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New user, new Smoker-- think i've narrowed it to two smokers

Discussion in 'Electric Smokers' started by strecker25, Aug 31, 2010.

  1. Bradley electric with Pellets

    0 vote(s)
  2. Masterbuilt with glass window

    0 vote(s)
  3. Something else..

    0 vote(s)
  1. strecker25

    strecker25 Fire Starter

    I am eager to get a smoker and start experimenting and have found a couple that I like the looks and price of.

    1)  The Bradley electric with the pellet feeder. (http://www.cabelas.com/link-12/product/0069087514812a.shtml?cmCat=perf&rid=0987654321&cm_mmc=Performics-_-CSE-_-GoogleBaseUSA-_-0069087514812a&mr:trackingCode=EDCD1BCD-958E-DF11-A0C8-002219318F67&mr:referralID=NA)

    2) the Masterbuilt 30" with glass window (http://www.homedepot.com/Outdoors-Grills-Accessories-Smokers-Fryers/h_d1/N-5yc1vZ1xjvZaq53/R-202026227/h_d2/ProductDisplay?langId=-1&storeId=10051&catalogId=10053)

    I like the fact that the masterbuilt has the window and the built in probe, but im a little concerned that it looks like people have to re load the chips every hour or less and have issues keeping good smoke going. The bradley has their nice pellets, but that is so proprietary and I worry that I probably cannot just run to the store and pick up another bag to use if need be.

    If anyone has any opinions on either of these (or even a better suggestion) I'd appreciate it.  I am looking to keep it around that price range if possible

  2. Bearcarver

    Bearcarver SMF Hall of Fame Pitmaster Group Lead OTBS Member

    My opinion.

    I have a MES 30, without the window. I love it, but I wish it was an MES 40 with the window!

    I considered a Bradley, but if you figure how many of those pucks ya gotta buy (one every 20 minutes???), forget it.

    All ya need to make up for having to put chips in the MES is an "A-MAZE-N-SMOKER", but you really must consider the MES 40.

  3. coffee_junkie

    coffee_junkie Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    I have neither of these smokers. But what I do have is an opinion. I am with Bear, the proprietary pucks would turn me off to that unit. If i run to the store for smoker wood, and their out then its off to the next store. Plus they have you locked in to that particular product. Really no shopping around for the best price. I would go with the MES if I where you, and yes if your finances and space at home allow, get the 40", you will be glad you did in the long run. I am constantly thinking about my next smoker, and for some reason it is always larger than the one I currently have. Good luck you are gonna love this hobby.
  4. strecker25

    strecker25 Fire Starter

    awesome, thats really what I needed to hear to reinforce my thoughts on those pucks.  I really wish they made a way for it to take chips as well.  

    Bearcarver, how often does your MES need a chip refill, and do you need to open the door to get the old chips out before adding more to get good fresh smoke? (i've read that is an issue for some, and i'd hate to lose heat every time it needs a refill)

    on a side note, i know theres a ton of topics for this so I wont ask too much here, but do you run the heating element in combo with the amaze-n-smoker?  Im just curious if the electric element has held up for that type of use.

    Thanks again.
  5. werdwolf

    werdwolf Master of the Pit OTBS Member ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    I have a MES 30 (no window).  I looked at the Bradley, but was worried about the cost of the pucks.  As far as throwing in chips, it does require about every 30 minutes or so.  to much to extend the smoking time ruins the TBS.  The size is almost right for me, except can't get a full rack of ribs in.  When we have the family over (which is only a couple of times a year) I am lacking space.  It is also hard to get a nice crisp chicken, but not impossible with this model.  There are tricks.

    If you have other questions PM me.
  6. ol' smokey

    ol' smokey Smoking Fanatic SMF Premier Member

    Strecker25, I for one have had and used a Bradley with the puck feeder. It's a good unit however it did not meet my needs. For 1 the pucks were much to expenseive and 2 the heating element was under powered at 500 watts. I do still use the cabinet but have upgraded the heating element to 1200 watts. In addition to that I use a Smoke Daddy to generate the smoke I need. Just to clareify I  don't go over about 175° because I'm using it for sausage, bacon and other such things like cold smoking cheese etc. The pork butts and beef go out to the charcoal smoker. 

    Good luck
  7. Bearcarver

    Bearcarver SMF Hall of Fame Pitmaster Group Lead OTBS Member

    I used to have put a few chips or a chunk in every half hour or 45 minutes. Now I very seldom use the chip drawer. I use the AMNS for ALL cold & hot smoking. When hot smoking, the one I have might only last about 5 or 6 hours. If I still want more smoke, I'll either refill it or throw a couple chips & a chunk in the drawer. The new MES 30 has only a half chip drawer too---another reason to get the MES 40. My old MES 30 has a full chip drawer, and I never had to empty it during a smoke. The heating element doesn't care if the AMNS is in there, and the only thing that happens is the dust may burn faster with the heat on.

  8. dale5351

    dale5351 Smoking Fanatic

    I was at Bass Pro Shop near here yesterday.  They had three models of MES on display.  Two were 30" models, one of them was priced at $179 and the other at $229.  I have no idea what the difference was to merit that difference in price.  I did notice that the higher priced one had shelves with a two way grid or mesh (less than 1 inch) and the other one had only side to side grid.  They also had a 40" MES at about $429.  (don't hold me to any of those prices exactly -- I didn't write them down).

    All three models had the half-wide wood tray.  All three models had an access panel in the rear to get to the wiring for the heater element (something I wish I had).  The 40" model had the rear panel riveted on -- I could not tell about the others (Mine has screws). 

    One advantage of the 40" is that I could see that my AMNS would fit on the floor pan to the left of the chip tray.   With my current model, it fits there *only* if I remove the floor pan -- and not with enough clearance to put *anything* else under it.   It does fit on the right side under the chip tray.
  9. dale5351

    dale5351 Smoking Fanatic

    I voted "something else".  I would not pay for a glass window if there was any other choice.   I have a wood burning stove in my basement with a glass window (tempered glass).  I don't use it any more, but when I was using the stove regularly, I'd have to clean the glass several time per week or it would end up being solid black.  I suspect that same would be true of the smoker.

    Here is what I would suggest -- less expensive than the glass door model, and other wise the same.  Price of about $168 versus $249


    I'd be very surprised at any functional difference that matters.

    [EDIT ]  You will sometimes find the identical smoke but with another brand name on it, e.g. Bass Pro and Cabella's will rebrand the MES.
    Last edited: Aug 31, 2010
  10. Bearcarver

    Bearcarver SMF Hall of Fame Pitmaster Group Lead OTBS Member

    Now they all have half drawers? Hmmm, I don't know why they did that. I don't like the way they have that extra piece of metal under the half drawer.

    Todd & I have been experimenting with an AMNS that fits to the left of the chip drawer in an MES 30.

    I would still like to have the 40 with the glass door, like my son has---He said his cleans real easy with a razor blade.

    I clean my wood stove door every day before I light it, but I only burn it after 5 PM, when it's cold out. I clean it in about 30 seconds with a couple paper towels & some ashes.

    My 6 X 6 AMNS fits on the left, on the floor, on a foil pan, but just barely. If you can't do that, just barely, can't you torque the bars on the left just a bit. I read where some have moved the two screws on the left up just a bit.

  11. strecker25

    strecker25 Fire Starter

    Dale, I do appreciate your input also.  I didnt even think of the cleaning issue of the glass but actually had more of a concern that it would not hold heat as well as the rest of the box would (and insulation is important in upstate NY winter).  

    I was reading through other threads yesterday and also noticed they have different ratings on the heating element, looks like 500, 650, and 1200.  I found the breakdown of the MES 30's without the glass (the 650's are significantly cheaper), but does anyone know if the 30" with the glass is 1200?  (part number is 20070110)

    again, I do appreciate everyones input and I'm glad i found this site first before I jumped into one.
  12. Bearcarver

    Bearcarver SMF Hall of Fame Pitmaster Group Lead OTBS Member

    My MES 30 has the 650W element.

    I think it should be larger, but 1200 would not be needed in the 30.

    My dream smoker would be the MES 40, with the window and the 1200w element.

  13. Bearcarver

    Bearcarver SMF Hall of Fame Pitmaster Group Lead OTBS Member

  14. strecker25

    strecker25 Fire Starter

    it does, thanks.  Ive learned a lot and haven't even purchased anything yet lol
  15. dick foster

    dick foster Smoking Fanatic

    I can't think of one thing a glass window would do for you for smoking meat for 8 to 12 hours or so.

    If anything I'd say look at a charcoal or wood fired unit or just stay in the kitchen and cook with your stove. A lump and chunk fan myself.   
  16. Bearcarver

    Bearcarver SMF Hall of Fame Pitmaster Group Lead OTBS Member

    If we smoke Bacon, without probing, we go by color for when to pull. 

    I can't see through a solid door.

    I like to know how my AMNS is doing (where it is in the maze at different times), so I can plan ahead if I'm going to reload it, or put some chips in the drawer, or just let all smoking stop. I could see this through a window.

    I would know when to add water in my pan, if I could see in. I have to open the door to see, and let cool air in.

    There are many reasons various people might like the window in the door.

  17. dick foster

    dick foster Smoking Fanatic

    I use a simple old loaf pan and it never runs dry. Low when smoking a butt or something that takes a long tim but never dry. I do all my smoking cooking at about 225 on average.
  18. dale5351

    dale5351 Smoking Fanatic

    I looked explicitly for the half drawer thing plus the extra metal under.  All of them had it.  Maybe if you hurry you can find an old model:-}}

    AMNS at 5x8?  My 6x8 will barely fit on the left even with the pan out.  There is a metal piece that holds the chip box to the rods that sticks down a bit and that is rubbing the top of the AMNS with the pan out.  I'll wait and see about putting it on the right side where it fits better next time I smoke with it.

    IIRC, I cleaned the window on my wood stove with an ammonia solution.  I'd be leary of doing that on a food product thing like the MES.  It has been at least 5-10 years since I fired up the wood stove.  Winters seem to have gotten milder here in central Maryland -- except for last winter when we got dumped with about 40 inches of snow in one week. 
  19. Bearcarver

    Bearcarver SMF Hall of Fame Pitmaster Group Lead OTBS Member

    LOL---Yup, I know the piece of metal you're talking about. I just didn't have good luck putting my 6 X 6 under the element on the right---TOO CLOSE!

    They tell me it's not hard to elevate the bars enough on the left side to get it to fit under that little vertical plate you're talking about, because it's already so close.

    The prototype I've been checking out is 5" X 11". My idea was to get as much smoke as possible with something that fits on those bars, to the left of the drawer, of an MES 30

  20. dick foster

    dick foster Smoking Fanatic

    Ammonia evaporates pretty quickly and should leave behind no redidue that would be harmful.