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MES Temp Struggles When Meat is Added

Discussion in 'Electric Smokers' started by Preacher Man, Jan 7, 2019.

  1. I thought I noticed something going.on with my last smoke, but now I'm sure I've got problems.

    My MES 30 does just fine when preheating. Comes up to temp easily and holds steady. The controller and my Maverick ET-733 are nearly spot on.

    I open the door, let heat out, and close it and my temps drop just like expected and climb back up to temp just like expected.

    But when I add meat to the chamber, I lose my ability to climb back up to temp. For example, I just added two 7.5 lbs pork butts and for the last hour I'm only able to hold steady at 194° even though I'm set at 275°.

    Anybody have experience with this?

    (I'm tagging @Bearcarver because I hear you know a thing or two about these smokers)
  2. Bearcarver

    Bearcarver SMF Hall of Fame Pitmaster Group Lead OTBS Member

    I know a lot about using an MES, but if it's an electrical problem, I defer to @tallbm .
    However-----Only things I think of off the top of my head are:
    How cold is it in MT right now?
    I'm thinking with only an 800W Heating element (I think) in your MES 30, 15 pounds of cold meat is a little much to deal with, especially if it's also real cold out??

    Are both Butts on the same rack, blocking the Air flow from the element?

    Other than that, check with @tallbm

  3. It's 34° out right now. I thought about that, too, but my buddy has his MES 35B right next to mine with a 15 lbs brisket on it and he's holding a perfect 250° with zero struggle.

    His element is 1500 watts, so that could be something to it I guess.

    Butts are on two separate racks so as not to block air flow.
  4. I had trouble keeping temps on my 30" Smoke Hollow when under 40° outside until I covered it with a blanket. Even a bath towel you don't care about covering the top and hanging over the sides (not blocking any vents) helps.
  5. Bearcarver

    Bearcarver SMF Hall of Fame Pitmaster Group Lead OTBS Member

    Yeah, Two Big Cold Butts is a lot for an 800W MES 30, especially at 34° outside Temp.
    THat's my #1 guess.
    I think my MES 40 is 1200W, and like you said the MES 35B is packing 1500W. (That's power!!!)

  6. Just took out one butt and put it with the brisket in his 35B. I'm now climbing and up to 235°.

    Looks like we discovered the problem. And it's fixing to get downright western here with what's blowing in.
  7. And now his 35B is struggling...
  8. Bearcarver

    Bearcarver SMF Hall of Fame Pitmaster Group Lead OTBS Member

    Yup---Thought that could be it. Is it also Windy? Wind can be worse than cold.
    A Welding Blanket seems to be the best idea for that, and/or keep it out of the Wind.
    Keep the top vent clear.

  9. Winterrider

    Winterrider Smoking Fanatic SMF Premier Member

    I did notice that also a while back when we had about 25° temps. Had it warmed nicely, added 2-9# butts and could only top out at 202° with PID. I let it ride and when meat temps started climbing, so did MES 40 temps. It's tough in the cold temps. I think wind is even more of a factor.
  10. tallbm

    tallbm Master of the Pit OTBS Member ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    Have you closed your vent down to like 99% closed, where the maverick probe wire is the only thing keeping the vent open?

    You could try that for a while and see how fast it recovers or if it recovers at all. If rolling smoking I wouldn't go like over 2 hours doing that but at the very least you can start to see how well your MES recovers temp in your current weather with an almost fully closed vent. You know for future heating purposes :)

    I do know that it DOES matter. I'm in TX so we don't get nearly as cold but I have noticed that on our rare sub-freezing days when I have smoked that closing the vent down to various degrees made a real difference in temp recovery.
    I hope this info helps! :)
  11. zwiller

    zwiller Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Pretty normal to me and would imagine the same for any smoker unless it's some huge big thing. Happens even in warmer weather but to a lesser degree. Smoker has to overcome the thermal mass and evaporative cooling but eventually it does and then holds well.
  12. GaryHibbert

    GaryHibbert Legendary Pitmaster OTBS Member ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    Yeah. It will recover, but it takes quite some time. It has to bring the meat temp up at the same time.
  13. I have similar issues with my Bradley electric smoker so maybe I can add a few things. 1. Add a couple fire bricks on the bottom of the smoker to absorb heat and hold it. 2. Use a good heavy duty extension cord if you're using one as a cheap cord will effect the smoker. 3. If you're not already than ensure you allow the meat to come to room temp or close to it before addi.g to the smoker.
    If you already tried these than ignore my advice lol. I struggle smoking in the winter up here in Canada so those seemed to help me
  14. indaswamp

    indaswamp Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    The meat is absorbing the heat to cook. Think of it as a cold sink instead of a heat sink. One way to balance this out is to either add a heat sink like a tray of sand, large rocks or bricks, etc.... OR cover the smoker with insulation as suggested. The heat sink will radiate heat out into the cooking chamber and keep the temps. higher. It will balance out the cold sink of the meat.

    My smokehouse is lined with hardiboard. There are some members here that have lined their MES with it and have good results. It is concrete board so basically rock board. It is inert and non toxic, non flammable.
  15. Bearcarver

    Bearcarver SMF Hall of Fame Pitmaster Group Lead OTBS Member

    Those heat sinks might be alright in the South, but trying to warm up frozen Bricks or a pan of Frozen Sand isn't going to help a Smoker warm up in North.
    And I don't need Mrs Bear to tell me not to bring a Stinky pan of sand in our kitchen to warm it in the oven before taking it out to the smoker. I don't like that idea myself!!

    Just Preheat the Smoker for an hour first, and throw a welding blanket around it where you can.
    I would never warm meat on the counter either---I go from the Fridge to the Smoker, especially with things that take time to get through the danger zone!

  16. indaswamp

    indaswamp Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Noted Bear. Thanks for posting....
  17. I agree bear....i meant more bring the temp up from fridge temp. Especially ok for beef but not poultry or pork. Cold meat in the smoker leads to uneven cooking IMO