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Upgrading to a quality electric smoker

Skiddy

Newbie
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Joined Nov 13, 2020
Hello I was searching for some suggestions from those of you that have been smoking meats for a while. I have been using a little chief electric smoker out of Mt Hood Oregon for many years. I primarily use this for Salmon or just a finishing smoke for ribs ect. This smoker was designed for fish so its temps dont reach north of 150F. Its perfect for fish.
I have decided to get a smoker that does meats well and lasts a while. Ive seen a few rather expensive smokers that look like they do a good job but I was hoping to get some good advice on a quality product thats been tried and proven by others. I will be reading as much as I can in here but feel free to share what works for you.
 

smokerjim

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really can't comment on other brands of smokers but i've had my mes 30 for 6 or seven years now and am happy with it, i'm sure you'll get some more answers though.
 

Skiddy

Newbie
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1
Joined Nov 13, 2020
I am currently building an outdoor kitchen but I dont think I want to incorporate the smoker into the build. I do like the ability to control from a smartphone.
 

SecondHandSmoker

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It depends on your budget.
MES units are budget friendly and pretty reliable.
Then there are Smokin_it and Smokin Tex which are excellent electric smokers that come with a much higher price tag.
One thing to keep in mind about smokers that can be controlled with a smartphone is that they will have short ranges due to the limitations of blue tooth.
But don't let that be a deal breaker.
 
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Lonzinomaker

Meat Mopper
252
91
Joined Mar 8, 2018
I have all three of the name brand: Cookshack, Smoking Tex and Smokin-It. For my money the Smokin-It has the most bang for the buck. I also like the analog over the digital PID control. PID would be nice, but in a smoker, doesn't really seem to be worth the extra money.
My advice is to watch Facebook market place and Craigslist for a used smoker. Also decide how much you want to smoke at once. i have a Smokin Tex 1400 that you have to cut rib racks in half to smoke and a Smokin-It #3 that will take a full rack of ribs.
 

Jonok

Smoking Fanatic
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Joined Feb 4, 2019
I’ve made an auful lot of quality BBQ on an MES. I have made a lot of mods, which I’d be happy to share, but the basic design is solid. I personally, have never been left holding the bag between factory and Sams Club warrantees, though I’ve got three which are all in some stage of repair or replacement.

This is a consumer unit that will die with commercial service. However, with care, it makes good barbecue.
 

tallbm

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Hello I was searching for some suggestions from those of you that have been smoking meats for a while. I have been using a little chief electric smoker out of Mt Hood Oregon for many years. I primarily use this for Salmon or just a finishing smoke for ribs ect. This smoker was designed for fish so its temps dont reach north of 150F. Its perfect for fish.
I have decided to get a smoker that does meats well and lasts a while. Ive seen a few rather expensive smokers that look like they do a good job but I was hoping to get some good advice on a quality product thats been tried and proven by others. I will be reading as much as I can in here but feel free to share what works for you.
Hi there and welcome!

If money wasn't too big of an issue then I would get a Smokin-IT 3.5D or so because of the PID controller. I have a WIFI PID but that part has crapped out so its cool but overrated. The PID part though to me is an absolute must, why?

With a PID controller you can hold smoker temps within 1-3 degrees of the set temp. This is important when doing things like bacon, and sausage, etc. Hell it's important just because the steady reliable precision matters and is one less problem to worry about.

Now we all dont have $1.5k to blow on a smoker. So IMO, the best electric smoker the average Joe can scrounge up is a used MES40 (top vent version) that you find on Craigslist or Facebook for like $40-50. Take it to the carwash and hose it out.

You do a simple rewire (cut 4 wire ends and splice to make 2 wires) and you buy the $150 Auber PID controller to run it.

Almost every single one of us electric guys uses the A-Maze-N Pellet Smoker (AMNPS) tray and wood pellets to produce up to 12 hours of hassle free perfect smoke using wood pellets. So thats another $25.

I like and run a mailbox mod to AMNPS tray in there and hook it to my smoker to separate smoke and heat (never have to open the door now for smoke generation) which can cost as little as $15 in materials. However, many guy don't do a mailbox mod and use the AMNPS tray in the smoker itself.

Finally, summing it all up, for $225 you can buy a used MES40 + Auber PID controller + AMNPS tray and you will have a better smoker that greatly out performs a brand new MES or Bradley, and one should perform just as well as the $1.6k to get a Smokin-IT 3.5D.

I hope this info gives you some ideas and if you have any questions about this please ask away, we have the answers :)
 

old sarge

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Whatever you get, look at the warranty and comments regarding customer support. Both are important because every company can have a lemon or two come off the assembly line. Some companies have their own forum for support, how to instructions, what if this happens, etc. Other companies just a phone number.
 

Jonok

Smoking Fanatic
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256
Joined Feb 4, 2019
For a $300 smoker, the $30 warrantee from Sams club has never failed me when the factory one did. The very first smoker I ever bought is still contributing to great Cue, despite having been taken off line 7 years ago.
 
15
14
Joined Jul 21, 2015
Hello I was searching for some suggestions from those of you that have been smoking meats for a while. I have been using a little chief electric smoker out of Mt Hood Oregon for many years. I primarily use this for Salmon or just a finishing smoke for ribs ect. This smoker was designed for fish so its temps dont reach north of 150F. Its perfect for fish.
I have decided to get a smoker that does meats well and lasts a while. Ive seen a few rather expensive smokers that look like they do a good job but I was hoping to get some good advice on a quality product thats been tried and proven by others. I will be reading as much as I can in here but feel free to share what works for you.
I have been using a MES40 with an AMPS for some time, got it for a good sale price after giving me son a MES30 for Christmas. The MES40 has a remote control I love, but I use a ThermoPro remote thermometer with itas sometimes my load results in inaccurate smoker temps. The other probe in the MES40 has always been bang on.
 

Skiddy

Newbie
6
1
Joined Nov 13, 2020
Maybe someone can explain a few acronyms so I can better understand AMPS and PID .
I will probably just go with something brand new but mid price point. Sounds like for electric the MES is highly recommended.
 

Jonok

Smoking Fanatic
596
256
Joined Feb 4, 2019
I got an inkbird 4 probe which really works well. The MB probes have been kinda sketchy for me, I haven’t tended to trust them.
 

Jonok

Smoking Fanatic
596
256
Joined Feb 4, 2019
PID controllers (Proportional Integral Derivative controllers) basically hit and maintain a given set point with a great deal more accuracy given the constraints of various smokers. MES smokers come with basic On-Off temperature control, so this is a big upgrade.

AMNPS trays or tubes are ways to burn pellets inside your MES to produce more consistent and better quality smoke than the stock setup.
 

dr k

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Joined Mar 22, 2013
Maybe someone can explain a few acronyms so I can better understand AMPS and PID .
I will probably just go with something brand new but mid price point. Sounds like for electric the MES is highly recommended.
 
15
14
Joined Jul 21, 2015
Maybe someone can explain a few acronyms so I can better understand AMPS and PID .
I will probably just go with something brand new but mid price point. Sounds like for electric the MES is highly recommended.
A-Maz-N pellet smoker (a tray that holds flavor pellets) and Proportional/integral/differential ( an electronic circuit for controlling things, in this case temperature) an add on box that replaces the MES controller, not really necessary.
 

tallbm

Master of the Pit
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★ Lifetime Premier ★
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Joined Dec 30, 2016
Maybe someone can explain a few acronyms so I can better understand AMPS and PID .
I will probably just go with something brand new but mid price point. Sounds like for electric the MES is highly recommended.
Hi there and welcome!!!
Jonok Jonok explains the acronyms pretty well.

Almost every single one of us MES or other electric element smoker owners move to using the A-Maze-N Pellet Smoker (AMPNS) tray or tube. You put wood pellets in them, light on fire for 10 min, blow out and it produces perfect smoke, no hassle!!! The tray produces smoke for up to 12 hours when full but you can put in whatever amount of pellets you want for any amount of smoking time you desire.
The pellet tube I believe puts out smoke for 3 hours and is a bit heavier smoke production but works in high altitude and lower oxygen (pellet grill smokers and MES30) environments.

Using an AMNPS means perfect care free smoke without doing anything for your entire smoke. I also built a mailbox mod which is a mailbox with a 3inch duct joint connecting it to the MES chip loader hole. I put my AMNPS tray in the mailbox and now I have smoke production from outside of the MES that is piped into the MES. This means I can cold smoke, I avoid issues with pellet flame ups (happens sometimes), and I never have to open the smoker to fool with smoke since they are independent and the pellets don't add as much heat when cold smoking :)

So rewiring an MES to use a PID Controller means you get rid of the temp swings so it holds like with in 1F degree of set temp which is awesome to not ruin sausage, bacon, and to be reliable. However it now makes the chip smoldering function useless because the element doesnt cycle on for long periods of time.
Since almost all of us MES owners use an AMNPS because its a simple and major upgrade to loading chips constantly, there is really no loss in ability to burn chips.

PID Controller + AMNPS = an MES smoker that is truly set and forget and outperforms even the most expensive smokers, electric or otherwise :)

Finally, MES are notorious for having bad temp and meat probes. It is super rare for an MES to actually be accurate measuring temps so basically all of us MES owners (and pretty much any smoker owner) buy wireless digital thermometers we can measure for accuracy in boiling water and can get very accurate readings to ignore the bad MES readings or innacurate thermometers that come with smokers.

I hope all this info helps! :)
 

Lonzinomaker

Meat Mopper
252
91
Joined Mar 8, 2018
Just to clarify a point, MES benefits from using AMAZN tray or tube to generate smoke. They have a higher air exchange rate than the Smokin-It, Smokin-It and the like don't need to use one because they have a very low air exchange . They generate sufficient smoke with 4-8 oz of wood chunks.
 

Skiddy

Newbie
6
1
Joined Nov 13, 2020
So the wood tube that comes with these models doesnt do the job? Any links to the way these AMAZN systems work with the MES. Im about to pull the trigger on either the 30 or 40.
 
15
14
Joined Jul 21, 2015
Works fine, BUT you need to recharge every half hour or so. An AMNPS can smoke 4 hrs. I use the AMNPS for overnight brisket smokes, no waking up for me. I use the built in for daylight couple of hour smokes, like pork butts, peppers, etc. When using the AMNPS I pull out the chip feeder completely and open the chip pan about an inch to ensure good air flow to the AMNPS. Happy smoking!
 

Skiddy

Newbie
6
1
Joined Nov 13, 2020
Im a little overwhelmed with all the different models to choose from. I had no idea there were so many of the same kind. I think I will just go for the 40" model for its better to have more space than not enough.
I would like a window but I dont have to have stainless.
Need the side chip burner and prefer digital with some kind of bluetooth or IR remote would be nice.
It sounds like a good warranty is in order with the digital boards.
Where is the best recommended place to get this?
 

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