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Switching from Propane to Pellet (Vertical) ?

srr5008

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I was hoping to get some honest feedback from folks that have made the switch from propane to pellet. Right now I have a Camp Chef 24" Vault that is getting a little worse for wear (due to plain old age). While I am a big fan of the way it cooks, I am finding that it's a little harder to find time to dedicate to babysitting the temperature dial for a propane smoker with a newborn. Which led me to start looking at the Pellet smokers (I am not interested in electric only smokers).

I am looking at the vertical cabinet style smokers, not the grills. In particular, I am looking at the Smoke Daddy Pellet Pro 2300. My biggest concern is that I keep reading that Pellet smokers don't impart much smoke flavor. I've also read that they produce less smoke at higher temps (250+), but more smoke at lower temps (225).

I do most of my smoking at 225 - I was looking for input from people that have made the switch, as to whether or not they've noticed a less pronounced smoke flavor with the pellet smokers compared to gas? I know that some people use the A-MAZE-N tubes in addition to their pellet smokers, but I'm trying to get a comparison from barebones smoker to smoker.

Any input would be appreciated!
 

bauchjw

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I can give you a little feedback, not 100% in line with the rigs you are talking about. I had a horizontal offset stick burner, then as I started getting more kids have moved to MES40 and now a Traeger. The pellet brands you use make a difference. There are a lot of threads here on that. Some have more filler than others. Also, I have noticed that higher temps do reduce smoke flavor. 225 and below hang pretty well. I use a-maz-n to augment. All that being said it’s a trade off, when my kids are older, and I can spend more time, I’ll go back to a stick burner. Until then, I’m happy to trade some flavor I prefer to keep wife happy and focus on the kids with minimum effort towards heat/smoke management. As a thing to think on, You can get great smoke rings and flavor with a pellet, thins had a great mesquite taste and smoke ring after 8 hrs.
 

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civilsmoker

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bauchjw bauchjw pretty much covered it. I have a a couple of very nice wood smokers that give the best flavor, however my pellet gets used the most. IE I don't have time to baby sit a fire all the time. Pellets smokers do give a lighter clean smoke flavor and as you noted you can augment that. If I could only have one smoker I would have my current pellet, I'm just fortunate I don't have to choose.

I haven't eaten off one but there are some nice gravity charcoal smokers now, owners of those can chime in.
 
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912smoker

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I have the MBGF 1050 and love it. You cn add chunks of your preferred wood for additional flavor profile. I layer it in with the charcoal and add some in the ash bin to help. Has the same "set and forget" benefits of the pellet pooper with more smoke flavor PLUS the ability to sear at 700°.
 

bill1

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If you're switching from a conventional propane grill, you'll find a huge flavor improvement. Unless you're using auxiliary smoke-generating devices, the only "smoke" flavoring from a standard propane grill is from meat juices dripping on very hot surfaces.
So I'll assume you now have a vertical propane cabinet smoker.
Unfortunately, that's hard to compare to because some folks don't add any wood to them so they're basically just a propane grill with less BTU/h so they can cook at lower temps, but longer. Compared to that, ANY pellet grill makes better (smokier) food.
But some folks know how to optimize their propane burner settings, with a pan of chips or chunks inside that they closely tend, and those can produce a huge amount of smoke, probably too much for most peoples' tastes.
So I think to answer your question I'd like to know what you use now and how you use it.
 

srr5008

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Joined Dec 21, 2016
Bill, apologies for not being clear. I use a cast iron pan and wood chips/chunks in my propane smoker (correct assumption, it's a vertical cabinet).

I just found out about the gravity feed charcoal setups before reading the other comments. Now looking into the Masterbuilt 1050 and Char Griller 980 as well. I wouldn't grill on it, so I'm not as worried about the fuel consumption.
 

K9BIGDOG

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I switched my vertical gasser to a Camp Chef DLX and never looked back. Reliably holds temps has huge capacity and just works great. I'm not one for a heavy smoke flavor, I prefer smoke to be a part of the overall flavor profile, but when I want a heavier smokiness on something like say a pork butt I'll go to a stronger pellet like hickory or mesquite or more likely just setup my AMAZEN tube or tray in there chamber.
 

bill1

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...I just found out about the gravity feed charcoal setups before reading the other comments. Now looking into the Masterbuilt 1050 and Char Griller 980 as well....
Since they've been on the market for a while, occasionally you'll see a pellet grill under $200. But at their normal price, I'd choose a comparably-priced gravity charcoal machine today. But even at low & slow temps, the fuel cost will be considerably more. (If you're doing a brisket you may not care, but if you chose chicken thighs for the cost, well it might be painful knowing you paid almost as much for the fuel as the food.)
Now it sounds like your existing vertical cabinet gas cooker is pretty fine-tuned for some nice smoke. I suspect you'd find the flavor of a pellet grill a step down. (Although you'd love the ease of use.) I don't have one (yet!) but I think if I was in your shoes I'd be happy with the flavor of a charcoal gravity feed.
But smoking with charcoal vs smoking with wood is a slightly different flavor profile. Have you ever done low&slow on a Weber kettle or similar charcoal machine? Vertical cabinet charcoal smokers can make some great food, once you get the fuel layout and airflow under your control. (But temps are still plus/minus 50F) It's a bit of work, but you could remove your gas burner, cover the hole so there's only about a 1 sq inch opening from the bottom, then put in a basket of lump charcoal and temporarily try a charcoal smoke in your own machine. If you like it then the gravity-feed machines sound perfect for you.
 

2fatpugs

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Bill, apologies for not being clear. I use a cast iron pan and wood chips/chunks in my propane smoker (correct assumption, it's a vertical cabinet).

I just found out about the gravity feed charcoal setups before reading the other comments. Now looking into the Masterbuilt 1050 and Char Griller 980 as well. I wouldn't grill on it, so I'm not as worried about the fuel consumption.
If you are looking at the Char Griller 980, there is a rumor (from Tom Horsman) that they will release an upgraded model in 2022 that will fix some of the issues people have with the current model. If you don't NEED a new smoker/grill now probably best to wait till next year and see what is available.
 

srr5008

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Joined Dec 21, 2016
If you are looking at the Char Griller 980, there is a rumor (from Tom Horsman) that they will release an upgraded model in 2022 that will fix some of the issues people have with the current model. If you don't NEED a new smoker/grill now probably best to wait till next year and see what is available.
My smoker is on one leg, but still standing. My thought was to wait until 2022 and see what possible upgrades/fixes were made to the Masterbuilt and Char Griller (I know the Char Griller is prone to misreading temps in the current version).
 

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