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POS Masterbuilt smoker. 1 day old, now DOA. Electronics are out.....

Discussion in 'Electric Smokers' started by viper, Dec 27, 2010.

  1. viper

    viper Smoke Blower

    Been waiting for this one for christmas.  Tested it for about 1 min indoors just to make sure the element would heat up and controller was working.  Next day, took it outside and was going to season it all day.  Unit would not even turn on.  No lights, no nothing....  I am an electronics designer and engineer so I took some things apart knowing that getting parts would probably be impossible.  Though things are VERY hard to get to, it looks like the control side power supply uses a step down 120x12V transformer and seems that the primary side of the transformer is open.  These transformers are usually near bulletproof so I am real frustrated. 

    As I sit here on """HOLD""" for Masterbuilt for now 30 min for the 3rd time today, I am really second guessing this POS.  Customer service rivals a call to China directly and equipment quality that is on par with the building blocks for 2 year olds. 

    Has anyone else experienced such a disaster with these people?  Should I just give up now and go get my money back?  Problem is there is nothing in this price range.  If I owned the box cheap enough, I would probably just build my own electronics into it but I should not have to deal with this mess for the price paid. 
  2. bmudd14474

    bmudd14474 Legendary Pitmaster Staff Member Administrator Group Lead OTBS Member ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    Are you using a extension cord outside? I dont have one but heard that if you dont use a proper gauge cord or one that is too long that there are issues. From what I hear their customer service is good. They may be short staffed after the holidays. Good luck with this. 
  3. viper

    viper Smoke Blower

    6.7A rating at 120V so any standard 14ga cord up to about 100ft should be just fine.  I have plugged directly into an outlet as well.  Just sad to see a brand new system fail so quickly and has me concerned of reliability down the line...
  4. bmudd14474

    bmudd14474 Legendary Pitmaster Staff Member Administrator Group Lead OTBS Member ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    I know lots of folks have them on here and they work well. I know that a few have had to change out some connectors but that was after a long while. Hopefully its something easy to fix if not Im sure they will make it right. 
  5. A 100ft 14/3 extension cords seems a bit too light weight to me.  For a 100ft extension cord, I would suggest a 12/3 or 10/3 gauge,  I suggest that you search the forum for "extension cords" to see what others recommend as a  minimal length/gauge extension cord. If you can use a shorter length (25ft or 50ft) that is even better. Just my opinion...
    Last edited: Dec 27, 2010
  6. eman

    eman Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member

    6.7a @120v would be fine according to what us electricians are taught but it doesn't seem to work that way w/ a MES.

     Have had mine for over 2 years and fially had to do the connection repair. i made my own 10 ga. 15' cord w/ 20a plugs

     Viper since you seem to know a lil about electronics you know as well as i do that all electronic parts are subject to go poof at any time. from the first time you plug it in to years down the road.

     Just sucks when it happens to you .
  7. dale5351

    dale5351 Smoking Fanatic

    There was a thread a short while back about the unit not heating up outside in the cold.  Something about the thermostat (small silver circle on the inside of the box) needed to be warmed up with a hair dryer.  Don't know if that is relevant to your situation or not.  You could test if it is a cold weather problem by bringing it back inside for warmup and short test.
  8. deltadude

    deltadude Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    viper welcome to SMF, and ordinarily a congrats would be appropriate on your new MES purchase but your not feeling it right now.

    14 ga is NOT adequate for the MES, at least for my older 40" 800 watt unit, it cause problems with  unit not heating.  As soon as I plugged it directly in problem gone.  Also if you plugged a 14ga ext. cord to your MES and had issue, then unplugged and plugged directly into wall outlet, that may NOT solve the problem, and a proper reset is needed.

    Proper RESET = 1st turn off the MES with the controller switch, if the MES is turned off by unplugging the controller could be in a lock-out mode.  So if that was the case, plug back in turn on via controller switch, then wait about minute, turn it off with the controller switch.

    2nd. Now unplug the elect. cord.  wait 10-20 sec.  plug back into the outlet, and turn on with controller switch.

    I learned the hard way about ext. cords, and had to do the reset like 3 times before it started operating normally.

    I have had my MES for 2.5 years and no other problems.

    You bought the MES because of all the high praise it has earned, now your questioning your decision which was based on the testimony of others.  I don't think the "others" were lying so that leave you with "your turn in the barrel"!  You may have got a defective unit, it happens!  Go get a cold beer, and chill, your a smart guy and should be the first to know this. 

    Time-out for personal story....  I just replaced all the large cooking appliances in our kitchen, everything was highly rated by consumer reports and multiple other rating sites, except the dishwasher.  I couldn't find a model that was rated high on CR's list or consumer research or Amazon, in my $300-400 price range.  Checking Sears there was a whirlpool that had 5 star rating by about 80 owners.  I decided to trust the owners and get the Whirlpool.  1st Whirlpool arrives (had to wait 10 days), and I hook it up only to discover the pump motor was bad out of the box.  The appliance repair guy that inspected it, said he never saw that ever with whirlpool.  So Sears ships a replacement, I couldn't even install it the unit was damaged in shipping.  Third unit, comes I install and it works great.  How great, try 3 metal rib racks left outside unwashed with drying bbq sauce and drippings for two weeks.  As a ha ha I thought I would see how well the new dishwasher cleaned them.  Boy was I surprised they came out sparkling clean, my wife loves the new dishwasher, it is quiet, and does a great job.  I could have bailed on Sears and the whirlpool, however I kept thinking about all those positive reviews and stuck with both Sears and that dishwasher make/model.  I am happy I did.

    You might have a hassle getting a replacement MES or parts but once you get it running you will be happy with your purchase.  As you have already figured out, the MES is just a double-walled box and you don't have to go OEM on the parts to keep it running.  However that is for much later after your warranty expires, you need to get Masterbuilt to take care of you and your new MES until your satisfied.

    Hang in there you chose correctly.
    texacajun likes this.
  9. tjohnson

    tjohnson Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Insider OTBS Member SMF Premier Member


    Sorry to hear about your Dead Masterbuilt.

    I've had mine for a year now, and absolutely no issues.  It gets down to "0°" and it fores right up.  It's used 12-24 hours, almost every day for testing and hasn't missed a beat yet.

    Their return policy seems very liberal, and i would pack it up and bring it back to the retailer where it was purchased.  Get another one and fire it up.  There a few posts on SMF where guys had a bad one out of the box, and Masterbuilt took care of the problem.

    Let us know what you find out?

  10. Bearcarver

    Bearcarver SMF Hall of Fame Pitmaster Group Lead OTBS Member

    Don't know where you got it, but if it was Cabela's, just take it back---No questions asked--get a new one.

    Sounds like you got a lemon, as very few have had problems right out of the box.

  11. viper

    viper Smoke Blower


    Thanks for all the replies guys.  Per my first post, I was indeed spot on with the suspected power supply board.  The transformer was open and after an inspection of it, it looks like the mfg of the transformer was at fault.  I replaced the transformer with a little better unit and we are off like a prom dress. 

    On a side note regarding power requirements, I do electronics stuff as well as electric service stuff.  As many know, the higher the load, the more voltage drop you have.  Referring to the books and using 2.5ohms/1000ft of 14ga wire, I would see about a 3V drop at my designed load for a 100ft cord.  Because this is a resistive load, this will just slightly reduce the output on the heating element to a near non-detectable level.  That undetectable level would be about 50 watts in this example which is certain I guess more than tiny but considering the application, would be a non issue.  Par for the course for resistive heating loads.    OTOH, if I was running an inductive motor, voltage drop is replace by the motor demanding additional current which can cause wire heating problems.   We see this a lot with motor burn outs.  voltage sag in the summer plus higher wire temps in the summer, plus improper wire size = toasty motors due to increase amperage. 

    So, I am well within the current limits of my 14ga cordage and the voltage drop would be less than 3% at 100ft.  We usually do not start getting worried unless things approach 10% VD.  Not trying to be mr know-it-all dick, just trying to infuse some confidence in my numbers so that others do not go waste huge money on heavy cordage that is not needed.  I also tested my voltage right at the unit under load and it looks great. 

    Now I will have to start firing off the questions on getting that pro level taste from my cheapy smoker...lol

    On another note - I would like to apologize for any outburst against Masterbuilt.  I indeed have read of several problems on Masterbuilt units but it seems the customer service is there and the more I read, the better I feel in owning this product.  I too am in the production and retail business and know first hand that customer service is how you grow a business.  These guys seem great to work with and I cannot really ding them for a failure that really was not their immediate fault.  I could tell the transformer was made wrong, end of story.  Only thing I can recommend is check the quality of products in a PCB.  One junk component can cost a company big in parts and resources. 

    Thanks again guys. 
    Last edited: Dec 31, 2010
  12. Bearcarver

    Bearcarver SMF Hall of Fame Pitmaster Group Lead OTBS Member


    Glad to hear you're back in action.

    I would have just swapped it in for a new one, but I don't know shat about the stuff you were talking about.

    Very interesting about the extension cords though.

  13. tjohnson

    tjohnson Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Insider OTBS Member SMF Premier Member


    Glad to see your back in business!!!

    We all get frustrated sometimes, and it's very difficult to trust something that let's us down. 

    My frustration with Masterbuilt lead me to new business venture!!!  [​IMG]

  14. Not that it really matters, but didn't you void your warranty by replacing the transformer?
  15. viper

    viper Smoke Blower

    Yeah, I am sure the warranty is void though Masterbuilt seems reasonable and I am sure I could discuss the matter with one of the gurus there and they would understand.  There is none in town, none on order, and my option was only to get a refund and I cannot smoke meat with 1 dollar bills.  Did what I had to do to get going. 
  16. bushmama

    bushmama Newbie

    I also got a new Masterbuilt for x'mas.  Had the same problem, took it back and got a new one.  Seasoned it as directed and the next morning.... same problem???!! Error code.  Went online to this blog and read all the comments.  Comment #7 suggested warming up the senor inside the unit.  IT WORKED!!!   We have been having extreemly cold weather (10 degree's this morning) and the unit is stored outside.  So I would guess that you may have been having the same problem.  I've never used a smoker... so I'm hoping for great results on my first Smoked Brisket.  Happy New Years and Happy Smoking.
  17. viper

    viper Smoke Blower

    No, this problem was no-NOTHING, no lights, no error codes, not failure to heat up, no nothing.  My experience led me to check the plug that feeds power to the LCD controller knowing that the LED display would need at least 5V to run.  There was no power on any wires at all.  That moved me to the power supply board.  After some inspection, it was pretty obvious what the problem was.  As soon as I installed the new transformer, she fired up and has about 30 hrs on it now.,  Has been running straight since seasoned.  Have a brisket and pork roast in it now. 

    I have to wonder about your error problem on the sensor.  If the heat light comes on, on the display, that should meat that the heater is working and probably just needs to warm up enough to get into range on the K thermocouple (thermometer).  If the red heat light is on, I would not get too worried unless it gets hot enough to smoke yet still shows an error code.  I doubt the low range thermo sense would keep one from warming up but I am not sure how the IC software was written. 
  18. Bearcarver

    Bearcarver SMF Hall of Fame Pitmaster Group Lead OTBS Member

    Yes---Error messages are often because the temp is too low to read in their range.

    Once it gets in the range of that temp gage, it will start.

    I had the same thing happen to my Polder digital.

  19. gregers05

    gregers05 Newbie

    I know this is a long shot, but i just came across this thread through a google search because the unit I just got is DOA. Now lights, power, nothing. I bought it through a auction and paid $36 and is new. ...Probably because it was dead. Do you happen to have a link to a transformer that you used, or one that would work? Part number of my unit is 20071117