What do you who went to electric from wood think?

Discussion in 'Electric Smokers' started by rhaugle, Aug 18, 2015.

  1. Stay wood

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  2. Go electric

    0 vote(s)
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  1. rhaugle

    rhaugle Smoke Blower

    Hey guys,

    This is not quite another one of those "electric vs wood smoker" threads.. hopefully it doesn't get ignored right away...

    I'm currently using a CG Kamado Akorn as both my grill and my smoker (with the smoking stone). When ever I'm smoking on it, I never have great results. The meat is good, but it either gets done way to early (because the temp gets away from me, even thought I damper it down as much as I can), or doesn't have the real good smoke flavor.  I have been thinking more and more about the electric side of BBQ... I have a kid on the way (should be here within a few weeks!) so I know I will have less time then ever before to spend tending to the fire. That is the biggest seller for me right now. I can't decide if I like how "easy" electric would be... not having to tend to the smoker every 30 mins almost seems like cheating!

    I'm really curious what you guys that have gone from wood to electric think. Do you regret the decision? Do you love the decision? Do you still use both methods? I think I have narrowed down my next purchase for either way I go... Electric, really like the Smokin-it#3 and for wood, I really like Horizon smokers, yes, I have checked the price, and know I will be spending $1500.

    Any wisdom is, as always, GREATLY appreciated. 

    EDIT: I live in Texas, so weather is not a big factor. 
     
    Last edited: Aug 18, 2015
  2. noboundaries

    noboundaries Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Just wanna follow this.  Gonna lockup my keyboard.
     
  3. chef jimmyj

    chef jimmyj Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member

    I went from a 20 year old New Braunfels horizontal offset to a MES40 and do not regret it at all. Yes they are different in the sense that the combination of burning Sticks and Charcoal gave somewhat more depth of flavor than the typical One Note of an Electric. Since I started using mixed woods, A-MAZE-N Products Pitmasters Choice Pellets, Hickory, Maple and Cherry, the difference is diminished. Without a doubt, the ease of use, setting and maintaining a wide variety of temps, in my case Ambient to 275°F with 10+ hours of perfect Thin Blue Smoke, is greatly appreciated by my Arthritic Knees. Your Wife will definately love the time you are there to help her instead of Babysitting the Smoker.

    It should be noted that the Stick Burner was my excuse to get out of the house when my three Daughters were 10, 14 and 15!..." MOM!!! Amanda is in my Room!!! " " MELISSA!!! That Nail Polish is Mine! " " MOM!! Casey is wearing my Shirt! AGAIN!!! "... Dad's no fool...[​IMG]

    Congrats on the new Baby...JJ
     
  4. bmaddox

    bmaddox Master of the Pit

    I went the other route. I started on electrics then built a UDS to burn charcoal/wood. @Chef JimmyJ  is right about the AMNPS. I have a variety of pellets so I can mix it up based on what I am cooking to increase the quality of the finished product. I now go back and forth between my MES and my UDS depending on my schedule and what I am cooking. If I am cold smoking or doing something that is more sensitive like a prime rib I use my MES. If I want to cook hot and fast for butts or briskets I use my UDS.

    I will say that using my electric is nice on days that my wife is working. It is hard to keep up with a toddler while tending to a smoker so I like that I can just sit back and monitor the temps from my Maverick

    I would say go for the electric so you have more options.
     
  5. gpb11

    gpb11 Meat Mopper

    I would also suggest looking into pellet grills/smokers as another option.  You retain wood as the heat source as well as smoke source, plus have the hands-off benefits.  It's nice to put a brisket or butt on before bed and get a full night's sleep.  :)

    Note though that the smoke flavor can be more subtle, some will enhance it using an A-MAZE-N Products smoke tube or similar.  
     
  6. jirod

    jirod Smoke Blower

    I had a Chargriller offset that I used to use, then went to propane, then to MES40.  I really like the MES40, once you get the hang of it.

    I do a lot of pork butts, so long smokes, and the electric is so much more convenient.

    I do like playing with the old offset, and will use it for ribs or pork loins still, shorter smokes, when I have time to babysit it (which again is part of the fun).  But if I want to do pork butt or brisket, I almost always go to the electric with an AMPS.
     
  7. crankybuzzard

    crankybuzzard Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I have 3 wood burners (1- vertical and 2 offset horizontal) and I also have a homemade electric unit that is PID controlled.  I use them all.

    The vertical for me is my set and forget, it works almost like a UDS the way it's designed.  It's used for when I need to cook a LOT of brisket or chicken.  I love it!

    The 2 offset horizontal units are used when I'm cooking for just me and the wife or when we are having folks over.  The size of the cook depends on which unit I use.  One is home built and the other is a HIGHLY modified Oklahoma Joe.  I love them both!

    The electric unit is used for making sausage, cold smoking, lazy day hot smoking, and many other things (100 ABTs for example).  I use an Amazen pellet tray or tube for smoke.  I love my electric unit!

    All of the units will provide good smoke and will work perfectly for what I want them to do.

    The main reason for you to change the style you smoke is all up to you.  With a kiddo coming, mom's gonna need a bit more help, and your time will also be tied up enjoying time with the little one.  Electric could be the answer you need for that.  But, as Jimmy J said, tending the fire can also get you some well needed "me time".

    You can kick out some good Q either way you go.  Let your needs be the deciding factor for this one.

    Now, either way, have fun and enjoy your time at the pit and with the little one!
     
  8. dr k

    dr k Master of the Pit

    I have the Big Red Char-Griller Kamado Kooker Akorn.  I sealed the rectangle opening on the inside of the ash pan to the stationary part of the slide vent with high temp RTV silicone you can get in any automotive store.  That was before I ever used it incase it leaked.  I leave the bottom vent at .5 (on the 1-5 scale) and the top vent at .5 (on the 1-5 scale.)  I've noticed that the black Akorns don't have a numerical scale on the top vents I've seen.  If yours doesn't have the top scale then it's barely cracked.  That venting gets me 225*F and lower.  I start my Kamado with 6-10 briquettes in a charcoal chimney with plenty of charcoal around it.  When I lift up the chimney the trap door drops and the few lit briquettes land in a pile and I move the unlit ones to touch the lit ones.  I strategically place wood chunks, then put on my 17" dia. grate, place my pizza stone on that,  then a foil pan for drippings on the stone, then the cast iron cooking grate and finally the food to be smoked.  That way you build the fire up to the temp and not try to tame a fire down in an insulated smoker.  When cold smoking I unlatch the ash pan and let it hang with both top and bottom vents wide open for ventilation for the AMNTS/AMNPS as shown in the pic.  Once you get the Minion Method down of charcoal smoking it is much more enjoyable,  I have resorted to only using insulated smokers and my Kamado is still my favorite.  I love my two 40" Gen 1 MES's and they are quick to get things started but make up for it on cleaning grates (I don't have a dishwasher), cleaning the window and replacing foil on the water pan, drip pan etc. (higher maintenance!)  I can smoke in my Kamado 24 hrs. with 30 briquettes or less.  Overall I like it the best because it is a better set it and forget it than my MES but I love both for different things and need both.



    -Kurt
     
  9. sawinredneck

    sawinredneck Meat Mopper

    Buddy has the MES30 and loves it, but I can't say either way. But here's where I'm at. I bought the Brinkmann Trailmaster offset with the mentality I could cook lots on it! Well, I can, but when it's just my wife, son and I, I've got to cook lots of stuff to make it worth my time and the wood/charcoal.
    The last few days I've really been eyeing the GMG Davy Crockett. Set it and forget is a nice idea! Run it off my phone, sweet! Still seems enough room for a few days meals and so on.
    So if an electric sounds good, it might work out great! And believe me, I know how precious that little time/sleep you have is with a newborn, even a toddler! Set it and forget it and take a cat nap until mama starts screaming it's your turn!
    Good luck with it all, I don't envy you lol!
     
  10. old sarge

    old sarge Master of the Pit ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    No regrets. 
     
  11. smokesontuesday

    smokesontuesday Smoking Fanatic

    Congrats on the munchkin. My wife and I are on baby watch (any day now) as well so know the feeling.

    No regret at all with the switch/change. They're different tools for different jobs. I still use a stick burner for big jobs (holidays, parties, etc.) but almost all the smoking I do for the family I do in my MES 30 1st Gen.

    Something no one has mentioned is being able to get the kids involved as well. My son who turned 4 in May loves to come out and help me load up the MES cold smoking attachment or AMNPs before a smoke and he'll watch the Maverick remote like a hawk. Couldn't do that with the stick burner during a smoke but he'll grow into that.

    I originally got the MES for cold smoking and quickly figured out how nice it is for hot smoking as well.
     
  12. I went from a modified ECB to an electric oven conversion and I won't look back. The ECB was so frustrating that I gave up on smoking and told my wife that I wasn't interested. Then we saw Alton Brown's cardboard box salmon smoking episode and she started talking about getting a decent smoker. A cabin scale electric range/oven fell into our hands and I really didn't need it, but I thought about smoking meat in it. I'm glad I did the conversion and now I'm pretty sure I'll be doing an old refrigerator conversion.
     
  13. iburnedit

    iburnedit Newbie

    Not sure if english is TS second language or if its a stroke. If the latter, my apologies TS.
     
    Last edited: Aug 20, 2015
  14. worktogthr

    worktogthr Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member

    As I sit here and smoke chicken thighs on my mes30 all I can say is that you will get great food on an electric smoker. And like others said with the AMNPS it will be set it and forget it. As a father of a 2.5 year old I appreciate that on days like today. Very low maintenance. I do have a pit barrel, a cabinet propane smoker, 3 weber kettles that I smoke on as well as too many grills to name. I'm a bit of a junkie but my point is they all are fun to play with and produce great smoked food. In my opinion there are subtle differences in flavor among All of my smokers but when time and convenience is your priority the electric will be your best friend!

    Edit: like others have mentioned they also make great cold or warm smokers for things like cheese or bacon or sausage because you can easily achieve low, consistant temps!
     
    Last edited: Aug 20, 2015
  15. chef jimmyj

    chef jimmyj Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member

    I encourage all of you with young kids to get them involved. My oldest girl, Casey now 24, started pounding Pork Chops at 2 years old and later helped cook and make Sausage. She now is a CIA Grad, Pro Chef/Restaurant Manager with her own Gen1 MES40/AMNPS, and smokes more than I do!...Best wishes to all the Dad's and Mom's...JJ
     
  16. dward51

    dward51 Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    I started on a 18.5" WSM in 2005 and still use it for a lot of stuff.  I run a BBQ Guru power draft so temp control is not an issue for me.  However I have also made a electric element mod I can put in when I want to smoke at lower temps for snack sticks and such (I can swap back and forth between electric and charcoal/wood by changing out the WSM door).  You cannot beat the way electric lets you control the temps on the low end with a PID controller.  Try and smoke sticks for a few hours at 130-140* and you will be constantly chasing the air dampers with wood or charcoal.

    My take is both have their place and excel at certain things.  So I have both.....

    PS - I also have a huge stainless steel food warmer that I'm going to make into a mega electric smoker one of these days.  I have to disassemble the cabinet and pull the foam insulation so I can replace it with rock wool.  That's the only reason I'm not using it now.  Just have not had the time to take on that project.  But I'm keeping the WSM either way.
     
  17. mummel

    mummel Master of the Pit

    Ive only used a MES 40 BT and this is my first smoker so I cant compare taste.  But I can tell you with kids, I could never see myself using anything else.  I also like to come home after work on a weekday and have a nice piece of smoked meat on the the table.  My wife would NEVER tend to a WSM or equivalent.  She really enjoys our MES + AMPS. 

    Kids are tough man.  The first 6 months is all about survival.  Good luck!
     
  18. rhaugle

    rhaugle Smoke Blower

    Hey guys,

    Thanks everyone for the information. I'm planning on getting an electric, and keeping the Akorn also, for when I want to spend some time with the fire....
    I've been looking at the Smokin-it #3 for a while, and now the new MES 40" BT smoker is on my research list. What do people think about these two? I had found the 46 page new MES forums, and read through about half of it so far. Doesnt seem like people have to many complaints, yet.
     
  19. mummel

    mummel Master of the Pit

    I really like mine.  The only issue from what I can tell is the startup temps overrunning the true temps (the internal MES prove is slow to reflect actual temps).  So while my Mav says 225F, my MES says 180F.  By the time my MES says 225F, my real temps are around 300F or something.

    So you need to micro manage your temps at startup, otherwise its great.  I've also had some issues with my AMPS but most others are having success.
     
    Last edited: Aug 21, 2015
  20. dward51

    dward51 Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    You might want to look at getting a power draft like a BBQ Guru for the Akorn also.  They make charcoal/wood almost "set it and forget it" just like electric.  Well worth the money IMO.
     

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