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Smoker shopping - help and ideas welcome

Discussion in 'Messages for All Guests and Members' started by irb75, Sep 5, 2018.

  1. irb75

    irb75 Fire Starter

    Looking to get started smoking but am still in the information gathering phase. While I'm still in that
    information gathering phase I'd like to learn what some of you might recommend based on my environment and preferences. Rather than try to pinpoint a single strategy I'd like to share an overview of what my environment looks like, my time to spare,
    and my setup so maybe we can identify what will work and what wont work.

    First I'd like to share what I DO have:
    - a char-broil "commercial series" 4-burner propane grill
    - a 10x10 deck on which the grill and the smoker will reside (small cooking area)
    - a nearby external power outlet (potential electric smoker)

    Budget: $500 or less

    Typical smoking sessions: can occasionally dedicate all-day smokes with more (realistic) frequent 3-6 hour smokes; probably smoking 1-2 times per month max.

    Meat and food preference: anything from ribs, brisket, ham, chicken, fish, and venison; pretty much anything meaty/tasty

    Smoking preferences: the pecking order would probably be wood >> charcoal >> gas >> electric *from what I know about flavor produced and initial preferences

    I have read that wood will generally take the most hands-on approach from start to finish, as will charcoal also require a bit of manipulation to keep the temperature level. Wood chips can be used with gas and electric smokers as well which can produce nice flavors with less maintenance during the session. I certainly do not mind (actually quite enjoy) tending to a smoker which bodes well for a choice of wood smokers - then there may be times when I will need to set it and leave for 1-2 hours at a time. Not sure how conducive that is for wood smokers.

    Some of the units I've briefly considered are:

    Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker
    Landmann Smokey Mountain Series

    Hoping the community here can guide me a bit - thanks!
  2. hillbillyrkstr

    hillbillyrkstr Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member

  3. oldsmokerdude

    oldsmokerdude Smoking Fanatic SMF Premier Member

    There is a ton of amazing food produced by the WSM and it is used by some competition teams. With an add on fan and controller, you could probably neglect it for a couple hours at a time especially if you use the Minion or snake method. Based on what your "requirements" are, the WSM would be a great choice. By the largest one, it's in your price range and you won't be limited by space. Additionally, you can use it for higher temperature searing and cooking that your gasser probably won't be able to do as effectively.
    Scott "Stu" Stewart likes this.
  4. Will Smoke

    Will Smoke Smoke Blower

    great deals on pellet smokers shot out Pit Boss
  5. jcollins

    jcollins Smoking Fanatic

    I have a 14.5 WSM and a MES 30 i really like them both... The only thing id change about my WSM is the size i wish i could have afforded the 22.5. On the MES i wish it was bigger as well and the only other thing i personally dont like is using wood chips and the chip loader although there is a very good fix which is the A-MAZE-N pellet smoker tray it smokes for about 11 hours straight vs loading chips every hour in the MES. Other than whats stated above i really like both of my smokers. They both have a small footprint (even the bigger versions as well) and they both are very easy to use. The WSM is a little more clean up but not too bad.
  6. Jeff Wright

    Jeff Wright Smoking Fanatic SMF Premier Member

    I asked this on another thread, but never got a response. I am just curious about the pellet usage on a pellet smoker. Using the tube is easy enough, but about how many pounds of pellets get used in, say, a 7 hour smoke? Considering toying with a pellet or wood smoker along side my MES. I guess for that matter, and related to a wood smoker, how many sticks used in a 7 hour as well, for comparrison.

  7. jcollins

    jcollins Smoking Fanatic

    The tray uses about 15 oz of pellets per 11-12hrs and 16oz in a pound so imma say you should get 1 smoke session per pound (depending on what your smoking of course) and a 5lb bag from A-MAZE-N is 15.99 so your paying $3.20 per 11-12 hours. as for stick burning idk and the WSM i use chunks and im unsure of the price /poundage of the wood but its not that expensive i dont believe.
  8. Jeff Wright

    Jeff Wright Smoking Fanatic SMF Premier Member

    Thanks...I never would have thought it would be such a small amount...very helpful.
  9. oldsmokerdude

    oldsmokerdude Smoking Fanatic SMF Premier Member

    If you're asking about the pellet usage of a pellet smoker, the answer is.......it depends. Variables include brand and type of pellet, temperature you're smoking at, ambient temperature and weather, etc. That said, on my pellet smoker, I use about a pound per hour cooking around 225.

    Same variables apply to the stick burner, but you can expect at least one new stick every 45 minutes or so, though you will use three or four to get the fire going.
  10. Jeff Wright

    Jeff Wright Smoking Fanatic SMF Premier Member

    Thanks for the reply. I misread the previous. This makes more sense.

    Sorry irb...I shouldn't have highjacked the thread. This gets me the answers I needed.
  11. jcollins

    jcollins Smoking Fanatic

    And you will have to keep in mind a lot of factors play into how well/long these burn as in, Brand of pellet, Density of pellet how you store the pellets, air flow in your smoker, and likely many more that can prolong or shorten actual smoke time
  12. Lonzinomaker

    Lonzinomaker Smoke Blower

    A 10 x 10 deck doesn't leave much room for storage, etc.
    I saw that electric is low on your list, but check out the Smokin-It electric smokers. I have the #3 and love it. The last smoke I did for 4 racks of ribs only took 4 oz of chunk cherry and 2 oz of hickory so I don't need a lot of room for wood storage. If you are cooking for a couple of people, the #1 may work as it is small and semi-portable. Check out the their forum for more insights.
    Hank R likes this.
  13. RiversideSm0ker

    RiversideSm0ker Master of the Pit

    I never used a WSM myself but started with a Brinkmann vertical water smoker. Similar design WAY less quality. The WSM is pretty much the head of the class for vertical water smokers. You will be very happy with that if you go in that direction. That being said, I would never consider giving up my OKJ Highland unless I could afford a high end horizontal offset. In the $500 range you are limited to some pretty good choices if you decided to go with an offset but you won't get near the quality construction and ease of use that you would get out of the WSM. For $300 you get the 22" version and can fit most any normal sized meat on that. My Brinkmann is 18" and I have few issues with fitting meat. Those extra four inches will make just about any cook so much easier for you. Now if you are willing to wait until the Christmas season then maybe you could stumble across a crazy deal like I found when I bought my OKJ at Walmart for $75 last December. If you aren't in a rush then I would suggest waiting until the December time frame on the off chance that whatever you choose might be on some kind of Winter clearance. Just my two cents.

    Scott "Stu" Stewart likes this.
  14. TomKnollRFV

    TomKnollRFV Master of the Pit Group Lead

    As a man who went from a Brinkmann El Cheapo junker to a MES 40, I love electric. You can get an AMNPS 5x8 and burn pellets for over night smokes. <The MES also allows you to cold smoke etc with ease due to the AMNPS>.

    I know the electric smokers are fairly cheap to run. <With how much stuff I smoke, which at times is twice weekly in one form or another> the bill has gone up..maybe at most, 8 bucks? I'd need to do a break down and comparison.

    My MES 40 cost under 300 at Fleet Farm..a 25 pound of pellets at Walmart costs 16 dollars. I still buy higher quality pellets then that in 5 or 10 pound bags for under 5 bucks a bag, and it takes a long time to use even a pound up to be fair.
    irb75 likes this.
  15. GATOR240

    GATOR240 Smoking Fanatic

    +1 Agree especially w/AMNPS
  16. HalfSmoked

    HalfSmoked Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Denny now could also be a good time as stores are clearing space for another seasonal inventory. Most don't store any stock from year to year anymore. Look for the larger size like the 40" they hold full size pieces of ribs and much easier to fit other cuts in. Oh and more pies at a time. :rolleyes: :D

    TomKnollRFV likes this.
  17. SonnyE

    SonnyE Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    My 2¢....
    It does not matter what you settle in with, there will be a learning curve.
    $500 is a good figure, helps to give relative advice.

    OK, good intel there. Then you narrow down to a WSM or another BBQ, an LSM.
    Both of which are probably over your $500 figure. Right?

    Then you throw a wench in the works.....

    My advice is generally specific. I have an Electric Smoker, highly modified, to do my kind of smoking.
    Key there is Smoking, not necessarily cooking. Because I smoke from Ambient (Cold), up to what ever the target is.
    But I can use it as an outdoor oven that also can smoke food. The process of making 3,2,1, Ribs is a perfect example. Smoke for 3 hours, wrap in foil and roast for 2 hours. Then unwrap and finish roasting for 1 hour. All running at 225° for 6+ hours.
    But I separated the smoke making, and the internal temperature control, from what Masterbuilt provided. Then further modified that by making my electric smokers heating element controllable below 100°. So I get really serious about Smoking. And electric gives me that kind of control.

    But for Bar-B-Queing, I prefer my Char Broil gas burner for it's easy control. Flame broiled, if you will.

    Sounds like what you want is cooking over a wood, or charcoal, fire. Which will impart a smokey flavor, or a wood/charcoal flavor.
    So you might be happiest with the WSM or LSM.
    But you have a learning curve ahead.
    JCFishernuts likes this.
  18. irb75

    irb75 Fire Starter

    Thanks everyone for the great feedback so far - here are some responses and comments:

    1. Can the electric smokers like the MES be stored outside? I should have listed that as a requirement of storage.
    2. Which smokers are best suited for outside storage or can all be stored outside with the proper cover?
    3. The A-MAZE-N tray system (or Bradley smoker) seems to be the answer to the question I had about leaving it unattended for a period of time.
    4. What makes one prefer the horizontal type over a vertical type?
    5. I will be buying a unit before month's end.
    6. The 10x10 space is not going to be large enough for most horizontal smokers (with the grill already in place).
    7. Anyone have experience with the electric Bradley smoker and the wood pucks?

    I'm torn between propane and electric at this point...those seem to check the most boxes on the list. I'd love to cook with all wood but realistically will need to walk away with 2 kids to chase after.
  19. irb75

    irb75 Fire Starter

    TomKnollRFV - where do you put the AMNPS 5x8 when using it? directly on a cooking shelf?
  20. RiversideSm0ker

    RiversideSm0ker Master of the Pit

    You could still have a great experience with the WSM but if you have decided to go gas or electric then I would choose electric. My choice would be the MES 40. There are too many positive comments on here for them to be false. I’ve considered one myself for those long smokes where I’d love to get some rest.

    irb75 likes this.