Time to upgrade...

Discussion in 'Propane Smokers' started by bnb, Mar 2, 2010.

  1. bnb

    bnb Fire Starter

    Hello All,

    Wasn't sure if I should post this in Propane Smokers or Eletric so I will post it in both. My wife bought me a Brinkman Eletric smoker which has me falling in love with the smoking world. My wife says I can already upgrade as long as I keep fixing meals as I have been which won't be a problem :)

    Details on what I am looking for and what my budget is:

    - $500 or less (wife will kill me if I spend more)

    - Propane, Natural Gas, or Eletric (want to spend time with my girls, not a fire)
    - Mainly used for small meals of 2 to 6 adults but have parties with up to 40 people (large family)
    - Would like to be able to try Jerkey at some point as well as fish

    Currely have a Brinkman Eletric and the issues I have found is in cold weather keeping the temp up, not being able to control the temp and having to remove the top rack to get to the lower rack. Have been looking at the both propane/gas and eletric vertical smokers, like the idea of the front loading. Any input would be great.

    Thanks again. Jeff
  2. mr mac

    mr mac Smoking Fanatic SMF Premier Member

    I love the versatility of the vertical gasser myself having been through an electric and a smaller Brinkmann gas unit. For me, I have read too many complaints (no, I suppose I never really counted the praises) about electric units and their inability to maintain and attain desired temps even in moderate weather conditions. Mine had spikes and then would drop off forcing me to reset the unit...I'd have spent less time tending a charcoal fire.

    At any rate, whatever you get look for a couple of things; first, if it's a gas unit, it needs to be made of heavy gauge steel so that it'll hold it's temperature even if you open the door to service the water bowl or add wood. If possible, get one with two doors so you don't have to lose heat/smoke when you do open the door.

    If you decide on an electric unit then make sure it has the power to do the job. Some units (like Bradley) have pretty low powered heating elements but they can get away with that because the unit seals up pretty tight and you don't have to open the door to add wood. Both of those features are vital in preventing heat loss. Electric units also tend to be a bit more expensive to buy but are dirt cheap to operate.

    Finally, don't sell the charcoal/stick burners short because of a 'need to tend the fire'. A lot of the bullet style units that seal up are pretty good about keeping temps up without a lot of fuss. WSM and the Char-Broil units come to mind first in that category. Even my ECB only needs tending twice to smoke up a big ole brisket, once at the start and once again in the morning.

    Whichever you chose, I'd say that they all are sized well enough for the average family of four to six without any problems (just be prepared to split your ribs). For the most part you're looking at anywhere from 13" to 18" grates and at least three of them for smoking your food. Most are right around 30" tall (give or take) so you can do a pretty good spread for more than just your immediate family if needed. If you need bigger or just want it, then the big block GOSM and Smoke Vaults are 24" wide so laying out three to four uncut racks of ribs is a breeze.

    Good luck in your search and keep us posted!

  3. bassman

    bassman Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I have had my Smoke Vault for over two years and love it. It was on sale when I purchased it for $219.00 and have seen them recently for $249.00. No need for a double door as this thing recovers within a minute or so of opening.
  4. ecodork

    ecodork Fire Starter

    +1 the vertical gasser-type.
    I was in a similar situation as you are and ended up with a King Kooker 38". It's easy to use (I have an active 15-mnth old son) and versatile. I don't mind running it with only a few things for the fam but you can REALLY load it up. Holds temps well even in cold conditions. Good temp range from pretty cool 140ish or you can crank it up around 325 for that smoke/roast effect. We'll see what it can do when the ambient temps are above finally 50* again....

    It's similar to a GOSM or Smoke Vault but a little bit bulkier. I posted a review thread on here a month or two ago. There's a few on the market that are similar and should get the job done for you. What sold me on the KK was the side door access panel for the wood and water. Though Bassman has a point in that it recovers temp very quickly. Ordered it direct from KK in southern LA. Shipped quick! And they FedEx'ed a replacement temp gauge at no charge!

    I've only heard (and tasted) good things about the WSM too.

    I like the idea of those electric, semi-automated units, but my issues with electric were did I have the juice to run it outside (ECB would trip breaker constantly) and the idea of running expensive electronics outside around heat and the elements. Maybe I'm just paranoid...

    I saw you double post in the electric forum too....as they say, elbows and opinion's, everyone's gottem! [​IMG]
  5. seenred

    seenred Smoking Guru Group Lead OTBS Member

    Sounds like your looking for a GOSM or Smoke Vault. Real easy to use, hold temps real well, and like the man said, they recover temps in only a couple minutes. And they are very affordable. A GOSM big block goes for 199 at BassPro. I think the Smoke Vault is a little more, but still a great buy for what you get. I've never used one, but it sounds like a WSM is in your price range also, and I hear great things about those rigs. Whatever you decide to go with, Good Luck, and Happy Smokin'!
  6. mballi3011

    mballi3011 Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Now I have and still do own both the Gosm and a Smoke Vault 24". I would recommond the smoke vault 24" it;s a great smoker and it's big enough so you can lay flat a whole rack of spares. Now they do make a Gosm wide bidy that is 24" wide to but I couldn't find one when my wife went out looking for my B-day.

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