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My New Pit Boss Electric Smoker - long post

Discussion in 'Electric Smokers' started by tlcasper, Dec 4, 2018.

  1. tlcasper

    tlcasper Newbie

    Pit Boss 3-Series Vertical Electric Smoker

    I asked around and read as much info on this smoker and Pit Boss as I could find. There really isn’t much info on this model, so now that I have one I’ll try to fill in that space a bit with my opinion.

    I have over 10 years with a Bradley Original Smoker, it’s been a good dependable unit. I have a couple of months with a well used MES 30, it works as it’s supposed too. Both units struggled to get over 200F in winter, but were good for my needs, sausage, jerky, fish, and pork are my main uses.
    I have been very happy with the size and vertical style of theses smokers, they suit my needs. The Pit Boss 3 Series Vertical Electric really caught my eye because of the design layout. The design has many of my wants in a manufactured smoker. So I pulled the trigger, and now have a Pit Boss smoker, here’s my first impressions.

    First thing I noticed is how heavy the box is, I looked on the shipping label and found it weighs in at over 70 lbs. Upon opening the box and removing everything, I found that the smoker itself is similar in weight to the other units, most of the weight is the integrated stand that comes with the unit. That is the first of the design features I really like. Not only does it come with a stand, the stand contains all of the working parts, leaving the whole smoker space for food. From the bottom up the stand contains the grease tray, the 1600 WATT burner, the chip tray, the digital controls, and the water pan.

    Assembly needed! The stand and working parts are all packaged neatly in boxes inside of the smoking unit. Assembly is easy, but it will take some time. The instructions are OK, but not terrific. You really don’t want to start a couple of hours before dinner time with a hungry family waiting for food. Put together it’s very solid, and seems well built. The final step of assembly is the four shelves, which are fully adjustable. This is the second great design feature. You can put the shelves individually at any height, the brackets can be moved up and down in about 1 inch steps, or removed altogether.

    Now to plug it in. This smoker has some electric needs, no cheap extension cords are recommended. With everything powered up, I played a bit with the controls and the included meat probe. The panel has spots for two probes, but only one is included. Everything is working as it should and I’m ready for the necessary burn in. It’s well below freezing here, and I’m very surprised at how quickly it hits 250F no issue at all. I took it up to 300F with no trouble and left it there, it seemed locked in pretty good, the element came on as needed. I had my own probe in the unit too, the temperatures were within a few degrees of each other.

    I let it go back to 250F, and added wood chips to the front load chip tray. This is another design feature I really like, it’s quite large, slides out of the front, and is heavily constructed. I also like that I can empty the ashes out and add more chips without opening the door, rather than just add more chips onto the old ashes. The smoke at this temperature started after about 5 minutes, at 10 minutes it was rolling pretty good. The smoke lasted about 2 hours, but was pretty light for the last half hour. I might experiment with wood chunks, or a mix of chips and chunks. I think with the lid off of the chip tray an A-MAZE-N might fit right in for low temperature smoking, as long as there is enough air flow.

    Pit Boss says this unit works between 100 and 350F, I don’t know if it could make smoke at 100F, but I’ll try at some point.

    The burn in went fine, temperatures were good, and I’m quite impressed with the build quality, design, and function. It’s price puts it in with the Bradley and MES smokers, I believe it competes very well in functionality. For me at least, it betters them on design features. Time will tell if it has durability, but my initial impression is very good. I have read that customer service is good, I called with a question about the warranty length, and was greeted by a friendly knowledgeable person. The Pit Boss vertical smokers bought after September 2018 have a 5 year warranty. Very nice.

    My first smoke was pork tenderloin that turned out perfect. The time it took to get to the internal temperature I wanted was what I had estimated. Clean up was pretty easy as the racks are coated, another nice feature. The window is smoked up but I expected that.

    My second smoke was a brined chicken, it may have been the juiciest bird I’ve ever had. I could have left it on a little longer, and not sure if hickory is the best wood for chicken. But the smoker did its job. The outside temperature was well below freezing with a good windchill, I was sheltered a bit, but it was cold to be out. It held temperature good, the element came on a lot to keep it up.

    All in all I’m very satisfied. I’ll add some photos at the end.

    Now, I can’t wait for the hard water to get some fresh trout in the smoker.

    C7433886-8845-4DF5-853F-ED8F5F581849.jpeg 279FA29D-7D82-4738-A9DD-BD0BCAE00E8F.jpeg 09D4A6D5-BB4A-4AAC-AB58-9AB2E78CEDAA.jpeg E8A0AE5E-5C0B-4477-87CB-5985B989F113.jpeg
    823E4BF5-EF8E-4AB3-890E-B106CF33D8D1.jpeg E5D938CE-57CF-4224-A0B8-C32F4D09C24F.jpeg A03AA401-EB07-4CF2-BEDE-B9C0A4EB5567.jpeg 95B812D6-B0E7-4FF2-8A12-736197699CC1.jpeg

    The perfect beer was pictured in this post :)

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  2. hoity toit

    hoity toit Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I have 2 MES 40's and one MES 30. The 40's have been good butr are junk after 4 yrs. The 30 is the best one. I am ready to make a change to the PIT BOSS. I like the 1600w element, that is a BIG PLUS. Thanks for posting your review, I appreciate it.
  3. tlcasper

    tlcasper Newbie

    Just a follow up.
    I have done a few more smokes in the Pit Boss, one at -18C, and all has went well. I'm still very happy with this unit.
    I have been using an Inkbird to see how the built in probes, and box sensor compare. The built in probes are very good, the box sensor can have trouble when the smoker is loaded with something like this pan blocking air movement, good to account for. But on smokes with just meat on the shelves the box has stayed within around 7% of the digital readout compared to the Inkbird ambient readings. With the top shelf averaging slightly warmer than the middle shelves. I feel I can trust the readout on the unit, but will still use the Inkbird for the extra probes and the phone app.
    I've ordered the cover for this unit, and it appears Pit Boss has a Canadian warehouse to speed up shipping for us up here.

    Some snacks for all day football yesterday. :)
    tallbm likes this.
  4. Winterrider

    Winterrider Smoking Fanatic SMF Premier Member

    Your smoker is still waaayyy to clean ! :D
    Glad it has worked well for you. I have looked at just for another toy.
    What did you season your mix with ?
  5. tlcasper

    tlcasper Newbie

    New smokers do look embarrassingly clean.
    The snack mix just has melted butter and SPOG on it.
  6. AP514

    AP514 Fire Starter

    nothing bad about a clean Smoker..I clean mine w/ denatured Alcohol every time..still looks new.
    This also keeps that hickory smoke from last time from being in apple smoke for my beer can chicken this time.
  7. SecondHandSmoker

    SecondHandSmoker Smoking Fanatic ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    Glad to see you pulled the trigger. Outstanding review btw. That is one good looking smoker too.
    tlcasper likes this.
  8. Now I am rethinking the Masterbuilt... 2 questions: does it really make any difference that the vents are on the back, as opposed to the top like Masterbuilt? Is the digital readout difficult to see? As I researched the Pitboss after reading your review, I discovered that they have a service center in Salem, Oregon...big plus.

  9. tlcasper

    tlcasper Newbie

    I have used both a Bradley and a MES with the vent right above the heat source, in those units I found I was regularly moving the racks because stuff on the bottom was cooking faster than the top. It wasn’t until I was researching a new smoker, and reading on this site about people adding a diffuser to a MES that I started thinking about vent placement.
    After purchasing this Pit Boss I started moving a probe around in the box to get ambient temperature readings between the shelves. I never tried this with my other smokers so I have no comparison to make, but the Pit Boss stays pretty consistent as long as I don’t totally overload it. The top shelve is usually a little warmer over time. The vents on the back seem to be a good idea, but I have no real verification that they are better. It does keep smoke and moisture away from the electronics. I should note that you can’t close them right off, a tab keeps them slightly open. The Bradley and the MES closed completely.

    As for the display, yes it’s hard to read on bright outside days, I wish manufacturers of products used outside would use brighter displays. I’m in northern Ontario and it’s getting dark around 4:30pm these days so getting close to dinner time it’s no problem:) when summer comes that will be different.
  10. ab canuck

    ab canuck Master of the Pit OTBS Member ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    Great review and info on the unit. I am a fan of pit-boss, waiting for my last bradley to crap out before I get another vertical. Appreciate the post and review. Like
  11. To add to your review Pit boss customer service is excellent I bought the Silver 3-Series Vertical Electric Smoker a few days ago mine would not go above 250 deg. no matter what it was set at it would tap out at 250, phoned Pit boss talked to the friendly service guy and they are sending a new control panel should be here next week. Good to know they stand behind their products.
  12. BPCR

    BPCR Newbie

    Rick, Like you I just purchased the same smoker a couple of weeks ago.Mine wouldn't go over 260* according to the readout on the smoker,but using the meat probe and a separate ThermPro showed the actual temps 100* higher! Pit Boss is sending a new smoker temp probe. We'll see if this cures the problem,I'm glad this thing has a 5yr warranty.--Mike
  13. When I assembled my unit I noticed the temp probe was very low and in my opinion too close to the burners I used a Thempro to check temps held on 250* with no food inside. I think mine is out of calibration the new control panel should fix the problem.
  14. tallbm

    tallbm Master of the Pit OTBS Member ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    Interesting thread I had not seen before.
    I may be looking for used or "broken" ones to rewire and run with my PID controller to improve my electric smoker setup :emoji_blush:
    Last edited: Apr 15, 2019
  15. Inscrutable

    Inscrutable Smoke Blower SMF Premier Member

    Either/both of your issues cured?
    Wondering how hot will they go? (Think website says 350)
  16. It was the oven temp probe on my Thermpro causing most of my troubles it was reading 60 deg. low. I put both probes and a dial thermometer in a pot of water to test, the dial and the meat probe read 190 the oven probe was at 130. Thermpro is sending a new probe under warranty excellent customer service.
    Now onto the smoker changed control panel and installed a dial thermometer, I did some salmon the temperature held at 170 only varied about 10 deg. I set the smoker to 325 after an hour the readout reached 325 my dial thermometer said 290 although its located high in the cabinet could fudge results when my new Thermpro probe gets here I'll try again. I was lucky to find a thermometer that replaced the Pit boss logo perfectly.
    IMG_1049.jpg IMG_1048.jpg

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  17. SecondHandSmoker

    SecondHandSmoker Smoking Fanatic ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    I never trust those bimetallic dial thermos since they can be off upto 50* either way.
    When you get the the new oven thermocouple, put it at grate level on the grate your are cooking on since that is the temperature you are most concerned with controlling.
    You'll notice that when you place the oven thermocouple up by the the exhaust ports, the temp reading will be close to the controller setpoint since heat rises.
    Good looking salmon fillets.
  18. Pit boss digital 3 heat test

    Set temperature 350 degrees

    Thermpro probe in the center of unit ½ pan of wood chips water in the pan

    Start 54 deg. Ambient

    20 minutes 256 deg. Digital readout 281

    40 minutes 287 deg. Digital readout 320

    60 minutes 309 deg. Digital readout 332

    80 minutes 302 deg. Digital readout 325

    I could not reach the advertised temperature of 350 however for my smoking needs 300 is enough it could be possible on a warmer day to hit 350.
  19. BPCR

    BPCR Newbie

    I'm still waiting on a new probe. They originally said 5-7 days,after 2 weeks I called back and they said they wouldn't have any until May. I don't handle getting the run around well!
  20. Inscrutable

    Inscrutable Smoke Blower SMF Premier Member

    Ok thanks.
    Yes, this sounds good enough ... couldn’t ever get this high with my Bradley ... probably wings/poultry finishing the only time/thing I’d like to get higher. A bit of a PITA but can always transfer to gas grill for that.