40 bt does as well.
  14. bearcarver

    bearcarver Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    In my Opinion, the Gen #1 is a Great Smoker, but this Gen #2.5 BT beats it in heat control & definitely has better heat balance from left to right (Thanks to the changes they made).

    Some people are happy with an MES 30, but most either move from the MES 30 to the MES 40, or plan on it if their current MES 30 quits.

    I would imagine, as long as there isn't anything wrong with one, the MES 30 BT should perform just like the MES 40 BT.

    I would still avoid the Gen #2.

    I can't tell you anything about the $$$.

  15. mfreel

    mfreel Smoking Fanatic

    Anyone have a model # for the BT?

    Is this it?

    • [​IMG]
    • [​IMG]
    • [​IMG]

    • [​IMG]

    Roll over image to zoom in

    Masterbuilt 20070115 Bluetooth Smart Digital Electric Smoker, 40-Inch

    by Masterbuilt

        24 customer reviews
    4 answered questions

    List Price:$499.95
    Price:$493.40  & FREE ShippingDetails
    You Save:$6.55 (1%)

    In Stock.

    Ships from and sold by

    Want it Thursday, Oct. 8? Order within 20 hrs 9 mins  and choose Standard Shipping  at checkout.Details

    Size: 40-Inch

    • 30-Inch


    • 40-Inch

    Last edited: Oct 1, 2015
  16. bearcarver

    bearcarver Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    I found none of these flaws with this smoker, or I would have included it !!!!

  17. brickguy221

    brickguy221 Smoking Fanatic

    I got similar results on my BT when new, but now after several smokes, the total cycle is more like 7-8 degrees with meat in it and not 4 degrees, but I still call that satisfactory, especially when compared to my former 2.0 smoker.

    I will have to try a short test on an empty smoker like Bear did to compare.

    However, when smoking food like 4 racks of ribs in a rib rack, I have found the right side to run hotter than the left side and the back side to run hotter than the front side. especially the back right corner..... Could this be caused by my chip loader being pulled out 2" with dump side down, maybe ????
    Last edited: Oct 1, 2015
  18. thanks... another stupid question.... I realize this is based on not knowing how I would actually use this, and neither do I (my son and 5 little ones under 8 in my house) - I found a 40" bt at Sams $59. more.  Is the additional size from the 30" worth it?​

    Thanks again.... getting so close to my FINAL decision :)

  19. Question for you watt burners, Isn't cycling what an electric unit does ?  temps drops down, heating element kicks on, heats back up and goes off. I am a old stick burner and have been for over 40 years. I can control the temps on my RF pretty darn good, but if I open the CC door, temp drops, if I open the FB door temps spike up, but they settle back in just a few min. Never effected my smokes at all. And what I am reading 4º to 8º shouldn't be a problem at all, If I had a MES and those numbers were what I was getting I'd be tickled to death.   But i'm not a watt burner

  20. brickguy221

    brickguy221 Smoking Fanatic

    Yes it is worth it. Many 30" owners will tell you that they wish they had gotten a 40", but I have yet to hear a 40" owner wishing they had got a 30".
    southshorerob likes this.

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